CONNECTING WITH CONSUMERS

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Sunday, August 19 2012

The Website is Back

your_image.jpgSome technical difficulties. Sorry for any inconvenience while the site was crashed.  Hats off to my local shaman P. for restoring what Webhostingpad could not (despite my $25 restore payment).  I will be posting from time to time here, but beginning in September, my new site http://connectwithconsumers.blogspot.com, will take over - unless I change my mind, but you will be the first to know.

Tuesday, May 8 2012

From B-to-C to B-to-B

Although this site is dedicated to consumer marketing, it goes without saying that more and more companies are waking up to the potential of new technologies and approaches for connecting with other companies. So in this entry, we go a bit outside the box to take a look at what businesses are doing these days with social media. The best window for meeting that objective may well be Mike Stelzner's  2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, with findings based on a survey of more than 3800 marketers.

SOCIAL MEDIA USE

Among the key results, we see that most B2B marketers claim to be using social media in their businesses, which essentially matches their consumer marketing counterparts:





SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS

Perhaps not surprisingly, B2B marketers are catching up to B2C marketers on Facebook, although they surpass their consumer-oriented counterparts on LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and Google+.  The key to using such channels is to focus on where one's intended audience is likely to be spending the most time.



SOCIAL MEDIA BENEFITS


What about results?  These results reveal some of the potential benefits of social media for B2B marketers:

  • Over 56% of B2B marketers acquired new business partnerships through social media (compared to 45% of B2C marketers)
  • Nearly 60% of B2B marketers saw improved search rankings from their social efforts (compared to 50% of B2C marketers)
  • B2B marketers are more able to gather marketplace insights from their social efforts (nearly 69% vs. 60% of B2C marketers)
  • The one area where B2B marketers significantly lag behind their B2C counterparts is in developing a loyal fan base.  63% of B2C marketers found social media helped them develop loyal fans, compared to 53% of B2B marketers.
  • The fact that many businesses are not seeing a direct link between their social media efforts and increased sales or reduced marketing expenses may have something to do with a lack of acumen as to how results can be measured:  20% of the respondents asked “How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on my business?”


THE FUTURE


Some projections concerning how B2B marketers intend to invest their time with social media also were culled from the study:

  • Respondents claim to be far more likely to increase their use of LinkedIn, with, over 76% of B2B marketers stating that they will increase their use (compared to 55% of B2C marketers).
  • 71% of B2B marketers plan to invest more time in blogging (compared to 65% of B2C marketers).
  • As for Facebook, a majority of marketers predict they will increase their use of Facebook this year, but B2B marketers (68%) lag behind B2C companies (76%).

The top topics B2B marketers want to learn about (compared to B2C) are:

  • Measuring effectiveness of social media (77% vs. 78%)
  • Converting activities to sales (72% vs. 69%)
  • Discovering best social media tactics (69% vs. 74%)



THE LESSON LEARNED

... is one we probably knew already:  Social media is now as much part and parcel of B2B marketing as it of B2C marketing.

SOME LINKS TO CHECK OUT

Why Marketing is Broken and How to Fix It

83% of Consumers Bailed on a Purchase Due to Poor Social Media Customer Service                                                    


Friday, January 27 2012

Bad Connections

Some good advice from Sundeep Kapur over at ClickZ.

In the pursuit of trying to get things done, some "top" brands have made mistakes. Here are some things to avoid, with no exceptions - things that I hope are rarely repeated.

  1. Run specials all the time. In a struggle to keep the consumer engaged, brands tend to keep offering consumers special deals. This all-out effort to discount and lure tends to have a negative impact by devaluing the brand and devaluing the relationship.
  2. Wait for people to come. Brands set up shop on social media sites and simply wait for the consumer to come and find them. They do little to engage via dialogue or by trying to market along other channels. They have simply set up shop and expect that it is good enough to drive consumers in.
  3. Run contests and games all the time. Gamification is the new buzzword for engagement with many brands investing significantly in games to engage their consumers. Additionally, brands tend to run multiple contests, which results in severely diluting their engagement to conversion metrics.
  4. Block negative feedback. Many top brands tend to either block or ignore negative feedback. If you put up a comment on their site they either take it down or have a defined strategy to push the bad comments as far down as possible. This strategy diminishes the value of the positive comments.
  5. Launch press releases on social media. Do you pay attention to more than 300 characters or watch long video clips? Brands tend to forget the conversational nature of engagement on social media sites - short, interesting stories are a much better way to engage.
  6. Wait 24 hours to respond. Some brands take a long time to respond because they only check "social feedback" twice a week. Other brands take a long time to respond because they have to get approval before they can respond. The problem is that if you take too long, the consumer will probably call your brand for an answer or move over to someone else.
  7. Not connecting your channels. Always a classic with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Just two weeks ago, a major travel company sent two types of incentives - a gas discount card by email that shaved 10 cents off each gallon and a gas discount offer via social media that offered a five cent discount. It took a direct mail piece to fix the issue.
  8. Snoop on and shock your customers. While it's OK for a brand to leverage "widgets" to track consumer behavior on social media sites, it's scary when the brand surprises these consumers with offers. A click on a social link led to a phone call by a cruise representative who unabashedly told me that he observed my behavior online.
  9. Just roll along. Some brands feel that it's OK to reach a certain critical mass in social media after which their sites can just "roll along." The snowball can roll the wrong way and hurt brands.
  10. Focus on "likes." A blind focus on driving up "likes" has led to the "like" button being devalued and resulted in significantly lower ROI.
  11. "Wait" to get started. Believe it or not there are still brands, especially in the financial services area, that are waiting for the social media "fad" to end.
Feel free to add your own, just click 'comment.'

Monday, October 31 2011

Connecting With Consumers on Smartphones

A nice summary of recent research by Ofcom (an independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) by UK blogger Colette Burke detailing the growing infatuation of the British for the smartphone, so I republish it verbatim below.  Burke's conclusion is right on regarding the need for companies to respond sooner rather than later by making their websites more mobile-friendly.  And it won't be long before we start hearing how 'mobile' not only refers to smartphones but also tablet PCs.  In fact you just did.  More of my comments following Burke's column.

Friday, 28 October 2011 

Colette Burke - Land Strategies Farming Blog

"A nation addicted to smartphones" is how Ofcom summarises its findings from a recent piece of research, saying that 27% of all adults and almost half of teenagers now own a smartphone (a mobile which connects to the internet). Smartphone owning numbers have exploded in the past year, and are set to rise further as annual sales of smartphones are now higher than those for the standard version.

More internet users connect to the web via their mobile than a laptop (45% versus 38%), and the number is even higher among 16-24 yearold where 71% access the internet via phone.

Smartphone usage is definitely here to stay and businesses are thinking through how they tap into the trend, whether it be for advertising their products, providing information, or directly selling goods online.

At the very least, websites must be simple enough to be quickly accessed. Consumers will rapidly lose patience if they have to wait for information to be downloaded. This means either having a site tailored to mobile usage, which automatically comes up when searched via phone, or having a link redirecting users from the main site to a mobile friendly one. Amazon and Tesco are good examples of a speedy tailored link. Asda’s site take an age to download.

The other option is to provide an app, or application, which sits permanently on the phone for easy access to a specific activity.

Although most usage is still for socialising, downloading music,  gaming, and searching for information,  the IGD reckons that smartphones are starting to change the way groceries are bought online. According to their research, 1 in 10 online shoppers are using smartphones to shop. Ocado claims that 15% of customer checkouts during the first half of the year came via their smartphone app. Tesco has a handy app which allows shoppers to scan the barcode of a product on their phone whereupon it is automatically added to their online shopping basket.

As to future developments, the IGD predicts that tailored apps which build a relationship with individual consumers are the way to go.

The time has probably come to view selling and marketing via the mobile phone as a crucial part of any business plan.  The research finds that 81% of smartphone users never switch them off, even when they go to bed, and that huge numbers are happy to use the phone whilst socialising, at the meal table, and even in the bathroom.

Smartphone usage is now a part of life. Those businesses without a smartphone presence may find themselves competitively disadvantaged. 




-------------------------

It's nice to see a perspective, boosted by fresh data, coming from outside the US for once.  Ofcam's research revealed some additional findings that didn't make it into Burke's installment, especially in terms of socializing.


In the bathroom and at the dinner table

The rapid growth in the use of smartphones – which offer internet access, email and a variety of internet-based applications – is changing the way many of us, particularly teenagers, act in social situations.

The vast majority of smartphone users (81 per cent) have their mobile switched on all of the time, even when they are in bed, with four in ten adults (38 per cent) and teens (40 per cent) admitting using their smartphone after it woke them.

Over half (51 per cent) of adults and two thirds (65 per cent) of teenagers say they have used their smartphone while socialising with others, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of adults and a third (34 per cent) of teenagers have used them during mealtimes and over a fifth (22 per cent) of adult and nearly half (47 per cent) of teenage smartphone users admitted using or answering their handset in the bathroom or toilet.

Teenagers are also more likely to use their smartphone in places they’ve been asked to switch their phone off such as the cinema or library – with 27 per cent admitting doing so, compared with 18 per cent of adults.

So much for the UK.  What about elsewhere?  A global survey carried out last February and March by IDG Global Solutions involving nearly 13,700 participants from 16 countries essentially demonstrated that the UK results are pretty typical.  Although IGS identified differences in terms of preferred smartphone brands and usage by region, it was clear that the popularity of mobile devices is rapidly growing worldwide, and that the traditional cellphone is on its way out, to the product scrapheap that is littered by VCRs, fax machines, and desktop computers.

More than 2/3s of the respondents worldwide claimed to use a smartphone for personal (73%) or business (69%) purposes. Nokia and Apple lead the way in Europe, while Apple, Blackberry, and Samsung the preferred choices in the US.  Moreover, 70% of smartphone users say they browse the Internet regularly and use mobile applications, with general and IT news sites most popular, followed by social networking access.  


As if you don't have enough stats for one day, here are some more 'in a nutshell' global mobile stats from mobilThinking:

Consumer mobile behavior

1) What do consumers use their mobiles for?  Japanese consumers are still more advanced in mobile behavior, using mobile Web, apps and email more, but US or Europeans text and play more games. Most popular mobile destinations are news and information, weather reports, social networking, search and maps.

• In all countries surveyed more consumers used their browser than apps and only a minority will use Web or apps exclusively.

2) US consumers prefer mobile browsers for banking, travel, shopping, local info, news, video, sports and blogs and prefer apps for games, social media, maps and music.

3) Mobile searches have quadrupled in the last year, for many items one in seven searches are now mobile.

• Did you know 71 percent of smartphone users that see TV, press or online ad, do a mobile search - will they find your mobile site or your competitors’?

4) SMS is the king of mobile messaging. 8 trillion text messages will be sent in 2011.But consumers are also embracing mobile email, IM and MMS rapidly.
A2P -application to person SMS e.g. automated alerts from banks, offers from retailers, m-tickets is expected to overtake person to person SMS in 2016.

 • Is your opt-in CRM database part of that revolution?

5) Mobile ad spend worldwide is predicted to be US$3.3 billion in 2011 sky rocketing to $20.6 billion in 2015, driven by search ads and local ads.  In the US over half of U.S. mobile ad spending is local – Japan particularly – continues to dominate global mobile ad spend.

 • With US$1 billion in annual mobile ad revenues Google is the main recipient of mobile ad spend.

6) To what types of mobile marketing do people respond best? In the UK and France opt-in SMS gets the best results, in Germany mobile Web ads get  best results.


Sunday, October 9 2011

Infographic: Never Leave Home Again

Paris is an amazing city, I don't deny that, and I am sure that by living here, I am the envy of millions of people living in lesser cities, towns, or villages.  That said, Paris shares a major drawback that one can find in any alternative burg - people!  Here we are in the 21st century, with technology evolving at a mindboggling pace, enhancing our lives in untold ways, and yet many people seem to be stuck in the Stone Age - grunting in response to a simple request, blowing smoke in your face, bumping into you on the sidewalk as if you are invisible, resting their filthy trainers on metro seats, spitting and urinating in public, and in many cities, like the one in the US where I grew up, shooting, stabbing, maiming, punching, drowning, and whatnot, just for the hell of it.  What to do, yes, what to do?  Perhaps the obvious answer to how to cope with the caveperson formerly known as 'human' is just in front of our noses:  stay home!

According to a recent infographic, among several offered up by Peter Kim, who claims to have taken a fancy to this site, the computer and the Internet have made the 'never leave home again' coping mechanism increasingly possible.  You be the judge.

I personally think there is something to be said for leaving the home from time to time.  One reason is to chase after my cat, who is not yet 'connected.'  Another is to go to work, which I still can't completely do from home, although it probably won't be too long before most teaching is done via a computer screen - I've already exploited that possibility with some video teaching I did for TEC students sitting in a Monterrey, Mexico classroom.  Another is to actually meet up with people you like - that is, the non-cavemen types - in actual bricks and mortar settings, to converse around drinks, catch a live band, visit an art gallery, attend a baseball game, and my personal favorite, to have an original meal in a restaurant (without which my Paris Restaurants and Beyond blog would be lame indeed).  Not that these activities can't be accomplished virtually (although I'm a bit stuck figuring out how to accomplish the restaurant feat in virtual life), but from my perspective, something is clearly lost in translation.  What's scarier than not having to leave home at all are all those device obsessed persons in the real world who psychologically are nowhere except in their devices.  Watching many young Parisians walking around town while frantically texting, checking their messages, talking on the phone, etc. - don't tell me they are in Paris.  They are in the device, which for many, might as well be home.




Created by: College At Home

Friday, June 17 2011

Connecting With Consumers Via High Tech

I've copied below an excerpt from an interesting article in The New York Times today, penned by John Grossman.  You can read the entire article at this link, but I thought the discussion about Q.R. codes - that is, quick response bar codes, which can be scanned using an iPhone's or Android phone's camera - provided some good insight into how even small businesses can connect with consumers via new technology.  The Q. R. codes rely on an app that translates the code into an advertisement or takes you to a related Web page.  The codes also offer an intriguing channel for getting closer to customers, sharing recipes and coupons, inviting feedback, and so on.  Here's the excerpt:

Nothing is old school about this or a wave of other high-tech customer service initiatives being adopted by a vanguard of small businesses.

In some instances, such as at Zingerman's, a delicatessen, restaurant, mail-order food seller and business seminar host based in Ann Arbor, Mich., the digitally driven service enhancements remain internal and invisible to customers.

For the last dozen years, Zingerman’s has captured customer comments as either code red (complaints) or code green (compliments), but until recently they were captured on paper forms.

Storing comments digitally makes it much easier to analyze them, said Maggie Bayless, managing partner of ZingTrain, the business seminar division.

“We can now sort by types of complaints, customer name or period of time,” Ms. Bayless said. “For example, as we go into the holidays, it’s possible to pull the data for the holiday season a year ago and see what problems we were having and identify: What do we need to remind people to watch for this year?”

By contrast, the highly visible brand of high-tech customer service offered by Culinary Twist is activated by so-called Q.R. codes on its product labels. Short for Quick Response, these bar code cousins, when photographed by an app-enabled smartphone, offer a wealth of service opportunities.

Potential buyers can view a recipe, say, for pork ribs in Baja sauce when they are steps from the meat counter. Soon, Ms. Milos said, they will be able to call up on their hand-held devices a discount coupon that can be scanned at checkout. And with help from OpinionLab’s back-shop capabilities, Ms. Milos can also receive recipe suggestions, insights or even notification of a problem at a particular store — be it a missing favorite or filthy display shelves.

She expects more of the kind of helpful feedback received in an early store demo that led to a relabeling of the Bora Bora sauce.

“We had so many people say they didn’t know what tamarind was, or dates, that we decided to take those words out of the subscript and change it to more about the flavor and how the product was used,” Ms. Milos said. “It now says ‘Sweet Spice Grilling Sauce.’ That’s another piece to the Q.R. code and serving the customer — just listening to them.”

The Q.R. code enhancements to the labels cost about 15 cents a bottle. Rand Nickerson, OpinionLab’s chief executive, puts additional costs for his company’s services at pennies per consumer comment.

“It’s not true anymore that only the Procter & Gambles of the world can afford to do this,” he said. “You don’t have to run a wave of $100,000 focus groups across the country to learn things anymore. The most successful companies in the future, I believe, will be those who become progressively more and more customer-driven.”


Monday, May 2 2011

The Mobile Movement

Thanks to my ESCP student, Jalita Aspelin, who is Assistant Product Manager at Agence France-Presse (check out her New Trends website) for this link to a video promotion for Google mobile ads:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjUcq_E4I-s&feature=player_embedded

As is typically the case with these sorts of pithy videos on social media and new technologies, the video is replete with phantom percentages, source and method unidentified.  Nonetheless, the basic points of the video can't be denied - smartphones are indeed serving to make consumers smarter shoppers and are facilitating the shopping process, usurping many of the functions of traditional media and computers.  Is it just me, or does it seem that in the near future, the desktop computer is going to look as much as an antique as the typewriter?

Monday, April 18 2011

Pretzel Crisps' Social Sampling and Twitter

On the heels of my recent Pretzel Crisps' and Facebook campaign excerpt, I heard from Pretzel Crisps' PR Director Jessica Harris - another example of how the makers of an everyday snack product really understand how to resonate with consumers through social media - they listen and they connect.  Ms. Harris provided a summary of Pretzel Crisps' so-called "Social Sampling" program, along with a window into how the firm uses Twitter to generate brand awareness and consumer conversations.  I've presented the campaign summary verbatim below.


Pretzel Crisps’® “Social Sampling” Program Rethinks How to Connect with New Consumers

 

Objective:

 

Pretzel Crisps® wanted to introduce the brand to new consumers in a targeted and high-impact way.  “We needed a groundbreaking, cost-effective way to raise brand awareness and attract new users,” said Jason Harty, Director of Field & Interactive Marketing for Pretzel Crisps and recently referenced in the newly released, Listen First! Turning Social Media Conversations into Business Advantages, by Stephen D. Rappaport.  “By listening to the cloud of conversation and engaging with consumers in relevant dialogue, we could build increased interest in the brand and move Pretzel Crisps from an overlooked brand to a must-have brand in the competitive snack food category.”

 

Strategy:

 

As a humble pretzel cracker, it’s a pretty lofty goal to become a catalyst for social conversation, but that’s how they started.  By listening to and engaging in relevant conversations online, Pretzel Crisps delivered just-in-time product sampling to unexpecting new consumers.  The brand refers to their innovative marketing tactic as “Social Sampling.”

 

Results:

 

The Social Sampling tactic has innovated Pretzel Crisps’ field marketing approach and helped to bring new users into the franchise.  Since the launch of Social Sampling, the brand has used Twitter to: bring the idea of being a catalyst for social conversation to life and manufacture significant media impressions.  By measuring the number of impressions generated from each social sampling interaction and the resulting reach through each user’s following, Pretzel Crisps has been able to garner 2,877,000 earned media impressions since July 2010. 

 

Social Sampling delivered earned media via tweets, blog posts, reviews and comments.  While the brand has not been able to measure the specific sales lift resulting from their Social Sampling program, the brand is confident that this hyper-targeted, high-impact sampling is creating new consumers each day.


Thursday, September 16 2010

Generating WOM With Falling Cars

Marketers are people and people love their cars.  So it's no surprise that some of the most ingenious buzzworthy marketing campaigns are those involving the modern invention that arguably is the root of all evil.  Trust me, on that one - I've driven in Boston, Paris, Heraklion, Istanbul, and the like,  and am still shaking, which is why the only thing I drive these days is a number 3 iron on the links.  Actually, I don't really play golf, but I thought that was a pretty funny comment.  Anyway, I must admit that in my past, I only drove a car horizontally, not vertically, and at least in the general vicinity of the speed limit, which isn't very buzzworthy at all.  And that is why cars that are hanging, falling, bouncing, and whatever other possibility I missed, capture attention.  And, as I mentioned about 10,000 times in Connecting With Consumers, if you don't get people's attention, you don't get buzz.

I couldn't help thinking about some buzzworthy car-related car campaigns of the recent past when I read the 2008 WOM case study at the WOMMA website earlier today.  The award-winning campaign that provides the focus of the case study was a 10-city promotion in Belgium created by Proximity BBDO for Dodge to promote the new Dodge Viper and a couple other models.  As described in the case study, the challenge for Dodge in the highly competitive Belgian car market was to get people familiar with the cars by encouraging them to take a test drive.  Yet, to get people into the Dodge showrooms for a test drive and, hopefully, a purchase would have required a lot of very expensive promotional shouting.  So instead of trying to bring consumers to the cars, BBDO cooked up a scheme to take the cars to the consumers, without spending for a single print ad, TV or radio commercial, or direct mailing.  As is evident from the adjoining photo, the marketing action involved inviting people to experience a 50-ft meter bungee jump in a Dodge Viper.  And BBDO made it social by equipping the cars with cameras, which recorded the reactions of the test driver. The videos were uploaded and posted at the campaign's website and then made shareable.

Here are the campaign's results, taken straight from the WOMMA website:


1. The onboard camera videos generated over 50,000 views on YouTube and GarageTV.

2. Site traffic boomed, with over 35,000 unique visitors

3. 10% of site visitors opted in, 5% requested more information and 1% visited a showroom.

In fact, by the time they took the Dodge challenge in Belgium, BBDO were already old hands at the hanging car motif.  Here's one from Italy that got a lot of attention online a few years ago.

 

You don't necessarily need a dangling car to generate buzz with this sort of outdoor campaign.  Back in November 2006, Target challenged magician David Blaine to escape from a gyroscope hanging five stories above New York's Times Square.  Blaine was to accomplish his great escape by Friday at 5AM to make it in time to Target's 2-Day Thanksgiving Sale.  Well, during the period around Thanksgiving, Times Square is swarming with tourists, most of whom are armed with digital cameras and videocams.  Sure enough, it wasn't long before YouTube was inundated with uploaded videos of the Target-sponsored event, and before long, YouTube counted more than 18,000 views.

  

And another example for good measure:

Let's face it, these campaigns are pretty talkable - they are hard to miss, unexpected, and creative.  Relatively speaking - that is, relative to a large-scale traditional mass media campaign, they are cheap.  The hanging cars are immediate and encourage sharing - with passersby (in car or on foot) likely to have a portable device on hand, chances are they'll be communicating about the campaign on their portable phones or else using its camera to capture an image that they'll upload at a social media website.  That's how you spread buzz.  

Tuesday, September 14 2010

Arcade Fire Go Viral: Connecting With Consumers' Roots

In Connecting With Consumers, I wrote about a terrifically successful viral campaign developed by the rock group Nine Inch Nails to promote the 2007 release of their concept album 'Year Zero,' which involved cryptic, inventive websites and the distribution of USB keys in concert venue bathrooms bearing tracks from the album.  A new viral action by the Canadian group Arcade Fire may not equal NIN's campaign in scope, but it certainly doesn't lack in originality, creativity, and cutting edge online technology.

To promote their new CD Suburbs, Arcade Fire created a new video set to the song "We Used to Wait" (track 13 on the CD), which one can view at http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com.  The video is coded in html5 and was developed for Google Chrome, so it can only be viewed if you have Chrome installed on your computer.  (And why not?  There are many fans of Chrome who claim it is faster and more stable than Mozilla Firefox.)  The video is individually tailored, such that the viewer is first asked to type in their childhood address; once loaded, the video depicts a young, hooded figure jogging through the early morning streets while the song is playing.  Several seconds into the song, other screens start opening up showing Google Maps-generated images from the viewer's childhood streets.  Pretty impressive. 



What's not to like about this concept?  It is an original approach to music marketing, entertaining, and engaging.  It has great spreadable potential.  Maybe seeing one's childhood neighborhood popping up in a contemporary music video won't have the same resonance if you are a young AF fan who is still living in your childhood home.  But for this aging music fan, it's kind of nice to go back to one's old neighborhood--which, I am afraid has all but faded from memory--especially without having to board a plane to do so.  And looking at that image of my childhood home back in the not-quite-suburban Baltimore neighborhood where I grew up, you'll get an even better idea why a virtual trip would beat a real visit any day of the week.


One other key ingredient to the AF video concept that bears pointing out.  The content of the media action has relevance to the focal point of the campaign - the new Arcade Fire CD, on which the group revisits its theme of neighborhoods that was a focus of their breakthrough debut album Funeral.  To quote from amazon.com:

The novelist Thomas Wolfe coined the famous adage 'you can't go home again.'  The members of Arcade Fire know this--because they tried.  But when memories of youth stem from suburbs constructed for convenience, not permanence, those childhood memories become that much harder to trace.

Very true.  Yet the new video makes going home again just that much easier.


Tuesday, August 31 2010

Designing Product Packaging With the Consumer in Mind

Scavenging cyberspace - shouldn't there be a word for this, like 'gleaning,' for those gypsies (the one or two left in France after the recent Sarko purge) who go through supermarket dumpsters, pulling out enough edible food items (albeit, past their expiry date) for a week's in-home dining? 'Cybergleaning' will have to do until someone informs me what the no doubt already coined term in current use is. At any rate, today I came across a couple examples of innovative product packages, designed with the consumer in mind. I think it's easy to lose track of the myriad ways that marketers, consumer goods manufacturers, and advertisers can connect with consumers. In other words, it's not always about social media and the Internet. Packaging and product design can and should emerge from a careful analysis of consumers' needs and interests.

In the first example, British design students were challenged to rethink and rebrand sanitary towels and tampons - the so-called 'sanitary protection product category' or 'Sanpros' (how's that for a marketing euphemysm?). Specifically, their task was to create environmentally-friendly tampon packaging that reduces embarrassment and contributes to the buyer's confidence. Kyle Tolley & Sarah Graves came up with this elegantly simple solution.







I guess it goes without saying that it's a good thing the project's designers weren't inspired by this Kleenex campaign, which was intended to spur summer sales.





Which brings us to the second example, a shopping bag distributed for free to buyers of GNC diet pills in the Philippines to illustrate the supplement's calorie-burning attributes.  Good idea, although not entirely original (see the examples that follow) and the execution was just a bit bizarre.  As noted at Jezebel.com, 'We suspect the blood-red top is to demonstrate the dangers of mixing the pills with pop rocks and coke.'  Can you say 'body bag'?







Here's an earlier example of the incredibly shrinking bag concept:




And a couple more noteworthy examples:









Wednesday, May 26 2010

The book: Now available

Amazon.com Oxford University Press