Wal-Mart's chief executive said on Sunday he sees changes in the habits of the chain's customers as they contend with the recession, and also said Wal-Mart had offered to help the incoming Obama administration with health care and environmental issues.
Who cares if products are “Made in America”? Fewer people than you might suspect.
Going to market effectively these days, no matter what business you're in, means relating to customers as individuals — even if there are millions of them.
We explored a couple of notable brands that have a language all their own and how they use it to define the space for their customers.
When the concept of a social media "fan" emerged a few years ago, it held out the promise of enabling meaningful, one-to-one conversations between brands and consumers at unprecedented scale. But that promise has yet to be delivered. Think about it: do you know whether your fans are moms, or sports enthusiasts or country-music aficionados? Do you know which ones are "superfans" and consistently engage with your programs, and systematically use that information to increase word-of-mouth?
Most every company says it values its customers, and hates to 'walk away' from them. Leaders are called on to make tough decisions they believe are in the best interests of their companies. And sometimes, these decisions advantage some customers at the expense of others. That doesn't make them bad decisions, just risky ones. But leaders of some of our greatest brands act like they have forgotten (or never knew) what every junior brand manager surely knows --- to test potentially risky messages and find ways to mitigate their negative impact. Instead, senior leaders are acting like bulls in a china shop, awkwardly and prematurely broadcasting their strategic decisions in ways that destroy their company's (and their own) reputation and value.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission proposed changes in the "Green Guides" it issues to marketers "to help them avoid making misleading environmental claims." Maybe it should have issued complementary rules that require consumers to care more about eco-friendly products in the first place. Two surveys released last month find many consumers lacking enthusiasm for buying green goods, particularly if (as people suspect is typically the case) they'd have to pay a premium for them.
A study from the Chief Marketing Officer Council shows that insurance marketers are too focused on new acquisitions and are missing ways to grow business with existing customers. For the most part, consumers are happy with their insurance experience, but 12% those surveyed say they resent not hearing from companies until it is time to pay the bill. The biggest communications oversight seems to be silence on the part of the insurance companies.
Internet companies have appropriated the real estate business’s mantra — it’s all about location, location, location. But while a home on the beach will always be an easy sell, it may be more difficult to persuade people to start using location-based Web services. Big companies and start-ups alike — including Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, Shopkick and most recently Facebook — offer services that let people report their physical location online, so they can connect with friends or receive coupons.
According to Deloitte's 2010 Back-to-School Survey, three out of 10 consumers plan to use their mobile phones to assist in their back-to-school shopping. No doubt, as shoppers look to social media for product information, reviews and sales, the ecology of shopping is changing rapidly. As it does, marketers are trying to address two challenges. The first is how to strike the right balance between verified traditional methods and the pursuit of new ways of communicating with shoppers. The second challenge for marketers is to garner shopper attention, then earn and cultivate a relationship with the shopper.
Americans are spending more on electronics like iPads and flat-screen televisions and less on durable goods like furniture, washing machines and lawn mowers, according to government data released Tuesday. The shift reflects a change in priorities for American consumers. After pouring money into all aspects of their homes during the previous decade, consumers are redirecting their purchases to eye-grabbing technology and socking away more of what's left over into savings. Apparel company executives are worried the lure of electronics will eat into their sales as the back-to-school season gets under way.
With health and benefits claims having reached bewildering proportions in recent years, major food and beverage marketers are taking a cue from niche companies and succeeding with a growing number of products positioned as "simple," both in ingredients and messaging. More than half (56%) of food/beverage product categories in the U.S. showed decreases in the average number of ingredients per product between 2008 and 2009, with an average ingredients decrease across categories of 2.4%, according to Mintel International CPG trend insight directors Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago, who detailed the simplicity trend during the recent IFT 2010 annual meeting and food expo.
Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It's a 2,300 page bill containing 533 new regulations. 38% of Americans have never heard of it. Another 33% couldn't explain its key deliverable. If the point of the legislation is to restore confidence in the financial system, it seems like it's dead on delivery, and you can bet that opinion of the bill is only going to get worse (or at best, muddled) as the administration's principled opposition continues to debate settled law and the nutjobs scream that it's further proof of an alien invasion. Consumers are going to continue to lose their faith in the markets. This isn't good for Wall Street.
Raw data generated by users online fuels billions in ad revenue annually; why do you think Facebook is so grateful to its 500 million members today? Between personal profiles, search queries, photo-sharing, and other social web behaviors, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others are gathering information to refine and target their online ads. Cue Bynamite, a San Francisco-based start-up now ramping up a digital business that aims to help consumers turn their online thumbprint into some value for them — or at the very least, make it visible.
All year long Forbes comes out with lists of the world's richest people--the youngest billionaires, the most eligible billionaires, the richest women, the wealthiest families on each continent. People find it fascinating to track the waning and waxing of personal wealth, watching as perennial front-runners Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are eclipsed by a Mexican telecom titan and chased by various silver-spoon princes of Asia and the Middle East. To be among the world's wealthiest is the stuff of many a daydream. And yet our communal vision of what it means to be "rich" is changing.
Even as the world watches to see if BP's new cap can continue to contain the oil spill, market researchers are struggling to get a handle on how deeply "gulf despair" is working its way into the consumer psyche. New data from Kantar Retail show that a majority of Americans -- 56% -- feel they have been affected by the spill, many of them in multiple ways.
New technologies begin by imitating older technologies before evolving to their true forms. For example, early automobiles looked like horseless carriages, and early television shows imitated radio programming before finding their own forms. Online experiences have followed this pattern—getting their start by imitating the printed page. Although many of today’s online experiences have evolved to include more function and interactivity, the “Web page” still dominates our thinking. So the question still remains: what new form will the Web take as it continues to evolve over the next five years? Three types of trends are driving online experiences into their next phase: capabilities, consumers and competition.
The Authenticity Trend has been fully infiltrated into mainstream culture for years. We see its implications from politics to household products. Consumers are attracted to "the real." This is evident in the rise of farmers markets and the dislike of preservatives like parabens, for example. As if through a prism, when the recession hit, the Authenticity Trend evolved to that of "Imperfection." We still want "the real" but, now, we don't believe the hype. We sense when something is fishy and want to see behind the curtain. Think of those great Ally Bank ads with the pony. If nothing else, we learned from the recession that there is no such thing as "perfect."
People are more excited about the prospect of content delivery than they are about the devices the content may be delivered on. According to a survey of 1,200 U.S. consumers by Chadwick Martin Bailey, people were significantly more excited about the prospects of renting movies over the Internet and surfing the web while watching television than they were about 3D televisions, the iPad and Google-powered Android phones.
When Leslie Wexner got into the underwear business nearly 30 years ago, there was a great divide. American women wore Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, or Jockey, pragmatic panties bought in packs of three at mass retailers. Department store lingerie was dowdy, referred to as “foundation garments,” and the fancier items were saved for special occasions, like one’s honeymoon. More modern unmentionables—lacy thongs and padded push-up bras—were available alongside feathered boas and provocative pirate costumes at Frederick’s of Hollywood. Then Wexner, the founder of The Limited, purchased Victoria’s Secret, a small San Francisco chain headed into bankruptcy, and lifted lingerie out of the red-light district, launched it onto the runway, and landed it right into the underwear drawers of mainstream America.
In between posting updates about their lives, fascinating or otherwise, users of social media seem to have plenty of time to opine about brands. In a Harris Poll released this week, 34 percent of adults who use social media said they have employed them "as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand or product."
Loyalty cards — those little paper cards that promise a free sandwich or coffee after 10 purchases, but instead get lost or forgotten — are going mobile. And merchants are looking for ways to marry the concept to games that customers can play to earn more free items and, it is hoped, spend more money. Instead of collecting paper cards and fumbling through wallets at the cash register, customers are increasingly using their cellphones to track their visits and purchases, and receive rewards.
Ultimately, consumers decide what a brand means to them and how brands become a part of their lives. Elevating a brand to iconic status requires not only a great product, but the advocacy of our most loyal consumers. In addition to making the physical product available at the appropriate places, marketers must make the brand a critical part of their core fans' culture. It is important to study and to become a valuable part of that culture. By living and breathing in the same space, marketers will uncover details about their brands that will heavily influence all aspects of their businesses. Moreover, they will discover that consumers--individually and collectively--will seek to engage with the brand through co-creation and collaboration.
Sometime in the next few weeks, Facebook will officially log its 500 millionth active citizen. If the website were granted terra firma, it would be the world's third largest country by population, two-thirds bigger than the U.S. More than 1 in 4 people who browse the Internet not only have a Facebook account but have returned to the site within the past 30 days.
“I listen to a customer call every day. Every single day.” Dell Global Chief Marketing Officer- Paul-Henri Ferrand. I am impressed: I have met hundreds of heads of marketing and never has any of them told me they devote this much time to actual customer contact. Most marketing directors I meet speak of their customers as an abstract quantity, or perhaps an undiscovered exotic species. This probably explains why most heads of marketing are have a disproportionate reckoning of the importance of their brand in their customer’s life. Not Paul-Henri from Dell. He seems different. He is French and charismatic (which helps) but more than that- he talks with conviction and ambition about the the transition towards a ‘new Dell.’
Whatever industry you’re in, in the end, everything is about status. And since what constitutes status in consumer societies is fragmenting rapidly, here’s a (modest) framework to help you start exploring new status symbols and stories with your customers.
Despite dropping prices, Americans spent more on consumer electronics last year than they did the year before that, suggesting once again that the gadgets are becoming essential parts of people's lives.
After a week in which an estimated 102,000 flights were canceled in and out of Europe due to the Icelandic volcano eruption -- costing airlines, travel agencies and the like tens to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars -- nearly every airline was back on schedule today as airports lifted travel restrictions. Even so, an estimated 250 people were still stuck at JFK and living in a veritable "Cot City" on the fourth floor of Terminal Four, waiting to be re-booked or fly stand-by, meaning it was another day for marketers to try to engender some goodwill for their respective brands by offering aid to frustrated flyers.
New ad campaigns suggest marketers are eager to shake off the gloom of tough economic times--and they hope consumers will do the same. While some economists aren't sure the tough times are history, advertisers don't seem to care. Companies are rolling out carefree ads that use humor, colorful images and upbeat language to get consumers to lighten up--and open up their wallets.
Looks like affluent people are feeling safe about spending again: Coach says its fiscal third-quarter sales jumped 12%, and Burberry says that its retail sales gained 15% in the second half. Patricia Pao -- head of the Pao Principle, a New York-based consulting company -- says she isn't surprised, and that the strong pickup some luxury retailers saw over the holidays is building steam. "The Chanel boutique in Houston basically was out of merchandise four days before Christmas," she tells Marketing Daily. "During the recession, it was not considered 'cool' to shop. So right now, people with money are spending because of that pent-up demand. And interestingly, so are people with less money, not just because of pent-up demand, but also due to the new merchandising direction of prints and bright colors."
"Brands are dying," we're told. As a result, we hear that branding is no longer relevant. So now, what do we do?
The first time I noticed the word "Content" had changed, I was being ushered into the inner sanctum of Zappos by a woman answering phones in an Elvis Costume. Why is there a content department at Zappos? Don't they sell shoes and other nifty stuff? Well, it turns out, at Zappos the folks who make images, text and product information for the Web site are working with Zappos "Content." Makes sense, in a Zappos kind of way, I thought at the time. But in the eight months since that visit, the world has changed. All of us, it now appears, are in the Content business.
In late January, Toyota watched the hundreds of stories about its recall situation flow through Digg and saw the passionate comments and conversations triggered by those stories. Toyota was already an advertiser on the user-voted news aggregator, but execs at the company concluded that ads weren’t going to be enough. In a fast-changing crisis, the carmaker needed a PR platform where it could listen and interact with consumers.
Starbucks has lately found itself in the middle of a debate between advocates of “open carry” gun rights and of gun control; the former have held armed meet-ups at several of its locations, and the latter have demanded that the coffee chain prevent this from happening. Seeking to duck these fresh salvos in the long debate over how firearms fit into American life, the company has issued a statement that such matters ought to be worked out “in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.” Well, sure. But drawing a line between official institutions of lawmaking and the daily sphere where citizens move about is not so easy. And one thing the pistols-and-Frappuccino moment has demonstrated is that this is acutely true for a business with an image carefully devised to blur the line between public space and commercial space.
Fortified waters and sports drinks saw steep volume declines last year, while the carbonated soft-drink category saw some rebound amid declines as consumers continue to shun packaged beverages. Overall, the beverage category declined 3.1% in volume in 2009. A year ago, the beverage category saw volume drop by 2.1%, the first decline on record. "The challenged economy is undoubtedly the single greatest factor that's impacted the performance of refreshment beverages in each of the last two years," said Gary Hemphill, managing director-chief operating officer at Beverage Marketing Corp. "It's possible this could continue into 2010. It's a little bit premature to say, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility."
Right out of the gate, let's assume that we all agree consumer behavior is in the throes of its biggest shift in history. And the cause is generally attributed to the Internet. While I don't disagree with this assessment, I believe there may be some misattribution when it comes to cause and effect. Did the Internet cause our consumer behavior to change? Or did it enable it to change? The distinction may seem like mere semantics, but there's a fundamental difference here.
Jezper Söderlund, a music producer in Gothenburg, Sweden, was thrilled to receive a one-word e-mail message earlier this month. The word was “no.” The sender of the e-mail message was perhaps the most famous businessman in the world, Steven P. Jobs, chief executive of Apple.
Behavioral targeting may keep advertisers front-and-center with their target audiences. It may also keep some publishers in business. The practice, which involves tracking consumers' Web surfing and shopping habits so marketers can deliver ads to audiences who are most interested in them, is paying off for the companies that are dabbling in this space, according to a survey the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI).
Walmart has decided that national brands are still important -- even ones with relatively small shares that it used to think didn't. The world's-biggest retailer had embarked on an ambitious program to winnow brand assortment in an effort to reduce inventory, improve margins and, it said, offer the consumer a better shopping experience. But realizing the culling actually "aggravated" consumers, it's now restocking hundreds of brands and products eliminated or curtailed months ago and taking a new look at other categories where it has streamlined assortment.
As US equity markets recover and consumers regain a bit of their swagger, shoppers are abandoning Wal-Mart's US stores in droves. The discount giant, which posted healthy US same-store sales gains in four of the first six quarters of the Great Recession as millions of cash-strapped shoppers traded down from department stores and other higher-priced chains, was considered to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the economic slowdown. Now shoppers are dropping Wal-Mart like a bad habit. In fact, the Bentonville, Ark.-based chain is likely to post, for the first time in its history, four straight quarters of same-store sales drops. Coincidentally, the S&P 500 Index is up in each of those quarters. It's an odd relationship America has had recently with the low-price titan.
A new survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, the second issued by Booz & Company since the early days of the recession in October 2008, confirms that a “new frugality,” born of the Great Recession and evidenced by two consecutive years of declining per capita consumption, is now becoming entrenched among U.S. consumers and is reshaping their consumption patterns in ways that will persist even as the economy starts to recover.
Search engine marketing no longer exists in an online vacuum. In today’s multi-channel world, people search online, visit stores to test out products, return to the internet to compare prices and then complete purchases in-store, online or via a call center. Over $155 billion worth of consumer goods was purchased online in the U.S. in 2009, yet a far larger portion of offline sales were influenced by online research, according to a March report from Forrester Research. Forrester estimates that $917 billion worth of retail sales last year were “web-influenced,” with online and web-influenced offline sales combined accounting for 42% of total retail sales. That percentage will grow to 53% by 2014, when the web will influence $1.4 billion worth of in-store sales.
A couple of years ago, a business-development guy at Bloomberg named Bo Moon was getting crushed in his fantasy-basketball league. So while commuting from New Jersey into Bloomberg's Manhattan offices, Moon and a car-pool colleague, Jay B. Lee, started wondering what would happen if the company applied its core expertise, the supply of real-time financial analytics to Wall Street traders, to sports statistics. (And while spending hours stuck in New York City–area rush-hour traffic, they had plenty of time to ponder.) After all, in many ways fantasy teams are similar to stock portfolios, with players as the assets. If Bloomberg could analyze a stock via every imaginable statistic and performance graphic, why couldn't the company do the same for athletes? With fantasy sports now a $4.5 billion industry, wouldn't there be demand for a Bloomberg product geared toward that market?
Consumers appear to be slowly returning to big-name brands after fleeing to lower-cost, private labels in the past year. Store brands rose 3.2% at retailers for the four-week period ended Feb. 20, according to a Thursday report released by Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow. Such brands account for about 20% of unit sales of food. Figures exclude sales at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. But the increase is down from a 4% gain in January and an about 6% gain, excluding dairy, last July. At the same time, branded-food unit sales rose 2.4% for the February period compared to a 0.2% decline for the four weeks ended Jan. 23. Mr. Moskow said the gains in part could be due to shoppers stocking up on items before and during the recent winter storms.
Mobile phones are fast becoming the way consumers find coupons, research products, compare prices and make purchases. It makes shopping easier for consumers, but that doesn't mean retailers are thrilled at the prospect of consumers consulting mobile phones from their aisles -- after all, does Best Buy want you to know that the item in your cart can be had cheaper at Amazon -- and purchased right now on your phone?
Instead of our usual text-based Trend Briefings, we bring you a light-hearted yet insight-heavy video edition this month, featuring consumers from all over the world speaking their minds on a variety of trend topics. After all, one consumer video sometimes says more than a 20-page Trend Briefing ;-) Enjoy!
As soon as the St. Louis Cardinals' new batting coach Mark McGwire told reporters at spring training that he had used steroids only to stay healthy, not to improve his performance, the statisticians pounced. Analyzing his power numbers, they demonstrated what we all already knew: performance enhancers work. With economic recovery and renewed competition around the corner, marketing executives need some powerful performance enhancers of their own — of the non-pharmaceutical kind.
Online buying is on the rise. U.S. shoppers spent $39 billion on the Web in the fourth quarter (ending Dec. 31) last year, up 3% from the year before, according to research company comScore. That number is expected to surge as more companies offer their wares online, and services such as eBay's PayPal and Google's Checkout, which just got a new vice president of commerce, streamline the buying process. The growth poses new opportunities and challenges for brands. How do brands win on the Web? How does online marketing differ from offline? How does a brand create loyalty when shoppers can easily switch to other brands they see on the Internet?
This year may mark a milestone in branding and naming, one that has as much resonance as Marlboro Friday. Walmart is unceremoniously clearing brands off the shelves that do not sell well and replacing them with their own private label versions. This seems to be a backlash against "product overload" - a phenomenon where there is just too much choice for cash strapped consumers looking for deals. This is great for private label brands, but not great news for already struggling brand names.
A year ago, it looked as if the Internet would find itself in Washington's crosshairs. A new Democratic administration was moving into the White House with a huge majority in Congress. A reckless Wall Street was blamed by many Americans for nearly destroying the economy. Regulation was hot. And besides, in the minds of many lawmakers, the Web was full of shady crooks and needed policing. These days, fears of heavy regulation have abated somewhat, as the online ad market bounces back from a brutal recession, and lawmakers continue to be distracted by bank failures, wars and healthcare legislation.
Edelman today named BBC veteran Richard Sambrook, its first chief content officer. Mr. Sambrook, who has been the BBC's director of global news and a member of the BBC's Management Board for the last 10 years, will assist agency clients in producing written, video and audio content that will allow them to tell their own stories to consumers. Mr. Sambrook will report to Edelman EMEA President and CEO David Brain and will be based in Edelman's London office. The agency said he will also sit on its Global Executive Committee, chaired by CEO and President Richard Edelman.
U.S. consumers didn't let snow or frigid temperatures stop them from shopping in January. And if they couldn't get to the malls, there was always the Internet. Retail sales increased a larger-than-expected 0.5% last month, more than recovering a 0.1% loss of December. Sales might have increased even more if not for the lack of inventory. The latest retail data suggest real gross domestic product is on a solid track, even though February's storms cut into business activity. The January shopping gain was broad-based, with sellers of sporting goods, books and music, general merchandise stores and Internet retailers posting increases in excess of 1%. Internet sales have soared 12.4% over the past year.
Sometimes a big brand's family of products can be so overwhelming that consumers forget they're all made by the same company. That's why Hormel's new ad campaign is pitching "its whole Hormel-branded portfolio" – to educate consumers about the brand's various offerings and encourage them to buy more than just a few favorite products.
What does your search engine say about you? Well, if it's Bing, you're probably an early adopter, but you also visit, shop and ultimately make purchases from Walmart more than other search-engine users. Google searchers, on the other hand, are partial to Target and Amazon, and Yahoo searchers have a strong preference for wireless service from AT&T and Sprint.
Negotiations have ceased and Cadbury is now officially a Kraft brand, but it didn't come cheap: Kraft spent $18.5 billion. (What a difference one month makes since AP published a $19.5 billion estimate in January.) Nevertheless, Cadbury's majority shareholders agreed to an acquisition that will allow Kraft to take the reigns.
House Democrats challenged executives from the cable television company Comcast and the television network NBC Universal on Thursday to show that Comcast’s plan to take control of the NBC media empire would not hurt consumers and rivals. In a hearing, members of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee expressed concerns that the transaction could lead to a range of competitive harms, including higher cable TV rates and fewer video programming choices.
Aiming to wrest more advertising revenue from online video, several companies, led by ad giant Publicis Groupe and including Microsoft, Yahoo, CBS and Hulu, have spent the past year testing online-ad formats to figure out what consumers want. It turns out they want choice. Tests found that "ad selector," a format that lets online-video watchers pick one of three companies' ads to watch, outscored other ad formats, including the much-maligned "pre-roll" ads that consumers are often required to see before viewing online video clips.
Does someone marketing in today's digital culture need a pricey MBA? Once considered the pinnacle of accomplishment in business, the relevance of the degree has come under question. Clues as to why the criticism might stick could be found at the recent Kellogg School of Management Marketing Conference. Taking a classic approach, event organizers offered scant Wi-Fi and buried the Twitter hashtag in the event brochure. Still, there were important lessons worth learning.
As we wanted to keep things straightforward and hands-on this month, we're highlighting "FUNCTIONALL". Which is all about a new breed of products that are simple, small and/or cheap (with a dash of sustainability), giving them global appeal, from India to Sweden. Now, if that doesn't warrant a brainstorming session...
Flouting the efforts of lobbyists to shut down his plan for a consumer protection agency, the newly combative President Barack Obama is digging in his heels. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said last week that it’s something Obama “is not willing to give up.” Thus, we open another round in the brawl between Obama and business groups that claim the bill covering mortgage and credit-card lenders is a death sentence for small companies, expensive for consumers, and will “change the way Americans do business forever.”
You seem different. More anxious. Pensive, perhaps. What's on your mind? A lot of people desperately want to know. Market researchers always want to get inside the heads of consumers, and they've never been more curious than they are now. In the aftermath of a wrenching recession, Americans are saving more, spending less, and rethinking many of the tenets that have governed middle-class living for the past 40 years. Vast amounts of money are at stake, as consumer-product firms try to guess how Americans will spend their scarce dollars in the future.
Having a great product is no longer a guarantee of success. A Bain & Co. survey notes that 80 percent of CEOs believe that their product is differentiated, but only 8 percent of consumers agree. To truly stand out in the market, a product must embody the characteristics of its brand. But, with all the hoopla around branding, it’s no wonder that companies are continually lured into believing that their brand is their product and their product is their brand.
As the flame of 2009 flickered into the history books, Facebook celebrated its rise to 350 million users and certain dominance in the U.S. social networking market. However, in December, analysts questioned whether or not Facebook was losing its cool as time spent on the popular social network dropped three consecutive months among 18-24 year old users. Experts feared that the “family effect” was having a negative impact within this highly coveted demographic.
Yesterday we posted the first five digital-marketing predictions from Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic, which looked at mobility, geo-location, viral marketing, gaming and online display. Today, we bring you the final five. And we want to know -- do you agree? What do you think will be the big issues of 2010? Here's the rest of the predictions for 2010.
"Augmented reality" may sound like indecipherable technobabble, but the concept behind this technology is familiar to anyone who has seen any of the "Terminator" movies. In the sci-fi films, a cyborg is able to scan its surrounding area and superimpose data on what it sees, which allows it to get background information on humans. Now, after years of use in academic and industrial circles -- not to mention science fiction -- augmented reality is coming to consumers, who can expect to see it in their everyday lives in 2010.
The casual-dining industry may be looking for sunny indicators as to what 2010 may bring, but Kraft is betting big that consumers will continue to eat at home next year. The world's second-largest food company is unveiling 20 products, many of them designed to help consumers re-create restaurant experiences at home.
A friend of mine attended a City University of New York reading recently from a new anthology of Central and Eastern European plays from the 1980s. Three of the playwrights in attendance that Monday night -- a Slovenian, a Hungarian, and a Romanian -- shared their views. All had written as dissidents and subversives until communism fell. They said that behind the Iron Curtain, one knew one's enemies and those commanding one's life. But, as my friend recounted, their opinion was that now, in the West, "Do you know any longer who's in charge?"
At some point in our schooling, we all learned about the ancient Greek marketplace called the "agora." The agora was a place where people gathered to shop, discuss politics and meet friends. Merchants built early commerce around one essential element: human interaction. But gradually, the marketplace changed. Along came the industrial revolution, the creation of mass communications and long-distance travel. We suddenly found ourselves in the 1950s, the true dawn of the consumer society.
Starbucks instant coffee was always going to be a tough sell. That's why the company spent years developing it and months preparing its frontline employees (aka baristas) for the Sept. 29 launch of Via, three-packs of instant that go for $2.95. "We took a lot of time with it because we knew it could undermine the company if we didn't do it right," CEO Howard Schultz said this summer. It's too early to say whether Via is a success. But judging from the coffee blogs, including the company's mystarbucksidea.com, for some baristas the pressure to sell Via is intense and unwelcome. "This is the most stressful promotion I have ever experienced, and I've been with the company for seven years," a barista wrote on starbucksgossip.com. Some customers are finding the hard sell a bit exasperating, too. As one wrote: "Please no more high-pressure Via sales pitches. It's annoying … it's completely out of line with Starbucks' vibe."
JPMorgan Chase announced earlier this week that it plans to hire 1,500 new mortgage and small business bankers by the end of 2010. I think this is a tremendous branding opportunity. "We have invested in new systems, aggressively grown our capacity and are now looking to increase our sales force," said its head of home lending in a statement reported on CNN.
Until August, Honda had been reticent about using social media platforms in a big way. The company had a MySpace page for the Element, and started dabbling in Facebook with the Fit compact car and, more recently, the Insight hybrid. Then, this year, Honda told its agency, Santa Monica, Calif.-based RPA, that it needed a plan to talk about Honda's core values but on a tight budget. Thus began the Facebook-centric "Everybody Knows Somebody Who Loves a Honda" effort launched in August without ad support. Last month, the Torrance, Calif., automaker added traditional media directing consumers to Facebook. Ads show real Honda owners talking about themselves and their cars in sliding pane-like frames that go from one owner to the next. Each owner is somehow connected to the previous one.
The recession may be over but companies that cater to consumers believe people are digging in for a long, frugal winter. That's why Clorox Co. is keeping the price steady on a new improved trash bag that grips the top of the garbage can. Clorox says it wants to highlight the bags' "greater value." Similarly, Campbell Soup Co. recently reduced the promoted price of its V8 beverages in some markets to 2 for $5 from 2 for $6. Burger King Holdings Inc. is selling double cheeseburgers for just a dollar. Glimmers of recovery in housing starts, manufacturing and auto sales have yet to reassure many consumers who are spooked by 10.2% unemployment, determined to save more and skeptical of sunny forecasts. The Conference Board recently said its consumer confidence index fell almost six points in October from September.
As a marketer, PepsiCo appears lost. As a company, it might be in trouble. While there is something to be said for experimentation, PepsiCo has canned more marketing misses than hits in the last year. In an effort to continually target the next generation, it seems to have forgotten how to be a business. In fact, if it wasn't for its salty snack holdings being considered a staple, we suspect its fizzy drink section might start to dry up. In some ways, it has. In October, PepsiCo Americas Beverages unit reported a 6 percent drop in volume and a 9 percent revenue decline. According to some analysts, the result reflects a change in buying habits as consumers shifted toward juices and teas and away from soft drinks. That might be true, but 6 percent is twice the drop experienced by Coca-Cola.
More than a hundred people were lined up at midnight Thursday outside a Verizon Wireless store in midtown Manhattan to be among the first people to buy the new Motorola Droid. About 65 eager shoppers lined the south side of West 34th Street across from Macy's in Manhattan at 11:30 p.m. Thursday waiting for the store to open. Verizon opened the store from midnight to 2 a.m. to give people in the Big Apple a head start on the morning cell phone rush. By midnight, when the doors officially opened, about 100 people stood in line as Verizon officials ushered in customers 25 at a time.
Leading retailers say October turned out to be unexpectedly solid, with consumers spending more freely than expected. The International Council of Shopping Centers, which tracks leading chains around the U.S., says its index gained 2.1% for the month, the strongest gain in 15 months. And Retail Forward, a consulting company that tracks a slightly different group of stores, says its index saw a pop of 2.3% compared with a 0.9% gain last month and the 3.8% decline in October of 2008.
A few weeks ago, Marc Fitten, editor of the Chattahoochee Review, wrote an op-ed called "Our Cars, Ourselves" in The New York Times that said this: "GM left its Atlanta plant to rot. So I left my GM loyalty behind." GM is an example of how branding is changing in this post-economic era. The field of brand strategy needs to change as much as the derivative business because the market is changing, the climate is changing, technology is changing, and the customer is changing.
Signs of an improving economy might be in your kitchen or bathroom cupboards. Consumers are showing a willingness to pay a little more to get Colgate toothpaste, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and Gillette Fusion shavers. That's good news for the economy and the multibillion-dollar companies that make those products and have been battling to keep shoppers from trading down to store brands to save money. Procter & Gamble Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Kellogg Co. all gave upbeat earnings reports and even stronger outlooks for next year on Thursday, a day that also saw the announcement that U.S. gross domestic product rose for the first time in a year.
According to recent research from the Nielsen Three Screen Report ("More Looks, More Screens"), consumers are viewing vast amounts of video across multiple screens: televisions, computers, and mobile phones. Surprised? The research is simply catching up to what consumers already know: It's all a screen (movie screen, television screen, computer screen, mobile phone screen). Consumers will take their content on any screen that is readily available. Just ask any parent ... why do you think they coined the term "screen time" in the first place?
Private label is at something of a crossroads. Rising out of the shadows of its humble, “no-name” generic past, private label today has blossomed into a $100 billion industry. While the media and analysts are fixated on sales numbers and growth expectations another story frequently gets little air play: Private label has the freedom (and not the baggage) to seize opportunities to leapfrog name brands in such critical areas as ingredients, flavors, preparations and even packaging. Looking through the lens of contemporary consumers and shoppers, we see that the rapidly changing private label landscape is far too complicated to be adequately explained by aggregate sales or customer transaction sales data alone. Our Private Label 2010: Redefining Meaning of Brand report moves beyond simplified discussions of sales data to present a holistic consumer and shopper perspective on private label that accounts for the role of the economy, new meaning of value, distinctions in retail formats, product categories, name brands and, of course, private label brands.
While much has been made of America's newfound thriftiness, a new study suggests that shoppers are less focused on price than most marketers think. "Marketers are very focused on the word value, but have very little sense of what that actually means to consumers," says Jarrett Paschel, VP at The Hartman Group, tells Marketing Daily. "Everyone assumes it must be something about the way consumers are trying to save money. But that doesn't mean we've entered a new era of frugality."
How much do you trust your digital life? Has the fear of identity theft or bank card fraud dampened your trust in digital services? You're not alone. As the digital world permeates more and more aspects of our lifestyle, protecting our digital lives is more important than ever. Researchers at Microsoft, Nokia, Philips and digital security company Gemalto recently announced the launch of a new initiative that aims to set out how consumers and businesses can do just that. Called Trust in Digital Life Partnership, their vision is to address “the fundamental societal issue of trust in new and emerging digital services.”
With so many advertising dollars flowing onto blogs, Facebook and Twitter, it is not surprising that the Federal Trade Commission, which is charged with protecting consumers from sneaky advertising, has turned its eye on this new medium. Spending on consumer-generated and social-networking sites reached $1.01 billion in 2008, up 25 percent from 2007, according to PQ Media, a research firm. It is expected to grow about 20 percent this year. Much of this advertising is clearly labeled. But a lot of it is paid advertising masquerading as bona fide endorsements by celebrities, well-known bloggers and even ordinary people — honest comment, free from pecuniary considerations.
The 2010 census will officially record that more than 300 million people live in this country. It's a diverse group, as we've known for a while now. But a study commissioned by the trade magazine Advertising Age will pose some problems for marketers in the second decade of the century. We've now become so diverse that there's no such thing as an average American anymore.
What's the difference between personalization and customization? Are consumers really in control? Do brands (and designers) want them to be? Nick de la Mare considers curation and the myth and reality of control.
Managing a brand has always been a slightly odd concept, given that consumers are the real arbiters of brand meaning, and it's become increasingly outmoded in today's two-way world. That's why a new report is going to recommend changing the name "brand manager" to "brand advocate," and fundamentally changing marketer organizations in response to the onset of the digital age. The report, due out next week from Forrester, finally puts the onus on marketers to change their structures -- a welcome conclusion for media owners and agencies who keep hearing how they should change, but often complain that their clients have done little to shift their organizations to cope with an increasingly complex world of media fragmentation and rising retailer and consumer power.
One of the wisest bits of advice I've gotten in my advertising career came from an old creative director who once noted that "there's a reason 'America's Funniest Home Videos' is a top-10 show." His point, which predated You Tube's sneezing pandas and dancing babies by at least 10 years, was that the most popular entertainment is often the safest. Which doesn't make it bad or wrong or awful. It's just not cutting edge. It's something to keep in mind as we move deeper into a world of democratized content, one where consumers are their own editors and make the call as to what gets passed on.
Independent media agency TargetCast:tcm has released a consumer trend report that reveals differences in how men and women engage with traditional media. The study also points to generational differences in the ways digital media is perceived and consumed. The study, based on a survey last month of 895 adults age 18-64, found that men are generally more willing than women to adapt their habits to incorporate digital and online platforms as replacements for traditional media.
A year after the U.S. economy was brought to its knees by the bursting of the housing bubble, credit for consumers is still being aggressively ratcheted back. Total consumer credit outstanding, which includes everything from credit-card debt to loans for recreational vehicles, fell $12 billion in August, or at a 5.8% seasonally adjusted annual rate, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. It was the seventh straight month of declines, the longest stretch since 1991. The drop is a stark demonstration of how banks and other lenders are scaling back, owing to their own exposure to the struggling real-estate market. But it also reflects a reluctance by Americans to hold big loads of debt at a time when the job market remains in bad shape and the value of their homes has fallen.
Hilary McHone, 35, speaks directly into a camera as she lolls in bed, describing her day shooting an internal video for Ford. "What was neat was that I got to be ‘talent'," McHone says, using her fingers to put virtual parentheses around the word. The video is one of hundreds on a Ford site created to market its upcoming Fiesta subcompact. McHone is among of 100 "agents" that Ford has enlisted to drum up enthusiasm for the Ford Fiesta, which it's unveiling in the U.S. before it goes on sale in June. McHone's videos and others featured on the marketing site, fiestamovement.com, are supposed to help to generate early buzz for the brand, which will be aimed at 14- to 30-year-olds. Ford isn't paying the agents, but it did loan each of them a car for six months.
It doesn't really surprise me that the iSnack 2.0 product name for the new cheesy Vegemite product was pulled, leading some pundits to say that even if the (admittedly terrible) iSnack 2.0 name was a marketing gimmick, it might have done harm to the brand. Kraft, the makers of Vegemite, has had plenty of media attention over the last couple of weeks, but unfortunately, most of it has been negative. Lots of bloggers are even getting sick of the iSnack naming hoopla. Amazingly, Kraft went back to consumers and held another online competition and this time around "Cheesybite" was the name that came out on top, which is a big improvement.
Fighter brands are one of the oldest strategies in branding. In a classic response to low priced rivals an organization launches a cheaper brand to attack the threat head on and protect their premium priced offerings. Unlike flanker brands or traditional brands that are designed with a set of target consumers in mind, fighter brands are specifically created to combat a competitor that is threatening to steal market share away from a company’s main brand. Fighter brands are usually a classic recession strategy. As value competitors gain share and private labels grow stronger - an increasing number of marketers turn to a fighter brand to rescue disappearing sales while maintaining their premium brand's equity. When a fighter brand strategy works it not only defeats a low priced competitor but also opens up a new market.
It's amazing to see and hear a CEO understanding the massive consumer change that's going on and re-orienting his company around this shift. The CEO is Andy Bond of UK grocery store, Asda (owned by Wal-Mart). To bring home his point Asda organized a media event where they invited political strategist, Philip Gould to explain the change.
It's time for online marketers to forgo click-through rates for a better measure of success, according to new data from comScore in conjunction with media agency Starcom USA and behavioral targeting firm Tacoda. Indeed, the number of people who click on display ads in a month has fallen, from 32% of Web users in July 2007 to only 16% in March 2009. Worse still, an even smaller core of consumers -- representing just 8% of the Internet user base -- accounts for the vast majority, or 85%, of all clicks.
Procter & Gamble announced two multi-year commitments aimed at improving the lives of millions of families worldwide. The first, its new "Future Friendly" program, is an educational initiative that will target millions of U.S. households by Earth Day 2010. The multi-brand program is designed to inspire and educate consumers about making sustainable choices that can have a positive impact on the environment. As part of this pledge, the company will provide conservation education to at least 50 million U.S. households during the year.
Yesterday, Google announced “SideWiki” a new feature of the Firefox and IE browsers (Chrome to come soon) that allows anyone to contribute comments about any webpage –including this one. The impacts are far reaching, now every web page on the internet is social and can have consumer opinion –both positive and negative. Control over the corporate website is shifting to the customers.
Since Carol Bartz became chief executive of Yahoo in January, she has struggled to get past the image of the Internet portal as a beleaguered company that has been outsmarted by nimbler rivals and is fighting for survival. Yahoo has about 580 million visitors around the world every month, and at a news conference Tuesday Ms. Bartz lightheartedly berated reporters for being so cynical about its business prospects. Now Ms. Bartz is introducing a global branding campaign to underscore Yahoo’s strengths with consumers and advertisers. Backed with a budget of more than $100 million over the next 15 months, the campaign is the biggest for the 14-year-old company and the first that is global in scope.
Even as the economy begins to rebound, budget-friendly private labels continue to draw in consumers, per a new report from Information Resources, Inc. According to “IRI Times & Trends Report: Game-Changing Economy Taking Private Label to New Heights,” private label unit share has grown to 22.8 percent (up 1.2 points) in the past 12 months. Dollar share has grown 0.7 points to 17.6 percent. This is in line with a Nielsen report in August that private label sales were up 7.4 percent compared to the previous year, as well as Mintel’s recent findings that private labels saw twice the growth as branded items in 2008, largely due to the rapidly improving quality and packaging of store brands.
CNBC's Advertising Week summit on how marketers connect to consumers could have been called "No, really, we love TV!" The discussion was intended to be a free-roaming exploration about consumer passion, authenticity, and marketing challenges in a world that has little trust for business. But the gravitational pull of Facebook (whose COO Sheryl Sandberg was, appropriately enough, seated dead center) kept the conversation on social media. The apparent subtext that TV might need to get its affairs in order wasn't lost on host Becky Quick, co-host of CNBC's "Squawk Box" show, who rhetorically asked more than once whether she would have a job next year.
Journalists are truth-tellers. But I think most of us have been lying to ourselves. Our profession is crumbling and we blame the Web for killing our business model. Yet it’s not the business model that changed on us. It’s the culture. Mainstream media were doing fine when information was hard to get and even harder to distribute. The public expected journalists to report the important stories, pull together information from sports scores to stock market results, and then deliver it all to our doorsteps, radios and TVs. People trusted journalists and, on our side, we delivered news that was relevant—it helped people connect with neighbors, be active citizens, and lead richer lives. Advertisers, of course, footed the bill for newsgathering. They wanted exposure and paid because people, lots of people, were reading our newspapers or listening to and watching our news programs. But things started to change well before the Web became popular.
Ginger, a 27-year-old living in Indianapolis, is baffled as to why she gets the Pottery Barn catalog, let alone the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, considering that she has no children. Similarly, Jeanette, a Toledo, Ohio woman, has long received Limited Too, now Justice, mailings. At 49, she's far outside the brand's tween target. Lands' End, which she also regularly receives catalogs from, would be closer to the mark, except that she hasn't ordered anything from there in years. Even Amazon, which has better data-based marketing than most, has raised the ire of the occasional customer. Vicki ordered bike gear from the retailer for her husband, Nick, two or three Christmases ago. She was surprised to receive an e-mail just last week plugging complementary items. In today's digital world it's easier than ever for retailers to slice and dice consumer data. Yet many have yet to crack the code and use the data they do have to serve up targeted, timely and relevant offers.
According to recent analysis by the Online Publishers Association (OPA), more people than ever are spending their time online visiting content sites which provide news, information, and entertainment. Despite the emergence of social networks, and in particular the rapid growth of Facebook, it's content sites which engage web surfers' attention the most these days - time spent on these sites is up 88% from only five years ago. That's not to say social networking community sites haven't grown too, it's just that their growth hasn't come at the expense of content. Instead, people are using traditional communication sites and services (think webmail, IM, and discussion groups) less and less and choosing to use Facebook and other social networks instead.
Blockbuster Inc. is planning to close as many as 40% of its stores over the next two years as the company continues to struggle against new competitors. The Dallas-based movie-rental company had previously planned to close 1,000 stores, but on Tuesday it raised that number to as many as 1,560 of its 3,750 retail outlets. Of those, up to 300 may be converted to outlets, and up to 300 are undergoing lease mitigation or termination efforts. It said the move would help boost profitability and save $26 million in working capital. Blockbuster has come under increasing pressure in recent years as lower-cost rivals have entered the field.
Beauty is in the eye of the food shopper, according to data released by Mintel. The research company’s Beauty Innovation division found that food and drink launches with a “beauty enhancing” claim increased 306 percent worldwide between 2005 and 2008. This demand has sparked a flurry of innovation in this category. The number of new teas, snack bars and other products promising to reverse the aging process or improve the consumer’s complexion, nails and hair have already surpassed last year’s total. Some 299 products have already premiered around the world this year. Last year, 288 such products debuted.
Online shoppers trust the online reviews of strangers more than the recommendations of their friends, new research finds. "Conversations Among Consumers," a new report from online retail marketer Ripple6 and the e-tailing group, finds that shoppers buying products on the Internet are influenced both by online social networking sites and face-to-face conversations with friends. But when it comes to whose opinions influence the shoppers, strangers have as much if not more impact than friends.
Motivating collective creativity among a group of loosely connected individuals with a shared interest requires more than just an offer of prize money. Brands can harness social and personal desires to inspire crowds to come together for collaborative endeavors.
You’re going to hear more and more people in the social media space start using the term “social business” in the coming months. It will likely replace “community building” as the corporate catch phrase of the moment. Trend setters in the industry like Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and random other former Forrester Research employees now cashing in are already tossing it around. It puts a prettier wrapping paper on the larger payoff for what social media thinkers do. What the term implies, at least from my perspective, is that the business in question, or what they’re trying to sell you, is one that is not driven by products or services.
Does where stuff gets made matter to consumers, and thus to brand identity? I keep thinking that it does, and that it will play an ever-increasingly important role in purchase decisions. Reality hasn't quite caught up with my forecast.
A brand’s position is the set of perceptions, impressions, ideas and feelings that consumers have for the product compared with competing products. Marketers plan positions that give their products the greatest advantage in selected target markets, and they design marketing mixes to create these planned positions. In planning their positioning, marketers often prepare perceptual maps that show consumer perceptions of their brand versus competing brands on attributes that are important to the consumer, whether functional or symbolic.
For one answer to the nation's most pressing economic question -- when will the recession end? -- just take a peek inside the American man's underwear drawer. There may be some new pairs there, judging by recent reports from retailers and analysts, and that could mean better days ahead for everyone. Here's the theory, briefly: Sales of men's underwear typically are stable because they rank as a necessity. But during times of severe financial strain, men will try to stretch the time between buying new pairs, causing underwear sales to dip.
Are you more loyal to brands than you were 10 years ago? Are there any businesses that provide such a great product or service that you would never price-shop, and you'll declare your brand loyalty across your social networks? My guess is that you and your customers are much less loyal than you were in the '90s.
Street fashion designer Rick Klotz has announced that he's going to forsake any brand logos or names on his Freshjive products next year. Is it an anti-branding move, or something more? I say something more.
Some sneaker makers are giving national advertising campaigns the boot. To get more traction, they are increasingly turning to a tactic known as hyper-local marketing.
Anheuser-Busch InBev is the latest marketer in China to invite consumers to create an ad campaign, but the brewer has one rule: The commercial must feature ants. The U.S. beer giant is partnering with Tudou.com, a Chinese video-sharing site like YouTube, in a contest that lets consumers pitch ideas for a Bud TV spot that will run during the Chinese New Year in February 2010.
Green consumers are more concerned about saving money than saving the planet, according to new research from advertising agency the Shelton Group. The study found that while 59 percent of green consumers identify the economy as their top concern in making purchases, a mere 8 percent consider the environment.
There is a vital lesson buried in the August 19, 2009 Jet Blue announcement that they were suspending sales of the $599.00 "All You Can Jet" promotion they'd debuted only seven days before. Any student of Behavioral Economics could have predicted that an "all you can eat" approach would inspire vastly different behavior than if Jet Blue had charged a lower fixed fee plus $1 per mile. Similarly, over a decade ago when AOL switched to a usage-independent flat price, connection time increased four times more than they anticipated. "All you can eat" is an entirely different price than "very, very cheap."
When consumers make purchase decisions, they're spending anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds - according to surveys and research conducted by consumer behavior experts. Studies show that consumers ignore up to two-thirds of category products when they shop. That kind of statistic points to just how difficult it is to successfully package products. And clearly demonstrates why so many products fail at retail.
Sales of luxury cars, once considered resistant to recessions, fell almost 21% last year -- double the decline in overall car sales -- and continue to slide this year. That raises a disturbing question for auto makers: Is it merely a reaction to the downturn, or a long-term change in consumer behavior?
In this recession, there are struggling apparel retailers all across the country. Then there's Abercrombie & Fitch. The upscale teen retailer has suffered 10 straight months of double-digit same-store-sales declines. In the second quarter of 2009 alone, sales were down an eye-popping 30% across the company's three name outlets.
On Monday, Sept. 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers imploded, the world tilted and all the Fiji Artesian water came tumbling off the table, crashing along with the stock market. Suddenly the conspicuous consumer became the conspicuous coupon clipper. Bad if you own a Hummer dealership. Good if you own a real value proposition.
Customers hop into display beds and nap, pose for snapshots with the decor and enjoy the air conditioning and free soda refills. They just don't buy much.
As the recession continues to put pressure on ad spending across most media, word of mouth marketing is one notable sector that has bucked the trend and continued to grow. And agencies are devoting more resources to meet client demand.
Freaking out about the easier opt-outs proposed by some online-privacy advocates? Maybe you don't have so much to worry about. In June, Fetchback, an advertising network that specializes in ad "retargeting," added a link within its ad units that, when clicked, took consumers to a page that explained who the advertiser was and how the ad got there and gave contact info for Fetchback, as well as a way to opt out of future targeting.
There’s been a lot of interesting discussion recently on how to best leverage channels like Twitter to communicate. This post talks about a bit about the co-creation of new social experiences that drive conversation and engagement in innovative ways, with the potential to then communicate the co-creation activity across multiple channels - including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Flickr.
Computers may be good at crunching numbers, but can they crunch feelings? The rise of blogs and social networks has fueled a bull market in personal opinion: reviews, ratings, recommendations and other forms of online expression. For computer scientists, this fast-growing mountain of data is opening a tantalizing window onto the collective consciousness of Internet users.
In the evolution of techniques to speed shoppers to checkout, most supermarkets are near the back of the line. While Americans spend relatively little time in queues, a wait they perceive as too long or unjust could curtail repeat purchases. To combat this, some retailers and fast-food restaurants have gone the way of banks and airports, shuttling customers into a single line where the person in front goes to the next open cash register. Other retailers are dabbling in technological upgrades to improve the waiting experience with updates on wait times or pleasant distractions.
Most companies have turned from feeling paralyzed by the economic shocks of 2008 to plotting response strategies appropriate for today's tough markets. One thing companies need to carefully consider is how to confront the new reality of increasingly value-conscious customers.
It goes without fail, whenever a new product is released from a Gen Y "it" company, my phone rings off the hook. So why are people calling a financial guy when a new product is released? Because these "it" companies market so well that the consumer wants to be an owner ... of the company.
As the recession wears on and fewer people are splurging at Starbucks, the coffee chain’s response is to raise prices. On Thursday, Starbucks stores in several cities started charging up to 30 cents more for some specialty beverages, though the company is charging less for some basic drinks.
Following a recent study, "Fortune 100 CEOs Are Slackers," social media pundits have entered a heated, one-sided debate on the subject. In today's culture, current expectations are that CEOs who opt to utilize social media must essentially agree to an ongoing and continuous dialogue with anyone interested while managing their other duties. While social media has attracted tremendous attention, it has made few agencies - and only a small handful of people - any money. Why? Because the current rules of social engagement are completely unrealistic for corporate America.
An effort to sell General Motors Co. cars through eBay Inc.'s online market is generating some leads for participating auto dealers but hasn't yet sparked a spurt in sales, dealers said. The companies rolled out the four-week pilot program for California customers Aug. 11. Under it, shoppers using special eBay sites can purchase GM cars at a "buy it now" price, or bargain online with a dealer. GM and eBay said they would measure success based on the degree of customer interaction with the sites and the program's ability to generate leads, but also said they expected customers to "complete quite a few transactions."
Not long ago ConAgra Foods assembled a group of 20 marketers and outside agency folks to figure out why sales of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn had gone stale. They spent nine months studying popcorn eaters, observing families in their homes and instructing them to keep weekly diaries of how they felt about various snacks. "That's when we uncovered the insight," recalls Stan E. Jacot, a ConAgra vice president. It seems that the essence of popcorn is that it is a "facilitator of interaction."
According to a recent eMarketer report, Twitter - so far - isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for the marketing industry. Only 8% of those in the advertising world feel that Twitter is effective for marketing to their audiences - partially because of the lack of knowledge and awareness that the general consumer has around Twitter. Research from LinkedIn showed that while over 80% of advertisers knew Twitter, only 30% of consumers on the Web were familiar with the micro-blogging tool.
"I promise." It's a simple statement. One uttered by children trying to convince their parents that they will be good, by husband and wife on their wedding day (and every week on trash day). A promise builds a strong emotional connection between two people. They are simple words, but when spoken from the heart (and delivered on), they form the foundation for meaningful relationships--and consumer experiences.
There's an interesting article over at The Baltimore Sun, suggesting that real-time reviews from movie-goers after seeing a new film have really got movie studios worried, thanks to the knock-on effect they can have on box office stats. But is it true?
Marketers want private, direct conversations with consumers and thanks to technology this is easier to do. We are all GPSed, Googled and Facebooked, put in matrices, files, rankings, etc. The digital environment not only collects more and more private data, but it also offers marketing many tools for evaluation and promotion online and offline. But it raises concerns whether privacy needs more protection.
Repeat after me: "Your customer doesn't have the answers!" I thought we put this to rest fifteen years ago, but apparently there are a number of companies still trying to create innovative consumer experiences by asking people what they want. Consumers want what their neighbors have. They have no idea what's next--they consume!
One evening earlier this week 14 guests arrived at Diana Burroughs' condo in Manhattan's West Village; seven of them were dogs. After sniffing one another and joining in a dog-and-owner look-alike contest, the pooches happily feasted on filet-mignon- and potato-flavored kibbles from Chef Michael's Canine Creations. Nestle Purina in recent weeks has spent $150,000 sponsoring 1,000 home gatherings like this three-hour party to market its newest line of dog food.
Giving your brand a social life on the web takes more than a username and an avatar. It takes a lot of time, and a surprising amount of planning and attention. Here are 5 key steps and 3 key continuous activities that brands need to go through in order to successfully participate in online conversations and forge meaningful connections with people who care about their product.
The economy may be causing marketers to scale back on expensive, high-production efforts, but one area is still likely to see some growth this year: cause marketing. The economy may be causing marketers to scale back on expensive, high-production efforts, but one area is still likely to see some growth this year: cause marketing.
According to market research firm Hartman Group, consumer loyalty is shifting -- from products and brands, to the experiences offered by retailers -- in a radical transformation that started before the recession. I think the change is much bigger than that. Hartman is onto something because it specializes in enthnographic market research (among other tools), which is an attempt to understand consumers in the context of their lives, both in terms of their knowledge and beliefs, and through their behaviors. I believe the firm is saying that capturing consumers' attention with creative and/or compelling marketing communications no longer carries the water in our busy, confused, noisy lives; experiences are what stick, bring differences into sharp focus, and compel purchases.
A new study indicates that online advertising boosts retail sales of consumer packaged goods brands by 9% on average -- comparable with the lift from TV ad campaigns. The findings come from comScore and marketing consultancy dunnhumbyUSA based on research involving online campaigns run over three months for a variety unnamed CPG brands.
While other recession-wracked restaurant chains offer meals for as little as $5, Panera Bread Co. has this deal on its menu: a lobster sandwich for $16.99. Panera has been bucking conventional industry wisdom during the downturn by eschewing discounts and instead targeting customers who can still afford to shell out an average of about $8.50 for lunch.
Some pundits talk about Internet users having a “Google habit” that keeps them hooked on Google and keeps Google the No. 1 Internet search engine. That habit is far from harmful, and consumers don’t feel a need to kick it for a simple reason: Google gives them what they want.
Ah, the great comedy teams of history: Laurel and Hardy ... Burns and Allen ... Abbott and Costello ... Manning and Timberlake. Manning and Timberlake? As in the football star Peyton Manning and the singer Justin Timberlake? Yes, according to a humorous campaign for electronics products sold by Sony.
Sohrab Vossoughi believes in love -- the love marketers must create when trying to connect with consumers. Mr. Vossoughi, the founder and principal of Ziba Design, in Portland, Ore., said his job is to help clients create experiences for their customers, because the "experience is what brings them back for more." He launched Ziba, a product-development firm, in 1984 and directs projects for marketers including McDonald's, FedEx, Hyundai, Whirlpool, Xerox, Black & Decker, Samsung, Microsoft, Nike, Pioneer, Sanyo and Coleman. "We design experiences in multiple platforms -- object, communications, environment interaction/interface and the combination of all of those," he said.
A local dairy farmer walks up and down the line, offering cups of fresh Snowville Creamery milk (“only a day old”) to moviegoers waiting to enter the sold-out screening of Food, Inc., the latest anti-big-food documentary that takes aim at the industrialized food system, especially giant food processing brands like Tyson and Perdue.
Consumers are cutting back on just about everything right now, but some items—paper towels and diapers, for instance—will always be musts. That said, recession-conscious shoppers won’t part with their money unless there’s a promise of value. It’s a dynamic that David Miller Gomez-Giron, Procter & Gamble’s associate marketing director, sees in action every day. Gomez-Giron—who oversees multicultural marketing for Bounty, Charmin and Pampers—has his sights trained on the Hispanic shopper. And for good reason. Not only is the demo huge (46.9 million), but it also responds especially well to quality/value messages.
Some people will stop at nothing to snap up a bargain — even if it means paying too much. That is the paradoxical principle behind Swoopo, a Web site that offers a seductive and controversial proposition to online shoppers.
Just about every company has a Web site. But today, many marketers are going further. They are transforming their digital presence into powerful media channels, direct to consumers. The practice is prevalent enough that, as the research firm Outsell Inc. reported in July 2008, about 62 percent of marketers’ online advertising and marketing budgets are spent on their own digital media, up from 58 percent in 2007. These marketers recognize that with the right mix of content, utility, community, and product, they can create compelling premium experiences for consumers. And they see that these efforts deliver powerful benefits in branding, relationship building, and lead generation.
Having powered its way to the top in U.S. retailing, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has struggled to extend its dominance across the globe. But the world's largest retailer is learning in Brazil and elsewhere that the most successful ideas don't necessarily flow from its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. That has it tailoring inventories and stores to local tastes -- and exporting ideas and products pioneered outside the U.S.
Deservedly or not, industry gets accused incessantly these days of greenwashing. That industry can't be trusted to make truthful green marketing claims and provide information that is credible, straightforward, and useful is not surprising for several reasons.
The signs are everywhere. The New York Times is close to bankruptcy. Magazines are dying in droves. The music industry is trying anything to make a buck. The TV networks are wondering if they can keep selling increasingly expensive space in return for an increasingly smaller audience that time-shifts its way out of having to watch the ads. Meanwhile, business plans that held the words "advertising funded" are being rewritten, while multitudes of newspapers and content sites are closing down because of lack of income.
Now that the recession is most likely over, it's time to start looking at which companies, institutions, and individuals thrived during this grim period. In the harsh downturn that began in December 2007, success was redefined—flat became the new up, and muddling through became a triumph. In a recession that hit all rungs of the income ladder and ravaged the wealthiest consumer markets—the United States, Europe, Japan—there were very few safe havens. But some countries, such as Peru, managed to grow right through the global recession. And some companies arranged their business so that they resisted the contraction and benefited from trends affecting their industry. Some even managed to make decisions during the trough that brought in more business.
The trouble with so many cause-related campaigns, especially in the last lazy weeks of downbeat summer, is that they're, well ... buzz-killers. (Who wants to contemplate world hunger whilst flipping budget burgers on a backyard staycation?)
As U.S. auto manufacturers whither, Hyundai--which once struggled to overcome a reputation for cheesy, entry-level cars--is on a roll. The Korean automaker spent the last decade preaching a necessary, if not boring, message of quality. Today it's taking bold moves with its marketing. Hyundai's U.S. arm, representing nearly one-fifth of total sales, is trying to convince shoppers that, recession be damned, they shouldn't be afraid to buy a Hyundai.
The deep recession and financial meltdown we are experiencing have put consumer-goods marketers into an enterprise-threatening economic environment. How long it will last, of course, is anyone's guess. As we well know, a market for a product must meet three conditions before consumer spending occurs. First, there must be a need or want in the consumer's mind. Marketers are trained to stimulate existing wants and create new ones.
Wikipedia tells us that active listening is an intent to “listen for meaning”. Others suggest that active listening should “focus on who you are listening to, whether in a group or one-on-one, in order to understand what he or she is saying.” These are excellent definitions. But as it relates to customer interactions on the social web, active listening is only one half of the equation.
Sunday Business analyzed new data from the American Time Use Survey to compare the 2008 weekday activities of the employed and unemployed. The comparison may seem obvious, but differences in time spent by these two groups can be striking.
Ford is making safety, infotainment and drivetrain technology important keys to driving consumer interest and sales. But Jim Buczkowski, the automaker's director of global electrical and electronic systems, says it isn't enough to load gadgets onto the dashboard. On-board technology, he argues, must be easy to use, functional and affordable -- because ultimately, he says, one's car is as important a living space as one's living room.
How big is the obese fashion consumer marketplace? Huge. Greater than 86% of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2030, according to the journal Obesity. That makes skinny fashion the new niche, and plus-size apparel mainstream. Yet Lane Bryant, the biggest name in large-sized women's clothing retailing, has set up "Inside Curve," a social networking community "just" for the plus-sized gal. In an attempt to freshen up the brand image, the company is promising an interactive experience on the site for its members, with greater engagement based on fashion appeal versus its long-standing position: large sizes.
Southern Comfort just moved its entire $8m media budget online. Whole Foods was the first brand with 1m followers on Twitter. Coca-Cola pioneered brand generosity on Facebook. Underlying all of this is the fact that social media is the great equalizer. Not just between brands and the consumers of these brands, but between dominant brands and their challengers.
Procter & Gamble Co., under assault by penny-pinching consumers, has quietly rolled out a version of Tide detergent that the company freely admits isn't "new and improved." The product, Tide Basic, is currently for sale in about 100 stores throughout the South. It lacks some of the cleaning capabilities of the iconic brand -- and costs about 20% less. Its very existence is one of the most telling signs to date of how the sour U.S. economy is forcing mass marketers to shift course.
The people who buy media have found their jobs more complicated lately, what with all the new ways of measuring response — how many people clicked, clipped a coupon or made a purchase after seeing an ad.
Things can't get much worse for many of the world's top luxury brands. This week Coach, the high-end handbag seller, announced that profits slumped 32% for the quarter. Same-store sales at Saks were down 23.2% in the first five months of this fiscal year. BMW's U.S. sales are off 28.9%. Bain & Company, the consulting firm, is forecasting a record 10% drop in the overall U.S. luxury market this year. According to Bain, luxury won't fully recover until 2012. What can these brands do to battle this malaise? Maybe BMW should try selling ketchup or mayonnaise.
According to a new survey published by private equity company Veronis Suhler Stevenson, consumers are getting wise to advertising and are choosing to avoid it. In 2008, for the first time, people used more paid content than ad-supported stuff.
Consider for a moment that the humble Amazon product review can nullify millions of dollars of ad spend, that a search for "best razor" on Google can route around all of Gillette's best efforts to communicate the "best a man can get," and that a "hate Comcast" group on Facebook has the power to drive a consumer straight into the arms of DirectTV.
From credit card companies increasing penalties for late payments to banks raising interest rates on credit cards, the recession's bad news knows no bounds. But how consumers learn about such developments can determine how they feel about the companies that dictate them.
Earlier this year, Forrester Research released its five year advertising forecast which found that marketers were shifting substantial advertising dollars out of traditional media and into interactive channels such as mobile marketing, display ads, search, social media and email. Yet, marketers who rely too heavily on interactive channels, at the expense of traditional channels, risk losing out on the lucrative Boomer segment that are avid multi-media consumers.
While shopping for beach wear and back-to-school supplies this summer, don't be surprised to find Christmas deals in the next aisle. Several retailers are starting the holiday push earlier this year—a move that industry experts say won't guarantee improved sales.
Marketing researchers of note, Forrester Research and McKinsey & Company, recently conducted studies on the nature of consumerism today. Their results are important because they point to a shift away from the classic “consumer purchasing funnel.”
When marketers want to reach users of social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, or Cyworld, they have two choices: buy advertising or start a viral campaign. New research by Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta suggests that viral may be the way to go in these connected worlds. But first it's important to understand both who influences purchase decisions in online communities and which groups of users can be influenced.
For all the concern and uproar over online privacy, marketers and data companies have always known much more about consumers’ offline lives, like income, credit score, home ownership, even what car they drive and whether they have a hunting license. Recently, some of these companies have started connecting this mountain of information to consumers’ browsers.
Passersby along New York’s Fifth Avenue will soon see a change at Saks Fifth Avenue: Rather than a designer collection, a corner window will announce the department store’s own new line of menswear. While the store doesn’t go so far as using the term “house brand,” which sounds too lowbrow, it is emphasizing value with its new venture.
A popular blogger can create as much impact as a 30-second spot. Should personal influence be the next CPM? Marketers seem to have realized only recently that people can be brands. Madonna constantly reinvents herself. Martha Stewart is now a redeemed domestic diva. But personal branding has been around for as long as mass media. In the heyday of the silver screen, studios managed their stars like brands in a portfolio. They carefully positioned, packaged and presented each one. Stars could launch a look or a way of walking and could influence millions of consumers.
Welcome to the third interview in the Social Media Mavens series, where I talk to some of the top minds in corporate social media, and learn how their companies are crafting their social media efforts. Today's installment features a recent chat I had with Kodak's Director of Interactive Marketing and Convergence Media, Tom Hoehn. Tom has also been a driving force behind Kodak's social media efforts, which includes the stellar A Thousand Words, which is one of the best corporate blogs out there.
During the early 1980s, American Express created a marketing campaign to help restore the Statue of Liberty. A penny for each use of the American Express card and a dollar for each new card issued were given to the Statue of Liberty Restoration program. In just four months, $2 million was raised and transaction activity increased by 28% -- proving that doing good could also be good for business.
Spend and you will get buzz. That seems to be one takeaway from YouGov's BrandIndex, which compiled daily feedback from thousands of consumers for the first half of the year in order to find out which brands consumers are buzzing about and which brands they're not.
Time spent with the internet, as it turns out, doesn't balloon indefinitely. That might sound obvious, but this is the year web surfing leveled off at 12 hours a week after growing from less than six hours a week in 2004, according to Forrester's annual survey of more than 40,000 American consumers' self-reported media habits. The report, released Monday, also indicates relative stabilization in other media channels, most notably newspaper and magazine reading.
Marketers are finally beginning to understand that, like any intimate relationship, a dialogue works better than "talking at" someone. When a marketer has a deep understanding of people's habits and needs, it's a pretty intimate thing. Who else knows about the double fudge ice cream buried in the grocery cart under the reduced calorie, low-fat frozen dinners?
The downturn is putting a crimp on baby boomers' free-spending ways, and the likes of Mercedes and Starwood Hotels are scrambling to keep up.
Sound in advertising is hot once again. Take the recent VW television commercial making light of a hybrid car's sound or General Motors admitting that the Volt has "the feel of a sports car" but its sound needs to be refined. Or Starbucks' approach to reinvigorating its brand by rejuvenating the coffee experience so that customers can hear the "whir of the grinders."
A recent Nielsen study revealed that people most trust what their friends say about stuff, and that they trust generic online consumer opinions as much as they do branded communications. I think this has more to do with the contextual reality of the expectations than it does with any inherent trustworthiness in a particular communications medium (or lack thereof).
Who is Claude VonStroke? Is Dan Deacon familiar? Perhaps you have heard of Amanda Palmer? Or Erol Alkan? If you are a serious fan of independent music it's likely one or more of these names rings a bell. What might be surprising is the extent to which these four -- and many dozens of independent musicians like them -- can teach both scrappy startup brands and major CPG players how to most effectively make social media work.
A friend in the restaurant business confided over a bottle of wine that he could always tell when a restaurant was in trouble. Deftly peeling back the linen of the breadbasket, he pointed out that the rustic bread had gone missing, replaced by a de rigueur white rolls. Such little things lead like breadcrumbs to the same old story: a retailer fighting for its life not by dialing up a customer's pleasure, but by diminishing it, ingredient by ingredient, value by value, service by service.
Brands have a unique opportunity to understand how they can matter more to consumers by delivering beyond the product and value proposition and contributing to an individual's experience. Too often, sponsorships and promotions are viewed as secondary efforts to a brand's above-the-line efforts. In flush times, they are nice to have. In bad times, they are easy cuts. And, with the digital channel serving as a direct conduit to a brand's consumers, it is even easier to dismiss live efforts as expensive and hard to measure.
As everyone knows, reassessed advertising, media, and promotion budgets have become the norm in today's economic climate. Still, smart marketers remain under tremendous pressure to continue to grow market share while improving bottom-line results and quantitative building of their brands.
How's this for bad timing? Staples (SPLS) just introduced 25 co-branded office products from OXO Good Grips that cost up to five times more than Staples' own brand. The retailer's customers are in no mood to spend, however. Staples' same-store sales dropped 8% in North America in its most recent quarter. As Ronald L. Sargent, its chairman and chief executive officer noted recently, the chain is "in a very tough sales environment." But the Staples-OXO partnership is something more: It shows how companies can collaborate for mutual benefit and how to do that cheaply and quickly. As the recession forces businesses to reevaluate their priorities and spending, the development of the office products line could become a model for others.
Brand managers are facing a huge shift in power from brands to retailers. So it makes sense that they are pondering the questions: What is the difference between consumer and shopper marketing? When should we use one or the other? Are separate agencies even necessary?
Today's advertising agencies are filled with young, talented people whose job is to create messages for a world of consumers who look, act and feel just like they do. In advertising parlance, reaching the 18-to-34-year-old demographic is called targeting the "sweet spot." Ninety percent of today's marketing dollars are spent trying to reach this group. Marketers lust after them, and media companies do everything in their power to lure them to their Web sites, magazines, TV shows and radio stations.
Not only are fans spreading the word about products—they're now helping to design and build marketing campaigns from the get-go.
General Motors Co. Chief Executive Frederick "Fritz" Henderson is launching a public-relations salvo this week, activating an online suggestion box called Tell Fritz. The initiative, part of a wider assault the auto maker is waging to repair its tattered image, is designed to enable the 50-year-old executive to further distance himself from what has become known as the Old GM, or the auto maker that existed before Mr. Henderson steered the company through bankruptcy court in about 40 days.
In a recent white paper, "The Future of the Social Web," Forrester's Jeremiah Owyang predicts the social web will soon morph through five stages, wreaking havoc on the way brands market. Owyang states: "Today's social experience is disjointed because consumers have separate identities in each social network they visit. A simple set of technologies that enable a portable identity will soon empower consumers to bring their identities with them ... IDs are just the beginning of this transformation ... Consumers will rely on their peers as they make online decisions, whether or not brands choose to participate. "
The Chipotle restaurant chain just announced that it will sponsor free screenings of the newly released documentary film, Food Inc. Kudos to them. There is something very authentic about allowing your brand to become vulnerable in this way. By inviting its customers to see the ugly truth, Chiptole is walking its talk of a responsible and healthy food movement.
A new study offers insights on changing grocery shopping behaviors as a result of the recession, including which food and beverage categories are proving most and least susceptible to brand abandonment and which consumer segments have been most and least affected.
For small businesses looking for advice, the Internet provides an ideal consultant: the consumer. All sorts of start-ups and small companies are using the Internet to involve customers in decisions on everything from what to sell, how products look and work, how much they cost, and even how the company operates, like what hours a store should be open or how its floor space should be laid out.
Paula Courtney found "wow" when she took her daughter to the employee washroom at her local grocery store. A sign by the door instructed workers to remain physically by the side of any customer experiencing a problem until that problem was resolved. Later, when Courtney was in the checkout line, the cashier noticed Courtney's blueberries were squishy. The cashier insisted on walking back to the produce section to find a fresh box. For Courtney, chief executive of The Verde Group, a Toronto retail research and consulting firm, that was a "wow" shopping experience.
There is no centralized location in the digital world. Increasingly, digital content spans platforms and devices seamlessly, connecting users with information and with each other. In doing so, it democratizes and levels the traditional playing field for the persistently connected audience, becoming a global platform capable of providing ubiquitous access to content and experiences. For brands, it represents a new priority, influencing the digital tribe.
When it comes to the future of consumer electronics, Best Buy says individual gadgets don't mean as much as marketers think they do. Instead, "we see tremendous opportunity around how those devices work with each other, and with content people already own," says Shari Ballard, EVP/retail channel management for the Minneapolis-based chain. "People are trying to do things with their technology products, not just acquire them."
With Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) growing increasingly more popular as Fortune 500 companies "go green" and try to be socially responsible, advertisers and marketers should be aware that the "framing" or presentation of the cause is critical to consumers. People are more willing to purchase products and support causes that have an immediate or short-term benefit to a non-profit than a future or long-term benefit.
The deep discounts that restaurant chains have been offering to lure cash-strapped customers out of their kitchens are coming back to bite them. Restaurant chains ranging from Denny's to Applebee's this year have been giving away food or offering deals to boost traffic slowed by the recession.
In an economy as whacked out as this one is globally, the tired "customer is king" adage is actually a wicked understatement. Consumers have seemingly infinite choices from good brands--many of them desperate to move the merchandise to generate cash and survive. In an unforgiving marketplace like the one we are enduring, brands better build products and services around real, differentiated and defensible insights. "Here's what I hope you want to buy" is a merchandising strategy for failure.
Soapboxes predate blogs as one of the earliest forms of self-expression, but HSBC is making the platform hot once again in the latest extension of its ad campaign. “The world’s local bank” will ask consumers to step on a soapbox and speak their thoughts at an experiential event this Thursday in New York’s Madison Square Park.
It would be like having the same conversation -- over and over and over again. That's how one digital ad executive describes a world where no one is allowed to collect information online, a scenario the industry is hurriedly -- and worriedly -- trying to keep from happening.
Games have long been fertile marketing ground for movie studios, soda companies and fast feeders -- youth-targeted brands counting on a cache of cool. So what are Alka-Seltzer and Knorr doing in the space?
The package-goods model has always been a no-brainer: Create a mass-appeal product; distribute it nationally; stoke demand with big-budget, shotgun-style advertising to spray the widest possible market; and hope sales hit the magical $100 million first-year benchmark.
U.S. consumer participation in rewards programs is on the rise across all demographic segments, according to Colloquy, the Cincinnati-based loyalty marketing consultancy. The study reports a 19% participation growth by the general population since 2007.
Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, is on the top of my to-read list. Based on BusinessWeek’s review, it sounds like a provocative read about the how economy and technology have evolved the concept of Free.
Recent research on a number of fronts all point in one direction: difficult economic times have bolstered the rollout and expansion of many retailers' private label lines -- including c-store operators.
Diet Coke with a hint of green tea--that’s what's on the menu in Japan this summer. The new flavor of Coke Plus, as Diet Coke is known in Japan, hit shelves last month, aimed at health-conscious women in their twenties.
Consumer product companies have been cutting down on extraneous packaging for good reasons. The rise in raw material, energy, manufacturing and transportation costs, coupled with the rise in consumers' environmental consciousness all play a part in reducing packaging.
Leo Babauta has written the perfect post for some of the thoughts I've been having about marketing, social media and the age of the customer. In it, he encourages us to be lusting for life, not stuff. I couldn't agree more. I find that the more I know myself, the more refined and specific grows my taste on wines, food and yes, stuff - like jewelry, clothing, cars, even vacations.
The radical decentralization of the means of cultural production and distribution it has brought about, that I mentioned in the slidecast in my last post, "Social Begins At Home," has changed the very nature of the audience--of what an audience is.
It's hard to get tangible results from social media. Giants from Coca-Cola to Wal-Mart Stores have set up Web sites where customers can share their interest in the brand. But many of these sites don't attract enough visitors to form a real community or have been slammed by critics, as was the case at schoolyourway.walmart.com. The retailer killed it in 2006 after just three months.
We frequently confuse internal biochemistry (caused by habits and genetics) with external events. If we didn't, marketing wouldn't work nearly as well. Our brains are busy processing chemicals that internally change our moods, but find a way to rationalize those mood changes based on events and purchases in the outside world. We often act as though money can buy joy, but of course, it works better when we're joyful in the first place.
One topic that I have written about extensively in this blog is consumer relationships with brands and, in special cases, Brands Worthy of a Weekend (BWOW). When I started writing about BWOW, it was still a relatively lofty bar - a brand for which you care so deeply that you would spend a weekend away from your family to connect with other people who feel the same way about this brand, learn more about the “inside” of the business, meet the people who make the magic happen, etc. With the seismic shift in the blogosphere, however, brand “weekends” have become more and more common, but with a major difference - they are largely designed for influential voices versus passionate fans.
Marketers love Gen Yers. They've got roughly $200 billion in disposable income, and they aren't afraid to spend it on clothes, designer sneakers, alcohol, fast food, cellphones and video games. I'm familiar with the lackadaisical spending habits of Gen Yers, because I am one, and until last fall, I, too, splurged on things such as a Wii and an iPhone.
The march of technology has disrupted the implicit contract that has driven the media business for a hundred years or more: Publishers/programmers provide quality content; advertisers help subsidize the content and, in return, get to show commercial messages to audiences; and consumers enjoy the content and accept the ads that subsidize all or some of the cost.
There is a lot of talk about "green shoots" lately. Is prosperity just around the corner, or is the worst still ahead? For marketers, uncertainty about what's next for the economy poses a conundrum: how to plan for the future when the only thing forecasters can agree on is that the future is murky?
Last fall, executives from Oriental Trading Co. read a product review from a woman planning her autumn wedding complaining that her order of fall leaves didn't look anything like the picture on the website. The execs went straight to the warehouse, pulled the product and compared for themselves. She was right -- it didn't look the same. The explanation: The company had recently switched vendors for that particular product, and the new vendor's version wasn't up to snuff. So the company pulled it.
Traditional influence has followed a systematic top-down process of developing and pushing “controlled” messages to audiences for decades, rooted in one-to-many, faceless broadcast campaigns.
Remember the old joke about the camel? That it's a horse built by a committee? Many of the ads targeting mature consumers these days appear to be built by committee. Chock full of pictures. Lots of messages all at once. You could consider them visual camels.
Why are so many of our major industries in trouble, beyond the current economic meltdown? Al Ries and I recently wondered why marketing wasn't being blamed for its share of the problem.
Living wirelessly has contributed to a branding mess. Notebooks, netbooks, smartphones and (coming soon) smartbooks are on a collision course as each adopts some of the others' design elements and features, becoming more homogeneous and harder to differentiate: Lighter, thinner notebooks are starting to look like larger-screen netbooks. And small netbooks running on mobile platforms are starting to feel a lot like large-screen app-driven smartphones.
A March 2009 survey conducted by Interbrand found that “trust and confidence” was second only to “convenience and location” in consumers’ selection of a bank. In the same survey, one-third of the respondents were considering changing banks because of a loss of confidence.
Consumers are bombarded with more messages than ever before. Refining and clarifying your target segment is becoming evermore important as mass-messages are falling upon deaf ears. Specific, tailored and relevant messages, combined with consumer engagement and empowerment are elemental in the new marketing era. Less and less are market leaders dictating consumer needs through “push” advertising. By way of digital networking and publishing tools, consumers are creating consumer needs. To identify the key forces driving this marketing shift, we synthesized insights from over 40 industry professionals.
The gay and lesbian community may be hard to measure in size, counting for some 4% to 10% of the U.S. population, based on census data that counts only same-sex couples who live together. But measuring their media consumption just got easier for Group M's Mindshare, which released its first study on the gay and lesbian market, "Reaching Out," to clients this week.
As consumers continue to look for ways to shop smarter, they're still buying clothes online. A new survey done for Google by Compete shows that purchase conversion rates for people shopping for apparel held its own in January, and even increased slightly in February. But they're taking their time before buying, says John McAteer, Google's director of retail.
I’ve recently delved into Habit, by Neale Martin. Every once in a while you come across the right book at the right time - a perfect confluence of ideas. Just the right perspective for a problem you’re working on.
Well it certainly isn't Jamie Lee Curtis' fault, but the fact remains many consumers do not actually know what probiotics are. Curtis has served as a very visible spokesperson for Dannon Activia, a leading yogurt that contains probiotics-which are healthy bacteria said to help digestion.
As early as 2006, the phrase "Every company is a media company" began to appear in speeches, news stories and blog columns, presaging a paradigm shift in the way businesses of every stripe must communicate with their audiences in the Internet/social media age.
The threat of new regulations involving Internet privacy is prompting Web advertisers to give consumers more control over how their private information is collected and used online. In coming weeks, a group of advertising, media and Internet trade groups plan to announce new guidelines for Web sites that they say could better protect consumers' privacy online. Among the measures is an icon that would appear either on Web pages or ads alerting consumers if their activity is being tracked. Clicking the icon would reveal information on the activities that a site collects about visitors, along with a list of companies that use this data, said an official at an ad trade group.
Customers will talk about your company, its products and services, whether you want them to or not. And online there are a multitude of places to do so. The question is, do you as a brand facilitate or participate? I will argue that you should do both, and tell you why.
Green may be the new black, but not for the reasons you might expect. "Colorblind," a cross-industry, cross-country study of consumers' "green" attitudes and behaviors conducted by Communispace Corporation in partnership with Design Continuum, reveals that there are many reasons people do (and don't) engage in sustainable practices themselves or favor brands that do.
What can consumer companies do to make sure that their brands aren’t among the losers? Our research revealed that the most successful brands today — including Adidas and iPhone and Pixar and Wikipedia — resonate with consumers in a special way: They communicate excitement, dynamism, and creativity in ways that the vast majority of brands do not. We call this quality “energized differentiation,” and we have identified, out of dozens of brand attributes in our consumer-research database, the metrics that capture this quality. By focusing on these attributes, marketers can keep their brands constantly moving and gaining value. In a world of excess capacity and diminishing trust, creating these kinds of energy-infused brands can help companies reinvigorate their brand management practices.
When is the best time to get a consumer's attention while they're online? When are you most likely to get them to think about your brand with a sales mindset, rather than as an annoyance? These are among the most frequently asked questions by people in the digital marketing industry.
A note to food marketers: Consumers who say they want healthy options are unlikely to actually order off the healthy menu.
Anne Marie Sablock said she regularly drives past an Albertsons, a Whole Foods Market and several other supermarkets to shop at the Ralphs on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach.
Don't look now, but home-mortgage ads are back. At least they are for Bank of America, whose latest TV spot shows vignettes of families perusing a single sheet of paper. The ad, for the newly renamed Bank of America Home Loans division, is focused on a one-page summary of a home loan's agreement terms. The new work, under the theme "Clarity Commitment," is part of an overall rebranding campaign around the jettisoned Countrywide brand name (Bank of America acquired the beleaguered mortgage company last year). But the effort also pushes past the "Starting now, Bank of America has a new address" introduction and doubles as a home-loan ad.
Brand loyalty appears to have taken a beating in the recession, at least in package goods. A study from Catalina Marketing and the CMO Council finds that for the average brand, more than half of consumers -- 52% -- who were highly loyal to certain package-goods brands in 2007 became markedly less so last year.
Good news, relatively speaking, for CEOs who'd like to get their faces on TV: In polling conducted among LinkedIn members for AdweekMedia, relatively few respondents said seeing the CEO in a company's advertising makes the message less credible -- though well under half said it makes the ad more credible.
There's a growing school of thought that unfettered information about the environmental impacts of our world will smoke out the bad guys and help the good guys win. I wish it were that simple.
There's a problem with the theory of the long-tail: people want choice, but they don't want too many choices. People DO want options so they can indulge their individuality but then 90% or more of the irrelevant options fade away, becoming "out of sight, out of mind". The most dramatic example of what cognitive psychologists call "inattentional blindness" is the gorilla video. The audience is asked to concentrate on how many times six teenagers pass and bounce two basketballs. Shockingly but true, almost no one sees the person in a gorilla suit walking through the video. You are blinded by your attention to counting (try it on your friends).
Marketers have a love/hate relationship with ROI. It's absolutely necessary, but annoyingly elusive. A brand's return on investment can be quantified with impressions, engagement or time spent, but rarely direct sales. It's not often that a campaign can be linked causally to a sale, especially purchases at bricks-and-mortar stores. Mobile can change that. What online advertising did for e-commerce, mobile marketing can do for traditional commerce: make it measurable.
Normally, Charles Schwab would be taking a hiatus from advertising during the summer months, but the current economic climate and a recent uptick in business have prompted a new flight of executions.
Chinese brands have come a long way since the days of Mao where coats and boots came in two colors and consisted of dubious quality. Rising in complexity and caliber, brands such as Haier and Chery are not content to rule the middle kingdom and instead seek to invade new markets. Forget bringing your brand to China, are you prepared for the onslaught of Chinese brands in your home market?
General Motors Corp. is looking to sell three brands and kill off one, Pontiac. And which brand was overwhelmingly named by consumers in a recent survey as the one they'd like to live on? Pontiac.
I miss the good ol' days of global brand strategy. It used to be so simple: Develop a single, absolute definition of your brand, then produce content -- mostly TV spots and print -- that was generic enough for local voice-over talent to translate, perhaps augmented with an image or two for local color. What was important was that those absolutes of brand were constant; the delivery component was tactical. "Think global, act local" was the mantra we stole from the world's do-gooders in the 1970s, and it was supposed to save money on production costs while ensuring consistent delivery of our messaging.
I’m taking a break from the series on brand value creation for a post on a topic I’ve been reading a lot about lately — saying “thank you.” For people in general, service providers specifically, and companies, communicating sincere gratitude, it seems, is a lot more complicated than you might expect.
The "Made in America" claim is one that's traditionally attracted little interest from American consumers accustomed to purchasing items produced in distant lands. But with unemployment on the rise and the bankruptcy of manufacturing icons General Motors and Chrysler, New Balance is banking on a shift in consumer awareness of and preference for American-made goods.
GoodGuide, a Web site and iPhone application that lets consumers dig past the package’s marketing spiel by entering a product’s name and discovering its health, environmental and social impacts. “What we’re trying to do is flip the whole marketing world on its head,” said Mr. O’Rourke. “Instead of companies telling you what to believe, customers are making the statements to the marketers about what they care about.”
In the first part of my article on Post Consumerism, I touched on the drivers of the “Citizen Renaissance,” as Jules Peck coins it. My hypothesis is that there are emerging citizen values, and a shift away from consumerism towards citizens who are actively engaged in behaviors of business, the decisions of government and of involved in communities of interest. In this second part, I attempt to outline the market need and opportunity, and some examples that attempt to address post consumerism.
If you haven't been living under a rock lately, you've probably heard a lot about Twitter, the free micro-blogging utility that allows members to share short messages, or tweets. Twitter has suddenly become the digital arena for people to observe and engage in pop culture. Demi Moore saves lives on her Twitter page, and Lindsay Lohan publicly breaks up with significant others on hers. It's also a place where brands can interact with consumers directly, to either reinforce strong relationships with their loyal bases or attract new followings.
Despite all the bling that has been spent on Bing, few people are giving Microsoft's new search engine much chance of stealing away even a fraction of Google's dominant market share. That makes sense when you consider the strength of Google's brand - the term 'Google' has become the verb for undertaking an online search. The brand, we are reliably told, is now the world's most valuable, with an equity of more than $100bn.
One-point-five seconds. If you believe neuroscientists, that's all the time we have to get someone's attention with our marketing messages. In little more than the blink of an eye, each of our targeted customers plays judge and jury to our marketing handiwork and decides whether to pay attention to us or banish us to the ash heap of misspent marketing dollars.
Draftfcb last week merged its media, digital and CRM practices into a single unit called the Real-Time Marketing division. The move was designed to, among other things, make brands more responsive to happenings on the Web, good or bad, which can drastically affect the way consumers perceive the brands. Brandweek editor Todd Wasserman spoke with Draftfcb chief media officer Richard Gagnon this week to see where direct fits in with all this and how the unit will work in practice.
While the mainstream press, and most digital marketing firms, are convinced that social media are changing the consciousness and habits of humanity, I've chanced upon two studies that suggest otherwise.
Restaurant chains are reaching out to consumers in an unexpected place: supermarket aisles. As the economy has soured, many consumers have ditched going out to eat for a trip to the grocery store, and restaurant chains are following.
When the economic winds are howling and the weather gets ugly, consumers tighten their grip on brands they are loyal to; they don't run to the label with the lowest price. Brand equity does not lose potency when money is tight. So says Harris Interactive in its latest EquiTrend study.
P&G are launching an innovative new approach to TV advertising this June. The ‘Max Factor MakeoverBreak’ will three 90 second advertisements shown over consecutive commercial breaks, which see a consumer made over by experts using a range of P&G Beauty & Grooming products. Throughout the series of adverts, experts share tipsfrom how to select the right hair colour to applying moisturiser properly.
From ready-to-eat meals to eco-friendly offerings, food retailers are finding more ways to distinguish themselves and win customers
Apple executives didn't throw any curve balls at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference today in San Francisco. But the iterative changes hidden within a new, faster iPhone -- and the previously announced software upgrade -- could change not just consumer but also advertiser behavior. Here's a run-down of what's new and what it means to marketers.
How many "reward cards" do you have, or loyalty programs do you participate in? When I think of a typical day, I can't think of a commercial transaction that doesn't come with a clerk or cashier who asks, "are you a member in our blah blah blah program?" Books. Office supplies. Gas. Pizza. Grocery.
This week I was asked to talk to the Marketing Directors Network in London about how organizations are using Twitter. We’ve written before about how celebrities are using Twitter and how organizations are using Twitter as an engagement tool. In both cases, perhaps the best advice is just to try using Twitter and to see what happens.
For all the work marketers do reaching out to bloggers, social networks and other online outlets where they might get some word-of-mouth buzz, consumers are still looking to trusted friends and relatives for product or service recommendations.
How many brands can revive a TV commercial that last aired nearly two decades ago--and not in a nostalgic or camp way? Not many.
Undeterred by recession or getting into a retail business with which it has little experience, Procter & Gamble Co. is buying the Art of Shaving, seller of pricey men's shaving products at upscale shopping malls.
Do you find yourself having to defend the decision to conduct qualitative research? Looking back over the almost 25 years I've been in marketing, I'm struck by how often the insights that drove true competitive advantage came from qualitative, rather than quantitative, research.
People today are awash in news and stories about war, climate change, famine, and disease. Their lives are increasingly being touched by financial hardship, illness, natural disaster, and death. These images, stories and intimate, personal associations and experiences are creating a richer understanding about the fate of others and, thus, a deeper sense of empathy.
If I were a betting man, I would say this is finally going to be Strawberry Shortcake's year. It seems like at each Licensing Expo, American Greetings unveils a "new" Strawberry Shortcake to licensees in the hope that the 1980s children's phenomenon can compete against more recent children's powerhouse brands such as Hannah Montana, High School Musical and Disney Princesses. And this year is no different. Yet again, Strawberry Shortcake has a new look, a new world and a new story line for licensees.
The only difference between an audience and a community is which direction the chairs are pointing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When we say community and we mean our selling demographic, that’s not the same thing. When we say community and we mean audience to absorb our message, that’s not the same thing. It’s important to understand this.
Although consumers may be cutting back on their consumer electronics purchases, they may be more willing to pay a premium for devices with clear innovative benefits, according to online electronics resource Retrevo.
While worshipping the 'now’ may seem the new religion, there are equally strong currents favoring the 'forever’. Dubbed FOREVERISM, prepare for a fluid 'trend', guaranteed to spawn new ideas. We promise.
It was recently suggested by Barack Obama that we should borrow and spend less and save more, not rebuilding the economy on the same sand but instead lay a new foundation for prosperity. It’s not the message consumers, this country, or the rest of the world is used to, particularly in a recession.
Perceived quality is a brand association that is elevated to the status of a brand asset for several reasons.
All the world's a game. Well, at least it could be. Game evangelists paint a picture of a world where planning your retirement, studying for exams, donating to worthy causes and even clipping coupons can be made into a game that will engage consumers and make even the most mundane of tasks fun. It's a lofty goal, but it's the kind of thinking that could change the way marketers engage consumers -- making anything from perusing ads to comparing products to studying user manuals more, well, fun.
How do you impress a Star Trek fan? With a new gadget. This one, in fact, is free. If you use your imagination, you can call it a three-dimensional effect.
Whether we are talking about innovation, technology or public policy, we often come up with solutions that creating more problems than they are supposed to solve. Given the enormous complexity and almost un-manageable challenges ahead, what do we need to do? What seems to make sense doesn’t do it anymore.
Mary Pryor was doing pretty well until January, when she got laid off from her web-project-management job at cable channel Fuse. Now she's replenishing her wardrobe at clothing swaps, eating on $25 a week, living without cable TV and doing her laundry in the bathtub. "My gym membership is gone," she said, "so I'm running around outside and doing jumping jacks in my living room."
What if something you thought you knew to be true, turned out to be exactly the opposite? What if an approach you imagined was working for you was actually working against you?
Advertising almost always wants to be upbeat, the better to jolly consumers into, well, consuming. So it is startling to see a spate of campaigns invoking some of the most downbeat times America has ever endured: the desperate decade that began when the stock market crashed in 1929 and continued through the Great Depression.
With social networks like Facebook transforming the way companies communicate with consumers, it's time for the ad industry to get its head out of the sand.
While sales of higher-end beauty products have been struggling in most retail channels, a new report from the NPD Group finds that at this point, beauty sales are growing on the Internet.
No doubt about it. The economy is contracting, and it’s a painful process. Businesses, large and small, are going under, impacting jobs and revenues in communities. Brands, even well established ones, are vanishing from the map, leaving us to wonder what’s coming next.
Jeff Cox, new to the dark art of marketing movies and predicting how they will perform at the box office, has at least one thing figured out: “It’s definitely not as easy as predicting sales for toothpaste or shampoo or toilet paper.”
Kodak created a billion dollar industry by giving people a tool to feed their nostalgia. We don't take pictures because we want to know what we're seeing now... we already know that. We take pictures because it makes us feel good to know that years later, when nostalgia for that moment comes around, we'll be ready.
I read last week that Sprint is in talks to outsource its network, and it kind of got me wondering what would be left if it did. A company name. A logo. A marketing budget. Everything else would get done by someone, or some thing else.
If today's frugality and shrinking markets are the new normal, are marketers ready for it?
At this point, no one needs reminding that the recession has changed the way people shop. But a new study from the Food Marketing Institute paints an intriguing picture of the stages consumers go through as they continue to cut back. And to be sure, the study finds, they are cutting back.
Luxury goods consumers in China rank third in the world behind the Americans and Japanese, spending an average of US$ 6.5 billion a year. While the financial crisis has convinced many in the US and Japan that they can do without that Fendi bag, similar decreases in consumption of luxury goods in China have yet to appear.
The alcoholic beverage category may suffer an economic hangover, according to new research released today by the Nielsen Company at the Nielsen's Consumer 360 Conference. While consumers aren't necessarily going on the wagon, their consumption habits have changed significantly. With 56 percent of consumers dining in and 37 percent frequenting bars and clubs less often, buyers of alcoholic beverages now have an increased focus on value and price.
Not familiar with BRM? Perhaps you are more familiar with its cousin CRM, or Customer Relationship Management. As technology has improved CRM tools and functionality, it has changed the way marketers connect to people by helping to organize and filter information about buying habits to better serve customers going forward. But with people connecting more and more to brands on social networks, the next wave of marketing may be providing people the information they need/want through social media, making it a "Brand Relationship Management" (BRM) tool.
The world of communication and product delivery is changing as the Web evolves and new services are introduced, enabling us to gain faster access to information, download richer media more quickly, and rapidly voice our opinions and feedback near and far in a wide variety of methods, including text, voice, video and imagery. As customers become more savvy and in tune with these new tools, we are also expecting those offering products and services to adapt, and as such, I thought it made sense to put forth what I believe are key tenets of a new consumer manifesto for today's real-time world.
Yesterday, I wrote about how I didn't necessarily understand (or believe) Best Buy's plans to expand significantly its private label technology products business, and its hopes that incorporating customer feedback would let it make simple improvements that the big name brands might miss. I think there's a far bigger, far more radical, and much more likely sustainable opportunity for the company to pursue: Services.
Elevator pitches, 30-second spots, viral videos, strategic PR, the brand called "you." Today’s commonly accepted view is that great brands are great at telling us their interesting stories. That’s a misguided view. In reality, we use our interaction with brands—their sceneries, props, set decorations, scripts, and actors—to construct our own stories, ones that we want to tell about ourselves. And since we define ourselves both according to what we identify with and what we reject, and given the abundance of marketplace choice, we now choose interactions which we feel will produce the best story possible. And we reject the others.
Snacks have taken center stage in American eating, according to Snack Foods Culinary Trend Mapping Report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts. The study shows time-crunched Americans now turn to snacks as meal stand-ins, to fuel on-the-go lifestyles and stave off energy crashes. And as snacks grow in importance, consumers want bigger bang for their snacking buck, such as vivid flavor, quality ingredients and pumped-up nutrition.
Separate incidents involving CNN, Amazon and Domino's Pizza reveal that fluency in the evolving language of digital public relations comes easier to some companies than others.
Welcome to social-media message overload. The constant barrage of invites to sign up for this group or download that app are starting to wear on social-network users, presenting big challenges for the brands and marketers who are looking to use these sites to aggregate fans and cultivate relationships with customers.
Writing on the AgencySpy blog, Modernista!’s head of planning Gareth Kay argues that we should stop obsessing over social media and what it can do for a business and instead spend our time trying to deliver social ideas that delight consumers.
A debate appears to be brewing in the retail community about whether chatter from social media sites should be viewed as a potential direct marketing research goldmine or as sketchy territory.
The global publishing giants have declared war on the new technology generation of content distributors -- but they have lost sight of what consumers value and how they want to get to the value. It's time to separate content creators from distributors. It's time for a new business model which requires technology understanding and leadership to develop -- and one that new generation search applications like Google News and Digg for the consumer, or FirstRain for the professional investor, can sign up for to get the right news to the right people at the right price for them.
It’s not your numbers that make you interesting. It’s not your title, your logo, your tagline, your brand promise. It’s not the colors you agonized over for your website. It’s not about what you’ve accomplished, because to me, that’s already in the past. I want to follow your story. I want to follow your tomorrow, your hope for what’s next and your aspirations for how the world around you - however small - is going to be better for your presence. That can be making a better ballpoint pen, or building the nanostructures that will cure cancer. But tell me something interesting.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve learned (or at least heard) that the tables have been turned and now is the time that companies need to meet their fans on their own terms. But when you think about it, that’s a pretty big blanket to throw out there. Because everyone is different. And if that’s true, then we all have different terms. So how do you know where to begin? Would it be at the lowest common denominator, or the greatest?
People want to do good. By extension, people want their brand choices to reflect their desire to do good. Since its inception, the Internet has forced companies to reassess their corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices by increasing people's access to information about "improper" corporate behavior. Social media, which simply increases the rate at which people can publish and spread information/content, has magnified the importance of CSR. However, it is not just avoiding the "bad," but harnessing the "good" that will lead to companies doing well financially by doing good socially.
Australasian alcohol company Lion Nathan recently launched their 6 Beers of Separation campaign for their beer, Tooheys Extra Dry. The competition offered young people a chance to meet the person they found most inspiring, attempting to demonstrate the concept of ‘6 degrees of separation’.
If I believed everything I saw in ads, I'd believe that oil companies are dedicated to protecting the environment, tobacco companies want to help me quit smoking and the Sham Wow is the second coming of sliced bread. Yeah, right. The whole "say-whatever-they-want-to-hear-and-we'll-sell-'em" mentality that still rules some corners of the marketing and ad industries just doesn't play anymore. Consumers are smart. They know when you're gaming them, when you're using a snake oil ploy just to make a sale. And, guess what, they're not buying it.
One of the most important paradigms governing today's marketing world is the constant drive to better segment a brand's customer and prospect base. Conventional wisdom says that the better we segment consumers, the better we can market to them. Consumer segmentation is viewed as a "best-in-class" practice across the marketing world. But are we on the right track?
It is not what a company sells but what the customers buy, so it's a fundamentally flawed exercise for marketers to start dictating where a market begins and ends. The archetypal example of the strategic vulnerability of categories has always been the early American train companies.
Millions of Americans have trimmed expenses because they have had their jobs or hours cut, or fear they will. But a subset of savers are reducing costs not just with purpose, but with relish. These are the gleefully frugal.
Marketers trying to see where consumers are heading might consult Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This ubiquitous pyramid explains our psychic slide in needs (and hence consumption behavior) resulting from the liquidity crisis strangling most Americans. The run up Maslow's ladder coincided with America's wealth creation in the mid-'80s. Many people became so secure in having food, clothing, shelter and in feeling safe and secure, they spent time and energy pursuing more ambitious goals that consumerism satisfies, such as belonging, status and self-actualization. Economist Thorstein Veblen coined it the leisure class. We saw a marketing opportunity.
Auto makers must boost fuel economy under new government regulations, and a sure way to do that is promote small cars. But that poses a challenge for Detroit: How can the Big Three battle back in a market segment dominated by foreign rivals such as Toyota and Honda?
A recession-induced need for cash, and an ever-growing infrastructure enabling individuals to act as (part-time) entrepreneurs, are fueling concepts that help ordinary consumers make money instead of just spending it.
The economy's in the tank. Consumers have no spare cash. And the financial outlook is bleak. So, guess what the savviest consumer product makers are rolling out these days: happy stuff. That's right, products that make folks smile.
I’ve been thinking about a central marketing issue, as both a consumer and as a branding and design consultant. The issue of trust.
If the social-media sphere attacks your brand, do "real people" hear the screams? Not likely, according to surveys that indicate marketers shouldn't rush to quiet every micro-outrage that sweeps across the web.
On the heels of a Nielsen IAG study urging financial institutions to advertise more to build consumer confidence, Thomas Riehle, managing partner with D.C.-based polling firm RT Strategies, told Marketing Daily that financial companies must not only do more advertising and public relations, but must also address the issues that are currently on consumers' minds.
It’s a revamp-gone-wrong tale that has already secured its place in the annals of packaging: PepsiCo retains Arnell Group to redesign its Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice cartons as part of its new ad campaign. Said cartons make their aisle debut in January, minus the familiar straw-punctured orange and sporting a modernized depiction of—well, fresh-squeezed juice. Consumers revolt and demand the old packaging back. Two months and a reported US$ 35 million later, PepsiCo reverts back to the original Tropicana packaging, straw between its legs (and back on the carton).
The American Association of Advertising Agencies' Media Conference & Tradeshow this year is focused on discovering changing consumer habits, so attendees were treated to three panels made up of New Orleans residents -- young adults, baby boomers and women 25 to 54 -- who offered their thoughts on everything from from social media and Hulu to their web usage and what advertisers are doing right and wrong.
Visa is set to begin a $140 million ad campaign that seeks to persuade consumers from New York to New Delhi that cash isn't king. Starting this week, the world's biggest payments network is dumping its three-year-old "Life Takes Visa" slogan in favor of "More People Go with Visa." The company, which is rolling out its first unified ad campaign outside the U.S., says the new tagline will work better in foreign markets.
Despite concerns that paid "influencer programs" blur the lines between editorial and advertising, the payoff for brands in starting conversations makes them likely to spread, according to Forrester Research.
With layoffs on the rise and stock markets headed down, we know that buyers are spending less. What that means for brand loyalty is a crucial question that's still unfolding for purveyors of consumer goods and services.
This new environment is shaping spending patterns in ways we've never seen before. Cash, not credit, is the new currency. A trip to the local cobbler is replacing one to the shoe store. And nail polish from the drug store is supplanting the spa manicure. Shoppers are finding there is plenty they can live without, and few things once considered untouchable are safe. So what's a marketer to do? Get to know the recession shopper.
It's a smaller world after all at Disney's theme parks. Grappling with the deepening recession, Walt Disney Co. announced plans Wednesday to shake up its parks and resorts operation, setting the stage for job cuts in the coming weeks.
The news that Microsoft has hired a senior Wal-Mart executive to spearhead a move into retail will not come as much of a shock. These days retailers run the world, and companies like Microsoft, which have typically supplied big retail, are now increasingly drawn to the idea of opening up for themselves. The marketing advantages are great.
The bad economy is hitting America right in the stomach. Consumers have cut back sharply on food spending, shunning restaurants, opting for generic products over brand names, trading in lattes for home-brewed coffee and shopping for bargains. That is hurting sales and profits at many food processors, grocery chains and restaurants.
In the marketing and media industries, it's widely believed that advertising, done right, is an investment in future business results. But the question today is whether the rest of the country can be persuaded to see it that way.
During a Q&A session following a speaking engagement in Chicago on Wednesday, I was asked for my opinion of Denny's Grand Slam Giveaway Super Bowl promotional spot by an executive in the audience. "Do you think it was a success?" he asked with a hint of skepticism in his voice. "I really don't know," I replied. "I have no idea what 'success' means to Denny's. I hope it means a sustained increased in profitable sales that exceeds the $5 million cost of the promotion." I went on to express my doubts that a one-off sales promotion with no follow-on behavioral incentives or cues would have that effect.
With no sign the economy will improve anytime soon, fast feeders are rolling out the value offerings thick and fast. But by relentlessly reminding consumers about its 6-year-old dollar menu, McDonald's has managed to own the space.
Consumers are often told that if they break an item, they buy it. But a new study suggests that if they just touch an item for more than a few seconds, they may also end up buying it.
Everyone from government to grocers seems to have their own idea of how best to inform consumers about foods’ nutritional content, but a labeling free-for-all has resulted in a clamor of nutrition labels which are actually getting in the way of comprehension.
Marketing expert David Aaker argues that to succeed in today’s global arena, marketers must learn to appeal to consumers whose interests transcend individual products and regions.
Best Buy is expanding its recycling program to all U.S. stores next month, and while it will charge $10 for many items, it will also reward customers with a $10 gift card. Experts say the move shows how important it is to link doing the right thing with the immediate impact of cost benefits for consumers.
With increasing consumer familiarity and growing ease of use, mobile applications for financial services companies -- particularly banks -- could become the new "killer app" for telecommunications.
Americans appear to be cutting back on their Starbucks. After reporters in several different cities noticed much shorter lines at their coffee outlets, Ad Age decided to commission Lightspeed Research to find out whether either New Year's resolutions or a tough economy were turning latte sippers into bean counters.
In our modern society where instant gratification is increasingly expected and attention spans are fractured and short, mobile tagging provides a vital tool to businesses hoping to instantly connect with their customers.
The ardor among marketers for Barack Obama is intensifying with the approach of Inauguration Day, when, it seems, they intend to name him the nation’s new consumer in chief.
Most American consumers are simply too young to remember the Great Depression, and for a quarter century they've lived without extended economic hardship, becoming ever more acquisitive in a world of instant gratification and easy credit. The circumstances of the current recession are unprecedented in the history of modern consumerism. Factor in the loss of confidence in financial institutions and an investing world where even the very rich can be wiped out through Ponzi schemes, and you have consumers who are reconsidering long-held spending habits.
Consumers can tell a lot about what a company stands for aside from its corporate values. A new study by MS&L, conducted in partnership with GfK Roper, examines some of the corporate values consumers today find most important and the effects of such perceptions on maintaining long-term business.
Toyota Motor apparently doesn't expect demand for cars to rebound until well past 2010--the automaker has pushed back plans to produce some models from that date.
President-elect Barack Obama wants America to kick its addiction to foreign oil. He also wants the energy industry to go "green" and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide it produces — CO2 that causes global warming. Cutting back is easy enough when energy and oil prices are sky-high. But as Obama said on a recent CBS News 60 Minutes program, our memories are short.