Sunday, May 29, 2016

Brand Rankings in 2016

So many ways to rank brands! Some authorities rank on the basis of brand value, some on the basis of performance, and on and on. In Fortune's recent listing of world's most admired companies, the top three were well-known US brands:

  1. Apple
  2. Alphabet (you know, Google's parent)
  3. Amazon

Here's a selection of how other sites rank US brands of various sorts.
  • Consumer Reports ranks vehicles here.
  • US News & World Report ranks vehicles in four categories (cars, trucks, SUVs, luxury) here.
  • Kelly Blue Book ranks car brands on the basis of image and value here.
  • Laptop magazine ranks the top laptop computers here.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mobile Payments Inch Toward Wider Usage

Mobile payments have been innovating for several years in an attempt to attract a much larger volume of users and a larger group of places (merchants/apps/retailers) where they will be accepted for purchases with a tap or click.

This contactless payment trend has the potential to dramatically change how consumers behave in purchase situations--but that's only a potential outcome. Currently, mobile payments do not yet have the most compelling reasons to change consumer behavior, even though mobile banking is very popular.

Here are some of the latest developments as mobile payments inch along:

  • Android Pay will now be accepted for purchases on websites and for ATM transactions.
  • FitBit is planning to include payment functionality on future fitness tracking products.  
  • Apple Pay is expanding in Canada with the acceptance by major banks there. 
  • Samsung Pay is widely accepted among US retailers and is partnering with Alibaba for the Chinese market.
  • Walmart has introduced its payment app in Texas.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Neuroscience Helps Advertisers Connect with Audiences

Neuroscience research is helping advertisers determine what catches the audience's attention, what people remember and why, what tugs at their heart strings and what makes them yawn.

For example:
  • Print ads can stick in the memory because of the involvement in recognizing, comprehending, and processing words and symbols.
  • Ads with emotional content are much more effective than those without.
  • Ads embedded in mobile entertainment shouldn't interrupt the game before an important play.
  • Ad content should connect with the audience's objectives.
At top, an example of what can make an ad engaging and memorable. It engages at multiple levels, as the audience sees the unusual image of a fashionable, fully-dressed woman in an updated version of the old-fashioned bathtub (notice the red swan instead of the usual yellow duckie in the bubble bath). The words are also engaging--few ads use language like "old lady." If you recognize this fashion plate "old lady," you'll really get the comparison. Even if you don't, you'll smile and be intrigued by the image, the words, and the comparison.

The store is Pirch, and the "old lady" is Iris Apfel, known for her distinctive sense of style. The CMO says, "We looked at this campaign from the approach of explaining and establishing Pirch as a lifestyle, experiential brand." An interesting ad that puts a different spin on "experiential" to attract attention.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Selfies as Self-Ethnographic Research

Marketing researchers want to know how and when their products are used, not just who is using them. Surveys and focus groups are helpful, but ethnography is another tool for observing product use in the real world--real people, real products, real shopping or usage situations.

Audi used ethnographic research in Australia to better understand the context of the local car-buying situation and used that research to inform the development of segment personas. As a result, Audi now has a series of brand touchpoints it has mapped and can target with marketing objectives for each contact. General Motors had ethnographic research and personas, but it needed to add emotion to the equation in order to make sense out of the data and apply the results to a marketing strategy.

Selfies are the next frontier in ethnographic research, with consumers using an app to snap and upload photos showing a product or process in use. Crest has used selfies collected by Pay Your Selfie to better understand when people brush their teeth. Based on the selfie research, Crest's marketers learned about a spike in brushing before dinner--perhaps related to a desire for fresh-smelling breath before happy hour?

One startup, Pay Your Selfie, allows marketers to go where they rarely have access, inside the consumer's real life. Rather than ask someone to describe what they do, a selfie shows the consumer interacting with a brand or product. An ad agency exec for Leo Burnett notes: "From a research perspective, we often ask people to describe what their morning is like in surveys. But a quick picture of their table would definitely be worth 1,000 words."

Selfie-takers get a small amount of money for each "task" they complete, such as snapping a selfie while brushing their teeth. Clearly, the sample for these research studies is limited and self-selecting. But the possibility of stepping into the consumer's world is very intriguing and can yield insights for future marketing plans. Pay Your Selfie is also into political research. Self-ethnographic research is still in its infancy. What next?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Thinking About Digital Devices and "Dayparts"

Think with Google just posted a fascinating discussion about "dayparting" and targeting. The main idea is that marketers should analyze "micro-moment" opportunities for communicating with the target market, when and where and how these consumers are accessing data. How--meaning what type of digital device people are using at the time.

This isn't Google's first post about micro-moments. Last year, a post discussed how consumer behavior is shifting and now comprises so many split-second decisions and actions such as checking social media, checking a bank balance or texting a friend. At those moments, consumers may use different digital devices and want different info or products or functionality. Marketers, are you ready?

Pew Research points out (above) that Millennials are almost all tethered to their cell or smartphones--and some simply see no need for certain other digital devices. That's bad news for PC/Mac makers, bad news for marketers of e-book readers, bad news for game console marketers. It's also a wakeup call for marketers that think about websites and social media in terms of the big screen and in terms of one message all the time.

Mapping the dayparts of digital involvement, Google has found that many people use their phones to accomplish things on the way to work and after the work day is over. During business hours, more tablets and computers are used for online searches, compared with the number of searches by phone.

Understanding consumer behavior and micro-moments will help you plan marketing that makes sense for consumers and the digital device they're using at that time, the content they're seeking, and the functionality you should have for big or tiny screens. Is your marketing plan in tune with these micro-moments?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cruising into History: Marketing Cruises to Cuba

Fathom's Adonia, a Carnival cruise ship, has put into port at Havana. Adonia is the first ship to sail from a US port to a Cuban port for more than 50 years, making it a historic marketing occasion. News organizations worldwide covered the docking...a lot of free PR for Fathom, which is a fairly new brand for Carnival.

Fathom sails to other destinations, and its unique selling proposition (remember that  buzzword of the last century?) is that passengers can choose to participate in volunteer projects. In the Dominican Republic, for example, passengers can help school children practice their English or work for a few hours on water filters, among other possibilities.

A report last month said Royal Caribbean will base one of its ships (Empress of the Seas) in Havana. Royal Caribbean can promote its Cuban trips and also carry passengers to Caribbean destinations from there.

Permission from the Cuban is needed before cruise ships can dock in Havana or other Cuban ports, but the process is far from routine or speedy, as Pearl Seas Cruises learned. Pearl had to cancel its first 10-day cruise to Cuba after failing to receive permission on time.

Expect more cruises to and from Cuba as the government acts on applications and demand increases.