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.
February 10, 2015 § 1 Comment
There is always a Nashville connection. This week Sports Illustrated has taken over downtown Nashville for its first bash in honor of its America the Beautiful 2015 swimsuit issue. At the same time, the magazine is also making news for including a so-called plus-size model in a swimsuit and a true plus-size model in an ad in this year’s edition.
Is advertising finally accepting that the average size of an American women is 12-14?
The models shown on the runway and in magazines like Sports Illustrated represent less than 5% of women in the US. A traditional sample size used on the runway and in magazines is a 0-2. Even famous actresses know that to snag a couture gown for the Oscar runway, you have to be a size 2.
I have never bought a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue before, but I had to see this one. The debut of the Sports Illustrated model Robyn Lawley was hailed as historic – the first time in history a model beyond a traditional sample size has appeared in the swimsuit issue.
So here’s the scoop. In the 220-page magazine, there are three pictures of Robyn Lawley, a size 12. That’s a size 12 spread over 6 feet, 2 inches, not the average 5 foot, 4 inch woman. Thankfully, neither Sports Illustrated or Robyn uses the term “plus size”, because she is clearly not plus size. Robyn likes “curvy”, and says she is interested in seeing a variety of sizes of women in ads. She said that the exposure is “a step in the right direction.”
But the real story is Ashley Graham, the SwimsuitsForAll model, featured in a two-page spread in the magazine. Ashley is termed a larger-than-average model. She is a 5’ 9”, size 16 and has been featured in Vogue and Glamour. Graham says “the world is ready for more curves in bikinis.” Ashley actively campaigns for women to embrace their bodies no matter what the shape, and has helped found ALDA, a coalition of models promoting a healthy body image for women.
It seems that there is a positive movement to represent more average size women. Calvin Klein recently chose a size 10 model to appear in that company’s underwear ads. And in January, Target launched a plus-size clothing line, Ava & Viv, selecting three plus-size bloggers to model the campaign.
“I really hope this opens up doors for not just skinny girls with big boobs, but for girls with big hips and thighs,” says Graham, “That’s what we have in America.
Let’s say hooray for body positive messages like Graham and Meghan Trainor’s hit song “It’s All About That Bass.” Wake up Victoria Secret. There is life beyond size 2.
Oh, by the way, I would show you the cover, but there is nothing average or real about it.
December 16, 2014 § 1 Comment
There is a new study reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy identifying a rising group of charitable donors. The study finds “Millennial and Generation X women who are single and unaffiliated with a religion give two-and-a-half times more money to charity than their older, similarly secular counterparts, according to the report, which looked exclusively at unmarried donors. Their giving also doubles that of peers who have loose ties to a religion.”
For many years, it has been reported that people of faith gave more than unchurched individuals, so this report indicates that intensity of faith may not be as strong an indicator of giving as previously thought.
It seems that young single women may be bucking the trend, but there may be other factors at play as well. Young single women may represent a growing group of highly educated, high income women who have decided to defer marriage. This group of Single Indies represent some 28 million women, or one out of three adult women, who spend around $1 trillion each year. They may have more disposable income and be predisposed to charitable interests.
The report also cites that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation.
Clearly, for non-profits, this group of younger women represent an opportunity for both giving and volunteer activities. Marketing should recognize and speak to this power group.
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.”
October 21, 2014 § 1 Comment
The 2014 holiday shopping season will be a tipping point for online shopping. A PwC report finds that 41% of shoppers plan to spend more online this year than they did last year. In fact, more than two-thirds of today’s shoppers are omnichannel, easily shifting between their mobile technology and physical stores. There are conflicting reports on the size of this year’s holiday spending. The National Retail Federation is calling for holiday sales to rise 4.1%, the largest jump in three years. Online sales are expected to grow between 8-11%. PwC is not so optimistic, calling for an actual decrease in spending.
While you may think millennials are doing a lot of this online shopping, think again. Millennials only represent 18% of planned spending. It’s GenX and Boomer shoppers who will be leading the charge.
Estimates point to 43% of all spending will be online with 40% of consumers falling into a category called trade-off shoppers. Trade-off shoppers will do most of their research online and will buy online if the product is cheaper than in stores; another 32% are considered primary online shoppers; and 29% of shoppers will prefer going to the stores, after a little online browsing. Actual spending in-store will decrease from 55% in 2013 to 50% this year, but the individuals shopping in-store are likely to spend more. One important consideration is the whopping 15+ hours shoppers spend online researching purchases. Consider what that means for product descriptions, photography and selection.
Four Waves of Spending
The coming holiday season will have only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, just one more than last year and five fewer than 2012. That is important for all retailers as the compare same store sales. Black Friday is the #1 in-store shopping day during the holiday season. The next most important dates, according to a 2013 MasterCard SpendingPulse report, are December 21 and 23. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most popular days for online shopping, and Fridays and Saturdays are the top days overall for in-store holiday shopping. There are four distinct time periods for spending this year – Pre-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Mid-Holiday, and Post-Holiday. Early shopping represents 21% of all holiday spending. The week of Black Friday will represent 21% of spending. Mid-Holiday is the traditional December shopping period where 50% of spending happens, with much of it in the last ten days before Christmas. And those bargain shoppers are 8% of the shopping dollars.
What Do People Want for the Holidays?
According to the National Retail Federation, for the eighth year in a row, gift cards will be the most requested gift item for the holidays. Sixty-two percent say they would like to receive a gift card, followed by clothing (52.5%), books, CDs, DVDs or video games (43.1%), and electronics (34.6%). And one-quarter (24.8%) would like to receive jewelry.
How to Be Prepared This Season
There are some important ways you can help this season’s shoppers.
1. Embrace online connectivity. Online experience means both your online presence but your connectedness in-store. Make sure Wi-Fi is available and sales staff are available with mobile devices to check out your customers. Make sure your cybersecurity is up-to-date. And make sure your online shopping is easy to navigate, informative and provides simple check-out. One-quarter of shoppers say easy-to-use mobile websites is an important factor in their decision to shop with a specific retailer, and 40% of Black Friday online shopping was mobile. And don’t forget free shipping. It is more important than the delivery date.
2. Create a differentiated in-store experience. Make sure your store personnel are knowledgeable, your merchandise is in-stock and easy to shop, the atmosphere is festive friendly, and your merchandising is distinctive and memorable. Think about personalization and special add-on services that simplify the gifting experience.
3. Make sure your offerings represent value. Shoppers still have a deal mindset based on best prices and seasonal deals, so your innovation, unique selections, bundling and convenient shopping experience will be important to take you from a commodity purchase to a brand purchase. Special deals will continue to be important to drive shoppers to your store. Reward your best customers with special perks for shopping with you.
4. Provide messaging consistent with your brand. A consistent promotional look and feel that reflects your brand is important in creating greater impact with your customer.