Recession: Unbranded Couch-Potatoism …

Consumers are defecting from iconic CPG brands as they try to save money by purchasing less-expensive store and private-label brands. While this trend is not new, it has become more pervasive since the economic downturn started in December 2007, per eMarketer. In fact, 59 percent of U.S. consumers reported having switched to store brand food and household products over the past six months, according to a May 2009 study by ICOM.


Recession Intensifies ‘Couch Potatoism’ as TV, Internet Converge
Some 26% more Americans chose TV as their favorite type of media than they did last year, according to a new study by Deloitte, which lends credence to the theory that the recession has intensified America’s love for television. The study revealed that more than 70% of respondents ranked TV among their top-three favorite media activities; 34% placed it at the top of the list. TV also snared more than double the numbers of the second most popular media choice, the internet, which came in at 14%, according to MediaBuyerPlanner.

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10 Branding Trends for ’10

Though US economists are cautiously predicting an uptick in consumer spending next year, the post-recession landscape will present brand marketers with new challenges, new engagement realities and new rules, and will increase pressure to prove how and why branded products deliver value, according to Dr. Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys.
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Using what Passikoff calls “predictive loyalty metrics” gleaned from consumer data his firm collects, Brandkeys analyzed the likely consumer values, needs and expectations for the next 12-18 months and offered the following 10 trends:
  1. Value is the new black: Consumer spending, even on sale items, will continue to be replaced by a reason-to-buy at all. This may spell  trouble for brands with no authentic meaning, whether high-end or low.
  2. Brands are increasingly a surrogate for value: What makes goods and services valuable will increasingly be what’s wrapped up in the brand and what it stands for.
  3. Brand differentiation is brand value: The unique meaning of a brand will increase in importance as generic
    features continue to propagate in the brand landscape. Awareness as a meaningful market force has long been obsolete, and differentiation will be critical for sales and profitability.
  4. “Because I said so” is over: Brand values can be established as a brand identity, but they must believably exist in the mind of the consumer. A brand can’t just say it stands for something and make it so. The consumer will decide, making it more important than ever for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in brand differentiation and consumer engagement.
  5. Consumer expectations are growing: Brands are barely keeping up with consumer expectations now. Every day consumers adopt and devour the latest technologies and innovations, and hunger for more. Smarter marketers will identify and capitalize on unmet expectations. Those brands that understand where the strongest expectations exist will be the brands that survive and prosper.
  6. Old tricks don’t – and won’t – work anymore: Consumers are on to brands trying to play their emotions for profit. In the wake of the financial debacle of this past year, people are more aware then ever of the hollowness of bank ads that claim “we’re all in this together” when those same banks have rescinded their credit and turned their retirement plan into case studies. The same is true for insincere celebrity pairings – such as Seinfeld & Microsoft or Tiger Woods & Buick. Celebrity values and brand values instead need to be in concert.
  7. Consumers won’t need to know a brand to love it: As the buying space becomes even more online-driven and international (and uncontrolled by brands and corporations), front-end awareness will become less important. A brand with the right street credibility can go viral in days, with awareness following –  not leading – the conversation.
  8. It’s not just buzz: Conversation and community is increasingly important, and if consumers trust the community, they will extend trust to the brand. This means not just word of mouth, but the right word of mouth within the community. This has significant implications for future of customer service.
  9. Consumers talk with each other before talking with brands: Social networking and exchange of information outside of the brand space will increase. This – at least in theory – will mean more opportunities for brands to get involved in these spaces and meet customers where they are.
  10. Engagement is not a fad; It’s the way today’s consumers do business: Marketers will come to accept that there are four engagement methods: The platform (TV; online), the context (program; webpage), the message (ad or communication), and the experience (store/event). At the same time, they also will realize that brand engagement will become impossible using out-dated attitudinal models.
Another study from Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, similarly proclaims that “value is the new black,” predicting that post-recession shoppers will transform into “value hunters” as they look for true value and meaning from brands, rather than just discounts.
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Recession Zeitgeist: Office Politics, Upcoming Talent Wars … Ad CEOs Think its over … the Economist Doesn’t

Recession Ups Backstabbing and Sucking Up
More than four in 10 US employees say they are encountering increased workplace backstabbing, “sucking up” and politicking as co-workers take desperate measures to stay employed amid widespread fears of layoffs during the recession, according to a study conducted by Professor Wayne Hochwarter out of Florida State University.

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many employers, you may soon be facing a “resume tsumani” when valued workers who have been with you through the recession start flooding the market with CVs as the economy improves. Planning for post-recession turnover may determine whether you’re among the talent winners or losers when the economy improves.
Global ad Omnicom Group Inc. and Publicis Groupe SA reported significant declines in revenue and profit but indicated a bottom may be at hand in the global advertising downturn. “We don’t see a recovery, but we feel we’ve hit the troughs,” said John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom. He added that it will take a couple of quarters to cycle through the current downturn, and a couple more before growth comes. “We believe the worst is behind us,” said Publicis Chief Executive Maurice Lévy. “All figures should be less in decline in the third quarter than in the second quarter.”
The global slump has reached its trough. Asia’s economies are looking rosier, buoyed by a spectacular rebound in China, where output grew at an annualised rate of some 16% between April and June. Even in America and the euro area, GDP is likely to stop shrinking during the summer. Trade, having fallen precipitately, is levelling off (see article). And, as firms rebuild their stocks, global growth over the next few months could be surprisingly robust. That is a welcome prospect. But it is not the all-clear. For this “recovery” has fragile foundations
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Will the end to the Recession be Local?

Will the end to the Recession be Local?
The Sacramento Bee has a Google Map that helps you see which parts of America should come out of recession first – and which last. The map was made with projections from IHS Global Insight that forecasted when each metro area will return to employment levels seen before the recession. You can drill down to quite a detailed level.

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Advertising: In-Store, In the Air, In Magazines, Online

In-Store Ads More Effective than Out-of-Store
Despite the recession, more than 90% of shoppers make unplanned purchases, and 51% of those decisions take place in the shopping aisles, according to a new study from Miller Zell, writes MediaBuyerPlanner. The Miller Zell study, “Gone in 2.3 Seconds: Capturing Shoppers with Effective In-Store Triggers,” (pdf), tracked the buying triggers of nearly 1,000 US shoppers to identify which in-store and out-of-store marketing communications get their attention and influence their purchase decisions. It found that across all age, income, gender and channels, evaluated, in-store advertising was considered more effective than out-of-store advertising in raising product awareness and communicating product benefits.

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If the separation between magazines’ editorial and advertising sides was once a gulf, it is now diminished to the size of a sidewalk crack. Recent issues of Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Time, People, ESPN the Magazine, Scholastic Parent & Child and other magazines have woven in advertisers in new ways, some going as far as putting ads on their covers.
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Flogos, or flying logos, are a new form of aerial outdoor ads that consist of 2-by-3-foot artificial clouds made of a bubbly material shaped into a marketer’s logo or other brand icon. Another outdoor rival, Skytypers, deploys five airplanes to construct ads whose letters look like dotted clouds.
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Online Advertising Pushes Through
As strange as it may sound, the economic downturn may speed up the transition to digital advertising for many marketers. The Internet’s share of total media ad spending is rising by at least 1 percentage point every year. Simply put: Marketers are spending more on Internet ads, while spending less on advertising in other media, such as newspapers, radio and magazines.

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Mini Airstream, Smoking Smarties, Amex Simplifies, L-Shape

American Express launched a program in February 2009 to help consumers “simplify your finances” by paying off and closing their accounts. The carrot? A $300 cash card, redeemed when any outstanding balance is paid in full. The blogosphere is snarking at the campaign, pointing out that accepting the offer but not paying off the balance will still result in account closure — and no cash card. Not all cardholders “qualify.” AmEx has targeted specific customers that the company feels would benefit most from the offer. Those folks will receive the offer, including a special passcode, by snailmail.
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Sir Martin Sorrell said last night he believed the current recession would be L-shaped ­or prolonged, rather than “bath-shaped” as he famously described a previous downturn. The WPP chief and one of the UK’s best-known business pundits was giving the annual lecture of the Stationers’ and Newspaper Makers’ Company in the City on the topic “Recession. Bath, shower or whirlpool — which is it to be?”. Economists define L-shaped recessions as protracted periods of economic stagnation, such as that experienced by Japan in the 1990s.
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(More) 2009 Trends

The economic recession, coupled with the growing use of new technology and online channels, played a key role in shaping the US digital world in 2008 and promises to have a continued impact in 2009, according to a new report from comScore that highlights key trends in digital marketing and what marketers can likely expect this year.
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Predictions from the venerable Leo.
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