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...

Read More

Ode to My Daughter on her 1st Communion: Part I (The Girl)

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, Learning, Vulnerability | 0 comments

Like many mothers with pent up creative energy – I use events in my kids lives as an excuse to visit the craft store, make a mess and generally have fun with my purely artistic creative juices. One of the things I really enjoy is cake decorating. I use boxed cake mix, canned frosting (or purchased frosting from the Publix deli)…but the tools and the artistry, they are mine all mine. When a cake decorating opportunity approaches, I get excited. I peruse Pinterest for inspiration, I spend more money on cake decorating tools and equipment. This weekend, my daughter Madeleine will experience her 1st Communion. She is 7 (almost 8), and we are Catholic, so this is a big deal – with a beautiful white dress and fancy hair and shoes and everything. And Madeleine is a pretty incredible kid, in so many ways. At age 7, she is the most self-referencing person I know. She is who she is, not in an “in your face” non-conformist sort of way –  just in a really awesome, beautiful, authentic kind of way. One time she was upset because of something that happened with friends, and she said to me “sometimes I just feel like I don’t fit in” – looking up at me with tears streaming down her face.  As a parent, this is the equivalent of someone ripping your heart out and slicing it in a million different pieces. The first thing I wanted to do was grab the “friends” by the shoulders and say “CAN’T YOU SEE HOW AWESOME SHE IS???”.  But I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t do that, you can’t change other people – right?  My next thought was, “well, maybe I need to give her more advice about how to fit in? I mean, I’ve been pretty successful at it, maybe I need to teach her some of those tricks”.  But this thought made my heart sink, and make me feel sad…like it would be something akin to painting neon hearts on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. I realized this was also not the right direction. And then God intervened, with a lesson for both of us, and here is what I actually said to her, as I wiped away her tears… “Madeleine, I am not really sure what to say to you right now…because the reality is, you are such an amazing and unique person …and that is awesome…but there is cost. The cost is that sometimes, you aren’t going to fit in and people aren’t going to like you. I’d rather you learn how to deal with this fact, the reality that sometimes you aren’t going to fit in and sometimes people aren’t going...

Read More

Big Data Says The Answer is 42!

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Big Data, Consulting, Consumer Data, Digital Strategy, innovation, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Technology | 0 comments

It’s been a long, long time since I read Douglas Adam’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“. But I’ve been trying to dive deep into understanding this “big data” craze more…pragmatically. At present, my brain feels pretty scrambled on the topic – but lots of associations and analogies keep coming to mind – a riff on “Maslow’s Hierarchy”,  Hitchhiker’s Guide… So I did some searching to try and figure out why these things were coming to mind, thought I’d share this tidbit. “O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us….” he paused, “The Answer.” “The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?” “Life!” urged Fook. “The Universe!” said Lunkwill. “Everything!” they said in chorus. Deep Thought paused for a moment’s reflection. “Tricky,” he said finally. “But can you do it?” Again, a significant pause. “Yes,” said Deep Thought, “I can do it.” …… [Seven and a half million years later…. Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their ancestors continue what they started] …… “Good Morning,” said Deep Thought at last. “Er..good morning, O Deep Thought” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have…er, that is…” “An Answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes, I have.” The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain. …. Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children. “And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonsuawl. “I am.” “Now?” “Now,” said Deep Thought. They both licked their dry lips. “Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.” “Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!” “Now?” inquired Deep Thought. “Yes! Now…” “All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable. “You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought. “Tell us!” “All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…” “Yes..!” “Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought. “Yes…!” “Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused. “Yes…!” “Is…” “Yes…!!!…?” “Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Pretty funny, huh?  Get it?  I laughed out loud. I’m a fan of data (love, love, love it … the more the better). But in this passage above, can’t you imagine that “Deep Thought” would be the poor, unfortunate team you’ve hired to make sense of your big data  – so many times without a...

Read More

How to turn Ignorance into a Competitive Advantage

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Digital Strategy, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Vulnerability | 0 comments

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 company, or they couldn’t match the capabilities in the meeting. I was essentially on the road and in these meetings to handle this one question over and over  and over. The truth is, in many areas of tech (and definitely in Marketing Technology these days) it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know all the companies. The barrier to entry in “marketing services” is flat out non-existent. And here is something has and always will be true about the vast majority of technology start ups (and many new ventures within non-startups)…but established companies tend for forget this:  More often than not – there is no there, there. (shhhh, don’t tell anybody) And the newest of ventures have very little to lose by overselling what they can do (whereas an established company, trying to take a new capability to existing clients, has quite a lot to lose… the clients trust for one, opportunity cost of selling what they know works for another). If someone asks you about a company or a person you’ve never heard of (but your client thinks you should have), IT’S AN INTELLIGENCE GATHERING OPPORTUNITY! Say, with confidence and without losing a beat, “Nope, I haven’t heard of them. But we have a team tracking the space very closely, tell me more about them & I’ll see what I can find out for you.” Here’s what that statement just got you: The chance to learn something, and gather intelligence. In fact, the most valuable intelligence…such as, what your real or potential competitors are saying to your clients. You leveraged your role as an already trusted, existing advisor to expand your expertise into this new field. You demonstrated good, active listening skills, let your client know that what’s important or of interest to them is important and of interest to you. You bought yourself time to research and come back with a thoughtful, useful and well-positioned reply. You have an explicit reason to follow up and continue the conversation with your client about the new capability. If you lie, or skirt over the issue, and pretend either that the...

Read More

Live Today Like Someone Left the Gate Open

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, Leadership, Learning, Vulnerability | 0 comments

  This is my dog, James. I’ve seen a quote and an image something like this before – it features a dog running as fast as he can and he looks so happy – the quote on the graphic is “Live life like someone left the gate open.” My kids and I often reference the quote out loud when James is running around full tilt, as he was just before this photo was taken. “Hey Mom, James is living like someone left the gate open!” We love to watch him. Something about the pureness of the joy, the fact that he will run and run and run until he is completely and happily spent, that I admire… and, honestly, sometimes I’m even jealous of him and the pureness of his joy and the simplicity of his exhaustion having put all his energy into his joy. So for Inspiration Monday, I offer this awesome picture of my dog James – taken right after he had run his heart out through mud puddles and rolled around in freshly cut grass – and a slightly modified quote, that seems more possibly than living my whole life that way…I can do this for one day, just enjoy it – go all out – don’t worry about anything… “Live TODAY like someone left the gate open.” If it gets really messy, you can always take a bath, get a good night’s sleep and try again tomorrow :-). 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! ...

Read More