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Archive for the ‘market research’ Category

Côte d’Ivoire, Undercover

In market research, photo, Uncategorized on May 28, 2008 at 2:17 pm

_DSC8399 copy

Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Earlier this year I went to the Ivory Coast for a large packaged goods client to look at the meaning(s) of ethics. It was challenging for a multitude of reasons (paused civil war, language barrier, stomach virus) but ultimately a rewarding look at how the ethical behavior of large multinationals can (positively and negatively) affect the lives of the people on the ground. Lots of concepts came out of this research that have the potential to affect everything from how aid is given to how aid is communicated to the global audience in a meaningful way. We’ll see what happens but here are a few of the images from that trip…

photostream here.

(side note: I wish smugmug and wordpress would get along better)

Cyber Command Requires Camouflage

In Branding, Brands, communications, market research, marketing, strategy on March 22, 2008 at 5:01 pm

The U.S. Air Force has a new campaign out focusing on their Cyber Command unit. An interesting move away from the Top Gun/Tom Cruise image of the Air Force and toward the tech savvy world of national security. Strategically, I like it. National security through cyber command instead of the flyover bombing of towns? All good. But my question is …do they really wear their camouflage uniforms in the command center? I mean, I get the uniform thing but if they’re going to be in camouflage shouldn’t they at least be disguised to look like a computer so they can blend into the Cyber Command Center?

Note: they should also work on their website. If they’re going to run ads on the Cyber Command Center then we should be able to type in Cyber Command on their site and get a result. It’s always the little things of integration that get overlooked.

Penny for Your Thoughts…Actually Less

In Consumers, market research, marketing, strategy on March 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Confused Sign
Originally uploaded by kudaker

So, I got this email a couple of minutes ago from Synovate, a reputable firm, who is working on an online survey with Wells Fargo. I got the whole, “we are going to donate to charity on your behalf” thing. Which is sort of like the fake Christmas presents that say someone donated to X charity on your behalf, also known to recipient as “the giver doesn’t give a crap about you but wants to look good” gifts.

But why is Wells Fargo doing it? Are they simply planning to pocket the non-profit donation and write it off against their taxes? Do they have such a small budget for the project that they thought giving people $5 would look too cheap but giving it to someone else would be okay? Why the altruism? (Can’t be for altruism’s sake.)

Yes, maybe I’m a bit cynical and over-intellectualizing this, I’ll cop to that. Read it yourself and see what you think. I quothe:

Dear Wells Fargo Customer,

In an effort to improve products and services, Wells Fargo is inviting a select group of customers to participate in a survey. Synovate, an independent market research firm, is administering the survey on behalf of Wells Fargo.

In appreciation of your time, Wells Fargo will make a $5 charitable donation for each completed survey, up to a maximum of $15,000. Later in the survey, you will be asked for your choice of one of six charities where you would like your donation to be allocated. Thank you in advance for your time and feedback.

About this survey:
The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete.
blah, blah, blah

Brand Licensing: Lojack for Computers

In Branding, Brands, innovation, market research, strategy on January 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm


Originally uploaded by Antonia Schulz

I was more excited about this when I thought that LoJack was actively extending its brand and entering into new categories, but alas, they aren’t. It’s still a nice rename for CompuTrace and a great idea to license the LoJack name into an adjacent and relevant category.

Renaming companies is difficult work. Not the creative part, though that too can be difficult, but rather understanding the current equities or lack thereof and attempting to estimate how much value a new name would add to the business over time. In this case I think it was worth it.

Can I also request LoJack for wallets, keys and girlfriends?

Forbes’s take on it here.

Can You Keep A Secret?

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, market research, marketing, research, strategy, trends on January 22, 2008 at 11:53 am

Secrets Fly

Originally uploaded by BidWiya

Much has been said and written about transparent marketing. In a world where you can no longer hide behind your website because there are a million blogs telling customers the truth, what do you do? Most people suggest that you be honest. That you refocus on customer service and satisfaction. That you remember that “a happy customer tells a few people about their experience but an unhappy one tells anyone they can find.” That you put all the information out there for your customers. And these are all wise suggestions, but what’s missing is a celebration of “positive secrets.”

We all want to know the secret, don’t we? How many of us can remain indifferent after a friend says that they have a secret but they can’t tell? It drives you crazy. You want to know. It’s okay– it’s human nature.

In a world where every piece of information is available, secrets are important to keeping customers engaged and involved with the brand. What is the brand story that you can roll out to customers? How will you tell it? Can you work to create a more interesting backstory? Are there parts of your product experience that can be discovered?

In-N-Out has done an incredible job of this on the West Coast through everything from the John 3:14 printed on the bottom inside of their cups to the secret menu and language only available online. While the plan probably needs an upgrade at this point, there’s something to be said for a company that can keep its secrets.

When Product Accessories Become the Product

In Branding, Brands, Consumers, innovation, market research, marketing, strategy, trends on January 21, 2008 at 1:11 pm

What happens when that cool new thing that you got suddenly becomes the cool new thing that everyone has? Trend Setters (god I hate that term) either move on to the next new thing or  redouble their efforts to bring personal ownership to their products. Creating an accessory culture around new products may prove to be a way to keep these early users engaged.

Steve Portigal has an interesting post on Crocs culture and the emergence of charms in Japan and the UK (see picture above). Apple has also inspired a ton of secondary markets for its products from the useful iPod Skins to the scary-but-true Taser/iPod holster that was displayed at CES.

My personal favorite are the iColour modifiers which allow you to take that boring old glowing Apple logo and modify it to your own liking, gaining the ire of your IT dept. at the same time.


The Death of the Retail Brand

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, market research, marketing, research, strategy, trends on January 16, 2008 at 12:23 pm

December retail figures are out and it is a reminder of the dismal state of retail brands. Gap, Inc. -6%, Kohl’s -11.4% Macy’s -8%, Target – 5%, etc. There are a few bright spots but even then, they aren’t very bright, perhaps it is the florescent lights.

Adage online points to how taglines aren’t working as hard as they should be and clearly differentiating the stores. And they have a point, but the point that I take away is that Adage has never been to a retail store! The fact that taglines are interchangable is not nearly as important as the fact that the stores themselves are interchangeable. They are all the same. Sure some have slightly different merchandise, Target did a nice job with their design positioning but they also just lost superstar designer Issac Mizrahi to Liz Claiborne.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Real Reason China Mobile Said No to the IPhone

In Brands, communications, Consumers, market research, marketing, research, strategy on January 14, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Engadet and others reported today that China Mobile backed out of negotiations to carry the iPhone.

“after saying the “iPhone model was not suitable for China” back in November, a spokesperson for China Mobile now says they’ve “terminated” discussions with Apple to bring the iPhone to China. China’s largest carrier gave no reasons for the decision though the fee sharing agreement is likely a contributing factor.”

But I would point back to the initial statement ” [the] iPhone model was not suitable for China” as the true reason the negotiations broke down.

I was in China in mid-2007 doing research on the mobile phone category and specifically looking at convergence devices. While the market there is filled with convergence devices, more respondents were carrying around multiple gadgets that they saw as best in class vs. relying on one device. Music players that were the size of a matchbox w/ readable song names (take that shuffle), Video players that were almost viewable by someone under 30 and nifty little phones.

The quote I most remember came in response to a prototype I was showing, “it’s too big to be my music player and too small to be a good video player.” I imagine that this consumer sentiment is what caused tepid negotiations between China Mobile and Apple. Except add in, it’s too big to be a phone.

In addition, consider that according to Business Week, “cell-phone replacement cycles in China that run 6 to 12 months faster than those of Europe or North America” which would presumably make long-term contracts less appealing. And, that Apple as a brand doesn’t possess nearly the cache in China that it does in the United States or even Europe. Again from Business Week, “the Mac platform only has 0.2% of total PC unit shipments, according to IDC,… Mac sales never took off there, in part due to perceptions that they’re too costly compared to Windows machine.”

At the end of the day, Apple needs China more than China Mobile needs Apple.

Fox News is Giving Focus Groups a Bad Name

In market research, Politics on January 11, 2008 at 11:58 am

Let’s be clear, Fox News is not running focus groups.  Fox News is making reality television and passing it off as focus groups.  I was watching FN during the NH primary and I was shocked at Frank Lutz, they way he conducted the bits of the group that they showed and the bias he showed in talking about it afterward.

If it was actually a focus group they would have made the group smaller in order to drill down into the issues and respondents preferences and triggers.  As it was, it looked an awful lot like a made-for-TV panel with trite, surface level questions and a large studio video camera trained to capture respondents carefully crafted answers.

Moreover, as this video shows, they didn’t do a very good job at screening the folks from central casting.