Posts Tagged marketing

The Value of Kindness

In these turbulent and uncertain times, a little kindness goes a long way to creating brand value.

For disenchanted and disenfranchised millennials, and those who share millennial values, an act of kindness has never been more gratefully received. If brands want to create empathy and connection they would do well by looking at how they can show random acts of kindness to lift the mood right now.

Campden Desk Beer dropped at We Work the day after Brexit.

Campden Desk Beer dropped at We Work the day after Brexit.

This is especially true for brands in categories where ‘mood enhancement’ and ‘affiliation’ are motivations they want to own, so when Camden Town Breweries desk dropped beer samples at We Work Southbank, the Friday after a Brexit which had left We Workers shocked into silence, feeling awkward, confused and embarrassed; there were smiles all round.

But it can be bigger than that. When there is an apparent lack of viable trusted leadership and honesty in politics, to be a leader yourself, who shows compassion, is transparent and essentially acts in a way to build a better feeling world, you can also create a way to differentiate and create life-long loyal fans. Boutique brands in artisan food and drink categories such as Camden Town Breweries and Vinomofo have successfully driven this trend until now. One brand KIND, actually stand for acts of kindness. Their manifesto states ‘Our aim is to make the world a little kinder, one snack and act at a time. One simple belief underpins it all: There’s more to business than just profit’. Now doesn’t that make you want to purchase a second delicious snack?

It is worth highlighting that the sharing economy we live in today values genuine acts, and a focus on others – rather than introspective analysis of internal balance sheets. Brands that get this will win and establish a strong platform to nurture in the long term.

Perhaps goodness or kindness should be a tracked value. Brands that display a genuine interest in being better global citizens, in relation to becoming more financially valuable could benefit from a virtuous circle of ‘betterment’. As we explored in our previous article Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, creating consumer habits drives higher customer lifetime value, allows for flexibility for companies to increase prices, and supercharges growth. If we can make a simple gesture of thought and kindness a habit, we will generate goodwill with customers and create value.

In the meantime, We Work enjoyed the Camden Town Breweries beer drop, and no doubt the brand will stay front of mind next time there is cause to visit the bottle shop.

How to make your idea stick

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With every company trying to be its own content machine after the rise of the internet and social media, we are inundated with more information than before.

So how can your message stand out from all the white noise?

The Heath brothers wrote Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive While Others Die, a popular book amongst marketers, entrepreneurs, and managers, which explores the concept of “stickiness” – first coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point.

The Heath brothers distilled their learnings into 6 principles, creating the acronym SUCCESs (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories).

Here is a recap of the 6 traits that will make your ideas and messages “stickier”:

Simple:
What’s the core message? Can you communicate it with an analogy? A lot of brands want to be one thing, ten things, and everything. Services tell their clients that they are the fastest, the most efficient, the healthiest, the most personalized.  The authors encourage brands to remove excess and really prioritize.

An an example, the authors tell us Southwest’s core message is to be “THE low-cost airline”.  When proposed with the idea to offer dinner to their customers, the CEO decided against it because the main concern was not passenger comfort, but being low-cost. If it didn’t meet that core goal, it was not a priority. Southwest is still today the world’s largest low-cost carrier.

Unexpected:
How can you violate a schema? How can you surprise your audience? Brands need to grab people’s attention so that, like a well-written mystery novel, they will hold on tight, eager to stick with you to the very end.

As an example, the authors describe a commercial where the audience sees a happy family getting into a minivan and cruising through the suburban streets. Then out of nowhere- CRASH! The advertisement to “buckle up” was effective because it violated our schema of real-life neighborhood trips.

Concrete:
Use vivid imagery.  Paint a mental picture. Much research shows that concrete words (like “V-8 engine”) are more memorable than abstract ones (like “high-powered”).

As an example, in the old Aesop’s fable of the fox and the grapes, the fox declares the grapes he was unable to reach are probably sour. Instead of the phrase and lesson “don’t be bitter when you fail”, the term “sour grapes” appears in every language. It’s concrete imagery has remarkable staying power.

Credible:
How do you make your idea believable? You can do this easily by bringing in a true authority. But if you can’t, there are 5 other ways to create credibility:

1) anti-authority (use living proof to show that your product works)

2) concrete details (extensive details=internal credibility)

3) statistics (using data to prove your point)

4) the Sinatra Test (look for one proof that will convince all customers you’re great; named after Sinatra’s famous song New York, New York, where he sings “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere”; also known as social proof)

5) testable credentials (allow customers to test your product/idea for themselves)

Emotional:
Sticky ideas appeal to our subconscious wishes, desires, and hopes, and inspire people to act.  You need have people take off their analytical hats and show how your ideas are associated with things they really care about.

For example, instead of emphasizing your features (“we have the best seed”), tell people that you’ll give them what they truly desire (“we’ll give you the best lawn”). Empathizing with your target consumer will help you to be in more tune with what will emotionally resonate with them.

Stories:
Why bother telling an entire fable or myth if we can just say the bottom-line moral of the story? Why is “Beware of being bitter when you fail” not as effective as telling the entire fable of the fox and the grapes?

Stories can not only include all the earlier stickiness principles (concrete imagery, emotional resonance, unexpectedness) but they can also create a mental simulation that allows the listener to really internalize the ideas in their mind. If you hear a story, you can more readily retell it to others, as if you experienced it yourself.  It’s the same reason why flight simulators are more effective than flashcards when training pilots.

SUCCESsSimple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Stories are the 6 key principles to make an idea really stick with your audience. It is a fantastic book whose examples and lessons can be applied to almost anything in life, no matter what career or industry you are in.

How have you seen these principles work in your own brand communications and product development work?

Ballet’s Revitalization

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I’ve always been a dancer at heart. As a young dancer, watching a live ballet performance or attending ballet classes were the only ways that I could connect with the world.

When YouTube popped into the scene, the world of ballet became more accessible, and now anyone could experience and engage with the world of ballet from afar, without ever having to step into the theater. Aspiring dancers now have access to footage from real professional ballet classes, foreign documentaries on the lives of ballerinas around the world, and even clips from famous performances.

But ballet is an art, and there’s a great concern in the ballet world that younger generations with short attention spans and a desire for fast paced action-filled adventures are losing interest in the world of classical dance.  And in a lot of ways this is true. Rather than denying this, ballets are expanding efforts to tap into new audiences and to innovate quickly.

Marketers and innovators in any industry can take notes from ballet’s recent efforts to reinvigorate the 400 year old art form.  Here are three points that marketers and innovators can remember when engaging younger generations:

  1. Understand their behavior and create offerings tailored to their needs. SF Ballet recently launched The List – a place for fans ages 21-39 to subscribe to in order to receive updates on last minute tickets to the ballet. New York City Ballet offers tickets for $29 for those under 29. With a generation who makes plans last minute and loves free subscriptions and deals, this is spot on.
  1. Borrow the audience of adjacent categories and leverage trends. One of the best examples of this is Sensorium, an event held by SF Ballet that doesn’t even have ballet in the title. It was marketed as an evening of “sensory overload”, with cocktails, dance, art, and music, and of course, an after party. This event is a perfect example of tapping into trends of memorable experiences that can be shared in real time as bite-sized content.
  1. Create partnerships that promote transparency. Ballerina Project is a beautiful example of this. What started as one photographer’s dream of photographing ballerinas dancing offstage, has grown into a multimedia project that not only showcases the talents and raw emotions of real dancers, but partners with fashion brands to advertise. My personal favorite is the partnership with AG jeans that creatively displays the comfort and flexibility of their denim (this post of a ballerina soaring through the air in AG jeans received over 30k Instagram likes). Ballerina Project has opened up the conversation around dance, fashion, and added a level of transparency to the world of dance.

 

The world of ballet is thriving more than ever before, and quickly growing its audience, and I hope this is just the start of where ballet will venture. It’s clear that through talking with users and engaging with them directly, marketing teams have created buzz and conversation, without losing the authenticity and power of classical ballet, but rather giving new generations space to influence and engage with the future of the ballet.

Image credit: Ballerina Project

antedote is an award-winning strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumer and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s new platform, Idea Accelerator, that allows you to explore and iterate concepts, packaging designs and communications with consumers globally and in real time, please click below: 

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3 Things Innovators Should Consider About Personalization

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Personalization has been and continues to be a hot topic with marketing – NYC Media Lab just hosted Personalizationpalooza – and the consumer definition and expectations around it continue to change as technology and tools continue to advance. Mass personalization, whether it’s creating your own Nike IDs or crowd-sourced innovation like Lay’s Do Us a Flavor or more recently at SXSW, 3D printing Oreo cookie flavors based on what’s trending on Twitter, has become the norm for consumers. All of this is starting to not only change consumer expectations, but also disrupt the new product development (NPD) process.

What are some aspects of personalization that we need to consider when it comes to innovation?

1) It’s not about choice, but rather relevance

Consumers aren’t necessarily looking for a breadth of choice when it comes to products and services – they’re seeking out the offerings that feel as if they were created specifically for their life and that align with their values. So when it comes to innovation, it’s important to focus efforts on creating products that can facilitate an emotional connection by demonstrating to the consumer that “we get you”. One of the easiest ways of establishing that connection is through consumer research that is designed to really unearth explicit and implicit motivations to get to the unrealized and unmet needs of the consumer.

2) Speed to market is more important than ever

As technology product cycles continue to set the point of reference for consumers when it comes to innovation and new products, the expectations around how quickly and frequently new product launches occur has fundamentally changed. When it comes to NPD, getting creative and leveraging nontraditional tools like 3D printers can lower associated capital investment and facilitate micro-scale experiments that not only gather consumer data and insights, but also can generate buzz for the brand.

3) Deconstructing the pieces to give consumers the tools

With the influence of the Maker Movement, more consumers are embracing a return to “making” products themselves, whether it’s buying the raw ingredients to create their own cleaning solutions or implementing hacks to personalize Ikea furniture. There’s an opportunity for companies to embrace this trend and provide consumers all of the pieces and tools that they need in order to “make” your product at home. In doing so, the consumers will have a stronger sense of ownership and pride for the finished product, having been a “co-creator” in the making process. Taking inspiration from the meal subscription services like Blue Apron that curate and deliver to your home all the ingredients that one needs to prepare a meal, what are some ways that you can deconstruct one of your current products? What are the components that consumers would be able to prep or assemble on their own?

By tapping into the latest consumer and technology trends and understanding the underlying factors that play in consumer affinity for customization and personalization, brands can play their cards right during the NPD process and successfully win the hearts of their consumers.

Top 8 Podcasts that All Marketers Should Listen To

ONTHEAIR

Brace yourself as we enter into the new golden age of podcasting! Noting the much better quality of today’s podcasts (some have full-scale productions with huge budgets and staff), the rise of connected cars (making listening to episodes easy for commuters), and the great popularity of Serial and the like, there is no doubt that podcasts (a 10 year old term associated with the now obsolete iPod that the episodes would play on) have come back with a vengeance.

Check out our 8 top favorite podcasts that all Marketers should tune in to for further education and inspiration on the job.

(1) Marketing Over Coffee
Straight to the point marketing tips and tricks, from SEO and social media to copy writing and offline marketing campaigns.

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(2) Duct Tape Marketing
Perfect for the small business marketer on how to be scrappy with your resources.

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(3) Social Pros Podcast: Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media
In this digital era, it is critical for marketers to be in the know of best social media strategies and of the newest platforms.

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(4) Invisibilia
Passing Serial as the most popular podcast on the iTunes charts, this podcast investigates the unseen forces that shape human nature, such as emotions, assumptions, and beliefs.

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(5) The Week Ahead
Rather than highlighting what’s already happened, Economist correspondents projects what the headlines will be in the week ahead.

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(6) Radio Lab
Great way to take a breather from your own industry, feed your own curiosity, and be inspired by science.

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(7) The Startup
A fun and very transparent podcast on what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one.

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(8) New York Times Book Review
You’re a busy person and your time is too precious to be wasted on bad literature. Authors and critics inform you on what the newest must-reads.

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Pizza Hut Innovation: The “Subconscious Menu”

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Pizza Hut’s Menu Innovation

It’s always fun to see new technology being used in new and unexpected places. One fascinating area where the latest eye-tracking technology is being experimented with is at the pizza joint.  Pizza Hut recently joined Swedish Company Tobii Technology in launching a new menu innovation called the “Subconscious Menu”. The technology syncs with the consumers’ eyes, and based on where their eyes had rested the longest on a tablet screen that displays the chain’s 20 most popular ingredients, it creates your “perfect pizza” in 2.5 seconds, without the consumer ever having to say a word. Pizza Hut claims that they currently have an astounding success rate of 98%.

As eye-tracking becomes more refined and gets more traction in marketing, we are excited for the infinite possibilities that will emerge when leveraging new technology in research to discover more insights into human behavior.

What can China’s impressive beer growth teach U.S. breweries about innovation?

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Tsingtao fresh draft’s refreshing taste is a perfect match for savory and tasty food

So which country drinks the most beer in the world? In terms of per person consumption, European countries predictably dominate the top 10 (USA is #13). However, in terms of volume, China has been at the top of the list since 2002, with it’s citizens drinking more than 450 million hectoliters of beer each year, more than double the amount of beer we drink in the US. Four of the world’s top 10 beer brands in terms of volume are from China, with Snow and Tsingtao taking the top 2 spots, outselling Budweiser and Bud Light in third and fourth place. It’s not just from the volume of its nearly 1.4 billion inhabitants either – by 2017, China is expected to beat the US to become the world’s biggest beer market. China’s beer industry is expected to reach over USD 100 billion in 2018, up from USD 75 billion just last year, according to Euromonitor. So what exactly is driving the growth of beer in China, and what can US markets borrow from China and Asia’s take on beer to overturn 3 years of straight dips in sales?

Having worked and lived in China and other parts of Asia for the past 8 years, I’ve witnessed some interesting developments contributing to the growing popularity of beer. While hard liquor manufacturers have been hit hard in the past year by the Chinese government’s anti corruption crackdown (many highflyers and officials were supposedly receiving pricy hard liquor gifts which conveniently had high re-sell value), beer has benefited from steadily growing sales. Part of the upward trend is due to beer solidifying its role as a great drink with food. Beer also is a more approachable, affordable, and unisex friendly social catalyst compared to wine and liquors. In fact, there’s even evidence of beer and hard liquor becoming “frenemies”. If you can’t take liquor down, why not create new rituals to form new alliances?

Using beer to capture the meal occasion

Beer and food naturally go hand in hand. In the US, beer and barbeque, or beer with your choice of junk food while watching the game come to mind as intuitive pairings. However, only a relatively small percentage of beer is consumed with food in the US compared to China, where 70% of beer is enjoyed at a meal. While wine, baijiu (Chinese high proof white liquor) and Chinese yellow wine (huangjiu) are still the drinks of choice over food for more sophisticated palettes and VIP occasions, Chinese consumers think the refreshing, cool taste of beer is a perfect complement to the savory, spicy, greasy and deep fried foods they love. That all sounds like a fantastic opportunity for foreign brewers to tap into, but the challenge is that many Chinese consumers still naturally think of local beer brands first when paired with Chinese food.

Leading the meal occasion war is local beer brand Tsingtao. They were the first ones to introduce a new type of ‘fresh draft’ beer (chun sheng) in 2007, which is now the fastest growing variant in their portfolio. So what’s so special about fresh draft beer? Unlike draft beer in the US, it is still mainly served in bottles rather than on tap. The flavor profile is more ‘pure’ and bland. Fans swear it tastes more refreshing and smooth compared to regular beer, and is a better choice with their meal because the beer taste doesn’t compete with the flavors of their food, which should remain the hero at every meal. Chinese beer lovers are willing to pay more for it too, most fresh draft beers typically command a 20-30% premium over regular beers. Following Tsingtao’s move, many local brands such as Zhujiang, Harbin and Snow have also launched their own versions of fresh draft, but Tsingtao remains the segment leader as the first mover.

Beer is widely enjoyed over more casual meals with close friends and family, but one key barrier of beer at the Chinese dinner table is it’s humbler image compared to its more glitzy wine and liquor cousins, some think it’s not premium or ‘face worthy’ enough for important business dinners. To tackle this, AB Inbev China recently launched Budweiser Supreme, a super-premium beer brewed for consumption in fine restaurants, presented in an elegant large glass bottle resembling packaging cues of wine. At it’s pilot launch, wine glasses with the Bud Supreme logo were given to restaurants to serve the beer (compared to the typical mini highball glasses beer is usually served in) to complete the prestigious experience. With this new premium variant, it will be interesting to see whether it will appeal to the tastes of a new generation of Chinese VIPs.

Food for thought: What can brewers do in the US to create a stronger link between beer and food to drive beer sales with meals? What are the best pack, product, flavor and messaging cues to make it more of a must have with meals? How can we partner more closely with restaurants to drive beer sales?

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Budweiser Supreme steals packaging cues from wine bottles for a more premium image. This ad suggests it’s the best beer to serve at weddings.

 

The unisex, slow-tipsy social catalyst

One reason US beer drinkers are switching to liquor is that they see it as a less expensive way to get higher alcohol content in a short amount of time. However, one can argue that there are certain moments when a slower, more gradual tipsy experience is preferred. Take the infamous Chinese karaoke session for example. While many of us think of karaoke as the ultimate get-drunk-and-embarrass yourself activity, KTV is another beast in China. When you go to KTV (China’s nickname for karaoke), there is always a group of people who take the singing extremely seriously; they are there to perform with prowess. That’s pretty hard to do when you’re drunk. Beer is actually a great ‘slow alcohol’ alternative to harsher liquors for these star performers.

Beer is also seen as the best drink to please everyone. In cities like Shanghai, even though ladies who can handle their liquor are on the rise, there is still a large group who don’t really know how to drink, or don’t like the taste of higher proof alcohol. Beer is the easiest 101 choice that both guys and girls can drink together. It’s a great filler or warm up to enjoy over drinking games to bond and break the ice.

Before the recent emergence of sweeter brews like Bud Light Lime-a-Rita and Redd’s Apple in the US, Taiwan Beer, Taiwan’s dominating local beer brand, had already introduced fruit beer in tropical flavors such as mango and pineapple back in 2012. With 2.8% alcohol content and a sweeter flavor profile, these fruit beers have exceeded initial sales projections and have found success as a summer or beginner’s drink that’s versatile and easy to like. The latest flavor added to the mix is lychee. Taiwan brewer Long Quan has even launched a Hello Kitty fruit beer line.

There’s also been an interesting rise of beer as THE drink to enjoy with live music. It helps dial up the atmosphere without getting people drunk too quickly. This year, Budweiser is cashing in on the electronic dance music craze in Shanghai by sponsoring Budweiser STORM, the first large-scale EDM festival in Shanghai featuring international artists and DJs like Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Kaskade and Kesha over the October golden week holiday this year. A perfect match? We think yes.

Sweet success: How can beer manufacturers play up beer’s more casual, accessible appeal to it’s full advantage, and enhance it’s role as a true social catalyst for both guys and girls? What new occasions and events can beer really own? How can beer cement it’s success as the relaxed, casual drink for everyone?

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A typical night in a Chinese KTV, playing dice games over beer

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Taiwan Beer’s fruit beers have found a wide audience despite initial skeptics. Taiwanese beer maker Long Quan has since followed the trend with a Hello Kitty fruit beer series, available in Taiwan and China.

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Budweiser STORM is China’s first and largest international electronic dance music festival, Budweiser of course is the official drink of choice.

Beer and liquor, an unusual pairing.

There’s a growing fascination with cocktail culture in the US, which is stealing the hearts of beer drinkers, so it’s easy to label liquor as beer’s enemy. Yet in China and Asia, consumers, manufacturers, and bar owners are finding creative ways to marry the two. In some of the hottest Shanghai dancing clubs, owners are pairing champagne with beer in bundle deals (champagne is the fastest growing alcohol in China, especially among the ladies). Although an unusual pairing at first glance, they both have that light, bubbly, refreshing profile that actually makes sense, and drives more beer sales.

In Korea, there is a recent ritual of mixing Soju (Korean white liquor) with beer to make a new drink fondly known to Koreans as the soju bomb. At restaurants all over Korea, you can now find shot glasses for making soju bombs, marked with various guide lines on the glass for your choice of soju:beer ratio based on your personal tolerance of adventure for the evening. Some young beer drinkers in China have also started making their own beer and vodka cocktails for house parties to break the ice without getting drunk too quickly.

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Soju bomb cups can easily be found in restaurants all over South Korea. Pick your own level of soju vs beer for your desired level of tipsiness.

It’s definitely challenging to innovate in a classic category that has been established in the minds and hearts of consumers over many years. Of course, beer plays different roles in evolving cultural contexts and product life stages. In a relatively developing beer market like China, the white canvas for it’s future is inspiring. Just with a few simple tweaks, beer can be re-expressed, renovated, and presented in refreshing new ways when you break down the confines of how it is currently being perceived. Here’s a challenge to brewers and beer lovers all over the world, take a fresh look at beer, it’s definitely here to stay, so let’s come up with some creative ways to reinvigorate the category.