Category: Marketing

Marketing to Mr Mom

Brands Need To Recognize Not All Dads Are Dolts

There’s an important demographic that many marketers seem to overlook or approach irrationally.

I am talking about the working fathers now heavily involved in the raising of their children. This demographic includes both the work-from-home Mr Moms as well as workplace fathers sharing responsibility for child rearing.

A recent article in Strategy + Business, Making Room for Mr. Mom, caught my attention last week. The article is focused on how companies need to react to this societal shift from an employee policy and organizational culture perspective. However, I suggest marketers read the article and contemplate the implications of this societal shift on their marketing programs and initiatives.

The first place I suggest to start is for organizations to stop portraying all fathers as idiots in their product advertising.

Fathers take just as much pride in their multi-tasking, work and family life balancing acts, and juggling of professional and family schedules as their female partners. Brand managers would fare greatly by appealing to these feelings of pride and accomplishment, rather than showing dads as dolts.

As the article in Strategy + Business points out, “it is time to transcend the traditional stereotype” of fatherhood. This needs to take place both in the workplace and in our branding campaigns.

Do you agree?

Super Bowl Commercials: a sport all its own

Watching the annual Super Bowl commercials has become quite the spectator sport.

Of course, not so long ago you had to actually watch the game in order to see the commercials. Now, of couse, all of the commercials are readily available the day after on various websites.

For those of you who missed the commercials, and for those of us living outside the US and not able to view these, here are two websites feauring all of the spots:

Advertising Age


I haven’t had the chance to view all of these yet, but I writer I admire, Thom Forbes in his MediaPost blog, was less impressed with this year’s collection. From the ones I’ve viewed thus far, I must admit I agree with his comments that “it was all much ado about mediocrity.”

Do you agree?

Customers Keen To Know More About Companies Behind Brands

Consumers want to know the companies behind the brands.

The recently released Weber Shandwick research study, The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust, shows conclusively that consumers around the globe are making product and brand purchase decisions based on company reputations.

Additionally, the survey shows that customers use several methods to find out who manufactures and sells the products and brands being considered, including reading labels and conducting their own research.

This study shows that:

·         67% of consumers increasingly check product labels to see what company is behind the product they are buying

·         70% will avoid buying a product if they do not like the company behind the product

·         56% hesitate to buy products if they cannot tell who makes them

·         61% get annoyed when they cannot tell what company is behind a particular product or brand

·         56% conduct their own research to learn more about the companies that make what they intend to buy

Consumers are keen to know what a company is doing to (or for) the environment, where products are being manufactured, and how the employees are being treated. A good example of this last point is the storm that has erupted in the past week about how the employees at a manufacturing facility making Apple products are treated. In just a few short days, over 110,000 people have signed an open petition asking Apple to intervene with their supplier as there are no labor laws in China to protect these staff.

In addition, there are now calls to boycott Apple products and a New York Times article last week was headlined “In China, human costs are built into an iPad.”

Another source of information for consumers is the BrandKarma website, where anyone can rate a brand or company on the quality of their products, how well they treat people, and how well they look after the planet. Apple, which scores high for Product Karma, has a cumulative below average score for both People Karma and Planet Karma.

The Weber Shandwick survey report states, “As consumers around the world have greater online access to a brand’s lineage, the influence of the brand parent, or company behind the brand, matters even more.”

The bottom line, as we wrote in the Monday Morning Marketing Memo this week, is that corporate reputations and corporate image actually matter more than ever and they have a major impact on the sales performance of brands and products. To think (or act) otherwise is simply foolish.

6 New Realities of Corporate Reputations

Corporate Image Management matters more now than ever.

Corporate reputations impact brand and product sales performance. That’s one of the key findings from a recent global study by Weber Shandwick called The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust.

As the survey report states, “As consumers around the world have greater online access to a brand’s lineage, the influence of the brand parent, or company behind the brand, matters even more.”

The study identified Six New Realities of Corporate Reputation, which the PR firm says serves as reminders that business leaders cannot view their company’s reputation and their product brands as separately as they once did. These six “new realities” are:

1.       The corporate brand is as important as the product brand(s).

2.       Corporate reputation provides product quality assurance.

3.       Any disconnect between corporate and product reputation triggers sharp consumer reaction.

4.       Products drive customer discussions, with reputation close behind.

5.       Consumers shape corporate reputations instantly.

6.       Corporate reputation contributes to company market value.

In actuality, none of these are truly “new” realities, other than perhaps the ability of consumers to now shape corporate reputations instantly via social media.

All were highlighted, in one way or another, in my book Corporate Image Management: A Marketing Discipline which was published in 1998.

However, today’s more conversant and knowledgeable consumer is more aware of the companies behind branded products and services. They are also more informed and responsive to the actions of these companies.

The study showed that 67% of consumers report that they increasingly check product labels to see what company is behind the product they are buying, and a full 56% will hesitate to buy a product if they cannot tell who makes it.

Plus, as we highlighted in this week’s Monday Morning Marketing Memo, a walloping  70% of the consumers surveyed in this study reported that they avoid buying a product if they do not like the company behind the product.

This survey confirms that what I wrote 14 years ago in Corporate Image Management still rings true today: the ultimate battleground for winning and maintaining customer relationships takes place in the minds, hearts, emotions, and perceptions of customers.

Which is why corporate reputations matter more than ever.

Netflix Back Flips on Qwikster

Time to recover lost brand equity.

In another stunning move, Netflix announced today that it was abandoning its move to split websites for its DVD movie rentals and streaming businesses, and dropping the Qwikster name.

As we wrote less than a month ago, previous moves by the company’s management was effectively destroying its brand equity.

While the question of what the Netflix brand stands for still remains, this move today will undoubtedly put the Netflix brand back on firmer ground. Whether they regain the hundreds of thousands of lost customers is another question.

I guess every generation needs to have its “New Coke” moment. Hastings and his senior crew at Netflix have brought us ours, even surpassing the miscues made last year by the Gap logo saga.

What are your thoughts? Is the Netflix brand back on the road to salvation?

Netflix: Destroying Brand Equity

File this under the “what were they thinking?” category.

Netflix announced that it is splitting its DVD rental and streaming video businesses in an attempt to overcome the massive negative publicity and rapidly escalating customer attrition since it raised prices for both services in July.

Okay, that makes sense.

But here’s the killer.

In an attempt to “win back the trust of its customers,” the company is rebranding its DVD rental service to Qwikster.

Let’s see if I understand this correctly. Some 25 million customers signed up for Netflix as a convenient and preferred way to rent DVDs. And, until a couple of months ago, these customers seemed to trust Netflix.

So now, to win back the trust of the remaining customers (it has reportedly lost over 600,000 monthly subscribers since the July price hike), the CEO has decided to change the name of its DVD rental business and use the Netflix brand for its streaming services.

What could they possibly be thinking? Why not leverage the equity of the Netflix brand and call the streaming service Netflix On Demand, Netflix Streaming, Netflix Video, or even the Netflix Channel? Or anything else that created a brand extension and told customers “Netflix is a brand you can continue to trust.”

And if company management thinks the Netflix brand is not good enough to trust for those remaining 24 million customers who will now forcibly be shifted to Qwikster, what makes anyone think it is a brand that can be trusted for video streaming services?

Apparently even the Netflix DVD business will move to a new website. How confusing will that be to its customers?

I wonder how popular the search phrase “Netflix alternatives” is becoming?

In the past two months, the company has ineptly implemented a much maligned price hike to its existing customers (so much for customer loyalty), split its services into two, and dropped the Netflix branding from its most popular service.

So what does the Netflix brand stand for now? Who knows.

No wonder Netflix has lost roughly 50% of its market value since this series of blunders began in July.

If I were on the Board of Netflix I would be asking for the immediate resignation of CEO Reed Hastings on the grounds of destroying the brand equity of Netflix.

Amazon, Apple Top Loyalty Leaders List

Consumers Reward Brands with Emotional and Social Connections.

Amazon knocked the Apple iPhone off the top perch in the 15th annual Loyalty Leaders list from Brand Keys, while Facebook came from nowhere to the number three position.

Apple need not be overly concerned, however, as Apple also ranked fifth in customer loyalty for its computer products. Amazon may also have benefitted from the free fall of Borders, which dropped to dead last in 528th position.

The Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index assesses 528 brands across 79 categories, using both telephone and face-to-face interviews with consumers.

While Brand Keys claims that its “proprietary customer-listening system” is predictive, highly accurate and close to 100% test-retest reliability, the firm does not share any details about the methodology behind this study. They also claim that the Brand Keys Loyalty Model is a leading indicator of brand and corporate profitability, though that is hard to swallow when BP shows up six places from the bottom in 523rd place. While the BP brand certainly deserves to wallow at the bottom of this list, I cannot see BP’s future profitability falling to the same level as Borders , Friendster, Bank of America and others in the bottom ten.

I would agree with the assessment by Brand Keys that “brand loyalty has always been driven by emotion” and that “consumers are looking to emotionally connect with brands that stand for something and delight them.”

The Top 100 Customer Loyalty Leaders is a mixed bag of technology, retail, social media, alcoholic beverages, and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands. Interestingly, only 13 of the top 100 (though five of the top 10) would be on my personal list of brands that would receive my loyalty. How about you?

Trust Key Factor in Why Consumers Switch Providers

Trust is emerging as a critical influencer of consumer behavior.

Only one in four consumers reportedly trust the companies with which they do business, according to the latest Accenture Global Consumer Research study.

And, over the past year, loss of trust has increased as one of the key reasons behind consumers deciding to change providers in the consumer electronics, retail and tourism industries.

According to the authors of the report, “trust is emerging as a critical influencer of consumer behavior.” In eight of the 10 industries surveyed,  13% to 17% of the respondents mentioned trust as one of the reasons for switching service providers.

The five least trusted industries, in which at least 20% of consumers “do not trust at all,” were  (in order): gas & electric utilities, cable and satellite companies, landline phone companies, wireless phone companies, and life insurance providers.

Not a single industry is trusted “very well” by more than one-third of its customers, and none of the 10 industries surveyed had higher “trust very well” scores  than a year earlier.

The sixth annual Accenture Global Consumer Survey was conducted in 17 countries, with over 5,800 respondents being asked about their attitudes and behavior towards 10 key industries. For more details on these survey results, see the Keeping Good Customers Blog.

Other surveys reflect similar trends in the trust gap between consumers and business. We wrote a three-part series on these declines about a year ago in the Monday Morning Marketing Memo (send me a note if you would like me to send these three articles to you.)

The declining levels of trust across the globe in businesses and governments dictates that organizational leaders need to focus on regenerating trust with key stakeholders and constituencies. 

This is more than just a marketing problem; it needs to rapidly become a Boardroom concern before it becomes a Boardroom problem of epic proportion.

On the other hand, building trust with consumers and your customer base is definitely a strategic marketing opportunity, since so few consumers find their service providers trustworthy.

What are your thoughts on how businesses can re-build trust with consumers?

Advertising and PR 10th Most Negatively Viewed Industries

Continued decline in how Americans view advertising and PR industries.

The Advertising and PR industries in America have an image problem.

Each August Gallup asks Americans to indicate whether they have positive or negative views of various business and industry sectors. The 2011 Gallup survey was conducted in mid August and the advertising and public relations industries ranked 10th from the bottom with a net negative rating of -5.

37% of the respondents rated advertising and public relations negatively, compared to 32% who view these industries positively (the remaining 29% were neutral).

The computer industry was by far the most positively rated industry, with a net positive score of +62, while the federal government hit an all-time low, coming in last place with a net negative rating of -46.

The nine industries viewed less favorably than advertising and PR were:

Pharmaceutical industry                   -7

Airline industry                                 -10

Education                                           -12

The legal field                                    -16

Banking                                               -17

Healthcare industry                          -28         

Real estate industry                          -29

Oil and gas industry                         -44

The federal government                    -46

The industries scoring higher than advertising and PR were sports, movie, telephone, automobile, publishing, accounting, travel, retail, grocery, farming and agriculture, Internet, restaurant, and computer.

Gallup has been conducting this survey annually since 2001, during which the positive rankings for the advertising and public relations industries have dropped from 38% to 32%. This is the tenth highest drop of the 25 industries surveyed annually.

Do you agree with these results? Where would you put advertising and PR? Add your thoughts below.

Steve Jobs: Marketing Genius

Why Apple’s Steve Jobs is a World-Class Marketing Genius

Like many consumers I have long been enamored with the product designs, enhanced functionalities and overall quality of the Apple products brought to us by Steve Jobs.

As a marketing professional, though, I have also been enthralled by the power, story lines and production values of the TV commercials produced by Apple under the eagle eye and branding brain of Jobs. And yet this is only part of the story behind the marketing genius of Jobs.

Apple is often seen as a company built through product design. But it is more, much more.

Led by the instinctive and intuitive insights of Jobs, Apple has had a foundational focus on the customer experience, long before “customer experience marketing” entered our industry jargon.

The customer experience was often the focus of Apple’s advertising campaigns. And it has certainly been the key element in how the Apple retail stores have been designed, from free availability of products test and trial to the clever concept of the Genius Bars. It is little wonder that Apple’s retail stores have a higher sales-per-square-foot level than any other retail chain in the USA, including high-end retailers like Tiffany’s, Gucci and Coach.

How was Apple able to produce a steady flow of brilliant advertising over the years? Two key factors:

a) Jobs was heavily involved in the creative process at all times

b) Jobs used only one agency (Chiat/Day, which eventually merged into TBWA)

Together they produced a litany of powerful, emotive, brand building advertising campaigns, including:

  • 1984
  • Mac vs. PC
  • Meet iPad
  • Silhouettes
  • Think Different
  • Meet Her
  • Stacks
  • Quotes

Which of these were your favorites? Any to add? I will be adding the ones I like best to my favorites at our Howard Marketing YouTube channel.

Designers call Steve Jobs an inspiration to their craft. Computer geeks claim Jobs as their own guru. And those of us in the marketing profession know that, above everything else, Jobs is a marketing genius.

We can only hope that Jobs will do for marketing in the Boardroom what he has done for marketing as CEO.

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