Thursday, May 28, 2015

Does Reputation Count?

GREENWASHING

The Reputation Institute's 2015 study of global corporate reputations has been released. The top 10 corporations worldwide (determined on the basis of innovation, governance, citizenship, and other criteria) are:
  1. BMW
  2. Google
  3. Daimler
  4. Rolex
  5. LEGO
  6. Disney
  7. Canon
  8. Apple
  9. Sony
  10. Intel
The U.S. list has three familiar brands on top: Amazon, Kellogg's, and LEGO. Those are followed by Fruit of the Loom, Campbell Soup, Levi Strauss & Co., Snap-on, Hershey, Panera Bread, and Briggs & Stratton.

A Cone Communications/Ebiquity study of consumer attitudes toward corporate social responsibility indicates that 90% would change brands to support a worthy cause. Moreover, 80% would be willing to purchase an unknown brand associated with a strong social responsibility commitment.

Consumers are increasingly wary of greenwashing and willing to change behavior when they believe a company or brand isn't living up to its statements or commitments.

So does reputation count? Clearly, building and maintaining a reputation for authentic social responsibility can pay back in financial terms, not just goodwill.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Marketing to Girls and About Girls: Always

Procter & Gamble's Always brand of feminine hygiene products has been running an ongoing girl empowerment campaign in broadcast and digital media.

The campaign includes such hashtags as #LikeAGirl and #BanBossy, among others, to echo the main messages of boosting girls' confidence.

Some of the messages refute the idea that doing things "like a girl" (throwing a baseball, running) is an insult. Others encourage girls to stand up and be leaders, changing the perception of girls as "bossy"when they take the lead.

The brand's Super Bowl #LikeAGirl ad received many positive comments and the campaign has won a number of awards. With partners like the Girl Scouts of America and AARP, among many others, Always is showing its social responsibility strength and building its brand in a meaningful way.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ziferblat's Pay-by-the-Minute Pricing

You've heard of paying by the pound or ounce for salads and frozen yogurt. How about paying for coffee and snacks by the minute?

Ivan Mitin, Ziferblat's founder, began the practice of charging for time spent in his cafe five years ago, after expanding from impromptu poetry and art gatherings in a small Moscow location. Soon he began receiving requests for other locations, and he began spreading the Ziferblat concept around the world.

The English-language site explains the concept this way:
"Ziferblat is the first place where everything is free. Except the time you spend there."
Ziferblat reportedly translates into "clockface" as a brand reminder of the concept. The brand now has a presence beyond Russia, including cafes in Ukraine, Slovenia, London, and Manchester (UK). Cakes, coffees, teas, and of course Wi-Fi are all free. You just pay for the time you actually spend in the cafe.

So far, this unique pricing policy has caught the attention of locals and vacationers alike. Does Ziferblat have a long-term future in a world where Starbucks and other competitors offer comfy seating for as long as customers wish to linger over a single mug of espresso?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Content Marketing, IKEA Style

Now that IKEA sells online and offers delivery to home or office, customers have even more reasons to visit its website.

And IKEA also knows that certain life events trigger the need to buy furniture and housewares, including a move from one residence (or office) to another. Using behavioral segmentation is a lot harder than using demographic or geographic segmentation--but also has more potential for precise targeting and higher response.

So IKEA offers content marketing to serve this very valuable segment of the market, including a series of useful checklists to help consumers plan, implement, and follow up their moving day. ("Get the party essentials" is a five-item checklist for a housewarming party.)

IKEA also offers a money-saving coupon to consumers who are willing to share information about their move, including old and new addresses. Very smart way to get the most current info possible on customers who are interested enough to share data.

In Canada, IKEA held a "Moving Day" promotion three years ago in which it gave away moving boxes for free. As an added bonus, each box had a special offer for a meatball dinner. "At IKEA, we aim to interact with our customers in a way that is meaningful to their lives, while having some fun," the PR director said of this promotion, which won a Gold Effie.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Branding Power: Top Players in 2015

According to Tenet Partners, the top 10 most powerful brands in 2015 (based on awareness and positive perceptions) are:
  1. Coca-Cola
  2. Hershey
  3. Bayer
  4. Walt Disney
  5. Apple
  6. Johnson & Johnson
  7. Microsoft
  8. Pepsi-Cola
  9. American Express
  10. Harley-Davidson
Coca-Cola hasn't left the top slot in this study since 2008. Apple has (deservedly) demonstrated a meteoric rise in this study, shooting from #56 to #5 in just six years.

Although I'm a little surprised to see Bayer so high on this list, the methodology shows that the ranking has a lot to do with high awareness.

Clearly, both awareness and positive perceptions are vital for building brand equity. And every brand on this top-10 list has high brand equity. Year to year, however, their relative rankings may rise and fall, depending on issues such as quality lapses or recalls or other problems that hurdle brands into the headlines.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sweetening Up the Cola Wars

Coca-Cola's recipe in Mexico isn't the same as its US recipe. Fans of MexiCoke like the cane sugar taste, rather than the corn syrup-sweetened U.S. version. They also like the handy retro green glass bottle, a reminder of the days when soda pop cost a nickel.

Coke has been importing MexiCoke to selected U.S. regions for the past 10 years. This is the first time I've seen it in supermarkets in small New England towns, complete with Spanish signage (see photo).

For cost reasons, Coca-Cola considered replacing some of the sugar in MexiCoke with corn syrup--but fans objected and the cult product wasn't changed.

MexiCoke is often priced higher than regular Coca-Cola but as this display shows, promotions bring the price down and encourage trial.

MexiCoke's cult popularity hasn't escaped the notice of rival Pepsi, which is launching its own cane sugar-sweetened cola with a hint of lime, known as Pepsi Limon. Although Pepsi has tried lime-flavored colas in the past, those formulas featured artificial flavors. This time, the special ingredient is real lime juice and, of course, real sugar. Really. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Customer Behavior Shapes Amazon Store Strategy

Amazon, the pioneer of virtual retailing, is continuing to open brick-and-mortar stores to expand its retail reach. Customer behavior is both shaping and being shaped by this and other retail innovations, a plus for shoppers and an opportunity for Amazon and other marketers.

In February, Amazon debuted its store on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Students who want their Amazon purchases delivered to the staffed store simply choose Amazon@Purdue as the shipping address when they buy online.

Amazon is working on additional locations for its Amazon Campus program. Amazon has no merchandise on hand at Purdue for browsing and immediate purchase. This retail strategy is about convenience, providing a secure, staffed location where customers can go to pick up ordered merchandise and discuss returns, if needed.

In addition, Amazon has an Amazon Web Services storefront in San Francisco where nothing is bought or sold. It's a convenient, comfortable place for face-to-face discussions with staff about the technical aspects of becoming a B2B customer of Amazon's cloud architecture.

Even as Amazon experiments with these retail locations, some startups are trying to out-do Amazon with more convenience or other benefits. Want a purchase fast? That's the specialty niche some are exploiting to compete with Amazon. Want to meet a support rep face-to-face? Another specialty. Watch for more innovations as Amazon and its rivals target online buyers who need or want special benefits.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"Humanity Is the Killer App"

Brian Solis (author of a new book, What's the Future of Business?) recently made a comment that sounds simple yet has far-reaching implications:
In the age of machines,
humanity is the killer app.

Technology can help any marketer measure awareness, deliver personalized messages, and create user-friendly products. What sets the best marketers apart from the rest is their ability to connect on a human level...Connect via emotions, empathy, personality, and authenticity.

Brands become beloved because they connect with people on a human level. Take Twinkies, for instance. The iconic brand was part of daily life for tens of millions of U.S. boomers and Millennials. It had a high pop-culture profile and played a role in such major movies as WALL-E and Ghostbusters.

When Hostess declared bankruptcy in 2012, social and traditional media alike erupted with genuine consumer distress. People were really sorry to see Twinkies go.

Then when the brand was revived, the resulting hooray was equally emotional.

No amount of razzle-dazzle techno-stuff can substitute for the human connection that is clearly evident between Twinkies and Twinkie-lovers.

Other brands are just as beloved and have a solid place in the hearts of brand fans. And when a brand touches the heart, it stays in the mind and on the shopping list. That's how consumer behavior works.

In the words of Brian Solis: Humanity is the killer app.