Almost Half of US Consumers Emotionally Indifferent to Brands

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Brand Purpose, Brand Value, CPG, Digital Strategy, innovation, Learning, Loyalty, Shopper Marketing | 0 comments

This headline caught my attention. As it should catch the attention of any of us who are paid to build, protect and develop brand value. We should not dismiss this, like we dismiss it when consumers say they think products should cost less and that they eat less junk food than we know they do. We should not dismiss it, because the green statistics are signs of things that have been – for US marketers – not of things to come. And we need to understand why, and evolve and adjust our not just our marketing strategy…but our product development and entire go-to-market approach. People grow apart for valid reasons. And consumers and brands are growing apart. Or – more precisely – consumers are maturing and doing grown up things, and we marketers are still loitering around the convenient stores, drinking suicides and trying to get better at Asteroids. That consumers are maturing, thanks to increased access to information and a ton more choices, is not a tragedy! Rather, it is the opportunity of a lifetime – for all of us. Empowered, informed consumers create the context we’ve all been dreaming of…a chance to have a deeper, more meaningful, sustainable, efficient and longer lasting consumer relationship (which is also, by the way, the real definition of “brand loyalty”) . 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...

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Is Tech Eroding Consumer Loyalty? (Absolute Value)

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Amazon, Brand Purpose, Brand Value, Branding, CPG, Digital Strategy, innovation, Leadership, Learning, Online Marketing, Retail Disruption, Strategy, Target, Walmart | 0 comments

Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen have me thinking differently about the components of  brand value and how “consumer loyalty” is derived. I thank them for that – in over 20 years of working and thinking in this space  I rarely, rarely say that  -original thought is so hard to come by, especially in a space where everyone is kind of an expert, because everyone is kind of a consumer. Yes, I understand the role of brand value to brands – it creates consumer demand for their product which increases leverage with distributors and retailers which, in turn, drives both sales and profitability.  And I have been aware of the trust factor for the consumer, you want to trust that the values you ascribe to a brand exist whenever and wherever that brand appears (consider Target’s brand characteristic of affordable style, WalMart’s brand of everyday low price). Having spent some time in Bulgaria, in 1998, just as it was coming out of decades of communism and finding its way into free market marketing, I also appreciate the role that having different “brand values” plays in a society . When you don’t have consumer choice, you don’t have brand value – and so, to me, being able to create choice – with brands that have different values – as a means of consumer self-expression and empowerment – is also an angle I understand. But there is something about the way this article breaks it down that is intriguing to me. It will take a while for the seeds they planted in my brain to germinate into something really useful, but here is what they have me ruminating about: What is the Role of Brand Value in Consumer Loyalty?  (or I would say creating “consumer demand”) Simonson and Rosen essentially say the value is “quick reference”.  Consumers either don’t have to do the research, or don’t have to do as much research – before buying – because they trust the brand, or more specifically what the brand means. They hypothesize that in an age of “almost” perfect information, – the research that used to be able to be “assumed” by certain brand value attributes, is now readily and easily available online. They conclude that, in this case, it is the “absolute” value (not the relative “by association”  brand value) of the product that is most important. As I try to break this down, I think that is probably true in some instances – particularly where the fact is easily verified or quantified. Examples of this would include quality, safety or some other quantifiable standard or feature (like gluten-free, or organic  ingredients). But even then, the value is relative – the consumer now trusts the online recommendations more than...

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WMT Doubles Down on Commitment to Solar

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Brand Purpose, Brand Value, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Technology, Walmart | 0 comments

An interesting consideration here about how to leverage your core strategic asset(s) to diversify your consumer value proposition and appeal. If you were head of strategic planning at Wal-Mart, what would you count among your core strategic assets? One of the first and most obvious you might list is your size. Because you are so big, you can secure better pricing for your customers …Everyday Low Pricing…check, one of the most powerful and popular retail strategies to-date. How can you be anything else to anyone else?  It’s not so easy to then become relavant to fashionista’s and HGTV-star wannabe’s – for many reasons – but mainly because your most significant strategic asset is a liability to a consumer segment that values uniqueness and individual expression. A more productive, and defensible and synergistic approach might be to look for opportunities where your core asset – in this case Wal-Mart’s size – meaningfully advances a cause your target consumer segment cares about. In this case, Wal-Mart’s commitment to the use of solar takes what could be a liability to a particular segment of the population and turns it around to be a showcase for the cause. I don’t know if it will drive sales at Wal-Mart, but it does diversify who thinks about the company and what they feel about them. And it reminds me of some core strategic principles, namely that it is so powerful to  “own” who you are  – and build off of that – than to copy another company, another person, another strategy. Walmart Doubles Down on Commitment to Solar 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...

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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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A Brilliant “Brand Purpose” Campaign

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Brand Purpose, Brand Value, Content Marketing, CPG, Digital Strategy, Inspiration, Loyalty, Online Marketing | 0 comments

An excellent example of a brand using it’s “purpose” to make an emotional impact and connection with consumers. Easy, relatively, for a greeting card company for sure – but it can be done. Only challenge is getting consumers to go specifically buy an American Greetings card rather than a Hallmark or other brand card…being able to capture the consumer in the emotional moment, that they so effectively created, is just another reason to have a strong online presence and content marketing...

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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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