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 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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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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The Truth about Target (great people, great store)

Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Brand Value, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Target, Vulnerability | 0 comments

Yesterday, Target CMO released a LinkedIn Influencer post titled “The Truth About Target”.   The Truth Hurts (via EVP/Chief Marketing Officer of Target, Jeff Jones) I was fortunate to work very closely with Target on some new innovations, and it prompted me to want to share my own personal experience with them. At the beginning of the relationship, a colleague in the industry described the culture at Target headquarters to me this way: “It’s like the movie Gattica, everyone is really smart, really attractive and a little bit afraid.” Walking through the very stylish hallways, admiring the beautiful artwork and seeing so many seemingly very young and attractive professionals in stylish, formal business attire – especially in those early days – I had no reason to believe that he was wrong.  I had visited many other retailer headquarters, and Target is definitely a different experience. But the truth is that all cultures have people who are just trying to survive and the people who are trying to climb – they are usually the politically savvy and or just below the radar screen – and because they are sensitive to either not standing out, or not standing out in the wrong way  – yes, they are a little bit afraid and they want the people around them to be as well. Ever heard of “not rocking the boat”? Know anyone like that at your own company? So, yes, Target has that cultural dynamic – because all companies do – especially big ones with strong, opinionated leaders…and even more so, usually, when companies have had a long run of success and factors other than intelligence and guts become career-boosters. But my personal experience with Target was that there were an above average number of innovators, and trail blazers  – especially some exceptionally smart and committed young people – willing to take a stand, make a claim, take a risk – because they believed in themselves, because their superiors at Target believed in them and because Target was giving them a chance to create something new and different and exciting. Our mutual mission, when working together, became figuring out this … “What can we create together that Target cannot do alone and that Catalina cannot do with any other retailer?” We reminded ourselves regularly that if we, together, can’t figure that out – we’ve individually, personally missed a huge opportunity to advance the field we all loved and had all chosen for our career.  It’s been my experience that not everyone rises to that kind of challenge or finds it stimulating or exciting, in fact – it’s rare – because the “what’s in it for me” isn’t clear or guaranteed. There was a...

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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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Consumer Data Acquisition: What’s the difference between a ‘bribe’ and a ‘value proposition’?

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Big Data, Brand Value, Consumer Data, Consumer Privacy, Digital Strategy, Learning, Online Marketing, Personalization, Retail Disruption, Technology, Vulnerability | 1 comment

Do you think this value proposition is uniquely of interest to high-end consumers? They claim that it’s their lack of affiliation with any particular brand that builds trust.  What does that say about brands, are they inherently untrustworthy because they want to market to the customer?  What other characteristics are important to building trust between consumers and the companies they do business with? Is 150,000 customers a lot? Why is paying consumers for their personal data called a “bribe”? Want Your Customer’s Personal Data? Bribe Them. (via Inc.)   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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