Monday, January 19, 2015

The mind of the modern shopper

While Canadians are still value-minded in store aisles, the desire for new products is becoming an increasingly influential factor in making purchase decisions, according to BrandSpark’s 2015 Canadian Shopper Study.
The survey, done in conjuction with the voting for BrandSpark’s annual Best New Product Awards, asked over 65,000 Canadians identified as having a key role in household purchase decisions about their shopping habits.
The desire for new products is strong among Canadians, with 78% saying they like trying them and 60% saying they believed new products were superior to old ones. Millennials, perhaps unsurprisingly, have the strongest interest in new products, with 85% saying they were interested in trying them, although 69% of seniors say the same.
“Canadians always want to save money and get the best deals, but there’s a little more willingness to pay for that premium,” says Philip Scrutton, director of consumer insight at BrandSpark. “That’s always been there, but you’re seeing a little more openness, which indicates more consumer confidence. And with new channels, there are additional ways consumers are finding to save money on brand name products that they generally want most.”
Value, however, still remains a key consideration for Canadian shoppers, with 87% saying they feel proud when they find good deals while shopping. But, as Scrutton says, consumer confidence may be on the upswing: 65% said they were willing to pay more for a new product if it was an improvement over other selections. And while 87% of respondents said they stock up when their favourite products are on sale, 57% said they will visit multiple retailers to find the best prices, those numbers are down slightly from 91% and 64%, respectively.
“Year after year, that’s the most agreed-to statement,” says Robert Levy, founder and president of BrandSpark, of the pride shoppers feel after finding a deal. “How important it is for Canadians to save money and feel like they’ve saved money and the emotional connection that has, it explains this whole business of studying flyers and searching for discounts.”
Although still a small portion of the total, using mobile devices is slowly rising, with 13% saying they use it as part of their regular shopping routine, up from 7% last year. The most common use (58% of respondents) is to take photos of potential purchases, with 48% comparing prices to different retailers and 45% checking digital flyers for sales or promotions. A small portion (20%) said getting that information in-store changed their intended purchase. Digital flyers are also gaining momentum, with 62% of shoppers reporting checking them regularly, compared to 57% last year.
Even though more shoppers are bringing their smart devices shopping, the numbers for old-fashioned shopping habits are down only slightly; 84% of Canadians still say they use written shopping lists (88% in 2014), with 91% checking store flyers regularly (95%).
For brands looking to increase consumer trust, the key seems to be in openness and helpfulness: 55% of respondents said their trust in a brand increases when detailed product information is available, with 62% saying their trust is increased by good customer care. Doing CSR work and donating to charitable causes that aren’t necessarily related to the brand increased trust among 64% of respondents. Those actions outranked things like consistent pricing (49%) and offering high-value promotions (43%).
Scrutton says that searching for value often outranks brand loyalty, but the growing importance of innovation and improvement can be utilized by marketers looking for that edge.
“They’re not strictly loyal to any one brand, although they want quality and benefits,” he says. “Offering them something new and exciting can allow you to keep that edge. Or, if you already have what they want, keep reminding them of the value you deliver and the trust you’ve built.”

By Josh Kolm

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Facebook Advertising Success Stories - Stanley Cup Oreo

Mondelez used Facebook to Market Stanley Cup Oreo
The brand explains why social media and TV ads go together like milk and cookies
Russ Martin January 14, 2015
Last winter, Mondelez was looking for ways to maximize its corporate sponsorship of the NHL. It had invested in hockey because of the sport’s cultural relevance in Canada and decided to pair it with one of its most culturally relevant products: the Oreo.
The result was the Stanley Cup Oreo, a cookie with the image of the cup etched into it that was available from March through the end of April last year. (It will be available again this spring.)
Last week Mondelez released a case study in partnership with Facebook to show how it used the platform to promote the limited edition cookie during the playoffs.
Here’s a look at the study.
The brief:
After doing Facebook ads on a small scale in 2013 and seeing great impact, Oreo decided to blow up the program for 2014.
“When we looked into how to best reach our consumers, we knew Facebook was a strong way for us to both demographically target and also have the reach for Canadians across both the Oreo fan base and the NHL fan base,” said Kristen Knox, senior brand manager at Oreo.
The target: Canadians 25-54
Main goals: Engagement, awareness, increased relevancy and in-store sales
The solution:
Together with its agencies, DraftFCB and MediaVest, Mondelez created a new version of its “Twist, lick and dunk” campaign; an idea that’s been reinvented by the brand several times. It then paired its media buy with hockey properties, targeting NHL fans online and on broadcast.
To reach Canadians on as many touchpoints as possible, Oreo took out media across several platforms, including TV, in-store and online. Key to the plan: Facebook, which allowed Oreo to focus on hockey fans within its target. “Facebook was able to provide direct reach with that NHL-targeted consumer,” Knox said.
The brand used both mobile and news feed ads and tapped Facebook’s Creative Shop to help it create video content for Facebook and Instagram (a resource reserved for the social network’s “managed,” high paying clients.)
According to Knox, Facebook provides a more efficient spend and better ROI than TV, but she said both were crucial to the success of the campaign.
“Our research globally shows that when you pair TV advertising with online and social, you actually increase the ROI of both significantly,” she said. “It’s not one versus the other, but how you pair them and how you amplify the impact and reach of both.”
The results:
-Ads seen by 4.7 million Canadians (at an average of 3.7 times per viewer)
-22% lift purchase intent
-Four point increase in ad recall
-Reached 32% of Canadians 25-54, with 92% targeting accuracy
-Sales were successful enough for Modelez to plan another limited edition Stanley Cup Oreo for 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How Trend Hunter uses big data to forecast the next big thing

And which big brands are using the site to find out what the cool kids are doing
Murad Hemmadi for Canadian Business January 12, 2015
It’s a little after 9 a.m. on the Friday before Thanksgiving, and Jeremy Gutsche is holding court in his Toronto office, talking about cupcakes. Bacon-flavoured cupcakes, to be specific, and how restaurants can use them to generate interest in their brands. The meaty-sweet treats are among the thousands of wacky ideas, products and fads catalogued on Trend Hunter, the website Gutsche launched in 2006.
At 36, Gutsche is quoted regularly as an expert on such topics by the likes of CNN, the Guardian and the Globe and Mail. He’s the author of two books, including the forthcoming Better and Faster. His first, Exploiting Chaos, was named one of the Best Books for Business Owners by Inc. magazine. “I like to say it’s half pictures, so you know it’s good!” he quips, fanning the pages to demonstrate.
On this day, Gutsche has just returned from a speaking tour that took him to Atlantic City, Dallas and New York — a mere fraction of the 60-odd keynotes he gives each year. One CEO described him as “an intellectual can of Red Bull.” And there’s not a hint of fatigue in his voice as he preaches his vision for changing the way companies find new ideas. Trend Hunter, he explains, is more than a website: It’s a market research firm for the digital age, with a data-driven model that contrasts with more traditional “cool gurus,” who identify trends and dispense insightful pronouncements based solely on observation and “gut instinct.”
The company’s Soho Street office is located a short distance from Toronto’s hip Queen West shopping strip and has the exposed brick and informal vibe of a startup. Candy apple – red walls and couches abound. At long wooden tables, eight millennials are clicking away at laptops, well on their way to crafting the 85 or so posts added to the website each day. Browsers open, earphones in, they sweep the corners of the internet for concepts and products that might appeal to the roughly three million web surfers who land on Trend Hunter’s articles each month. Once a team member finds something worth sharing — Ron Burgundy–branded holiday tree baubles, perhaps, or a photo gallery of a light festival in Prague — the concept is quickly written up in a 120-word article to add to the 250,000-plus that already populate the website. It gets a formula-following title (“Famous Reporter Christmas Ornaments” or “Spectacular Luminous Events”) and 10 hand-selected links to push visitors further down the site’s rabbit hole of weird, buzzy content. A global network of contributors and tipsters ensures that few ideas, however outlandish, escape Trend Hunter’s notice.
A monitor in the centre of the room acts as a digital scoreboard, ranking staff in real time on the quantity of articles they’ve written, the amount of online traction their work is getting and how much it’s being shared on social media. At 9 a.m., only a couple of names appear on the display; by noon the number of contributor avatars and their associated progress bars has ballooned.
Trend Hunter’s readers are a captivated bunch, looking at an average of 20 articles per visit — a staggeringly high number for any website. To those eyeballs, the site appears not unlike fellow click-mills Buzzfeed and Mashable. But every article view and click on Trend Hunter’s litany of listicles and galleries is fuel for its data machine. “When you’re running thousands of people through these articles and tracking what they’re choosing next, you start to get a sense of preference,” says Gutsche. The company uses the data it gleans to compile what it calls Pro Trends, sets of related concepts and ideas that Gutsche believes expose gaps in the consumer market. That Ron Burgundy Christmas ornament isn’t just a novelty purchase — it’s an example of “modernized tradition,” which, according to Trend Hunter’s analysis, is an indication that younger consumers don’t much care for the rigid formalities of the holiday season.
It’s these kinds of insights that Trend Hunter’s clients — a roster of major brands that includes Samsung, Kellogg’s, Crayola and NestlĂ© — are paying for. For a starting price of $24,000 a year, subscribers receive a customized monthly report from an analyst detailing Trend Hunter’s findings. Brands can use their reports to answer specific questions (“What’s new in holiday products this week?”) or find inspiration (“We’re launching a line of winter clothing, so show me examples of loud sweaters”).
Figuring out what customers want is a $21-billion industry in the U.S., according to IBISWorld, and many major brands solicit advice from polling firms such as Ipsos Reid or the legacy research arms of advertising agencies like JWTIntelligence to help them spot the next big thing before it arrives. More and more, brands are turning to big data to find market insights, in the hope that it will yield more scientific and more granular views into consumer behaviour. But just as it takes a master craftsperson to cut, polish and give a rough diamond its shape, raw data ultimately requires a human being to make it shine. Data might add scientific sparkle to the business of finding the next big thing, but there’s still an art to telling us what the numbers mean. And that too is what companies pay people like Gutsche to do.
Trend Hunter is privately held, and Gutsche won’t disclose revenues, but he claims he’s had “eight-figure” takeover offers. “A lot of people were interested in Trend Hunter for the eyeballs — as a media site,” he says. “But I believe the power of the research model is much more interesting long term.” He claims that replicating his massive experiment in consumer preferences would cost about $30 million. Gutsche is betting on a revolution in the way brands find out what the cool kids are doing.
The business of trying to divine customers’ desires has been around almost as long as there have been customers, but market research as an industry began with the advent of modern magazine ads and radio commercials in the early 20th century. George Gallup was the first director of market research, appointed by Young & Rubicam in 1932. Though he’s better known for his innovations in political polling, which showed that a relatively small sample of respondents could reflect public opinion just as well as the million-person surveys conducted at the time, he also developed methods to reliably measure the size and makeup of radio audiences. By mid-century, firms like Yankelovich, Skelly & White had begun sending out annual questionnaires to a representative set of Americans in order to track shifting opinions and fashions. Comparing one year’s responses to the next was a statistically sound approach in a world where western consumer markets were the only ones that mattered and one-third of Americans tuned into Bonanza on a Saturday night.
But by the 1990s, the fringes of popular culture began to assert themselves, and with them came a new method of tracking consumer behaviour. The idea of trend hunting started out as an insurgency on the edge of the staid, respectable market research industry. Immortalized in a 1997 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, “cool hunters” searched the streets of large urban centres for young people on the borders of the mainstream whose choices would inspire their peers — like the Reebok exec Gladwell writes about who used a group of teenagers in the Bronx as a flash focus group to review the footwear brand’s latest creations.
The persisting uniformity of popular culture at the time Gladwell was writing helped cool hunters find their subjects. “It was a lot easier to tell who the influencers were, because they were so distinctly different than the rest of the population,” explains Kristin Jones, senior account executive at Los Angeles–based Trendera, an agency that, like Trend Hunter, employs data in its market research. “Now it’s a lot harder, because the general cultural narrative is more expressive and inclusive.” Being unique, in other words, has become mainstream.
Ironically, this cacophony of niches, countercultures and innovations has been magnified by the very same force that Trend Hunter is using to make sense of the chaos: the internet. Social media in particular has democratized influence, allowing any one idea to quickly gain momentum online. Thousands of fashion, food and technology trends pop up seemingly overnight and disappear just as quickly. A fad like the flash-in-the-greasy-pan cronut craze of 2013 might have lasted years in another era.
Researchers can’t simply compare annual survey data as they might have in the 1960s and ’70s, because no trend or market stays the same for anywhere near that long. Being fast and nimble is paramount in the new cool hunt. “It’s important to recognize which trends are fleeting things that are cool right now but might not be worth talking about next month,” says Jones, “and which things have the potential to be a movement of how consumers are thinking and acting.”
In a way, the fragmentation of the mainstream represents not so much a qualitative shift in pop culture as a quantitative one. We may not all buy the same Michael Jackson albums or sit down at the same time to watch Cheers, but ultimately there are more consumers listening to music and watching TV shows than ever before. Big data represents an evolution in the scale, not the scope, of market research.
“The term just refers to the quantity of information and the number of users,” notes David Soberman, the Canadian national chair of strategic marketing and a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “There are all sorts of places that are sources of big data.” Large retailers are likely to collect their own information, and many are digitizing existing rewards systems (such as the revamped Canadian Tire “Money”) to more easily do just that. Internet titans like Google and Facebook already sell search and interactivity data to other corporations.
But having the spreadsheets and the statistics has never been enough. “Big data can be very helpful in testing ideas that you have or getting basic information, but it’s not predictive,” notes Jones, adding that “so much of trends is about creativity.” In other words, data might tell us what’s worked before and what’s working now, but it has a hard time inventing something new.
Even a data evangelist like Gutsche admits his clients are looking for more than numbers. Until last year, what Trend Hunter sold was access to its analytics platform, providing users with a personal dashboard that allowed them to explore patterns and see how individual ideas were faring. But clients were requesting someone to tell them what the data and patterns meant.
Back then, the massive number of website hits Trend Hunter logged translated into significant advertising revenues, but the bottom fell out of the banner ad market in the fourth quarter of 2013. “We had an ad agency that once paid us $1 million a year, and we’ll make $50,000 from them this year,” Gutsche explains. “Trend Hunter was looking at its first loss, which would have been $700,000.” Facing questions about the sustainability of its business model, Trend Hunter added an advisory arm, helmed by president Shelby Walsh. Named one of Marketing Magazine’s 2013 Top 30 Under 30, Walsh had joined the company in 2009 fresh from university; she was previously a scriptwriter and editor for the website. Just 26 years old, Walsh is the person clients call when they have research questions they want Trend Hunter to answer.
After a period without any new sales, Trend Hunter signed up two brands in one month, five the following month and a dozen the next. As of October of this year, the company had about a hundred clients.
If the platform identifies what consumers are searching for, then Walsh’s team of advisers tries to answer the question at the heart of all market research: Why? That’s where things get less scientific.
Soberman believes real-world smarts are a vital skill for anyone trying to explain and interpret customer behaviour. “The number one thing you need is experience in the actual universe,” he notes. “And you also need to have some understanding of how business works.” Gutsche certainly has experience in the corporate world, having spent time as a management consultant at Monitor Group after completing his MBA at Queen’s University and having built a billion-dollar portfolio for Capital One Canada. (“Which sounds great on your resumĂ©, but if I was talking to my 12-year-old self, I’d have to say, ‘Hey, you grew up to be a banker,’” he jokes.) He says Trend Hunter’s client advisers are company veterans, editors who have published thousands of articles and, perhaps most important, are young enough to identify with the audiences that brands are hoping to reach.
“When we write our reports, we try to think about why,” Gutsche explains. “We use our patterns to think about the social influence causing them.” But Trend Hunter’s advisers are not trained data scientists or psychologists, so while their conclusions might be based on a sound data foundation, they’re ultimately the product of deduction and intuition. That sounds awfully like the kind of “gut instinct” Gutsche is fond of railing against.
The Globe and Mail once called Gutsche an “oracle,” and he has all the hallmarks of a public intellectual. But Gutsche waves aside suggestions that he’s become something of a guru himself. “The guru, that’s our competition, and we believe in the power of the crowd,” he says.
Who the crowd consists of may present another problem for data believers. The cool hunters of the 1990s focused on the increasingly individualistic generations X and Y, and the audience from which internet-based research dredges its data skews young as well. “When you start looking at the people who are active online, they tend to be demographically younger, much more electronically active than the average in the population, more educated,” notes Soberman. Companies may be keen to target those kinds of customers, but the concern remains that consumer insights are being based on a self-selecting audience of young people. It’s not quite the know-everything-about-everyone promise of big data.
In this way, we might not have come all that far from those late-century cool hunters after all. “There’s definitely an art to it—you need to have an eye for recognizing what’s different and popping,” says Jones, whose firm, unlike Trend Hunter, still does the kind of street interviews Gladwell was writing about. “You’ve got to know how to spot the cool kids.”
Trendera and Trend Hunter share some corporate clients, including Target. That’s par for the course in the market research industry, because every firm offers something slightly different. At $24,000 a year, Trend Hunter absorbs a miniscule fraction of the marketing and product-development budget at most major corporations. “For a company like Samsung, this is a no-brainer,” says Soberman. “This is definitely something you’d buy, because the price point is pretty low. If I’m a small entrepreneur, a two-person startup in Toronto, it may be a somewhat different question.”
Perhaps companies are motivated by a trend that is just as rooted in the Internet age as big data: fear of missing out. No brand wants to be the one that failed to ride a consumer wave because it wasn’t willing to spend the equivalent of a rounding error in research costs. “If your approach is to just buy a bunch of reports to see what’s going on in the marketplace, that’s not as likely to get you a return on your market research dollars as a specific need,” says Robert Rubenstein, who spent three decades in the market research business at Canadian corporate heavyweights Molson Breweries and TD Canada Trust before recently founding his own startup, Horizn. “There has to be a concrete project or objective that leads you to at least the hope of profitability, as opposed to jumping on a bandwagon.”
Gutsche believes Trend Hunter’s offerings stand out in a crowded field. “Most of these companies will subscribe to all sorts of different trend services that have been feeding them trends for decades,” he notes. “The word ‘trend’ is almost ruined in a way, because they’re just overwhelmed by information.
“Everybody is telling them everything, so we’re kind of like a chaos filter.”

Zoomer Media - how to reach older females with impact!

Zoomer ladies love to travel, browse the net, eschew nostalgia, and other interesting stats on this prime demographic.
By Jennifer Lomax
Zoomer has become the term of choice to describe people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who want to remain socially and culturally engaged and active.
As with millennials, the demographic and sociographic profile of Zoomers is somewhat grey. And, many of the briefs that pass through Harbinger are focused on the under-45 woman (perhaps rightly so), but what if I told you that zoomers have more in common with young singles than you might think?
Given the large, growing zoomer population and other macro trends pertaining to women in the workforce and having children later in life, this segment is worth a closer look.
Consider this:
  • There are more than eight million women over the age of 45 in Canada, representing more than 45% of the total female population; women 55+ represent more than 30% of Canadian women
  • This segment is the only one that will increase as a percentage of the total Canadian adult population over the next 20 years
To shed a little light on this influential group, based on our female consumer 2014 study, Harbinger assembled a list of facts about the North American female zoomer and how she compares to younger segments.
She remains the chief purchase officer for her household/ family:
  • She is involved in more than 96% of household purchase decisions
  • 59% live with their spouse (compared to 52% of people under 55)
  • 10% still have at least one child living at home
She buys big ticket items for her home:
  • Of Canadians who spent $1,000 or more on furniture and appliance in the past 12 months, half were zoomers
She is a heavy consumer of internet and TV:
  • She surfs the internet for 6.3 hours per week, one-and-a-half hours more per week than younger segments
  • She watches nearly twice the amount of TV each week (17 hours versus 9.6 hours)
She still cares about her appearance:
  • 38% consider her personal appearance a high/critical priority
  • She spends 4.4 hrs per week on personal grooming, nearly 30 minutes more than the average woman under 55
She is a frequent at home cook:
  • She spends 6.8 hours per week preparing meals at home, over an hour and a half more per week than younger segments
  • She spends nearly one quarter of her household income (24%) on food and grocery
  • Nearly half (48%) of shoppers who spend $150 or more on food shopping every week are older than 45
She is (or aspires to be) a traveller:
  • 37% report high or very high interest in travel
  • 20% consider travel a high or critical priority (versus 23% of younger than 55s)
  • No other age group travels as much or spends as much when they travel; zoomers represent the largest market for virtually every category of travel
She places high value on morals and ethics:
  • More than younger segments, she describes her ideal self as ethical (61% versus 44% of younger women)
  • 63% named morals and ethics among her top five values (versus 59%)
She is more pragmatic and functional in her approach to selecting brands:
  • The 55-plus group is significantly less likely to name “nostalgia,” “makes me feel good,”or “brand gets me” as influencers than younger segments; zoomers over-index for “brand does what it says it will do” and “delivers good value”
So what does this mean for marketers?
Despite the fact that many mass marketers choose to forgo the large and growing zoomer segment, data paints the picture of a highly engaged and lucrative market. Afterall, by many definitions, a zoomer is a boomer “with zip” who likely thinks and behaves younger than her biological years.
With more free time and disposable income, this segment remains a heavy consumer of many of the very same categories as younger segments. Specifically, she continues to care for her appearance, she prepare meals at home, she purchases gifts for her kids or grandkids, she buys vehicles, enjoys entertainment and travels. So why is her likeness dominantly associated with retirement, healthcare and aging? This woman is busy living!
It’s time for marketers to reevaluate who is shopping in their brand categories, and explore the role of the zoomer as an influencer and decision-maker. This is not to say that all brands and categories should be chasing the mature woman, but (unintentionally) alienating this powerful female consumer group could be a very costly mistake.
Jennifer Lomax is is VP strategic planning at Harbinger