We spent the first half of this week at IIR’s Measure Up conference right here in Boston. I had this event circled on my calendar for a while. "Social” is going through an experimentation phase and I was really looking forward to sitting in a room with active practitioners willing to say things like: “this is what worked, this is what didn’t, and based on that experience, this is where I think things are heading.” Not only did Measure Up deliver in that sense, the agenda also included thought leaders from the supplier-side and the world of academe (gasp!). The result? A lot of smart people in a room thinking about how to define, measure, and apply “social” in an impactful way.
There’s no way I could possibly sum up the entire conference, but here are the themes that stuck with me:
1) “Complexity” and “social” are tightly coupled. At the end of the final day’s opening discussion, I tweeted that I couldn’t count the number of times I heard the word “complexity.” Later, Forrester’s Zach Hofer-Shall also noticed the recurrent “complexity” and “ROI” themes. In his experience: “I see those two terms come together often with measurement.” I blogged last week about answering complex innovation challenges with simple terms and common languages/metrics. That works for innovation, but “innovation” has been under the microscope for 30 years. Social? Not even close.
2) Location based marketing has potential (and is in the business of “manufacturing serendipity"). Mike Schneider and Casey Petersen (Murphy Oil) delivered a great presentation about using social technology that grabs opt-in consumer location data, optimizes on-the-spot/point-of-sale offers (hello, ubiquitous smartphones) and drives incremental revenue. Casey described a case where he used location based offers to drive sales of a poor selling beverage at Murphy USA convenience stores. The program resulted in a 4% increase in sales of that product. FYI – Murphy has 1,000 stores in 23 states. The math speaks for itself. What I liked about Mike was his respect for the consumer and the importance of “opt-in.” That’s important for location based marketing going forward.
3) Brands need everyone on board, not just marketers. Two presenters, Amy Weisenbach of Beam Global Spirits & Wine and Nancy Dussault-Smith of Massachusetts’ iRobot emphasized this point. Amy used education (and a slick video) to convince salespeople that marketing dollars are better spent on social efforts than on billboards. Nancy installed monitors that stream twitter chatter in places where engineers can easily follow along.
4) Being “in the game” and just “being social” isn’t enough anymore. You need to engage. CMB's Jon Giegengack generated a fair bit of twitter traffic during his presentation. The idea that “social” is conversational is something that nearly everyone agreed on. Social is not the right place for blatant advertising. Your audience expects more. If brands are people, the audience expects a tone that is consistent with that ideal. You can’t talk at people. You have to engage in a dialogue – preferably about things that matter to them.
For more on the conference, check out the conference’s blog or read up on Twitter @MeasureUpIIR #MUCONF11.
Posted by Brian Neville-O'Neill. Brian is CMB's Content Marketing Manager and successfully broke down the event booth with only minimal collateral damage. Minimal. Not none. You can follow him on Twitter @bnevilleoneill
Groupon’s filing for an IPO late last week made a lot of us on the consumer pulse team pretty excited. Why? Because we knew that we were sitting on fresh consumer data around “daily deal” programs. Under normal circumstances that’s more than enough to get us to dive into the data and start putting a story together. But once we saw the reaction coming from industry insiders, we were psyched to have something extra to contribute.
Groupon’s filing seemed to tweak analysts living in the “tech economy” in a very real way. It’s fair to say that this is a group that’s a little sensitive about anything that could be perceived as an indicator of a bubble (see Jose Ferreira at the Knewton Blog: “There is no tech bubble, just a micro bubble here or there”). Measured responses from mainstream sources pointed out that the Groupon model “has faddish aspects to it, and is an easily copied business.” Less measured chatter likened Groupon’s business model to a ponzi scheme (ahem…”Grouponzi”) and accused the company of being “effectively insolvent.”
There’s a poll on today’s WSJ.com journal community that asks readers whether “Groupon can withstand competition from players like Google and Facebook?” Spoiler alert: that audience is not optimistic.
With all of that serving as a backdrop, let’s return to our consumer pulse data. In particular, let’s focus on Groupon. Our study came out of field 3 weeks ago and N=1,461.
Here are the highlights:
- 44% of all respondents had signed up for a deal-of-the-day program
- 89% who signed up for deal-of-the-day signed up with Groupon
- LivingSocial came in a distant second at 48%
- Of those who have signed up for a daily deal program, 32% have not purchased one in the last 6 months
- Of those who have made a purchase using Groupon, 62% are very satisfied, 9% are dissatisfied
- 18% of those who have signed up for a daily deal program have purchased a deal and allowed it to expire in the last 6 months
- Of those who have not made a purchase, but are signed up for Groupon, 37% are dissatisfied
So what are we to conclude? First, nearly half of a gen pop sample has signed up for a deal-of-the-day program. That’s a big number. Second, Groupon practically owns the entire market. Third, and most importantly, it’s too soon to tell whether daily deals are a fad or not. So what do you think? Is it a fad or growing trend?
Posted by Brian Neville-O'Neill. Brian is CMB's Content Marketing Manager and loves everything about event booth assembly. You can follow him on Twitter @bnevilleoneill
Wondering if daily deals are right for your brand? Our friends at iModerate are hosting a 20-minute Coffee Break Webinar next week that might help. Click the mug for more details.
Innovation. It’s a big word. Truth be told, it has always been a fairly popular discussion point. But, if you feel like you’ve come across it more frequently over the last year, you’re not crazy. In a 2010 poll, 83% of top executives said that innovation will be a key part of their strategy to benefit from the economic recovery. There’s your consensus and there’s your buzz. Trouble is, if we were to probe a bit deeper in an attempt to uncover the fundamental hallmarks of an “innovation strategy”…well, that’s another story. The responses would certainly be less uniform, and likely considerably less clear.
Why? Innovation is ruthlessly complex.
Executives and analysts aren’t wrong to come up with customized solutions, nor are they wrong to explore the depths of what innovation has to offer. But we run into trouble when we get ahead of ourselves – moving innovation from an intellectual nicety to a critical agenda item without first agreeing on a common language. How often do you see innovation defined consistently? Shouldn’t that be the starting point?
We can’t possibly create an organization (or a culture) that nurtures innovation without a basic understanding of its key elements and types. But again, best of luck wrestling with the landscape. A quick search reveals three, four, six, and ten types of innovation. Some find numbers limiting, instead opting for a “broad universe” of “zones” where “the fast eat the slow.” Well then.
Our own John Martin prefers to start by placing innovation into three buckets: incremental, platform, and breakthrough. He’d freely admit that the matter is open for debate. That’s the nature of innovation.
So, before answering the innovation bell with myriad solutions (technological or otherwise), we have to establish a simple foundation to build upon. In some ways, this is like any major organizational sea change. Common expectations must be agreed upon. Groups, sometimes interdisciplinary, need to be aligned. Results should be measured in universally understandable terms and metrics.
It’s only after we decide upon definitions, goals, and metrics that we can venture into the more creative – and probably more fun – aspects of innovation. It’s exciting to think about how to customize innovation, how to create systems that capture organic ideas, tacit knowledge, and institutional narratives. We just have to avoid the temptation to let our collective imaginations run wild (bearing in mind that at least one person in the organization’s imagination should run wild – we are talking about innovation!), otherwise we’re setting ourselves up for a time sink. We need to frame innovation very tightly, at least at first, so as not to overburden.
Remember, it’s not ideas themselves that matter the most. It’s what we do with those ideas – how we recombine, connect, and manipulate them – that has the potential to make an impact. So let’s not make it harder on ourselves. Let’s keep it simple.
Posted by Brian Neville-O'Neill. Brian is CMB's Content Marketing Manager and an avid complexity enthusiast (much to his own chagrin). You can follow him on Twitter @bnevilleoneill
Interested in learning more about complexity and barriers to innovation? Dr. Martin and Karen Morris, former Chief Innovation Officer at Chartis Insurance, are speaking at LIMRA's 2011 Marketing & Research Conference in Boston next week. Let us know if you're planning to attend!
Recently I wrote about our latest consumer pulse study – “How Smartphones are Changing the Retail Shopping Experience.” The report revealed several emergent consumer behaviors and received considerable media coverage, something that we’re all pretty excited about. From the consumer’s perspective, the tone of my post was mostly upbeat. And why not? One of the key conclusions of our study was that smartphones empower consumers to find the best products and the best deals from inside the store. What’s not to like?
As it turns out, maybe a few things. The study also showed that consumers have a few misconceptions about how privacy works on a smartphone. Take a look at this graph:
As you can see, more than two-thirds of consumers believe that application developers are mandated to institute privacy policies. That’s incorrect. Outside of the policies created by app marketplaces (maintained by Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc) there are currently no required regulations for smartphone apps and privacy. As a result, there have been instances of apps behaving badly – doing things like scraping personal data and sending it to China for “marketing purposes.”
Another issue worth considering is smartphone security when the device is connected to WiFi instead of the carrier’s mobile network. Over at GigaOM, Kevin Tofel wrote a great piece suggesting that retailers provide free in-store WiFi access to potential customers. If that happens, surfing the web in the aisle on your smartphone could become just as risky as surfing that unsecured coffee shop network on your PC. A little over a year ago, security researchers demonstrated that it was possible to “steal your passwords, personal info, and email credentials” from Apple, Nokia, and Android devices connected to WiFi networks.
Ultimately, consumers don’t yet see a fundamental difference between the risk taken while shopping on a PC versus shopping on a smartphone.
It’s hard to blame them. Even among security professionals, there exists a fair amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt around the idea of smartphone security. A panel on mobile security threats at last month’s RSA conference downplayed what has become an enormous industry issue. In sum: “It’s not nearly as dangerous out there as you might think. Not yet.” Very comforting.
For more info download our recent Consumer Pulse report on smartphones and the retail shopping experience.
Posted by Brian Neville-O’Neill. Brian is part of CMB’s marketing team and spends quite a bit of time reading and writing about market research.And now he's thinking twice about just how safe those apps are on his smartphone.
A quick note to retailers out there: according to our latest CMB Consumer Pulse report your smartphone-packing customers are doing their homework while standing in the store aisle (hopefully yours). The kind of homework they’re doing is largely dependent upon the types of variables and demographics you’ve come to expect, particularly age and gender. Men, for example, are more likely to use their phone to check product reviews while women are more likely to look for discounts. If the shopper has an iPhone, they are almost certainly using it to help them make a decision about their purchase – more than 70% of them said as much.
What this tells us is that gone are the days of 2008…when brick and mortar retailers merely had to worry about competing with online retailers when shoppers were in front of a PC. Once at the mall, comparison shopping involved walking (or worse, driving) to a different store, finding the right aisle & shelf, locating the item, and then checking the price. For lower ticket items, that’s an awful lot of hassle to potentially save a few dollars. For higher ticket items, it’s just a lot of hassle.
No more. Now, shoppers only need to fire up their phone’s web browser or one of the countless purpose built apps to do all of that legwork. Really. All of the legwork. Our study showed that shoppers were using smartphones in-store to do everything from comparing prices of products and services to making a purchase.
Over the last few years, analysts have warned retailers that stores may become product showrooms where the shopper uses the aisle for testing purposes and is agnostic to where and when the purchase is made. In fact, some have gone so far as to predict that this type of behavior will “lead to a new definition of the store; purpose, place and size are all up for debate
.” How it all pans out remains to be seen.
But it’s not all bad news for retailers. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. If shoppers are becoming agnostic to the in-store experience, it is incumbent upon the retailer to adjust the experience as necessary. And it’s worth noting the responsibility doesn’t fall just to retailers – product manufacturers need to connect with their distribution partners to “take advantage of opportunities [smartphones] provide for generating sales and improving the customer experience.” This type of partnership should address signage, packaging, displays, and smartphone based communication strategies that stop the shopper in their tracks. Going forward, we believe all of these tactics to be necessary elements of retail planning.
Download our latest Consumer Pulse report for additional findings around the impact of the mobile shopper.
Posted by Brian Neville-O’Neill. Brian is part of CMB’s marketing team and spends quite a bit of time reading and writing about market research. When he’s not busy doing that (or shopping on his smartphone) he is secretly anticipating the arrival of Battle LA, a soon to be released alien-robot invasion movie.