Is Your Strategy Scaring Consumers? General Mills Online Legal Policy.

Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Big Data, Brand eCRM, Brand Value, Branding, Consumer Data, Consumer Privacy, CPG, Digital Strategy, iBeacon, innovation, Retail Disruption, Strategy, Technology | 0 comments

Seems to be a lot of tension in the relationship between consumers and marketers these days. As I re-read  an article from my April 17th AdAge  (General Mills Legal Policy Could Threaten Consumers’ Goodwill), I was reminded of something that happened the summer between my 4th and 5th grade year. It was my first time at sleep away summer camp.  We were all swimming and having a great time in the large camp pool, but suddenly – it seemed – every time I would come up for air this little boy named David would splash water in my face. I would duck underwater, hold my breath and swim as far away as possible – but again, he would find me, and splash water in my face and laugh. This happened three times when finally I got out of the pool, tears of frustration streaming down my face. Why was he being so mean to me? Later, around the campfire, it turned out that David has a crush on me. He “liked” me, and actually wanted me to be his girlfriend (remember, this was 4th grade, although I’m pretty sure it works the same way today). Marketers want so badly to connect with and engage consumers, yet so many of the techniques and attempts have the exact opposite effect. I don’t know, maybe it’s time we grew up a little? Susan O’Neal Gear has over 20 years of experience at the intersection of consumers, marketing and technology. Passionate about all aspects of a consumer’s relationship with brands and retailers, we’re spending the next year looking for new, groundbreaking thought leadership  – if not disruptive solutions – with the potential to redefine the parameters of consumer loyalty. If you also want to see some game changing happen -then follow Upstream Insight, contribute your voice, share this post…do something! ...

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Where’s the Consumer Story in Consumer Data?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Big Data, Brand eCRM, Brand Purpose, Consumer Data, Consumer Privacy, Content Marketing, CPG, Digital Strategy, innovation, Inspiration, Learning, Personalization, Strategy | 0 comments

Lots of pontification and advice about the need for and power of storytelling. Which makes me wonder, with all the counting and recounting of who has what consumer data, is the consumer’s story getting lost in the mix?  HBR Blog: Data Alone Won’t Get You A Standing Ovation...

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Why is CIRCULATION REVENUE consistently the ONLY CATEGORY TRENDING UP when stats about Newspapers are released???

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Brand eCRM, CPG, Digital Coupon, Digital Strategy, Load to Card, Loyalty, Online Marketing, Printable Coupon, Retail Disruption, Strategy | 0 comments

  Why, why, why is CIRCULATION REVENUE consistently the ONLY CATEGORY TRENDING UP when statistics about Newspaper Ad Revenue are released??? The Decline of Newspapers Hits a Stunning Milestone This is a rhetorical question, I know “why”… sort of…I just don’t like the answer. Summary of the actual U.S. Newspaper Industry report on its own health… The headline is that there is, once again, no headline. Consistent with 20 YEARS (?!?!?!?) of reports from similar sources…. “revenue trends were largely unchanged” …which remains consistently surprising given how few consumers read or buy the newspaper anymore. Overall decline in ad revenues was consistent with prior year, about 6% each – mostly driven by decline in print ads. Hardly a cliff. How much innovation could actually be happening if year after year, one of the biggest channels for RETAIL & CPG MARKETING  (nearly $11 Billion annually!) consistently reports that things are  “largely unchanged”???    Are we RETAIL and CPG MARKETERS being boiled really, really slowly – like frogs – so we stay comfortable and don’t jump out of the pot?   I KNOW we are a smart group of people, so I try to unpack it… Circulation revenues increased 3.7% Digital only circulation revenue up 47%. Print + Digital BUNDLES are up 107%. Print only circulation revenue is is down 20%. Umm…so, are they printing more circulars or fewer circulars?  When offering a Print+Digital Bundle, how is the discount weighted? I’m guessing that the part with the low to no variable cost (digital) may be bundled into the print for free, which means if we’re being honest with ourselves, we’re not REALLY being all that adventuresome and innovative, are we? COME ON RETAIL AND CONSUMER GOOD MARKETERS!!!  If we want to really break new ground and innovate, we have to STOP DELUDING OURSELVES.  While we’re at it, we also have to stop doing the same thing online that we’ve always done in traditional media (i.e. digital circulars and pre-roll video of the same advertising we run on TV). The only logical conclusion is that there is INSUFFICIENT INNOVATION happening in our space.  The money goes where it’s always gone simply because IT. DOESN’T. HAVE. ANYWHERE. ELSE. TO GO.  At least it doesn’t have anywhere to go that the point of diminishing returns on ROI doesn’t time out earlier than the audience. What say you? What’s the most promising company or solution you’re seeing now? What are the issues we need to address?  Are circulars really ALL THAT and more? Is it really all in support of in-store merchandising? Susan O’Neal Gear has over 20 years of experience at the intersection of consumers, marketing and technology. Passionate about all aspects of a consumer’s relationship with...

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General Mills, Brand Purpose & Vulnerability

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Brand eCRM, Brand Purpose, Brand Value, Content Marketing, CPG, Digital Strategy, Loyalty, Online Grocery, Online Marketing, Sliderpostings | 0 comments

How did your best friend become your best friend? How about your spouse? At some point the superficial relationship must have become more interesting, more fulfilling and more mutually beneficial. If the relationship was lacking in any one of those areas, it would have stayed superficial. This is what we meant last week when we posted that “Next Era of Brand & Consumer Relationships will be Peer to Peer.” Most brand marketing to date has been about creating emotional relationships between human beings (aka “consumers”) and individual products (aka “brands”). As a secondary or tertiary objective, there might be an effort to create a relationship between consumers and the company that made the products – but there seemed to be risk to that (primary risk to the warm fuzzy emotional feelings a brand was better able to create if disassociated from the parent company). What General Mills seems to be opening themselves up to is creating relationships between consumers and the people who make the products…and in doing so, the product (and the brand) become a co-creation of the consumer and company. Brilliant. And scary. But then again, most brilliant things are scary. If it wasn’t a little bit scary, if it didn’t involve some degree of vulnerability, then everyone would be doing it. Why the timing is right for this “brand purpose” movement… In an era where push marketing media options were plentiful, marketers could be effective with consumer to brand relationships that were relatively superficial  – as in “if you love your family, you’ll buy Downy” or “wear this product and you’ll be cool” and other slightly veiled, but effective forms of emotional blackmail. For years, this worked and it was fine – for both marketers and consumers. But today’s consumer is grown up, they know better and they have more control over their influences. We could say that they are, perhaps, just a tad more confident and well-adjusted than the soap opera audiences of the 50’s and 60’s? Further, consumers are hard to find en masse on any particular media. Procter & Gamble may have the largest advertising budget  ($4.8B) – but they disperse that budget over 39-41 wholly different brands.  In contrast, most of the other “top ten spenders” are applying their $2B-$3B advertising budgets to promote 1-5 brands. Even if CPG had the same opportunities for online efficiency as marketers in other verticals (and they don’t, more on that in a later post)…unless they create breakthrough content that is sought out by consumers, it is going to get increasingly difficult. So, well  done General Mills…it’s hard and you’ll have some flops, but all innovation starts with a willingness to be vulnerable, to be wrong and to...

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Next Era of Brand & Consumer Relationship will be Peer 2 Peer

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Brand eCRM, CPG, Loyalty | 0 comments

Consumer demand for a brand (brand value) is the cornerstone of CPG’s negotiation leverage with retailers and ultimately their price and value proposition. That it is getting increasingly difficult to create the kind of connections with consumers that drive brand value is a very significant challenge for the industry. Something more along the order of structural re-alignment of the brand and retail relationship is going to be needed to fix this consumer mis-connection.  Optimized positioning and marketing communications aren’t going to be sufficient. The days of the parent to child relationship between a brand and a consumer are over – consumers have grown up, they know more and have more choices…time for the relationship to evolve more peer to peer. That won’t happen without significantly more trust and partnership with retailers....

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