December 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
Shopping local is more than a trend. It is growing for several reasons. Shopping local is good for business, good for the environment and good for our desire to find one-of-a-kind, meaningful products.
Good for Business
Local shopping is not insignificant. In a world of online shopping and big box retailers, the 23 million independent stores in America account for 54 percent of sales. These independent stores provide 55 percent of jobs, and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
One study says that local business generates 70% more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. Keeping dollars in the local economy has been the rally cry for small business. My friend Linda Berry, owner of fine linen store Bella Linea in Nashville, Tennessee, recently shared some of the facts with her customers to reinforce the importance of keeping dollars in her community. She shared statistics showing that for every $100 spent at a locally owned store, $45 remains in the local economy, compared with about $13 per $100 spent at a big box and almost zero for online shopping.
A movement around Shopping Local has begun. American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to visit small businesses in their community as part of the after Thanksgiving shopping. This year shopping local has grown double digits. A report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express – the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey – revealed that 88 million consumers “shopped small” this year, up 14.9 percent from just a year ago.
Good for Our Need for One-of-A-Kind Finds and One-of-A-Kind Experiences
Many retailers like Linda Berry also talk about the importance of meeting needs for today’s shoppers. Linda spends time traveling to find and create one-of-kind products that her customers can’t find anywhere else. Services like free designer consultation and free gift wrapping make small businesses like Bella Linea stand out among the mass marketers.
Trends like eating local and the Maker Movement also continue to provide unique goods and experiences that meet the desires of today’s consumer. The Maker Movement really captures the group of people creating individually made pieces for the home, small-batch food products, hand-knit, handmade and hand crafted items that can’t be mass produced.
Food has gone local with independent restaurants, local food purveyors, handmade food products and farmers markets proliferating. Beyond the food, food experiences have become custom as well. There are food tours, hands-on cooking lessons and small batch wine classes.
Good for the Environment
And, surprisingly, shopping local is also good for the environment. Shopping locally helps cut down on processing, packaging and transportation waste, leading to less pollution and less fuel consumption.
So, with just a few days of the shopping season left, visit a local store and make a difference in your community.
November 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
I don’t often talk about a single television spot but the Special K “More than a number” campaign has generated a spot that really defines women as more than sizes or numbers. Special K and their agency Leo Burnett actually created a pop-up store for women buying jeans. The proposition is real. Women fear only one thing more than shopping for jeans and that is shopping for a swimsuit. They talk about depressing feelings related to the shopping experience. Every woman I know talks about fat jeans, comfortable jeans and skinny jeans, but Special K has tried to change the language.
Hidden cameras capture women as they are shopping in the pop-up store. A surprising thing happens when they find out there are no sizes on the jeans. Their whole attitude changes when they find out that the jeans are not sized in numbers but in words like “fabulous”, “confident”, and “radiant”. The women were free from numbers and were affirmed that they were beautiful.
As women, our self-esteem and confidence is enhanced when we are not tied to old tapes we play in our head. And advertising can play a role in establishing new self affirming roles for women.
Research shows that if we feel more attractive, we are more confident. Jane Risen, an associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, says “The most relevant study that comes to mind for me is a classic study looking at self-fulfilling prophecies,” she said. Men and women had a 10-minute conversation, via headphones and microphones so they couldn’t see each other. Before the chat, the men were given fake pictures, so half of them believed they were talking to an attractive woman, and the other half an unattractive woman.
“The most remarkable finding was that an independent set of coders who listened only to the women (and didn’t see a picture) also thought that the women who were supposedly more attractive were more friendly and sociable,” Riser said. “In other words, being perceived by the men as attractive lead the women to act differently such that other people came to believe the same thing that the men believed.”
August 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
I hear target audience horror stories like Nine West all the time. Sometimes it is a media target issue, sometimes it is a relevance issue and sometimes it is a creative issue. Today targeting marketing to women has a whole new meaning. We need to know a lot more about a target than their sex, age, income and favorite brands. The creative, the brand and the media all have to be in sync.
Nine West Looking to Shock?
One of the most talked about campaigns in the women’s sector is the fall advertising campaign from shoe company Nine West. Customers of the brand found it offensive and said the brand did not know them well. The campaign targets women 25-49. Okay and what else? Evidently the campaign has centered on supposedly key occasions in women’s lives – Starter Husband Hunting, the anticipated Walk of Shame, and the First Day of Kindergarten complete with four-inch heels and the Drunch – a drunken lunch. Criticism has come from those saying this campaign is not new, but rather a throwback to the 50s when all women wanted was a wedding and a child.
The marketing team said that the brand had lost its luster and they sought to bring some new life to it. And maybe they did expect to encite and enrage a bit. They were clearly not going after mainstream women, but following those who see themselves like HBO series “Girls” and Amy Schumer, the provocative stand-up comic. Did they target them? Maybe. This advertising smacks of Miley Cyrus trying to be irreverent to get a new fan base. Or American Apparel trying to be provocative to make t-shirts sexy. But the real matter is how many of their base audience did they disenfranchise.
Consumer Backlash to Nine West Campaign
“Stupid campaign 9W. Love your shoes but don’t patronize your customers by an outdated ideal,” said one Facebook user. “Women are hunting success and goals, dreams and visions. Not husbands.” This is pretty true. Millennial women of today think man-hunting is a pretty outdated notion and they value their independence. The top priorities in her life are career success and love. Oh, and love does not necessarily mean marriage.
Jen Drexler, senior vice president at the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” found the Nine West ads problematic.“ ‘Starter husband hunting’ and ‘walk of shame’ is not the sort of thing you say out loud even to your best friend, because those are things that men say about women, not that women say about women,” Ms. Drexler said. “If you really liked women, you’d be calling that a ‘victory lap,’ not a ‘walk of shame.’ ”
Jimmie John’s had a moment of lapse when they aired a spot in the Super Bowl that shows a man coming home to his wife who is doing the laundry. Whoa! Did they forget that 74% of women work and many of them are their customers? SodaStream took heat for their spot with Scarlett Johansson which broke several rules – mentioning Coke and Pepsi and objectifying a woman as a way to sell the soda maker.
Huggies had their miss when they showed Dads being inattentive to babies with full diapers because, hey, Huggies can handle anything. They certainly where in tune with the importance of shared responsibilities for children today, but they didn’t catch the nuance that Dads were portrayed as inattentive and non-caring. Stay-at-home dads were irate and created a petition “We’re Dads, Huggies, Not Dummies”.
An advertising friend called me this week and was telling me another story about targeting. Campaigns for a luxury car didn’t move the needle until they took into account the aspirational buyer. Their media tracking was able to notice this aspiring buyer. By offering a lease package for these aspirational buyers, sales accelerated nicely.
So what is the lesson here? Certainly brands must hit the right segment of their target audience and clearly they must trigger the emotion that the product or service has for the buyer.
1. Look at your target beyond demographics. What are the psychographics of the buyer? Why are the self-expressive benefits of your brand? How does the product make them feel? What are their values? Two moms can be vastly different. One can value organic food, yoga and do her own composting, while another can be a price/convenience shopper, with their mobile phone dialed to take-out and restaurants that take coupons. Find out their tangential interests – what do they pin to Pinterest, follow on Twitter or share on Facebook?
2. Talk to your consumers. Shocking thought. Today we can do that in a variety of ways. We can conduct online or in-person focus groups. We can turn to social media to see what they are saying and we can use social to have conversations to better understand how to be relevant to them. We often construct customer journeys to see how a brand fits into a consumers day and life. Recently some research we did on furniture purchase turned up an interesting fact about a huge national retailer. The consumers were not in love with the brand; it was just an easy alternative to working with a designer for the less important rooms in their home. Everything worked together and could be purchased and delivered quicker than designer fare.
3. Understand the problem your brand will solve for the consumer. I doubt Nine West had research that said they wanted special shoes for a “Walk of Shame”. Need states and occasions have long been part of marketing but truly understanding the underlying reason for the product is essential to creating relevant advertising. If you are advertising cars, some may be eco-friendly and interested in gas mileage while others are seeking safety for their family, or technology to suit their geekiness.
Oh, by the way, Nine West is sticking to their campaign. So let’s see how it works out for them and see what they do next year!
May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment
As I was munching on my McDonald’s salad at my desk today, I started wondering about the fate of lunch in America. I certainly don’t seem to break for lunch as often as I used to. In fact, the phrase lunch hour is even misleading. In a recent study , 48% of employees say that the typical lunch break is 30 minutes or less. And in another study by Staples, 19% of employees say they don’t stop for lunch at all. In 2010, Monster found that more than 20 percent of workers say they always eat lunch at their desks.
The lunch “break” has turned into a time for errands, online shopping, more work and maybe a quick bite. Here are some of the reasons behind these trends.
• The recession spawned a cutback in personal and business spending. And currently the IRS only allows 50% of entertainment expenses. With a focus on productivity, some employees feel pressure to work more and don’t feel they have time for lunch.
• Working women have a lot of tasks to accomplish. Any given day may include errands, online shopping, haircuts and a quick bite. Working moms are 13% more likely to have spent $2500+ on internet purchases, 10% more likely to do their banking online and they own almost every mobile device technology that allows them to shop.
• Lunch hour shopping trends show 84% of moms shop 15 minutes or more a day at work. And most of that shopping happens between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Some 43% of female workers say they did their holiday shopping online while at work, compared to only 35% of male workers. Not surprisingly, 21% of back to school shopping happens online. Woman shoppers use the time as a welcome break from their office routine and would rather shop online than go to a mall.
Some categories have benefitted from this trend. Certainly online shopping of all kinds has prospered. Retailers see rising traffic during the 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. period and some are creating two-hour “stop, drop and shop” promotions during that lunch window. Grocery stores have embraced the trend with more “grab and go” lunch foods. According to market researcher NPD Group, grocers have seen their lunchtime purchases of prepared food like sandwiches and salads jump by 28% since 2008. And fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle provide high quality food options with a lower time commitment. There is also a trend to wanting snacks at all times to tide workers over to dinner time.
In the world of advertising and marketing, the three martini lunches were legend. Gerald Ford said, “The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?” While some still remember those long lost “Mad Men” three martini lunches fondly, in retrospect, they seem indulgent and luxurious. Time might have been the true luxury. Maybe those lunches were not very productive, but they did provide opportunity for marketers and clients to know each other better. Maybe we have traded the martini for the macchiato, but that coffee with a client might be a great time to really talk, listen to each other and share ideas freely. Cheers!
April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Stories are the playbook for life. Stories are the way we teach, the way we communicate, the way we entertain, and the way we impart value. Some marketers have known the value of story for many years. Researchers tell us that a story is the only way to activate parts of the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience. Those of us who know the iconic J. Peterman catalogues read them for the mesmerizing value of their stories about where their exotic products were discovered and the effect of wearing their products.
Recently, as a literary & anthropological experiment, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn decided to see if they could resell cheap knickknacks (avg. cost $1.25) on eBay and turn a significant profit by adding personal stories to the item descriptions. Their hypothesis was that creative stories would increase the perceived value of each object and create an incremental profit on each item sold. With the addition of colorful anecdotes, their $129 purchase of thrift store items was sold for nearly $8,000.
The Harvard Business Review reminded us of the power of the story as told by Kurt Vonnegut. It seems that Vonnegut devoted his master’s thesis at the University of Chicago to studying the shapes of stories. Vonnegut not only exhibits a great understanding of story, but is an entertaining storyteller. He tells us there are basically three types of stories that we humans find irresistible. The three stories are Boy Gets Girl, Man in Hole and Cinderella. He tells his audience that the Cinderella story is “the most popular story in our Western civilization. Every time it’s retold somebody makes another million dollars. You’re welcome to do it.”
What you see in this short film is the endless fascination that the human mind has for story. As marketers, we need to be students of Vonnegut and the story, and make all our marketing a powerful story for consumers.
March 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
I am a fanatic about Kevin Spacey. And House of Cards. Just like Frank Underwood at the White House, Netflix is turning the table on television and teaching us all a little something about marketing. And it is a pretty easy lesson really. It’s looking at television as content and giving the audience what they want – control.
Watch this short video of Kevin Spacey talking in Edinburgh about the new way Netflix is viewing content.
Kevin Spacey reminds us of three important tenets of marketing today.
1. The Customer Wants to Be In Control. In February 14, the second season of House of Cards premiered on Netflix. While Netflix doesn’t publish numbers, some estimate that as many as 16% of Netflix 30 million domestic viewers watched at least one episode on the premiere night, and some 25% of all Netflix viewers will watch season two when they choose to. One-third viewers are engaging in what we call “binge watching”, watching more than one episode at a single sitting. For marketers, we need to offer our products to our customers the way they want them, not how we want to deliver them.
2. Content is Storytelling. Spacey tells us that the audience is craving good stories. Really good stories endure and your audience will always seek them out. Make sure you are telling compelling stories about your brand. Some of the brands that tell compelling stories are Toms, Starbucks, Nike, Allstate’s Mayhem, Chipotle, Nordstrom, and P&G Olympic Moms. These stories capture our hearts and then our minds.
3. Data is Our Guide. Netflix users watch 2 billion hours of programming each month, and that immense data allows Netflix to determine the subscriber populations around genres, so they can predict a baseline audience. They knew how many folks loved Kevin Spacey and how many loved the type of serial drama they were creating. That’s hugely different that the crap shoot that the networks use each year to determine whether a pilot will succeed. Marketers now have access to data that can help them make important decisions about the type of content their audience desires. That data, if analyzed, can help guide the storyline for your marketing.
And if you are wondering, yes, I have watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards. And I know how it ends. Let’s put it this way. Frank and Netflix do alright.