Insights in Marketing's tradition of annually sharing deep-rooted insights with our valued clients continues in this blog. The 2013 meta-insights in this blog focus on changing consumer behavior and perceptions.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series; to read Part 1, It's a New Brand World: Increased Consumer Demands Require Increased Marketer Response, click here.
Change with the Consumer or Perish
Several of the insights we developed in 2013 (insights #5 - #8) have to do with the changing perspectives of consumers. While some are not strictly new, we saw the influence of these perceptions growing in 2013. They are all important insights for marketers to keep top-of-mind.
5. Beware of Bullying: Increased Consumer & Marketer Sensitivities
What might have come off as sarcasm, or even harmless banter, just a few years ago is now viewed as mean-spirited at best and bullying at worst. In either case, consumers feel bullying is 100% off limits in marketing communications. Moms are especially sensitive to this, both in the way Moms talk to each other in advertisements and especially in how adults communicate to kids. (Ironically, there seems to be a point of tension when marketers are talking about competitive products. In qualitative, consumers claim to not like the "finger pointing" and "direct comparison to the competition." However, in quantitative testing, branded side by side comparisons naming a specific competitor are usually seen as stronger reasons-to-believe for consumers.)
Implications/Actions: Marketers must have a greater emphasis on and sensitivity to respect for all individuals. If you're not sure your communications show respect for all individuals, you probably should rethink them. Qualitative marketing research is especially good for getting to this underlying sensitivity.
6. Products & Services Need to Help Us Be the Best Version of Ourselves
Your customers aren't trying to be difficult or demanding, but they want you to respect that they are trying hard to accomplish what they need to get done in their life. And when they don't understand what they are supposed to do (with your product/service, communications, whatever), they feel bad. They want to use your product, because it seems like it might help them. But if they can't figure out how to make it work in their real-life situation, it becomes a problem. This is especially true for Moms, as their success or failure is readily evidenced in their children's behavior. Consumers want you to help them do better, and to make it easier for them.Swiffer has recently launched a few television advertisements showing how their products fit into consumers' lives, especially those that have difficulty cleaning (e.g., the elderly) or those who want to spend less time cleaning (e.g., Gen Xers). By demonstrating their products with humor and personality, Swiffer clearly communicates its brand benefits.
Implications/Actions: Give your customers a break. Build a deep understanding of their personalities, values and behaviors so you can accurately and effectively communicate how your product/service benefits them. They will thank you for it with their loyalty.
7. Millennial-Driven Habit Shifts Could Impact Long-Term Food Perspectives
Millennial Moms are not like Boomer or Gen X Moms. Millennial Moms tend to be less permissive than previous Moms in general, and believe their role is to teach lifelong healthy habits to their children. Especially with regards to nutrition, Millennial Moms have grown up hearing about childhood obesity and concerns about the safety of our food supply. They want to teach their kids about making informed healthy choices, about how food gets to the dinner table, from how it is grown and processed, to how to cook it. And this is not the "new-age, crunchy-granola, anything organic is good" type of food consumerism; rather Millennial Moms do their research and get the facts before choosing what foods to eat and serve their children.
Implications/Actions: Food manufacturers must take a lesson from the High Fructose Corn Syrup situation: consumers will not tolerate your being slow to respond to their concerns, regardless of the impact it might have on your bottom line. And this new activism about food choices on the part of Millennial Moms may have a long-term impact on consumer choice, as kids raised without reliance on mass produced, processed foods may develop a different palate as adults. This is definitely something all food manufacturers should be considering for the future.
8. Growing Number of Small Households Are Creating Big Opportunities
The single or dual person household is a huge, growing - and most importantly, underserved - market. More than half of U.S. households are one or two people, even more if you are looking at adults over the age of 40. They are an attractive market: time-pressed, higher per capita income, interested in health and fitness, and improving their well-being (especially as they age.) Manufacturers have provided lots of products geared to families and kids, but have not really addressed the needs of this group, especially in terms of meal preparation.
Implications/Action: Food retailer Wegman's has developed extensive products that save time for small households that want to cook delicious, healthy meals with their Eat Well, Live Well brand. Food manufacturers in particular should take a hard look at this attractive market segment for new product concepts.
The message of these insights is that the consumer is changing. By listening to the environment surrounding your consumer, marketers can stay ahead of the curve and react to these and other emerging insights.
Watch for Part 3 of this 3-part Blog post… coming soon.
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