Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Connect the Dots

Two relevant pieces of information. A.) Thanks to multitasking, US adults spend amazingly 11 hours, 33 minutes per day with all media (eMarketer). B.) SymphonyIRI’s recent MarketPlus survey indicated consumers will continue to be frugal. Marketers, time to connect the dots.

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Back in January I reported that America’s purchasing decision process is morphing. I introduced the concept of ZMOT, the Zero Moment of Truth, where people, thanks to the collaborative tools of Web 2.0 were sharing their experiences online and influencing consumer purchasing decisions. Now add in the two pieces of information I shared in the above blink. CPG (consumer package goods) marketers are now targeting a multitasking audience on media overload that defines value largely on price. Time has arrived for marketers to connect the dots.

The present opportunity is to leverage mobile technology which is extending the consumers ability to access digital content 24/7. Let me highlight some key facts to validate my hypothesis:

· The Pew Research Center’s Internet & America Project just released that 86% of all smartphone and tablet owners use their devices while watching TV.

· Nielsen reported back in December that 19% of smartphone and tablet owners they surveyed during Q3 2011 used their mobile devices to seek information related to a commercial they watched.

· Google conducted a study back in April, 2011 that revealed 70% of Americans look at product reviews before they buy; 79% of consumers indicated they use their smartphones to assist with their shopping.

· According to SymphonyIRI’s MarketPlus survey, consumers still choose a store based on lowest prices, while three-quarters revealed price influences brand decisions.

As I stated back in January, our mobile devices have become MOT (the Moment of Truth) accelerators. Consequently they have opened a huge window of opportunity for savvy marketers to capitalize on three intercept marketing strategies – apps, QR codes and SMS. Target and Old Navy (Snap Appy) are two leading retailers with mobile apps designed for our mobile-based lifestyles. They enable shoppers to search for products in-store (e.g., aisle location/availability) or from home (e.g., locate stores), broadcast weekly or daily deals and track rewards. Macy’s won the Mobile Marketer of the Year in 2011. They rely heavily on QR codes embedded on their Backstage Program in-store signage as well as utilize SMS to connect consumers with celebrity designers and fashion authorities via video plus award gift cards.

Marketers, remember to connect your dots!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So-Mo Connectivity

Author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman continually contests that technology is dividing us as much as uniting us – “we are so overly connected that we have become disconnected.” Mr. Friedman look out. There is a new wave of apps coming that combines social and mobile, a.k.a. So-Mo.

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Personally I am beginning to struggle keeping up with the evolving world of technology. However, I do know that one of the leading conferences to keep tabs on takes place in the spring (this year March 9-18) in Austin, TX. SXSW (South by Southwest) features the latest in interactive, film and music; this year they even included a comedy venue. Focusing in on the interactive portion of the conference I learned about some new apps, specifically Highlight, Glancee and Banjo to name a few. In real English, these apps are designed to combine your social information by mining your Facebook and Twitter lists with your mobile geo-location applications. Consequently, if someone (friend or friend of a friend) is within proximity that has the same app, their name, photos, list of mutual friends, common interests or any other information they share online will pop up on your mobile. We are talking flash connectivity here. So-Mo connectivity!

Now that the weather is getting better, can you image taking a walk with an engaging Dalmatian puppy to your local park with one of these news apps? Wow! Would you spark a flash mob!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

G&E (Grazing and Engaging)

In my last post Portafuel, I addressed the growth in snack foods and our “grazing” lifestyle. On Monday Technomic released that 48 percent of the consumers they polled are now snacking at least twice a day, compared to 25 percent in 2010. Future Millennial trend: G&E!

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Last week I worked with Chef Scott Anderson from Shepherd University, West Virginia, to present an educational session at a regional conference. Scott informed me that he is witnessing his guests (students) selecting highly portable food so they can sit at their tables and eat while texting their friends. In some cases he has even observed students actually texting each other at the same table. Consequently, Scott is exploring labeling his future menus with certain food items designated as Text Friendly.

Upon my return from the conference, I read an article about Taco Bell’s new mobile augmented reality campaign to promote their Doritos Locos Tacos. Their mobile application has been designed to engage and elevate their guests’ experience so they further connect with the brand. Taco Bell’s Director of Digital Marketing indicated that according to their research: “Forty-seven percent of Millennials are engaging with social media while they’re eating.”

My query is if forty-seven percent are “grazing and engaging” today in 2012, what will the G&E factor be in 2015 when more portafuels and engagement tools flood our environment.

Do you have a favorite portafuel when you G&E?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I read daily articles about the growth in snack foods and our “grazing” lifestyle. Last week I learned that the average smartphone user spends 2.7 hours per day connecting, twice as much time as they spend eating. For me it validates: Welcome to the new age of “Portafuel.”

Read On:
Major food companies like Kraft, General Mills, Quaker Oats, etc. in recognition of America’s on-the-go lifestyles have been introducing numerous morning snacks under the guise of “healthy halo” umbrellas. Kraft claims a MilkBite granola bar has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk. General Mills introduced this past year Fiber One bars (90 to 140 calories) as well as their Yoplait Greek yogurt multipacks (twice as much protein as regular yogurt). Quaker Oat’s “Real Medley” instant oatmeal cups with fruit & nuts will be coming to your shelves soon. The restaurant industry has also jumped on the bandwagon to capture their fair share of consumers eating their breakfast in stages, on the run. McDonald’s breakfast menu now include snacks (e.g., smoothies), Starbucks has expanded their menu to include numerous items that compliment their coffee offerings, etc. NPD the research company reported that 60 percent of restaurant growth over the past few years is attributed to the breakfast daypart.

Therefore my query is what is driving morning munchies? Commuting? The most recent data I could find dates back to a New York Times article, Commuter Nation, September 2011. The median American leaves for work between 7:30 AM and 7:59 AM with an average commute of 25.1 minutes, one way! I work out of my home, so my commute is less than five seconds from my bed to my computer. Therefore, extreme commuters, people according to the U.S. Census Bureau (3% of American adult workers) who actually commute more than 90 minutes each way, contribute to our median. Throw in the time needed to prepare for work or prepare your family for their day, who has time for a sit-down breakfast anymore?

NPD projects that morning snacks will continue to grow faster than afternoon or evening snacks through 2018. However, when I read that Nielsen reported sales of all snack foods hit $16.64 billion last year, up 3.3 percent from the previous year, I still believe snacking is a 24/7 affair with Americans. Commuting is one contributing factor, but I also hypnotize, technology is now a significant contributing factor. Remember my original blink: Smartphone users spend 2.7 hours connecting (phone calls, texting, social networking) via their gizmos (note: This excludes time spent gaming and using apps). That is twice as much time as they spend eating.

Who will have time to sit down for a real meal in the future? Welcome to the new age of “Portafuel.”

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Road to Shangri-La

As 2011 came to a close, I wrote about Moet Hennessy partnering with a Chinese company to build a vineyard in northwest China. I just learned that their Chief Executive, Christopher Navarre revealed:”Our first objective is to produce the best quality.” Sounds like a great wine production objective for Shangri-La.

Read On:
As I reported, the production costs of champagne in Reims, France have skyrocketed due to the increased cost of grapes and land since most of the major brands do not own vineyards, thus buy their grapes from independent growers. Consequently, Moet Hennessy, the French wine and spirits company has been investing in China. They just entered into a joint red wine venture with Chinese liquor maker the VATS Group. The area in China they have chosen to plant vines that will produce superior grapes is in the far northwest corner of the Yunnan Province at the foot of the Himalayas. Mr. Navarre at the signing ceremony indicated: “The team spent a lot of time in China to find the right location to produce this top-quality red wine. The combination of soil, sunshine and climate make it ideal for the type of grapes needed to produce a robust, Bordeaux-style wine that should be ready in three to four years. The objective here is not market share, not sales revenue. Our first objective is to produce the best quality.” For the record the signing ceremony was held in the town of Shangri-La.

Remember Shangri-La, the fictional place depicted in the British classic Lost Horizon? It was a mystical valley isolated from the outside world, synonymous with paradise and utopia according to Tibetan Buddhist folk-lore. Let’s face it, as business leaders; we are all searching for our Shangri-La. Smart marketers recognize that classic marketing models are fading and are being replaced by customer centric engagement strategies. As a result, companies (B2C and B2B) are utilizing collaborative Web 2.0 technologies to get closer to their customers. Occupants of the C-Suite are challenging their people to get into the social media game. They are also demanding “Show me the ROI” since they are too accustomed/programmed to the traditional bottom line quantitative monetary measurement of Return on Investment.

SMARTKETING has been afforded the opportunity to work on several social media projects and recommends stealing a page from Moet Hennessy’s playbook – when embarking in the new world of social media, think big picture/long-term. Make your first objective to produce the best quality social media movement since the end result is still all about achieving a transaction. Moet Hennessy understands this concept since they know they will be producing choice bottles of Bordeaux that their Chinese target market will be lining up for in future years.

Is your company ready for the long journey to Shangri-La?