Category target marketing

Why Brands Shouldn’t Wait to Invest in Mobile Marketing

Photo credit: Audio-Technica on Flickr.If your brand hasn’t allocated at least some of its marketing budget to mobile, it is missing out on a huge opportunity.

Even brands that have taken a wait and see approach to mobile marketing are starting to see the value that mobile brings to the table.

In fact, according to a recent eMarketer article, this year more businesses are planning to invest in mobile advertising than ever before.

However, it’s not that businesses will be spending significantly less to reach consumers on their desktops. In fact, while the amount spent this year on ads targeting users on desktops is projected to be slightly less than it was in 2015, eMarketer is reporting that this number should rebound in the next few years.

That said, the amount of money budgeted for mobile advertising is projected to skyrocket.

And, it’s not surprising given the fact that according to an article published on Forbes.com in August of 2015, a majority of online content is now consumed on mobile devices.

This same article also pointed out that mobile ads have reach, as most U.S. adults currently have mobile phones and/or tablets.

Not only that, people are three times more likely to open a mobile ad than a desktop ad.

Furthermore, mobile ads are “ridiculously cheap.”

According to the Forbes.com article, “Mobile brands have underinvested in this area, and prices haven’t caught up yet. Compared to the cost of traditional advertising streams, mobile ads are a bargain. TV and print ads’ CPM is $100, while online CPM hovers around $3.50. Mobile CPM, on the other hand, can be as low as 75 cents.”

Final Thoughts

Mobile ads are currently more likely to be opened than ads targeting consumers on their desktops.

And, mobile ads are currently relatively inexpensive, when compared to ads targeting consumers via other marketing channels (e.g., television, print, desktop, etc.)

That said, this is likely to change as more businesses start to target consumers on their mobile devices.

The increased competition is likely to drive the costs up. And, if consumers get bombarded with ads on mobile devices, the open rates are probably going to decrease somewhat.

This is not to say that mobile will lose its value—the fact that so many people consume content on mobile devices, combined with the added ability to target customers and prospects when they are most likely to purchase your product or service is what makes mobile advertising so desirable.

With the right planning, mobile advertising is going to continue to be a very effective way to reach consumers.

However, it doesn’t pay to wait.

Brands that are currently using mobile are not only benefiting from less competition, they are also learning what works and what doesn’t.

This will give these brands the knowledge to succeed when the level of competition increases.

Photo credit: Audio-Technica on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Using Sexual Imagery to Sell to Female Consumers

When creating a marketing campaign, particularly one that uses sexual imagery to sell the product, it is important to consider what you are selling and to whom you are selling to.

In his book, titled “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear,” Dr. Frank Luntz points out that, “You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It’s not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart. How that person perceives what you say is even more real, at least in a practical sense, than how you perceive yourself.”

However, this is something that businesses often fail to do.

As I pointed out in a recent post, businesses have often used sexual imagery in the ads that aired during the Super Bowl.

However, the over-the-top use of sex to sell has created a backlash from female consumers who claim that some of the ads are just plain sexist. Given the purchasing power that female consumers have, especially for certain products, businesses like GoDaddy have been forced to create Super Bowl ads that appeal to both men and women.

This made me wonder whether or not sexual images really do help sell products, particularly when many potential customers are female.

To answer this question, let’s first look at it from a more general perspective.

Does Sex Really Sell?

If the number of companies using sex to sell is any indication, then the answer is yes.

In a 2012 article, Dr. Tom Reichert, professor and head of the department of advertising and public relations in the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, points out that, “Advertisers use sex because it can be very effective. Sex sells because it attracts attention. People are hard wired to notice sexually relevant information so ads with sexual content get noticed.”

The article goes on to point out that the use of sex in advertising has increased over the years. In fact, Dr. Reichert reports that although sex is primarily used to sell low-risk products purchased on impulse, the use of sex to sell everything from alcohol to banking services has increased in recent years.

The article specifically points out that much of the growth in sexual imagery, particularly in print advertising, was used to sell alcohol, entertainment and beauty products. And, with the exception of entertainment advertising, an overwhelmingly majority of sex-selling advertisements feature female models.

With the advent of social media, businesses may need to rethink this strategy. This is particularly true when female consumers are the ones using their product or service.

However, this doesn’t imply that sexual imagery is completely off limits when selling products or services to women.

Women’s Reactions to Sexual Stimuli

A recent study that was published in Psychological Science, titled “The Price Had Better Be Right: Women’s Reactions to Sexual Stimuli Vary With Market Factors,” provides some interesting insight into when and why it would be appropriate to use sexual imagery to sell to women.

The study, conducted by Dr. Kathleen Vohs, Dr. Jaideep Sengupta, and Dr. Darren Dahl, finds that, “As predicted, women found sexual imagery to be distasteful when it was used to promote a cheap product, but this reaction to sexual imagery was mitigated if the product promoted was expensive. This pattern was not observed in men. Furthermore, we predicted and found sexual ads promoting cheap products heightened feelings of being upset and angry among women. These findings suggest that women’s reactions to sexual images can reveal deep-seated preferences about how sex should be used and understood.”

According to Dr. Vohs, Land O’Lakes Professor of Excellence in Marketing at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, “Women generally show negative attitudes toward sexual images. Sexual economics theory offers a reason why: The use of sexual imagery is inimical to women’s vested interest in sex being portrayed as infrequent, special, and rare.”

Final Thoughts

Although the use of sexual images in advertisements has increased in recent years, businesses may need to rethink this strategy. This is particularly true if many of their potential customers are female and the product that the business is selling is relatively inexpensive.

However, as the study cited above points out, sexual imagery can still be an effective marketing tool when targeting female consumers if the product is perceived to have high value and is therefore consistent with the way women typically think about female sexuality.

Photo credit: Hard Seat Sleeper on Flickr.

Video credit: Time Inc.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Lessons American Retailers Can Learn From a Store Over 8,000 Miles Away

Whether you love them or hate them, nobody can argue with the fact that Walmart has been very successful at doing what they do.

This success can be partially attributed to the fact that Walmart has found ways to appeal to and meet the needs of working class consumers.

With over $328 billion in retail sales in 2012 in the United States alone, this retail giant has the money to spend on R & D to find out what their customers want. Everything that they do has been thought through, including the design of the actual “brick and mortar” stores. As retailers know, this can have a huge impact on sales.

A New Approach to Meet the Needs of African Consumers

In his book, “Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More Than You Think,” Dr. Vijay Mahajan explains that global firms that have focused on Africa have primarily focused on the people he classifies as Africa One. These are the people with the most disposable income. However, they account for only about 5% to 15% of the people in the African market.

He goes on to point that in the near future, there are going to be huge opportunities for businesses that target the “future middle class” or what he calls Africa Two. This segment accounts for 35% to 50% of the African market, or roughly 350 million to 500 million consumers on the continent.

Dr. Mahajan explains that this market is comparable to similar segments of the population in India or China. He therefore uses examples from India to explain some of the opportunities as well as some of the obstacles that businesses will potentially face if they invest in Africa.

In one example he points out that Kishore Biyani, founder of India’s largest retailer at the time the book was written, divides India into three segments. His company, Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd., focuses on India Two (i.e., the drivers, maids, and nannies who work for India One.)

“In targeting India Two, Biyani discovered that he needed to rethink his business,” writes Dr. Mahajan. “Customers in this segment were turned away by the neat and orderly aisles seen in retail stores in developed markets. Instead, they wanted the crowded chaos of an informal market. He created a store that felt cluttered and cramped, with produce covered in dust, which signified freshness to customers. In fact, he spent $50,000 transforming one of his original shining, Western-style stores in Mumbai into a chaotic marketplace. He has shown that the formula for success might look nothing like the one that is successful in the West. Using this India Two formula, he had built a $600 million business by mid-2007.”

Dr. Mahajan suggests that in order for businesses to be successful in Africa, particularly among consumers he classifies as Africa Two, businesses might need to set aside models designed for developed markets or the elite markets of Africa One, in favor of more chaotic models similar to the one that Biyani successfully used in India.

Walmart Knows How to Sell to the Working Class

There are several ways that American retailers can benefit from the information provided by Dr. Mahajan.

For example, they can examine whether investing in Africa might be a viable option for their business. As Dr. Mahajan explains, Africa is filled with potential business opportunities. The key is to actually give African consumers what they want, not what the business thinks that they want.

American retailers can also benefit by using the logic that Pantaloon Retail Ltd. used, but apply it to American consumers.

As is the case in other parts of the world, the needs of American consumers are going to vary based on income levels.

Given income constraints, consumers with less disposable income are probably not going to be purchasing expensive luxury goods. Therefore, stores that sell these products are going to want to design their stores to appeal to consumers with higher incomes. (Think Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, or even Macy’s.)

However, everyone needs food and basic household supplies. Given the fact that about 50% of households in the United States had household incomes of less than $50,000 per year in 2011, we know that there is a huge market for businesses that can appeal to this segment of the population.

Appealing to this segment of the population is something that Walmart does well. In fact, 56% of Walmart’s customers have household incomes that are less than $50,000 per year.

Given the fact that Walmart has made a lot of money selling to lower income consumers in America, is it at all surprising that the retail giant has started making investments in Africa? In 2011 Walmart acquired a majority stake in Massmart Holdings Ltd. According to Walmart’s website, Massmart operates more than 350 stores in South Africa and 11 other sub-Saharan countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if that number continues to grow.

Final Thoughts

As Walmart has shown, if done correctly, a lot of money can be made by focusing on less affluent consumers in America. The same could easily be true in other parts of the world.

As Dr. Mahajan explains in his book, there are going to be many opportunities for businesses that invest in Africa, particularly those that focus on the “future middle class” or what he calls Africa Two. This segment of the population accounts for approximately 35% to 50% of the African market.

However, as the example of Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd. demonstrated, retailers that are thinking about serving consumers in different markets and market segments may need to rethink the way that they design their stores in order to meet the needs of those consumers.

Given their success in selling to working class Americans, it is not surprising that Walmart has started to invest in Africa.

That said, there is still time for other retailers to follow Walmart’s lead and find ways to meet the needs of lower income consumers all around the world, particularly among those located on the African continent.

Photo credits: Wesley Fryer  and Rusty Clark on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Find Out Who Your Potential Customers Are Before It’s Too Late

Changes in society impact the products that we buy, how we shop, and who influences purchase decisions. In the end, these changes impact how products need to be made and advertised.

Rapid advancements in technology are increasing the speed at which society changes. The rate of change that we saw from one generation to the next could now possibly happen every few years.

Therefore, it is becoming more it important for brands to continually monitor whether or not their products and services are meeting the needs of consumers. Furthermore, it is vital that they make changes whenever necessary.

Women and Children First

No the ship is not sinking. At least we hope not. However, sometimes it might seem that way.

That said, if you have an established brand that is losing market share, it might not be a bad idea to check out who is purchasing and using your products and services (and your competitor’s products and services too.)

In his book, “What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping,” (affiliate link) Paco Underhill highlights how the changing role of women in society has influenced who is purchasing and using products and services.

As he points out, in some cases it might not necessarily be a shift in who is using the product or service. It might, if fact, be the case that the female head of the household may still be purchasing and using the product, but given further time constraints, the way the product is being used has changed. Therefore, the product or its advertising might need to be altered to better meet the current needs of consumers.

The role of children in the family has also changed in recent years. This is partly a result of the increased prevalence of technology and the higher comfort level that youth have with these new technological advancements.

In the book, “Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail,” (affiliate link) Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., and Jayne O’Donnell, point out that, “Gen Yers typically provide in-house tech support for their parents, which reinforced their stature as equals—or even superiors, at least in the IT department.”

They go on to point out that, “Previous generations had to pretend or humor their kids (“Let’s frame your Picasso!”), but in the case of this generation, their intuitive ease with technology and their ability to adapt to technological shifts is a genuine asset to any family.”

“Seeing as we all know better than to tick off the techies, the glow of this expertise has contributed to the confidence of this generation,” the authors of the book continue. “It also means that kids have more of a vote and more power in family decision making. That includes far more than technology and extends to things like vacation destinations, cars, and Dad’s outfits too.”

This doesn’t mean that we can totally ignore adult male consumers. It may be the case that your products and services are still being purchased and used by the male head of household. However, you won’t know this until you do the research.

Also, you don’t want to only cater to youth.  Baby Boomers can’t be ignored. As I pointed out in a recent blog post, there are a lot of them, and they have a lot of money and time to spend it.

Don’t Alienate Your Best Customers

In an effort to increase market share, you might decide to increase sales by targeting other demographic groups. This could be a good choice if you find that those consumers are already starting to use your products and services.

However, you do run the risk of actually losing more customers if you start appealing to other demographic groups. Unilever learned this lesson the hard way, albeit unintentionally, when middle school boys started using its Axe Body Spray in large numbers. This caused the brand’s target market, men aged 18 to 24, to lose interest because Axe Body Spray started to get the reputation as a “kid product.”

Therefore, before you choose to alter the product or the advertising to meet the needs of a different demographic group, you need to understand that it might result in decreased sales among the original target market. In some cases, this trade off might be an acceptable risk. Other times, not so much.

Final Thoughts

Gender roles have changed in recent years, as have the way family decisions are made. This could be influencing how consumers are using your products and services.

Rapid advancements in technology are increasing the speed of these changes. In fact, some technological advancements could have a huge impact on the who, where, when, why and how consumers buy and use your products and services.

As noted, if your brand is losing market share, you will want to see if other demographic groups have become potential customers.

The choice then is to decide whether to alter your products and services, as well as the way that you advertise those products and services to consumers.

However, the choice is not always as easy as you think, because you might end up decreasing sales if you alienate your existing customer base.

As with all business decisions, there might be unintended consequences to the choices that you make. Your best bet is to make an informed decision based on research and testing.

On the other hand, if you choose to completely ignore the changes that are happening around you, you might end up searching for your life boats.

Photo credit: Digital Sextant on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Oreo Knows the Only Winning Move Is Not to Play the Game

After being challenged to a game of tic-tac-toe by Kit Kat, Oreo wisely declined in a way that would make fictional characters Dr. Stephen Falken and David Lightman proud.

As I explained in a recent post, movies often contain lessons mixed in with the car chases and beautiful people living extraordinary lives.

If you grew up in the 1980’s, you probably remember that in the 1983 movie “WarGames,” David Lightman, a young computer hacker played by Matthew Broderick, unwittingly accessed WOPR, a United States military supercomputer that was designed by Dr. Stephen Falken to predict possible outcomes of nuclear war. In the process, Lightman unknowingly almost starts World War III.

At the climax of the movie, Dr. Falken and Lightman try to teach WOPR that nobody wins in a war. The first lesson begins with multiple games of tic-tac-toe before moving on to war simulations.

In the end, the computer ends the war simulations and writes, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

Well said. Lesson learned. (Click here to watch that scene on YouTube.)

Competing for Laura Ellen’s Love

If you follow social media marketing news at all, you know that Oreo earned praise for the tweet they sent out after the power went out at the Superdome during this year’s Super Bowl. They also had success with this real-time marketing strategy during the airing of the 85th Academy Awards.

Other brands are taking note and are trying to replicate Oreo’s success.

Therefore, it is not surprising that when Laura Ellen, a Twitter user from Manchester, UK, tweeted that she was following both Kit Kat and Oreo on Twitter, Kit Kat jumped at the chance to challenge Oreo to a friendly game of tic-tac-toe in an effort to fight for Ms. Ellen’s affections.

As a post on Mashable.com points out, this scored huge points with Ms. Ellen. And, judging from the number of retweets and favorites, with the clever use of Kit Kats for Xs and (potentially) Oreos for Os, Kit Kat also scored points with the general public.

How About a Nice Game of Chess?

When faced with the option of playing Kit Kat in a public game of tic-tac-toe, Oreo decided to decline with style and grace. In my opinion, that was a brilliant move.

As Lauren Indvik points out in the article on Mashable.com, there are possible negative consequences of being the loser in a game that could get old real fast.

Furthermore, as the folks at ADVERVE point out, just because brands are rivals doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun at the same time. As they ask, “Is it so unreasonable to think that there are Kit Kat lovers in the Oreo camp, or vice-versa?”

By declining to play the game by complimenting the taste of Kit Kats, Oreo found a way to create a win-win situation. Kit Kat gets a compliment, and Oreo gets some free advertising from Kit Kat, not to mention all the free publicity it received by the media covering the ad campaign.

As an added bonus, I would be willing to bet that this ad campaign made many people think of the movie WarGames. Knowing that this is a movie that is beloved by tech geeks around the world, this was a perfect move for Oreo to make in a social media ad campaign. Was it intended? Only the digital agencies involved could tell you that for sure.

Final Thoughts

With some things in life, nobody ever wins. In those cases, the best solution is not to play the game.

In the 1980’s movie WarGames, we learned that nobody wins in a nuclear war.

The same could often be said in head-to-head competition in the marketplace.

In the case of the Kit Kat tic-tac-toe challenge, Oreo proved wise enough to demonstrate that there is room enough for both brands in the marketplace, and that there is no need to show its skill in a game that often ends in a stalemate.

By declining the game in the way that they did, they created a win-win scenario for both brands.

Photo credit: Torben Bjørn Hansen on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Geography of Marketing: The Global Marketplace

As technology advances, it is becoming easier for people to connect with other people around the globe.

Rapid advancements in technology are also opening up new markets to businesses that wouldn’t have even dreamed of selling their products and services internationally just a few years ago.

Although international marketing is not my area of expertise, I believe that it is going to become more important for businesses of all sizes in the very near future. With this in mind, I have begun to do some research on the topic.

In the early stages of the process, three things are already becoming clear. 1) The quality of the product or service is becoming more important as businesses compete with other businesses that are located anywhere on the planet. 2) Marketing campaigns need to be tailored to appeal to individual markets and cultural differences need to be recognized. 3) It is becoming increasingly more important for businesses to do the research to identify what the previous two items on my list actually mean to the business and its potential customers (i.e., how do individual markets define quality and what factors influence how effective a marketing campaign will be when it is used to target potential customers living in other parts of the world.)

Globalization Does Not Imply Homogenization

In an article in the September 15, 2010 issue of the American Marketing Association’s Marketing News, Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Millward Brown Inc., states, “Culture—the history, beliefs, customs, habits and values of a group of people—determines the ways in which we respond to the world around us, including the brands we buy. Local culture helps establish our values and priorities. It determines our taste for food, aesthetic preferences and communication.”

“Increasingly, however, people everywhere are exposed to foreign cultures through commerce, travel and media,” Hollis continues. “But just how strong is the influence of this global culture when compared to the local cultures in which we are born and raised? While the global culture grows increasingly prominent, my research suggests that the influence of local culture still is very important to brand success.”

Hollis goes on to point out that for brands with global aspirations, the influence of local culture can present significant problems. The combination of product formulations, positioning and communications strategy that made the brand successful in one part of the world may need to be adjusted to build a connection with consumers in new markets. Of these, Hollis feels that communication is probably the most susceptible to the influence of culture.

He also warns that the days of big brands gaining huge market share just by introducing their products and services to new markets are over.

According to Hollis, “It used to be that multinationals could launch a brand into a developing economy confident that their product would be better and more desirable than the local competition. Increasingly, this expectation is unwarranted. With product superiority no longer guaranteed, brands must compete for hearts as well as minds—and to win someone’s heart, you must engage him on his own terms and in his own language. Foreign brands increasingly will need to blend into local cultures if they are to become successful.”

He also points out that the Internet may, in fact, strengthen the connection that consumers have to their local culture.

“People in countries as diverse as China, Turkey and Brazil evince a strong desire to maintain their local culture,” writes Hollis. “In the future, they may celebrate their own cultural identities by choosing local foods, goods and entertainment over Western alternatives. And far from promoting a global village, the Internet actually may be promoting hundreds of local ones. The success of local Internet brands such as search engine Baidu in China and social network Mixi in Japan—as well as the growing trend toward local language blogging—suggests that far from undermining local culture, the Internet instead may be empowering it.”

The Middle East & North Africa Region

A recent report that was released by JWT MENA, titled “JWT MENA: 8 Trends for 2013,” provides insights about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Interestingly, the report appears to verify that Nigel Hollis was indeed correct, at least for this particular part of the world.

According to the JWT report, “‘Arabification’ is definitely back. Whereas in the past, Arabs have looked to the West for inspiration, today, the region in entirety is looking inwards, supporting entrepreneurialism and its own national best interest. Rather than wallow in negativity, Millennials are optimistically looking forward and up, with a resilience and resourcefulness in addressing adversity. Consumer Confidence is up +6 points in KSA and +5 points in Egypt vs. 2011, shaping the ME of tomorrow, which will be pioneered by the dawn of ‘great brands from the Middle East’ as opposed to ‘great Middle Eastern brands’, towards self-sustainable individuals and economies.”

The report goes on to point out that about nine in 10 MENA adults agree with the statement, “I prefer products from my country over Western products if they are of better quality,” and a similar percentage agree with the statement, “I prefer products from my country over Western products if they are ‘unique.’” Furthermore, about three quarters of MENA adults agree with the statement, “I prefer products from my country over Western products if they are cheaper.”

The report concludes that, “At the end of the day, people are not just buying national brands, they’re buying a great brand and that’s the most important thing.”

If your business is marketing its products or services to consumers living in the Middle East or North Africa, I’d suggest reading this report. It provides great insights about the Middle East and North Africa, including interesting case studies from brands that have been successful in this region.

Final Thoughts

It is my belief that advancements in technology, including the increased reliance on the Internet, will make International marketing even more important in the near future.

However, while the Internet gives businesses the opportunity to sell their products and services to markets that they wouldn’t have even dreamed of just a few years ago, just introducing a product or service to a new market is not enough.

In order to be successful, brands may need to adjust everything from the communications strategy to the product itself, in order to appeal to consumers in other parts of the world.

As Nigel Hollis states at the end of his article in the AMA’s Marketing News, “Successful global brands will embrace the diversity of individuals, communities and cultures around the world, rather than seeking to impose one-size-fits-all templates irrespective of local needs and desires.”

Photo credits: stevecadman and Staeiou on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Geography of Marketing: Media Consumption Habits

The location and the size of the city that people live in tends to influence what sources they turn to for local news and information. This is something that marketers need to be aware of when deciding how best to reach their target audience.

In a blog post that I wrote last year, I pointed out that use of the latest advancements in technology tends to vary based on the location and the size of the community that consumers live in. At the time, my analysis was based on knowledge that I had obtained by traveling and living in various communities.

Since then, a report was published that verified many of my observations. (I want to thank Jason Konopinski for pointing out this study in a recent blog post that he wrote.)

The study was conducted in January 2011 by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, in partnership with the Knight Foundation. The study explains that while most U.S. adults keep track of what is happening in their local communities, the local news ecosystem is complex.

According to the authors of report, “The results indicate that from large urban areas to rural communities, Americans often report similarly high levels of interest in news in general, in local news and information, and in national and international news.  Moreover, similar percentages of adults report following the specific local topics asked about, regardless of the type of community in which they live.”

“Still, community differences do emerge in the number and variety of local news sources used, as well as the degree of “local news participation” and mobile news consumption,” the authors of the study continue. “Many of the differences in local news consumption emerging from these data reflect the varying demographic composition of different community types in the U.S.”

Important Differences Based on Location and Community Size

The report highlights some of the differences in local news consumption habits based on location and community size. Here are some of the findings reported in the study:

Urban consumers obtain local news and information from a wide range of sources, including Internet searches, Twitter, blogs and the websites of local TV stations and newspapers. They also are more likely to obtain news via their mobile devices than consumers in small cities/towns or rural areas.

Suburban consumers tend to rely on local radio for news and information more than consumers in urban, small town/city, and rural areas. (The authors of the report say that this is possibly a result of relatively longer commute times.) These consumers are also the most likely to use a mobile device to obtain local news and information.

Consumers living in small towns/cities tend to rely on tradition media sources such as television and newspapers for local news and information. In fact, the study found that when compared to consumers living in communities of different sizes, consumers living in small towns/cities are the most likely to worry about what would happen if their local newspaper no longer existed. It is also important to note that these consumers are less likely to use the Internet and/or email or have a cell phone than consumers in larger communities.

Rural consumers use the fewest sources of media to obtain local news and information (average 3.3 local news sources per week, tied with small town/city consumers.) They are also the most likely to only rely on traditional news sources. Therefore, it is not surprising that they are the least likely to obtain local news and information via a mobile device, when compared to consumers living in larger communities.

Some of these variations can be explained by the demographics of the consumers living in each type of community. However, as the study points out, some consumers may not obtain local news and information via the specific media sources because it is just not an option for them.

Final Thoughts

The study that was released by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, in partnership with the Knight Foundation, is an excellent resource for marketers.

As I pointed out in my blog post last year, use of different technological advancements, including social networking sites, tends to vary based on the size and location of the community that consumers live in.

As the Pew Research Center’s report points out, the size and location of the community also plays a role in whether or not consumers rely on a wide range of media sources for local news and information.

This data again points to the fact that marketers need to make adjustments in their marketing campaigns in order to reach their customers and prospects where they are, not where the business thinks they should be.

In the end, because media consumption habits are different based on the location and the size of the community, specific marketing campaigns that work in one place might not be as effective in a different part of the country.

Photo credits: ChrisYunker and Gerry Dincher on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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A Look at the Aging of America From a Retail Perspective

Andy Rooney once said, “It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”

This could be partially due to the fact that either through design or disregard, the products and services that brands offer tend to cater to younger consumers.

However, as times goes on, older consumers are going to be harder and harder to ignore.

As the baby boomers reach retirement age, the number of older consumers continues to grow. (It is worth noting that there will be more older consumers in the near future because there were higher birth rates from 1946 to 1964 and because older consumers who reach the age of 65 are projected to live longer lives in the future.)

While brands do intentionally target different consumers when they advertise their products or services, there are also some decisions that brands are making that may unintentionally exclude older consumers from making a purchase.

If You Can Read This You’re Too Young

In his book, “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping—Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond,” (affiliate link) Paco Underhill explains how retail will be transformed in the near future as a result of the aging of the population of the United States. In fact, he devotes a whole chapter to this topic.

According to Underhill, by 2025, we are going to need a whole new world when it comes to retail.

“What’s wrong with this world? For starters, all the words are too damn small,” says Underhill. “See this sentence? How could you? Too damn small. How about the morning paper? Forget it. Too damn small. The directions on your jar of organic herbal laxative? Too. Damn. Small. And you’re not even going to try squinting. (It causes wrinkles.) If you can’t read it, by gum, you just won’t buy it. And if you don’t buy organic herbal laxative, nobody will. And if nobody buys it… well, you see where this is going.”

“Human eyes begin to falter at about age forty, and even healthy ones are usually impaired by their sixties,” Underhill continues. “With age, three main ocular events take place: The lens becomes more rigid and the muscles holding it weaken, meaning you can’t focus on small type; the cornea yellows, which changes how you perceive color; and less light reaches your retina, meaning the world looks a little dimmer than it once did. The issue of visual acuity, already a major one in the marketplace, will become even more critical—not just in some far-off future, but from this moment on.”

Is he making too big of a deal about the eyesight of older consumers? You can decide that for yourself, but first you might want to read some of the examples that Underhill provides as evidence.

“One of our fast-food clients realized that diners over fifty-five were their fastest-growing demographic, despite the fact that the menu boards used type that was almost impossible for older people to see well,” reports Underhill. “The company redesigned the menus using large photos of the food, and even though it meant listing fewer items, sales rose.”

Underhill also points out that, “The main market today for drugstores is older people, and that dependence will only increase. Certainly, of all the words we are required to read in the course of our lives, few are more important than the labels, directions and warnings on drugs, both prescription and over the counter. For instance, we have found that 91 percent of all skin care customers buy only after they’ve read the front label of the box, bottle or jar. Forty-two percent of buyers also read the back of the package. Clearly, reading is crucial to selling skin care and other health and beauty items.”

It is also interesting to note that the type on products that are frequently used by senior citizens (e.g., aspirin, a host of other common analgesics, cold capsules and vitamins) is often smaller than the type on products that are targeted to teenagers.

Can the Problem Be Fixed?

This sounds like an easy enough problem to fix. Just make the type bigger and the problem is solved, right? Not so fast.

You see, part of the problem is that many consumers rely on information in order to make purchase decisions. Therefore, brands need to provide a sufficient amount of information on their packages.

However, on a small box or bottle, there is a limited amount of real estate. Therefore, the choice is to either make the package bigger, provide less information or make the type smaller. It appears that many brands are choosing the third option—to the dismay of older consumers.

In the book, Underhill offers some possible suggestions that might help fix the problem, including package redesigns, better signage in retail stores, increased use of graphics on the labels, and tech solutions including sending additional information to our mobile devices.

In the end, he suggests the correct solution might be a combination of these and other possible fixes.

Final Thoughts

As Paco Underhill points out in his book, the aging of the population of consumers in the United States is going to provide numerous challenges to brands and retailers in the very near future. (These challenges include issues that I haven’t mentioned in this post.)

However, as with any challenge that is presented to the business world, they also provide an opportunity for businesses to profit by stepping up and finding ways to meet the needs of this important demographic.

As Paco Underhill sums it up, “Older shoppers are more important than ever, if only because there are more of them, and they have a lot of money to spend and time to spend it. Their presence will transform how products are sold in the twenty-first century.”

With this in mind, the question is: Is your business ready?

Photo credits: nicubunu.photo and bartsz on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Seven Things on My Radar for 2013

Question: 2013 will be the year of what?

That is the question that many people are currently asking themselves.

In November, iMedia Communications published a blog post that featured 16 business leaders making predictions as to what they think 2013 will be best known for.

In the post, Mark Cuban, an American business magnate and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, predicted that 2013 will be the year of entrepreneurship. Ian Wolfman, CMO at MEplusYou, predicted that 2013 will be the year of purpose (i.e., brands will do more meaningful things in the world and more advertising dollars will be spent for social good in an effort to earn the trust of consumers.) Furthermore, Alfredo Gangotena, CMO at MasterCard, focused on the changing economic conditions around the world, including new opportunities for business growth in Africa in 2013.

Other experts predicted that we will finally get mobile right in 2013, video will explode, we will be able to achieve better targeting for in-marketing consumers, and that there will be more consolidation and easier technology, among other things.

If that list wasn’t enough to inspire your imagination, I’d suggest checking out the “100 Things to Watch in 2013” list published by JWT Intelligence. This yearly list has some amazing predictions for 2013.

Some of the Things That I Will Be Watching in 2013

I don’t have access to the same information that the business leaders that I mentioned earlier in this post have. Therefore, I am not going to make a prediction as to what I think 2013 will be best known for.

While I can’t say what 2013 will be best known for, I can provide a list of some of the things that I plan to study and monitor in the next 12 months. That list includes:

1) Rapid Advancements in Technology

We all know how fast technology has changed the world that we live in, in just the past decade. Think about what the world will be like next year, then think about the remarkable changes in technology that we will witness in the next 10, 20, or 30 years. In order to stay ahead of the curve, I think that it is important for businesses to pay attention to what futurists like Raymond Kurzweil predict the world will be like, and make sure that they have the products and services that will meet consumers’ demands when the time comes.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Google recently hired Kurzweil to be the Director of Engineering. Sure, the real reason for the hire is because Kurzweil has decades of machine learning experience, but there are other reasons for having a brilliant futurist on staff (i.e., making sure the competition doesn’t have the same level of access to all the knowledge that he has in that head of his.)

There are other reasons to be thinking about the future of technology from a business standpoint. For further insight, look at number 11, 20, 27, 43, 52, 65, and 70 on the JWT Intelligence “100 Things to Watch in 2013” list.

2) Mobile (User Experience and Marketing)

According to comScore, “123.3 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (53 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in November 2012, up 6 percent since August.” (This doesn’t include the increase that we will most likely see after the numbers are in after the holiday gift-giving season. Also, keep in mind, this number doesn’t include tablet computer usage.)

Therefore, it is not surprising that many experts predict that mobile will play an increasing role in consumers’ purchase decisions in the future. Therefore, it would be extremely ignorant to ignore this important technology.

From a business standpoint, it will not only be important to monitor how consumers are using their mobile devices in their day-to-day lives, but it will also be important that consumers can easily find the brand’s products or services wherever they are looking, including when they are using their smartphones or tablet computers. And, when they do find the brand’s products or services online, it will be equally important that the information that they find is user friendly and optimized for the mobile device that they are using.

3) Mobile Payments

Mobile devices will not only change the way that consumers find and do research on products or services, they will also play an increasing role in how consumers actually purchase these products and services. In fact, according to a post on the Intuit GoPayment Blog, a recent Jupiter Research study estimated that, by 2017, one out of every 25 retail transactions worldwide will be completed with a mobile device.

Therefore, it is important that businesses start getting comfortable with this technology now, while the technology is still new and they have the luxury of time to experiment and make adjustments, as necessary. If businesses wait until a majority of their customers become comfortable with the technology, they might end up losing sales to competitors that have taken the time to experiment and perfect the transaction process.

4) Mobile-Influenced Merchandising

As an increasing number of people use mobile devices to gather information as they shop in brick-and-mortar stores, it is inevitably going to change the way that consumers interact with products in the real world. Retailers are going to want to do everything that they can to prevent what some experts call “showrooming.” Finding ways to get consumers to buy from the current store that they are in is going to become a top priority. Among other things, this might lead to more price-match guarantees to increase sales. There is also a possibility that consumers’ shopping behaviors will be altered in ways that we haven’t even thought of as a result of consumers having a mobile device in their hand while they shop. It is for this reason that I will be watching merchandising trends in 2013.

5) Privacy Issues

Changes in all sorts of technology, from Facebook to facial recognition technology, will have consumers worrying whether or not their personally identifiable information (PII) is getting into the wrong hands. In this environment, even the perception of a privacy issue can have a huge impact on whether or not consumers trust the brand, which can ultimately have an effect on the bottom line.

6) The Evolution of Marketing and Public Relations

It is important that businesses monitor changes in the marketing and public relations world. Each new technology that is introduced brings with it new challenges. Therefore, it is important to understand what is working for other companies and adapt that into your marketing plan, if possible. It is also important to try new things, test, and make changes when necessary. However, as Mark Schaefer points out in a recent blog post, one of the best ways to cope with the changes that marketers are facing today is to view technological change through the lens of marketing fundamentals. That way you can more easily weed out the stuff that most likely won’t work. In other words, a solid understanding of the fundamentals of marketing and public relations will still be the foundation for success.

7) Emerging Markets

Alfredo Gangotena’s comment in the post that I mentioned earlier really got me thinking about the possibilities that are available in emerging markets. Therefore, I plan to add this to my to-do list of topics to study in 2013.

Conclusion

These are just some of the things that I will be watching in 2013.

It is important to note that a change in technology could have a huge impact on all the other things mentioned on my list.

So now that you have my list, my question to you is: what is on your radar in 2013?

Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Where Consumers Live Can Influence the Efficacy of Your Marketing Efforts

Where people live influences many of their behaviors.

Even in the United States, there are subtle differences based on region and the size of the city that consumers live in.

I really began to notice this as a teenager.

For most of the year, I lived in a small to medium-sized city in Central Wisconsin. However, I spent my summers with my father in a city about 15 minutes from Ann Arbor and about 40 minutes from Detroit.

In the summer, I would be exposed to clothing styles that were somewhat different from the ones that I was accustomed to seeing in Central Wisconsin. However, where I really noticed a difference was in the music that I heard on the radio, as I would get to hear radio stations from Detroit that would play music that sometimes didn’t become popular in Central Wisconsin until months later, if at all.

Later on in life, I also spent some time living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia.

In each location, there are many things that are the same. However, there are subtle differences that make each city unique.

Technology and Target Marketing

In the last few years, social media and mobile phones have changed the way that consumers all over the United States live.

However, people living in big cities like Atlanta, Chicago or Minneapolis are getting exposed to the latest and greatest in technological innovation. These major metropolitan areas are the testing ground for some of the new apps and social networking sites.

In contrast, people living in rural areas and even those who live small to medium-sized cities are only being exposed to the major players in the social media world.

Sure, these people might be aware that some of the new apps or other social networking sites exist, but they don’t have the chance to use them or they try them and lose interest because there are fewer people in the area who use them, and thus, these users don’t experience the immediate benefits that their counterparts in larger cities do.

I would speculate that people in large metropolitan areas are going to be more receptive to new technologies of all sorts as they are developed because they are being exposed to more of the technological advancements that are currently available.

This is something that marketers need to keep in mind as they decide whether or not to use the latest advancements in technology to get the word out about their products or services.

For example, I recently wrote a post about digital signage that can deliver different ads based on the physical characteristics of the person who is looking at the sign. This type of technology might be welcomed by the folks living in New York City, Los Angeles or Seattle. However, if the same signs were placed in smaller towns, the people might get freaked out about it because they are not getting exposed to the other technological advancements that are out there. (I don’t have data to support this hypothesis. The only way to know for sure is to test it.)

What I can say, though, is that marketers who are targeting consumers living in large metropolitan areas have a lot more cool new toys at their disposal when they are trying to reach their target audience. Using these same tools in a smaller city probably won’t produce the same results.

Conclusion

Consumers living in large metropolitan areas are being exposed to a lot of different things that their counterparts living in smaller communities may not experience for months or years, if ever.

As a result, people who live in smaller communities are not getting to experience the gradual change in technology as it is developed. Therefore, these consumers might not be as receptive to the major advances in technology that can revolutionize the way that marketers communicate with their customers and prospects.

Furthermore, because usage of various social networks varies based on the community, campaigns that work in one place might not be as effective in a different part of the country.

Therefore, marketers who live in large metropolitan areas need to research how receptive consumers in other areas of the country are to new technologies before using them to market their products or services. If they don’t, they might end up wasting a lot of money on ineffective marketing campaigns. Or even worse, they might create a backlash that the public relations department will need to fix.

Photo credit: Navin75 on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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