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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Don’t Quit Your Marketing Job! 2 Helpful Tips to Make It Easier

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Big Data, Bluetooth LE, Burnout, Consumer Data, CPG, Digital Coupon, Digital Strategy, iBeacon, innovation, Inspiration, Just For Fun, Leadership, Learning, Retail Disruption, Strategy, Vulnerability | 0 comments

If you are employed anywhere in the art & discipline of marketing, this clip of Kevin Spacey  from American Beauty will resonate with you, to a dangerously close degree (the more so the longer you’ve been in it and the more you are paid). And you may think it is because the space has gone completely insane, and you would be right. I mean, look at this graphic.  LOOK AT IT.  Are you kidding me?  Over 950 companies and it’s not even complete – Catalina Marketing isn’t even on the slide… no brick & mortar commerce is represented in any direct fashion and it’s still intimidating as hell!   It is so easy to feel stupid, inadequate, behind and incompetent.   If you feel that way, it is really, really important for you to know that you are – very likely – the smartest person in the room.  DO NOT LET THE HYPE INTIMIDATE YOU. You’re like the “divergent” ones (if you saw the movie or read the series). The rest of the population – most especially those who are prone to believe the simulations – need you to help figure out what is real and what is not.  The fate of your company, literally, is in your hands if you don’t speak up. Believe in yourself. I know it’s hard. And I also know that if you do the personal accounting, it’s also not actually worth it, but I offer to you anyway…because I believe in you… 2 Tips to Make Your Marketing Job Easier  (in the form of Scenario & Response) …which I hope will encourage you to keep the good fight going  – specifically, the one in your brain that is trying to think for itself and figure it out using logic, reason and strategy: Scenario 1: John “Know-It-All” Doe (client or industry guru or competitior) tries to invalidate you by asking if you if you have heard of a company that you have not heard of but which can do all the things your own company and service cannot do. In 2010 I was the 4th most traveled person at my company, helping to introduce a new digital offering to clients. I was in such high demand because entering into a discussion about digital marketing with their clients made the sales professional feel vulnerable, for very good and logical reasons (these sales people are some of the most impressive individuals I’ve ever met, they aren’t easily intimidated). The client would ask…  “Well, have you heard of company X? They said they could do A, B and C…you guys can only do B” (I paraphrase of course). The salesperson would feel stupid if they didn’t know the...

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Don’t Panic! Personalization in Perspective

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in CPG, Digital Strategy, Learning, Loyalty, Online Coupon, Online Grocery, Online Marketing, Personalization, Sliderpostings | 0 comments

The bandwagon of the day is PERSONALIZATION. Everyone who is anyone is modifying position statements and priorities to be a world-class leader in it. But before you launch your organization into “must have a proprietary personalization engine right now” panic mode, please consider the following: 1. Personalization – as a means to organize how you present content – is an optimization tactic, not a strategy. Your survival as business and your ability to effectively serve your customers might not depend on having absolutely the best, proprietary personalization engine in the galaxy. Personalization may not even make sense for you. 2. Personalization is most effective if you have thousands of “quality” content units for it to prioritize – the more the better. If you had the best personalization engine in the galaxy and it was only personalizing a hundred units of average content, there might be little to no optimization effect at all on your business (depending upon the media you are personalizing on). Think about the number and variety of content units Amazon is choosing from to create your personalized experience – how would you grade them? How does your relevant content database compare to that of Amazon? 3. “Freshness” of content also impacts the effectiveness of your personalization engine. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and select news/curation services have arguably the best personalization potential because their inventory of content is both vast and continously fresh. If they didn’t have both, they would never be able to sustain the frequency of consumer engagement that they do – with or without personalization. If you have or are trying to achieve frequent engagement, without either a vast or fresh inventory, the impact of personalization will be less impressive and possibly even detrimental to your brand. Online dating sites have this challenge if a new member logs in too frequently – satisfaction and engagement will decrease. This isn’t because their matching (or personalization) algorithm is bad, it’s because they don’t have enough continuously fresh inventory to sustain the value proposition. (Insert snarky comment about online dating here, if you wish.) And here’s another thing about frequency – if you’re only going to rely on derived data (i.e. purchase or browse data or other insight proprietary to you), the more frequent the visits the better that data set is. If a consumer engages with you weekly, you can make conclusions about them with much greater confidence than if they only engaged with you quarterly – for example. 4. The personalization algorithm, by itself, is unlikely to ever be a point of sustainable competitive advantage for most companies – unless your proprietary algorithm is also pulling from a proprietary (meaning nobody else has anything like it)...

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