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Posts Tagged ‘consumer insight’

  • What Collaborative Consumption Means For Marketers

    28th December 10

    Posted by Saneel Radia

    Posted in collaboration

    Source: "What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption," Botsman & Rogers

    I recently watched Rachel Botsman’s TEDxSydney talk on collaborative consumption (below) and realized how little most marketers are thinking about the impact of crowds on the future of consumption. Instead, they’re focused on the impact of crowds on production (crowdsourcing! co-creation! predictive markets!).

    For an in-depth overview of the landscape as Rachel defines it, I recommend her guest post on the Swiss Miss blog (or her book). In the interim, here are her three systems, which she uses as a framework for collaborative consumption:

    1. Product Service Systems: Pay for the benefit, not the product (think paying for the hole, not the power drill that makes it)

    Example: ZipCar

    2. Redistribution Markets: Exchanges that move used goods to where there’s new need (think the stretching of product life cycles for things like DVD’s)

    Example: SwapTreasures

    3. Collaborative Lifestyles: People with similar interests band together (think co-working)

    Example: AirB&B

    If you’re in the business of selling goods or services, you should likely spend at least some time thinking about the consequences of such a trend. The following are some initial thoughts on what marketers may want to consider in a world of collaborative consumption. We’d love it to be the beginning of a dialogue on the matter, so please feel free to comment or email us with your thoughts.

    Focus less on “influence” and more on “reputation.”

    Marketers are obsessed with influencers in the hope they’ll help others make purchase decisions. Yet, if more people are doing business with each other, it’s the commercial reputation of a stranger, not their “influence” that becomes incredibly important. Whether marketers like it or not, these sellers are a part of the product experience (think about that bad online purchase experience you had and the impact on the oblivious product company). Perhaps then they should account for those in their target audience that are likely to be the foundation of the secondary market of their products. It may just open up an entirely new branch of propagation planning (“plan not just for those that buy your products, but for those that will eventually buy your products from them”). The economics just got trickier, but finding a way to make money in secondary markets will be essential, and the best way to create demand is to make sure those re-selling your product are representative of the brand.

    Squeeze more dollars out of early adopters

    The true value of early adopters is always hard to determine for a brand. However, as collaborative consumption takes off, they’ll become more important across a range of product categories. In those instances that marketers simply cannot monetize re-sale markets (what brands can feasibly make money from people buying each other’s used goods on Craigslist?), they’ll have to find a way to sell more to the same people, even when those people aren’t brand loyal. Those that buy products upon release may need to be catered to in unprecedented ways. Brands could feasibly help them re-sell, conceding the cannibalization such an effort could have on mass audience sales. In fact, it may be in some brand’s best interest to speed up the cycle between sales to an elite few. It’s not dissimilar to how content publishers think about participation platforms and those very elite community members that are incredibly valuable.

    Help people loan to help yourself sell

    As strangers loan goods to one another, they’re may be an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves in that regard. Imagine apps that work concurrently with products to help you monetize them when you loan them out. If I loaned my car to strangers for money, I’d prefer one that helps me monitor how much gas that stranger actually cost me in today’s dollars. Or if I lent expensive products like technology, I’d pay a bit more for those that could be located via GPS like the MobileMe “Find My iPhone” feature to deter theft. Such features would be an investment because they would help me monetize my product purchase via collaborative consumption channels, and help such products pay for themselves.

    Become an active participant in passion areas

    We’ve been discussing how brands need to embrace social media flings, in which they have brief but meaningful relationships with consumers. Brands can bond with people over a shared passion (if the brand can credibly contribute to the dialogue). Rachel’s “collaborative lifestyles” system is full of potential for such flings. If a site like Landshare connects growers with those who have land, the entire community feels ripe (sorry, couldn’t help it) for relevant brands to play a role. Imagine a company sexs like DeWit gardening tools facilitating connections in such a community. Not only does that potentially grow business (ok, I’ll stop), but it also offers a “boring” product category a chance to be human and engage people on a topic they’re passionate about. Social media flings aren’t just for the Red Bulls and Nikes of the world. They can happen in small, but highly passionate communities—even if those communities are circumventing buying more of the brand’s product by sharing. Regardless of flings, passionate communities are doors to social engagement of any kind for a brand, and collaborative consumption may just be a master key.

    We’re huge believers in collaboration (it’s perhaps the future of agency business). If consumers are going to collaborate anyway, the bigger impact of crowds on marketer business may be in how products are bought and used, rather than how they’re made or developed (or the growing space in between led by Groupon). Given how many brands are struggling to benefit from crowds, the fact that consumers have taken matters into their own hands (of course) may be a windfall. The economics of how brands make money will certainly become more complicated, but collaborative consumption actually makes things simpler for marketers on some levels. They can stop dealing with crowd dynamics in the production process and instead focus on understanding how crowds change what they know quite well: how they’re products are actually used and valued.

  • Wind Tunnel Marketing, The Sequel: On the Need for Divergent Insight

    21st May 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, creativity

    Post by Charles Wigley, Chairman, BBH Asia Pacific

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/breakfastcore/3114817008/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/breakfastcore/3114817008/

    Jim Carroll’s excellent post on Wind Tunnel Politics reflects an idea he came up a couple of years ago – the notion of ‘wind tunnel marketing’ – an idea that Emma Cookson (Chairman, BBH New York), Jim (Chairman, BBH London) and I have been chatting about a lot again recently.

    Given the traffic, RTs and positive comments the first post got, we felt it was perhaps time for a more thorough analysis of its impact on what most of us reading this do for a living – the development of brand communications.

    We’d like to get the debate going and involve people from all sides – client, agency and research. So please let us know what you think.

    Here we’ll look at three things to start the conversation:

    I.                The origins of the problem;

    II.               The results; and

    III.              Some potential solutions

    Then we’d like your point of view.

    1. The Origins of the Problem

    Pretty obviously the world is now crammed with very good, largely parity products across most sectors.  With the consequent decline in any real, viable notion of product USP’s the industry has increasingly turned to understanding the consumer as the key source of competitive advantage.

    The Holy Grail is a breakthrough ‘consumer insight’.  Something that cracks open consumer motivations around a category in a new and fresh way and as a result allows a brand to more powerfully pitch its product or service.

    Indeed many companies now have entire departments focussed solely on consumer insight. Some of you reading this may have it in your job title.

    And, looked at one way, it makes a lot of sense.

    After all, isn’t the whole notion of marketing about  ‘satisfying the wants, needs and desires of consumers ‘ ?

    There is, however, one rather significant problem with it.

    Everyone is looking the same way and largely following the same path.

    Frequently doing the same research, with the same consumers via the same research companies on essentially the same products.

    The result won’t surprise anyone – they get to very similar places.

    So while marketers and their agency partners consistently (and rightly) talk up the critical importance of differentiation, most of our industry is wedded to a ‘best practice’ process that inherently takes them another way – to greater sameness.

    2. The Results

    Are self-evident and everywhere (ever noticed how hard it is to think of major brand examples of ‘great’ outside of the usual suspects?)

    From mid-range family salons that, when unbranded, even car fanatics fail to recognise ( and can you remember the make of the ‘reasonably priced car’ on Top Gear ?…….you’ve probably seen it about 30 times ) to entire categories where the work is just too interchangeable (looked at any skincare advertising recently?)  Even brands aimed at youth (where one would assume a greater leeway to pursue difference) seem to be merging into one – an event with a DJ and some free form skateboarders anyone?

    From a marketer’s point of view all this serves to do is to make it a game of scale of resources again.

    He or she with the biggest distribution network / media budget / sales team wins.  The cost efficiencies of genuine brand differentiation are notable largely by their absence.

    Yet, because large porno organisations inevitably (and understandably) need logical ‘handrails’ for staffers to follow, few are challenging the standard, solely consumer insight oriented process currently in place.

    3. Potential Solutions

    People need systems. Very few of us are individually brilliant enough to be able to operate day in day out in the trenches without them.  So an imploration to just ‘go free-form’ is unlikely to be of much use to most companies.

    It seems to us, however, that the handrails that need to be put in place need to actively force diversity of thinking.

    They need to be ‘hydra-like’ in that they need to regularly have the potential to lead to many different places – not always back to the same spot.

    The CIA ‘Problem Definition Checklist’ does this (if you want a copy let us know).  When properly followed, the Disruption model does it. Interestingly, in his latest thinking, Adam Morgan is suggesting a far more diverse range of different types of challenger brands (and no doubt different ways to develop them).

    For our part at BBH, we are re-committing to one of our oldest strategic tenets (and simplest of thoughts) – ‘insights from many sources, not just consumer’.  The product, the brand, the way category operates, the retail experience, the media landscape, etc, etc. – all are ripe for investigation – and all should be.

    We are also re-committing to the future.

    There’s something interesting here.  As per the famous Akio Morito quote - “we don’t ask consumers what they want ; they don’t know.  Instead we apply our brain power to what they need, and will want, and make sure we are there ready” -  the future is surely what we should be trying to work out the likely terrain of, rather than analysing that of the present or the past. Perhaps the most powerful model we are now trying to get grips is a fusion of brand insight with consumer foresight. Note – not consumer insight – but rather an understanding of where the market is likely to go rather than where it has been.

    As we said at the start, we’d like to hear what you think. If this rings true, what are your thoughts on potential solutions?