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more aware then ever of the hollowness of bank ads that claim “we’re all in this together” when those same banks have rescinded their credit and turned their retirement plan into case studies.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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Twitter: Court Orders, Movies

The British High Court is permitting an injunction to be served to an anonymous user on microblogging site Twitter. The user, who has been posing as right-wing political blogger Donal Blaney of website Blaney’s Blarney, is accused to breaching Blaney’s copyright. Blaney, who felt the content appearing on Twitter under his name was “mildly objectionable,” approached the courts to find out whether an injunction could be served via the social network — as opposed to contacting Twitter headquarters in California and entrusting them with managing the issue.
twitter court order

Social Media: How Twitter Makes or Breaks Movie Marketing
Can the so-called Twitter effect boost a movie’s box-office performance faster than any traditional form of word-of-mouth? Not yet, say many top movie marketers and researchers, but the social networking platform’s impact on a studio’s media mix and campaign management has already taken shape.

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Digital: Old Media Still Powerful, Real Friends and Virtual Strangers, GRPs

A new study by Cornell researchers shows that traditional (old-media) news outlets lead the blogosphere by 2.5 hours when it comes to breaking news. It’s a sign that the old guard should chill out about blogs and how they’re destroying the news world.
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Recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising, according to the latest Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries.
Ninety percent or consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 percent trusted consumer opinions posted online.
“The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly,” says Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International, for the Nielsen Company.”
Want to start a brawl in online advertising circles? Just announce that online advertising should adopt the traditional media measurement metrics of reach, frequency and GRPs (gross rating points). This debate, in fact, has been raging for years, practically a lifetime in the Web world. But the tide seems to be turning—in favor of GRP adoption.
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Skittles and Social Media

“This week, Skittles has been in the social media limelight. A few days ago, it was just an ordinary confectionery brand. On Monday at 9am, it was responsible for nearly 0.93% of all Tweets, according to Flaptor Labs’ Twist.”
“Proof positive that if you try to use social media as an advertising medium, we will destroy you.”
“In a perhaps counter-intuitive position, I think that giving over the entire homepage to the Twitter search for the brand has the possibility of actually decreasing customer engagement. Why? With the lack of any sort of way to address the signal/noise ratio on that page, actual customers who are looking for actual information about actual Skittles products are likely to be turned off (or at least frustrated) by the need to dig through pages of spam to find the relevant bits of information they were looking for.”
“Now on the surface, this may seem really cool and hip, using this new trendy service Twitter, in an unusual way. Heck it’s having word of mouth effects – people are talking about this. Unfortunately in due time this could turn around and create a big PR problem for Skittles & Mars, Inc..”
“You’d think I’d be elated with this authentic demonstration of cession of control to the masses. You’d be 100% wrong. For starters, I don’t believe that we had control to start with and even if we did, the worst thing we could do is to give it 100% to consumers…who quite frankly, don’t necessarily even want it.”
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