April 18, 2016 § 1 Comment
The mall is no longer the cultural center of consumerism. The crown jewels of mall shopping like Macy’s, J Crew and Sears are suffering. Some predict 15% of malls will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next ten years. In 2015 major retailers saw sales move away from brick and mortar stores while online giant Amazon increased sales 97%.
There are many reasons contributing to this decline but most importantly, there is a new savvy shopper out there who wants or needs new experiences.
- The mall as a hangout or destination is no longer necessary. Young people used to go to the mall to see and be seen. Today, social media, text messages and video chats replace some of that social activity. Movies can be downloaded. And goods are accessible online. So, the number of retail visits continues to fall. Time saving is paramount for many.
- The middle class shopper has moved on. Only upscale shopping centers are surviving. The affluent are keeping luxury brands in business, but middle class shoppers have left semi-luxury brands in favor of cheaper alternatives. The middle class shopper is less financially able to shop malls. Upscale malls in “super zip codes” are doing well, but the middle class mall is suffering. Middle class shoppers are seeking out dollar stores and stand alone retailers like Walmart and T. J. Maxx.
- Savvy shoppers are in control. Educated shoppers know where to get the best deal. Shopping decisions start online with price comparison. Some 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use a mobile device for shopping activities according to a Nielsen report. While 59% said online shopping was actually their favorite way to shop, many still prefer going to a store after checking prices online. Purchases are moving online, particularly with the prevalence of free shipping at many online retailers. Purchases are going to mega sellers like Amazon, department store online shops, boutiques, designer sites and buying clubs like Gilt and RueLaLa. With this type of price scrutiny, retailers have moved to heavy promotional selling.
- Fashion is moving to more year-round clothing. Traditional seasonal shopping has been replaced by just-in-time shopping to more closely follow current weather patterns. Year-round shopping and the prevalence of discount fashion like H&M has changed patterns and total expenditures.
- The retailer options have continued to grow. Premium outlet centers has replaced the mall for many bargain seekers and sales continue to grow. But discounting by major retailers and the continued growth of online shopping may make outlet centers less attractive for savvy shoppers in the future.
February 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
Neilsen research shows there are significant differences in how men and women think, react, shop and watch. Understanding how these differences can drive behavior can help marketers create more effective advertising and marketing campaigns. Something Super Bowl 50 advertising clearly illustrated.
A Look at the Super Bowl 50 Ads
This year many of the ads appealed directly to women featuring racing dachshunds (my favorite), Doritos shopping dogs, Super Bowl babies and Hyundai’s spots featuring first dates and distracting men. Spot Trender did interesting research comparing several spots for gender appeal.
In a head to head playoff with Hyundai and Acura, Hyundai did a better job. The Hyundai spot featuring Ryan Reynolds showed a car that didn’t get distracted like the women driving it. Women loved this spot. But a few men (13%) were offended by it, or maybe just a little jealous of Reynolds. Acura’s “What He Said” ad for the Acura NSX was all rock music, special effects and speed. It was liked less than the Hyundai ad by both genders but clearly less than females.
The Death Wish coffee spot featured Vikings in a masculine approach to advertising coffee, even using the line “fiercely caffeinated”. The spot did well with men but the Starbucks ad showing a mom making her Starbucks on a lazy weekend morning did much better with women and did well with men as well.
Contrasts in Men and Women Brains
Nielsen says that while male and female brains may look alike on the outside, there are contrasts in how men and women process information, express emotion, interact with others and ultimately approach their daily activities that involve media and shopping.
Women are hardwired for:
- Big-picture thinking
- “Gut” reasoning
- Social and verbal skills
Men are preconditioned for:
- Concrete thinking
- Goal-oriented tasks
- Logical solutions
Differences in Advertising Appeal
When looking at advertising, women under 35 like ads that are upbeat, aspirational, celebrity-focused, occasionally silly, but never mean-spirited. Women 35-54 may respond more favorably to messages that are sentimental, highlight real-life activities, family friendly and relatable. Men are looking for fast acting movement, competitive activities and often, sadly, suggestive humor.
Tying this together, we see shopping patterns emerge. Men are goal-oriented shoppers. They shop to win or complete a goal. Women are more likely to browse around and shop for deals and special offers. Research says women are more attuned to discount and promotional news than men (men 57% vs. women 62%). Women might head to a factory outlet with name brands while men might go to the department store and pay full price. A few years ago, J.C. Penney learned an expensive lesson on the importance of promotions when they eliminated sales, promotions and coupons and drove away their core audience.
Marketing should employ creative elements and styles that resonate with the way the female brain works. Emotion wins the day over logical facts every time. That doesn’t mean women don’t want information; they will seek out the information after they become interested. Women also appreciate authenticity, social consciousness, and nuance. The female brain is programmed to maintain social harmony, so messaging shouldn’t focus on conflict.
“Women relate to a more aspirational approach, connecting with happy situations that feature characters who allow a woman to imagine herself in their shoes,” says the report. Men like the offbeat humor embodied by “normal guys” in exaggerated situations.
Frequency of advertising also plays into gender receptivity. Women can absorb more information in a 30-second ad than men but they are harder to convince, often only deciding to buy after multiple exposures.
November 8, 2015 § 1 Comment
Want to know something right away? The Google Consumer Survey is a new way to quickly answer marketing questions like “are brides keeping their maiden names”. The New York Times recently quoted a Google Consumer Survey, reporting some 20% of women married in recent years have kept their names. The Google Consumer Survey is a great alternative for quick-turn around questions. How does it work?
If you are thinking about a pre-test of a marketing campaign, testing some key product messages or gauging opinion or reactions, Google Consumer Surveys could be your answer.
With Google Consumer Surveys, you can write your own survey questions online. You pick your target, either the entire US internet population or a custom audience: 25-34 year olds, people who live in Nashville, women, etc. The survey can be fielded to a validated, representative sample of respondents whenever you want it. That means quick results.
Where do the respondents come from? Unlike traditional survey methods, Google survey respondents are people browsing the web who come across your questions as they seek out online content, such as news, entertainment and reference sites. I have answered questions on sites like The Tennessean to be able to access stories. Users answer up to 10 questions in exchange for access to the content.
Google says they automatically aggregate and analyze responses, providing the data through a simple online interface. They give you interactive histograms, clickable demographic segmentation and comparisons, and statistically significant insights―all easily sharable. Results appear as they come in, with full survey completion within days.
And pricing is really attractive. General population surveys are $.10 per complete for 1 question surveys and $1.00 per complete for 2-10 question surveys (regardless of how many questions you have).
Surveys targeted towards specific age, gender, or location demographics are now $.15 for 1 question surveys and $1.50 per complete for 2-10 question surveys.
So back to maiden names for women today! The Google survey found that higher-income urban women were much more likely to keep their names. The Times compared this subgroup to the wedding pages of The Times. Their results: nearly half of women featured in The Times since 1985 changed their names, while about a quarter kept their names and a quarter did not say, according to an analysis of 7,835 opposite-sex wedding announcements in five-year intervals.
It seems the resurgence in keeping names could be because women now go to college at higher rates than men, celebrities usually opt for their single names and couples commonly live together before marriage using both names. By the time, women marry, they have established themselves by their maiden name.
So, Google on friends.
October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
We haven’t heard Brenda Lee singing Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree yet, but holiday shopping has already begun. Around 32 million Americans –- or 14% of consumers -– have started their holiday shopping. Or should we say 32 million women have started their shopping?
Google has identified five holiday shopping trends we need to watch this year, based on last year’s behavior.
- This will be the most connected holiday shopping season ever. Forty percent of holiday shopping occurred online last year and this year will be bigger. We rely more on the internet for holiday research than we do friends and family.
- Mobile will continue to influence more sales. Nearly 28% of all retail sales were influenced by shopping-related mobile searches. Fifty-three percent of those who shopped online used mobile smartphones and tablets to make purchases.
- Early shopping will take away some of the clout of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some 48% of holiday shoppers say they did the majority of their shopping on or before Cyber Monday, up from 40% in 2013.
- Consumers more open to new stores and brands for holiday shopping.More than half of shoppers were open to buying from a new retailer and 41% actually made purchases at new retailer.
- Holiday shoppers turn to peer review on You Tube. Of people who watched online videos to help with holiday shopping, 68% preferred product videos from “people like me.”
February 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
Google has partnered with the Mayo Clinic to deliver health information through search in a totally new way to provide more information on symptoms and treatment. This change, which began on February 10, will certainly set a new bar for how Americans seek information and medical facilities respond. But it may also pose a challenge for marketers.
Rather than relying on information resulting from a regular search, Google has taken the position that health information needs to be presented in a different and more reliable way. Mayo Clinic has partnered with Google to review all the information provided. Now, when a consumer does a search, they will see an expanded box next to their Google search on desktop and more detailed information on the Google app.
And while this new search box will provide useful information, the change certainly impacts content and search strategy for marketers. The addition of this information box to the search results may likely mean a reduction in clicks to the websites in the SERPs. The person searching may not perceive a need to go to the website with specific information. For instance, if a person needs information on heart attack warning signs, they may never go to a local hospital site, only relying on the Google box of information. Video may be a strong tool in getting around the knowledge graph. Currently videos are not included in the knowledge graph. A 2011 study by AimClear demonstrated that video can receive as much as 41 percent more clicks in organic search over text results.
According to Google, “the box will be filled with enhanced information culled from throughout the web, verified by multiple physicians and, finally, signed off by doctors from Mayo. Altogether, an average of 11.1 physicians have inspected and approved the information Google will now present.”
The information may include special illustrations, symptoms and treatments. Google is beginning with 400 medical conditions which will inform about 10% of current health searches.
This initiative is huge in Google. Here are some of the reasons why Google has made this change:
1. One in every 20 searches on Google is about health information.
2. Three-quarters of all health inquiries start with a search engine, according to Pew Research.
3. The most commonly-researched topics are specific diseases or conditions, treatments or procedures, and doctors for health professionals.
4. 35% of US adult say that they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they have or someone else has.
5. One in five internet users have consulted online reviews and/or rankings of healthcare providers/treatments.
6. 31% of cell phone owners, and 52% of smartphone owners, have used their phone to look up health or medical information.
The technology that Google is using is part of the Knowledge Graph which links searches to connected information. Now, you currently see this technology at work when you see the box of information to the right of a search results displayed for a celebrity or famous personality.