Thursday, September 30, 2010

Craving & Grazing

We’re walking, we’re talking, we’re craving, and we’re grazing. Having grown up in an era of technology, our mobile/wired Millennials have developed an “of the moment” mentality. No surprise, their snacking behavior is a result of their spontaneous lifestyles.

Read On:
Earlier in the year, Technomic’s released the 2010 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trends Study that documented consumers snacking habits. Versus two years ago, 21 percent indicated that they snack more often; 55 percent of those surveyed indicated that they snack at least once per day. A larger percentage of snacks are bought at retail locations and eaten at home. However, consumers aged 18 to 24 are more likely to snack outside the house. To me this further validates the Millennials 24/7 on the go, got to have it now, craving frame of mind.

The study also indicated that the top three driving snack consumption factors were convenience (62%), portability (59%) and price (48%). All bode well for foodservice operators targeting Millennials, especially by offering an attractive price point. Cost control is a major driver of their food choices, since this group has been hit hardest by the recession – unemployment 19.5% in the first quarter versus the 9.5% average for the entire workforce.

Other relevant snacking information that I read recently was provided in a study conducted by the research company Mintel. Peak snacking occurred between 3 to 6 PM (37 percent of their respondents), but people tend to spend more between 6 to 8 PM, an average of $4.26 per person versus $3.79 across all other time periods. A majority of the people snacking were looking for beverage (64%) or something portable (61%). Over half (52%) craved something indulgent, while a smaller percentage (32%) desired a healthy option.

Closing thought: Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Will Americans have time to sit down for their traditional Thanksgiving meal or will they make the move towards “grab & go?”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I find all the recent articles about brand advocates, people that recommend brands (products or services), without being paid to do so, very stimulating. Moving forward, thanks to social networking, aggressive marketers will learn how to better indentify and inoculate these individuals better known as Brandies.

Read On:
The term viral marketing became popular in the late 90’s. It described the new marketing strategies that were being utilized to creatively convey a marketer’s message that ultimately resulted in the message’s exponential growth and overall influence. The analogy to a biological virus was best framed in the 2003 book Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand by Salzman, Mathia and O’Reilly. They documented three definitive stages:

· Inoculation – The point of where an individual is introduced/exposed to a pathogenic organism.

· Incubation – The time period elapsed between exposure and when symptoms/signs of the virus were apparent.

· Infection – Full blown spread of the virus.

No surprise, the social media revolution has further enhanced viral marketing. As I have shared in numerous blogs, tech savvy marketers are actively listening and engaging with their online communities. They are looking to identify brand advocates, people who are the key/mass influencers in your online community. They will move the needle on your business as your virtual sales force, spreading positive word of mouth and attracting new customers. I call these people Brandies. Once Brandies are identified they need to be inoculated.

One simple form of inoculation is recognition which I addressed in my blog Anticipation. Companies are now learning to utilize loyal product users as a source for open innovation. The case study I shared was Kimberly Clark’s Huggies MomInspired Grant Program which is awarding $250 thousand in seed capital and resources to mothers with great ideas to market. In my industry, foodservice, Papa John’s created the Specialty Pizza Challenge. The contest attracted 12,000 Facebook entries; by August the entries were narrowed down to three finalists whose creations were menued. The big winner was Los Angeles Brandie Barbara Hyman. Her “cheesy chicken cordon bleu” pizza creation accounted for 45 percent of the 250,000 specialty pizzas sold by Papa John’s in August. Papa John’s contest was a viral success.

Whether you are a B2C or B2B company, it is time to identify, inoculate via recognition, your Brandies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Toddler Steps

Numerous articles are surfacing indicating that a majority of companies jumped into the social media frenzy without a cohesive game plan or measurement in place. Being a classically trained marketer, I am a strong advocate of strategic planning, but when it comes to social media,
I recommend toddler steps.

Read On:
Back in June, Digital Brand Expressions released findings of a study they conducted among 100 companies – 49% were less than 100 employees, 32% had 50 to 999 employees and the remainder, 19% had more than 1,000 employees. Key Learning: 78% of the respondents indicated that they were utilizing social media; only 41% had a strategic plan in place. If my math is correct, 68% of the business universe does not have a social media plan. What resulted were a plethora of articles providing tips of “how to” formulate the perfect plan. Blogger Parissa Behnia said it best in her piece titled Cosmopolitan and Social Media; we are always reading how to articles to be more successful.

Over the remainder of the summer, all the social media gurus began addressing the need to listen and find your community, engage with your community, find the right content to deliver to your community, find the right platforms, etc. What I did not read were two basic building blocks for the foundation of a solid social media plan that would require toddler steps:

· Culture – Famous adage;
"Culture Trumps Strategy." Your entire company has to embrace the need and commitment for social media. Otherwise, you can develop the most brilliant strategy, but if your corporate culture is composed of tree huggers that insist on doing it the same old way, culture will trump strategy every time.

· Resources – How are you going to manage the process? Best practices address that it should be internal, an inner voice, thus the responsibility of a PR department. Not every company can afford these resources, thus need to implement a team approach. Responsibilities and time commitment need to be clearly defined.

Referencing ancient Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Remember when it comes to social media, the journey begins with toddler steps.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flip Flops

“Velcro parents”, now that you have dropped your children off at college, chill. Even as you review your credit card bills complete with charges from Best Buy, Linen & Things,
Apple Store, etc., put things in perspective, you saved on footwear thanks to Flip Flops.

Read On:
I was motivated by curiosity to pinpoint the origin of modern day flip flops and learned that they evolved from a plant based, flat and thonged Japanese sandal known as a Zōri. It is documented that the production of the rubber soled version were first produced in Kobe, Japan back in the early 1930s. Flip flops first appeared in America after World War II when soldiers bought back the Japanese Zōri, including the cheaper rubber soled editions as souvenirs. Historian Edward Tenner wrote in his book “Our Own Devices” that their low cost of production and consumer demand fueled Japan’s economic recovery post World War II.

The original designs of flip flops have virtually been unchanged for 80 years. It was in the 1950’s as “pop culture” evolved, bright colors were added and the name was coined thanks to the sound they made. At first, flip flops represented the informal lifestyle of California and surfing as kids wore them to the beach or to the pool. Rubber flip flops could be purchased everywhere – dime stores, surf stores and supermarkets. Then platforms became more stylized (e.g., wood, bamboo, leather) and by the 90s they were part of the fashion landscape, thus worn all the time.

Worldwide, especially in many countries with low GDPs, flip flops are a practical, affordable form of footwear that protects the soles of people that would otherwise walk around barefoot. Here in the US; the estimated overall market for footwear is $45 billion with flip flops accounting for $2 billion. One article I read indicated that with an average price of $10 per pair, $5 Wal-Mart specials to designer Gucci’s over $200, there are approximately 200 million pairs sold annually.

What? You just noticed on your credit card bill a $150 charge for a pair of Swarovski crystal studded
Jean-Paul Gaultier flip flops. Cheer up! Think about how much money you will save on clothing when Target introduces unisex Kimonos next year.