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Reality Check for Traditional Supermarkets as Amazon Acquires Whole Foods

Posted June 23, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 5:23 am

Amazon will bring in it full range of big data crunching technology to engage customers more intensely than ever before

whole food market

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion on June 16, the food retail world woke up to a new reality – the prospect of relentless competition from the eCommerce giant and its desire to dominate the market for years to come. The fact that Amazon backs it up with amazing efficiency and daring strategies, makes it even more of a worry for its competitors. On the other hand, the supermarkets and grocery businesses are the ones that will have to figure out ways to meet the challenge. Amazon will be unloading its heavy artillery armed with big data and the only way to tackle that will be to match the firepower which most supermarkets and grocery businesses don’t have.

If they try to make peace, Amazon is likely to make them an offer they can’t refuse, and tell them ‘it’s my way or the highway.’ Grocery retail is now increasingly coming into the focus of technology as traditional and relatively old-fashioned businesses gradually come under its ambit. These segments haven’t had any innovation for years even though some outlets offer self-checkout but that is few and far between. In most supermarkets, customers still have to stand in long queues and that’s where technology is going to aim at. It boils down to convenience and most importantly, time.

The use of customer data is unknown to these traditional outlets because most of them are not bothered about their customers’ behavior at the point of purchase. They don’t know that customers’ market movements can be tracked and so can their purchase patterns. Amazon is definitely going to bring all of that into play with Whole Foods, which is good for the market. Of course, Whole Foods had literally dug itself into a hole with its ridiculously high prices for the organic foodstuff to sells. Amazon is surely going to make the necessary corrections because it will aim for scale in quick time. Amazon’s won’t entirely go for ecommerce with Whole Foods but will also spice up the in-store experience with technology that will help eliminate queues. Overall, grocery retail is in for a major shakeup.

Filed under: Digital

Consumers like Brands That Share Their Social Beliefs

Posted June 22, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 1:21 am

Edelman study of consumers from across the world reveal that customers are more likely to ignore brands that ignore social causes

Solid-Marble case

The third Earned Brand report from public relations firm, Edelman reveals some interesting data on the kind of relationships that brands ought to forge with consumers. Brands should note that their position on a social or political issue, is likely to impact the purchase decisions of about 57% of their customers. Edelman surveyed 14,000 people across 14 countries to find out about the relationships that brands had with their customers. Mark Renshaw, global chair of brand at Edelman, said, “People really are buying on belief, and brands have a huge potential to gain if you do share your belief and act out on those beliefs. We really think this is an opportunity for brands, and it’s something that all brands should be looking at proactively versus reactively.”

A brand’s stance on a touchy social issue will influence purchase decisions of 67% of the respondents while 50% of the respondents said they would decide to buy products of a brand because of its beliefs. Brands should beware of keeping silent on specific issues that their customers care about because 65% of respondents say if a brand doesn’t talk about a social issue that they feel it should talk about, they wouldn’t buy products of that brand. As much as brands stand to lose by remaining silent on specific issues, they also stand to get rewarded when they choose to be vocal about a specific issue the customer cares about. Nearly half (48%) of the respondents would defend the brand while 23% said they were willing to pay 25% more for the brand’s products; around 51% said they would buy it exclusively and more frequently.

Edelman’s Renshaw clarified that the survey wasn’t meant to push brands into politics. He said, “We don’t believe it’s about politics. In fact, we would say stay away from politics. But the issues that are being discussed in society are things like the environment, equality and immigration. Obviously, sometimes issues have a political aspect, but the issues themselves are what brands should be focused on—not the political sides of those issues.” Referring to the Hieneken ‘Worlds Apart’ campaign, Renshaw explained, “So it’s not just weighing an issue in society right now but actually putting the product as a core part of bringing people together.”

Filed under: Brand Marketing

Has Instagram Stories Caused Snapchat Growth Slowdown by Over 80%?

Posted June 21, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 5:09 am

With 250 million active users daily who get to replay live videos, Instagram Stories is now powering ahead of Snapchat at great speed

Solid-Marble case

Most reports stop short of saying that but a number of analytics by several providers as well as social media talent managers agree that there has been a huge decline in preference for Snapchat ever since Instagram Stories was launched. Snapchat was doing really well in early 2016, but began experiencing a massive drop in growth after the launch of Instagram Stories, a direct competitor which now appears to be running away with the largest part of the market. In fact the drop in Snapchat’s growth is over 80% which is very close to complete stagnation and these stats seem to be hurting Snapchat even as its IPO (Initial Public Offering) hits the market.

Using the technological leverage of parent company, Facebook, Instagram will now allow users to replay live videos on the site, which will not disappear immediately after the livestream. This follows the strategy of Facebook where users are allowed to tune in even after the broadcaster has tuned out. Instagram had first announced Live Stories way back in the beginning of the year and by March, began allowing users to save their own live videos. However, Snapchat is not done and dusted yet and far from that, might want to bypass the negative perception around its inability to scale up as it was doing when it had a monopoly.

Snapchat still has some remarkable analytics to show that this decline in the number of its users is not really the end of the story. In fact, it’s already talking about the deep engagement it enjoys with its users in the stats it shared in its IPO filing which focused on just how much its users liked to open the Snapchat app. The stats mention that the average daily user opens the app around 18 times every day and stays on for up to 30 minutes. Snapchat also informed that 60% of the users create Snaps and use the chat feature every day. This kind of engagement along with vibrant full-screen ads is where all the monetization opportunities lay although Snapchat would have to work harder to convince Wall Street about it.

Filed under: Digital

Big Data Can Become Bad Data When Marketing Analytics Are Inappropriately Used

Posted June 20, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 5:10 am

Integrated analytics and data quality can help marketers tackle the massive challenge of tracking consumers’ purchase journey

Solid-Marble case

Left to itself, big data isn’t of much use to anyone because it’s like an iceberg full of fresh water. These days with so much available on the internet, collecting and aggregating data is easy but that doesn’t mean most people are able to utilize the data and extract the right amount of value from it. The other issue which is gaining in importance with every passing day is ensuring the safety of the data. Marketers are among the biggest and most effective users of big data as they have to keep pace with the changing preferences and priorities of today’s consumers.

The consumers may engage businesses across multiple touchpoints, devices and marketing channels, from digital and social sites to the ecommerce sites where the real transactions take place. A marketer needs to be with the consumer for the most part of this journey if not the entire journey although it’s very difficult to stay connected with consumers who are interacting with multiple businesses across multiple devices and channels at speeds not known before. It’s a massive challenge for the marketer to understand what drives and influences the consumers’ behavior. The marketer must track the cross channel journey to be able to account for the impact of traditional media in a customer’s movements. Was it a TV ad that influenced a customer to visit a particular website or was it a radio jingle?

Leaving the cross channel movement aside, it’s a huge challenge to get an accurate picture of how customers are moving from device to device or app to app. A critical part of understanding the consumers’ purchase journey is to know how they connect mobile app to mobile web environments. With the astronomical number of apps in operation it’s almost impossible to track whether customers clicking on in-app ads, are frequently sent to the browser for the brand’s website. That’s because such transition alters that phone’s external identifier from a device ID to a cookie. Tracking such transitions from app to web and back again, at scale, is one of the biggest challenges that marketers face today.

Filed under: E-commerce

The New Fanta Bottle Looks Like it has Been Squeezed and Twirled

Posted June 19, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 10:11 am

It took Coca Cola, Fanta’s parent company, five years to give shape to the idea and formulate the bottle

Solid-Marble case

Fanta bottles in Britain, Italy, Poland, Finland, Romania, Serbia and Malta have a new look which make the bottles appear as if they have been freshly squeezed. The design element that gives the Fanta bottles this new look is a neatly executed spiral in the lower part of the bottle. At first glance it appears like a simple twirl on the bottle but PET (polyethelene terephthalate) bottle packaging professionals will tell you that it is far from simple. The idea was first bounced by London-based Ad agency, DrinkWorks to Coke UK who liked it and took it up. Little did Coke UK know that this cute and simple-looking design innovation would take over five years to materialize. They didn’t back out and pursued the idea to its logical end, and finally came up with the cute-looking squeezed and twirled shape on the Fanta bottle.

“How people interact with a product is where we start a project. We got young people in a room, gave them fruit, carving kits, plasticine, play-do, pens, paper, told them to just play—make a mess! Observing people do what comes naturally when they’re thinking of a drink and oranges like this was incredibly insightful,” says Leyton Hardwick, creative director at DrinkWorks. The only problem was, the youngsters aren’t expected to know that there is more pressure in a bottle that holds a carbonated beverage than there is in a car tire. Chances of the bottle deforming with certain sections popping out are high if the shape goes even slightly off kilter; that will render the bottle useless. Symmetry in design is critical here.

The kids had done their job; it was upto Coke UK’s packaging innovator, Gregory Bentley and his team to figure out a way to do it. He says, “The process of designing a bottle like this is very, very restrictive. We have multimillion-pound bottling production lines to think about. You’re working within a pre-agreed tube shape—if you pull capacity from one point, you need to add it in to another. You can’t take it out, without adding it in elsewhere. And of course, with a carbonated drink, the bottle has to be symmetrical, or it’ll bend.” Greg and his team deserves all the appreciation for achieving something incredible.

Filed under: Marketing Innovation

TrustX Promises Advertisers a Higher Level of Safety and Transparency

Posted June 16, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 10:31 am

This digital advertising marketplace and programmatic platform is gradually attracting advertisers and media buyers

Solid-Marble case

The major internet platforms Google and Facebook have not been able to offer a lot of things that users of these platforms would have liked. For instance, Google’s video platform, YouTube, hasn’t really been able to provide brand safety while Facebook is still in damage control mode after it made a mess of its measurement methods last year. This is where TrustX, a digital advertising marketplace or programmatic platform, steps in with a promise of total viewability and transparency on what’s being bought and sold, complete with proper reporting and billing. However, TrustX is yet to take off or ride a wave of customer confidence for what it is offering.

Digital Content Next (DCN), the only trade association dedicated to trusted, high-quality digital content brands, created TrustX as a cooperative digital advertising marketplace, designed to address the industry’s trust, transparency and accountability challenges. This unique marketplace will function as a public benefit corporation (B Corp) whose main objective is to create a sustainable environment for trustworthy advertising. Companies that founded TrustX include DCN members like CBS Interactive, Condé Nast, ESPN, Hearst and News Corp among 33 other publishers.

Billions of marketer dollars are lost to unethical publishing practices and digital ad fraud each year. As a result, ad blocking among a growing number of consumers have increased even as lack of transparency in the advertising supply chain along with poor user experience motivated DCN to launch TrustX with the stated goal of winning the trust marketers, consumers and publishers with a high level of transparency. Troy Young, president, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, said there “is huge demand for this type of programmatic experience.” Hearst Digital is one of the five TrustX founders, which also include Conde Nast, CBSi, News Corp and ESPN.

Filed under: Marketing Innovation

Now iPhone Cases Made of Solid-Marble Add a New Dimension to Smartphone Accessories

Posted June 14, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 3:42 am

The iPhone accessories industry is expected to grow to $107 billion in 5 years time and a large part of that comprise phone cases

Solid-Marble case

A search for ‘iPhone case’ in Amazon will produce around 6.5 million results including covers that are simple and functional to those that are amazing and extravagant. There are also those that are somewhat bizarre e.g. cases shaped like perfume bottles or those that are made of fake fur or even made of Swarovski crystals. Then there are cases that can hold prescription pills and those that offer other minor conveniences. Finally, there are cases that are more expensive than the phones themselves such as those that are made exotic material like crocodile hide or ones that feature 24-carat gold trim.

There is one particular material that iPhone case-makers hadn’t tried till now and that is – stone. Maybe it is because of the perception that nobody would want to walk around with a slab of rock in his pocket, making the phone a lot heavier. However, iPhone users have been using covers that are imitations of stone textures mostly made of plastic. That is no longer the case. A San Francisco based iPhone case maker, Mikol, has crossed this frontier and is now selling iPhone cases made from genuine Italian Carrera marble. That’s not all; they’ll even make a phone case from other kinds of rocks, including amethyst, rose quartz and sodalite, although they are more expensive.

Mikey Wu, founder of Mikol, said, “There were a lot of marble prints. Everybody buys prints of marble, (but) I figured, I’d want the real thing instead of plastic.” Over the last couple of years, he noticed a growing number of iPhone cases on the market that imitated stone. Wu is a construction industry entrepreneur and knew how to make the real thing. He had been working on ways to use lasers to cut the marble to its thinnest possible slice and finally managed to get it down to 0.7 millimeters, which was equivalent in thickness to a stick of chewing gum. Presently, Mikol makes around 10,000 such phone cases in a year and sells them for $99 each.

Filed under: Brand Marketing

There’s a Lot to Gain by Leveraging Influencer Marketing Properly

Posted June 13, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 4:55 am

It’s time marketers realized that trust, knowledge and expertise are the main values that drive influencer marketing

Marketing Influencer

The defining elements of influencer marketing are credibility and trust but when this exercise itself suffers its own integrity issues, it’s a wakeup call that needs immediate attention. Mark Zuckerberg had famously described trusted referral as “the holy grail of advertising” while speaking about the scope that Facebook offered, as a social platform. After all, it’s word-of-mouth exchanged by groups of people sharing many similarities and these conversations are based on a certain degree of trust. When a particular product manages to penetrate into this circle and gets recommended by some people here, it gains endorsement which is many times more powerful than paid advertising. In the era of social media, such influencer marketing can be done at scale at a much lower cost than and with amazing results.

Unfortunately, influencer marketing itself, hasn’t been able to resist the more elementary approach of paid advertising, which is threatening to destroy its credentials and turning it into another paid reach vehicle. Getting celebrities and other famous personalities to endorse products on their individual social media handles is a good strategy if done transparently but the problem is, this doesn’t usually happen. Now this isn’t a bad strategy for building awareness but it has its limitations when it comes to determining consideration and intent along with some other key aspects of the purchase funnel. This isn’t how marketers should utilize influencer marketing as it has a lot more potential.

Marketers need to identify their best endorsers on social sites, especially folks who love their products and the value proposition they offer. Such folks are actually the influencers and over a period of time they develop a certain level of expertise in analyzing the value that certain products offer. They don’t speak out of turn and reserve their opinion for those who are really curious about the product they have used for years and appreciate their experience and depth of knowledge about the product. These are the kinds of people who love to share a good experience and are passionate about spreading the good word among people they know.

Filed under: Digital

Marketers Must Focus More on Context of their Communication

Posted June 12, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 3:42 am

They Should Personalize Messages by Learning from Consumers’ Lifestyle, Interests and Purchase Intent

Lifestyle-interest-purchase

In order to optimize personalized marketing efforts, marketers ought to consider use of context; there are three key elements here that they will need when utilizing context for marketing. Marketers know that to engage consumers they must personalize their messages for better impact, but most of the time, they fall short of ideas to design and execute their messages effectively. Identifying data patterns is not the only way to figure out ways to personalize marketing communication; rather, it’s just one of the clues that define how to get a closer look at the customer’s behavior. Therefore, it boils down to putting the context at the center of the stage and begins working on other aspects of the message.

It’s critical for a marketer to balance contextual data on consumer interests, lifestyle and purchase intent to effectively design his marketing message. A successful personalized marketing campaign has to go beyond standard advertising messages and include the key context elements such as consumer interests, lifestyle and purchase intent. When marketers begin their customer engagement campaign one key objective is to know the customer across every screen that he may use and then weigh these elements together to narrow down and personalize the communication.

Mobile being the preferred device today, most consumers have undergone a major change in the way they absorb content. The attention spans today are much shorter since most of the content is consumed on the go and marketers will find that these consumers actually do not have appetite for long running descriptive messaging; rather they like short, precise, informative and actionable content. Therefore it is in the interest of marketers to focus on bite-sized content that will allow them to magnify customer priorities and fire in personalized messages at their customers with mobile-first ads.

With more context on consumer behavior at home and at work, use of the right technology can get marketers amazing results. Today, consumers’ browsing habits at home and at work can be quite different – the same person may be looking up ecommerce sites at home and business and industry news at work. Marketers can precisely target their audience with personalized and accurate messaging when they make use of such critical data.

Filed under: Marketing Innovation

Can Native Advertising Overcome the User Experience Challenges it Faces?

Posted June 9, 2017 by Marina Ku @ 1:03 am

The pace of change in mobile technology platforms and applications as well as compliance with standards is critical

Digital Marketing Stats

Today, many brands are embracing native ads in their regular ad strategy even though it initially faced resistance and criticism in the market. But native advertising has arrived and is not just here to stay but is showing great promise as it is estimated to grow 156 percent in the next three years driven mainly by a shift in consumer behavior. A study of user experiences in native advertising showed 86 percent of respondents in favor of the trend but today it also presents a set of challenges for brands that desire to use it more often. It is the diversification of platforms in the mobile environment itself with a wide array of apps, videos and social media that has changed native advertising like never before.

The way technology is evolving in the mobile environment also offers opportunities a lot more dynamism in native advertising. The Better Business Bureau had come up with new policies for native advertising in October 2016 which has effectively raised the bar for native advertisements to keep customers more meaningfully engaged. The native ad field has seen a lot of creative innovation as of late. As far as social media applications are concerned, customer experiences have become seamless and more rewarding with brands spicing up their offers with a lot of creativity.

One area where native advertising is up against some serious challenges is transparency when it comes to engaging users. Even though the Internet Architecture Board(IAB) has come up with a playbook to address this issue, many publishers haven’t been delineating ads from other content with the desired level of clarity and consistency. The IAB is now developing an industry standard to tackle this issue but can’t afford to let advertisers overlook the need to make sure that customers are able to distinguish the native ads from regular content. It needs to be appreciated that native advertising does offer great opportunities for advertisers to win over new customers, unless it does so by enriching user experience it won’t have the necessary space to grow to its full potential.

Filed under: Digital
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