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The Early Bird Gets the...Black Friday Sales Dip?

Posted by Will Buxton

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

iStock 000030486308XXXLarge resized 600

I like to call myself a Holiday Champion. I like to think that I enjoy the Holiday Season more than most people, and I’m definitely one of those people who is more jovial in December than any other time of year. You can probably contribute my enjoyment to one of the following:A) The Holiday Season’s reliable signaled start (post-Thanksgiving) and finish (New Year’s).

B) The result of having a December birthday (please send all birthday presents to CMB).

C) I love the snow and the association it has with the Holidays.

D) My appreciation of all the rituals and traditions accompanying the Holiday Season.

E) All of the above

I believe it is E) All of the above, but it’s likely that some factors are more influential than others. Because I’m so appreciative of this time of year, I find myself hyper-sensitive to the events surrounding the Holiday Season. Here’s another fun fact about me: I like structure. Things around the Holidays are supposed to happen in a certain order. For example, Thanksgiving comes before Christmas and Christmas comes before New Year’s. However, more and more often, humans and even nature keep messing up the order of Holiday Season events . . .  and I’m starting to worry about the long-lasting consequences.

A few examples:

  • In 2011, New England received a considerable snowstorm just before Halloween, and despite my love for snow, it felt too soon.
  • This year, there were faux Christmas trees for sale at my local wholesale club the day after Halloween. Too soon.
  • Also this year, Kmart unofficially released the first Christmas shopping commercial on September 5th. TOO SOON.

In years past, I thought that my displeasure with these “too soon events” was because I had my own preference for what the order of the Holiday Season should be. However, it seems that this year, other Holiday Champions are sharing in my disapproval. This year also marked some of the earliest “start” times for Black Friday (is it still Black Friday if it starts on Thursday?) with stores opening at mid-afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. This list includes Old Navy (4pm), Best Buy (5pm), and Walmart (6pm). All of this must mean that spending is through the roof, right?

As you may have read by now, initial reports show that total spending on Black Friday was down 11% overall from last year. Some speculate that Black Friday numbers have dropped because of the lingering effects of the most recent recession and the increase of shopping on Cyber Monday. However, consumer confidence has been rising the past few years and holiday sales figures rise steadily every year.

Much of the advertising leading up to Black Friday this year focused on the time at which a particular store would be opening or the level of discount on particular products. Personally, what I felt was largely lacking from a lot of advertisements was the creation of a need or want for the consumer so that he/she would care about these start times and deals. I need a reason to keep track of what stores open at what times and where the best deals can be found. Is it possible that one of the contributing factors to the drop in sales for this year’s Black Friday was these misdirected marketing campaigns? Or is it that the frequency of messages and advertising extremely early doesn’t have as much of an impact on customers as we are meant to believe?

One of the ways Chadwick Martin Bailey helps our clients avoid communicating information and messages that don’t resonate with their audiences is through techniques such as Key Driver Analysis, Maximum Difference Scaling, Latent Class Segmentation, Discrete Choice Modeling, and TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) Analyses. In combination with 30 years of experience, each of these tools affords CMB the flexibility to tailor the right questionnaire design for each client, market, customer, and product. By utilizing the right analysis, CMB is able to see beyond self-reported tendencies or likelihoods and through to the emotional drivers or motivations that trigger consumers to behave in particular ways.

Given the knowledge and capabilities of Chadwick Martin Bailey, I can only hope that one day I will see a commercial for my favorite store that goes something like this…

“Happy upcoming birthday, Will! Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it looks like it is going to snow just enough for snowballs but not so much that you’ll have to shovel the driveway! So how about you put up all your seasonal decorations, and then come into [insert store here] and buy that hover-board or teleportation machine you’ve been wanting this year!”

Will Buxton is a Project Manager on the Financial Services Team at Chadwick Martin Bailey. When not complaining about having a birthday right before Christmas, Will enjoys long drives on short golf courses and riding in party buses in Chicago.

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Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, retail research

Stitch Fix's Fixation on the Customer Experience

Posted by Amy Modini

Wed, Nov 05, 2014

iStock 000004343641SmallHow many of you are always looking for another minute in the day? Or perhaps some of you want something new, but don’t have time to get to a store? And how many others of you just simply hate going to brick and mortar stores? Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping stylist, is a service in which you set up a profile and pay a $20 styling fee to have five items shipped to your door. The styling fee is applied to the items you keep, and anything you don’t want has to be sent back within three days (in the pre-paid postage package provided). The service appeals to those busy women needing convenience. 

I ordered my first “fix” last December and loved it. Like the 70% of customers, I returned for a second time. Not only is this service convenient (after setting up your profile, you literally click a button to order your next fix and select a date), but it offers fairly reasonable prices. I get excited every time Stitch Fix sends me a box, and that excitement quickly accelerates or disappears after I see what’s inside. While I loved every piece in my first fix, I’ve since had mixed results, loving and hating certain pieces.

Since launching in 2011, Stitch Fix has done several things right as it continues to build its brand and enhance the customer experience. Here are a few:

1. Knowing the target audience.  

Stitch Fix does this well. Even though the company states that its customers range from teenagers to senior citizens, it realizes that busy women in their late twenties to thirties are its primary audience. This is why convenience is at the company’s core. For busy women, the experience needs to be quick, easy, and stress-free, and Stitch Fix has been able to do just that. The company is also appealing to those women who take fashion risks, dislike brick and mortar shopping, look for the latest and greatest trends, and are perhaps less price sensitive than others. 

2. Leveraging word of mouth and building advocates.  

An integral part of this service is its referral code system. The referral codes allow customers to earn $25 toward another fix if a friend uses the referral code for her first fix. I have seen countless friends post about Stitch Fix online. Even I have told some friends about the service—especially when I receive a compliment on one of my Stitch Fix pieces—so it doesn’t surprise me that word of mouth referrals account for 95% of Stitch Fix’s new customers.

3. Listening customers and making adjustments.

Several months ago, Stich Fix began to get a lot of publicity. Thus, demand increased and wait times became significantly longer. The company quickly realized that this resulted in a not-so-positive customer experience, so it expanded its team of stylists and shipment centers, which ultimately reduced wait times. Stitch Fix’s goal is to provide the best possible “fix” for each customer, so it continues to encourage customers to communicate through a variety of ways such as writing notes to stylists, setting up a Pinterest board to show pieces you like, and sending specific feedback on the clothing pieces you receive.

It’s not difficult to see that Stitch Fix has no shortage of data to analyze or algorithms to apply when determining which pieces customers will enjoy, but it doesn’t rely solely on the data. It takes the data and combines it with the expertise of a stylist. In the market research world, I see this as the delicate blend of art and science.

It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten a fix, and with the season change, it’s about time I click that button to order my next one! 

Amy is an Account Director and a mother of two small kids, which makes her an ideal target for this service. She’s willing to give her Stitch Fix referral code to anyone who wants to try it.

New Webinar: The New Hotel Path to Purchase: The Mobile, Social, and Online Journey – As part of CMB’s Consumer Pulse program, we asked 2,000 leisure travelers to share their journey from awareness to booking. This webinar will give insight into the role of mobile, apps, customer reviews, and social media. 

Watch Now!

Topics: marketing strategy, customer experience and loyalty, retail research

Sponsorship Advertising: Odd Couples That May Succeed

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, May 28, 2014

advertising sponsorships

We are constantly talking with companies about how their positive and desired brand messages—from all possible sources—need to match up with the experience their customers have when interacting with them.  Our approach to brand tracking is based on the premise that movement along the customer journey is driven by customers’ perceptions and is informed by what is promised as well as what is delivered. However, some experiences are obviously more in the control of the company than others. And one place where a company can really have impact is via sponsorships in advertising—and some of these partnerships aren’t always as straightforward as beer and football.We’ve all seen unusual pairings.  One recent example is Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 men’s Boston Marathon winner, who is now sponsored by Skechers.  This has drawn some attention as Skechers has not historically been a brand associated with running—much less elite running.  In fact, some might associate Skechers as more of a soccer mom brand. (Remember those rocking walking shoes from a few years back?)  But this new partnership certainly has the makings of a game changer for their “GoRun” line now that Keflezighi has catapulted them onto this new scene.

Here’s another seemingly odd-ball combination that is hitting the stage this summer.  The Colorado Symphony has a three show concert series coming up sponsored by the cannabis industry (which was recently made legal there for recreational use).  They already have numerous concerts that look to be targeting a younger demographic, such as a Harry Potter themed concert and their “Beethoven and Brews” series. This new concert series called “Classically Cannabis” appears to be just another attempt to draw in a new audience while keeping their art alive and kicking (not to mention that the cannabis industry has increasingly deep pockets).  It has certainly drawn media attention, and their online explanations via an FAQ are thoughtfully done, regardless of your stance on this issue. 

But what does this new series do to the Colorado Symphony as a brand as it currently exists? Presumably, they have researched whether or not this will cause damage to their brand image by alienating loyal customers, and moreover, whether this will in fact be appreciated by those loyal listeners as well as expand their existing audience with new listeners. 

Let’s shift to the world of high fashion. Fashion Week has both some expected and perhaps unusual sponsors.   Mercedes—check.  Office Max—huh?  Apparently, the latter had some “fashionable office supplies” to put out on the runway.  According to reports of those who work with Fashion Week sponsors, those brands do need to have a relevant story to tell, which in this case may well be true.   Understanding the impact or ROI of an ad sponsorship can be tricky, but should always happen and be taken into consideration.

There’s also outer space—the final frontier.  We’ve probably all seen or heard about the private rocket companies (e.g., SpaceX) that are building and sending people or satellites up into the nether sphere.  But one of the most outlandish companies may be Mars One, a non-profit company with plans to “establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.”  This venture is to be funded through crowd-sourcing, TV rights, and sponsorships. 

The plan is to launch teams of four on a one-way ticket to a pre-established mission, which will begin to be set up in the next few years with the first manned launch currently planned for 2024.  So we could see Pepsi on Mars, although most sponsors thus far are technology firms.  Taking the hypothetical (at the moment) notion of cola on Mars:  what does that potentially do for the brand sponsor?  Perhaps it could be a way to reinvigorate their brand with a sense of adventure or a way to evoke emotions of excitement.  

How about Mars candy on Mars?  Of course, I am not the first to make this connection.  Though I strongly suspect that the rockets sent out on that journey will be stocked up with water and nutrient-rich supplies instead of candy bars—or so I hope for those brave enough (some may say stupid enough—but they probably said the same of Columbus or his fellow “explorers” once upon a time) to sign up.  Apparently, there have been many to volunteer—upwards of 200k of which 700 or so are still in the running. 

It will be fascinating to see what unexpected brands might sponsor Mars One over time.  However, once arrived on the red planet, there’s no guarantee that the participants will keep the cameras on and the sponsored items in view.  Now there’s a risky proposition. 

Maybe Mars One could look to the example of the Colorado Symphony if they really wanted something unusual.   And, if they want CMB to measure the degree to which that is compatible with their overall strategy and goals—BEAM ME UP!  

Kate is a Project Director, working with clients across many industries at CMB. She has been known to perform in local musical theater here and there, speaks three languages well and a few others passably, and would never sign up for a Mars mission. 

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Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, brand health and positioning

Looking for Innovation? Consider "Brand-Storming"

Posted by Mark Carr

Thu, Feb 06, 2014

Originally posted in the SMEI blog

South Street Strategy and CMBAt some point all business leaders are challenged to “innovate” in order to grow their company’s bottom line.

Done right, innovation creates value for both the company and the customer through new-to –the-world solutions to needs. It’s logical that products and services are where companies start their innovation efforts because, after all, these are very tangible sources of value. However, brand and marketing can also be powerful drivers of value and differentiation and should not be overlooked as potential anchors for innovation.Many innovation initiatives begin with a brainstorming session in which a bunch of internal folks sit around and try to generate new ideas for products or services they think customers want. For a fresh take on this process, consider “brand-storming” as the starting point for inspiration.

What is a “brand-storming” session, exactly? Well, in marketing speak, it’s generating innovative ideas for brand extensions, leveraging brand equity (a very valuable asset) to push into adjacent or even totally new product areas.

Start a successful brand-storm with  a clear articulation of your brand strategy, brand attributes and positioning. Then do creativity exercises that apply key brand attributes to new markets or to new solutions to existing customers.

Need to get the juices flowing? Look for examples in the marketplace:

  • Consumer products are the easiest place to start. For example, consider Arm & Hammer Baking Soda’s extension to toothpaste (“clean” and “white”) or Duracell’s introduction of the PowerMat to recharge phones and other devices (e.g. “long lasting power”).

  • Virgin is probably the poster child for brand-centered innovation, using its well-defined and unique positioning to extend into everything from airlines to cell phones.

All of this is not to say that brand should be the only source of invention. But brand-storming brings a new part of the company to the innovation table and adds another angle for sparking new, powerful ideas for growth. 

In our upcoming webinar we will look at some of the common pitfalls of innovation initiatives and explore how to use “brand” and “brand attributes” as well as innovative go-to-market strategies to unlock growth opportunities in new, unexpected directions. Hope to see you there!

Posted by J. Mark Carr, Mark is co-founder and managing partner of South Street Strategy Group.

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, product development, marketing strategy, webinar, brand health and positioning, growth and innovation

Targeting the Millennial Consumer

Posted by Lindsay Maroney

Tue, Jan 21, 2014

Millennials 620x384The Millennial Generation, which includes those born between 1980 and 1995, is taking the world by storm. Not only are they the future leaders, with many already making an impact (think Mark Zuckerberg), they are also rapidly becoming the focus of many marketing campaigns from companies hungry to have them as customers. This isn’t surprising: they are the largest generation on earth at 1.8 billion and soon to be the richest, with their earnings projected to outpace Baby Boomers by 2018.Companies attempting to gain share of Millennials’ fast growing wallets need to adjust their strategies. The Millennial generation may look like the others, but it is not. This generation has different likes, interests, and shopping habits, along with a deep-seated dependence on social media. As such, companies from a variety of industries are taking differentiated approaches to reaching this group, all of which utilize an aspect of social media. Some examples of these approaches appear below.

Making affluence affordable: In the spring of 2013, Mercedes released their 2014 CLA, with a markedly low price point of $30,000. This release was coupled with a marketing strategy heavily influenced by social media. Though its own microsite, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Mercedes drove its #CLAtakethewheel campaign. It encouraged consumers to create their own shareable content while further promoting it through an Instagram sweepstakes.

Gaining peer approval: Warby Parker, an eyewear manufacturer, not only sends customers 5 trial pairs of glasses, but provides them the opportunity to upload a video of themselves, trying on their frames, to Facebook. Once uploaded, they can get feedback from their friends, and Warby Parker’s team will even share a recommendation for which frames work best for that consumer’s face.

Supporting a cause: With 83% of Millennials saying that they will patronize a company with a charitable component over one without, companies like Target are taking advantage of this social consciousness by supporting a cause. Target, through its collaboration with FEED Projects, created a YouTube campaign, illustrating how purchasing a FEED-branded product will support the fight against hunger.

These campaign examples show that there is no single blueprint for how to successfully target Millennials. But there is one thing that they all have in common, in addition to using social media: they effectively identify and appeal to common characteristics of this age group. Whether it is making luxury cars more affordable, helping Millennials gain approval from their peers, or appealing to their desire to help the less fortunate, these companies hit the mark. After all, a diverse generation needs diversity in how they are reached.

Lindsay is an Associate Consultant at  South Street Strategy Group. South Street South Street Strategy GroupStrategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, millennials, marketing strategy

Customer Experience Time Machine—Back to the 50's

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, Dec 18, 2013

Last year, when Gizmodo released a copy of Apple’s Genius Bar training manual, there was much talk that the company was educating Geniuses to engage in a type of psychological manipulation. Why were so many people distressed by these sales and marketing techniques? Using these techniques to “frame” the customer experience is hardly a new concept. Maybe it was because Apple’s product and service offerings are so strong and so beloved, some people forgot that the Apple Store is just that, a store, where things are bought and sold. 

This led me to wonder about how such training approaches have changed over the years –after all we’re so much more highly evolved nowadays, right? Ha! Enter the 1950 Packard Service Management Training Manual. Obvious cultural tags of the times aside (“That’s a swell idea.”), there’s almost nothing Apple purportedly tells Geniuses to do that Packard didn’t tell its employees 60+ years ago!

Take this line: “Although the merchandise and services we have to offer consists of: parts, accessories, lubrication and service labor, they are not the items the owner is buying. The owner wants to buy results. So, let’s sell him results such as: economy, safety, performance, comfort, convenience, and pride of ownership.”

Translated to a modern day perspective with a swap of only a few words:  “Although the merchandise and services we have to offer consist of: [smartphones, MP3 players], accessories, and service, they are not the items the owner is buying. The owner wants to buy results. So, let’s sell [her] results such as: performance, convenience, and pride of ownership.” This could be Apple, or many other consumer-oriented service companies.

A hilarious 1950-style exchange…

Packard Manual

This brings me full circle to 2013 and Amazon’s Vine reviewer program—a program which provides an elite group of customers products to review, and often to keep.  The program has drawn a bit of attention lately, including a recent NPR piece. Some commenters are ambivalent, and a good number take a strong position that this is manipulative or biased (even if they sometimes sound envious), and a few defend it. In 1950, Packard reps were told to focus on their town doctors, and the logic holds up—doctors needed their cars to make house calls, they were highly respected community members and, guess what, they were the ones with money to buy new Packards! Was this strategic or manipulative? Or did it just feed off of basic human nature, for better or worse?

Speaking of worse, one thing that has changed across the decades is that individual sales and marketers aren’t allowed to take responsibility for, or acknowledge mistakes directly. As a Packard rep in 1950 you were encouraged to take responsibility for errors, omissions, or other flaws by directly addressing them with the customer. Nowadays legal compliance departments appear to have outlawed use of any terms that imply responsibility. 

So what’s a marketer to do? How to be honest while simultaneously “framing” your product/service strategically? Well, it helps to start with a solid offering (yes, I am a fan of Apple). If your product doesn’t meet the basic promises, don’t expect to build success on that with brilliant service—it won’t ring true. Measure the connection of what you promise and what customers perceive so that you can focus on what matters.

We help clients do this every day with customer studies—call them voice of the customer, customer experience, customer satisfaction, even call them customer journey mapping or NPS. Our focus is on providing the insights from customers that will answer business questions like:  What motivates customers to advocate our brand/product and how can we drive more of it? Or, Where are customers getting “stuck” in their “journey” with us and how do we remove barriers to repeat purchase?

But sadly, none of this work is of much use other than for a self-satisfied pat on the back if employees are telling customers to give a high score, instead of just earning it and allowing the process to work to get the real feedback for change. I cringe when staff say things like, “You will be getting a survey and we must get all 10s or I will (fill in the blank: be fired, lose a bonus, etc.).” They are seriously undermining the premise that this research is being done to learn what to improve and make better customer experiences. And even if I loved the service, I will then often not want to complete the survey.

To that end, kudos to Jiffy Lube, for whom I recently took a post-service satisfaction study where they explicitly asked if their rep had told me to give a good score. Probably as a research geek I noticed this in a way that the average person would not. Nevertheless, it was refreshing! It allowed me to give true customer feedback and feel confident the company really wanted to know what I thought, not just check a box, so they could make it better for the next person.  Satisfying as a customer and as a researcher.

Topics: marketing strategy, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

AMP Up Marketing on a Tight Budget

Posted by Rachel Corn

Thu, May 30, 2013

marketingToday most companies are watching their expenditures closely and are challenged with how to effectively get the word out to prospective customers, but on a limited budget. The key to this is focus, across three different dimensions that we call AMP:

  • Audience. It’s tempting to think that “marketing” doesn’t happen until after a product is finished and ready to sell. However, efficient and effective marketing is tailored to specific segments. This requires a company to have a firm focus on what it’s selling and to whom – early on in product development.

  • Message. In today’s media environment, generic messages are worthless. With a specific, well-researched target market in mind, companies can craft tailored marketing messages that speak specifically to that target’s needs and goals.

  • Promotion. There are some core tactics that every marketer has in his or her arsenal of tools: advertising, PR, conferences, social media, among others. Focus on key tactics and related outlets that you know your target market will look to for the needs you’ve identified.

Blanketing the entire marketplace with broad messaging is expensive, and typically ineffectual for anyone other than big brands who have to maintain broad-based awareness. Doing less in a deliberate way can make your money stretch farther and deliver more tangible results in terms of new, worthwhile prospects. Following the above guidelines, in this specific order, can help you focus your marketing activities.

Do you already have a segment you can hone in on to AMP up your marketing?

Rachel Corn is a Director at  South Street Strategy Group, she specializes in finding growth opportunities in new market segments, new products and businesses and innovative business models.

South Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin South Street Strategy GroupBailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, product development, marketing strategy

Diet Pepsi Gives (and Gets) Some Love on Valentine's Day in Boston

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Fri, Feb 15, 2013

By Athena Rodriguez

CMB fun fact: our little street in Boston has enjoyed a few moments on the silver screen, perhaps you've seen the great moment in cinematic history known as Bride Wars, or maybe Surrogates starring Bruce Willis as a cop from the future, filmed in our lobby no less. I know, as if market research wasn't glamorous enough! All this to say we’re kind of used to strange goings on outside 179 South Street, so I wasn’t initially interested in the guy, standing in a pick-up truck outside the office, handing out cans of Diet Pepsi, I’m usually a Diet Coke drinker* anyway. However, as a marketer I have a soft spot for a good campaign and I’m not too proud to turn down a free soda.

Diet Pepsi VdaySo what’s blog-worthy about free soda? Two deceptively simple things stand out. First, there were some very cute details—the Pepsi logos were heart-shaped in honor of Valentine’s Day—pretty adorable. The whole website was done up for Valentine’s Day and there was also a contest to tweet about what you love, it was a perfect and simple tie-in with the brand and a chance to win something. Lesson: promotions don’t need to be too complicated to be really appealing.

Along with the can of soda, they handed out coupons for a free 2 liter bottle, as well as a Boston-specific flyer with little allusions to the Red Sox, Patriot’s Day, Newbury Street, the Charles, and the North End, all stuff that's very appealing to locals (and those of us who’ve been here awhile). Lesson: it's tough to lose when you're appealing to hometown pride. Just make sure it's not written by someone who's only seen your town on Google Maps.

And if all else failed, they really couldn’t go wrong with the life-sized Sofia Vergara cut out available for a photo opportunity.

Diet Pepsi VDAY

*Note, I make an exception for Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi which beats both Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi by a mile.

Athena is a Project Director at CMB, she's only just forgiven Pepsico for pulling Crystal Pepsi off the shelves.

Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, customer experience and loyalty, retail research

My Inbox Overfloweth: Adventures in Unsubscribing

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, Dec 12, 2012

computer handshakeBlack Friday, Cyber Monday, Tech Tuesday… the offers keep rolling in, and this year, I cracked.  Yes, I still love you LL Bean, Lands’ End, Williams Sonoma, and Wal-mart.  But I can’t take your daily barrage anymore; it’s time to purge.Despite my innate skepticism—no matter what you do or say, you can’t get off a mailing list–I forged ahead to try to staunch some of the flow.  I mean, if I am spending even 10 seconds on each of the 100-odd commercial emails I get a day, couldn’t I find a better use of my time, like baking cookies?  Not to mention, I remember reading somewhere about how much energy an email takes to generate, send and store, etc.  So really this was a green effort on my part. 

But I digress.   As I got rolling, I noticed several unsubscribe methods.  And it got me thinking about how they—the marketers, should keep contact with me—the consumer, while not annoying me (yes, me over here with the credit card at the ready!). Because, as I mentioned, I still love those guys for the most part. 

And so here’s how the world of unsubs breaks down in my recent experience:

The Clean Cut and Run: This is the one I wonder about the outcome of most.  While everyone pretty much has to offer the unsubscribe option when they email you, my suspicious side makes me think they are actually validating my email when I click through and unsubscribe.  I am, after all, confirming my existence with a live email address.  Sometimes you hear back that, “yes, you are off the list now,” while at other times it feels like you’re shouting into the void.  The latter situation leaves me with a less than positive feeling.

The Good Bye and Good Luck: This is when they say something like, “Aw shucks!  We’ll miss you.”  And you feel a moment’s regret, but know in your heart of hearts they will be back someday… well maybe.  At least you parted on good terms.

The Really?  Good-bye?: They will let you go, but not without a last ditch effort to ask, “Why?  How could you do this to me?  You’re really are breaking up with me?”  And you might, if not doggedly persistent, find yourself caving and not following through on the unsub.

The But wait, there’s more: Here’s where the real genius starts to kick in (or is it just common sense).  I click the unsubscribe link, get to a page that says something to the effect of:  “OK so how often would you like to get emails from us?  Is once a week too much, how about once every two weeks or once a month? Would you be willing to get a quarterly update?  You don’t want to never get them, right?” And chances are I don’t want to cut them off completely, but I sincerely do want to de-clutter.  So I end up saying, sure, you can keep sending me something once in a great while.  

Then there was one with the option to choose a contact timeframe, and the options were:

Multiple times a day
Once a day
2-3 times a week
Once a week

Umm.  I have to say “never” wins here.  Who is clicking an unsubscribe link only to say, “Yes, please send me emails several times a day?”  Fact is, and this is undoubtedly personality driven, if I am going to shop, chances are I already know what I am looking for and I start from Amazon or the retailer’s page directly, not from an advermail.  They probably have some offer right there on their home page after all.  It’s not as if I truly believe they are only sending me the alert that they have a 10% off + free shipping deal underway… plus there’s always RetailMeNot for a coupon code!

unsubscribe button resized 600But I think my favorite unsub result may be when you get an email confirming you just said you didn’t want any more emails.  Granted, I really DID need to purge that pizza joint from a trip 2 years ago to DC.  I live in Boston and good as it may be, their pizza won’t be delivered all the way up north. 

So at the risk of dismaying some email marketers with my Scrooge-like email purge, just know I feel fresh and invigorated again now in the anticipation of a clean start to the New Year.  Some of you marketers made me feel listened to and heard.  And I am grateful for it.  Maybe even grateful in a way that reminds me to check you out next time I need a new blender, or a pair of fingerless gloves.

Kate is a Project Director, working with clients across many industries at CMB. She has been known to perform in local musical theater here and there, speaks three languages well and a few others passably, and loves coincidence.

Learn more about why people subscribe to emails (or don't) with our Consumer Pulse: 10 Quick Facts about How and Why Consumers "Like" and Subscribe.

Topics: marketing strategy, customer experience and loyalty, retail research

Marketers: Don't Despair!

Posted by Jeff McKenna

Wed, Oct 24, 2012

The recent research study showing that marketers rank lower than politicians on the “respectability scale” might feel like a kick in the gut for most of us in this role. 

From the research: only 13% of consumers agree that marketing benefits society.  It’s no surprise that teachers, scientists and engineers are the top of the list, but marketing even falls below bankers (32%), lawyers (34%), and politicians (18%). One point of solace, marketers are tied with actors and dancers; so, we’re not alone.


If we deconstruct the research, we can find plenty to take issue with.  What research study isn’t immune to that?  For instance, the focus of the research is about online advertising, while the questions about professional respectability come after questions about the effectiveness of different marketing methods.  To what extent has this approach primed respondents in a certain direction?

Additionally, when you look more deeply at the results, you find that people still “respect” the need for marketing within business.  Most, in fact, consider it “strategic” and necessary for sales.

Adobe marketing research

So, the research findings shouldn’t be taken too personally.  As noted earlier, marketers are in the same boat as actors and dancers.  It makes me think of Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy:

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Or, as the great Willy Wonka puts it:


Who but a marketer would ever create lickable wallpaper with snozzberry flavor???

So marketers, don’t give up on your role and profession. And remember that without you, the world would be a place with much less flavor and much less fun.

When Jeff's not busy contributing to society at large, he serves as a senior consultant and methodologist for CMB; making sense of big data, and speaking on topics like mobile and the future of market research.

Topics: consumer insights, marketing strategy