Categories
Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Pet marketing services agency Bigeye’s podcast features Olivia Canlas, the co-founder and CEO of Meowbox, a pawpular direct-to-consumer cat treat and toy subscription. Olivia shares how she first had the idea for Meowbox and why social media has been purrfect for growing the brand. Olivia talks candidly about challenges during COVID, the importance of being part of an extended network of female entrepreneurs, and brainstorming pawsitively ameowzing creative box themes.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Today’s episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS provides another chance to hear a conversation with direct-to-consumer pioneer, Olivia Canlas, the co-founder and CEO of Meowbox. Olivia’s advice on building a community around her products and insights on the use of influencer marketing reflect topics we’ll be covering in Bigeye’s upcoming exclusive report, Retail Disrupted: What Shoppers Want From Brands Today. And in a couple of weeks, we’ll be talking with Olivia again, along with other guests in the direct-to-consumer space to mark the 100th episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS. But for now, enjoy this encore of a conversation with Olivia Canlas.

You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us today. Over the past decade, a new type of business has disrupted retail. From Warby Parker, which sells eyeglasses and contact lenses to Everlane clothing, Casper mattresses, and The Honest Company for baby and beauty products, these companies all have one thing in common: they sell directly to consumers. Their ability to forge one-to-one relationships with their customers and capture valuable first-party data that is impossible via traditional retail is a unique advantage of the direct-to-consumer model. I am excited to welcome a pioneer in the direct-to-consumer space to this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS. Launched in 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Meowbox delivers boxes of toys and food treats to cat owners across Canada and the US as a monthly or bi-monthly subscription. With operations in Portland, Oregon too, the company has been featured in Buzzfeed, New York Magazine, Vogue, The Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, and InStyle magazine. And most recently, the New York Times Wirecutter picked Meowbox as the best cat subscription box. The Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Meowbox is Olivia Canlas, who is joining us today from her office in Vancouver. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Olivia!

Olivia Canlas: Thank you so much. I’m very excited for our conversation today.

Adrian Tennant: Thank you. So, first of all, Olivia, can you tell us a little more about what Meowbox is?

Olivia Canlas: Of course. So I’d like to think of Meowbox as monthly deliveries of cat happiness. So it is a box full of themed cat toys and treats that we choose exclusively for our subscribers. And we deliver that monthly or bi-monthly, in the subscription model.

Adrian Tennant: Now, back in 2013, when you launched Meowbox, direct-to-consumer wasn’t nearly as well established as a business model, as it is today. What inspired you to start a subscription box for cat owners?

Olivia Canlas: I was a subscription box customer, maybe two or three years before I thought of the idea of Meowbox. I was a subscriber to cosmetics, so I knew that that was something that appealed to me, to my friends, people in a similar demographic as I was. And so I was aware of the concept of subscription boxes, but specifically like the moment where I thought, you know, “What there needs to be a Meowbox in this world” was when I started getting targeted on my Facebook for a dog subscription box. And I thought, you know what, instead of just ignoring it, thinking, well, that doesn’t apply to me. I don’t have a dog. I wondered – because I’m more of a cat person – I wonder if there was a box for cats and upon my initial research, there wasn’t a box that was dedicated just to cat parents.

Adrian Tennant: Now clearly the business is successful now, but looking back, do you think being a woman meant that you faced additional challenges as an entrepreneur?

Olivia Canlas: You know, I like to think that everything that I do and that I did, to build the company it’s not tied to gender in any way, but, I didn’t look at my gender as something that was going to hold me back from succeeding, but in reality, there were a few moments where I was reminded that maybe I might be viewed a little bit differently in terms of, you know, male versus female, business leaders. And one example that I can think of was I was at a trade show once looking for some new product with my co-founder who’s male, and, a handful of times the brand representatives would initiate the conversation, speaking to him. instead of me, as if just automatically thinking that he was the one who was the decision-maker. I wasn’t, like offended or insulted, but it was definitely something that I noticed at the time and just sort of little things like that. I mean, very easy for me to step in and let them know I was the one who was doing the product selection. so it could have just been like a subconscious, behavior of people to expect maybe that it was the male who was in charge of making the decisions.

Adrian Tennant: Now I mentioned in the introduction that Meowbox serves cat owners in Canada and the United States. Do you have customers in any other countries?

Olivia Canlas: In the earlier stages of Meowbox, we did offer Meowbox to the UK, as we were kind of testing out the markets. so we were able to tell from our social media insights where our audience was located, so US and then Canada, and then the UK, and then I think Australia after that. So, we dipped a toe in, into the UK waters and we did run into some issues with just getting stuff over the border, in terms of the VAT that they have there – the VAT, it’s like an additional tax to claim your packages from overseas. So that experience wasn’t something that we wanted our customers to have to deal with. We just want to deliver the Meowbox – you get it, you open up, not have to deal with paying an additional fee on top of what you already paid. So instead of focusing our efforts on continuing to enter the UK market, we decided to reel it back and focus on our more local customers. I mean, there’s so many households with cats in Canada and the US that we have yet to reach. And we want the experience to be dialed in where there isn’t that additional fee or step to have to claim your, Meowbox.

Adrian Tennant: Meowboxes each contain themed, curated collection of cat toys and treats. How far in advance do you have to plan the theme and the contents of each box to allow for sourcing products and manufacturers?

Olivia Canlas: This is a great question. It’s evolved a lot since we started. We used to plan one month ahead of time. And now, I think currently we are planning our April box. So, quite a few months ahead of time, in order to make sure our products are designed properly, we go through all the samples, all the other sort of different, contributors to what goes into the box. We have to make sure that it’s all timed well, our products, if they come from overseas, they need time to ship to us, go through customs, and get delivered to our warehouse. So it’s changed a lot since the beginning, since we’ve increased our volume, we need more time to prepare for each month.

Adrian Tennant: How do you come up with the ideas for the theming of each box?

Olivia Canlas: It used to be a lot easier, at the beginning when it was just the start and we had, we’re fresh with ideas. Like, you know, it was actually difficult to choose from all of our ideas and narrow it down to just 12 in a year. And now that we’ve been doing themes for a number of years, we also take into consideration what’s been popular. It kind of narrows down our choices. Cause I feel like we did our favorites right away and then, had to figure out, “Okay, how do we make the next year even better when we already did our favorite ones this previous year?” So what we like to do is actually, send that request out to our audience on social media, our current subscribers and ask them, for what they love to see in the box. So sometimes it’s like your classic themes, of course, like winter holidays and Halloween, Valentine’s Day. Those are the staples that we’ll likely repeat each year. But then in between all those major holidays and events, I mean it depends like some years it’s going to lean towards, I mean, like for example, this year with COVID everyone at home, some of the themes suggestions are like sort of tied to that. So things in the home, you know, for example, a lot of us have been staying in and taking up hobbies like gardening, baking. And so sort of things like that that are trending also help us choose what kinds of themes to do. And then like I had mentioned there’s our classic themes, separate from the holidays, but we’ve done sort of a camping theme one year and we did repeat, a similar theme to camping another year because the first time we did it, it was so popular.

Adrian Tennant: What have been some of your customers’ favorite individual cat toys or treats so far?

Olivia Canlas: That’s another great question. We love to know, so that we can continue to deliver toys that have similar characteristics to that. And so specifically, very popular, one of them is a little wool snake toy, so it’s just kind of like a thin, lightweight, sort of wavy shaped wool toy. It’s narrow, and I think the reason why it’s so popular is, just the cats can grab it in their mouth really easily and it’s lightweight so they can carry it around and toss it in the air. I would say that’s kind of one of our most number one requested toys. But also, kind of more unique toy that we offer is made of a material called silvervine, which is sort of similar to catnip in terms of, it kind of brings out like excitement, out of your cat. But if your cat doesn’t react to catnip, they will most likely react to silvervine and even more intensely. So that type of toy has been extremely popular as well.

Adrian Tennant: I’m guessing research and development for Meowbox is more fun than other product categories. And on your website, you list your cats, Harvey, and Zach, as Co-Chief Feline Officers. Now, do you test new products you’re considering for Meowbox with your own fur babies?

Olivia Canlas: Yes, absolutely. Most of us that work for Meowbox have cats. So we take turns in bringing a toy samples home to test out on our cats. And they really are the ones who are the tie-breakers, if we’re not sure which toy will be more popular or more well-liked – take it home, see what the cats say. And we go with that.

Adrian Tennant: I love it – a focus group of felines (laughter) Now we’ve talked about the theming of each Meowbox. The visual design of each box is really unique and your social media posts also capture a really fun sensibility with lots of catty word-play. Do you have an in-house creative team?

Olivia Canlas: So we have a little bit of both, when it comes to, what we share on our social media and the voice that we use, across those platforms,that’s in house. And it’s kind of an extension of our personality. So if we’re being cheeky and playful, sharing things that we think are funny, that’s us,that’s the personality of our team and of our social media manager. That’s like a direct link of like what our sense of humor is and what we find interesting in the cat world. And, in terms of our toy design, we work with a partner who helps bring our theme ideas to life in illustrations, and we select sort of what is translating best for us, for the theme that we chose. And amongst our group of people who work at Meowbox, we also have a group of us who are very creative in terms of illustrating and coming up with visual ideas. So it’s kind of a mix of people contributing, but we’re all very like-minded in terms of like we’re, you know, lighthearted and we like to sort of lean on sort of like a cheekier side of things, which seems to be received very well by, by our audience.

Adrian Tennant: Now many established direct-to-consumer brands initially acquire customers through social media. How does Meowbox typically attract new customers?

Olivia Canlas: The most effective way that we have found is yes, it’s associated with social media. I mean, especially even during this time, the past, I’d say five to six months, people are spending a lot more time at home, which means that they have more time to, be closer to their cats, perhaps take more photos of their cats, perhaps want to provide something more for their cats, like Meowbox. So there’s been a lot of social sharing. so that organically, well, it helps us, showcase our product to more people. Our community does that for us and with us. And also we’ve leaned very heavy working with influencers, on social media as well, and sending lots of boxes out, and them sharing the word as well of what Meowbox is.

Adrian Tennant: What have been some of your most successful customer acquisition programs for Meowbox, would you say?

Olivia Canlas: I would say number one consistently from the beginning is for us to be working with influencers and affiliates. So that would probably be our most successful, most consistent. If we had zero spend or very close to nothing to spend on marketing, I would never stop doing that.

Adrian Tennant: Hmmm.

Olivia Canlas: Yes. And then in terms of beyond that… I would say one of our best ways of bringing in customers and increasing our awareness is through email marketing. So bringing in people who are interested in what we have to say, and letting them know when we have something new, what our new themes are, or just like fun information that we want to share to our cat community.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after this message.

Adrian Tennant: Today’s shoppers are more informed, connected, and demanding than ever before.

Michael R. Solomon: A lot of people who never would have thought to order groceries online have seen the light. And I guess they’re going to continue to do that.

Paige Garrett: When it comes to influencers’ recommendations and the way that you as a consumer feel connected to that influencer, it’s very similar to getting a recommendation from a family member or friend.

Adrian Tennant: The widespread adoption of online shopping during the pandemic has heightened consumer expectations and challenged retailers to re-imagine the customer experience to entice people back to physical stores.

Dana Cassell: It’s clear that customer habits have solidified. And to me, that means the digital conversion funnel needs to be working well from top to bottom and your organization needs to know what levers to pull to convert better step to step.

Doug Stephens: E-commerce is growing exponentially faster on a percentage basis than physical retail. And so it’s quite likely that as early as 2033, we may find that 50 or more percent of our consumption is being performed online and or by subscription.

Adrian Tennant: Retail Disrupted: What U.S. Shoppers Want From Brands Today, a new report from Bigeye. Coming soon.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. We’re talking to Olivia Canlas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the direct-to-consumer cat treats and toys subscription service, Meowbox. Olivia, you also have ongoing customer engagement programs like the Supermeowdel Cat Club. Can you tell us how those work?

Olivia Canlas: Can you tell that we’re really good with cat puns? So specifically, that group, we built that as a place for our cat community to share, to share photos, to ask questions, and we find that cat people, and I’m a cat person myself with Zach and Harvey, we love to talk about our cats. Just any sort of like invitation to share information or stories or photos about our cats. Like we love to do it. You mentioned my cat’s names and it just sort of like, sort of lights me up. I don’t know what it is. I guess we love our animals so much. And so that group is built for our cat community to post photos of their cats. Just know, no one’s judging, there’s not necessarily like a rhyme or reason. We do encourage engagement when we ask a question, like show us a photo of what your cat is doing right now and everyone wants to share, and we’re happy to see those photos. I think that’s kind of part of why we were able to grow so quickly at the beginning too – it’s just, people want to share photos of their cats.

Adrian Tennant: You created an annual event called MeowFest. What is it? And how did you arrive at the idea?

Olivia Canlas:  So MeowFest is our way of bringing our online community, offline and to gather in-person to network with each other, talk about their cats in person, put a name to a face for friends that you’ve perhaps made on Instagram, or someone who you’ve seen post photos of their cats on Facebook. So aside from bringing cat people together in person in one place, it’s also, one of our sort of larger sources of, donating and giving back to the cat community. So each event we choose a small handful of local cat shelters to donate proceeds to show that’s live and in-person we would have an assortment of vendors in a marketplace where people can shop for all their cat-themed goodies and cat toys. We also invite knowledgeable cat influencers in our space to come speak about cat care, rescue, those kinds of topics that are important to us. And we also have cat celebrities that we bring in for people to have like a little meet and greet photo session with as well.

Adrian Tennant: That sounds a lot of fun. Now, looking to the future, how do you see Meowbox evolving over the next two to three years?

Olivia Canlas: Our plan is to continue with the momentum of the growth that we’re experiencing, and throughout everything that we’re learning and discovering, we’re just hoping to continue to become, you know, more and more in tune with what our customers want, you know, to continue to be nimble as the market changes, but we’re experiencing, some really impressive growth right now. And the plan is to keep growing, keep going, find ways to make our customers happier, keep them with us longer, you know, provide to them what they’re looking for and just keep growing. Our goal is to reach as many cats in as many households as possible.

Adrian Tennant: Are there any emerging tools, technologies, or social apps that you foresee influencing the way that you connect with your customers or ways that you conduct your business in the future?

Olivia Canlas: Yes. We are spending more time on building our TikTok account and good news that it’s still TikTok is going to stick around for a little bit longer. But I’ve always been a huge fan of jumping onto any of the social platforms that are trending and that seem interesting. And, TikTok has been a lot of fun for us and something that we’re currently working on to build right now.

Adrian Tennant: I saw one of your social posts that mentioned ideas for a new creative project. So I want to ask you the same question you asked cat parents. Olivia, what is the craziest, wackiest most extraordinary, creative, quirky, and or wow-worthy thing that you have done out of love for your fur babies?

Olivia Canlas: Okay, so one of the craziest things that has happened, since I’ve had my cats in my life is, I was away on vacation, overseas, for a couple of weeks. And, the cat stayed home. I had someone come and visit them regularly, visit the house and the cats make sure they had everything they needed. And, one of the days that I was away, I got a pretty frantic emergency phone call saying that there was water flooding into all those surrounding, townhouse units that were connected to my townhouse. So, just to sort of clarify the picture. So we’re a ground level townhouse with a unit to our left, a unit to our right, and a unit behind us. And I couldn’t even understand what was going on and what that meant. And what ended up happening was that water was flooding my unit and flooding everyone else’s units around us. and we could not figure out, obviously, we didn’t leave our water on, you know, before the trip, it hadn’t been on, you know, for the first, like half of the trip. And the only thing that made sense was that one of the cats turned the water on in the kitchen sink, and turned the faucet so that the water was no longer pouring into the sink, but pouring onto the counter. And so I have no idea how long that water was on for, but it was pouring. Must’ve been hours, maybe an entire day just pouring out onto the counter, onto the floor and into all the surrounding units. And so we sent someone to turn it off and to make a long story short – my cats, I don’t know which one it was, created. I mean, probably hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of water damage to our unit and the units around us. And, so to this day, you know, I kind of walk around my building, like thinking, are you looking at me because, you know, I’m the mom of the cats that flooded your unit? And wondering if people sort of just remember me as that person. One of the comments that came up was like, “Oh, did they leave? Did she leave the tap on for the cats while she was away?” And just thinking like, “No, I didn’t, but how do I defend myself? But I still love them. You know, I still go on vacation. We’re just a little bit smarter with like where the tap is turned. Sometimes I’ll turn the water off completely, but basically, you know, my cats, they can do no wrong. They’ve done as bad as that – and I love them even more than I did the day they did that.

Adrian Tennant: Well, some cats clearly prefer fresh water from the faucet. So what are you going to do?

Olivia Canlas: I know exactly. What can I do? I can’t even be mad. They have taught me forgiveness.

Adrian Tennant: So, Olivia, what inspires you on a daily basis? Are there any journals, podcasts, or social media accounts that you follow – cat-related or not?

Olivia Canlas: My source of inspiration comes from my fellow female entrepreneurs. I have a small group of female entrepreneurs who I look up to whose businesses I follow, whose social media I follow, we’re in communication for sort of best practices or problem-solving, advice, and that kind of thing. And, it’s really blossomed and, become sort of a resource for me that I’ve come to rely on and go to, as of late. And I guess I didn’t really realize how important it was, maybe in early years to have that kind of a network of colleagues. But sort of as time goes by, I don’t know, maybe you lose a bit of your ego and, are just more open to sharing, you know, your challenges with other people, especially people who have, maybe dealt with that before, people in a similar businesses as you, and that’s kind of where my inspiration comes from. I see ladies who are running businesses that do certain things better than me, or certain things that I’ve never done before. And I’ll ask like, you know, “How can I do that? How did you reach that?” And then, and vice versa, it’s the same where there’ll be something that I’m doing really well with Meowbox. And they ask me, you know, “How did you do that? What tools did you use to reach that?” And it’s kind of just this feedback loop of all of us sharing and each of us supporting each other and just doing better and better.

Adrian Tennant: Which upcoming Meowbox projects – that you’re allowed to talk about – are you most excited about?

Olivia Canlas: Okay, let me think, what can I, what can I reveal? We have a project that’s coming up that is related to,the call out that we did for the stories you know, the wild and crazy wacky stories you asked me about that, but I can’t say what it is yet, and it will make more sense when it comes out.

Adrian Tennant: That is a great promo. So if listeners would like to learn more about Meowbox and follow you on social media, where can they find you?

Olivia Canlas: So on social media, we are @Meowbox, so that’s the same across all social media platforms. And our website is meowbox.com.

Adrian Tennant: And of course we’ll include a link to that on our website too. Olivia, thank you very much indeed for being our guest on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Olivia Canlas: Thank you so much for having me.

Adrian Tennant: My thanks to our guest this week, Olivia Canlas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mowbox. You can find a transcript of our conversation along with links to resources on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page, at bigeyeagency.com under “Insights.” Just click on the button marked “Podcast.” To ensure you don’t miss an episode, please consider subscribing to the show on your preferred podcast app. You can also use the IN CLEAR FOCUS skill to add the podcast to your Alexa Flash Briefing. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Bigeye insights interns Camila Swanson and Jorge Sedano reflect on their own experiences as multicultural consumers. Including candid interviews with friends and family members, the team examines influencer marketing and how Hispanic consumers are depicted in ads. We hear why ads on Spanish-language media can be more memorable, and the ways Hispanic consumers most commonly retain their families’ cultures and traditions.

Episode Transcript

Camila Swanson: It’s Hispanic Heritage Month. I’m your guest host, Camila Swanson, an intern on Bigeye’s Insights team. 

Jorge Sedano: And I’m Jorge Sedano, also an Insights intern. Coming up on this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Haroldo Montero: Well, American parents don’t really care as much about their kids. They send their kids off to college at 18 and they just don’t talk to them for a while. I think they’re not as close as Hispanics typically are. Hispanics withhold their kids at their house until they’re like in their late twenties, If they really wanted to!

Camila Swanson: You are listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS. Fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye.

Jorge Sedano: A full-service, audience-focused creative agency, Bigeye is based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us.

Camila Swanson: The Hispanic population is the second-largest minority consumer group in the US and one of the fastest-growing, accounting for 57% of the population growth over the past two decades.

Jorge Sedano: There are over 63.6 million of us. Last year, Hispanic consumers had a combined buying power of $1.9 trillion and we will contribute disproportionately to growth in consumer spending over the next five years, when Hispanics are set to become 21% of this country’s population.

Camila Swanson: I belong to the youngest generation, Gen Z, born between 1996 and 2015, and nearly a quarter of my cohort – 23% – identify as Hispanic.

Jorge Sedano: I’m a Millennial or Gen Y, born between 1980 and 1995. And over a fifth of my generation is Hispanic.

Camila Swanson: In this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS, we’re going to take a look at some of the differences between Hispanic cultures, values, and levels of acculturation and what they mean for marketers.

Jorge Sedano: One thing that’s challenging about marketing to Hispanic consumers is that we come from a variety of backgrounds. Our parents or grandparents might have come to the U.S. from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and many other Spanish-speaking countries. 

Camila Swanson: The dialects, cultures, behaviors, beliefs, interests, vary – perhaps more than non-Hispanic people might think. The syndicated research firm, Claritas, has a framework called Hispanicity, which measures the degree to which people of Hispanic heritage in the U.S. retain elements of their culture while acquiring elements of the American culture. Claritas uses various characteristics to segment consumers into one of five categories. These lie on a continuum from complete adoption of mainstream society’s values and beliefs to the retention of values and beliefs from an immigrant’s original culture.

Jorge Sedano: Claritas’s HA1 is Americanizado and reflects 17% of Hispanic consumers. These folks were born in the U.S., speak English predominantly, are likely to be third generation, and follow a few, if any, Hispanic cultural factors.

Camila Swanson: Hispanicity category, HA2 is Nueva Latina and reflects 29% of Hispanic consumers. They were born in the U.S., prefer to speak English, and are likely to be second generation, following some Hispanic cultural practices. This classifies me, I think.

Jorge Sedano: Category HA3 is Ambicultural and reflects 26% of Hispanic consumers. They immigrated to the U.S. as children or young adults and are bilingual, following many Hispanic cultural factors. I believe this category best qualifies me.

Camila Swanson: Category HA4 is Hispano and reflects 15% of Hispanic consumers. They immigrated to the U.S. as adults, and although they have been here 10 or more years, prefer to speak Spanish. They predominantly follow Hispanic cultural practices.

Jorge Sedano: And finally HA5 is Latino Americana and reflects 13% of Hispanic consumers. They immigrated to the U.S. as adults, less than 10 years ago, and Spanish language predominant. They follow Hispanic cultural practices and identify more with their home country than the U.S.

Camila Swanson: In their 2021 Hispanic market report, Claritas highlights some of the differences that exist between Hispanic consumers based on their country of origin, annual household incomes, and language use.

Jorge Sedano: These differences are reflected across a wide variety of consumer behaviors. From the use of internet and streaming services to insurance, e-commerce, and traditional in-store shopping. For this podcast, we want to understand how these and other categories play out in real people’s lives. So we asked some folks we know about their lives and consumption behaviors, starting with each other.

Camila Swanson: How in touch are you with your Hispanic roots, would you say?

Jorge Sedano: I actually am very in touch with my Hispanic roots. I was born in Mexico and I immigrated here in the first grade, I believe. I was also raised in a border city, which meant I was able to be raised both in the U.S. and Mexico. So I was able to take in both of those cultures and still keep in touch with my family and all those things that influence all my behaviors on all my purchases or anything that I do to this day. So Camila, how do you think you are with your Hispanic roots?

Camila Swanson: I would say I’m pretty in touch with my Hispanic roots, as much as I could be being from a household where my dad is more American and my mom is Dominican. I’ve never visited the Dominican Republic just because we were supposed to, and then the pandemic hit, but we would go to Latin concerts and we would play that music in the house, in the car. And it really kept me in touch with, you know, the bachata culture and, you know, my mom cooks homemade food every single day that I’m home. And that really keeps me in touch with my Hispanic roots, because I feel like I can connect so much through music and food.

Jorge Sedano: So you would say it’s always like a part of your daily life and a part of your culture as a person?

Camila Swanson: Yes. Yes. A hundred percent.

Haroldo Montero: Hi, my name is Haroldo Montero. While I am a Millennial by birth, I consider myself a Gen Z sometimes. I was born in Venezuela. I moved to the US when I was around 12 years old.

Camila Swanson: Haroldo, how in touch do you feel with your family’s Venezuelan roots?

Haroldo Montero: I feel pretty close to them, right? Like I speak to my parents on a daily basis. That’s one of the cultural things I have with them. They call me, or I call them just to let them know pretty much really anything. And I still keep in touch with a lot of my cousins and aunts over there. So I feel very Venezuelan, I guess.

Nidia Swanson: My name is Nidia, I’m in Gen X and I live in Pembroke Pines in South Florida. I was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the U.S. when I was 23 years old. And I’m Camila’s mom.

Jorge Sedano: How in touch do you feel you are with your Dominican roots?

Nidia Swanson: Oh, I’m really in touch with my roots because I have a lot of family in my country still in and we keep in touch really often.

Jorge Sedano: And what aspects of your Dominican culture, if any, do you hold onto in preference to mainstream American?

Nidia Swanson: The food and the music, especially the music. I cook the food from my country really often. So I can introduce Camila and my husband to my culture. I introduced Camila really, really to the music. So she can have a little bit of my side of my culture.

Jorge Sedano: So you want to be able to educate both, then be able to show them a part of who you are?

Nidia Swanson: Yeah. Yeah.

Haroldo Montero: Before I was moving to the states, right. You hear a lot of things, how Americans are. And one of the main things that caught my attention was like, “Oh, parents don’t really care as much about their kids.” Like it’s a little more distant, I guess you could say like. They send their kids off to college at 18 and they just don’t talk to them for a while. And that’s something that I was kind of shocked to listen to at first I was like, “Wow, they don’t care, I guess!” But I guess like that distancing between their parents and their kids, I think they’re not as close as Hispanics typically are like Hispanics withhold their kids at their house until they’re like in their late twenties, if they really wanted to. So even myself, when I moved out of the house at age 21, My mom was like, “Wow!” Like very surprised at that. So I would say like how close you are to family.

Jorge Sedano: What aspects do you think you keep from your culture?

Camila Swanson: I think the aspects of my culture that I keep would definitely still be the music. I feel like I can still connect with my family through the music that my extended family would listen to when they were growing up, I listened to growing up. For example, we all listened to Maná. Like when their songs come on, we all know all the lyrics. And although we’re a small little family, it does keep us all really close and it just makes the holidays that much better. And that I would just never give it up.

Jorge Sedano: I think there’s a lot of things, actually, you know, being in a border city, you have access to so many things from Mexico. So like to this day, I try to find the best tortillas that I can find. I try to, you know, cook beans the way my mom used to make it. Any recipe really I try to base it off how my mom does it and I call her up for the recipe and she’ll be able to tell me what I need to buy, you know, how to make it and things like that. And just give me the things that I need to get that are more in tune with like Mexican products, than American products. Do you consider Spanish or English to be your primary language?

Nidia Swanson: Both, because with them I have to communicate in English because my husband is really American and with my parents, when I’m in their house, I have to speak Spanish because they don’t speak English. So I consider both primary.

Haroldo Montero: I know very basic Spanish. So like I said, I moved here when I was 12. So my Spanish is pretty middle school level. I would say. I mean, I can speak it, understand and hold a pretty decent conversation with somebody, but you know, going to college here, having to study for the SATs and ACTs, you kind of have to like expand your vocabulary in English. But right now my primary language is English. Yeah.

Camila Swanson: I consider English to be my primary language, just because since my father speaks English and little to no Spanish, that was the number one language we could use for our whole family to communicate. But I still consider myself bilingual.

Jorge Sedano: I like to think Spanish is my primary language growing up in my household. It was always, you know, Spanish at home, English, outside, To this day with my siblings. It’s like we sneak in some English in there sometimes, but I always like based on Spanish and maybe like a little bit of Spanglish, but it’s definitely mostly Spanish. When I go see my family, obviously in Mexico, we have to speak Spanish. So it’s definitely a bigger part of my culture and my life to speak the Spanish language.

Camila Swanson: Do you primarily watch English language TV shows, Spanish language TV shows, or a mixture?

Haroldo Montero: I will say about 70% of the entertainment that I watch is in English, I would say, because growing up as a teen here and going to college here, that’s kind of what you’re starting to develop the things that you like and being here. I was a little bit more familiar with entertainment in English, but I still watch a lot of media in Spanish as well. Like mostly sports though, because I liked the sportscasters in Spanish a lot better than in English. 

Nidia Swanson: It’s a mix of both because when I watch the Spanish one, it’s the news. That’s the way I can get in touch with my country because sometimes they have news from my country on Spanish TV and English I watch most of my shows, they’re American shows. So I watch both, but in different – news for the Spanish one, and then my shows and some news from the American one.

Jorge Sedano: And when you watch Spanish language programs, how do the ads you see on those channels influence the type of brands or products that you buy?

Haroldo Montero: That a lot of times it has some influence on the things that I pick. For example, like if, if I know there’s like a business or a brand that’s, it was started by somebody who is from Venezuela and they’re trying to get it kicked off. Sometimes that resonates with me and like, yeah, I’ll pick that particular brand. But sometimes they’re also like more focused on like the demographic, like myself as Hispanic, let’s say as a skin product. Right. So may not have the same skin tone with somebody else who’s born in the United States. So maybe those kinds of things are aimed more towards kind of what I want. So yeah, that does affect sometimes the products that I buy or services.

Camila Swanson: While watching Spanish television programs do products you see advertised stand out more than those shown in English language shows?

Jorge Sedano: I believe they do. And I think it’s really based on the fact that I do watch mainly English television. So like when my mom is watching Spanish television, it’ll be a different type of situation. The commercials will be in Spanish. So I retain them like more, more than an English commercial because it’ll be like, it’ll be something different in my day. So I definitely, yeah, I think I’ll remember a Spanish commercial more than I would an English one.

Jorge Sedano: So Camila, thinking about your shopping habits, would you say that your everyday grocery, consumer packaged goods, and personal care items, you continue to purchase the brands that your parents bought, or have you developed your own personal preferences?

Camila Swanson: I think that growing up and then moving away from my house, I’ve kind of had to form my own personal preferences since I was primarily being my own grocery shopper. Anytime my mom would go grocery shopping and she would bring things back, she would just bring back the tried and true products. And then when I went to college, I would be able to find my way. So I would say it’s still half and half, because some of the things I buy, I still text my mom and I’m like, “Hey do you remember the name or do you have a picture of the thing that you bought me that I really liked?” Or if it’s something that I kind of don’t place that high of a value on I’ll just go ahead and purchase whatever preference I like.

Nidia Swanson: I have developed my own preferences, because for example, when I cook the Spanish food, I incorporate the American products to adapt a Spanish recipe. So I have to buy the American because we can’t find sometimes, some of the products that we have in our country. So we have to adapt everything, the recipe with American products.

Haroldo Montero: I still buy what my parents buy, especially if I’m making Venezuelan food, like there is this kind of like flour, that we have to make, when we make out arepas or any other type of things, like I know I have to pick that specific brand just because I don’t trust the other ones. Not because they’re bad or anything, but I just know what I’m going to get if I’m going to buy that one. And it applies to other things like vegetables and even stores themselves, not just like the brands. Like if I know that they trust the products from this particular store, I might go there.

Camila Swanson: Are there any brands from your childhood that you’ve remained loyal to?

Haroldo Montero: Yes. Arepas is the most popular Venezuelan dish, I would say, arena de pan – it just like this corn meal, essentially, I think is what it is. And it’s like, I buy that one brand it’s called arena de pan. I mean, and that’s, that’s the one I picked too and also Polar is a brand of beverages from Venezuela also. And Malta is a beverage that a lot of Hispanics drink. I only drink Malta from the Polar brand. Cause that’s what I grew up on. And that’s the flavor that I like.

Jorge Sedano: Moving over here to Orlando, it’s so difficult to find a good tortilla! So we found one at Walmart from Las Missiones, it’s a corn tortilla. That’s the closest we could get to a semblance of what we’re used to. So we definitely have stuck with that one and we have not moved away from it. So it’s little things like that, where if we find something that’s close to what we know, we’ll definitely stick to it. But yeah, there’s not that many things. It’s just, when it’s something that’s very, very cultural. And how about you? Is there anything that you remember that you kept from your parent’s childhood?

Camila Swanson: I don’t know the specific brand, but whenever I’m baking something, there’s a specific type of vanilla syrup that my mom always used when I was growing up. And it does not taste the same if it is not that syrup. So I will go out of my way to go to Sedanos to get it. Or my mom will go out of her way to Sedanos to get it. And I have like a bottle in my cupboard up here to always have.

Jorge Sedano: And when it comes to shopping for food and drink to be consumed at home do you tend to shop at stores that serve local Hispanic populations, such as Sedanos, Bravo, or Fresca y Mas. Or do you prefer to shop at Walmart, Target, or Publix? And whichever one it is, why is that?

Camila Swanson: I definitely try to lean on Walmart, Target, or Publix, just because I don’t want to have that many stops in my day as a college student. If it’s something super important to me, I will go out of my way to go to Sedano’s, Bravo, or Fresca y Mas. But when I’m back home, those stores are a lot more accessible to me and my family. And here it’s kind of like a 20-minute drive away from my college town. So if I can just get a good alternative at a big brand, I’ll do so. But for example, if it’s vanilla, I’ll go out of my way to find a Bravo that will have it.

Jorge Sedano: There’s actually this, a Hispanic store that I know of. It’s called Jalisco. That’s where I get like my meat for like doing carne asadas or I’m big believer that the peppers here in Orlando are not as spicy as the ones over there. So when I go there, I can trust that I’m gonna have a pepper that’s going to be spicy so I can make a good salsa. If it’s just chips or, you know, regular household items, I’ll definitely just go to like a Walmart, Target, Publix, whatever’s closest to me. But if it’s something niche that I need, that I’m not going to be satisfied with, I will definitely go to that Hispanic market.

Camila Swanson: Are there any food items or products from Mexico that you can’t live without? And what do you do if it isn’t available from where you normally shop?

Jorge Sedano: I can not have breakfast without tortillas. We’re so used to a certain brand. And I even bring some from, from Juarez when I come to visit. So it’s like, when I run out of those then I pick up like the one that I can substitute it with, but definitely in my fridge, it has to be like a packet of tortillas, ready to go for the morning. And how about you? Is there anything that you can’t live without that you can think of?

Camila Swanson: Something that I can think of is a soda brand called Country Club from the Dominican Republic, specifically the merengue flavor. It’s very hard to find. So I tend to buy it in bulk. So I’ll buy like two or three liters at a time. So that way I always have it in my fridge whenever I want it. And if my mom sees it, she’ll buy it for me and bring it up for me. And if it normally isn’t available where I shop, I’ll just probably wait it out and put like an in-stock alert on my phone to be able to have it just because it’s a nice thing to have with my meals when I cook at home.

Haroldo Montero: I went to high school in Ohio for three years of my life, I lived up there. I was the only Hispanic kid in the school, well the only one that spoke fluent Spanish, I would say. And a lot of times when I was there, I know my mom struggled to find some products and we had to get them shipped from the internet, essentially, because we did try other brands while we were up there. But none of us were happy with the outcome, I guess.

Jorge Sedano: We’ll be right back after these short messages.

Rachel Willis: Hi, I’m Rachel Willis, account specialist at Bigeye. Property development and management present their own unique sets of challenges. Growing a powerful lasting brand takes industry expertise with strategy and insights. Bigeye’s portfolio of property clients reflects our award-winning, extensive experience in all aspects of creative marketing for multi-family and mixed-use developments, as well as student housing, senior living, and real estate. To see case studies and learn more about Bigeye’s award award-winning creative and media solutions, perfectly tailored to property development and management, please visit the bigeyeproperties.com. Bigeye: reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Adrian Tennant: Today’s shoppers are more informed, connected, and demanding than ever before.

Michael R. Solomon: A lot of people who never would have thought to order groceries online have seen the light. And I guess they’re going to continue to do that.

Paige Garrett: When it comes to influencers’ recommendations and the way that you as a consumer feel connected to that influencer, it’s very similar to getting a recommendation from a family member or friend.

Adrian Tennant: The widespread adoption of online shopping during the pandemic has heightened consumer expectations and challenged retailers to re-imagine the customer experience to entice people back to physical stores.

Dana Cassell: It’s clear that customer habits have solidified. And to me, that means the digital conversion funnel needs to be working well from top to bottom and your organization needs to know what levers to pull to convert better step to step.

Doug Stephens: E-commerce is growing exponentially faster on a percentage basis than physical retail. And so it’s quite likely that as early as 2033, we may find that 50 or more percent of our consumption is being performed online and or by subscription.

Adrian Tennant: Retail Disrupted: What U.S. Shoppers Want From Brands Today, a new report from Bigeye. Coming soon.

Camila Swanson: Welcome back. You’re listening to a special episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with me, Camila Swanson.

Jorge Sedano: And me, Jorge Sedano.

Camila Swanson: A recent report from Pew Research Center finds that a majority of Hispanic consumers in the United States say global climate change and other environmental issues impact their local communities.

Jorge Sedano: 8 in every 10, that’s 81%, say addressing global climate changes is either a top concern or one of several important concerns to them personally, with 39% saying it is a top personal concern.

Camila Swanson: By comparison, a lower share of non-Hispanics, 67%, say addressing global climate change is at least one of several important concerns due in large part to a lower share who say it is a top concern, 29%.

Jorge Sedano: How likely are you to purchase a product from a company or brand that you believe is environmentally friendly, even if it costs more than alternative options?

Nidia Swanson: For me, it’s really important the climate change because if we don’t take care of the environment, we aren’t going to have a place to live. Yes, I will buy it because if it’s going to take care of the environmental issues, yeah. I don’t care how much I pay for it. 

Haroldo Montero: So environmental concern is actually a big concern of mine. Since I was a little kid, my dad was always big into nature and told me how much we need to care about our planet and our plants and everything else. I grew up in a very nature-y area, surrounded by the mountains. So like my dad always like, made sure I understood the importance of maintaining our natural habitat intact and protect it. So it’s a very big thing for me. So luckily I’m in a position right now where I can afford to spend some more extra money and like brands that support protecting the environment and using like sustainable materials. So yeah, it is a big concern for me. And if I can do my part of it, I will.

Camila Swanson: I would purchase a product from a company that is environmentally friendly, even if it costs more just because I feel like I can do my part in lessening my carbon footprint and putting in my work to help the environment. The only time I would say that I wouldn’t buy something, if it was environmentally friendly would be if it was like a huge price gouge type of situation, because I am a college student and I’m on a budget. So it kind of goes into this either/or, but if it’s around the same price or not too much more expensive then I will go ahead and get the environmentally friendly product.

Jorge Sedano: So I think I’m pretty likely to get the more environmentally friendly item. I’m not the type of person who would really check too much into that. But if I know for a fact that a product is going to be better for the environment, and I think I will pay a little more money to get that product.

Camila Swanson: Who do you think has the most responsibility for adopting more sustainable behaviors? Manufacturers and major corporations or regular people like us who buy the stuff that they produce?

Nidia Swanson: For me, both, because if they produce the product, we’re going to buy it. But I say before, I will buy a more expensive if the corporation made the product good for environment that I will pay more money.

Haroldo Montero: So we can do our part. But I definitely believe manufacturers are the primary responsible for all the pollution that we have on the earth, like water bottle companies, you know, we have like incredible amounts of plastic in the oceans and water bottles are used one time and then they’re thrown out and most of them don’t even get recycled. So I think manufacturers are most responsible for the environment and the damage that they do.

Jorge Sedano: I think we both have an equal amount, even though corporations create more damage and have more of an impact on the environment. I think individuals make just as big as an impact if we all come together and do the same things. So I think I would say both.

Jorge Sedano: A recent report from Edison research found that 36% of Hispanic adults now listen to podcasts at least monthly, which has a 44% increase from 2020, making Hispanic listeners the fastest adopters of podcasts overall. Camila, do you listen to podcasts?

Camila Swanson: I do regularly listen to podcasts. I listen to whatever Spotify will put in my daily drive for when I’m heading over to here from school, just because it changes my routine for my commutes rather than listening to my music, I can listen to a podcast.

Jorge Sedano: I think I do at least a couple of times a week. Usually, it’s some driving to work or whenever I have some free time where I need something that I don’t necessarily want it to be music, but I want to just hear people talk about a certain topic.

Haroldo Montero: Yeah, I listen to podcasts frequently. I would say every day for the most part, especially doing work. Now that we’re all working from home, it’s a nice way to have something in the background and listen to.

Jorge Sedano: And do you prefer to listen to podcasts in English or in Spanish? 

Haroldo Montero: I really don’t have a preference. I think I listened to either for what I want, like what I’m looking for. So for example, I listen to a few comedy podcasts and for example, one of them it’s in Spanish and I still laugh at it like a lot because I feel like the humor is a type of humor that I don’t get from a comedian here in the states. So like I listen to that one because it kind of like reminds me of Venezuela a little bit, but it’s also fun to listen to. But if, for example, if I’m looking at a particular topic I’m interested in like the U.S. stock market, I probably will listen to something in English.

Jorge Sedano: I think it’s a mix of both. I have certain things that I like to listen in English. Like for example, maybe news or current events that are happening in the U.S. and for Spanish, it’s more like comedy and more entertaining things, because I think it pertains more to my culture and what I like. And what’s your favorite type of podcast?

Camila Swanson: I think my favorite type of podcast is true-crime just because the people who record true crime podcasts tend to find really old case files that are maybe things I haven’t heard of or seen before. And I’ve always loved watching crime TV shows. So it intersects in that way.

Jorge Sedano: Definitely comedy and sports are my favorite types of podcasts.

Haroldo Montero: My favorite type of podcast is one that tells a story. So kind of keep me engaged and listened to like, whether it’s a personal story or somebody talking about something that they read and the reactions to it and comedy packets as well. Cause I mean, I like to laugh.

Camila Swanson: Is there anything about the portrayal of our cultures on TV or in movies that really annoy you or you feel is consistently inaccurate?

Nidia Swanson: I feel annoyed because they advertised the Latin country. Like a third world country instead of advertise us as a beautiful country with nice people. Spanish people, most of us, we are really welcoming people. So I think it’s annoying when they think about us like a third-world country.

Camila Swanson: A stereotype about Hispanics that I think is overplayed in the media would be when they show any foreign place and they put this yellowing filter over it to show that they’re an equivalent to a third world country, because I know I’ve seen pictures of the Dominican Republic from when my mom lived there or when our family goes on vacation and It’s the most beautiful, clear skies, clear waters, but in movies, they’ll portray it as some war-torn area. There’s no culture, there’s no vibrancy to it, which I don’t believe is true.

Jorge Sedano: Yeah. And I definitely agree with that as well. I think there’s that movie, Sicario where they transfer from the U.S. to Mexico. And you can tell just the difference in like the way they portray it and the filter that they use. Like she said, and yeah, I think there’s a lot of things in the movie scene where they may not get it like we would want them to get it. So maybe one day it will be a little more accurate.

Haroldo Montero: What sometimes tends to happen is that they try to like put us all into one group of people. I don’t think they do a good job at separating where they’re from. Let’s say there’s a Hispanic kid on the soccer team and everybody just kinda assumes they’re all from the same country. I feel like there could be a little bit more and like, say, “Hey, no, he’s actually from Venezuela. Oh, this guy’s actually from Columbia. He’s actually from Argentina.” Like sometimes I feel like there are just put us all into one bucket rather than like, explaining how we’re all different. Like, yes, we’re all coming from like the same continent, but it’s like putting, I guess Americans and Canadians in the same bucket, but no, you’d never see that you always see like the separation. “Oh, he’s Canadian.” “Oh, he’s American.” So I feel like for Hispanics, we tend to get put in the same bucket.

Camila Swanson: Thanks to all our friends who contributed to this week’s podcast.

Jorge Sedano: Thank you so much, Camila, for being such a great co-host!

Camila Swanson: And thank you, Jorge, for being such a great co-host. You’ll find a transcript on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com.

Jorge Sedano: If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you get your daily fix of podcasts.

Camila Swanson: Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. We’ve been your hosts, Camila Swanson …

Jorge Sedano: … and Jorge Sedano. Until next week, adiós!

Categories
Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Consumer Journey Mapping Market Intelligence Podcast

Demographic segmentation is the foundation of traditional marketing – but does it still work? A consumer behavior psychologist and professor of marketing, Michael Solomon discusses his book, “The New Chameleons” highlighting fundamental shifts in terms of how we think about customers. Michael explains generational differences, targeting “markets of one”, and predicts which consumer behaviors accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdowns and economic changes will persist post-pandemic.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Today’s episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS is a conversation we first published in March of this year. Our guest is Michael Solomon, who discusses his book, The New Chameleons – especially relevant because Bigeye we’ll be publishing the results of our new national study later this month, examining how shopping behaviors have changed and what customers most want from brands today. Enjoy this encore episode with Michael Solomon.

Michael Solomon: There are a lot of very, very fundamental assumptions we make about the way we categorize people that no longer work in terms of how we think about customers and more importantly, how they think about us as marketers.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Several episodes in this season of the podcast have focused on industries we have seen significant growth during the pandemic due in part to changing patterns of consumer behavior. However, not all changes in behaviors are due to COVID-19, but rather a reflection of trends that have been accelerating for some time. Understanding consumer behavior is a through-line for IN CLEAR FOCUS, and today we’re going to discuss why and classifying groups of consumers using traditional segmentation and targeting methods is increasingly challenging. But the flip side is that insight derived from an outlier in research data could unlock the next big opportunity. Our guest this week is the author of the recently published book, The New Chameleons: How To Connect With Consumers Who Defy Categorization. Michael Solomon is a consumer behavior psychologist, a marketing professor, and an international speaker. Currently professor of marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Michael also advises global clients on marketing strategy and consumer centricity, working with brands, including Intel, BMW, eBay, McKinsey and Company, Ford, and Levi’s. Michael regularly contributes articles to Forbes magazine and has spoken to Fortune 500 companies, top advertising agencies and marketing associations, and government organizations worldwide. And if you’ve taken a marketing course anytime since the early 1990s, it’s quite likely that you’re already familiar with Michael’s work since he’s the author of the leading textbook on consumer behavior, now in its 13th edition. Today, Michael is joining us from his home office in Philadelphia. Michael, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Michael Solomon: Adrian, thanks so much for having me today.

Adrian Tennant: Michael, you’re a prolific author and writer contributing articles to journals and magazines. Your latest book is entitled The New Chameleons: How To Connect With Consumers Who Defy Categorization published by Kogan Page. What prompted you to write this book?

Michael Solomon: I often get asked to give speeches about trends in consumer behavior, as you mentioned earlier in your kind introduction. And as I put these together, what I started to see is that there are some huge disruptions going on in the consumer behavior marketplace. And I don’t think that that would be news to any of your listeners, but I began to realize that not only are there disruptions going on, but we’re even looking at fundamental changes in terms of how we think about customers and more importantly, how they think about us as marketers. And so as I started to dive into this, I realized that in fact, there are a lot of very, very fundamental assumptions we make about the way we categorize people that no longer work. And these assumptions really inform almost all marketing strategy, because this is what, and mea culpa, I teach this to my students, you know, some of the basic concepts that we teach, worked very well back in the middle of the last century, but they haven’t really been substantially updated today. And so I felt like it was time to maybe try to do that. And I figured I would write a book to talk about it. And so I did.

Adrian Tennant: So, Michael, why are today’s consumers like chameleons?

Michael Solomon: Well, as, you know, a chameleon is a reptile that changes color to adapt to its environment. And so it’s very malleable. It adapts to what’s going on around it. It also apparently adapts to its own moods. So it’s kind of like those old mood rings we used to have – remember those? That changes color according to your mood. And so I thought that was a very good metaphor because today we really are like an animal that changes its colors very, very frequently. By color, I refer to our identities, our social identities, how we think about ourselves, the aspects of ourselves that we want people to know about. And so sociologists have long talked about this notion of having multiple selves. You know, when you’re in a business environment, that’s one part. When you’re playing the role of devoted parent or child, that’s another. And on and on. And much of consumer behavior is oriented around that. In other words, in every one of these identities, we have certain goals that we want to reach. One of the main functions of a good advertisement is to show people how your product or service will get them closer to that goal. So the chameleon metaphor reminds us that, unlike the old days, you know, back in the forties, fifties, sixties, where we talked about these very large, relatively unchanging blocks of people who could be counted upon to behave in pretty similar ways. Today, you can just throw that out the window because consumers are much more proactive. They’re looking for new identities, they’re looking to experiment and as they do that, So to speak, they change their colors because they alter the constellation of products and services that they choose to express that identity.

Adrian Tennant: In the book, you identify and discuss seven fundamental oppositions or dichotomies that are either headed toward obsolescence or already obsolete. The first of these focuses on a long-established foundation of market research, as well as media planning and audience segmentation, namely consumer demographics. Michael, why are they obsolete? And in what way should we rethink how we define consumer groups?

Michael Solomon: Yeah. So market segmentation, especially demographic segmentation as you know, is the bedrock of modern marketing strategy. And, it was actually invented back in the early part of last century by the good folks at general motors. And they were actually responding to, I think, in some way to Henry Ford’s assertion, that his customers could have a car in any color they wanted, as long as it was black. And I love to tell that story because that was the impetus for them to start to think about divisions, you know, Chevrolet versus Cadillac and so on, and largely based on income segmentation, but it reflected a – really, for the time – pioneering realization that not everybody in the market is the same. We’re not all identical. So let’s identify these large, homogeneous groups where we can message a group, say men in their fifties or women in their twenties who live in urban areas, what have you. And that approach worked very well for a long time when we lived in a broadcast kind of environment. You know, at one point we had in the US three and then later four television stations that basically reached everybody. And anyone listening to this knows that that is totally outmoded. Today, we have thousands of stations and thousands of interest groups. We have basically a fragmentation in our culture, as people are picking and choosing much more proactively, you know, “I like this.” “I’m going to sample that”, and so on. And what that means is that sure, it’s great to start with demographics. For a long time, we’ve advocated, layering over that psychographic kinds of data, psychological differences and so on. But I think even that doesn’t capture the nuances that we often pick up today. And so I think in many cases, it makes more sense to talk about so-called, “markets of one”, where, especially in the online world, we are able to customize and personalize the messages and the products to some degree that every individual gets. That’s a very, very powerful tool. And not only that, you can get trapped by thinking that just because you’ve assigned someone to a demographic category, you understand them. And so for example, one of the dichotomies is the old one of male versus female. And so, if you do that and you say, “well, I’m going to pick the male or I’m going to pick the female market.” Well, by definition, you are already leaving half of the population off the table because you’re not going to consider them. And so there are many, many examples of that when we relax those old dichotomies, that’s where we see the real market opportunities are hidden.

Adrian Tennant: We typically employed generational groupings in research, focusing on differences between the youngest cohort, Gen Z, and older groups: Gen Y, Gen X, and of course, Boomers. Michael, is this generational approach to marketing still useful?

Michael Solomon: Clearly, as a rule, young people are different from old people. But you can get hemmed in by this. I know that there are a lot of successful age-related marketing strategies out there, but you have to tread a little carefully because our cultural definitions of what it means to be a certain age are changing very rapidly. And so when we talk about older consumers, for example – and this is perhaps a separate topic, how, the advertising industry has largely overlooked people who are over 30 or 40, even though ironically, they have far more spending power than anybody else, or I should say we have – but there’s an example where we talk about cultural definitions of aging and what it means to be old. And today we all know that you know, if you’re in your forties, 50s, 60s, 70s, that means something very different than it did in our parents’ generation. And so we hear that “80 is the new 60”, “60 is the new 40”, et cetera. I don’t think that’s just a convenient way for older people to rationalize having another birthday. I think that there is a sea change in terms of what people will allow themselves to do. And so, again, these generational splits are useful to a point. They can become dysfunctional. So for example, back in my day, we had an expression, “Never trust anyone over 30.” And that was true until we all turned 30, you know, then it became a different story! But that implied that there was a big divide, for example, between let’s say children and their parents. And so the parents were almost kind of the enemy if you will. Today, that is definitely not the case and when you talk to a lot of younger consumers and I get this from my students all the time, they consider their parents often to be their best friends. They go shopping with their parents, more importantly for marketers. So there’s an example where that kind of, you know, “let’s put them in a category and assume that they have no contact with another age category or they don’t have any aspirations that they share with that category” that can be very dysfunctional.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Marissa Martin: I’m Marissa Martin on Bigeye’s operations team. Every week, Bigeye’s podcast IN CLEAR FOCUS explores how consumer behaviors are evolving as a result of COVID-19 – from the influence of Generation Z, with its interest in social and environmental issues, to the fast-growing Hispanic market and the opportunity it presents. Bigeye interprets signals from primary and secondary research, identifying the trends driving consumer spending today and those that will have the greatest impact tomorrow. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s research-backed, data-driven insights to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Adrian Tennant: Today’s shoppers are more informed, connected, and demanding than ever before. 

Michael Solomon: A lot of people who never would have thought to order groceries online have seen the light and I guess they’re going to continue to do that. 

Paige Garrett: When it comes to influencers’ recommendations and the way that you as a consumer feel connected to that influencer, it’s very similar to getting a recommendation from a family member or a friend.

Adrian Tennant: The widespread adoption of online shopping during the pandemic has heightened consumer expectations and challenged retailers to reimagine the customer experience, to entice people back to physical stores. 

Dana Cassell: It’s clear that customer habits have solidified. And to me, that means the digital conversion funnel needs to be working well from top to bottom and your organization needs to know what levers to pull to convert better step to step. 

Doug Stephens: E-commerce is growing exponentially faster on a percentage basis than physical retail. And so it’s quite likely that as early as 2033, we may find that 50 or more percent of our consumption is being performed online and or by subscription. 

Adrian Tennant: RETAIL DISRUPTED: What US Shoppers Want From Brands Today – a new report from Bigeye, coming soon.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Michael Solomon, consumer behavior expert and author of the book, The New Chameleons: How To Connect With Consumers Who Defy Categorization. A theme you explore in the book is the move away from a linear path to purchase. Michael, is the traditional marketing funnel dead? And if so, what’s replaced it?

Michael Solomon: It’s a very, very complicated ecosystem out there. For 50, 60, 70 years, we’ve thought about the decision-making process – and I mean this more generally, not just marketing – but how, in terms of how psychologists understand decision-making. We’ve looked at it in a linear fashion where there’s a fairly well-defined set of steps that decision-makers go through, starting with awareness of the problem, and then searching for a solution, searching in the environment, narrowing down the options, making a choice, and then evaluating the quality or the outcome of that choice. Furthermore, we usually think in terms of a solo decision-maker, who’s going through these steps largely alone. Well, neither of those things are happening today. In the first place, we’re not just getting information on demand when we need it. We’re being hit by a fire hose of information, that’s constantly coming at us. So today’s consumer is really “on” 24/7, whether or not they’re in active decision-making mode, they’re getting updates from their networks that are telling them, “Oh, you ought to check this out.” “I just bought this blush. It’s really terrific”, to “Take a look at this pair of basketball shoes”, what have you. And so it’s much more of a circular process where people are constantly scanning and getting updates from their network. I think of it as more of a hive mind. And, if any of your listeners are Star Trek fans, you may remember the borg: they were constantly assimilating other decision-makers and other types of people. And so that linear process really is not nearly as ubiquitous as it was. And furthermore, we’re clearly not solo decision-makers because so much of our efforts to evaluate products today are happening before the fact. So to me, one of the big ironies of the internet age is, you know, it’s supposed to make our lives so much simpler by sorting through all this information, giving us this information to begin with, but the reality is that we often are working harder to make even very simple decisions. And why is that? You know, Google refers to this as the ZMOT: the Zero Moment Of Truth. When are people finally committing to the purchase and what you find is that they tend to be committing much later in the process because they’re doing a lot of homework beforehand, you know. One of the trivia questions I love to give my students – I’ll share it with your audience – is we know that Google is the biggest search engine in the world. What’s the second biggest? And they’ll usually say something like Bing. Well, the answer is YouTube. And the reason for that I think is that in many cases, people are calling up videos of peers when they want to know, “I’m thinking about buying product X, what is your experience with it?” So we’re calling up YouTube videos, we’re reading reviews, we are querying our network on Facebook and other platforms until we finally get to the point where we’re taking a lot of their direction as we make a decision. And so ironically, by the time a customer enters a store and I mean, either offline or online, they often actually know what they’re going to buy already. They’re just there to see if they can get it at a good price. So for retailers, again, offline or online, who think that they’re going to make a sale because the customer walks in and they can do a sales pitch and steer them one way or the other, they may find that that’s actually a harder slog because the customer already has gone through so much of that process before. So it’s not like the old days where we have our five reliable steps of decision-making.

Adrian Tennant: Customers are often our best resources when it comes to new product development and of course research. But you feel that marketers need to look beyond the traditional twin pillars of quantitative and qualitative research if we want to gain fresh consumer insights, is that correct?

Michael Solomon: Well, it is, I think. One thing we need to do is, and when we’re seeing this to a large extent, a resurgence of qualitative research, which as you probably know, had its heyday back in the 1950s, but is coming back with a vengeance today. And that’s because quantitative research definitely has hugely important value to us when we’re looking at insights, but it paints a very broad, but superficial picture. And so it tells us the what, but it doesn’t tell us the why. When we talk about our customers, this is one of those dichotomies that I discuss at length in the book: producers versus consumers. For many companies, it’s almost like they’re in a castle and there’s a moat and they want to keep the consumers out of the castle until they’re ready to let down the drawbridge, meaning that the product is now perfect, so to speak. But we know that actually, this can be a huge mistake. Software developers were the first to tell us this because they’re always asking the users of the code to help them debug it. And so companies like Microsoft have known this little secret for years, they save millions of dollars a year in their insights budget because they recruit programmers for free, who are more than happy to tell them where they screwed up. And by continually revising and making those corrections, they come up with a better product, they save money, and they involve those customers as co-creators in the process. So it’s not enough just to ask customers whether or not they like what you’re selling. It can be very valuable to bring them in prior to that and say, “This is what we’re thinking about doing, what would you do here?” Rather than presenting them with a fait accompli and just asking them on a seven-point survey, whether they’re likely to buy it or not. So we really need to be, methodology agnostic. One thing I’ve seen over the years and perhaps you’ve seen this as well as that when people are well-trained in a methodology, they want to use it for everything. So they become what I call a hammer in search of a nail. And the reality is that depending on the particular context, on the needs that you have for your insights program, there may be other tools out there perhaps in addition to, or even instead of what you’re normally using. And so it’s often good to at least, for example, triangulate – all things equal, if you can get three readings, then if you get two data points that are wildly discrepant, you don’t know which is probably more accurate, but at least if you get three and two of them are together, it’s more likely that you’ve identified the correct direction.

Adrian Tennant: You also identify a move toward renting or leasing in preference to owning. Metro dwellers will be familiar with models like Zipcar, but what other categories do you see reflecting this change in consumer behavior?

Michael Solomon: You know, it’s been fascinating as the so-called “sharing economy” has exploded, you know, dampened a little bit with COVID, but I suspect it will come roaring back. It’s amazing to see what people aren’t exchanging with one another. And it’s hard to find things. I’ve seen that first of all, younger people in particular are not as interested in rites of passage, like owning a car. And so you see that the rate of 16- or 18-year-olds getting driver’s licenses in the US is going way, way down. Homeownership, obviously there are financial reasons for this, but a lot of people are preferring to rent rather than own. But even when we get into everyday products, when we talk about companies like Rent the Runway, for example, or a Bag Borrow, or Steal,  they have introduced a new model where many younger people are not even owning stuff in their closet. They’re just leasing it.  But it goes beyond that, you know? So for example, there are many sites where let’s say that you need a drill, when you think about a lot of the products that we buy, it’s very economically inefficient. So let’s say you buy a power drill. I don’t know why I’m using that example because my wife doesn’t allow me near power tools! But let’s say you’re buying a drill and let’s just say it costs a hundred dollars. The average homeowner is going to actually use that drill for what? One hour over the life of that drill? And you’re paying a hundred dollars for it. And that’s true for many of the things that we own. We only use them sporadically. And so you see all these peer-to-peer websites popping up where in fact, you can lease a power drill for $8. You use it for an hour. You give it back. You’ve just saved $92. And so there’s really almost no limit to what you can rent out. And of course, people are renting out their homes, obviously with Airbnb, et cetera.  But even the everyday stuff. My daughter is in her early thirties, she tells me that she probably owns about a third of the clothing she wears to work – the rest of it is rented.

Adrian Tennant: Michael, which consumer behaviors that were accelerated during the pandemic, do you expect will be part of our new normal when COVID-19, hopefully, is less of a concern.

Michael Solomon: Well, the first and most obvious one is continued gravitation to online buying. That’s a no-brainer, I think. What happens in situations like this is that people who are normally frozen and we know that consumers tend to be really set in their ways – it can make you crazy if you’re a new brand, trying to break in just to get people to alter their routines. When something really major happens like this pandemic, that creates opportunities for lesser-known solutions to get a shot. And so for example, a lot of people who never would have thought to order groceries online have seen the light. My guess is they’re going to continue to do that. So that’s an easy one. Another one I think is automation. If I go into a bricks-and-mortar store and either I’m checking out with contactless checkout or in some cases being waited on by a robot which is starting to happen. Everything from Home Depot is experimenting with them on the sales floor. A big bank in Japan was one of the pioneers. They have a robot who waits on customers. His name is Pepper, for some reason. And people were kind of squeamish about that but now I guess they figured out that computers don’t get the same kind of virus that we do and so it’s a lot safer. And so I think retail automation is another example of something that will continue when we get into the new normal.

Adrian Tennant: Hmm. You obviously remain very connected with current and emerging marketing practices. During your research for The New Chameleons, were there any data points you came across that really surprised you or led to an insight that helped a client solve a strategic challenge?

Michael Solomon: That’s a great question. I think one of the biggest, aha moments for me was a few years ago. My business partner and I were working for a very large multinational industrial company. We got to know the head of R and D and he had a budget of about $100 million a year to spend on research – how about that? And what we learned was: how much was he spending on consumer research? And the answer was zero. Out of that $100 million, you know, it was all about building the better mousetrap, so to speak. And he was open enough to put us onto a task force. There were about 30 engineers and chemists on the task force. And the two of us who were both psychologists and what we saw is that – and I think their approach is very, very similar to a lot of other companies – they had what they called a “molecule forward” approach, which meant that they would task their R and D people to come up with a brand new, literally a brand new molecule. And then they would try to push it through the channel and figure out what might be the applications and who might buy this thing. And what we persuaded them to do was to take a step back and actually implement what we call a “market back” approach, which is really Marketing 101.  What I tell my students all the time is that we start at the end and work backwards. We don’t just invent something and then see who wants it, we start by identifying an unmet need. And then we see if our capabilities align with that. I just took that for granted, you know, studying consumers for years and years. And what I discovered was that the engineers and scientists who made these products, for example, had never sat in on a focus group. And when they actually watched end consumers talk about these particular products that they made, it absolutely blew them away. That was the best thing they’d ever seen. They thought it was terrific because no one had ever put them in a position of thinking about the situation from the point of view of the end-user rather than, you know, some industrial capability in the channel. So, that led them to some strategic changes that resulted in creating some new applications for their chemicals that had never occurred to them before, because the engineers hadn’t thought of them but end consumers did. It really opened me up to understanding this gap between producers and consumers that we often have. And yet again, those consumers are the lifeblood of what we all do. If we don’t have them, if we don’t meet their needs, I don’t care what a great molecule you make, you’re out of business. And I wish more companies would adopt that philosophy.

Adrian Tennant: Michael, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about you, your books, articles, and speaking opportunities, where can they find you?

Michael Solomon: Well, they’re welcome to go to my website, which is MichaelSolomon.com. Or drop me an email, that’s very easy, Michael@MichaelSolomon.com. And of course, they can find my book, The New Chameleons: How To Connect With Consumers Who Defy Categorization, or other books at Amazon, or wherever you buy books. So I appreciate it, Adrian.

Adrian Tennant: Michael, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Michael Solomon: My pleasure, it’s been fun.

Adrian Tennant: You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com under “Insights.” Just click on the button marked, “Podcast.” And if you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Influencer Marketing Podcast

Bigeye’s forthcoming national study reveals that among those who follow infuencers, 9-in-10 purchase a product after seeing it used or recommended by an influencer. Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President at RVD Communications in New York, explains how influencer marketing is reshaping retail and why it redefines the shopper’s path to purchase. Paige also shares which tactics yield the most positive ROI and predicts where influencer marketing is headed in the coming years. 

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

​​Paige Garrett: The fluff content is gone. Influencers are really doubling down on brands that give back or initiatives that, you know, they align with personally. They’re saying no to deals with brands that they don’t admire who aren’t doing well by society.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. A full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Alongside the growth of social media over the past decade, influencer marketing has gained popularity with audiences and brands. Direct-to-consumer brands were among the first to use influencers to drive sales, particularly among new customers. A survey conducted by Inmar and Social Media Today recently found that four in every five respondents had made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation. And that over two-thirds of them had spent $150 or more. Influencers have loyal followings across several social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and most recently TikTok, creating new opportunities for brands to appear in paid and earned campaigns that leverage influencers’ connections with their followers. Today’s guest is an expert in influencer marketing. Paige Garrett is the assistant vice president of marketing at RVD communications, based in New York City. She has over seven years of marketing experience across various industries, including fashion, fitness, hospitality, and lifestyle. Having worked at companies like Shopbop, an Amazon subsidiary, Obé Fitness, and more. In her spare time, Paige is a fitness trainer and integrative health coach. To discuss all things influencer marketing, Paige is joining us today from Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Paige, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Paige Garrett: Thank you so much. I’m so thrilled to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Could you tell us about RVD and the kinds of clients you serve?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So RVD is a progressive PR, social media, and brand-building agency. We’re based in New York City and work across the hospitality and lifestyle industry. So we’re working primarily with bars and restaurants in the New York area, but also across the country, as well as some bigger national lifestyle brands. We also have a really strong women’s health vertical, so working with a lot of leaders in that space as well. And in terms of our, you know, core capabilities, I would say editorial PR is actually our bread and butter. So that’s where, as an agency, we got our start, that said, we understand, of course, that PR and sort of no marketing channel happens in a vacuum, so over the past few years, we’ve expanded our capabilities and services to include other marketing verticals as well. So social media management, email marketing, and then, of course, influencer marketing, which we’re here to chat about today.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, you’re the assistant vice president of marketing at RVD. What does your role entail?

Paige Garrett: I oversee our influencer marketing division, which is actually our fastest-growing division, which is really exciting. I also help oversee email marketing, I worked very closely with the social media management team and our publicists of course because for a lot of our clients, we’re working on the same projects, just on different channels. And I also help oversee new business with our founder, Rachel Van Dolson. So putting together proposals and strategies for potential clients based on their needs or what they’re looking for, which is also a lot of fun.

Adrian Tennant: RVD has clients in the lifestyle, health, and hospitality industries. Are these verticals especially well-suited to influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So I would say, really any industry at this stage, is fitting for influencer marketing, but where we sit across lifestyle, health, and hospitality, there’s so much opportunity because there are so many influencers who are leaning into, more of just that like snapshot into their everyday life. So I think that those industries and categories, in particular, touch every one of us at some stage in our day. So it’s a lot of fun putting together strategies and, you know, specific campaigns for our clients within those industries, but, definitely a lot of room across any industry for influencer marketing.

Adrian Tennant: Is that true of business-to-business brands, as well as business-to-consumer brands?

Paige Garrett: I do think that there are still a lot of opportunities because from a B2B perspective, the people who you’re still operating with, a lot of them are also still on Instagram or on Facebook, or, you know, are using those channels to find potential partnerships. So I think, obviously from a consumer perspective, there’s a lot more opportunity in terms of just driving direct purchase and conversion  and bigger brand awareness campaigns as well. But I do think B2B, when you think about who is the consumer on social at this point, it’s really everybody.

Adrian Tennant: Are there any categories at all that you found don’t tend to be as good a fit for influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: At this point in time, really every industry can win from some form of influencer marketing. That said, it’s obviously more challenging for certain industries than others. So you know, there’s a lot of red tape or regulations for certain industries. For instance, the liquor industry, even with our women’s health clients or supplements, there is a lot that you can and can’t do when it comes to having influencers endorse your brands or products. So, as long as you’re really reading the fine print and staying up to date with those regulations, and they do vary from platform to platform, I think that there is a way to go about influencer marketing. It really just comes down to finding the right strategy, finding the right partners, really getting clear upfront on the goals of your program and what you’re looking for. And then obviously matching that back to what you are, and aren’t allowed to do from an endorsement perspective.

Adrian Tennant: Could you explain the differences between paid and earned influencer management?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So at RVD, we run three different types of influencer marketing programs. So the first you mentioned is earned influencer marketing and what that means it’s basically a fancy way of saying, trade influencer marketing. So trading a free product or experience or service to an influencer in exchange for set content. And that’s probably the type of campaign that we’re all most familiar with, in the sense that we’re driving trials with our influencers and getting their real-time feedback via content. So with those engagements, obviously there’s no agreement in place, there’s no flat fee compensation. So while we do our very best to confirm via email, we don’t have control over what that final piece of content might look like. So, it’s really making sure that, within those campaigns that you either have established relationships with those influencers, you’ve worked with them before and I think that’s where an agency comes into play in the sense that when we’re working with influencers on behalf of our clients in an earned capacity, we have that trust established. They trust us in the brands that we’re working with. We trust them that they’ll follow through with the content that they’re promising in exchange for that again, complimentary product or experience. And it’s a great way to also establish relationships early on with influencers and also just learn a lot because it’s not, from a budget perspective, you’re not spending a ton of money. You’re really just trading again, that experience or free product for content. But then from there, there’s bigger paid campaigns. So that’s when, in addition to those complimentary services or products, you are also giving an influencer a flat fee payment for their content creation. So this is where you might be working with a bigger macro influencer who requires compensation, or you have a very specific campaign brief that you want to make sure that you get exactly the type of content that you’re looking for. So with the bigger paid campaigns, there’s an agreement in place. You have more control over exactly when that content is going to go live. A lot of times we’ll include reviews within our agreements or that we’re getting to see the content before it goes live and providing our influencers with a round of content edits. So there’s just a little bit more control, compared to the earned engagement. That said, I don’t think smaller brands need to have these bigger paid budgets so early on as mentioned, I think an earned or trade relationship is a great way to learn and then carry those learnings into a bigger paid engagement. But we also do a lot of affiliate influencer marketing as well, which is more of an ambassador program, which also works nicely because you’re incentivizing influencers just based on the number of conversions they drive. So that typically looks like a set commission of sales that they drive, whether that’s tracked through a discount code or a unique link. So those are the three main campaigns that we run for our clients at RVD.

Adrian Tennant: How does RVD categorize influencers by the size of their following?

Paige Garrett: So this is a great question and I think the answer evolves every week, in the world of influencer marketing. But for now, we typically equate a nano influencer to anybody who has zero to 10,000 followers. So those are smaller influencers, but they usually have hyper-engaged communities. So in those earned engagements or the trade engagements, that’s where we’ll be working mostly with nano influencers. Micro influencers we typically categorize as having 10K to 100K followers. There’s a new branch of influencer, which is the mid-level, which is a hundred to 500K. Macro influencers would be 500K to a million followers. And then there would be the mega macros, which have over a million followers snd those are typically more of the celebrity status of influencers. So we, of course, are very mindful of these different tiers. And as mentioned a paid campaign versus an earned campaign will kind of stipulate who we’re working with from a tier perspective. but we do also keep a very close eye on engagement rate. No matter if we’re working with a nano influencer or a macro influencer, because at the end of the day, you want to make sure that your content is being seen. So there are a lot of platforms that can equate engagement rate for you but the way you would basically go about finding that engagement rate is likes and comments divided by the total number of followers. So again, making sure that in addition to a lot of followers, all of those followers are hyper-engaged with that specific influencer’s content.

Adrian Tennant: For those listening, who haven’t yet worked with influencers, what are some of the issues marketers need to consider when planning a sponsored campaign for the very first time?

Paige Garrett: A lot of the clients we’re working with are brands that are just launching or who have never done influencer marketing before. So what we like to lead with is lead time. So it does take a little bit of time to nail down your strategy, align on the goals of the program. Is it brand awareness? Are you looking just for content to repurpose across your owned channels? Are you looking, of course, to drive sales, sort of like, what are the main goals of this initial campaign that you’re putting together? And then from there, really working backwards to find the right partners. I think really making sure that you’re doing your due diligence and researching to find the right type of influencer. For instance, we would never recommend a cheese brand to an influencer who is obviously dairy-free. So while it takes a little bit of time to do that manual research, of course, there are resources and platforms that help, it is really important to take that extra time to do so. And then from there, it’s also vetting those partners. Obviously, in the world that we live in, everything on social and everything online, it lives there indefinitely, so make sure that you’re doing a deep dive before reaching out to a potential partner to make sure that they’re fully brand aligned with your brand or your client’s brand. I think influencer marketing works very similarly to public relations or PR in the sense that you still need to proactively pitch your brand or your product or service to the influencer and get them to be interested. So, you know, just like how journalists are inundated with pitches every day, so are influencers. So what can you do to really insert your brand or product or service into that influencer’s day-to-day life? How can you personalize your outreach and make them see the value of what it is you’re offering to them? So really taking the time to craft that messaging, in the right way. And then from there, it can take a little bit of time to get that interest. So again, I think the overarching theme of my replies is time and research. Typically, once we have that initial interest, we’ll provide a creative brief, but also leaving ample room for that creator to use their creative expertise, because that’s why, you know, you’re approaching them in the first place. So, just making sure you have all those various aspects buttoned up before you even begin your outreach so that once the interest is there, once you start the process of collaborating with an influencer, you know exactly what you’re looking for and the value that they can provide to you and your brand.

Adrian Tennant: Thinking specifically about direct-to-consumer brands or retailers selling online, what types of influencer marketing campaigns does RVD typically run?

Paige Garrett: A lot of the clients that we’re working with are either new brands that are just launching or brands that are smaller and may have never done influencer marketing before. So for a DTC client, specifically, we typically start with more of an earned or trade engagement. So providing that product, just getting the product into as many influencers’ hands as we possibly can. Of course, again, doing our due diligence to make sure that they’re the right type of partners, the right influencers, who would genuinely as consumers value from that client’s product or service. So, within that sort of initial earned or trade campaign, it’s a great way for us to learn a lot, candidly. So before our clients have to put, you know, larger budgets behind campaigns, we can use more of this earned engagement to find out what type of influencers are really resonating with the brand or product? What type of content is working really well? What content might not be working as well? Who do we love, who loves us? Just really establishing relationships and learning in this initial earned phase so that when it does come time to do a bigger paid initiative or campaign, or even just build a brand ambassador program, we have all of those learnings in place. The beauty of DTC, as well as that obviously via stories, or even just via link in bio, if you’re working with a smaller nano influencer, you can link directly to your client’s website or the specific products that the influencer is recommending. So from a conversion perspective, it’s really helpful specifically for those DTC clients.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Lane Martin: I’m Lane Martin, graphic designer on Bigeye’s, creative team. Every week IN CLEAR FOCUS examines trending topics through the lens of consumer behavior. At Bigeye, for every engagement, we commit to really understanding our client’s target customers, using research to learn about their attitudes and motivations. As a graphic designer, I use these insights to guide my approach to crafting visually engaging solutions and inspiring effective campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the right people, at the right place, at the right time.

Adrian Tennant: How do you identify?

Voices: Female, male, gender fluid, cis-gender, genderqueer, non-binary, trans-feminine.

Adrian Tennant: Society is constantly changing and evolving. To understand how Americans feel about gender identity and expression, Bigeye undertook a national study involving over 2,000 adult consumers. Over half of those aged 18 to 39 believe that traditional binary labels of male and female are outdated and instead see gender as a spectrum. Our exclusive report, GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY, reveals how beliefs across different generations influences the purchase of toys, clothes, and consumer packaged goods. To download the full report, go to Bigeye.agency/gender.

Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

Adrian Tennant: GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at RVD communications. Paige, how do you calculate the return on investment for clients from an influencer marketing campaign?

Paige Garrett: I love this question. Of course, measuring success is extremely important and, you know, for our earned, our trade relationships, where we don’t have an agreement in place, we still typically like to use UTM links. So, essentially it’s first establishing, what is the goal of this program or campaign that we’re running? Is it capturing content? Is it driving sales? Which is usually the goal. Is it just driving bigger brand awareness for a specific initiative or partnerships? Sort of aligning on what the goal is upfront so that we can measure against that. But what we can use UTM links for is essentially, once our influencers are including that swipe up or the link in bio, we get to see what’s happening once a consumer leaves the world of Instagram or leaves the world of that influencer, and enters the world of our client or brand. So while again, these aren’t paid, we do have a lot of success with asking our influencer partners to use their UTM links, because the way we position it to them is that we, as a brand, want to create a longstanding relationship with you. And what this unique link will allow us to see is everything that you’re driving for us as a brand. And I think influencers are really active and receptive to that, which is wonderful because they also want to do right and do well by the brand. So basically what a UTM link does is codes all of that information into our clients’ Google analytics backend, so that we can see, obviously, who’s purchasing, if anybody’s purchasing or if they’re not purchasing, you know, when that customer is leaving the site, how long are they on the site for? It kind of helps from a UX perspective as well, especially for our brands that might have just launched. That’s typically how we will measure success in an earned capacity. From a paid capacity, there’s a lot more we can ask our partners for because we’re paying them and have that agreement in place. So we’ll always ask for their Instagram metrics. So there’s a lot that’s public in terms of likes and comments, but we also like to look at things like sends and saves. So, from an engagement perspective, how else are potential customers engaging with the content? I think saves is a great way to see that there’s obviously some sort of intent to come back to that content or learn more about it, read more about it, or purchase. The same goes with sends, in the sense that somebody is clearly sending that to a friend or to somebody else who they want to see that content. We also ask our paid partners: did anybody DM you about this brand? We look at the sentiment of their comments. So overall, just making sure that we’re capturing the full picture in the sense of what did this partnership drive from a website or conversion perspective, but also just from a bigger brand awareness and sentiment perspective as well.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, thinking about the types of clients you work with at RVD and obviously without giving away any trade secrets, what are some of the tactics or types of content that you find work consistently well?

Paige Garrett: Yeah. So we have a fun phrase that we like to say at RVD, which has gone are the days of fluff content. I think that, when influencer marketing first started a few years ago, especially on Instagram, there was a lot of posing with specific products or very curated content. And I think that while there are a lot of content creators who do create beautiful content that is very editorial and stylized, I do think that more real, authentic content is what is performing really well. And it makes sense because at the end of the day, a follower or a community that an influencer has, they’re looking to that influencer just for day to day inspiration. And they have that established relationship with that influencer. They know what their typical day is like because the influencer shares it every day. So when an influencer is promoting something that is so far from what they typically would share, or that clearly goes against something that a follower already knows about them, I think it’s really obvious to the consumer and it’s very unlikely that they’ll take action when it comes to that content. So for instance, we have an influencer who we work with quite frequently, who we had a paid engagement with recently. And her content was already pre-shot, we’ve, you know, approved the content. We were ready to go. And she actually, unfortunately, got COVID and it was during this time that she really used her channel to open up about her mental health, about the way that it was affecting her, obviously, physically, but mentally as well. It was such a beautiful thing to see in such a real and honest depiction of who she is as an influencer and the way that she wants to try to help others who are likely going through similar situations. And the content we had prerecorded just felt so wrong in that instance, because of this phase that she was coming out of personally. So instead, we decided to collaborate on, you saw value in the product previously. How do you see value in the products now that you’re coming out of such a difficult two weeks, a difficult time where you obviously spoke to your mental health, and how this has all affected you? And we kind of worked with her as a creator to reshoot the content in a way that felt really real and honest with where she was in her life. And I think that is a great example of the type of content that is resonating most, because it’s very authentic in a way that, followers and consumers are picking up on now more than ever.

Adrian Tennant: E-marketer estimates that influencer marketing sponsorships totaled around $10 billion in 2020. Given its popularity, are you seeing clients using influencer marketing in addition to ad campaigns or does that $10 billion reflect a shift in spending away from traditional and digital advertising and toward influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: Yeah. I would say that the two definitely go hand in hand. I think it was about two years ago that it took 8 touchpoints to convert a customer. So I could only imagine it’s more like 12 now. Whereas as a society we are very distracted, we’re doing too much at once. It takes a lot to get somebody to finally decide to purchase something or to go to a restaurant or whatever that action is. So I do think that there is a reason to have both traditional and digital advertising in addition to influencer marketing. So I would say that, you know, bigger brands, they have that bigger advertising budget, but they’re also setting up a separate budget for influencer marketing. That said, I also think that for smaller brands or newer brands who don’t have as big of budgets, I think that the value of influencer marketing, especially early on in a business is so important. And I do think that a lot of our clients and a lot of the clients that we’re working with, do tend to allocate their dollars there first, because I think working with influencers, it’s almost like you have a group of beta testers to collect feedback from. Using our UTM links, we can see, is there anything broken in terms of our UX website flow that we should consider before you’re putting larger dollars behind advertising? And I do think also with influencer marketing, there’s a lot of content you can capture that you can then leverage for your owned or paid channels eventually. So, I do think again, the two work hand in hand, there’s a reason to be doing both, but as a smaller brand, while you’re just starting out using an influencer marketing campaign and more of that trade or earned capacity to start, is a great way to find your core audience demo, find what’s working from a content perspective. Use your influencers like beta testers, just like use that influencer campaign to collect a lot of data and information that you can then carry over when you’re ready to do more of a traditional or digital advertising run.

Adrian Tennant: Well, we can’t talk about social media and not discuss TikTok, the breakout network of the pandemic. Paige, what kinds of brands do you see performing best in this channel?

Paige Garrett: We love to talk about TikTok. It’s definitely a labor and time-intensive platform in the sense that if you’re going to be on TikTok, you really need to double down, and to be on TikTok. So what we typically recommend for our clients is making sure that you’re really ready and that you have enough content to fill in that channel. So, it’s obviously very video-heavy. There’s a lot of cutting and it’s also what we like to say as well as whereas with Instagram, there’s a lot of curation. It’s a very editorialized vision of your brand or product or service, and the same goes for influencers. I think that there are a lot of influencers who still take a lot of pride, artistically in their Instagram feeds and the type of content they’re producing on Instagram. Whereas with TikTok, it’s kind of like what Snapchat was like when it first came out, only it lives forever. It doesn’t go away after 24 hours, but it is a little bit quicker, a little bit more real, authentic, kind of like a BTS or behind the scenes look at, a real, authentic version of that influencer or of your brand. So, I do think that, you know, when it comes to influencer marketing on TikTok, we typically recommend not going too heavy until you have a presence as a brand on TikTok. That said, I do think it’s also a great way to test via influencers, what type of content is resonating on TikTok. almost using your influencers like a beta test to see what they’re producing on behalf of your brand on TikTok. So that, that can kind of get your creative wheels turning from your owned content perspective. Also leveraging that influencer’s TikTok content on your TikTok eventually. But when it comes to, let’s say, an influencer campaign that we’re running on TikTok for a brand that doesn’t have a TikTok presence just yet, we’ll also make sure that our influencer partners are repurposing that content via Instagram Reel so that they’re able to tag our brand of course, and drive direct conversion that way as well.

Adrian Tennant: For any brand that’s considering engaging with an influencer marketing agency or a communications firm to manage a campaign, what are some good questions to evaluate whether that firm will be a good fit?

Paige Garrett: I think that it’s getting very clear upfront regarding what you’re looking for with that influencer campaign. So, obviously, I think every brand is interested in sales, but depending on where you are in your business, do you just need content? You know, maybe you don’t have a budget for a big photoshoot or, you’re just a founder and you don’t have access to a full team. Is there a campaign you’re looking to mount just so that you can capture content for your own channels? Are you looking to drive sales? Are you looking for, you know, bigger paid campaigns? Just making sure that your goals align with the agency and the agency services and capabilities. I also think definitely asking about previous projects that they’ve done, case studies, making sure again, that the types of brands that agency may have worked with fits with what you’re looking for, what your brand vision may be, that they’re brands that you know and respect and admire in the space. And I also think it’s just making sure that you’re also set up to have a successful influencer program. So for instance, if you’re looking for a bigger brand ambassador program, do you have some sort of DTC component, do you feel equipped and ready to have enough product to seed out to influencers? If you’re doing a trade or earned program if you want a bigger paid campaign, do you have healthy budgets, making sure that, you’re aligned on all of those key components, in addition to, the goals of your campaign, so that that agency can give their strategic recommendation on what is or isn’t doable.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, looking at the next two to three years, how do you see the influencer marketing landscape evolving?

Paige Garrett: The fluff content is gone. I think that when an influencer is choosing to share content, whether it be sponsored or not, I think that influencers are really looking to add value and to open up bigger conversations, and use their platforms for the greater good. Whereas, you know, I do think there was a lot of curated interest in stylized content previously. So I’m excited to continue to see this where influencers are really doubling down on brands that give back or initiatives that they align with personally, they’re saying no to deals with brands that they don’t admire who aren’t doing well by society. Really just leaning into authentic, real content that feels good to them as a consumer, but also that they know that their community will resonate with. So I, for instance, would always rather an influencer say no, and we have had some, some no’s, because if it’s a dietary restriction or, a personal decision that they want to lean into a different industry, I would always rather hear, “No”, that “this is not brand-aligned”, then an influencer produce content that they don’t feel good about and that they don’t think their community will resonate with. So continuing to move in that direction, I definitely think video will continue to be huge. And I do think that video allows for that more authentic and real connection. Whereas, you can’t just hide behind a stylized photo. A movement towards the real is really what I think we’re all experiencing and especially after such a challenging few years, with everything going on, I do think that influencers want to leverage their platforms to do more than just share brands or content, to share resources. You know, I think that educational content will continue to be huge and just moving towards using social media for the greater good, rather than perpetuating unrealistic norms of a perfect lifestyle, which we all now know does not exist.

Adrian Tennant: So Paige, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about influencer marketing with RVD, where can they find resources?

Paige Garrett: Yeah, so you can visit our website at www.rachelvandolson.com. You can email us at info@rachelvandolson.com or find us on Instagram: @RVDCommunications.

Adrian Tennant: And if people would like to know more about your coaching services for fitness and integrative health, where can they find you?

Paige Garrett: They can find me at www.PaigeGarrett.com or on Instagram @PaigeAConnelly.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, thank you very much for being our guest this week on, IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Paige Garrett: Thank you so much for having me. It was such a pleasure.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at RVD Communications. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Audience Consumer Insights Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer Insights Package Design Photography Video Production

According to a recent BigCommerce analysis, product description pages stand out as the most critical parts of an eCommerce website. They emphasized the fact that designers need to consider their product pages from multiple perspectives: 

  • Potential customers visit product pages to make buying decisions. Most importantly, the page’s content and design should offer visitors the information they need to click the “Buy” button. 
  • Many visitors might arrive at these pages directly from search engines, advertisements, and social posts. These prospects might not have ever seen the site’s homepage. In that case, the page needs to function as a landing page and an introduction to the seller. 
  • The page must also communicate its purpose to the search engine, ad platform, and social media algorithms to increase traffic. SEO represents a critical element of the product page. 

Thus, crafting a good eCommerce, Amazon, or Shopify product page design takes some skill. To get started or improve conversions on existing product pages, consider some eCommerce marketing agency do’s and don’ts for product page design. 

blank

eCommerce Marketing Agency Tips for Product Page Design

Craft product pages well to increase website traffic and sales. Develop these important pages poorly, and conversions and even search engine traffic will suffer. 

The Do’s of Product Description Pages for DTC Marketing 

These tips should provide rapid improvement in traffic and conversions: 

1.Include customization options with descriptions 

Don’t force customers to navigate away from the page to find the color or size product they want to buy. Fewer clicks almost always translate into higher conversions. Use selection boxes or checkboxes to save space. Ideally, design the so choosing different options will also display images to match the selection. 

2. Display customer reviews 

Online customers almost automatically check for reviews before they risk their money with a new brand. Shoppers want to know how other customers felt about their purchase. Make reviews easy to find.

For one example, FigLeaves sells women’s clothing. According to Neil Patel, adding reviews to product pages increased conversions by 35 percent. 

3. Showcase competitive differentiators 

Searching online makes it easy for customers to find competing brands. Emphasize features for the product or site that make it a better choice than competitors. 

As an example, Neil Patel highlighted a product called a SuperSnorkel. This new type of snorkel retails for considerably more than typical snorkels. The product description lets customers know that the improved product allows breathing through their nose or mouth. Also, the lens doesn’t fog up and offers a 180-degree view. Shoppers can easily see the benefits of buying this product over cheaper alternatives.

blank

Some products might not offer marketers the luxury of providing so many benefits over competitors. As an example, one set of cotton pillowcases might closely resemble another. In that case, high-quality images, various color and size options, and the store’s return and shipping policies may need to work harder to stand out. This also offers marketers a chance to highlight better or more eco-friendly packaging as an advantage.

4. Spell out and update return and shipping policies 

Shopify published a study by the Baymard Institute that found extra fees at checkout, including shipping costs, account for over half of abandoned shopping carts. Besides shipping costs, spell out shipping and return policies on the page to reduce customer support issues. 

Remember that customer-friendly shipping and return policies can help improve conversions, but surprising customers later with unfavorable policies won’t help. A European eCommerce site for watches called Harloges improved conversions by 41 percent and average sales by six percent when they added their return guarantee to a banner above each product description. 

5. Add Multiple Product Images For Various Angles and Options 

For example, customers will want to see what a futon or sleeper sofa looks like when it’s folded up or folded out. Some may want to see the back of the sofa as well as the front. If the clothes, furniture, or decor come in different colors, provide high-quality photos of those too. Include other objects or people in the image to help improve visitors’ perspective of size, fit, and what the product might look like when they use it. 

The Don’ts of Product Pages for Effective D2C Marketing 

Just as an Amazon or Shopify marketing agency should ensure they include all the right things, they will also strive to avoid common mistakes. 

1.Focus on too many CTAs

Product pages should help build trust, provide an introduction to a company, and help with search engine optimization. Still, the product page must center around its primary job of selling the product. 

Just as product pages stand out as the most crucial part of an eCommerce site, nobody should underestimate the importance of the “Buy” or “Add to Cart” button on the product page. 

For instance, Nature Air increased conversions by almost 600 percent after they made the CTA stand out more and added it right next to relevant content. 

While page designers should emphasize the product’s CTA, they should resist adding additional calls to action on the page. Keep the customer focused on the sale and worry about enticing them to join a subscription list or anything else after committing to the sale. 

2. Don’t compose wordy or hard-to-read descriptions 

Crafting product descriptions takes some skill. The text descriptions should include information to satisfy shoppers but not appear wordy or as an unreadable wall of text.

The Shopify blog even mentioned that their customers frequently struggle to find the perfect balance between wordiness and completeness on description pages. An eCommerce strategy professional provided these suggestions for a Shopify product page design: 

  • Include essential details but otherwise, keep descriptions as short as possible. 
  • Use headings, bullet points, and paragraph breaks to keep the text readable. 
  • Supply photos, videos, or other media that can provide more information and appeal to more people. 
blank

3. Never forget to optimize product pages for search engines 

Perform keyword research and brainstorming to gather the sorts of queries that customers might use to find products. Include the most important and popular keywords and phrases in titles, headings, text, and image captions. 

Gather Data and Test for the Best Results 

Great product pages start with a good understanding of customers. An eCommerce marketing agency might use surveys, marketing research, and A/B tests to determine how to tweak product pages for the best results. As demonstrated by the examples, some seemingly minor changes can yield significant increases in traffic and conversions.

Categories
Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer Market Intelligence Podcast Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

Chantal Schmelz is a facilitator, strategist, lecturer, and marketer based in Zurich, Switzerland. Chantal explains how she uses the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method to break down barriers between participants and generate breakthrough ideas. Chantal shares consumer insights based on her work in Europe and the Philippines, and contrasts e-commerce in developed countries with what she sees in the developing world – plus how WEConnect connects women-owned businesses with buyers globally.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Chantal Schmelz: A very wise man once said perspective is not what you’re looking at, but where you’re looking from. So shifting perspectives in a team can unleash unbelievably creative solutions to problems that seemed impossible to solve before.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. A full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Bringing together business leaders, politicians, and journalists to discuss current economic and social challenges, the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting is usually held in January in the ski town of Davos, Switzerland. This year, due to COVID-19, the annual meeting was held virtually, but the WEF’s decision reflected the level of global disruption unleashed by the worst health crisis in more than a century, the aftershocks of which will have profound long-term impacts on many aspects of our consumer-led society. And as my colleague, Dana Cassell, described in Bigeye’s webinar and podcast, a return to “business as usual” isn’t an option. Many organizations have been forced by the pandemic to re-engineer some of the ways they operate. But how do you introduce change strategically, and at scale, within an organization? My guest this week is a change enthusiast who resists the idea of only having one profession. Chantal Schmelz works as a facilitator, strategist, lecturer, and marketing consultant with a very diverse portfolio of projects and clients. But Chantal’s projects always have two things in common: they actively drive positive change, and they only work when the collective intelligence of the team is harnessed. Chantal uses agile methods, tools, and processes to enable co-thinking and collaboration. Chantal has worked with McDonald’s, the Innovation Hub of the University of Zurich, and with startups all around Europe. To talk about her work and playful approach to creative facilitation, Chantal is joining us today from her home in Zurich, Switzerland. Chantal, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Chantal Schmelz: Thank you very much for having me, Adrian. It’s a pleasure.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, you are a facilitator, strategist, lecturer, and marketing consultant. Do you typically work with clients who engage you for just one of your skills or are they looking to take advantage of a multidisciplinary approach?

Chantal Schmelz: So, actually, it most often is kind of an unintentional upselling process. To tackle strategy often sounds too big of a task and facilitation is too intangible for a lot of people or fancy-pantsy for them. So actually, often people come to me with a very clearly framed task, like doing a webpage or getting their teams trained on any specific, marketing communication topic. And once we get to work together by asking a few, probably sometimes uncomfortable questions, we started turning stone by stone. And in the end we mostly work on a rather strategic project together with the help of agile methods. So I’d say most of them are not specifically looking for my multidisciplinary approach unless they have already worked with me, but get to see the value of connecting all these dots and thus creating better outcomes once they’ve overcome the fear of tasks that seemed too big to tackle.

Adrian Tennant: Would you say that you are equal parts facilitator, strategist, lecturer, marketer – or do you favor one role or specialism over the others?

Chantal Schmelz: What a lovely question. I’ve always been a kinesthetic learner, myself. One of the characteristics being that connecting things and spatial thinking has always come very naturally to me. But I had an awfully hard time at school as the system implies that there are natural boundaries between physics and English where in my brain, there are none. All dots are somehow connected. So frankly speaking, I’ve never much questioned whether I’m now working as a facilitator or a marketer only. I like to listen and watch closely and then bring all skills to the table that might help the process. So I see myself rather as a human being, with a toolbox full of very differently shaped tools that all have their benefits and timing and also limitations. Using them resourcefully, that is more important to me than whether a client is referring to me as their marketing consultant or their facilitator. However, I’m not down talking on the difficulties that one faces when, especially I have to position myself clearly, as in this podcast. Ironically, that is something that I try to avoid, against the advice I’d regularly give to my marketing clients when I tell them they have to have a very clear positioning!

Adrian Tennant: Hmm, I like that. So, Chantal, what types of projects have you been working on lately?

Chantal Schmelz: Multidisciplinary ones! I know that’s not the answer you were looking for, but it’s somehow true. So last week, I ran a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop with 50 people that all work at the overlap of innovation and education. And we worked on the topic of gamification. So it was all mixed and tangled up: multidisciplinary. And I also currently work on two bigger projects with clients that always remind me of Renee Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy book, because both are existing within long-been-there industries with clear standards and procedures, and also a clear set of thinking or mindset. However, both have unique approaches that lay way outside of the industry norm or what has been known so far. So one is a small fashion label that manages to produce circular fashion. So not just hopping on this sustainability train that the bigger fashion labels have onboarded over the last few years, because it was trendy – where they do textile recycling, which mostly only consists of collecting old clothes, shredding them, and reusing as insulation materials. This small label has managed to really retrieve the raw materials from their clothes and make new ones out of them. And the other one is an even older trade – it’s retail. So it’s a hard discount retailer that is built up in a very similar way to the ALDI concept, from years back. So, old-style retail. However, while ALDI has mostly stuck to industrialized countries for their expansion, they are expanding into the Philippine market with its very unique demographics in a time where the communities there – not only by the pandemic – have already been widely digitalized. They have the need to educate their consumers while not making them feel that they’re being educated. So excellent use cases for multi-disciplinary tasks where I can bring all my skills to the table, not simultaneously, but over the course of time, all of them will be used.

Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Well, you mentioned the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method. I know you’re a facilitator and certified in the method. Could you explain what it is and how you came to be using LEGO® in facilitation?

Chantal Schmelz: I have two boys at home, so we were playing LEGO®, not very seriously, at home already. And I’ve seen the benefits with my children talking over LEGO® already. I also have an education degree and with all my consultancy customers and clients, I always hit the same brick wall where they just got stuck because you handed them a blank sheet of paper, where they had to note down bullets or ideas, or, had to, come to decisions based on just talking together. And I felt with the education knowledge in the background, that there must be more opportunities to unleash the potential that lays in these discussions. a friend of mine started doing LEGO® and she was like, that’s going to be that solution for unstacking those discussions. So I took upon a challenge and got certified and have ever since had the most amazing experiences with customers, people just wanting to test the method and being really like, “Oh, I didn’t know all these people in the room, but I now somehow feel connected and we could really, without knowing each other, with very different backgrounds, we could work on one topic together in a very appreciative, highly participative way”. So this is for me is the beauty of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. And, also how I came to use it in the first place.

Adrian Tennant: What are some of the most common preconceptions clients and participants have about using- I nearly said playing with – using LEGO®?

Chantal Schmelz: Oh, we always say “let’s play,” because I mean, everyone knows it’s a play and playing comes very naturally to all human beings. So, why not to managers and CEOs? However, especially when it’s a highly hierarchical or highly disturbed team there, you always have people [with] crossed arms, eyes rolling, “Oh, yet another team-building event. And I’ve been to tons of them.” And we try to always just say, “Give it a try. If you don’t like it in half an hour, leave it.” And it doesn’t even take half an hour because most of the people, because they know LEGO® from their kids’ rooms and the painful experience when you stumble upon it then, most of them really think you’re gonna childishly play with LEGO®., but it’s a serious play. So there’s a process behind, there is a dedicated outcome you want to achieve. and it’s just enabling discussions in a very easy way that also perfectly works cross-culturally so I’ve had all these crossed arms and funny faces when I tell them we’re going to do LEGO® now, however, in the end, all of them have been rather fascinated by how easy discussions run throughout a day.

Adrian Tennant: Do you typically work with a regular set of LEGO® bricks or is there one particular set that you give to each participant?

Chantal Schmelz: That really depends on whether we play physical, like in locations on-site or whether we do online sessions. If we play online LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, we go by the standard LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® exploration packs because then it helps that everyone who’s only connected via screen has the same set in front of them. When you have large groups, around big tables, I just really put masses of LEGO® on there, to have them explore everything because there you have another context. So both work with limitations, whether virtually or physically.

Adrian Tennant: What does the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method certification process look like?

Chantal Schmelz: Actually, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® was invented by LEGO® themselves as they were looking for a new innovation process that would enable them to get to new products and innovations faster. They used that for a couple of years and in 2010, they decided to make it available under the custom commons license. So there are, of course, they’re supplying the bricks and have kind of part of the earnings on that, but they are not the ones doing the facilitation. There are various companies, master, chief, black belts, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® gurus that do certifications, but you’re not certified by LEGO® you’re certified by each of those institutions that do certification rounds. However, you get a “how to use the LEGO® brand” custom creative comments manual that you have to follow once you tell the world that you are now officially a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: How do you identify?

Voices: Female, male, gender fluid, cis-gender, genderqueer, non-binary, trans-feminine.

Adrian Tennant: Society is constantly changing and evolving. To understand how Americans feel about gender identity and expression, Bigeye undertook a national study involving over 2,000 adult consumers. Over half of those aged 18 to 39 believe that traditional binary labels of male and female are outdated and instead see gender as a spectrum. Our exclusive report, GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY, reveals how beliefs across different generations influences the purchase of toys, clothes, and consumer packaged goods. To download the full report, go to Bigeye.agency/gender.

Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

Adrian Tennant: GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Chantal Schmelz, a strategist, facilitator, and marketer based in Zurich, Switzerland. Now you mentioned that you’re involved in a very interesting textile company. Could you explain the philosophy behind the Yarn-to-Yarn® process?

Chantal Schmelz: Probably a lot of people already know cradle to cradle as a concept of the Circular Economy and Yarn-to-Yarn® is kind of the adaptation to the textile industry where you say you use materials that can either be easily separated, once clothes are being returned after use. For example, you need to be very careful what patches you sew onto your clothes, what color imprints you use and what tags you use, what buttons, what zippers because they need to be ripped off before the reuse can start. And also, like with cradle to cradle, it’s essential that you don’t mix raw materials in a way that they cannot be separated anymore. So you don’t glue it, you nail it because then it can be separated. And with Yarn-to-Yarn®, you use fibers that can be separated chemically or, with bio enzymes easily. So that in the end you have cotton and polyethylene fibers, as raw materials in the end. So you can have new yarn created out of the raw materials easily. So it’s the same process as cradle to cradle for the textile industry. And at the moment, it’s based on a bio enzyme process that allows to separate cotton and polyethylene fibers, so that they can be totally 100% reused at the end.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, how did you become involved in this particular technology?

Chantal Schmelz: Actually, it started with Facebook advertising. As I said earlier, a very concrete, clearly framed task someone needed to be done. So for a marketing campaign they needed someone to run the ads for them. And by asking more and more questions, and also being asked questions back, we came to “Okay, there’s more to the strategy that needs to be developed, the storytelling needs to be enlarged, needs to be tailored to certain audiences that are already rejecting fast fashion.” So, it’s really that unconscious or unintentional upselling, how I came to be involved. In the yard to yard and process or project as a consultant.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, I know you’re also very involved in WEConnect International, Could you tell us a little bit about your work with the organization?

Chantal Schmelz: Yes, I gladly do. So WEConnect is certifying women-owned businesses to give the purchasing partner, the certified buyer. Let’s say Walmart, for example, in the US, they have a hard time figuring out which women-owned business could be a potential supplier for us. So WEConnect kind of bridges that gap, giving the buyer insight into what suppliers they are in the specific areas they’re looking for products or suppliers. In the US, I know because WEConnect originates from the US and you have laws that tell procurement purchasing to what percentage they have to buy from minorities. Whether this is the Black community, or women-owned business, or LGBTQ. So they have like these set rules. In Europe, these rules or regulations, laws, do not exist. At the moment there are so many supply chains in Europe that have zero percent women-owned supply in there. And we try to change that. In my role, I do that for the Swiss market. So I try to first certify the women-owned businesses, assess them, and then also get them in touch with potential buyer-side customers so that we can help to diversify the supply chain as well, because that’s a big chunk of the market that is so far in untapped potential for women-owned businesses.

Adrian Tennant: In which areas of business do you see the most untapped opportunities for women?

Chantal Schmelz: So I think studies have already shown plenty of times that female-led teams or female-led companies, as well as diverse-led teams, sustainably perform with a higher return on investment for investors, for example, than all-male-led teams. So there’s generally a lot of potential in the market for female-owned businesses. However, what we see is that a lot of women directly go into the service area of business: training translation, copywriting, marketing consulting, such as I do. And there is a huge demand for products, med-tech. So the more technical areas where I think that the very mindful approach that women give to building up a company could also not only lead to them tapping into this potential or these opportunities but also sustainably changing industries to more sustainable working.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, thinking about strategy, what are some of the biggest challenges you’re finding that clients are facing right now?

Chantal Schmelz: Even though we often say that we do forward-looking, future-oriented strategy work, we mostly don’t. We look at past data or data trends and then extrapolate it, to generate a strategy that looks into the future. Mathematically calculated, gut feeling extrapolated. Now with the pandemic that hit the entire world at the same time, looking at past data, and data trends, doesn’t do the trick anymore. And even if you say we only look at the years 2020 to 2021, the underlying assumption remains that this is just an exception and the trends might not continue. So, companies are facing now the challenge that they have to come up with strategies from within and still make sure that their mindset remains agile, to the point where they do short sprints, evaluating new problems, new challenges, ideation, prototyping, testing, and then redoing it over and over again. And I think that’s at the moment, the biggest challenge because lots of bigger companies are still used to long innovation cycles, where they do all the research properly and data analysts spend hours and hours on evaluating and benchmarking before they put anything in front of the customer. And I think that has gone.

Adrian Tennant: Yeah, it makes sense. Chantal, in what kinds of ways are you typically supporting clients with strategy?

Chantal Schmelz: I’m really hard on you in many! No, seriously, it is like with children, if you have the same age, same background of upbringing, same schooling, you still have totally different kids. And this also holds true for businesses. I don’t have the one typical approach of supporting them with their strategy, but I found three things to be of the essence for every good or successful strategy process. One is enabling all involved parties to form a joint understanding of the challenge. Because meeting culture, mostly renders this impossible. It’s like meetings are more of a talking back and forth, just staring at the wall battle, than a co-thinking process that would allow teams to capitalize on their joint knowledge. So setting the stage to enable, facilitate people, to really use this crowd wisdom, to jointly understand the problem, and being able to tell one story with one voice as a team really helps to move forward fast with strategy work. The second one is perspective. A very wise man once said perspective is not what you’re looking at, but where you’re looking from, and we are often caught up in own perspectives and probably don’t see the opportunities that lie right next to us, because our standpoint is not into the right direction. So shifting perspectives in a team can unleash unbelievably creative solutions to problems that seemed impossible to solve before. And the third one is getting the teams, the companies, to the mindset that they do strategies in small increments, and test them, right away. Get them in front of the relevant user, customer stakeholder. Because the most beautiful PowerPoints are totally useless unless you get the user, the customer to buy into them. So I think giving that perspective on the importance of testing, because before data analytics was like the key discipline you had to master. Now it’s testing. Testing, and interpreting data you get from testing in order to move forward fast.

Adrian Tennant: So Chantal, thinking about all the projects that you’ve been involved with across several disciplines, which was your favorite and why?

Chantal Schmelz: Actually very interesting story of a female entrepreneur. When I started with her, probably four years back, she was neither tech-loving, nor did she have any web page, online shop, anything like that. But she’s selling household products designed very nicely, high functional, so excellent, innovative products for the mass market and she was not on the internet at that point. Two years later, she became Amazon Entrepreneur of the Year in Germany. And the transition we made throughout all this, and accompanying her throughout this journey. She was on television on one of these Shark Tank shows, so a really exciting story to be part of. And at the beginning, I would not have imagined that we would manage that at all to get her on the internet, selling on Amazon, not in my wildest dreams. And she’s very successfully launching one product after the other now.

Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Chantal, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about you, and your work in strategy, facilitation, and marketing, where can they find you?

Chantal Schmelz: Most easily, I’d assume, on LinkedIn. Because there I’m available in all languages that I’m able to speak! 

Adrian Tennant: Perfect. Chantal, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Chantal Schmelz: Thank you very much, Adrian, for having me. It was a real pleasure.

Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on, IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Paige Garrett: In a way that advertising used to be where you trust the channel you’re watching, or you trust the magazine you’re reading, that trust is now in those influencers And not like you’re just getting that content. You’re not just getting served an ad. You’re getting served this person’s entire life or whatever it is that their niche is that they’re sharing about. And that is where that trust is established.

Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with influencer marketing expert Paige Garrett, next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, Chantal Schmelz: strategist, marketer, and facilitator. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer Market Intelligence Podcast Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

Bigeye’s guest this week is Ksenia Newton of Brandwatch. Ksenia explains how she triangulates different sources of data, including social listening, to derive fresh consumer insights about shopping behaviors in-store and online. Ksenia shares insights from recent Brandwatch reports and makes some predictions about this year’s holiday shopping season, based on what she’s seeing in her research. We also preview the results of Bigeye’s upcoming study about US shopping behaviors.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Ksenia Newton: People are willing to spend, and I can see this in the social data. People are all looking for products, so I think that presents a great opportunity for retailers and e-commerce companies to do a little research, understand what their consumers are looking for, and push those deals to test the different offers and kind of start getting them early on.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insight at Bigeye. A full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. The experience of shopping has been transformed for many of us over the past 18 months as e-commerce has boomed, innovation in retail tech has accelerated, and competition among online retailers has grown. We’ve seen online and offline shopping experiences merge such as order online and pick up in-store. One way of tracking the impact of these changes in consumer behavior is through social listening, enabled by tools that can track information about products, consumers, and purchase intent in real-time. Marketers can use social listing platforms to understand consumer sentiment and improve their own presence on social networks. Our guest today is an expert in this area. A researcher and strategist, Ksenia Newton is the marketing content specialist at the digital consumer intelligence company, Brandwatch. Ksenia likes to think of herself as part social analyst, and part writer, deriving consumer insights from social data and turning those into helpful reports and data-driven stories. To talk about her work with Brandwatch and what she believes the future holds for retail and e-commerce, Ksenia is joining us today from Málaga, Spain. Ksenia, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Ksenia Newton: Hi, Adrian. Thank you for having me.

Adrian Tennant: Ksenia, you’re in Málaga, Spain today, but your home base is New York City. What takes you to Málaga?

Ksenia Newton: As a New Yorker, I really tried to extend my summer holidays. Maybe indulge in some paella and finally try out this digital nomad lifestyle, but I’ve also wanted to see Málaga for a long time. I see it has a rich history and beautiful architectural sights, but definitely, paella and wine scored first in my decision-making process. So no shame.

Adrian Tennant: You’re leaving New York City for the first time in months. How does it feel to be traveling again? 

Ksenia Newton: It’s expensive to travel again. Regulations change, you know, basically on a daily basis. So we are traveling, our next point would be Ibiza island which we’re traveling to tomorrow. We just found out that the local government of the island has imposed a new rule that’s in effect from September 8th to September 15th. Everybody who’s traveling from the mainland of Spain has to get a PCR test done. So every PCR test in Europe is over a hundred Euros. So number one, traveling again is very expensive because you just end up spending a lot of money to do PCR tests, no matter where you go from one country to another, from one island to another. Other than that, a lot of people are traveling and what’s surprising is that people actually follow social distancing. A lot of places here require vaccinations, people wear masks, so that’s definitely nice. There’s this little bit of excitement up in the air of people just really enjoying. So I think while we don’t have to talk about the downside of the pandemic, it was devastating, right? Still is, but at the same time, I feel like that gave people just maybe another breath of fresh air because they’re enjoying their life again, right? Before we were able to do all these different things but then once we were no longer able to do anything. And then we are back at traveling, people would just really enjoy their glass of wine, really enjoyed their meal. They really enjoyed the company of their friends. So I think that’s been very interesting to watch, just laughter all around and personal connections, just having a conversation, not a lot of people. And I know, in New York, most of the time people walk around with their phones, just staring at their phone non-stop. In Europe, it’s very different. And I don’t know if it’s always been different, but in Europe, people actually enjoy in-person conversation. Maybe it is an effect of COVID. So hopefully one positive trend that came out of the pandemic is the fact that we kind of just become a little bit more human again. Maybe that’s the case.

Adrian Tennant: Could you explain what Brandwatch is and what types of clients the company serves?

Ksenia Newton: Absolutely. So Brandwatch is a digital consumer intelligence company. We’re based in the UK and while Brandwatch Consumers Research, our flagship platform, can process all kinds of data side-by-side, we are best known for our capabilities in making sense of the voices of billions of people through analyzing different sources, like public social media posts, review sites, video sites, blackboards, and news articles. Currently, we have over 2,000 different clients, from agencies to larger brands, most of them are very well known. Yeah.

Adrian Tennant: Now you’re a marketing content specialist with Brandwatch. What does your role entail?

Ksenia Newton: You can think of me as a social researcher, I would say. So I gather and analyze social data shared publicly by consumers on various topics online. And I turn those insights into posts and reports that are going to help companies and brands better understand and adapt to changing consumer behavior. I think I would call this a social researcher because that’s what I do.

Adrian Tennant: Now you recently wrote and presented a report for Brandwatch, which explores how consumer behaviors have changed since COVID-19 and it looks at their impact on e-commerce for the remainder of this year and into 2022. Ksenia, briefly, could you explain how you obtained data for Brandwatch reports?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. Brandwatch has access to the largest archive of consumer thought and opinion. We’re currently talking about 1.2 trillion public mentions. Our sources include social networks and forums and news sites, review sites, video sites, and as you know, there’s over half a billion new public posts that are being shared every day. And also Brandwatch is a Twitter official partner. So that allows us to access the full fire hose and Brandwatch is the only actual provider who index and stores that entire Twitter data on our servers for instant access. So you can go back all the way back to 2008, I believe, to kind of look at what was happening back then, and then compare those data to the real-time mentions.

Adrian Tennant: So it’s kind of longitudinal data opportunities there as well?

Ksenia Newton: Absolutely. But also, I love reading through data. So sometimes it’s, you know, it wants to sort of look into this. You can fall into that loophole. You just stay there for hours trying to see, “Wow. I can’t believe that actually took place back in 2008.” Right? And how different the world looks like these days. Yeah.

Adrian Tennant: What are some of the most significant trends that you saw evolving during the pandemic and that you believe will prove to have longer-term impacts?

Ksenia Newton: I truly think that the pandemic of 2020 actually has changed the way we do many things, including how we shop. And it’s driven this rapid digital adoption around shopping specifically. So a couple of strands that I can think of right away one is the touch-free, right? We all wanted to have this contactless experience. We don’t want to touch anything. I live in New York. So all of a sudden in New York, our subway has changed from using the regular MetroCard to actually just tapping our card and just paying for it and going through. So people who are looking for this type of experience and I think that is going to be a trend moving forward: touch-free whether, you know, is the experience in-store or online. The other thing that I can speak to is the virtual try-on trend. I think it’s huge. Myself, I’ve purchased products by literally trying them on online. And whether it’s clothing, accessories, there’s also makeup you can do now in 3D, or if you were trying to redesign your space, I think that’s also huge. And the other ones, I would say, is probably social commerce and live streaming. Live streaming is becoming really big, especially in Asia and it’s definitely moving towards the rest of the world. But also the growing power of social marketing and ethical shopping, I think that’s the other trend. I guess we’ve been stuck in the pandemic for so long a lot of people reassess their behavior around shopping. And that also includes social influencers who are, not only promoting certain products, but they also really embrace ethical shopping. So they try to send that message over. So people care a lot more these days about what the brands stand for, what they represent, how ethical they are, and so on and so forth. So I think this is going to be a big one as well.

Adrian Tennant: Bigeye has recently conducted a survey of consumers across the US. And while the data is provisional, it appears that a majority of Gen Z and Gen Y consumers are purchasing based on seeing influencers use, or recommend products. Now, during COVID brands adapted to lockdowns and nonessential store closures by introducing live streaming. Did you see greater adoption of social commerce in your research?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, I’m actually working on a report right now. It’s the report around COVID-19 and its impact on the consumer behavior moving forward. And something that I currently see in data is not only people shop off to see something that’s being promoted to them by influencers or somebody that they follow. People also shop for a variety of other reasons like impulse buying as well as something to look forward to. So there are a lot of other motivations that I’m just uncovering right now. So I do think there is a greater adoption of social commerce, but people are spending a lot. And actually, I think I read it in Statista. I think it might’ve been an hour extra that people will spend online watching all the different entertainment shows and livestream as well. So, definitely greater adoption, I think it’s going to stay that way because we’ve been through the pandemic for so long that we’ve gotten used to this type of experience. Yeah. I think it’s here to stay. I’ve actually never shopped through a live stream yet. So I’m lagging behind, not an early adopter here!

Adrian Tennant: What kind of impact has TikTok had?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, as you know, TikTok is one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment platforms. I know that they’re currently trying to invest heavily in social commerce. They’ve just partnered up with Shopify and I think it’s going to be a great deal because the majority of users on TikTok are Gen Z. So I remember from last year there were a couple of fashion brands that went viral with their little videos on TikTok. And I think TikTok is going to grow. First of all, I think they’re planning on launching new features to compete with Instagram shopping and Facebook shopping. So there’ll be a lot of that. I feel like it links probably advertising, a lot of brand-sponsored content as well. I know they’re in the process of evolving and I really think it is going to actually make a huge difference. I’m very curious to see how it’s going to play.

Adrian Tennant: At Bigeye, we typically categorize social media influences by the number of people following their accounts. So mega influencers have 1 million or more followers, macro influencers are those with 100,000 up to 1 million followers. Micro influencers are those with 1,000 and up to 99,000 followers. And finally, nano influencers are those whose accounts typically have fewer than 1,000 followers. Now in our preliminary research data, we see that in addition to purchasing products based on influencers, consumers are sharing those purchases with their social networks. Ksenia, are we approaching the point of which everyone with a social media account is potentially a nano influencer?

Ksenia Newton: I think it’s a good one. You can be an influencer too, right? I think it’s very important. What makes nano influencers different from the rest is first of all, our attention span is nowhere close to what it used to be, right? And you only care about those, that you either know, or they could make a huge impact in your life. I think, for example, I follow a girl from my gym, right? She has just slightly over 4,000 followers on her Instagram, but because I’ve seen her in person, she’s not my friend, but I’ve seen her in person at the gym and then I found her account. I’m a lot more likely to actually pay attention to what she is advertising. So to your point, I do think that nano influencers are going to have a huge impact. And in fact, because their audience is so much more engaged than say, you might have a hundred, thousand followers, but if you look at Instagram, your photo might get maybe a hundred likes and that doesn’t even mean anything, because as we scroll through, we just click, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. So I think nano influences are going to become a lot more important just because their audience is very concentrated, a lot more engaged, they actually pay attention versus just scrolling endlessly mindlessly scrolling through. Yeah. So with my 1,517, I believe, on Instagram. If only I can figure out what the focus should be. I can be a nano influencer too!

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages. 

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: How do you identify?

Voices: Female, male, gender fluid, cis-gender, genderqueer, non-binary, trans-feminine.

Adrian Tennant: Society is constantly changing and evolving. To understand how Americans feel about gender identity and expression, Bigeye undertook a national study involving over 2,000 adult consumers. Over half of those aged 18 to 39 believe that traditional binary labels of male and female are outdated and instead see gender as a spectrum. Our exclusive report, GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY, reveals how beliefs across different generations influences the purchase of toys, clothes, and consumer packaged goods. To download the full report, go to Bigeye.agency/gender.

Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

Adrian Tennant: GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Ksenia Newton, marketing content specialist at Brandwatch. In our survey, we asked respondents how likely it is that certain scenarios will happen within this decade. Ksenia, it probably won’t surprise you to know that over one-half of gen Z respondents believe that by 2030, many retail stores will include studio space for customers to create their own videos and show product demonstrations as live streams. We’re also starting to see some beauty retailers set up like this, but do you think it could be the norm sooner than 2030?


Ksenia Newton: I’m really not surprised. Just a few days ago, I was in Madrid, and we went to a local store, I believe it was Burshka. And I saw a big LED ring light right there in the store, that would allow you to take beautiful selfies and model their clothing. And I saw people, definitely on the younger side, just try it on: jeans, jackets, spinning around, taking photos, maybe live streaming.  I wanted to stand behind and watch what they were doing, but I couldn’t. It’s not very ethical, I don’t think 2030 is the year. I think it’s already here and it’s not because it’s happening and I’m sure it’s happening a lot more than I’m aware of. It’s just, I don’t ever go and shop in stores. This is a very rare occasion. I’m more of an online person. but it’s already here and I’ve seen people do this, so it’s definitely here. We don’t need 20 years. It’s happening now.

Adrian Tennant: A trend we’re also seeing in our data is a greater interest in recycling and upcycling. Again, especially among the younger generation. In our survey, approaching one third of generation Z reported buying from a store specializing in pre-owned or vintage clothing in the past six months, with almost two in every five saying they bought pre-owned clothes or accessories from a thrift store. Ksenia, what do you think lies behind this? Is it a rejection of fast fashion or can fast fashion and thrifting co-exist?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, it’s a great question. Actually, something that I recently read from a Deloitte study and I saw in my data as well, because I am working on this new report right now, while gen Z and millennials were mostly concerned last year about their health and jobs, both generations remain deeply concerned about the environment still. So that’s one thing and also I think the pandemic has prompted many consumers to reassess something that I mentioned earlier as well, to reassess their lifestyle, and in particular, their shopping behavior as well. And I realized just how much garbage I started producing, right? I was shopping for groceries online. I realized that while everything came was delivered to me and perfectly packed boxes and plastic-wrapped and everything was perfectly fine, no damage done to the food, but at the same time, I realized just how much garbage it produces because I see this on a daily basis. So I think there is a new trend. People are reassessing how they shop. And I think fast fashion can coexist with secondhand shopping, but I also do think that a lot of people are reassessing really looking at it and into maybe when it comes to fashion specifically, maybe looking into better fabric, a more ethically produced fabric and something that they can wear over a longer period of time or to reuse the existing items. I do think it’s a new trend.

Adrian Tennant: The increase in spending on e-commerce during COVID-19 has been well-documented with almost every category benefiting from the fact that many consumers like yourself were under stay in place orders. Last year, Walmart captured 25 percent of the US e-commerce grocery market. And eMarketer predicts that Walmart will continue to outsell its main rival Amazon, at least in the grocery category. Ksenia, do you foresee e-commerce revenues in other categories remaining as strong if and or when people go back to shopping in real stores?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think consumers have gotten very used to the convenience of getting everything delivered, and going back to shopping may not be the same anymore, because a lot of the time people, even if they go to shop in stores, they actually do this kind of window shopping, right? They look at the product, they test it out, see how it feels, what it looks like, maybe how it smells, and then they go online and buy it for cheaper. So I think it’s a big problem actually for retailers. So I think e-com is going to grow big time. I don’t think it’s going to experience any slowdown whatsoever. And then I got a lot of trends, like I mentioned, the impulse buying, So it’s also there, there are things that I’m seeing right now in my data, such as different types of motivations on why people are shopping online. And that’s, sometimes you shop for something for an essential item, but sometimes you just shopping because you want to have something to look forward to. Or because you’re impulse buying. Where you need a quick dopamine fix. That’s something that I’ve been guilty of as well. So I think e-commerce revenues are going to grow for sure. So yeah, I look forward to seeing how that’s going to affect extra in-store experience and retailers as well.

Adrian Tennant: Well, you were in New York City during the lockdowns. From a personal perspective, how did your shopping behaviors change, if at all?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah. I’ve always been shopping online for the most part. But something that I mentioned already, if you have to go into the office, if you have to leave your house, you don’t necessarily see just how much garbage you’ve produced. So the fact that I was home 24/7, and everything that I’ve produced, I was able to actually see, I realized just how much garbage I started producing. From my experience, I guess the fact was that I started really looking at becoming a little bit more sustainable. And that includes buying, you know, reusable items like containers that I can just store food in, buying organically or ethically or produced food, or, not taking plastic bags and so on and so forth. That’s my perspective. I think my shopping behavior has been definitely shaped by the fact that I started seeing all these different things that I create. and now I’m trying to adjust them, whether it’s buying bottles that are reusable bottles for water or not taking plastic, whatever it is, or maybe not even buying something from a retailer or from a brand that I don’t think if their mission doesn’t really, align with my mission or my views or values. So that’s definitely been a trend in my personal life, 

Adrian Tennant: When we spoke a couple of weeks ago, you remarked that in New York City, you can order all of your essential items online and have them delivered, meaning that you never have to leave your apartment. What do you think retailers are going to need to do in order to entice shoppers like you, who’ve grown accustomed to convenience, back to physical stores for in-person shopping.

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, isn’t that a million-dollar question? I think it’s a great question. I do think the way I can be enticed into going back into the store is if maybe I was offered a special deal of some kind that’s not available online, right? Maybe there is a limited production of a particular product that’s only available in-store at a particular location within a short period of time. That creates that sense of urgency, right? That sense of exclusivity that you have to be there to be one of those people who got that exclusive deal. Maybe it’s creating this great, in-store shopping experience because online shopping is great, but it’s not for everyone, right? A lot of the time you kind of still want to have a feel of the product, the item you’re buying. So whether it’s clothing, you might want to have a good setup that you can see yourself from all different angles, or whether it’s food or furniture, whatever that is, maybe providing some additional services. I think retailers will have to work hard on actually getting their customer base back in real stores. But then again, I think it all depends on the generation. So I’m a millennial. I shop online, but not everybody shops online, so hopefully, retailers can find their audience and maybe build up on them.

Adrian Tennant:  For a report Brandwatch published on customer loyalty, you collaborated with Global Web Index, a syndicated research provider, and full disclosure here, Bigeye is a client of GWI. What did that collaboration look like? How did you use the GWI data?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, sure. We approached them about the report we were working on. And actually, GWI was very open about collaborating and combining our datasets. So they provided the data we needed alongside the social data we collected, using our platform so we could compare and contrast. I think they worked out very well, because we’re able to compare social data that we have as well as the survey data to represent everyone. That report is actually very successful. We had a lot of great feedback. 

Adrian Tennant: In that study, what factors emerged as key drivers of customer loyalty and what are some of the implications for retailers and brands?

Ksenia Newton: So the three main factors that emerged in the study were price or value for money as well as quality and delivery. And it’s something that really defines whether consumers are going to become loyal or whether they’re going to detract from the brands. So, especially, I think when it comes to delivery again, we’ve gotten so used to the convenience of having a delivery in place that customers can turn away. The customers will praise you for giving them options, whether it’s a curbside pickup or delivery, or any other type of option, but they will also go online and complain if you don’t deliver it according to their expectations. So the implications there would be as we got stuck at home for so long, our expectations started growing in terms of what e-commerce and retail brands should be delivering. So I think the implication here is e-commerce and retail brands should really work hard and kind of addressing these three key areas, whether it’s price, value for money, delivery or quality of products to kind of stay afloat and develop their loyal base because loyalty is really hard to win and consumers have become a lot more, and I know it’s a cliche, digitally savvy. We’ve been digitally savvy for a very long time, but because we’ve been stuck at home for so long, a lot more people became aware where they can buy certain products, how they can buy them, which retailers offer a particular product at a lower price, and what retailer will give them a better deal or a better delivery or convenient to you. So I think, again, branded companies need to work really hard on addressing these three key areas to deliver on the expectations that consumers have. 

Adrian Tennant: Of course it’s that time of year when, as consumers, the holidays are starting to come into view. Ksenia, do you have any predictions you can share about what this year’s holiday season shopping will look like?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, actually, great question. As you remember, last year, there were shortages everywhere. Right? A lot of people didn’t get their orders in time, not only in time, but it took months to get, whether it’s holiday or not people were ordering furniture, mid-Summer, and they just started getting their furniture maybe seven months later. So when I started noticing my data right now, as I’m working on this new report, a lot of people are trying to make sure that their orders are delivered on time. So they’re already looking for presents around for holidays. a lot of people were actually mentioned pre-order in their conversations. It’s something that I think everybody is trying to get their presence on time to make sure they don’t have any sticky situations. So I think that presents a really good opportunity for retailers, e-commerce, brands to maybe start testing different offers online, whether it’s trying to test different offer or different products. You’re just going to see what works, test it out right now. So then by the time the holiday season comes here, the right offer is in place and they can secure those sales. So the holiday shopping is not going to stop. The holiday shopping is here. I think the last year people held onto to their disposable income, not knowing what’s going to happen. But now that we’ve lived through this pandemic for this long, it has been 18 months, I think we settled, and people are willing to spend, and I can see this in the social data. People are out looking for products, they’re willing to spend. but they do a lot more research. So I think that presents a great opportunity again, for retailers and eCommerce companies to do a little research, understand what their consumers are looking for and push those deals to test the different offers and start getting them early on. Yeah, but I think this holiday season is going to be big for e-commerce.

Adrian Tennant: Ksenia, a significant part of your role is taking social and other types of data and creating stories around them that convey key insights from the data. Could you walk us through your typical process for ensuring that data stories get the points across most effectively for their intended audiences?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. And I think a really good example to that would be what I mentioned earlier about motivations. So for example, right now I’m looking into why consumers are doing impulse shopping. So not only when I go about my research process, not only I look for what’s happening, I’m also looking into why it’s happening. So there’s a number of different motivations to why consumers are doing impulse shopping. So when I personally read reports, as a reader, when I read reports, I’m always looking for that why. What’s the why behind this? So what, and what’s the why. And I think that’s the approach that I’m trying to follow with creating these reports: not only identify what the trend is, but understand what’s behind that trend to give us just a little bit more information, to our readers. What the behavior is like, what’s causing that behavior and maybe what they can do from there. So yeah, the typical day would be really looking into social data, trying to understand what the trend looks like, what are the conversations about, where’s it being used in describing certain trends, but also understanding who is saying what? Because we are able to look at the different demographic data. We can actually split our data in terms of generations. So it’s also very interesting to look at what millennials are saying and what gen Z is saying and how they’re viewing their experiences as well as everybody else. Does that answer your question?

Adrian Tennant: Yeah. It’s interesting the way you describe it. It’s a mix of quantitative and qualitative research all bundled into one, which is unusual. And then we’re used to doing mixed methods research where we might typically start off with a qualitative focus group. To understand the issues and then design a quantitative survey based on those insights to validate at scale. Here you’re dealing quite a lot with historic data, as you say, and what people are talking about online. How do you keep that quantitative and qualitative mindset in play? 

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, it’s a great question. So we have social panels, it’s one of our features in Brandwatch Consumer Research. You can think of it as a focus group, because you can create your own demographics. So you can actually set up the generation that you want to look at. You can put age, you can look for certain criteria, for example, what people say they do. For example, if you only want to look at people who say, people who are in the medical field. So for example, right now, as part of my research, I’m looking into the impact of COVID-19 on medical professionals and the healthcare field. And I’m specifically looking for conversations where people either say, in their bio on Twitter, for example, I’m a doctor, I’m a healthcare professional. Or they say these in conversations: I used to be a doctor and so on and so forth. So in this way you can do this and you don’t even have to get anyone involved because that conversation is already available. Those insights are already available online. We just have to use the right criteria, the right filters to set this up. and Voila! You have all the data available in real-time. I would say, this is a good combination. You can look at the data using just Brandwatch Consumer Research. Look at the numbers behind, look at the mentioned volume, look at the number of how, many mentions of X, Y, and Z word, happened in, maybe earlier this year, but then you can also look at a specific population, whether it’s medical professionals with students or people who said they prefer to impulse buy, and just create the overall understanding about that particular group or that particular population. So I think that’s a good combination. I really like using social panels, especially when I have to look at a very specific subset of the population trying to understand how they feel about a particular aspect or area or product, or service.

Adrian Tennant: Great. Ksenia, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you, where can they find you?

Ksenia Newton: Absolutely. You’re welcome to find me on LinkedIn, Ksenia Newton. I think I’m the only one. There might be another person, but should be at the top of the search. You can also follow me on Twitter even though I’m not as active. You’d be surprised, but I usually listen. I rarely comment, but I’m going to be there all day long just to listen, read the conversation, understand and follow, but I never really tweet, but yeah. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or you can also shoot me an email. If you have a specific question, I’m happy to respond and it’s knewton@brandwatch.com.

Adrian Tennant: And if people are interested in learning more about Brandwatch, where should they go?

Ksenia Newton: Yeah, you guys are welcome to visit our website at www.brandwatch.com. Feel free to check out our blog. We have a lot of interesting insights and we just published our emoji report, which is phenomenal. So it’s brandwatch.com/blog, or also we have a whole resource section that’s free. You don’t need to subscribe, just visit our website. You can read all sorts of reports, trends, blogs, posts, and really have that understanding.

Adrian Tennant: Ksenia, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Ksenia Newton: Thank you for having me.

Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Chantal Schmelz: I go wherever people ask for any kind of change. So I’m, I’m really like, I’m loving the process of enabling people to love change and not be frightened about it.

Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with Chantal Schmelz, creative facilitator and an expert in using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method. That’s next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, Ksenia Newton, marketing content specialist at Brandwatch. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Audience Consumer Insights Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer Insights Package Design Photography Video Production

Pew Research classified people born between 1997 and 2012 as members of Generation Z. Some definitions of this generation vary by a year or two, but this one appears common. Mostly, marketers have only begun to consider the distinct values and buying habits of these young people, and some still lump them in with Millennials.

Of course, it also seems like marketers only clarified the retail marketing differences needed to satisfy Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer shopping habits fairly recently. Perhaps that’s not surprising because just five years ago, Millennials surpassed Boomers as the largest population in the workforce.

Still, many members of Gen Z already have jobs, credit cards, influence, and their own strong preferences as consumers. In order for a DTC marketing agency to attract the attention, good will, and business of these 67 million young Americans, they need to study what these teens and young adults care about and how they like to shop.

Retail marketing must communicate shared values with Gen Z

Experiences formed common attitudes that members of the younger generation share. For instance:

  • Gen Z was born and raised in the shadow of 9/11, The Great Recession, the exponential increase in billionaire wealth vs. worker pay, climate change, the student loan crisis, and most recently, the coronavirus pandemic.
  • They’re digital natives, ethnically diverse, and understandably somewhat mistrustful of big business and authority.

Perhaps because of these experiences and outlooks, they try to use their pocketbooks and influence to support companies they approve of.

Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist, observed his own Baby Boomer generation could satisfy their social responsibility commitments by making a few charitable donations each year. He added that Gen Z wants to do business with companies that incorporate social responsibility into every aspect of their business. Younger people want to buy from companies that take good care of their communities, customers, suppliers, and employees, besides contribute to the greater good. 

blank

Gen Z appreciates pre-worn fashion

Just as Gen Z prefers companies that build social responsibility into their business model, they envision entire economies operating the same way. As an example, the idea of a circular economy inspires young people.

This means focusing upon reusing and recycling products to reduce waste and reduce costs. They care about sustainability to help the environment but also hope to maximize value.

Some examples of online apps that help people participate in this kind of circular economy include Poshmark and Depop. The apps allow users to buy and sell pre-owned items. This gives participants a chance to save or earn money, plus prioritize reuse over discarding products.

blank

Gen Z members enjoy in-store shopping experiences

Sure, most people grew up as digital natives. At the same time, they’re not immune to great in-store shopping experiences. According to survey results published by Marketing Dive:

  • About 80 percent enjoy shopping at stores when they have time.
  • At the same time, 75 percent admit to mostly shopping online for convenience.

Like members of older generations, they may research important shopping choices online. They will still visit a store for an in-person examination of products and a chance to connect with people behind the brand before making a final purchase.

Very often, marketers mention Lush as a brand that works hard to create an engaging onsite experience while integrating digital experiences with physical stores.

Customers get a chance to try out products and speak with helpful salespeople inside the store. As another example, customers can use Lush Lens to take photos of products in order to retrieve a list of ingredients.

This suggests that sellers with physical items for sale should work to make the experience worth the extra time to attract more foot traffic from Gen Z. Retailers should also strive to integrate in-store and online shopping as much as possible. Sellers without physical locations may need to work harder to maintain trust with actions like great customer service and a generous return policy.

blank

Retail packaging for Gen Z

According to research from the National Retail Foundation, brands that demonstrate authenticity, sustainability, and a bit of fun attract members of Gen Z. While these values matter a lot to younger shoppers, they also say that their brand perceptions begin with packaging.

An obvious example includes sustainable retail packaging that’s also distinctive enough to stand out on store shelves or social media posts. Go People highlighted compostable paper bottles for personal care products.

They stand up to showers with a thin lining made up of recycled plastic. Even so, they use 95-percent less plastic than typical bottles. Even better, the containers collapse as they empty, so it’s easy for people to get the last drop of product out of them. At first glance, they look like traditional bottles for high-quality boutique personal care products.

eco-friendly paper bottles

The Importance of Social Media for Connecting With Gen Z

Any retail marketing agency should emphasise the importance of using social media to connect with Gen Z. As one example, the National Retail Foundation found that almost three out of four Gen Z college students purchased products they first found on social media.

Even more than typical ads and posts, social media will help leverage input from brand devotees and influencers, who will share posts from companies and their own experiences on their feeds. In fact, almost 30 percent of the Gen Z respondents to the NRF survey admitted high enthusiasm over certain brands.

This kind of word-of-mouth advertising from true brand admirers provides an authentic recommendation that attracts other members of their social circle.

Why retail marketing should focus on Gen Z

According to McKinsey Research, Gen Z hasn’t peaked in buying power yet. That might not occur for ten to 15 more years. Smart retailer marketing should not ignore this group, just because they haven’t entirely blossomed yet.

More than making their own direct purchases, adolescents, teens, and young adults influence the buying choices of their Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer elders. Of course, younger members of this generation still rely on their families for most purchases, so they express opinions to satisfy their own preferences. They’re also active on social media and can influence a diverse social circle online.

A focus on Gen Z can help improve current sales and future-proof marketing strategies for the next several decades.

Categories
Audience Consumer Insights Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer Insights Package Design Photography Video Production

This article is part of #TheBigeyeLens series exploring the future of consumer behavior, purchasing decisions, and marketing trends. We’ll be talking about DTC Design Trends that are taking over.

Since eCommerce sales exploded in the past several months, online brands have enjoyed a lot more opportunities to prosper. At the same time, increased sales attracted more competition. New and established businesses began competing for attention on retail sites, search engines, and social media.

To stand out from the crowd, successful sellers looked for ways to improve DTC product design to better satisfy consumers, improve their brand image, and get found both online and offline.

In a crowded online or offline market, brands first need to uncover CPG marketing trends to learn what their potential consumers seek, besides just another jar of face cream, bottle of vitamins, or piece of home decor. With that in mind, consider these five design trends that can offer distinct competitive advantages and more effective online marketing for CPG products.

1. Sustainability

Beyond high-quality products, sustainability can also attract today’s eco-conscious consumers, as discussed in this Bigeye article about sustainable DTC packaging design. Almost everybody expresses at least some environmental concerns, and a majority of people say they’re willing to take steps to live more sustainably. When brands demonstrate that they offer the more sustainable choice, they can differentiate themselves from competitors.

Look at a couple of examples of companies that use sustainability to compete with major grocery retailers:

  • Grove Collaborative: Grove Collaborative makes it easy for consumers to conveniently and affordably buy high-quality, sustainable consumer products online. These benefits make this company a hit with growing families and other eco-conscious consumers.
  • Imperfect Foods: Typical grocers look for uniform size and color. Imperfect foods can sell too-long bananas or ugly peaches to reduce food waste and save their customers money.
  • Luma & Leaf: The natural skincare brand uses vegan, sustainably sourced ingredients to ensure that their products are kind to your skin and the environment alike. The Luma & Leaf packaging is meant to be upcycled after use to keep empties out of landfills.
blank

2. Vintage-inspired product designs

Harvard Business Review discussed the benefits of nostalgia as a coping tactic to help deal with stress. This sentimental feeling can make people happier, reinforce social bonds, serve as a source of inspiration, and even provide a more balanced perspective on current issues.

While some people prefer reminders of past times they actually lived through, others feel connected to decades that occurred before they were born. Overall, society may offer better current solutions today, and most people know this. Still, with nostalgia, it’s possible to take the best and leave the rest in the past.

blank

As an example, Today ran a segment on the way fashion tends to recycle themselves about every 30 years. They noted that the early 1990s to 2000s brought back an updated version of mod hats and flared pants from the late 1960s to early 1970s.

Right now, Gen Z has reawakened this trend. As an example, look at this vintage smiley face hat from Urban Outfitters that Miley Cyrus popularized on Instagram. Levi’s also released high-waisted, flared jeans that would fit right into 1970 almost as well as 2021.

3. Accessibility

As Unilever pointed out on a product page, people who cope with various disabilities make up the world’s biggest “minority group.” Their research found that just about 25 percent of Americans live with disabilities, and that most personal care and beauty products overlook them.

For instance, people who must deal with a limited range of motion or visual problems have trouble using typical deodorant sprays or twist applicators. In response, Unilever worked with disabled communities and product designers to develop Degree Inclusive.

The package design allows for one-handed use, even with a limited ability to grasp the container. Not only can Unilever help make a positive change in the market, they can also attract a large and underserved market.

blank

4. Personalization

Limited space on retailers’ shelves tends to emphasize one-kind-fits-all products. Products don’t need to take up physical space for online retailers, so consumers have the opportunity to find the perfect product to suit their budget, personality, and unique requirements.

A consumer insights agency doesn’t need to uncover products that most people will find good enough to satisfy their needs. Instead, they can work to develop many smaller subniches and markets that large competitors may overlook or choose not to focus on.

A couple of examples of companies that have succeeded with a personalization strategy include:

  • Care/of Vitamins: This brand offers a diverse selection of high-quality nutritional supplements and holistic remedies to suit each customer’s needs. Customers also say that Care/of stands out by offering personalized customer service to ensure satisfaction and the best solutions.
  • Function Beauty: Function Beauty starts by developing cruelty-free, vegan products that exclude harmful chemicals. They also offer online quizzes on their site to help tailor hair and skin products to the exact needs of each customer.

5. Photogenic products made for social sales

Neil Patel, a top influencer and founder of his own consumer marketing agency, talked about the important and difficult job of standing out on social media these days. According to Neil Patel, visual content stands as a critical pillar of successful social media campaigns.

He mentioned scientific reasons to support this outlook. For instance, visual information represents 90 percent of what’s transmitted to human brains. People also process visual information exponentially faster than they do text. After all, most kids need to go to school to learn to read but not to see.

With the idea of standing out in crowded Instagram and Facebook feeds, plus enjoying the benefits of influencers attracting a wider audience, look at some good examples:

  • Ruggable: Ruggable sells two-piece sets that consist of washable rugs and non-slip pads. They make the rugs resistant to spills and nontoxic, and the brand appeals largely to pet owners and parents who don’t want to worry about spending a lot of money on high-quality furnishings only to have them ruined by a spill or accident. The company grew their business quite a bit by using platforms to find social media influencers with the right audience. They also produce outstanding images of their rugs arranged in realistic settings.
  • Away Luggage: In 2015, Jen Rubio leveraged her own malfunctioning suitcase experience in a foreign airport as the inspiration to develop durable suitcases with handy, built-in chargers. By blanketing social media with the product, they made $12 million in sales during 2016 and achieved profitability in 2017. Though the company eventually opened a few physical stores, they do most of their business online. The pandemic hampered momentum somewhat, but Away Luggage brought in $150 million in 2019.
blank

Plenty of online and offline stores offer beauty products, rugs, luggage, and a variety of other consumer products. Attention to consumer preferences and trends helps products stand out, so they can compete in crowded marketplaces.

These days, look for ways to design products and packaging to appeal to customers through personalization, sustainable options, accessibility, sentimentality, and visual appeal. The right competitive edge means that brands might not need to compete so much on price and can also enjoy better returns from marketing investments.

Categories
Branding Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer Implementation Podcast

This week’s podcast guest offers fresh ideas and insights to generate “customers for life”. Customer service expert and author John D. Hanson explains how to WOW today’s customers, based on extensive research into the practices of industry leaders including Amazon, American Express, Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, and others. In an age of increasingly digitized customer service automation, John suggests seven ways that firms can differentiate with service excellence online and offline.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

John D. Hanson: I don’t think that it makes a difference whether you’re a B2C or a B2B because it’s all about people. So you have to invest into those relationships in a way to make sure that they’re getting their best from you.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, a full-service, audience-focused creative agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Customer experience, also known as CX, reflects customers’ and clients’ perceptions of a business or brand. Every interaction a customer has with a business, from navigating a website, to talking to customer service representatives, to actually using the product or service, impacts a customer’s decision to keep coming back or not. Done right, customer experience can increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, yield positive, online reviews, and generate word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations. So managing customer service is increasingly seen as important as other marketing tactics. And yet when we think of call centers, for example, performance is often measured more by operational efficiency than seen as a way of creating or enhancing customer value. In a hyper-competitive landscape, every touchpoint that shapes customers’ perceptions of service quality really matters. An established leader in CX, today’s guest, John D. Hanson has over 25 years of experience in customer-facing roles and is currently President of Accelerated Revenue Inc., as well as a sought-after consultant and speaker. During his career, John has worked in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business contexts: in retail, lending, credit card servicing, and industrial automation, as well as serving in the military and working with nonprofit organizations. John is also the author of the book, WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service, the culmination of 18 months of research, which has sold copies worldwide. To talk about his experience and offer practical ways to WOW customers and clients, John is joining us today from his office, just outside of Columbus, Ohio. John, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

John D. Hanson: Thank you very much. I’m looking forward to our conversation today Adrian.

Adrian Tennant: So John, what prompted you to write WOW Your Customers?

John D. Hanson: Might sound a little cheesy, but it was actually a New Year’s resolution of all things. I decided I was going to spend less time at night on a digital screen and read books. And I had just started into a new sales role, the first B2B sales role I’d ever done. I thought, “I know I’ve always had a strength in customer service. How can I translate that strength into sales?” And so I took out as many well-reviewed books as I could find. And as I kept reading through these books, one thing after another, I just realized that a lot of the things that books were talking about were things that I had done. I have been on the frontline roles of customer-facing in all different kinds of industries for a good part of my life. I thought, “What if I could write a book that could help people that are either on the frontlines or managing people who are on the frontlines? What if I could do that?” So I did.

Adrian Tennant: So I mentioned in the introduction that you spend at least 18 months undertaking the research for the book, and it sounds like you did have a particular type of reader in mind when you started the writing process. I’m curious, did that change through the course of the writing?

John D. Hanson: It did actually. Yeah, because as I looked into this more and more, I realized that. Well, every company and every person at every level of an organization should value how the customers are treated. If there’s a disconnect where the person on the front lines are the nice voice and the ones that show compassion, empathy, and then there’s this disconnect when it starts going outside of that, then that’s not consistent. And then as I realized that we have eelationships, not just with external, but there are internal customers as well. And that’s where I realize, you’ve gotta be able to take good care of people, whether they’re opinion, customer or another kind of customer. And that’s where I realized that this applied more universally than just someone in a customer-facing role.

Adrian Tennant: John, in the book, you describe seven practical principles for wowing customers. Let’s talk about a few of them, starting with winning. What does winning mean in the context of customer service?

John D. Hanson: Yeah. So unlike the idea of coming in first or a gold medal, blue ribbon, and that idea of winning, this is more of a winning attitude, focusing on being a positive person. Positive, not at the expense of reality, but positive with being an energy giver, being someone that contributes to the team, someone who focuses on the solutions or is aware of the problem, but also offers solutions. Anyone can identify what’s wrong, but it takes a certain kind of person with a winning attitude that comes in and what can we do about this? When people call in and they’re talking to someone and that person can’t do a thing for them, it’s very frustrating as a customer. And that’s not a winning attitude, that’s just someone that’s punching the clock most likely, or they’ve not been empowered by their company to do what’s best for the customer so they’re stuck with “Well, what do I do? I can’t do what you’d like me to do.” So a winning attitude is something that is extremely important. It’s the thing that we can impact, the thing we can control: our attitude, how we approach our day. And that makes a big difference in the course of the day, as things go on, when we interact with customers in particular.

Adrian Tennant: The second principle I’d like to explore with you is organization. Now I can see here a connection with your military background, but could you explain how organization helps in delivering customer service?

John D. Hanson: Yeah. This was a fascinating part of research Adrian and I’ve always been somewhat analytical and organized my whole life, but I didn’t understand the science behind it until I did some research on it. What’s amazing about it is that, and you may know this, but our human brain is like a supercomputer, but everything that our eyes see, they process. And so from that, I learned that the more brown space, we call it with the desk in front of me here this color, more brown space that we have the less that our brain is slowed down by what our eyes are seeing. The fewer notes we have the fewer reminders that we have around us so the more white space we have, but also part of organization was making decisions. How do you make a decision when you need to be flexible in the course of a day, but as things come up, how do you be flexible and decide this is now more of a priority than the thing I was doing before and be okay with that? I think that’s sometimes a challenge too. We want to get it all done, but some days that’s just not possible and so being able to identify what’s most important to get done today, and those things got done and give yourself a pat on the back because you got done what needed to be done most importantly and you’ve got some other things done as well. Sometimes we’re our toughest critics on that, but organization is not very sexy. It’s not very exciting, but if you apply just some basic organizational principles, especially with how you prioritize where your time goes in a day, that can make a big difference by the end of the day, end of the week with what you’ve gotten done and how you feel about what you’ve done.

Adrian Tennant: John, how did you identify the seven principles in WOW Your Customers? Do they reflect practices that you were already using or was the process of writing the book helpful in crystallizing?

John D. Hanson: I have always liked the number seven. It’s just been a favorite of mine. And I know there’s probably more principles than this, but I thought let’s start with seven. Those were all, when I looked back at the areas that I’ve had success, those were common principles that I had in those roles. So they were always customer-facing roles of some kind or another, but all different kinds of industries. And I just noticed that in my career path, I would move up quickly and it wasn’t just because I was intelligent or hardworking. There’s plenty of people who are that. It was the combination of those things that I looked at those seven aspects and I thought if someone applies just the seven, humor’s a big one. If you aren’t finding a way to counteract the stress in a day, sometimes in the workplace, others, a lot of stress sometimes. If you’re not bringing humor with you into the workforce in a tasteful way, of course, then you’re actually shorting the team a little bit. That good humor, I know it’s an old saying, but to be good-humored didn’t mean that you were the jokester of the class. It meant that you had the steady, reliable, doesn’t matter if the world’s on fire,  this guy’s, this gal’s got it under control. That idea of being good-humored was a very important part of how you were successful, especially in the stressful times. But I would say probably the one that’s a superpower is empathy. I think if you can put yourself in other’s shoes, I think that’s maybe the one that enabled me to succeed the most, whether it was in leadership or got to be given the opportunity to be in leadership. Because it’s just something that I have naturally, since I was a kid. When a movie would be on and someone was going through something very painful or very embarrassing, I’d have to leave as a kid because I couldn’t separate myself from that character. I was feeling their pain, I was feeling their embarrassment, so it was something that was hardwired into me. Or I know with others, empathy is a kind of a learned skill. So I think that was probably, of the seven, that was probably the one that I would have came naturally with. But the others I learned over time.

Adrian Tennant: John, I know you also lead workshops based on the seven principles in the book. You’ve characterized your sessions as being about developing a fresh mindset rather than a whole new method, equipping workshop attendees, rather than educating them. What have you observed about what works and what doesn’t, when it comes to helping people develop customer-facing skills?

John D. Hanson: Oh, that’s a good question. I think sometimes, just like businesses can get wrapped up in the busy-ness of doing business, I think that can also happen, especially in customer-facing rules. It gets to be every day, so taking care of the customer is just my job. Whereas if the fresh mindset that I talk about, if people could understand that the power that they have as a frontline agent where if they transform, especially if someone calls in with an issue or a problem, and they not only take care of that, but that person leaves happy what they’ve done for the company’s future and for anybody that, that person’s going to tell, it’s massive, it’s huge. So they’re not just doing a job. What they’re doing is hopefully they’re underlining the brand of the company. They’re securing a customer where we know they could easily go somewhere else nowadays and tell plenty of people about the bad experience they had. So they’re doing a lot of things more than just taking care of issues, they’re not a firefighter. What they’re really doing is helping to keep that business with customers who are happy to be there and telling others about it as well. Because the time when customer service has proven the most is when things don’t go according to plan, when they don’t go as they should. Horrible companies with horrible service can take care of a transaction that’s smooth from start to finish. Any company can do that. The challenge is not that. The challenge is when things don’t go the way they should. How do we step up? How do we deliver? How do we take care of them? If we do well in that instance, then we’ve proven our value. And so if a frontline agent can understand that it’s more than just, take care of the thing and then on to the next thing, but seeing it as taking the very best care of that customer so that customer stays and then tells others about the good experience they had then that’s more important. Retention is more important than acquisition, meaning that the cost to acquire is five times that of retaining. So the role of a customer service agent done well, someone who’s very good at it, is actually more valuable than a salesperson that’s out there making hay and bringing in new customers because it’s the ones that stick that have more long term value than the always new.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Kathie Baptista: I’m Kathie Baptista, designer on Bigeye’s creative team. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative and advertising professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we learn about customers’ attitudes, behaviors, and motivations, and develop personas that help us visualize them as real people. As a designer, I use these insights to guide my approach to crafting visually engaging solutions – and our clients see insights brought to life in inspiring, imaginative, brand-building campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye: Reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Adrian Tennant: How do you identify?

Voices: Female, male, gender fluid, cis-gender, genderqueer, non-binary, trans-feminine.

Adrian Tennant: Society is constantly changing and evolving. To understand how Americans feel about gender identity and expression, Bigeye undertook a national study involving over 2,000 adult consumers. Over half of those aged 18 to 39 believe that traditional binary labels of male and female are outdated and instead see gender as a spectrum. Our exclusive report, GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY, reveals how beliefs across different generations influences the purchase of toys, clothes, and consumer packaged goods. To download the full report, go to Bigeye.agency/gender .

Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

Adrian Tennant: GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with John Hanson, the author of WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service. John, how did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your ability to conduct workshops? Did you move to online learning or did you pause the workshops?

John D. Hanson: Yeah, I moved to online. I didn’t do as many, but I did do online and still had good response from people because the biggest thing that I try to do is bring about new ideas, new mindsets, or bring a fresh definition to a word that people are familiar with but actually give either a technical definition of where they come from or what’s its origin, how do you apply it. Yeah, I still find that I can interact with an audience if it’s through a camera or in person. And what I, the feedback that I’ve gotten from people is that I’m very animated. And I’m glad to hear that because when I speak I’m that way in person. But I realized that, especially with all the zoom meetings going on, that if people are going to be having a virtual presentation, it really needs to be someone who’s obviously excited about what they’re talking about. So the feedback that I’ve gotten often is that boy, I’d love to hear you speak in person because they were obviously very excited about what you were sharing with us and it came through. That feedback was very encouraging that I was able to still engage with an audience virtually just as I do in person.

Adrian Tennant: You mentioned contact center work. As you know, online retailer Zappos takes a contrarian approach to customer service, considering its contact center, a major point of differentiation from its parent, Amazon. While contact centers are typically focused on reducing the time taken to handle customer service inquiries, Zappos has an award for those people who can stay on the phone the longest with customers – demonstrating that they really value those human conversations. John, are there other organizations that you can think of that are doing things a little differently from their competitors or counter to customer experience industry norms?

John D. Hanson: Yes. I would think of two things. One right off the top of my head is Chick-fil-A. They passed up Wendy’s as the number three chain in the US following Starbucks and McDonald’s. And they’re only open six days a week. That’s not accidental, it’s because they’re doing a lot of things right. At every location, the experience that people have is consistently good and people are treated very well there. The team members earn their way up in opportunity and management. And if you want a chicken sandwich, you can get a chicken sandwich anywhere, but it’s how they deliver that it’s how they’re taking care of their people inside and how they take care of their customers. They’re in an industry that’s notorious for poor service. Fast food is just not known for great service. And so when you get that consistently at every single location, then you know that it’s being done. Well, another idea I have is Ritz-Carlton and now they’re in the hotel industry. They have a standing rule that says up to $2,000 if something needs to be made right. Any team member – does not have to be management – any team member can do up to $2,000, can do what they need to do to make it right for that customer, for that guest. Now they rarely exceeded $500, it was usually to have a bottle of wine or a dinner or something like that, but it was the freedom that was given to every team member that made the difference. And here’s how that impacts things. So the typical occupancy rate for hotels is about 69 percent. Now, Ritz-Carlton usually charges about almost twice as much as the national average for room rates. Their occupancy rate is 76 percent so it’s 7 percent better than the national average and they’re charging almost twice as much for the room. So it is profitable and it does work and the experience that people have when they go to a Ritz-Carlton as a guest, everything is so well thought through that the experience is just unlike anything they’ve had before, and it can be very profitable when done right.

Adrian Tennant: Last year, the customer experience technology firm Servion predicted that by 2025, artificial intelligence will power 95 percent of all customer interaction, including live telephone and online conversations that will leave customers unable to “spot the bot.” John, what are your thoughts about this prediction? Do you think automation and digitization of customer service are inevitable or will humans always be able to “spot the bot”?

John D. Hanson: That’s a good question. Cause I know that when Steve pops up on the bottom right-hand corner of my screen, that it’s not Steve. It’s a chatbot that’s trying to answer, take care of my issue with a simple FAQ list they have already populated. And if my question is that simple, then that’s helpful. If it’s more complex, then that’s where it gets me to a person that’s having a conversation with someone. I think there are advantages to technology so long as companies don’t rely on that to replace the in-person. I guess we could get to the point where technology is so savvy that it’s able to do that too and people might not know the difference, but I think we’re a long ways off from that. And if people have an issue and it’s not simply addressed, then they’re going to want to talk to a real person rather than the phone trees or the whole music forever, or the options that our customers are obviously fatigued with.

Adrian Tennant: John, since the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have been forced to embrace new technologies and operating procedures to meet customer needs. I’m thinking about the rise in order online, pick up in-store, as one example. From a practical perspective, how do you think firms, looking at their customer experience should evaluate the current practices and determine what that optimal balance of real human interactions and automated processes look like for them? What are some of the issues important to consider?

John D. Hanson: Yeah. Convenience is definitely one of those things that once you let it out of the bag, you can’t put the cat back in the bag, so to speak. You can have fast food delivered to your door. You can have your groceries ready and you just pull up and they load them up and off you go. I think it opens up new areas for companies to still find a way to provide a great experience, even if it’s entirely automated, as far as the ordering process goes. So people might not be actually putting a foot in your store, but they’re still interacting with your brand. If the only interaction they’re having is the person that loads the groceries for you in the back of a car, then you’ve got one human touchpoint in that entire process that had better be a great experience. Not where the person is going overboard on things. But if they’re professional, if they’re courteous, if they’re smiling, if they say thank you very much for your business with us, then that one human interaction could make the difference between something that’s just convenient or convenient and enjoyable. So while convenience is something that companies will find how to do more and more because customers are obviously seeing the value in it and demanding it, then still, they need to make sure that the soft skills are still being invested into and still being trained and developed so that when people are using those convenient technology-driven advances, if they’re having any kind of human interaction in that process, that it’s still a top-notch experience. So training and development will still need to focus on those soft skills. I think it’s the soft skills that take the most amount of training. And for some that come more naturally than others, but it needs to be consistent.

Adrian Tennant: How do you think customer experience differs between business-to-consumer, which we’ve been talking about quite a bit, and business-to-business firms in terms of execution? Strategically, do you think the considerations are different?

John D. Hanson: I really don’t. The reason I say that is because I believe that we have four types of customers. We have an external, we have internal, we have what I call the inner circle and then we have the customer type that’s actually most important. And I found this by going to the definition of what’s a customer, where does it come from? And that’s an old English word: accustomed. So when you’re accustomed to interacting with, matter of fact at the time, it didn’t have anything to do with dollars and cents. Well, we added that aspect to it over time so a customer and its origin, it was someone that we regularly interacted with. When I realized that, I thought, well, there’s actually four subsets then of a customer. There’s the ones that are external customers that pay us money. There are internal customers, whether it be vendors, team members, leadership management. Then there’s an inner circle, which would be family and friends and true friends. Family, whether you believe it or not, we bring our family to work with us. So we are emotional human beings. We are not able to simply separate neatly when we walk in the door at work, so that’s another customer. So we regularly interact with, and they definitely need our best and these go up in priority so why you would never tell a paying customer they’re not the most important. They’re not the most important when it comes to being able to take the very best care of them. You’ve got to take the very best care of your internal people. Richard Branson said to “Take the very best care of your people so they’ll take the very best care of their customers.” It’s just more of a common-sense type thing really than anything else. And then you take care of your inner circle because those relationships directly impact at work. But the most important customer is ourselves. We’re the ones that we interact with the most. And if we don’t take care of ourselves, then there’s no way that we’ll be able to take care of the other three. So I don’t think that it makes a difference whether you’re a B2C or a B2B, because it’s all about people. So you have to invest in those relationships in a way to make sure that they’re getting their best from you.

Adrian Tennant: I really like the way that in the concluding pages of your book, you suggest ways in which the reader can internalize the seven principles. Since the book was published in 2018, what kind of feedback have you received?

John D. Hanson: I’m grateful to say I’ve sold one on every continent. Well, except for Antarctica, I haven’t sold one there. I don’t expect to either. But the feedback’s been encouraging from people. They loved it, the practical ideas, I made sure they understood that it was a menu of options. These have all worked well for me, but I recommend starting with one or two ideas first and see how they work for people. And people liked that it was easy to read, easily adjusted. I didn’t want to make a big, massive, hundreds of pages of a book that wouldn’t be enjoyable to read. So I wanted to make it something that was practical, full of great ideas that people could use right away. As soon as they read it, they can apply it in either all low or no cost to implement. And the feedback’s been encouraging that people have benefited from that. 

Adrian Tennant: I understand you’re also hosting a new online radio show. Tell us more.

John D. Hanson: Yeah. So it’s called The Heroic Experience: Elevating Business to Heroic Success. Why are we drawn to heroism? From millennia: why has it pulled up? Why is it that element of heroism always does well at the box office and in sports and other arenas? Why is heroism a fundamentally human attribute? Why do we pursue that? So I looked it up and heroine was essentially the pursuit of two ideas, a higher purpose and nobility or excellence. Well, when I saw that, then I realized that okay so it’s not a Hollywood pipe dream or something that only certain massive companies can afford too. Companies of any size can be heroic by how they go about doing business, by the stories of their customers, the stories of their team members, the stories of why they started what they did. No company got into business, no business owners, like, you know what? I think I’m going to start something and it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be, I believe they had something so good that they wanted to create a business where they could provide it to others and they want it to benefit their community and they wanted to benefit team members that would work with them in the future too. And I thought it’s just that they get busy along the way. And sometimes the business ends up running them. And I thought if there could be a show that helps as guests talk about how they have this heroic approach to how they do business, then it becomes something that becomes a magnet that attracts and keeps the team members and the clients that company wants. And it gives some ideas about how to do that as well as some stories and some examples of how they had a heroic impact in others’ lives. Yeah. I’m excited about that. I was planning to have a podcast next year. And then I was approached with the idea to have one this year and it’s fully produced. So that was something that was a huge benefit to me. So yeah, in September is when that’s going to be launching.

Adrian Tennant: It sounds exciting. John, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about you, your book, WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service or your new radio show, The Heroic Experience: Elevating Business to Heroic Success, where can they find you?

John D. Hanson: I’m easily found, Adrian. The book is on Amazon. I worked very hard and very diligently at growing my social media family, so I have over 30,000 social media connections. LinkedIn is a great place for people to follow, so that would be a great place to connect and engage there because I love to add value. My life purpose is to encourage others – and whether that’s a business or that’s an individual – I believe that by adding value to others in a way that has tangible ideas to it, then that’s one way that I can use the social media platform to do that. I would recommend following me and connecting with me on LinkedIn. By far, that’d be a great place to start. 

Adrian Tennant: John, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

John D. Hanson: I love the questions that you had. They’re very thought-provoking and thanks again, I really appreciate it.

Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Ksenia Newton: Everyone is just going online, right? They don’t need to go to the store and if they do go to the store, they just do some window shop and then they go online, they find a better deal. So COVID definitely had a hand in that, for sure. And then it accelerated, big time!

Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with Ksenia Newton of Brandwatch, next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, John Hanson, the author of WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.