consumer behavior Tag

5 Tips to Keep Your Marketing Wits in a Topsy-turvy Consumer World

YouTube is launching a 40-channel network, while traditional TV viewing keeps falling. The use of ad blockers has reached the 47 percent level worldwide, while Google admits that 92 percent of viewers skip pre-rolls when they can. Long-leading brands are seeing huge brand share erosion, while “natural,” “organic,” and imported brands are taking over store shelves. Coke and Pepsi are out, water and club soda are in. Beer and Craft drinks are out, wine and whisky are in.

What’s a marketer to do? 

1. Forget what was. Look to what’s next
Hoping for the return of the past—high TV show ratings, newspapers, retail stores, and respect for “authority figures” endorsing your brands—is pointless. Instead, look for the next trends, and reshape your marketing plans and new products. Be quick and take risks, because the former trial time lines don’t exist anymore.

2. Don’t use the “standard” metrics for measuring success
Brand recall isn’t as important for online ad performance because there are no commercial pods to break through. Instead, engagement is the key, because if you don’t capture consumers’ attention within the first few seconds, you have lost your audience. Likewise, stop testing package designs strictly for in-store, on-shelf performance. More and more products are being purchased online, without high SKU visuals. If your individual package doesn’t have high engagement on the eCommerce page, you lose the sale.

3. Think about new ways to reach your audience
Advertisers are experimenting with ways of directly delivering discounts, coupons, and information through signals embedded in standard content—TV, radio, online, in-store, and so on. These signals are inaudible and don’t require the phone owner to activate their apps or WIFI. The messages are customized to the phone owner and the offers are “invited in” instead of being pushed on them. This will be the future of engaging target audiences if the old advertising model starts to fail.

4. Understand how consumers really shop and interact with your brand
Using nondescript glasses, advertisers are learning exactly what engages or turns off shoppers as they go through stores or surf the Internet. Small changes have been found to make substantial differences in product sales.

5. Stop partnering with suppliers who cling to the “old world”
You are fighting a new marketing war with new rules. Using suppliers who are fighting with outdated weapons will prevent you from achieving your goals. Focus groups cannot tell you how your audience will react in the real world or to real media. Likewise, “forced exposure” testing systems are providing “ideal” results, not what will happen in a competitive world.

If you are going to try to understand the new marketing world, align yourself with partners who share your goals and have tools to engage.

I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or dan.morris@pretesting.com.

Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire: 5 Lessons We Learned the Hard Way

Several weeks ago, the unthinkable happened. I was in my office on a conference call with an overseas client, and I noticed the lights flickering above my head. Moments later someone ran into my office to say they smelled smoke. I ended my call as politely as I could under the circumstances, and we began to evacuate the building, which was quickly filling with smoke as the fire spread. Everyone got out safely, and my colleagues and I are all so grateful.

In the process of scrambling to relocate our headquarters, I have been pondering the impact of this experience. Here are 5 lessons we learned when the unthinkable happened:

1. Focus on what matters. In an emergency, the only thing that counts is human lives. In the day to day, prioritize, and then act according to those priorities.

2. Don’t ignore warning signs. We would have been foolish to ignore the flickering lights and smoke, but isn’t that what we do in our businesses sometimes? We see the warning signs of trouble, but we choose to ignore them—either because we don’t recognize how threatening they are or because we don’t know how to fix the problem. Ignoring warnings only leads to bigger trouble.

3. Back up everything in the cloud.  Backing up data should be one of your priorities; backups enable business to go on when the unexpected happens. Computers fail, and fires and natural disasters are always happening somewhere. What you think can’t happen to you may happen to you. There’s no excuse for no backup.

4. Be prepared. The Boy Scouts motto is one to live by. Our data was backed up. Fire extinguishers were in place and in working order, allowing us to contain the fire (for a bit) so we could safely evacuate. There are so many ways to be prepared in the day to day — whether it’s putting a disaster or emergency plan in place or just preparing for a meeting with a client. No one ever regrets being prepared.

5. Embrace the present. Don’t waste time with regrets from yesterday. Learn your lessons and move on. And don’t waste time worrying about tomorrow. You have no idea what’s coming down the road. Today is a gift. Truly. By living in the present, you won’t get sidetracked by regret or worry, and you’ll appreciate what is in front of you—which will also give you a clear vision of what you might need to change.

It’s human nature to look for lessons in adversity—and to share them. This fire has taught us a lot, and we hope you can benefit from some of the clarity it’s brought to us. We hope you’ll share this with your colleagues and your loved ones. I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or dan.morris@pretesting.com.

4 Lessons for Next Super Bowl

We have seen plenty of polls. Some commercials are rated by likeability, some by the number of YouTube views, some by tweet mentions and some by the water cooler. But who’s got what it takes to make a “winning” SuperBowl commercial?

After years of testing and tracking Super Bowl ad impact on sales, here’s what we know.

1. Invest in long-term benefits.
You had better have left over media funding for week 6 and thereafter. With rare exceptions, if you spent most of your annual budget the two weeks before and after the game, don’t expect to see any long-term sales benefits. Especially this year, where more people were talking about the game itself and the Patriots comeback, than the commercials.

2. To “win”, bring in the energy and engage.
This could be humor, emotional heart tugs or the surprise factor. Without the energy, the message gets lost in the field of other ads. Bai and Snickers could use an energy kick, not to mention Mercedes and Go Daddy.

3. To “win”, you need strong branding.
When it comes to branding, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and YellowTail needs to take a drink of its own.

4. Make it personal and avoid visual vampires.
To really “win”, combine the above two with a clear understanding of the personal customer benefit. While, as a dad of a new little princess, I personally loved the Audi ad, how are they going to solve gender inequality? Michelob and Sprint didn’t give a clear understanding of their unique benefits — that weren’t overshadowed by exaggerated “visual vampires” in their ads.

So, which ads really “won”? Air it out with Febreeze, eat your Skittles, and import your Avocados while driving a Hyundai to support our troops!

Disagree? Let’s discuss which Super Bowl ads you feel really “won”… I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or dan.morris@pretesting.com.

Millions of dollars in marketing opportunities and pitfalls are right in front of you. Do you see them?

It’s not an easy time to be a marketer.  Consumers are more fickle and less brand loyal than in recorded consumer behavior history.  It was recently reported that sales of low-fat Greek yogurt fell over 20% in a two month period of time as consumers suddenly worried less about calories and more about protein. Consumer “winners” and “losers” change in the bat of an eye.

The QSR, beverage, beer, natural foods, telecommunications, and fashion industries have all fallen victim to whiplash-generating changes in consumer purchase behavior, sometimes within a matter of months.

The billion dollar question is how do you thrive in this environment and regain the loyalty of previous customers and “non-considerers” without hurting your image among loyalists?  Here are 4 helpful steps we uncovered:

1. Understand Consumer Behavior.  It is imperative that you understand the purchasing differences between those who are still loyal to your product and compare them to those who have moved on.  To evaluate these differences, don’t just ask them about their purchase behaviors and drivers – watch them.  Did their purchasing habits changed across many different categories, or just yours?   Was price a prime driver in their decisions?  What about healthier food choices? Are they purchasing products that follow a dietary restriction such as gluten free?  Do they appear to be stepping up their purchases of brand name products? These real-world experiences provide the critical answers to the tough questions marketers are facing in boardrooms across the country.

2. Be relevant.  It is critical to test new introductions; and sometimes without the family name.  At PTG, we’ve found that maintaining a family name can occasionally prevent true consideration of an item that consumers may indeed want to try but are hesitant to do so because of a halo effect.  For instance, J&J had to introduce their now successful Aveeno line of skin products as a standalone brand because J&J was viewed as a company that made products “for babies”.

3.  Speak their language.  Be sure to study and approach non-considerers differently than your loyalists.  For example, non-considerers may have different reactions to the same TV spot, digital ad, in-store display, package or claim. You may even need to target them differently, with a unique brand in order to bring them back to the fold. However, if this segment didn’t leave you due to taste or quality, but, rather, they moved on seeking something special, then you have a good opportunity to get them back.

4. Give them what they want and what they always had.  Offer them what they’re seeking while making it sound that it is a natural feature of your (new) brand. If you are now additive-free, say “we always believe in nature.” If it is a new beer flavor say “always providing surprises for those looking for unique tastes.”  If you reduced sugar in your product tout the healthful benefits rather than admit you had high sugar content to begin with.

Use technology that enables you to follow and study the shopping and usage habits of your target audiences. Target your media strategy to reach this lapsed audience even if it means a separate campaign from your loyalists. Keep pressing and, lo and behold, they will be yours once again. 

Let’s discuss how you’re winning back your customers and how PTG can help. I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or dan.morris@pretesting.com.

The Rules Have Changed. Why e-Commerce Requires Fresh Thinking. We See What You Don’t.

While the “pundits” projected this Cyber Monday to be the best ever, let’s face reality. Retailers are still falling short in maximizing the experience for shoppers to create even bigger results. Here are three ideas to help you maximize results.

1. HD presentation of your product. The one thing buyers have a hard time adjusting to online retailers is their need to touch and feel the product. The more angles and 3D views you can give your customers on the product, the more they will feel they are seeing everything they would if they were picking up the product and examining it. Let the individual package be the hero. After price, it’s the second biggest driver of purchase.

2. Engage them and don’t worry about the competition. Online favors the little guys because shelf placement and SKU numbers are irrelevant. Everyone is on a level playing field, allowing the little guys to appear big. The product beauty shot is more important than ever because the major brand players can’t rely upon the on-shelf billboard effect or the supporting POS to give them a leg up.

3. Time is money. Your money. Capitalize on the sense of urgency, especially with mobile. The faster the digital shopper gets the information they want, the faster they’ll make a decision. Personally engage your consumers. The size of the visual, its 3D placement, and copy readability can significantly impact consumer purchase decisions.

The ultimate measure of success online is pretty clear: get consumers to add your product to their cart. While this task seems straightforward, it’s not so easy to feature your products – visually and descriptively – to yield higher closure rates. At PTG, We See What You Don’t by passively capturing shopping behaviors.

Email me at dan.morris@pretesting.com to discuss your e-commerce challenges.

The Election and Black Friday – More in common than you think!

Without discussing politics, we all agree that the pundits got it all wrong. Ask yourself this – are you sure you are engaging and connecting with your target audience? The reason why POLITICIANS and BRANDS aren’t connecting with their audience is because they think they’re listening to their consumers, but they’re not!

“I’m giving consumers better quality, value and performance, but they’re not buying my product, or even taking a moment to listen to what I’m telling them?” If you’re a marketer and this sounds familiar, ask yourself this – Are you looking at the product and advertising through your consumers’ eyes, as opposed to your own? Are you telling them what you think they want to hear, but not what they are really looking for?

It’s fair to say that marketers know their product inside and out. They are intimately aware of the unique advantages of their offering as well as its competitive differentiators. Product marketers are the first to read the fine print of their carefully crafted ad, watch their TV demo, click on their banner ad, view their pre-roll to completion, recall their refreshed logo, and note their endcap message. Moreover, in a supermarket, marketers will go out of their way to find their product on-shelf among their competition and bend down to purchase the item. Can the same be said about their desired consumers?

Not even close.

Realistically speaking, 60% of shoppers won’t bend down to seek and/or buy a product, 92% will pass on viewing a pre-roll ad, and 55% will ignore an endcap display. What’s more, consumer research programs that administer surveys and/or evaluate forced exposure to ads and packaging won’t help because they don’t reveal the truth about what’s working versus not working. In order to truly connect a product to its target, marketers need to watch TV, surf the Internet, read, and shop through the eyes of their consumer since it’s their experience that matters most. Consumers are the ones who are making the decisions and, as difficult as it may be, marketers need to take themselves out of the equation.

At PTG, we see what you don’t! We have the research technology and proprietary approaches that offer a “real world” one–way mirror that captures the all-important human element as consumers experience your brand.

To learn more about how our real-world research methodologies are benefiting today’s biggest brands, please reach me at dan.morris@pretesting.com.

Best wishes to you and yours for a Happy Thanksgiving!

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