Social Media Advertising in 2016: Don’t Be Scared!

January 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

So, the Force has awakened!social_media_freak No, not Star Wars; it’s social media advertising. While we were posting our holiday pictures, social media has moved from a “free” social platform for conversation and awareness to a bona fide advertising medium.

Social media is now a performance-driven marketing channel that delivers highly targeted audiences, new ad formats and a wide variety of measurement tools. On Facebook, desktop ads have 8.1X higher click-through rates and mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates than normal web ads. And Promoted Tweets have shown average engagement rates of 1-3%, much higher than traditional banner ads.

Here’re the facts:

  • According to Pew Research, 65% of all adults use social media.
  • Women still lead men in the use of social media but barely. Since 2014, the differences in usage by gender have been modest. Today, 68% of all women use social media, compared with 62% of all men.
  • Marketing will spend 13.2% of their budgets on social media this year. And of the $137.53 billion global digital ad expenditures in 2014, $16.1 billion was spent on social media, a 45% increase over 2013.

Targeting is key and social media has acknowledged their fierce advantage in geography, specific target audiences and engagement.

Facebook and Instagram are serious contenders for video advertising. Since the two share the same advertising platform, it’s important to look at them together. Oh, and Facebook has been tweaking its news feed algorithm in the past year, favoring videos users are more likely to watch. Facebook reports users view about four billion videos on the social network each day.

Twitter is also making changes that will bode well for advertisers. Twitter is the second-most popular social media platform among marketers with 77% of B2C and 83% of B2B marketers using the network. The new news for Twitter is their testing of displaying tweets based on curation rather than chronological order. Curation could help brand engagement. Twitter is also looking for the video audience and is providing new ad options.

Pinterest added buyable pins last year but is still struggling to make pins into sales conversions. Pinterest seems to be more aspirational than real like Instagram.

So what to do in 2016?

Here are some tips. Make sure you are spending a portion of your advertising dollars in social, testing the effectiveness for your business and honing your messages to your target audiences.

  1. Know your campaign objectives. Are you wanting to increase conversions on your website, promote your social media page or get your content seen by your target audience?
  2. Have relevant content. Use your free social media to beta test relevant social ads. Figure out what is resonating the most with your customers and build social ads around these topics.
  3. Know your customers so you can use the amazing targeting features of social media.
  4. Rotate messaging to mitigate ad fatigue and test content.
  5. Design content for the social media you are using and the engagement you desire. Create a video strategy.
  6. Think mobile. Most social media is consumed on our smartphones so make sure you social media ads are optimized for mobile.

 

Marketing to Women in 2016: Ten Trends

January 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

Marketing to Women

Here are some insights that will help us navigate the New Year of Marketing to Women. They are less crystal ball thoughts and more practical information for the new year.

  1. Social is marketing. Women are embracing new platforms of social media and marketing needs to follow. Instagram is now larger than Twitter with more than 400 million users, with 59% using Instagram daily. Some 55% of online adults use Instagram, composed of 31% women and 24% men. On average, millennial moms have 3.4 social media accounts, versus the 2.6 for moms in general. (Weber Shandwick)
  2. Marketing to Moms means marketing to Millennials. Currently, one-third of millennials have children and that number will continue to grow in 2016. Millennials increase their smartphone usage by 63% after becoming moms, and they spend 35% more time on their mobile device than on their PC or laptop. Those numbers keep growing—a trend we expect to see continue in 2016.  Some 81% of millennial moms researched or purchased items via on their phones while shopping in-store this year. And one in four moms do more than half of their shopping online. (BabyCenter/IAB)
  3. Women expect to shop anywhere, anytime. The online shopping tipping point happened this holiday season proving the importance of omnichannel and smartphone shopping. Retail sales were up 7.9% between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, with brick and mortar sales down while online sales grew 20%. And Amazon seems to be the touchstone. A poll conducted by CNBC this holiday season found that about 49 percent of shoppers say they ‘‘always’’ or ‘‘most of the time’’ browse Amazon when they shop online. Amazon says almost 70 percent of its customers this holiday season shopped via a mobile device and the number of Amazon app shoppers more than doubled in the same period. Amazon set the bar high this year with their same day Prime deliveries. In Seattle, Amazon Santa delivered its final pre-Christmas package at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Free shipping seems so yesterday in this last minute world.
  4. Generation Z cannot be ignored. While some are just catching on to Millennials, it seems that Centennials or Generation Z (anyone born after 1995) are a new consumer not to be ignored. Gen Z makes up one-quarter of our country’s population, and by 2020, they will account for 40% of all consumers. Gen Z is exerting a powerful influence on their families’ spending. Indeed, 93% of parents say that their children shape their families’ spending and household purchases. Start studying this generation and see how they fit into your consumer world.
  5. Email is still relevant. The widely reported “death of email” was overblown. Research tells us that emails are hugely relevant for women, but they must be mobile-friendly. Best performing emails need to have a special offer, coupon or deal.
  6. The :15 video is the standard. Life is busy and women don’t have time to watch long videos. Consider how-to and product videos showing how the product is being used. Website videos still have a place as well as a source of buying information.
  7. The reviews are in. Nearly 70 percent of consumers and 82 percent of millennials seek opinions before buying, according to Mintel’s survey of 2,000 U.S. adults. Fifty-six percent of respondents said online reviews from people they don’t know help them decide which products or services to consider, and half said they would pay more for a product with positive online reviews. Women rely on reviews more than men. Top factors influencing women to purchase a product (84%) was a recommendation from family, friends or peers.  On average women research 10 sources of information before buying a product (versus two for men). Brands need to give women an opportunity to learn more about them and give them the tools to try, share and recommend. Monitoring your reviews and providing information to buyers is extremely important. Research has shown that 42 percent of customers who complain via social media expect a response within 60 minutes. In addition, 52 percent expect responses at night and on weekends, even if it is not during the business hours.
  8. Brand values matter. Women expect brands to be more open and transparent about their philosophy and values. Brands can’t just sell warmth and empathy in big splashy media but not deliver when they meet the consumer online or in-store. Women expect brand service and brand delivery to be warm and empathetic.
  9. Marketing to women is not marketing to gender or just showing women in ads. Brands need to consider the various multiple roles of women and focus on her areas of interest – children, health, business, shopping.  
  10. Bring back humanity. In a time of big data, programmatic digital and native experiences, the technology seemed to trump the message. In 2016, it is time for a return to the type of brand relationships that win over hearts and minds. We can no longer “sell”. It’s time for valuable content, engagement, personalized communication, and living experiences.

 

 

Marketing to Women: Eight Tips to Optimize Your Retail Layout

January 1, 2016 § 1 Comment

mobile-shoppingI have worked with retailers for most of my career and sharp retailers know that every single foot of store space needs to work hard.  Spend some time in your store observing customers and what they are doing.  And then try some tried and true store layout tips gleaned from retail consultants Kizer & Bender that might help get your stores optimized for the best selling environment.

  1.  Allow for a “decompression zone”.  When consumers enter a store, 90% will typically turn to the right.  Shoppers typically don’t notice merchandising displays within 15 feet of the entrance.  The first thing that customers are noticing is your general decor, your brand statement about your store – walls, flooring, accent colors, fixtures, pleasing smells and comfortable aisle widths. Your checkout should never be in the right front of your store.
  2. Check your Vista.  According to Kizer and Bender, stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone (about 5’ inside the store) and spread your arms out at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. The space you see is called the Vista – the area that builds a shopper’s first impression of your store. The space inside the Vista needs to be clean, uncluttered and full of not-to-be-missed product. This is where you should place your Speed Bump displays.  Speed Bumps are just past the decompression zone and are the place for those attractive items.  Speed bumps can be special fixturing or small tables for display.
  3. Color is important.  Neutral colors are used in 80% of all stores, with strong accent colors used sparingly.  The wrong colors can change the whole shopping experience.
  4. Choose a story layout that fits your business.  There are three types of store layouts– the Grid Layout typically used in supermarkets and big box stores, the Loop (Racetrack) layout that creates a clearly defined path through the store, and the Free Flow Layout, typically used by specialty retailers, where they find new merchandise displays at every turn. Make sure you are always leading a customer somewhere.  Most stores use a circular path to get the customer to walk through the store and back to the front.  But keep “merchandising outposts” in their path so they can discover items as they walk through the store.
  5. The Power Wall.  Walk inside the front door, stop just past your decompression zone and turn right.  That’s your Power Wall, the place to display important departments, new and seasonal items, high demand and high-profit items.
  6. Where’s the Bananas?  Every store has a high volume necessity item like bananas or motor oil that customers always look for.  Put them in a back place along the shopping loop that encourages your shopper to shop the entire store.
  7. Store Fixturing is a tool.  Keep in mind the purpose of the fixture.  You aren’t supposed to see the fixture.  You should see the merchandise.
  8. Check out should be placed at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience or path you have created.  Have a counter big enough for shoppers to place their bags and/or personal belongings.  Last chance for encouraging impulse or “last minute” items.

And don’t forget technology in today’s world.  The technology can include digital screens, iPads to aid shopping and online helps.  Does your store have WiFi?  It should because shoppers are using their smartphones in-store.

 

Millennials Are Today’s Food & Wine Tastemakers

November 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

3040348-slide-s-4-meet-the-brand-that-got-millennials-hooked-on-sparkling-wineMillennial foodies are the new “tastemakers”. What Millennials want in food today is what the rest of the world will soon be asking for. This savvy generation loves lots of informal celebrations, intense flavor profiles, ethnic cuisines, more natural foods and lots of snacks. Champagnes like Chandon are courting Millennials as an irreverent celebration alternative to their parents’ brands and are designing bottles to fit their occasions.

Restaurants are working hard to cater to millennials as their incomes and spending habits grow.   Here are some important facts to understand.

  1.  They eat out more often.  53% of the group goes out to eat once a week, compared with 43% for the general population. They eat out more often in all categories – quick serve, casual dining and fast casual.  While they all eat fast food, millennials don’t want to admit to eating it.  They are the least likely to recommend fast food to others.  Fast casual is their favorite.  Millennials compose 51% of fast casual customers.
  2. They want healthy food which means fresh, less processed and with fewer artificial ingredients.
  3. They want food that comes from socially responsible companies.  Types of companies that they like include those who have principles around fair trade, sustainability and fair wages.   Companies that exhibit these qualities include Starbucks and Chipolte.
  4. They like to support local restaurants.  Again this means higher quality food, social ethics, ethnic foods and flavor profiles.
  5. They want convenience which translates to easy online ordering, stellar apps and rewards programs. Starbucks has scored big with their new app revamp for pick-up orders.
  6. Sriracha is on everything.  It is stocked in 9% of American households and in 16% of those under 35.
  7. They celebrate a lot.  According to CEB Iconoculture, Millennials are celebrating more than just the traditional holidays. Super Bowl Parties, May the 4th Be With You celebrations (for Star Wars fans), and single girls’ gatherings for Valentine’s Day are just a few ways Millennials are celebrating outside of traditional holidays.
  8. The line between snacks and meals is blurring. According to research by Barkley and BCG, Millennials tend to snack far more than older generations. It is very common for Millennials to regularly have snacks in the mid-morning, mid-afternoon and late at night.

On the alcohol side of things, Chandon reports that 27 percent of adult millennials now choose beer as their favorite alcoholic drink and a lot of that beer is craft beer.   But beer consumption is down from 33 percent in 2012, leaving room for other products including vodkas, wines and sparkling wines.  Millennials like craft brands and made-for-me brands.  Chandon has targeted Millennials with its “celebrate everyday” strategy, moving sparkling wines from only end of year special occasions to everyday occasions.  Since Chandon is technically not Champagne since it is from Napa Valley, the wine has become Americanized.  Chandon has been able to reimagine how sparkling wine can be consumed—and by whom.  Chandon typically sells for a lower price point as well.

But price alone is not enough to lure young adults.  They seek an experience.  Chandon has given the classic champagne bottle a trendy makeover and creates seasonal designs for its bottles.  Last year Chandon put out three limited-edition bottles that are scrawled with the phrases “The Party Starts Here,” “Bring on the Fun,” and “I am the After Party.”   Ideally, consumers can pick out the bottle that matches their personality.  Their marketing also matches this new look with a heavy dependence on social media using image heavy social platforms like Instagram.

“Any marketer will tell you that it is very difficult to change consumer behavior,” Cristian Yanez, VP of Estate and Wines at Moet Hennessy USA, Chandon’s parent company says. “But with sparkling wine, we’ve found that a simple approach works best. I know it sounds a bit basic, but just giving people another excuse to drink a bottle of sparkling wine is sometimes all we need to do.”

 

Plus Size Fashion Continues to Grow

November 9, 2015 § 1 Comment

SHEVA-Ashley-TiptonIt’s no secret that the average American woman is a size 14. And it seems that American fashion is beginning to take note.

Several things have happened recently to amp up the plus size movement.  Project Runway celebrated its first plus size fashion designer win last week.  Ashley Tipton is only the second designer on the show who has specialized in plus sizes.  Her unique collection celebrated her Mexican heritage, a nod to Frida Kahlo and a fashion forward plus look.  Recently Melissa McCarthy launched her own clothing line which is carried at retailers like Nordstrom’s and shopping network HSN.

According to market research firm NPD group, sales of plus-size clothes grew five percent in 2014, making it a $17.5 billion industry.  What’s more the study defined ‘plus-size’ as U.S. size 18 and up, whereas in the fashion industry it starts at size 14, meaning the growth may well have been significantly larger.

Over the past two years, plus-size sales within the e-commerce category have grown 31%.  Online shopping seems to take a larger share of plus size shopping. Even traditional retailers have more plus size options online.

The Opportunity

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Most plus-size women feel that their body size is not sufficiently represented in fashion and retail.  A recent study from ModCloth found that 46% of plus-size women ‘never or rarely’ find clothing that flatters their body.
The online retailer surveyed more than 1,500 women to determine how they feel about the current state of the plus-size market.  They found that most women are dissatisfied. Some 81%  said they would spend more on clothing if there were more options available in their size.

 

A Google Survey Can Answer Burning Questions Quickly and Inexpensively

November 8, 2015 § 1 Comment

11665626_10153123754483752_7259716457234014637_nWant 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.

 

 

Gift Cards Essential to 4Q Retail Marketing Strategies

October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

redGift cards have topped the list of most requested gifts for the last eight years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that one out of three gifts is a gift card. Retailers should make gift card sales an important part of their 4Q sales strategy. Fourth quarter sales of gift cards can contribute to strong sales during January.

“It varies based on the business you’re in, but it is not unusual for as much 50 percent of some retailers’ business in the fourth quarter to come from gift cards,” says Ben Kaplan, president and CEO of digital gifting and incentive platform CashStar.

And some retailers are finding that gift cards are a better way to promote their products than the typical discounts.  Discounts can have a negative perception.  Customers might think “that you are just trying to move product. If you give a gift card instead of a discount, you’re sending a more positive perception of your product to customers.

Gift Card Buyer Segments

In a recent Blackhawk study of gift card buyers, 63% of respondents had purchased at least one gift card in the last year and 94% stated they would be likely to purchase a gift card in the next year.

So it should be no surprise that birthdays (70%) and winter holidays (64%) were the most popular occasions to buy gift cards.

The study segmented gift card buyers into four groups: It’s a Busy Life (33%), Budgeting for a Practical Gift (23%), The Meaningful Gift (22%) and It’s All About the Gift (21%). Marketers can use this information for gift card planning.

It’s All About the Gift. This is a group that loves to give and receive gift cards. Gift cards are their gift of choice. Although they give slightly less than the average amount of gift cards per year, they spend more on individual gift cards. These buyers purchase more restaurant, mass merchandiser, department store gift cards and open loop gift cards than other groups. They buy gift cards in more channels (than other groups) as they tend to buy gifts while doing other shopping. When redeeming gift cards, most spend more than the value of the gift card. This group is approximately 61% female and has a higher percentage of married people. They tend to be more middle aged.

It’s a Busy Life.   This group buys gift cards for convenience. They are time strapped and buy out of necessity, rather than affinity. Overall, they tend to buy more than the average number of gift cards per year (8.7) and buy them more often for more occasions—for almost all occasions more than any other group. Because of convenience needs, this buyer tends to buy e-gift cards (47%) and they prefer to shop online or on their phone or tablet. There is a higher percentage of males in this group. They tend to have higher income, be employed full time and the group is more ethnically diverse.

 A Meaningful Gift. This cluster of givers want to make people happy. They focus their gifting choices on gifts that have emotional meaning. Eighty-one percent want to give gifts that have an emotional meaning. In the past, gift cards tended to be viewed as impersonal or the lazy person’s gift. However, this viewpoint has changed, mainly because of public opinion. People have begun to realize that people prefer them to physical gifts. Gift cards are the most requested gift and people prefer them.

Budgeting for the Practical Gift. This is a fairly new segment. This group focuses on saving money. Buying gift cards help them budget their gift spending. This group is the most price conscious of all of the clusters. They tend to use coupons and look for promotions. Interestingly, this group uses gift cards as the highest percentage of all their gifts and they do that because they think gift cards are such practical gifts. They tend to give fewer gifts than the other groups and prefer to give a gift that is useful. They spend less on individual gift cards and tend to buy gift cards in mass merchandisers and in the grocery channel (already shopping there.) Of all the clusters, the consumers in this group buy the most for self-use. Birthdays and winter holidays are the most popular occasions for purchase. They tend to buy more restaurant and mass merchandiser gift cards.  Only one-third purchase online. This cluster is about two-thirds female and contains more single moms. Overall they have a lower household income level and tend to have less education.

 

 

 

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