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Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You
“KNOW IT OR BLOW IT” RULES FOR REACHING DIVERSE CUSTOMERS

Brew Ha Ha!

Is that a hint of coffee on the back of the tongue or is it chocolate? One might think this descriptive statement was made after tasting a fine red wine, but no, it is being made about beer. Good old American Beer. Homer Simpson’s Duff Brew is experiencing a revival along with all things Americana.

Didn’t this happen before? In the 1990s, beer experienced a similar revitalization with the introduciton and mass popularity of microbreweries. The suds went flat after a few years for the microbreweries due to market saturation and too rapid growth. Those businesses that had sprung up overnight quickly shut their doors and/or sold the brand identity to one of the big three, Budweiser (the King), Coors, or Miller, as they could not maintain their earnings in relation to their expenses.

Why the sudden resurgence in the Craft beer market? Some say it’s the hipster culture’s shift from counter to mainstream. Much has been written about the hipster with their “living in irony”, their moustaches and their “adorkable” styling. What this group, who prefers not to be called Hipster, has done is manage to bring back into the public eye a sense of Americana. Beer fits into to their nostalgia for a time long past that they themselves did not experience.

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And They’re Back!

Living with one’s parents, once a stigmatized state of cohabitation, is now an acceptable state of location, in part due to the sheer number of individuals who are now doing so. Members of what is being referred to as the Boomerang Generation, since successfully leaving the nest have, in recent years, returned and stayed.

Is this Boomer-Boomerang household the new marketing demographic? On the whole, the return to the nest has had an interesting impact on segments of the economy, in particular on real estate and the offshoot markets that spring from home ownership. Washers, Dryers, knick knacks, and other items for living are dropping in sales because Boomerangs simply don’t need them – they use their parents’ items. If Boomerangs are the newest consumer group to whom marketing campaigns are looking to reach, then to which member of the household should marketers be advertising? The parents or the kids?

This begs the question: when the two previously separate homes combine, who becomes the principal consumer?

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Little Boxes of Fun

Everyone loves to get a gift in the mail. Building off of the model of Harry and David and cashing in on the thrill that people get when they receive a present in the mail, the Subscription Box market is showing rapid and steady growth.

According to FindsubscriptionBoxes.com, subscription boxes are “boxes that contain an assortment of products – typically with a common theme, such as beauty boxes, pet boxes, or food/nutrition boxes”. So in a nutshell, if you have an interest in something, there is likely a subscription box for you. The way the business model is set up, consumers do not get to choose the contents of the box, as the company (or celebrity, in some cases) curates the contents. Part of the thrill of receiving the package comes from the element of surprise: what’s inside? Boxes are sent out once month, with typical subscription durations of 3 months, 6 months and 1 year. Costs range from a low of $15+ a month, with many at $40. The companies have cute names like Barkbox, KiwiCrate, WhimseyCrate. Many companies use Facebook analytics and advertising to their advantage as they are able to target those consumers whose interests make up their customer base.

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American Idol Is Not So Idle

With the new season of television underway and the promos for American Idol running non-stop, I can’t help but have this show top of mind. Kudos to the music and entertainment industry: this show’s structure is a brilliant marketing and public relations platform and is the ultimate focus group.

Think about it: the music labels are always looking for the next big star and this television show is the perfect way to “audition” a potential new star to the public without having the expense or commitment of signing them to a contract. When they DO sign a contestant, it’s because they already know that performer has been “tested” and fans will buy the music.

It’s also a PR dream with the fame process occurring at warp speed. From the very first episode, names become household names, songs are downloaded and personal profiles start showing up in the media.

Another example of its brilliance: The voting process structure makes American Idol data mining gold. Performer personas are tested with the results known almost instantly. Did cutting off Joe Singer’s hair help or harm the number of votes? Did Roxanne Rockstar’s rendition of a country classic endear her to larger audience more than her indie pop image? Data mining gold.

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Pantone’s Future Is So Bright

Color is everywhere, and so is Pantone. The company, previously only known in the digital design reliant industries, now seems to be everywhere and is known by the general retail public. From paint at Lowe’s, to a product line at Sephora, Pantone is coloring our lives on the shelves of many different types of stores.

Pantone has also gradually become a trend authority. Since 2000, Pantone has announced the “Color of the Year”, but this is the first year the announcement garnered so much attention and press coverage, with diverse media outlets picking it up and incorporating the announcement into their features.

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Should ‘Tweet Seats’ be a Standard Option for Theater-goers?

Audience members at the Providence Performing Arts Center have a new choice: to tweet or not to tweet during the show. The theater is now setting aside a small number of seats in the back of the venue for individuals who promise to live-tweet from the performance using a special hashtag.

What was once considered taboo (using your Smartphone during a show) is now completely acceptable at a growing number of theaters, including some on Broadway. Advocates for this new option claim that communicating their experience via Twitter or other social-media outlets “makes it feel a lot more personal” and consider the new trend a valuable tool in today’s digital world.

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Two Men, One Big Idea, and the Great Importance of Effective Communication

National Public Radio’s PLANET MONEY’s podcast titled “Can a Poor Country Start Over?” showcases a true story about two very different individuals with the same dream, and how a communication breakdown destroyed their world-changing project and personal relationship.

The two men are Paul Romer, a world famous North American economist, and Octavio Sanchez, chief of staff to the president of Honduras. Independently, they believe to have found the answer to one of the oldest, most challenging problems in economics: How to help poor countries become richer. Paul and Octavio believe to have discovered the magic formula to raise the world out of poverty one “Charter City” at a time.

On the podcast, we find out what happens when the two men try to make their great idea a reality.

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Move over Eden Wood!

Earlier this year, I blogged about a model, Ryan Langstrom, a child with special needs, who was featured in ads for Target and Nordstrom. What I found to be remarkable was that, other than having the child in the fashion layout, they did nothing to further call attention to that inclusion, no additional retail or philanthropic call-to-action. Such subtlety speaks volumes about the strides the advertising world has taken to actually understand their audiences. Audiences are real people, and they want to see themselves represented. And it seems that message is coming through loud and clear.

These inclusive tendencies are carrying over to the world of children’s fashion. Valetina Guerrero, a girl with Down syndrome, made her debut as the face of Spanish swimwear, DC Kids, 2013 children’s swimwear collection.

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Widen the net!

Veering sharply from their long-held position that Spanish is the best way to reach Hispanics in the U.S., Univision has joined with ABC in creating an English-language TV network and digital platform for Hispanics in the United States.

This shift in programming, from Spanish-language to English-language, marks a major strategic change for Univision. For many years, the network (and countless other marketing groups) have held fast to the belief that the best way to reach the Hispanic market is by using the Spanish-language. And it has been, until now.

So what has changed Univision’s mindset? Why mess with a winning formula after so many years of success?

It is evident from this joint venture that Univision has studied all the recent reports and realizes that the Hispanic market is shifting. This cultural change within the Latino community is a result of the population shifting from being predominantly foreign-born, Spanish-language speaking to native-born, English-language speaking.

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The Cultural Connection Index

Over the last several years, Univision Consumer Insights Research has studied the influence that the Hispanic culture has had on consumers. These studies have helped to create a metric, the Cultural Connection Index, measuring the importance and influence that family, heritage and community have on U.S. Hispanics.

Based on the findings, it is evident that these cultural connections influence all aspects of life, from purchasing behaviors to technology usage to social interactions. It is obvious that Hispanics who have strong cultural and family bonds weave those bonds through all areas of their lives.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

● 63% of Hispanic Millennials ranked as “high” or “medium” in their cultural connectedness

● 42% use Facebook or Twitter to check out advertised brands

● 57% prefer to shop with family

● 73% browse at stores or malls for entertainment

● Millennial Hispanic women are more culturally connected than their male counterparts, average score of 72 v. 68

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