Another interesting research report in today’s MediaPost from Gfk Research showing that over a third of consumers can now be classified as XTreme Shoppers…characterized by the amount of time they devote to finding the best deals on everything.
Their behaviors are similar to other shoppers in that they:
- Rely on internet research, especially on mobile devices
- Use multiple retail channels
- Check product reviews
Where they differ is that they do so much more of this than other shoppers.They use many more touch points and more resources. They visit more web sites and participate in more online communities. And, income level or age doesn’t seem to matter.
The study reports that these new shoppers have created a different culture of consumerism through their comparison shopping and demands for the best price on everything. They also are redefining what value means and are highly motivated by company assurances of ongoing product support.
Part of this new, aggressive consumerism is being fueled by the economy but technology is also key. The study identified more than 30 shopper-initiated touch point categories across major venues such as online, in-store, word-of-mouth, mobile, direct mail and TV.
These findings are right in line with the McKinsey Consumer Path to Purchase study we’ve posted about in the past. There no longer is a purchase funnel. It’s a purchase maze and the consumer looks, not to traditional advertising to help form their consideration set and make buying decisions. They rely primarily on a host of consumer-generated information and reviews to help them decide what and where to buy.
Our job as marketers continues to get harder. Fragmenting media. Exponentially increasing touch points. Consumers opting out of traditional advertising and PR communications and communicating directly with one another about what to buy. More creative advertising won’t solve these issues. Bigger media buys won’t help either. The only way forward is to listen to what the consumer is saying and meet them on their terms. Time to invest in building relationships. Time to start creating better consumer experiences.
We’re seeing a lot of chatter lately about the relevancy of the 20th Century agency business model and the demise of the client-agency symbiotic relationship. This post from a London-based BBH Labs raises some provocative questions and proposed some intriguing alternatives to the future relationship between the two entities.
Digital technology, social networks and tools have fully empowered consumer to being content creators, critics, participants in the marketing enterprise. The behaviors technology and tools are enabling, along with the companion erosion of the MASS in mass media they cause, does call into question the whole value proposition of having an agency or 50 agencies (such as some clients have) handle work that the client should be doing.
It’s clear there’s much duplication of costs between firms handling different silos of a clients business….account people, creatives, overhead, profit….each firm has to have these to deliver client work and stay in business and yet, multiply these costs 10, 20, 50 times over and a huge portion of the client’s marketing budget is paying for outside staff and expertise that many are saying should now be residing inside the client’s organization.
Another post I ran across last week was even more dismal in it’s prediction of the agency’s future, as evident from the title: “RIP: 20th Century Agencies”. According to Forrester Research, the firm that provides ongoing tracking of 300,000 global consumer’s online behavior and participation with their Social Technographic Profiling tool, we’ve now entered an era of Adaptive Marketing. In this ear, marketers take advantage of media addressability and more effective data-driven decision making. Larry Flanagan, CMO for MasterCard put it this way: “We are moving form decades of push stategy to a more holistic 360 consumer strategy”.
Or, Trevor Edwards, head of global marketing at Nike said: “We’re not in the business of keeping media companies (or agencies) alive. We’re in the business of creating consumer connections”. And Nike has done this, building the largest community of runners in the world with Nike+…a product, a service, a community. Now, Nike doesn’t need to conduct focus groups with consumers or rely on the newest creative idea from it’s agency to breakthough to runners. It has over a million runners who use this connection, giving them unprecedented data on actual, instead of self-reported, consumer behavior. It can eavesdrop into conversations their hundreds of thousands of community members are having on a real time basis. And, it’s changed every aspect of their marketing…research and development, promotions, CRM, advocacy, customer service…you name it. As brands become media producers and publishers, creating their own content, connections and communities, the power of traditional mass media and the agencies that craft the mass marketing interruptions (ad units, PR, etc.) brands relied on so much in the past has to fade.
Agencies are struggling to adapt to this new age for many reasons, according to the post. Among the biggest challenges agencies face:
- They are focused on campaigns rather than experiences
- They’re good at talking but not at listening
- Agencies create media-centric ideas
- They treat customers as an audience instead of participants
- They are mostly “unbundled” offering services in disparate skill sets
- They have trouble mastering many new specialties at once
- Agencies have moved down the value chain. Purchasing in now involved in agency selection and compensation and there’s little difference between agencies.
- Marketers don’t trust traditional agencies with digital and interactive agencies struggle for a seat at the strategic table.
So, what’s an agency to do to survive in this Brave New World? The path forward is simple but it’s not easy.
- Agencies must focus on developing big ideas that work across multiple communication channels and consumer touch points and they need to adopt a more iterative process for creating ideas.
- Agencies need to understand experiences that foster interactions drive marketing success from here on out. Media has now fragmented into distinct categories of paid, earned and owned and there has been a dramatic shift from viewing media as the foundation of campaigns to being a catalyst of experiences.
- Agencies need to become more intelligent and adaptive…relying more on analytics to drive customer insights and developing a business and staffing model that gives clients access to the the talent that can do this and help solve their business and marketing challenges.
The big question that remains is: Can clients also make the adaptations they need to make? For all the talk about integration and holistic effort, the fact remains, clients still fund marketing activities based on legacy allocations of dollars in various “buckets” or slices of the marketing pie as well as managing this with internal staff in very defined silos…above-the-line, CRM, digital, media buying, promotions, etc. It’s difficult to near impossible for an agency to provide an integrated idea to a client that isn’t integrated.
In fact, we don’t think the issue is integration per se, we think the real issue is orchestration. Some clients interpret integration in a very wooden, literal sense. To them, integration means: same thing everywhere. To us, this makes about as much sense as going to see a symphony concert where the conductor forces every musician to play every note in the same key at the same time. Where’s the artistry or beauty in that? Boring! And frankly, a lot of integrated marketing is executed in the same boring manner….same thing, everywhere. No wonder the campaigns don’t deliver the results.
Rather, we propose that the real secret to success in the new realities is orchestration…where there are levels of interest and discovery the consumer uncovers at different touch points along their path to purchase. Yes, it all looks like it’s coming from the same company and yes, the message is consistent. In this sense it’s fully integrated. But the idea is orchestrated to reveal itself in delightful ways in social media, on mobile, in live experiences and at retail in ways that are unique, relevant and compelling for each channel or environment.
To pull this off, continuing with our orchestration analogy, it requires a beautiful piece of music (the strategic idea), skilled musicians (the client and agency stakeholders) and instruments (the tools and technologies) and a masterful conductor…but who is this? It’s that last individual that is the big question mark. Are there people on the client side of the equation that can masterfully conduct?
According to this AdAge interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed, Unilever is shifting dollars…a big portion of it’s spend…to digital. And by “digital” he means three things: paid, owned and earned.
It’s an interesting look at the thinking going on at one of the biggest mass marketers on the planet. They realize that they are a mass marketer that’s got to get where the mass of the people are, and increasingly that’s online and on their mobile devices.
Ad Industry Optimism Reaches Highest Point Yet: Improves For All Media, Especially Digital and Mobile
Advertiser Perceptions Inc tracks what marketers and media buyers say they’re going to spend on advertising and there’s some good news in their recent report, especially for digital and mobile.
Of the over 1,400 decision-makers surveyed, nearly one third (32%) now expect to increase their spending over the next 12-months, making this the largest increase since API began asking this question in the spring of 2007. While print still shows negative growth and TV is flat, digital and mobile are bright spots, with 60% of executives saying they’ll increase digital and 62% boosting mobile spending.
What are you seeing at your company?
Apple once again demonstrates what an intelligent and intuitive marketer they are, not just in terms of product development but in advertising…yes, advertising. This is a beautiful spot for the new iPhone G4 Face Time.
In this almost two-minute video, they show you BENEFITS of a feature. And, they make it seem like Apple just invented video chat, which has been around for years. But, in a way, they have invented it because video chat has never been so mobile.
What’s a benefit, you ask? You know, those reasons people actually buy something in the first place, not to be confused with features, which marketers take as the reasons people buy. Do people want a better camera or do they want to take better photos? Do people want a better smartphone or better, more intimate communication?
Other manufacturers in the consumer electronics category would have laden this ad with features, FEATURES and MORE F-E-A-T-U-R-E-S plus a ton of legal disclaimers taking up the last third of the spot. Reminds me of the brilliant and hilarious YouTube video entitled, “If Microsoft Designed the iPod Packaging”.
Apple gets humans. They know we like beauty. They know sometimes dads travel for business and at the end of the day, sitting in some lonely hotel room, want to be reminded of why they go through all this in the first place and want to connect with their family. They know sometimes grandparents can’t be there for the graduation but want to experience it anyway. I got chills when the military dad watches the ultrasound of his unborn baby, while it’s happening. Do you notice the tear in his eye? I have to admit, I got one in mine.
This is a beautifully shot piece. It taps right into your emotions without a word. Apple gets humans. They know we communicate a lot with just our expressions and gestures. You can feel the reverence for the human experience. Maybe I’m too much of a fan of Apple but I don’t think so. I just admire the way they respect me, they anticipate me and understand that what I’m looking for is not a better widget but a better experience with other humans. How nice.
If I were a client, I’d be highly skeptical that a dinosaur of the old media, like print, could attract the talent to help me develop best-in-class new media campaigns and activations. After all, the premise of all these business development operations within media companies is to keep the dollars on the publishers books. How does this really fit with a “free the content” strategy? I’ve been here and done that and I can tell you, the client gets a “you can have any media you want as long as we own it” distribution strategy.
I guess they’ll find some takers and Meredith has certainly been aggressive about acquiring new media agencies of late. But, the same issue always does these guys in…it’s hard to innovate without cannibalizing the golden goose of your existing business.
Compete just released it’s Smartphone Intelligence survey (redundancy there) and there’s some interesting insight into consumer behavior trends mobile is enabling. Think Local Search, Social Connectivity and Gaming.
According to the survey, 1 in 3 smartphone owners has called or stopped in a local business after finding it using a local search app. In just first quarter, over a third of Android and iPhone owners discovered at least two new businesses that they were not previously aware of thanks to using these local search apps.
Thirty-three percent of smartphone Twitter users post tweets primarily via their smartphones. Of those accessing Facebook via their smartphones, they’re reading news feeds, posting status updates, replying to messages and posting photos.
iPhone owners download and play games more than any other handset owner. ..37% play games of some kind at least daily.
Anyone with physical locations would be wise to find ways to make their presence known to smartphone users. If you’re really smart, you might want to think about a way to combine local search, social and gaming all in one…like a Foursquare or Gowalla.