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IIM's Top 13 Insights from 2013 (Part 1 of 3)

2014 Finish LineAs a marketer, you might not always have the time or perspective to look back on all of the marketing research you have done to discover the important meta-insights for your organization. However, looking across products, consumers, and industries and identifying deep-rooted insights that apply to your whole business can yield very impactful results.

So Insights in Marketing is continuing our New Year tradition of leveraging our unique cross-category/industry and consumer perspective to report on the deep-rooted insights that we have seen over the past year. So let us make it easy for our "inner circle" of trusted clients by sharing our insights with you.

It's a New Brand World:  Increased Consumer Demands Require Increased Marketer Response

The proliferation of social media and the increased prevalence of mobile devices continued throughout 2013, resulting in four of 2013's insights that challenge traditional brand marketing.

1.  Loyal Customers Want Joint Ownership of Their Brands

Through social media, consumers have influential voice on all aspect of "their" brands, and many brands are responding by using Facebook and other social media in highly creative ways to engage the consumer and put them in the driver's seat (such as Frito Lay asking customers to "do Us a Flavor" and pick the next new chip flavor). Dorito's wildly successful campaign to source its Super Bowl advertising is also a great example of this co-creation of brands. First aspiring filmmaker fans produce commercials, then fans vote online for which ads will actually run on game day (and the lucky filmmaker wins one million dollars!). Bringing consumers into the brand management process can yield great rewards.

Implication/Action : Find creative ways to involve customers in your brand marketing and product development. Create customer communities to provide ideas and motivation for innovation. Look at successful campaigns by other (non-competing) marketers for ideas.

2.  How Fast is Fast? Shrinking Timeframes for Brand Responsiveness

For consumers, any information you need is mere keystrokes away. Anyone you need to reach is only a text message away. Similarly, social media creates an immediate brand-consumer pathway. So when consumers contact the brand, they expect an immediate (or at least very fast) response. When brands don't respond as quickly as consumers think is appropriate, they notice and comment, again, in social media.  We all know the story of United Airlines breaking Dave Carroll's guitar - but the situation went viral because it took so long for United to listen to social media and respond to the situation. And don't expect consumers to take into account that you might not be working on weekends, nights, or holidays!

Implication/Action: Up your listening skills to monitor all social media channels where you - or your competitors - might be mentioned. It's not just your Facebook page; throw a broad net and remember… you're in a 24/7 world.

3.  Active Listening & Better, Deeper Consumer Understanding is a Growing Necessity

There is an increasing expectation that brands know their customers - and that they know them very well. Through social media, consumers are letting brands get closer than ever before. They share their interests, wants, needs, and in exchange, they expect the brand to learn about them, to understand them and to react accordingly -in social media and in the marketplace. In fact, they are OFFENDED when brands demonstrate that they haven't been listening, or that they don't know what matters most to their customers.

Implication/Action: Use research-based approaches to evaluate brand marketing activities. Also, make sure your approach starts and ends with better understanding your consumer. Focus on understanding your consumer's values, personality and habits (things that are less likely to change over time) and go beyond demographics and psychographics to get a clearer consumer picture. You can't be sure that your perceptions match your customers unless you go deeper to avoid miss-steps.

4.  Narrowing Margins of Success for the Distracted Consumer

Social media and smartphones are completely changing social norms. On the one hand, having consumers tethered to their phones creates the very opportunity for creating influential, immediate brand relationships. However, brands also face a growing challenge to catch the attention of the information-soaked consumer, who is constantly bombarded with calls, tweets, posts and messages. And if you do reach them, how do you get them to pay attention long enough to absorb your message? Brands will have to experiment and stretch their creativity to get consumer attention.

Implication/Action: In order for your brand to stand out in this crowded market, you have to be creative, innovative, and above all, exactly on target with your desired audience. K-Mart's Christmas ad featuring a bell choir of men wearing holiday-themed Joe Boxers was edgey enough to break through the clutter and go viral, giving consumers a new perspective on the retailer. The startling physics of the Volvo truck ad featuring Jean Claude Van Damme's split between two moving trucks cut through the clutter and got people talking.  In addition to enjoying a period of viral re-posting, the Volvo ad was also the source of several parodies - perhaps the greatest honor in today's social media/mobile marketing world.

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These insights mean great challenges are ahead for brands - and the managers who tend them. Consumers are becoming more demanding, and less tolerant to miss-steps.  We expect these insights to continue into 2014 and beyond.

Watch for Part 2 of this 3-part Blog post…coming soon.

 

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