Monday, November 30, 2009

The BV 2010 Trendcast!

Change is change…and change is here to stay! In 2010, we are going to experience the true affects of generational evolution, the economic recession, technology advancement and new political powers.

It’s a longer Blog-logue than average, but its powerful stuff and will affect how we do business and build brands over the next year or two!

If you want more information about the trends in general, the stats behind them and how they are influencing brands like yours, call me at 404.245.9378 and I will share more with you!

2010 BV Trendcast

“Business As Unusual”
Not only are the MBAs joining the ranks of the unemployed, but the economy has driven home the message “Build It And They Will Come Is Dead!” Bigger is no longer better and suits and ties are no longer the signature marks of business success.

Innovation, creativity and experimentation are the words now of the management boardrooms. And physical buildings are no longer the requirements of hanging up your business shingle!

Past business paradigms are out and new business paradigms are in!

In 2010, new ways are going to emerge in terms of business management, manufacturing, personnel staffing, marketing and product delivery. The idea that once the economy comes back, business in its conventional set will come back as well is a faded hope of the past!

“Friends” as a word has taken on new meaning and more than half of all adults believe that the friends they have met and interfaced with online are even deeper friendships than the ones they have made in person.

In 2010, we are going to see online connections transfer to real world planned events. The “Togetherings” will be themed and channeled around the connection point of interest…activities, events, hobbies, topics…and even Brands!

And the "friends" that are meeting are the crème de la crème of Brand Ambassadors!

“Trans Tech”
Not only has the mobile computer replaced the desktop, but the computer today is quickly becoming interchangeable with everything from iPhones to Blackberries to Kindles to Netbooks to Crunchpads to Android Tables to Dashboard built-ins.

In 2010, how we communicate, write documents, do calculations and prepare presentations will not only be fluid and transportable, but so will the operational and organizational models of business.

Heck…Work-from-Home will be rephrased as Work-From-Anywhere-Anytime.

In the early 2000’s it was "Think Global/Act Local" and in 2009, it was about the juxtaposition of "Mass Mingling" and "Home Cocooning."

Whether driven by the economy, politics, networking overload, gas prices or all of the above, "locality" is expected to become HOT in 2010 and be around for at least the next several years.

Not only will "Buy Local" and "Local Sustainability" be on the top of the list of buzz words, but also will the focus on community identity, local business start-ups and local community press.

The LSM (Local Store Marketing) plans of the past will become even a greater focus in the year ahead and while local daily newspapers may fade into the past, local alternative media is likely to rise!

“The Family Value of Couplehood”
Anyone seen any news flashes in 2009 about the new baby boom? There was a set of stories published in 2008 about baby births being on the rise. But with economic factors and employment uncertainty, fewer of the Millennials produced babies as the demographers expected.

In 2010, singles and couples will represent more than three-quarters of US Households and the conventional family of “Mom, Dad and the Kids” will dwindle down to less than 1 out of every 4 households in America.

The changes to watch involve everything from conventional family values to family discount plans to family menus to family rooms being redefined around Couplehood and occasional family extensions.

Not only will the market seek out Couplehood values, but also brands that paint the picture of the conventional family of the past, will be at risk of being perceived as out-of-date with the current times!

“Grassroots Stardom”
Reality TV may have been the spark that ignited the trend, but the continued demise of the stars and athletes has diverted the Millennial headset from the masses to the grassroots rooted.

YouTube is replacing the networks and the Indies are replacing Hollywood. College sports and minor league teams are not only more affordable, but also approachable. HGTV’s Don and Mary who just redesigned their kitchen are quickly replacing the New York designers and chefs featured in Gourmet magazine (now gone as well!).

In 2010, reality TV will expand across the broadcast genre and the high Q-Score spokesperson of the past will be replaced by a the person with the highest Facebook Friend-Score and the average number of daily “thumbs ups” they receive!

“Embedded Generosity”
Home Depot may have it half right in their revised tagline… More Doing!

Whether it is the effect of multi-tasking or not, consumers are placing value on ways to reach out to others and help them if the giving is made easier.

In the past, it was through the organized campaigns and the door-to-door personal requests that generated the donor dollars. Today, it is all about finding a way to create a sustainable, humanitarian motivation that will drive a donor base and get those who participate to be the sales team to their friends.

This past October, pink was the new fall color of the season!

In 2010, more and more Brands will become aligned with causes and concerns, as part of their social responsibility. And the consumer marketing will extend an invitation to be part of the cause through the convenience of simply purchasing the Brand.

“The Rise Of The Concierge”
You would think that Concierges would be a BGO -- Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious – of a service driven economy, but not so…until now.

Growing in popularity among the Inns and boutique hotels, the role of the concierge is emerging more and more as a competitive point of difference.

In 2010, as Brands fight for market share and value-adds become more important, personal service, customized information and even handholding will emerge across product and service lines.

Even in business-to-business, receptionists are emerging quickly as a special service for small businesses whether working in an office suite or a virtual office.

Travel agents, real estate agents, banking brand managers – many feeling the technology pinch – will take on new roles in service delivery, sales closures, customer relations and brand relations.

“Mid-Century Suburban Rehab”
While “urban gentrification” continues in some circles, it is both time consuming and money draining for many in the current economic times – especially for the new first-time DINK (dual-income-no-kids) home buyers.

And if you read the hip home pubs like Dwell, Metro Home and Ready-Made magazines, you know that “Mid-Century” is the hot new design trend and suburbia is emerging as the new forum of rehab!

In 2010, suburban rehab and re-invention will spread like wild fire as an affordable, less time consuming, more “eco-green” footprint way of settling in and making one’s local dwelling space a better place to live.

And get ready, because this is a trend sure to stay as the next wave will be hitting the rehab and re-invention of everything from the strip shopping centers and the retail malls.

The national healthcare debate is a sure carry-over from 2009 into 2010. And with Boomers quickly moving into their 60s, health related issues are becoming more and more of an issue for many.

Wellness … physical, mental and emotional… is not only going to be a HOT topic in 2010, but new and novel ways of addressing it from electronic files to holistic health to doc-online will be emerging and expanding.

Conventional hospitals will give way to generational and conditional-driven facilities. In-home care already employs a staggering 1.33 million people, and revenue is expected to grow beyond $72 billion by 2011. New neighborhood, stay-at-home continual care retirement communities are expected to surge.

Even the conventional work out gyms that are posting record levels of membership in a down-economy will evolve with more comprehensive health and wellness programs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Core Product of K.I.S.S.

Okay, I know that I often take on the role of an armchair critic of the MBA mindset and perspective.

BUT… in the context of this Blog-Logue, I will give them credit for part of what they call the Key Product Benefit.

Yes, I know that I am passionate instead about a Brand’s EIP -- the Emotional Ignition Point of the Brand Experience -- and declare that the USP and Core Product Benefits are historic relics of the 1980s.

What part of the Core Product Benefits do I give them credit?

The first two words… Core Product.

In the current issue of Business Week, there are two articles side by side.

One is titled “What’s Eating McDonald’s” and the other is titled “The Steam At Starbucks.”

I actually like McDonalds. They have some good quick food that has both good flavor and spice and fills the tummy nice.

The article is all about how McDonald’s posted some great growth during 2006 through the end of last year. They added Lattes, restyled a number of the stores and reached out to touch the new Millennials entering the workforce.

However, McDonalds did some price hikes during 2008 to counter the soaring costs for core ingredients like meat and cheese. And as the article says…”McDonald’s like other fast-food chains out there, has kept its prices steady in an effort to maintain margins.”

In addition to McCafe Coffee, they also expanded their menu more.

So what’s happening now? Sales are stagnant and, in some cases, slipping downward.


It’s summarized quickly in one word…Via (their new instant coffee).

There’s a Starbucks around the corner from my house. I truly was shocked the day I went in and saw large Point-of-Purchase displays of instant coffee.

There were posters in the store windows and the Baristas were wearing buttons promoting the stuff.

The Business Week article notes one Barista as saying “This is the most stressful promotion I have ever experienced, and I’ve been with the company for seven years.”

Apparently, there is an internal revolt taking place among the Starbucks Baristas, but customers are lashing out as well.

The article sites one customer as saying “Please no more Via sales pitches. It’s annoying and so completely out of line with Starbucks’ vibe.”

All I want to ask is what does instant coffee have to do with Howard Schultz’s concept of the “Third Place?”

The sales of Via are not posting at the levels predicted.

While challenging to management right now… it’s hard to feel much sympathy.

McDonald’s started with a key product: Simple hamburgers and French fries delivered fast at a cheap price.

Today, McDonald’s offers everything from breakfasts to salads to chicken dippers to burritos to healthy apple dippers.

What happened to the simple, cheap hamburgers and French fries?

Starbucks started with a key product: an alternative place to gather with family and friends, some good music and a nice warm cup of coffee.

Back in the days when we gathered around the kitchen table, did your mother showcase the instant coffee?

I don’t think so.

I could go on and on with the lines…

Build it and they will come!

Product extensions drive sales!

Hire more MBAs to drive brand sales!

But I won’t.

In simple terms, it’s all about the Core Product.

It’s all about defining the Emotional Ignition Point of the Brand Experience and taking on the management role of being the steward of that EIP.

According to Business Week, McDonald’s is planning to concentrate efforts in 2010 on reviving its Dollar Menu on its core product line.

As far as Starbucks is concerned, Business Week notes no 2010 strategy yet on how to deal with ticked off Baristas and confused customers.

Maybe Wall Street has to take on the parental role and financially redirect the new Starbuck’s MBA management to refocus around that “Third Place.”

Well with the holidays now upon us… perhaps its best to end this Blog-Logue with a simple hug and a K.I.S.S.

And to deliver it to the customers that today define the Core Product and the Emotional Ignition Point of the Brand that drives the success of the Brand Experience!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

BIG Media Buys Don't Necessarily Deliver BIG Results!

Over the last several weeks, I have gotten to experience first hand just how goofed up the ad agency community has evolved.

One of my clients who I admire a bunch isn’t into wearing the suits and flaunting his degrees and past brand experience.

He actually is a CEO, but he is a ton smarter than many of the clients I meet that flaunt their Advertising Director, EVP and CMO titles.

Right now he is challenging a lot of conventional thinking by exploring some alternative media strategies and asking for evidence that the advertising media investment is actually paying off.

I like asking questions like that too!

In this week’s Business Week (11/16/2009) there is an article titled “Ask Your Doctor If This Ad Is Right For You.”

It talks about how the drug industry is spending billions of dollars ($4.7 billion to be exact in 2008) on TV ads and high styled agency media plans.

If any of you watch the 6pm news, I am sure that you have seen at least several of these ads.

Problem is… those ads aren’t working…

“New research based on recordings of conversations in physicians’ offices suggests most patents aren’t asking for drugs by name.”

How few are few?

Market researcher Verilogue who conducted the study found out that only 23 individuals out of 12,500 recorded requested for a specific drug.

In another recent study conducted by Verilouge, the most expensive campaigns in terms of media weight and spending – most on the network news shows – did not prompt the greatest number of inquiries.

“Eli Lilly spent $179 million on ads promoting its depression drug Cymbalta in 2008, but the greatest number of inquiries was generated by the Boniva campaign featuring Sally Field and it cost half as much as the Cymbalta blitz”

Is the advertising based on those high agency spending models generating any response at all?

Partly yes… but the drug clients are not happy campers about it.

“The study reports that what consumers are asking about are the scary side effects, which the drug-makers have to include in the ads, often in stomach-turning detail.”

My client is challenging some conventional thinking by finding a way to reduce the media buy by about half and moving the monies to more local store, in-person and social media exchange.

In my past, I have worked with Time-Warner Networks, Discovery Networks, PHD Media and taught media at the university level.

I’ve had the pleasure of averting ROSs and converting TRPs, GRPs and CPMs into viable ROIs.

Three key things I have gleaned out of all of it…

(1) The medium is the message and the message is the medium.

(2) Its not about counting how many people you reach, its about reaching the right people that counts

(3) Age and gender are only the tips of the iceberg of who represents customers and it is unfortunate that in the year 2010 agencies are addicted to ratings that only use those two demographic variables

A client who challenges their agency is the type of client I like… just like an agency that is brave enough to challenge its peers and the dying models of the past!