I was delighted to see the flight attendants handing out snack packs, remembering the most delicious chocolate covered caramel on an earlier flight. Eagerly breaking the seal, I was met not only by the chocolate, but a most unfortunately named package of crackers.
Davis Brand Capital today released the 2012 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand management and performance comprehensively. It is the only annual ranking of companies that demonstrate overall, balanced approaches to managing the full spectrum of brand and related intangible assets, providing an indicator of total business strength and effectiveness.
In what can be described only as a singularly courageous move, the new JCPenney unveiled a Father's Day ad featuring real-life gay dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith, and their children, Claire and Mason. It is widely considered a direct response to the failed hysteria of the "Million Moms" boycott of the retailer after it named Ellen DeGeneres its spokesperson. And, indeed, this read of events is likely. Something more is going on, though. The ailing retailer has found the courage to be relevant, and with bold social intent.
On rare occasions, a name comes along that captures the essence of the target audience's primary characteristic. In the machismo world of South America, such a name exists in Horniman's Tea.
Retail sales just notched their best month since 2012 and the industry has added almost one million jobs since 2010. But the rosy headline stats obscure a more complex and potentially troubling story in retail—particularly for its employees.
Attention: Announcing 2014, the third annual “year of mobile.” Yes, we have been hearing this line since 2012, but it seems that 2014 is poised to finally be the year that mobile becomes a mainstream marketing solution. Consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets is now ubiquitous. Take for example my parents, considered part of the “Silent Generation” (precursor to the Baby Boom generation).
In recent years loyalty programs that reward buyers for sticking with the brand have steadily grown in popularity. Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. loyalty memberships increased by 10 percent per year – reaching over 23 memberships per household. But for all their growth and popularity, do loyalty programs really pay off for the companies that offer them?
Two of the world’s leading consumer goods groups on Tuesday eased fears about an emerging market slowdown but said Europe remained a challenging place to do business.
It’s clear that consumers are increasingly choosing healthier foods. But when we started asking, ‘Why?,’ the literature wasn’t as clear. Many papers point to an evolving consciousness about eating. Yes, consumers today are more educated than ever about the link between health and food, thanks to advances in medical research and a steady accompaniment of mainstream media reports. But consumers, and particularly American consumers, have a well-documented susceptibility to media fads about eating and dieting.
A recent study by Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council tested the common assumption that while consumers’ purchasing decisions are driven by emotions, business purchasing is driven by calculations of business value. “Surprisingly,” they found out that “on average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”
Design has emerged as a new forcing function in the historical cycle of business integration. It’s what lets companies monetize the intangibles — especially the all-encompassing “experience.”
Millennials are shaping the present and owning the future. With more purchasing power and decision-making abilities than ever, Millennials are expected to make a lasting impression for decades to come.
A consumer advocate can be your brand's best friend.
So what did we do to select the top 25 most innovative consumer and retail companies?
In the ongoing evolution of social media in 2012, people’s behavior in social and mobile matured to a point where the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning is check Facebook on their phone (some even sleep with their phones).
This week Panera Bread launched its largest campaign to date, which includes an increase in digital spending of just under 100%.
If brands want to improve their customer perception, having a well-rounded social communications practice that serves both as a marketing outlet and as a place for consumers to solve service issues will help.
A focus on customer insights is a good thing -- but when marketing organizations fail to anticipate competitors’ moves that affect customers, all the insights may be for naught? When was the last time you and your team took time to consider how your rivals operate, or might operate based on changes that you make?
Coca-Cola China's TV ad for the Hong Kong market invited viewers to use their smartphones to "chok" bottle caps flying across their TV screens. The new wrinkle is that gaming can be embedded in ads — perhaps the only hope of engaging some people's interest long enough to get a message across.
Nike CEO Mark Parker On His Company's Digital Future: Body-Controlled Music, Color-Coded Heart Rates
"Nike has broken out of apparel and into tech, data, and services, which is so hard for any company to do." In the coming years, Nike will expand its footprint in the digital space, especially through partnerships like the one it struck with TechStars, to attract startups to build on the Nike+ platform.
Hoping to give visitors their own platform for curation, the Cleveland Museum of Art has launched its Artlens app, which can be used by patrons to create their own path through the collection.
Is it not ironic that we call customers “targets” and seek to engineer their empathy in “war rooms?" The hostilities are endless. And it’s not enough to win. Someone must lose. Beating the competitor takes precedence over helping the customer.
Marketers in many industries have a “push-pull” problem: They spend a lot of time devising ways to pull in customers -- identifying the right buyer segments, crafting messages and making promises. But their efforts are frequently undermined by company behaviors that push customers away.
Any effective approach to content has to put the consumer at the center and must be able to adapt based on cultural trends and consumer insights. The action of being quick-to-market with compelling content based on real-time cultural trends is a much tougher challenge.
According to 39,000 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age, drawn from the nine US Census Regions, who self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the products and services for which they are customers, the desire for real brands is driven by emotional engagement.
Belling says influencer marketing was critical from day one, when popchips was just a little indie brand that could. They knew they didn’t have the budget for a traditional ad campaign, so how else to get the word out? By getting as many snacks into the hands that mattered.
Burrito chain Chipotle is branching out and trying to become a lifestyle brand in order to beat it’s rivals. The company has launched a line of organic clothes and accessories, is hosting ‘locavore’ festivals that champion local and sustainable food choices, and backing a dark comedy video series about a PR man defending industrial farming.
How often do you come face-to-face with a hotel employee, fast food entrée, or piece of technology and say, “this is not quite living up to the dream?” Most of the time, we sigh and accept the perceptual gap between the brand promise and our experience.
As we enter 2013 and technologies and communications channels continue to evolve, it is imperative that brands embrace the new demands of today's empowered consumer -- relevant experiences at every touchpoint.
So what's NFC? It technically stands for Near Field Communications, and it enables mobile devices like smartphones to communicate with nearby devices and objects with a simple tap.
Clearly, brands could stand to do more to keep consumers interested; the chief reason given by people who don't engage with brands on social networks is that they only "like" brands to get a deal they're offering.
Colour and Space is a project by designers Mie Frey Damgaard and Peter Ørntoft for decorative paint brand Jotun (Turkey). It digs through Turkish Pinterest boards, analyzing two fairly basic but powerful categories: color and location.
While the digital era has led to many difficulties, challenges and changes for the music industry, it also has opened opportunities for music fans to interact with their favorite acts in ways that were not possible before.
Amazon is announcing “AutoRip,” a new service that will give anyone who has ever purchased a CD on Amazon over the past 15 years a free digital copy of that album.
While it’s unlikely that focus groups can create an innovative idea, they can help evolve one--fine-tuning how it will be embraced and determining the feature set, price point, and physical embodiment of the core idea.
As a process and a profession, marketing is increasingly under attack for not delivering business value. This perception is sometimes due to the fact that it is easy for us to become enamored with the “producing” part of marketing.
How can the banks seize on ongoing events – legal, economic, political – to energize recovery in a strict business sense and to reverse the inexorable tide of public acrimony?
Imagine Walt Disney World with no entry turnstiles. Cash? Passe. Visitors would wear rubber bracelets encoded with credit card information, snapping up corn dogs and Mickey Mouse ears with a tap of the wrist. Smartphone alerts would signal when it is time to ride Space Mountain, without standing in line. Fantasyland? Hardly. It happens starting this spring.
Modern service companies like Starbucks and Pret A Manger really, really don't want to let their workforces unionize — not only would it cost them money, it threatens their self-image as benevolent corporations where employees are genuinely happy to work.
A new TV network targeting millennials is coming next summer. The new channel comes from Participant Media, a producer of 'An Inconvenient Truth.' Participant Media, which finances and produces socially relevant films and documentaries, said Monday that is has acquired The Documentary Channel and entered into an agreement to buy the distribution assets of Halogen TV from The Inspiration Networks.
Most companies are the centers of their own universes. It's a natural enough impression; after all, the products and services they offer are on their minds 24/7. The trap is in those companies deluding themselves into thinking that they are as important to their customers as they are to themselves. This is almost never the case. This delusion interferes with understanding customers and their needs, and frequently leads companies to talk to customers in ways that seem foreign or confusing.
With New Fantasyland, we seized the opportunity to bring to life some new classic stories — Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid — using innovative technology and entertainment approaches that elevate the guest experience beyond anything we’ve ever delivered.
As social newsfeeds become ever more cluttered, the attention span of the social audience is becoming shorter, prompting brands to enact new strategies to effectively engage their audiences in meaningful ways that will keep attention.
Some Brand Positioning, Huh? HSBC spent years positioning itself as the “worldwide local bank.” They did it via a campaign that featured series of similar visuals and single-word observations, which were designed to indicate that HSBC understood the subtleties of cultural differences and were fully invested in understanding multiple perspectives.
Sixty-three percent of video streaming on mobile phones happens when folks are in their homes, per research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). And according to the IAB, mobile videos are watched during primetime television hours more than any other time of the day.
Lots of companies have committed, recasting stories through platforms that look more like digital magazines than traditional websites, and more. While all the attention may give it the luster of a fad today, brand content is nothing new.
By putting its talks online in 2006, what was previously a members-only affair—an annual Davos-like conclave of wealthy Silicon Valley and Hollywood types—suddenly became an enormous and almost democratic cultural force, reaching millions of viewers around the world.
Campbell’s soup held a special place on the American dinner table for the better part of the 20th century. But in the last few years its core soup business, which accounts for half the company’s $7.7 billion in annual revenues, has faded to 46% market share from 51% in 2007, an ever smaller part of an ever smaller food category. An ill-advised move into low-sodium formulations under Morrison’s predecessor, Doug Conant, accelerated the decline.
Global mobile traffic is growing so fast that in some places it has already surpassed desktop traffic. That was one of the key conclusions of a year-end Internet trends report.
They’ve hit a market ‘reach’ of 180 million users a month across mobile and web platforms and re-vamped the site with the ‘Next’ version after testing out their open Beta for several months.
It is a revolutionary breakthrough worthy of Willy Wonka – Cadbury has found a way to make chocolate that doesn’t melt in hot weather. The new bars of Dairy Milk stay completely solid even when exposed to temperatures of 104F for more than three hours.
People are now using their cell phones for much more than talking. According to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 85 percent of U.S. adults own a mobile phone and 56 percent of them use it to get online.
2012 has been the year of growth for content marketing. Brands have begun to embrace the discipline as a vital part of their overall strategy. What was once a conversation on “why content marketing” has turned into a conversation on “how to.”
We are creating a new market and ecosystem of personal preferences and patterns of influence. We are creating an exponential amount of data – 3.2bn likes and comments per day, over 400m tweets per day, and rapidly being joined by Pins and Cinema.grams.
Twitter and Facebook usually aren’t the last click before an ecommerce buy, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t inspire or influence the purchase. Yet IBM’s Black Friday report says Twitter delivered 0 percent of referral traffic and Facebook sent just 0.68 percent.
For a few years now, Chipotle has regarded traditional marketing as largely irrelevant for its needs. But the one TV buy it made this year -- its first national TV ad, no less -- garnered more attention than most marketers dream of getting.
Just how is Apple able to perform so much better than other consumer electronics retailers and world-renowned brands? And more important, why haven’t any of them been able to duplicate Apple’s magic formula yet?
Successful social business starts with transforming your organization internally. This is often overlooked as a crucial step toward social business. Yet not only does having an internal social business system make businesses more effective at the external effort, it’s often critical for a company’s long-term social business success.
“As technology marches on, it will lead to the inevitable revolution of businesses acting in the genuine interest of their customers.”
Lately we’ve heard a chorus of skepticism regarding the importance of viewability, and some say that there is no correlation between viewability and conversion rate. In reality, there are only three reasons why one could legitimately argue that viewability doesn't matter.
In the 1980s, Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea’s octogenarian founder, started building a series of foundations to protect the business after his death and minimise its tax bills, a contentious move in egalitarian Sweden.
Ask yourself: do you know how much more valuable these customers are than others? If you could turn another 10% or 20% of your client base into loyal, enthusiastic patrons like these, do you know how much more growth that would generate?
Boston.com has begun offering advertisers the chance to write their own blog posts, joining a growing list of web publishers pinning at least some of their hopes on a tactic variously known as native advertising, custom content or branded content.
In the late 1990s, digital marketing debuted to great fanfare, but it was still fundamentally about advertising to customers. But in the past several years, new social and mobile tools have upended that paradigm.
It used to be that brands and agencies would create ad campaigns, push them live, and use the resulting consumer reaction to help inform the next campaign. But with the rise of real-time data, marketers can now keep tabs on real-time consumer reaction and use that knowledge to make smarter decisions around all facets of creating, distributing and measuring brand campaigns.
The power of the network effect is fading, at least in its current incarnation. Traditionally defined as a system where each new user on the network increases the value of the service for all others, a network effect often creates a winner-takes-all dynamic, ordaining one dominant company above the rest. Moreover, these companies often wield monopoly-like powers over their industries.
"Hyperlocal" news sites that focus their coverage on small towns and city neighborhoods are reporting big traffic surges from Sandy, with local residents keen to find out about their towns' storm preparedness yesterday and about property damage and when power will be restored today, with much of it driven by search.
At any given moment, Diageo has between 2.5 billion and 3 billion bottles sitting in stores around the world, acting as passive "pitchmen" for its brands. Now Diageo has found a way for the bottles to literally speak to the consumers who buy them.
The potential of personalized online marketing, when done well, is enormous—and for that reason, it’s a compelling sell. The problem is, it hasn’t been done successfully thus far. And thanks to vendor hype and overpromise, just mention the word “personalization,” and most have learned to greet it with a healthy dose of skepticism.
When it comes to brands and marketing, the application of story now needs to go beyond the traditional and ubiquitous tool of brand story; rather, it’s about engaging consumers in a brand’s stories and using the construct of stories and storytelling to create powerful connections.
Why do some advertisers and agencies look at the world one silo at a time when, in fact, our media world is cross-referenced but brand messages across them are not completely integrated?
To Starbucks, baristas are not just baristas--they are ambassadors of brand, merchants of romance, disciples of delight. The company recently invested millions in a "Leadership Lab" designed to drill that message in for 9,600 store managers. So did it work?
Kohl’s has struggled to regain sales momentum. Total sales in the past year increased only 2.2% despite a continuing store opening program which last year increased its store base by 3.4% to 1127 units. The Kohl’s formula of beating competition on product value, combined with a powerful promotional program is not motivating the consumer anymore.
Shoppers at the new International Finance Center Mall in Seoul can find their way around the four-story complex by approaching one of 26 information kiosks. When they do, they also are being watched. Kiosks at a Seoul mall, above, would use facial recognition software to decide what ads to present shoppers. Just above each kiosk's LCD touch screen sit two cameras and a motion detector
Starting in March, Wendy’s will introduce its first logo makeover since 1983. The redesign, only the fifth since Wendy’s was launched in 1969, features an updated, more prominent cameo graphic of the iconic pigtailed Wendy’s character and a sleeker, more contemporary script font.
Are New Devices Adding to News Consumption? What does the growing expansion of mobile mean for news consumption overall? Are people who own mobile technology getting more news now that they have more ready access to it? Or are they merely replacing one platform with another? Here, the findings are as strong as in 2011, and in some cases even stronger, in suggesting that mobile technology is increasing news consumption.
The social media site, whose attempts at monetizing the brand are currently coming thick and fast, has launched Facebook Collections. No, not that long-awaited range of sportwear in Poke Me Blue, but a new button it's trying out in conjunction with a select bunch of retailers in the U.S.
it's inherently impossible to design a great user experience for bad content. If you're passionate about creating better user experiences, you can't help but care about delivering useful, usable, engaging content.
Relevant customer experience now involves much more than just pushing out content to available channels. It requires an understanding of how customers use these channels, identifying where opportunities lie and optimizing the experience for each channel. How can companies accomplish this?
As the digital interface continues to grow, many companies struggle to find the most effective channels in which to reach customers, and given the infinite number of connections that can be made via the Internet, the task of predicting the best course for communication seems nearly impossible; however, a new start-up has promised to do just that.
In a world where consumers increasingly are storming the internet with queries, downloads and page views from their mobile devices, marketers need a mobile-optimized or mobile-specific website. The question of whether or not you need to build a mobile app is a little less clear cut.
Sony dominated consumer electronics for decades, but that was a long time ago.
Analysis found that marketers are still posting too little on weekends and at night and when they do post, they’re way too verbose. Weekends, when brands post too little, the audience appears primed for interaction.
That consumers are turned off by sites not optimized for smartphones isn’t news to anyone who uses the mobile Web. But marketers need more than anecdotal evidence to get their organizations to invest in the medium.
The lifeblood of college football fandom is changing. The painted faces crammed into the student section of stadiums nationwide have turned away from newspapers and talk radio toward social media to get stats, scores and even messages from coaches and players in real time. As social media infiltrates stadiums and clubhouses, teams are scrambling on and off the field to reach students and young alumni
The technology surrounding today’s retail landscape has changed, and with this change comes a myriad of innovative opportunities that extend beyond our conventional way of thinking. Viewing these opportunities as “distractions” rather than opportunities risks losing ground to the competition.
The lifestyle retailer puts shopping for home furnishings and decor back in the real world for maximum product interaction and shared experience.
We researched a number of companies that overcame the multi-channel dilemma — systematically — by applying business discipline to the practice of customer experience in an integrated way. Here are three of their most effective strategies.
Stationary furniture is the largest segment within the furniture category. To continue to grow the brand needed to shift deep-rooted perceptions and convince female consumers that La-Z-Boy offers more than recliners.
Author and interaction design researcher Richard Banks shares his thoughts on the interaction between storing memories digitally and physically. Richard is the Principal Interaction Designer at Microsoft Research‘s Socio-Digital Systems group, a team analyzing how families use digital and analog media and building technological objects in response.
How much should you know and record about your customers? How about their businesses? What should you do with the information? How much is too much?
The Seattle-based coffee giant’s year-and-a-half-old mobile payment program may be the largest of any retailer in North America. Even before its recent $25 million investment in San Francisco mobile payments startup Square, the company had been processing a million mobile-phone transactions per week.
Forget loyalty in the body care market. Most consumers seem less interested in the name on the label than on price and attributes, per a new study on the segment by Chicago-based Mintel.
Being relevant-at-scale helps marketers to truly benefit from a competitive advantage in the market. At the heart of being relevant-at-scale is an ongoing commitment to harnessing data and analytics. How can you be relevant to your consumers if you don’t know where to reach them and if you don’t know anything about them when you interact?
Who’s controlling your brand message? Recent high-profile Twitter blunders from Progressive Insurance and online store CelebBoutique underscore the challenges of outsourcing your voice as a brand.
Customer experience goes to the heart of everything you do--how you conduct your business, the way your people behave when they interact with customers and each other, the value you provide. You literally can't afford to ignore it, because your customers take it personally each and every time they touch your products, your services, and your support.
Pfizer, like Dove and Prudential before it, has gone topical. The pharma giant’s new corporate image effort eschews gauzy TV ads in favor of a microsite where consumers can find and share third-party information about the vicissitudes of aging.
It's a paradox of the information age. The glut of information that bombards us daily too frequently obscures true insight. Intelligence should drive better innovation, but unless it is strategically collected and used, it functions like a summer beach novel — an engaging distraction.
Successful innovators ask users to embrace--or at least tolerate--new values, new skills, new behaviors, new vocabularies, new ideas, new expectations, and new aspirations. They transform their customers. Successful innovators reinvent their customers as well as their businesses. Their innovations make customers better and make better customers.
Welcome to the newest retail concept in Funabashi: a shopping mall designed with the elderly in mind. Here older shoppers can access medical clinics, benefit from 5 per cent discounts on pension day, partake in any of 140 leisure activities ranging from calligraphy to hula dancing and, through the “Begins Partner” programme, find love.
A recent CEB study of nearly 800 marketers at Fortune 1000 companies found the vast majority of marketers still rely too much on intuition — while the few who do use data aggressively for the most part do it badly.
Marketers' Obsession With Audience Data Could Teach Media a Thing or Two. Brand marketers research their audiences exhaustively until they understand them instinctively. So it's strange to remember how magazines I've known kept their editorial and advertising sides operating not just separately, as they should, but entirely divorced from each other, with each side in near-denial of the other's existence.
A lethal combination of thrifty consumers and a commercial real estate slump have turned malls into the walking dead of retail. In 2009, General Growth Properties, one of the largest mall operators in America, filed for bankruptcy, unable to service more than $25bn in debt. The vacancy rates in regional and strip malls in the US nearly doubled between late 2007 and the middle of last year.
More than a dozen big merchants are expected to announce Wednesday their plans to jointly develop a mobile-payments network that would battle similar services from Google Inc. and other companies, people involved in the effort said.
Put simply, responsive design is the creation of a single website with a fluid proportion-based grid that automatically adapts to users’ browsers and the devices they are using. This is not a trend—it’s the future.
It looks as if the fair-and-square-fewer-price-promotions-more-celebrity-and-any-high-tech-we-can-get approach of Mr. Johnson, ex of Apple’s retail division, isn’t quite working out the way he had planned. Which is exactly what our loyalty and engagement metrics predicted back in January.
Every generation experiences advances in technology that change people's lives and expectations; children are almost always born into a different technological world than were their parents. This is particularly true when it comes to how they discover, consume and share content and information.
In the circles that count, it’s clear that Chipotle is regarded as a major innovator, attracting what all major innovators attract: copycatting. So it’s no coincidence that after a couple of years of crazy growth from Chipotle, Taco Bell feels it has to step up its game. Thus, this summer the country’s leading quasi-Mexican fast-food chain has rolled out its new Cantina Bell line of upscale menu items.
search engine and e-mail referrals are more than holding their own against social media sites when it comes to generating sales in the second quarter of 2012. Social media sites only contributed to 2.85 percent of online shopping traffic in the second quarter.
In business, a dull existence means a weak brand. If you want some people to love you, you’ve got to accept that others may hate you. With your company clamoring for new customers and more business, it takes a certain amount of nerve to deliberately ignore people that many within your organization might consider prospects.
The $25 million funding and sales deal announced late yesterday between mobile payments startup Square and coffee giant Starbucks is big, but it is only the tip of the iceberg for what the implications will be for Square and for mobile payments in general.
The use of apps as a way to gain an advantage over others is clearest in categories where there is already significant competition for consumer attention, including quick-service restaurants, banking, hospitality, fashion and beauty.
"Boar's Head is pretty much everywhere," said Mitchell Sejzer, who works in the deli at a Sunset Foods store in the affluent Chicago suburb of Highland Park, noting that the brand accounts for about 75% of the store's deli counter selection. So just how did this brand -- which is oddly named after a swine's head -- get to the top?
In another sign that big brewers are starting to think small, Anheuser-Busch InBev is launching a series of Budweiser-branded brews named for the zip codes where they were created. Called "Project 12," the effort began when brewmasters at 12 AB InBev breweries created their own small-batch "tribute" beers, each with a distinct style.
The connected TV, sometimes called the smart TV (and even branded as such by Samsung) is a growing phenomenon: TV makers are adding limited apps, Net connectivity, and even streaming media powers to their newer TVs in the hope they'll persuade you to upgrade your newish LCD for a flatter, smarter unit. They're desperate to, given how flat this market is. But according to new research from Pew, the future of TV may actually be a little more closely aligned with the notion of a "connected TV viewer," an important distinction
Honest Tea has moved steadily toward the mainstream of the U.S. beverage business in recent years, as Coca-Cola has invested more and more in the brand. But since it was purchased outright by Coke last year, the Bethesda, Md.-based organic-tea and -juice startup has moved at the even faster pace that would be expected of a tiny company now backed by the immense marketing and distribution resources of the world's biggest soft-drink concern.
Hilton is evolving its current campaign to feature experiences that guests have at properties worldwide. Still using the two-year-old tagline “Stay Hilton. Go Everywhere,” the new interpretations include a series of print, online and out-of-home advertisements. Developed in collaboration with Cramer-Krasselt, the three creative executions are "Go Chill," "Go Refresh" and "Go Foodie."
Most national brands are strategically positioned at the national Web level with strong awareness and branding, but these companies often lack insight into how their brands are represented at this level. Their local presence becomes clear when you conduct local searches on national brands using the “Local Web Test.”
Last year, new advertising for Harley-Davidson was greeted with skepticism. The company had eschewed working with traditional ad agencies on the campaign, and instead became one of the very first marketers to pursue consumer-created work through crowd sourcing. Now Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer is having the last laugh: Harley expects to repeat last year’s sales uptick of 6%, and its market share has been up 12 points in the last 4 years despite the Great Recession.
Ralph Lauren, Armani, Victoria's Secret, and Major League Sports Brands Among the 2012 Fashion Brand
For those of you out there who think brand and fashion have broken up and don’t even go to the same parties anymore, think again.
Best practices in exceptional customer service -- top CEOs share insights including...handwritten le
As corporations seek new ways to connect with customers, I set out to uncover insights from some of the top CEOs. Interestingly what emerged are some unexpected answers, like the value of simplicity and the power of the handwritten letter – both of which have elevated in importance in a complex fast-moving digital world.
Marketers have tried targeting consumers in stores with QR codes and barcode scanners that so far have gotten limited traction. Now IBM is testing a new approach, dubbed augmented reality, which is a bit like applying search or a personalized version of Google Goggles to the world of physical store shelves.
A renaissance in the customer loyalty program has been long promised, but so far the reality has failed to live up to hype. Mass-adoption of smart-phones and the availability of location and social data mean the consumer loyalty program is ripe for a makeover but so far programs haven't really taken off with consumers and merchants. That's about to change and I believe the next twelve months will be critical in the growth of the mobile loyalty program.
In January of 2007, not long after Steve Jobs unveiled Apple's first iPhone at that year's Macworld conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sat down for an interview with CNBC in which he was asked about his initial reaction to his competitor's new device. He guffawed. Really, whole-heartedly guffawed. "$500 full-subsidized with a plan!" he said. "[It] is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine."
When it comes to learning about food, nearly half of consumers use social networking sites, and 40% use Web sites, apps or blogs, according to a new study from The Hartman Group and Publicis Consultants USA. Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/177904/leveraging-social-media-in-food-marketing.html#ixzz1zE5w9Vb4
People may be using their smartphones as a shopping tool in the stores, but that doesn’t mean they’re buying less from the retailers. In fact, the influence these mobile devices will have on annual in-store sales is expected to increase more than three-fold over the next four years.
Google "Nordstrom tire legend" and you get over 800,000 hits describing a legendary example of great customer service. Zappos has established legends of its own through bend-over-backwards customer service. Apple has topped the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) for years, perceived as the best company in terms of customer satisfaction. Of course, there are other companies with great customer service, but no one should confuse great customer service with being customer-centric.
On a sweltering Wednesday night in New York, three unlikely things merged: electronica god Steve Aoki, Duran Duran and Trident Gum. As part of its first global campaign, "See What Unfolds," the gum brand is planning a series of events around the world, seeking to engage with fans over "the serious business of fun."
"We don't have any interest in being the biggest," said the senior VP-marketing and product management at Caribou. "We don't want to be in every aisle of the grocery chains in America. We'd rather be great at what we do." But Caribou, despite an acceptance of its stature as a smaller chain, hasn't sat idly by.
When Apple executive alumn Ron Johnson took the helm of J.C. Penney one of his goals was to wean customers off of the concept of “sale” and “coupon”. In their place he wanted to introduce a new pricing and merchandising strategy that was all about low prices all the time. It failed miserably as J.C. Penney’s recent earnings show and now word is that Johnson is bringing “sale” back into its advertising. Johnson miscalculated, gravely, about the love affair Americans have with coupons and discounts.
There will be plenty of bits spilled over the next few days about whether Apple is going extinct, whether Jobs’ touch was integral to the Apple experience, and whether this was “The.Worst.Keynote.Ever.” I posit, however, that Apple still has a few good years left and this keynote – a precise and well-orchestrated experience dedicated mostly to software – is proof that the Apple vision runs far deeper than the efforts of a figurehead CEO.
It’s a fact of life in the taxi business that cabs must often return back to base empty after dropping off a customer — particularly when that drop-off was at an airport. That return drive is essentially a wasted trip, but UK-based TaxiBack aims to change that. Specifically, the startup offers a service which connects passengers with cabs that would otherwise be returning empty and enables them to reserve rides at reduced rates.
When I was a kid and we got to the end of the ketchup or mustard after smacking the container with my palm and shaking it side-to-side I’d ask for a new bottle. But before a new one could be opened my mother would always require that I scraped out what was stuck inside the bottle with a knife or spoon. Her rationale for this was that leaving anything in the bottle was wasteful … and she’d invariably add “That’s how Mr. Heinz got rich.” My mother would have appreciated a new product called “LiquiGlide.”
It was Giorgio Armani's obsession with health that led to his brush with death. For 10 days in May 2009, Armani, one of the most influential fashion designers and entrepreneurs of our time, lay in a hospital bed with what he describes as "a very serious" case of hepatitis. The cause of his illness wasn't the stress that comes from juggling a global empire of clothes, accessories, furniture, cosmetics and real estate. It was the supplements. Even though Giorgio Armani single-handedly built a billion-dollar brand his own way, where does his empire go from here?
Google+ rolled out on Wednesday a new ‘Local’ tool that allows users to share and find information about nearby places — from museums and spas to restaurants and hotels. In addition to tapping a user’s network or “Circles,” the new service also incorporates information from Zagat, which Google bought last year.
The iPhone maker rejects a donation-focused third-party payment system, saying it violates the App Store's terms and conditions. But does it actually have more to do with competition?
In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise: McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Ford, Apple, MetLife. It takes a lot of time, money and very hard work to build and maintain great brands like that, brands that can speak volumes in just a few syllables.
The Lipitor For You “Recipes 2 Go” app is aimed at helping consumers manage their heart health on the go. The launch marks the first time that Pfizer has released a consumer mobile app for a prescription product in the U.S.
Patagonia has long been a sustainability leader, and pokes its competitors in the eye with programs, from asking consumers to buy less to working with fisheries to the preservation of salmon populations while rolling out new snacks. Now the outdoor clothing and gear company is pushing supply chain transparency to a new level.
For some companies, one Page might not be enough. For example, if a restaurant chain prides itself on local ingredients or a business seeks to cultivate a strong community around each brick-and-mortar outlet, it might make sense to have a Brand Page for each location. But then again, does a brand really want to divvy up its audience and dilute it among several similar pages?
The longest-term impact of the $2 billion dollar loss will not be on the bank itself, and maybe not even on future regulation, but on the overall perceptions of a society as it clings to the hope that someone somewhere is doing the right thing and always will
According to a new report from Nielsen, mobile consumers are downloading more apps than ever before, with the average number of apps owned by a smartphone user now at 41 — a rise of 28 percent on the 32 apps owned on average last year.
Online, men are shopping more and at rates higher than before, according to an iProspect study of men with a household income of $100,000 plus.
As the marketplace undergoes a rapid transformation, it’s forcing leading brands to rethink everything—from where and how they compete to what capabilities they will need to thrive in this new world order. The fast-changing world of consumer products is at the confluence of a number of significant trends.
The strategy address recently delivered by the corporation's new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, earned press coverage that verged on mocking, with The Wall Street Journal noting that the brand's "once-sterling cachet has deteriorated," and The New York Times going further, placing Sony in "a fight for its life," and accusing it of "an astonishing lack of ideas." Both observations are correct, but they only hint at the underlying question: why is the strategy that once served Sony so well now failing so badly?
As far as phone sensors go, the GPS sensor appears to be one of the most coveted by developers, after the camera. For a consumer, the trade is quite simple: offer your location at a specific point in time, or your patterns, and in exchange for that information, an application will offer you something — a deal, a coupon, or information about who and/or what is around you.
Sometimes, user interfaces come together at the last minute. And not very well. In devices that should be up to date in the interface department you see multiple personalities fighting. It's like being a fly on the wall of the meeting where the designers and engineers all just said, when they had to finalize the design of a product, "Oh, screw it. Let's go get lunch."
Today’s marketers are under-utilizing the large amounts of personal data their customers are sharing publicly every day, according to Adobe’s senior manager of social-media products, Chad Warren. By looking at their customers’ activity not just on social networks but all over the web, brands can potentially engage with them in ways that are much more meaningful.
With an estimated $2.1 trillion in spending power, moms influence 85% of all purchase decisions and buy nearly everything for everybody. What’s more, we now know that moms are even better shoppers than might be perceived in the marketplace due in large part to neurological research that didn’t exist until recently.
Having a helpful and knowledgeable sales staff and making the shopping process easy are key drivers of customer satisfaction, according to the study, which measures customer satisfaction with home improvement retail stores based on performance in five factors.
You'll see Flyknit on the feet of olympic marathoners this year. This limited-edition collection shows the real-world application of Nike's newfangled technology. The limited-edition HTM is intended for the rest of us: plain old sneaker geeks.
Consumers today can no longer rely on a few trusted editorial sources to filter the noise and deliver the most important news and information. Instead, consumers must make sense of the vast amount of information that reaches them daily and constantly make decisions about what to take seriously and what to ignore. Increasingly, they are turning to Social Curation
Best Buy should use Dunn’s departure as an opportunity to rethink how it sells gadgets. In particular, it’s time to abandon the idea of endless selection. If Best Buy wants to survive, it’s got to replace its hulking, teeming stores with smaller, less crowded, more intimate spaces.
Call it a strategic inflection point for these companies, a common trend in the Valley, where scrappy startups are always a threat to stagnant corporations--not so much because of some new piece of technology but because of the disruptive idea behind it.
Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life.
Susan Fournier looks back on the rocky journey behind her seminal study, and discusses how far the literature on consumer behavior has come and why she despises society's eagerness to equate materialism with consumerism.
A South Korean Dunkin’ Donuts campaign is reinventing the traditional radio advertisement using unique technology and the smell of coffee. The campaign, named, Flavor Radio releases coffee aroma via sound recognition technology.
California-based company Stacked Wines offers a change from the traditional wine bottle, with four individually-sealed containers stacked on top of each other. Consumers are free from the hassle of a bottle, corkscrew or stemware, and they could be sold at venues that don’t permit glass.
There are legitimate reasons why naming companies is a bit more challenging than it used to be. Marketers must contend with instant backlash from critics on social media and the global reality that one phrase in English might take on a completely different meaning overseas (see Kraft). And they must ensure the moniker is not already trademarked.
Hidden Valley Foods has improved its ranch dressing to be thicker and creamier in hopes to appeal to younger consumers. The company is labeling the dressing as ‘The New Ketchup’ and is calling it the ‘Hidden Valley for Everything’ that be used as a topping or a dip.
Siri is about to get one-upped by Google. The company on Wednesday unveiled a long-rumored concept called "Project Glass," which takes all the functionality of a smartphone and places it into a wearable device that resembles eyeglasses. The see-through lens could display everything from text messages to maps to reminders.
There are a couple of things that make a brand great: engendering good feelings to consumers and using those feelings to inspire them to make a purchase.
Google is marching steadily towards Larry Page’s reported goal of a “single, unified, ‘beautiful’ product, across everything.” It started last year, as redesigns came to all of Google’s big products, Search, Maps, Translate, Reader, Gmail, YouTube, etc, etc. A black navbar appeared, which Google later announced it was removing, only to then reverse course and keep it. And then, earlier this month, it announced Google Play.
Which one is best for you? We took a look at the various features for each offering to help you make the decision:
In the faltering economy, the importance of customer service has reached new highs, overtaking even price as a purchase determinant, according to a J.D. Power report.
The most recent commercial for the BMW i3 and i8 concept cars is a great example of something enlightened marketers have known for years: emotion is the key driver behind purchasing decisions. Yet, today, most businesspeople still follow the old adage, “Emotions and business don’t mix,” relying on rational data to drive decisions instead.
In what may be the most overdue brand extension in history, Kraft is using the 100-year-old Planters name to speed growth of its mature grocery business.
Attention all those who like to gripe about lousy customer service and companies (I'm looking at you AT&T and airlines everywhere) that tend to provide it: there's a new place for people to get their complaints heard, and it means business. The site is called Gripevine, and it's more than a platform like Facebook and Twitter on which frustrated customers can broadcast their complaints and hope for a response.
Best Practices: From First To Worst - Continental In A Post United World, Lessons In Next Gen Custom
Despite the numerous attempts by CEO Jeff Smisek to gloss over the issue with increasingly slicked up, feel good, on board welcome ads, Continental’s customer satisfaction numbers have reached the abyss of United’s. While United Holdings may tout their most admired status in the airline industry by Fortune, the award is measured by corporate executives, airline executives, boards of directors and industry analysts
A Bloomberg report this weekend pointed out that Gap, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and GameStop have all opened and closed shops on Facebook within the past year — undermining expectations that the social network will become a major revenue driver for retailers over the next decade.
Network effects are an economic principle that suggests certain goods and services experience increasing returns to scale. That means the more users a particular product or service has, the more valuable the product becomes and the more rapidly its overall value increases.
Love just isn't enough anymore. In brand relationships, good customer service, high customer satisfaction and even professed brand loyalty won't keep consumers from ditching a product for the competition. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers did so last year. A global study by Accenture found that even though consumers are more satisfied with customer service than ever before, they are switching brands at a high rate.
Every company wants customers talking about their products. But before they can sing your praises on social media or evangelize to their friends, they need to remember your product’s name. It seems obvious, but many companies – especially in the technology sector – overlook this easy way to connect with their audience.
We spoke with Colin Westcott-Pitt, VP Marketing, Dos Equis, Amstel Light, Newcastle Brown Ale at Heineken USA, about what’s keeping the Most Interesting Man in the World campaign successful. Delivering consumer craving content and utilizing Facebook as both a research tool and a marketing channel is making Dos Equis a category leader.
Facebook Inc., the social network that filed for an initial public offering yesterday, listed rivalry with Google Inc., regulatory scrutiny, hacker attacks and the shift to mobile technology among the risks it faces. Facebook’s competition with Google, Twitter Inc. and other social-networking providers could impede growth, the company said in the risk-factors section of its filing. Facebook also said it would face competition in China if it manages to gain access to that market, where it’s currently restricted.
At first glance, it would seem that the new generation of product-bookmarking sites such as Pinterest and Svpply are nothing more than new tools to feed the consumer machine, driving us to buy more stuff. But, counterintuitively, my experience with these services is that they actually help me cut my consumption and to direct my money at goods that more closely align with my values.
While most companies are all over Facebook and Twitter, CMOs confess they are at sixes and sevens with their digital marketing strategy. The Boston Consulting Group reports that 77% aren’t sure where best to reach their customers, a critical component of any digital strategy. And 55% say they have only “minimal or informal metrics to measure the impact and return on investment of digital marketing efforts.”
The opposite of trading up is not trading down. In fact, there is no opposite of trading up; shopping behavior is more nuanced than that. When shopping hit the skids after the financial crisis, there was a lot of talk about a new normal of frugality, as if the only thing possible after a decade-plus of trading up was a generation to come of nothing but trading down. It’s clear now that those prognostications were flawed, not to mention overly pessimistic.
Establishing consumer relationships through mobile marketing, as with any successful, productive relationship, inherently requires a mutual exchange of value. Whether consumers are opting-in for brand communications via SMS or engaging with the brand in a single instance through scanning a QR code, the onus is on the brand to deliver value in return for customers’ valuable time and information. Without the perception that value has been exchanged for value, the relationship becomes essentially one-sided and unrequited attempts at interaction on the part of the consumer will spell the end of the relationship – perhaps permanently.
More and more leaders are scared for their business. Not because their products and services are not innovative or relevant, but because they just don’t connect naturally with the changing face of America’s consumers.
A temporary wall slices the Anchor Blue store here in half. On one side are abandoned dressing rooms, a few mannequins and no customers. On the other are racks jammed with clothing and accessories — and more customers than ever coming into the store. Anchor Blue is among a growing number of retailers thinking small — chopping off big chunks of stores or moving to more efficient spaces. The change reflects two trends in the retail world: Chains looking for new ways to cut costs in the sour economy, and consumers demanding a less sprawling shopping experience as they spend with greater purpose.
You are a consumer. And if that means buying any shiny object placed in your path, then it might be a dirty word. But as the late great George Carlin used to say, “There are no dirty words. Only dirty thoughts.” I use the term “consumer” often in my work. And I have to admit that the word sometimes makes me uncomfortable. After all, aren’t we citizens, people or human beings first? Defined by the sum of our actions. And don’t those extend far beyond what we consume? Yes.
Gap has announced on its Facebook Page that it is scrapping its new logo design efforts, acquiescing to a torrent of criticism coming primarily from Facebook and Twitter users. Last week, Gap unveiled a new logo, one it called “a more contemporary, modern expression.” The retailer’s customers were not so thrilled about the change, and Gap decided to ask users for their logo design ideas instead. However, that course of action has now been reversed, as well.
Just for a moment, I'd like everyone to take off their advertising hat and become a consumer, with passions, needs and preferences. Think about a brand which you feel a particular connection with, one that helps you fill a need in your life. Not only that, it has to be one that has stood out from the competition because of the creative messaging used to promote it so that it connected with you emotionally. In fact, you feel so strongly about this brand that you rave about it to your friends and family, because you want to share that feeling with them. These concepts are common to all consumers -- relevance, creativity, and a shared experience -- encompass core elements of storytelling.
When consumers are overwhelmed with options, marketers should give them what they really want: ways of shopping that lower the cognitive demands of choosing.
Ebooks aren’t a better value, ebooks aren’t more attractive nor are they a threat to the print version of any immersive reading book. This isn’t the same as paperback versions vs hardcover – where the platform and convenience are the same – the timing and pricing are the key ingredients. Books that aren’t in ebook form are do not exist to ebook reading consumers. There is no cannibalization if in the mind of the buyer if there is no version available to them.
I’m a capitalist by conviction and profession. I believe the best economic system is one that rewards entrepreneurship and risk-taking, maximizes customer choice, uses markets to allocate scarce resources and minimizes the regulatory burden on business. If there’s a better recipe for creating prosperity I haven’t seen it. So why do fewer than four out of ten consumers in the developed world believe that large corporations make a “somewhat” or “generally” positive contribution to society?
Looking to tap into Web surfers' privacy concerns, new companies are popping up to help people browse the Internet and send messages anonymously. But these companies face a major challenge: getting people to pay for Web-privacy software. The majority of Internet users remain unaware of how visible their Web behavior can be to marketers, identity thieves and others, say executives at Web-privacy companies. And those who are concerned about privacy are often reluctant to trust an unfamiliar company with their information, they say.
Vacation is over, and everyone is looking to return to work trim and healthy, aglow with the radiance of the summer sun. Everybody wants to look their best heading into fall, naturally, or with the aid of beauty products. And according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, retail giants are tired of losing cosmetics sales to the likes of Sephora while simultaneously losing inventory to consumers who are insistent on the "try-before-buy" experience, biting their way through consumer-resistant packaging.
If an ad is to work – make people talk about it, love it and want to take a stake in sharing it – it must become a social object. Many a viral campaign acts as a social object because it becomes part of the cultural conversation – people talk about it, and ultimately act as the medium for the message. But for an ad to take on meaning for the consumers that it speaks to – and to get them to take action as a result of it – it must be driven by a purpose-idea. A purpose idea is the emotional, intrinsic reason that will motivate an individual to want to buy the product – and the reasons why the product was created to begin with. A sense of safety and security from purchasing a certain brand of car, a boost in self-confidence from wearing a sexy heel (and the looks it may generate), or a sense that whole grain will nourish you and contribute to a healthier, lighter and longer life.
Not only will consumers finally be spending more on back-to-school shopping this year, they'll be doing it in decidedly different ways. A new back-to-school survey from Deloitte reports that 28% of consumers plan to spend more this year than they did last year, and only 17% plan to spend less.
After thirty days of shouting, cheering up and suffering (I am Argentinean!), the 2010 World Cup is over. As football involves strategy to beat competition, working with teams and of course luck, I got to thinking that must be some useful learnings for brand teams. So, blow the whistle ref, and let's go...
Let's step back a moment and just admit it: Location is interesting when it's interesting ... but usually it's not. Sorry, Twitter, but the vast majority of people tweeting about the World Cup weren't actually in the stadium.
Did you know that the US is the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking country? It’s true. In fact, there are 46.3 million Hispanics in the US today, and 20 million of them use the internet. Are you targeting the Hispanic market with search? If not, perhaps it’s time you considered doing so.
U.S. consumers are spending more time online -- and devoting a growing percentage of those hours to social networking sites -- a trend expected to create a surge in spending on advertising to this audience. In May 2010, U.S. consumers spent an average of 6 hours, 13 minutes a month using social networking websites, according to a study by the Nielsen Company. And users did not restrict themselves to checking their status while at home: the average U.S. worker spent almost 5.5 hours each month visiting social network sites from the office, the research firm found.
By all official indications, the Great Recession has very likely ended. But as marketers, we know better than to interpret this to mean we can pick up right where we left off prior to the steep economic slide. Many consumers have readjusted their budgets and some continue to cope with concerns about the security of their jobs. Even those who have not been directly touched are still anxious about the future. Things that once mattered to our customers no longer seem so important to them. That's why we have to reconnect with them in a way that reflects their new reality.
The South Korean company's plans may include pushing interactive advertisements from other companies through Samsung's phones and flat-screen TVs. Ads will likely be built into Samsung's new application store that, similar to Apple's for its iPhone, lets consumers stream content from the Internet to--in Samsung's case--a Web-connected television. Millions of Samsung's ipTV owners now have access to 30 ad-free applications, such as movie-streaming programs Netflix and Blockbuster. By year-end they will be able to tap into more than 100 of them. Then marketers may start doing it, too, piping their own messages into the apps.
Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is just showing up.” Unfortunately, at purchase decision time, the vast majority of brands never show up at all. Getting consumers to “think” about your brand more often, and in more buying situations, is one of the most under-rated marketing challenges that brands face today.
Now another airline, JetBlue, is introducing a marketing initiative that seeks to convince consumers how much better traveling on JetBlue can be. The campaign is scheduled to begin on Monday as a video-rich online effort — JetBlue is calling it a digital brand experience — whose Web address is meant to say it all: experience.jetblue.com. (It will also be reachable by visiting the JetBlue Web site, jetblue.com, and clicking on “experience.”) The initiative, by a digital agency in New York named Firstborn, is an example of what is known as experiential marketing, which aims to bring brands to life in tangible ways that eschew traditional advertising tactics like television commercials.
There are many ways a merchant can create a choosing — not just a shopping — experience. For example we know from extensive research in the online realm (and from common sense) that ratings and popularity drive increases in sales. Yet nowhere in the stores could customers find reviews or any information about which items were most popular.
After years of touting their own green accomplishments, marketers have a new message for consumers as this year's Earth Day approaches: "It's not us. It's you." The focus of most green advertising has primarily centered on marketers' own products and process changes to reduce waste and environmental impact. But a growing number of marketers are shifting the focus toward consumer behavior, either in their sustainability PR efforts, their advertising or both.
There's the key and the lock. The bolt and the nut. The button and the button hole. So, too, there's the position and the hole in the mind the position is trying to fill. Except, of course, many marketers seem to have forgotten about those holes in the mind. Which is strange. If there is one constant in the communications chatter about the marketing function it's this one: The consumer owns the brand. True enough. But where in the world is the consumer going to put the brand except in his or her mind?
Kara Goldin was pregnant when she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2004. The first thing she cut out of her diet was sugary drinks. Her blood sugar problems improved, but Goldin still craved flavored beverages. She tried to find an all-natural, sugar-free drink that tasted good, but she struck out. Her solution? Goldin, a former vice president at AOL, created a beverage that became Hint, the brand and the company.
General Motors recently announced that it is killing off the Hummer brand, after a sale to China’s Sichuan Tengzhong company fell through. The company did manage to find a buyer for Saab. This is part of bigger move by GM to drastically focus its brand portfolio, after having gone bust last year and been rescued by the US government. Why did the Hummer brand die, but Saab survived?
In his seminal pop-book, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argued that people are happiest when they can reach a state of "flow." He talks about performers and athletes who are in the height of their profession, the experience they feel as time passes by and everything just clicks. People reach a state where attention appears focused and, simultaneously, not in need of focus at the same time. The world is aligned and everything just feels right. Consider what it means to be "in flow" in an information landscape defined by networked media, and you will see where Web 2.0 is taking us. The goal is not to be a passive consumer of information or to simply tune in when the time is right, but rather to live in a world where information is everywhere.
Starbucks coffee was the No. 1 brand tried by consumers in the coffee/tea category in January, earning twice as many mentions as No. 2 Dunkin' Donuts coffee and No. 3 Celestial Seasonings tea in a consumer survey conducted by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions.
Financial crises stink. In their wake, public debt explodes. Nations default. Economic growth falters. Taxes rise. Unemployment lingers. The current financial crisis is no different. The U.S. will have to produce 10 million new jobs just to get back to the unemployment levels of 2007. There’s no sign that that is going to happen soon, so we’re looking at an extended period of above 8 percent unemployment. The biggest impact is on men.
I'm a tough customer. I admit it. Takes one to know one. I'm a loud shocking dose of reality for companies that sell me something. I expect too much from them. I've given them my money for, and put my trust in; their products or services, and I expect them to value that accordingly. I can be a firm's greatest ally or its worst nightmare. So when something goes wrong, I want the company to fix it. Now! When it takes too long, I let them know it. When service representatives can't solve the problem, I want to talk to their bosses, their bosses' bosses, all the way up to their CEOs. And when a service rep tells me, "My supervisor will just tell you the same thing," well, there's nothing I want to hear less.
Advertising agency of the future sounds a bit like horse drawn carriage of the future. I’m not saying for certain that there won’t be agencies in the future, only that the future doesn’t necessarily need agencies. Just like the future doesn’t need printed news but it needs journalism; the future needs commercial communications, but who creates them, the agency or the brand or someone else, is unwritten. And though the future of the agency is unwritten, I have real doubts that agencies will survive or should survive.
Crystal Light is a sugar-free soluble powder manufactured by Kraft Foods since 1982. Originally offered in only five flavors, the line-up now includes twenty-eight. And as non diet sodas become more and more the face of fattening evil, flavored waters and juices have risen in popularity in the last few years. While I prefer my water on tap without any kind of powder, Kraft Food bets upwards of $40 million in advertising in the last couple of years and more this year, that other people do. And while Crystal Light is clearly targeted towards women, Kraft Foods estimates that 40% of consumers are men, yet at point of purchase, women are the overwhelming majority. This past November, Kraft Foods introduced a new look for Crystal Light with an environmental-friendly range of packaging.
As we focus our attention on 2010, clearly the global marketplace is redefining itself. Not only in economic terms but more importantly in consumer terms. Consumers are more diverse, demanding and connected than ever before. To help give you a clearer look into what’s ahead, Nielsen has assembled videos from our global team to deliver insights into what consumers watch and what they buy. With evidence of a recovery emerging, understanding the global trends and local conditions is essential to success.
The great and good from the world of social media met Wednesday at Davos and agreed their medium still hasn't reached its full potential, with one speaker joking that the really cool stuff wouldn't happen "until we're dead." This is a frightening prospect when one considers how much our digital and real lives have blurred already. Seven of the 15 most trafficked Web sites in the world are social sites, according to George Colony of Forrester Research, a technology specialist.
Toyota is a company that has built its entire franchise on quality and reliability, and today, it faces being discredited at its very core. The carmaker's corporate-communications department has, so far anyway, attempted to make the recall of 2.3 million vehicles sound like a typical single-vehicle recall. But it wasn't -- not by a long shot. You don't have to look any further than the Audi brand between 1978 and 1982 to see how faulty acceleration can put a severe break on sales and trust. Audi had one model affected; Toyota has eight.
The money continues to be on the promotion and now engagement phases of customer acquisition. White papers are a dime a dozen, so are loads of articles and posts patiently written with the audience in mind. Tell me the truth, you've been guilty of wanting to hire someone who can write crisp copy that sells, which is not the same as just writing copy, without wanting to pay them a premium for doing so. You are not alone.
According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, an online survey by Opinion Research Corporation among a representative U.S. sample of 1,048 adults, comprising "new media users," 44% of American new media users are searching for, sharing or discussing information about corporate responsibility (CR) efforts and programs and are highly confident they can have an effect on business.
Two and a half years ago, Charlene Li and I introduced Social Technographics, a way to analyze your market's social technology behavior. Social Technographics was carefully constructed, not as a segmentation, but as a profile (that is, the groups overlap). That's because the actual data told me that people participate in multiple behaviors, and not everyone at a higher level on the ladder actually does everything in the lower rungs.
In spite of what you may have read, Jeff Zucker, the chief executive of NBC Universal, didn’t kill “The Tonight Show,” and neither did Jay Leno. And as much as NBC would like you to think it, Conan O’Brien didn’t do in the show with his bare hands either. The people who are responsible? That would be you and me.
For most marketers, the growth of multicultural segments became a business imperative after the 2000 Census and the generational focus shifted from boomer to Gen Y. If you're managing a large brand today, you are likely addressing these opportunities through some combination of targeted Hispanic, African American or Asian, and youth-marketing initiatives. But today that segmentation is not enough; a bigger change is emerging that is more meaningful than just demography.
In a post-recessionary world, trust has moved from the individual to the corporate realm. It is one of the most important issues that business organizations face when it comes to the future of their brands. A 2008 study by the Chief Marketing Officer Council found that some 99% of customers surveyed said they would either scale back or terminate relationships with companies that fail at building customer trust. In the past, trust may not have seemed like a natural part of management's role, but these days it is a critical part of every business, one proven to have an effect on the bottom line. Customers need to see that a solid foundation has been built within a business and that their needs will be addressed--especially in times of crisis.
In my interactions with CMOs at some of the largest companies in the U.S. and Europe, I hear a familiar refrain. It goes something like this: "My company is customer-centric, but marketing doesn't control the customer experience." Indeed, only 53% of marketers we surveyed recently reported that they "own" the customer experience, putting the brand experience in a channel or environment that does not think to speak with marketing's voice. Even fewer are directly responsible for loyalty programs, community management and customer service. And from a budget standpoint, 80% of marketing budgets go to advertising, with just 20% going to loyalty programs and customer experience.
A holiday season of Web price wars and aggressive online promotions by store-based retailers is leaving e-commerce a larger force in American retail. While sales conducted at brick-and mortar stores are about flat this season compared with 2008, online retailing grew 4% from the beginning of November through Dec. 18 to $24.8 billion, according to Web tracking company comScore Inc. Online sales on Dec. 15 totaled $913 million, marking a one-day record for the industry.
Popular culture, including TV shows such as "Mad Men," would have us believe the practice of marketing in an ad agency is a straightforward exercise, calling only for understanding the customer, coming up with a big idea, then creating something interesting and relevant to engage consumers. Not quite. Marketing organizations today are under the gun as never before -- from a media landscape growing increasingly convoluted and a fleeting consumer universe to the mounting pressure of accountability for any marketing dollar spent. Today's new universe demands a different approach to the design and execution of any marketing effort. And yet, little intellectual brain power or emotional energy is being invested in improving the fundamental marketing process.
The economy appears to have begun recovering after the worst recession in half a century. But businesses ranging from shoemakers to financial services to luxury hotels don't expect American consumers to return to their spendthrift ways anytime soon. They see consumers emerging from the punishing downturn with a new mind-set: careful, practical, more socially conscious and embarrassed by flashy shows of wealth. Much as the 1930s shaped the spending habits of an entire generation, many companies now anticipate a shift in consumer behavior that persists even after jobs and growth get back closer to normal.
Does your company truly care about its customers or are you--and your employees--just saying you are "customer focused"? These days, customers won't be fooled if your company's actions don't live up to its promise.
Listening to a Bob Dylan album that I downloaded to my iPhone, I was prompted to rummage through a box of yellowing newspaper articles on entertainers and found a 2002 New York Times article, "Bob Dylan's Unswerving Road Back To Newport," which traces his merger of folk and rock. Advertising and marketing professionals would do well to heed Dylan's example, which reminds us that life does not progress in a straight line. Personal and artistic integrity are underscored by fusion and change, which, in turn, is driven by the tension of a collage of opposites. The point: What is true for Bob Dylan is true for all people
We have more data on consumers today than ever, but do we really know more about how to market to them than we did 25 years ago? It's not our fault; it just used to be simpler back when the average consumer was easily defined, shopped in fewer places, and print, TV, radio and in-store were the only real options available for communicating with them. Everyone knows that the Internet has changed the media landscape but we are only now beginning to realize how and to what extent. This past April, the GfK Group, Google & Coca-Cola announced that they'd measured a 97% higher purchase rate when TV and YouTube video interplay were part of an orchestrated, cross-media campaign.
Maclaren is a small private company with a big public problem, one that it has not handled well. On Monday, Maclaren announced that it was issuing repair kits for up to 1m pushchairs it had sold in the US over the past decade after 12 cases in which children’s fingertips were chopped off in the pushchairs’ hinges. By that afternoon, its website had frozen and its phone lines were overwhelmed by parents. Meanwhile, the British company founded in 1965 by Owen Finlay Maclaren, the inventor of the “umbrella-fold” buggy, told non-Americans they would be treated differently.
Ever since Yahoo introduced its "It's y!ou" campaign last September, it seems like we've been getting "you-ed" up the wazoo in advertising. Granted, technology is having a customizable moment and the use of the y-word reflects this. But there's more than one layer of irony in multiple advertisers attempting to target millions of people with messages about their individuality.
The right conversation strategy answers two big questions: What meaningful content will attract sufficient conversations with the right people? And, how will you jump-start conversations and keep them alive? When people are starved for time and already engaged in many conversations, jump-starting new and meaningful conversations is the big challenge of marketing today. Just building a website, writing a blog or posting videos on YouTube doesn't mean sufficient numbers to impact ROI will find them organically, much less take the time and energy to converse with you. By definition a conversation requires others to be present and participate -- otherwise you're talking to yourself. Perhaps therapeutic, but no way to make a living.
Lots of debate about the title of brand manager and exactly what the job should be: Much of it missing the point. Forrester, better known for its technology research, started the debate by suggesting “brand managers” should become “brand advocates” with a more consumer-centric approach and less loyalty to media channels and agencies.
Throughout the recession, many marketers have relied on so-called "recession-survival" lessons to drive their strategies. Unfortunately, these aren't always lessons as much as they are myths. We thought we would help dispel some of them and share a few tips to spur positive momentum.
1) Inconspicuous Consumption: Consumers respond to the social moment by taking consumption into the closet. As when we talk about going to Fred's (in-store restaurant), not Barney's. Or, ask to have new purchases shipped, rather than be seen carrying a branded shopping bag. Or, decide to have shoes repaired and last year's jacket altered. Spending as a covert activity. No bragging rights.
China's economy has positively purred over the past year compared to the rest of the world, with its gross domestic product growth hovering around 8%. But retail stores, airlines and hotels got an extra bump during the first week of October, when the entire country took an eight-day holiday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
All content is not created equal. While valuable content is the linchpin of an organization's marketing strategy, different types of content map to different part of the buyer's journey. McKinsey published a report earlier this year that confirmed what many of us with the ear to the digital space have known for a while - people don't like to be funneled into a neat graphic. We're way past calling buyers consumers. Even as the term may be technically correct, it has an image problem. I prefer to talk about customers and since last week was customer service week and I was traveling, I thought we could have more than one customer conversation this week. In the digital space, your content is likely to be activated by participation.
Last week on Facebook, amid the cacophony of status updates, many men received a cheeky invitation -- "Turn up your man smell" -- from a hopeful new friend: Old Spice. The Procter & Gamble brand was running an ad on the social networking site hoping to increase its 55,000-strong Facebook fan base. By today, Old Spice boasted nearly 175,000. Brands are finding themselves in a position similar to that of the new kids at summer camp: they're anxiously looking for friends. In the world of social media, the potency of a person's network has always been key. Now, this virtual popularity contest has been joined by advertisers, who are scrambling to build fan bases they hope to mobilize on behalf of their brands.
As Facebook passes 300 million active users, it is quickly becoming the favorite engagement-marketing and communications platform of brands. While the robust social platform brings with it abundant opportunity, it also brings new challenges. Brand marketers and their creative agencies are more than ever operating in new territories, forced to rethink their tactical marketing approach and understanding of what metrics matter in this space. On Facebook, consumers and brands are friends. The notion of consumers as friends is inviting to brands, yet most marketers are still somewhat unclear what this really means and how they should approach this friendship. As such, the remainder of this article aims to unlock some of the secrets to a successful friendship between a brand and a consumer on Facebook.
The Kroger Co. realized nearly a decade ago that to survive it had to put the customer first, and permanently. That meant larger stores with more products at cheaper prices. It meant cleaner aisles and shorter lines. It meant $4 generic prescriptions, organic food selections, Murray's Cheese counters and a 3-cent reward for using a reusable shopping bag. It meant donating food to local food pantries, launching breast cancer awareness campaigns using local women, giving away its Deluxe ice cream to loyal Twitter followers. "We told our shareholders our intention is to save money in places that won't matter as much to the customer, so we can pass on savings to the customer," Kroger CEO David Dillon told a packed Music Hall Ballroom crowd attending the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's annual luncheon Wednesday.
There seems to be this idea going around that usability testing is bad, or that the cool kids don’t do it. That it’s old skool. That designers don’t need to do it. What if I told you that usability testing is the hottest thing in experience design research? Every time a person has a great experience with a website, a web app, a gadget, or a service, it’s because a design team made excellent decisions about both design and implementation—decisions based on data about how people use designs. And how can you get that data? Usability testing.
My dad always said, if you want to get ahead of the leader, don’t follow his tracks in the snow. If I owned my own jewelry store, this would be the mantra for everything I did. And my store would be truly different. I think the greatest challenge we all face is avoiding the well-worn track. So, how do we avoid falling into step with everyone else? The trick is to find inspiration, not from your competitors, but from brands outside your own category of business. Let’s imagine that Apple went into the jewelry business. Now let’s imagine how the Apple jewelry store might look.
Any corporation can be forgiven being a little anxious these days. Everyone's confidence is being tested. I interviewed Debbie Millman over the weekend, and she helped me see an unexpected connection between this confidence and the brand. When the corporation loses it's nerve, it ceases to take chances. It begins to white-knuckle its way through the world. It begins to lean towards stasis. The consumer may too.
Crises are particle accelerators for brands that reveal their fragility, as we've recently witnessed with bankrupt banks, tampered-with pizzas, poisoned pistachios, dodgy cookie dough and lethal drugs. While there are impressive tomes on crisis management, we still are littered with embarrassing reminders of the recurring gap between preparation and accomplishment. It's time to stop repeating the same mistakes when it comes to crisis management. It's also time to recognize the CMO's role in negotiating crises. As social media has enabled consumers to more actively participate in brands, the CMO arguably now has an even greater role to play in activating customer support or other mechanisms necessary at a time of crisis. That's because CMOs are more in tune with consumers; they are using social-media tools to interact with them, and they can harness those tools in a time of crisis, turning those most loyal consumers into brand ambassadors.
Organic farmers and grocery retailers are embracing the idea of lower-cost, private-label products to retain newly budget-conscious consumers. Supervalu Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. food retailer by sales, expanded its Wild Harvest organic brand to 312 items, from 150 last spring. Safeway Inc., the third-largest U.S. food retailer , last fall began selling its organic food brands to other retailers. Private-label organics have "broken some price barriers for shoppers, and everyone is price sensitive these days," said Mike Gilliland, chief executive of Newflower Market Inc., a natural-grocery chain based in Boulder, Colo., with 25 stores.
Dawn Pabst hates the wait for a pizza delivery. So after she orders a pepperoni pizza from the Domino's website, she never waits. She tracks. The Air Force technician from Las Vegas tracks the second-by-second status of her pizza via colorful, thermometer-like gauges at Dominos.com. She's one of millions of customers who monitor everything from order accuracy to the moment their pizza is prepped, baked, boxed or sent for delivery. Pabst says she even tracks the name of the person who bakes her pizza.
Today CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. It's a concept that deals with a business's obligation to the people that help make it successful. Certainly, CSR embraces environmental responsibility, but it goes beyond that. It includes a company's policies and practices to better the lives of its employees, their community and society as a whole. It can embrace issues such as poverty, literacy, disease, education, biodiversity and more. Pretty much every forward-thinking CEO has embraced CSR as a key part of doing business today. According to CRO magazine, CSR is now a $37 billion industry. But what about the other side of the coin? What about the consumer's responsibility? As the old adage says, it takes two to tango.
Your Brand Day, a now vintage meme that was started by Dear Jane Sample. It made the rounds last year, but has had a recent resurgence when two very popular technology and internet culture blogs Boing Boing and Kottke are jumped on the bandwagon. Alan Wolk over at The Toad Stool, pointed to this meme resurrection, as he was one of the first to participate last year. Since I didn’t participate, I wanted to give it a go this time around. Here’s my brand timeline.
Amazon is readying a return to TV advertising after it stopped running commercials in 2002. The Internet retail giant isn't ready to hire an agency yet. Instead, it has kicked off a user-generated commercial contest to find submissions that tell its story. Amazon plans to work with winners to craft their entries into TV spots.
Brands have adopted a variety of tactics in response to changing consumer attitudes and behaviors. In the first quarter of 2009, we monitored more than 100 brand responses to the recession. We found that most approaches fit into six buckets: optimism, humor, nationalism, nostalgia, consumer empowerment and value/price.
In a recent survey, we asked B2B buyers how they prefer ordering the things they order all the time. Sixty-three percent said they prefer to order them online. The next largest group was the 15% who would go the traditional route of ordering from a local office over the phone. Another 12% said they'd prefer to order from a real live sales rep. In a recent presentation to a client, I kept that pie chart of results up for a while, allowing it to sink in, because I think the implications are astounding. After it sunk in, I asked what I believe to be a fundamentally important question: "Look at the chart and ask yourself, how closely does your company's strategic direction and resource allocation match that pie chart? That's where your customers are going, and they're moving fast. Are you going to be there when they get there?"
Late last week, Procter & Gamble Co. revealed its sales expectations for the next few years, and things don’t look good: 2009 will increase 2-3% (below prior forecasts), and 2010 will be worse, perhaps climbing only a percentage point or two above flat.
A new survey by the Pew Research Center's project on social and demographic trends found that 60 percent of all younger and middle-aged adults say they are doing more shopping at discount stores or avoiding more expensive brands.Pew said nearly a quarter of younger adults say they plan to plant a "recession garden" to trim their food bills. Another Pew study released in April found that from the kitchen to the laundry room to home entertainment, consumers are paring down the list of things they can't live without. I loved the title of that report: "Luxury or Necessity? The Public Makes a U-Turn." Is this dawning age of frugality here to stay?
Would you say that a value brand is one that offers the most benefit for the cost? That sounds reasonable, right? Until you realize that it depends on a particular customer's changing perception of the benefit as compared to his or her changing perception of its cost. This is not mumbo jumbo. It's a critical distinction.
Crowdsourced creations already form the foundation of sneaker brand Ryz, which sells high-tops featuring graphic designs created and voted into production by consumers. Now, a similar concept is being used to create Exuve, a new line of clothing "where the designer and the consumer are one and the same."
"Spent" looks at why, when scientific research shows that more stuff doesn’t lead to more happiness, humans are driven to endlessly acquire.
Marketers have made great strides in recent years to better understand and connect with moms. But in trying to perfect the message, many have forgotten to listen to the very consumer they are trying to woo. According to M2Moms, 60 percent of moms feel that marketers are ignoring their needs, and 73 percent feel that advertisers don't really understand what it's like to be a mom.
There are several stakeholders concerned with brand equity, such as the firm, the customer, the distribution channels, media and other stakeholders like the financial markets and analysts, depending on the type of company ownership. But ultimately it is the customer who is the most critical component in defining brand equity as it is his/her choices that determine the success or failure of the company and the brand.
Understanding how events occur in the brain - how we come to an “aha!” insight, how we make a decision, and so on - fascinates neuroscientists. And anyone interested in neuromarketing can’t help but wonder how we decide between two products, or whether to buy a product at all. And, since we like to believe we are thinking beings, just how rational are those decisions?
"Know your consumer" is a business commandment certain to be deeply ingrained at the heart of any successful company. Never, however, has that consumer morphed so quickly or become so elusive. It is important for marketers to grasp and understand the key drivers of this new empowered consumer, one who has grown up with brand new perspectives and redefined the interplay of communications, relationships, brands, technology and media. This is Consumer 2.0.
Detroit has never had a Chief Culture Officer, someone who could help the GM, Ford and Chrysler manage the opportunities and dangers that come from culture. (By "culture" I do not mean the corporate culture of Detroit. I mean the "software" with which we run the hardware of our world, the shared understandings, assumptions, rules and practices that inform how we see and act. This culture is rich, complicated and changeable. It needs someone standing watch all the time.)
Technology will shift the power from brands to people as they are able to control their own identity. As a result, the Social Contract between people and brands will evolve.
Newspapers across the country may be scaling back to survive, but online video appears to be one area where they are expanding aggressively. An analysis of 187 U.S. newspaper Web sites by Web video provider Brightcove shows a surge in their video-related activity last year.
Yesterday evening I co-hosted a tweetup in New York City where Ford was unveiling the new Ford Fiesta and a brilliantly conceived social media program to get 100 influencers to take the car on an extended test drive for 6 months as part of the Ford Fiesta Movement. The event was a gathering designed to help put a more human face on Ford and talk about a new Ford car that many of the 20 and 30 somethings who showed up (and are the target market for the Fiesta) may not have known about.
As the recession dramatically alters where and how Americans spend their money, there is an emerging consensus on the likely profile of the “new” US consumer who will emerge on the other side of the crisis.
Yesterday, prices on Apple's iTunes service went all kablooey. Songs now retail at three price points: $.69, $.99, and $1.29. It's likely that most "popular" songs will be offered at the higher price point, though the record labels reserved the right to decide (and a brief check today revealed at least a few Top Songs still going for $.99. The presumption is that deep cuts/catalog songs will retail for $.69. Or something. Do consumers benefit from the new pricing? Of course not. The record labels insisted on it, solely because they can.
With their jobs less secure, their houses worth less and their stock-market portfolios shrunken, Americans are saving more now. But will they still be thrifty when the recession ends? No one will know for sure for years, but there's good reason to believe Americans will be saving more in the next decade than they did in the last one.
I give you the very reason search marketing is the most powerful platform of them all -- the point (aka intent) of the consumer using the channel is perfectly aligned with that of advertisers and the rest of the marketing ecosystem looking to exploit, er, leverage the channel.
Best Buy, ConAgra, Dr Pepper Snapple Group earnings drive gains.
New study shows consumers far more digitally savvy than agencies.
Today's consumer seems to have an insatiable appetite for information, but until recently making sense of all of that raw data was too daunting for most. Enter the new "visual scientists" who are turning bits and bytes of data -- once purely the domain of mathematicians and coders -- into stories for our digital age.
What do Toby Keith, the Professional Bull Riders Association and Monster Jam have in common? Fans and trucks. Ford has made reaching those fans central to marketing its F-150 pickup for years. Whether by giving fans a chance to be roadies for a Toby Keith concert for a weekend or win tickets to a bull-riding show, the company has activated its associations with those events, and similar ones in complementary categories with promotions dangling new trucks and experiences.
Pop quiz: Who has the most popular page on Facebook? Barack Obama. Who's second? Coca-Cola. Yes, sugared water runs second only to the leader of the free world. Who was it again that said people don't want to be friends with brands?
A great societal shift is under way, and no one is taking advantage of it. Numerous trend reports, even the 2008 census, show conclusively that men are more and more involved in taking care of their children and homes. So you'd think package-goods marketers would jump at the chance to include them in their marketing mixes. But you'd be wrong.
Who needs a design firm? Apparently not Nestlé Confections and Snacks. The candy maker is asking consumers to pick the latest packaging for its Goobers, Sno-Caps and Oh Henry! brands.
Corporate troubles and scandals around the globe and across industries will have a lasting impact on the way people view big business and big brands. It should have a lasting effect on the way companies name and position their brands, too.
Netbooks, those pint-size laptops that unexpectedly sold like hot cakes last year, are making life stressful for Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft.
"We are all direct marketers now, whether we know it or not," states Michelle Tiletnick, research manager of the Direct Marketing Association, to conclude the executive summary of the DMA's new 78-page qualitative report, "Future of Direct Marketing."
There was a hint of anticipation in some enthusiast circles last week when the Detroit 3 submitted their plans in Washington, D.C. Long the subject of Internet debate, these plans shed a light on which brands might be heading for the chopping block. Two GM brands seem most in jeopardy—Saab and Saturn—and Ford is reportedly considering selling Volvo. Looking back through old Consumer Reports road tests, you can see the shortcomings in these brands’ line-ups that led to their weaknesses.