Well-Established Digital Channels Should Be Top Priority For Shopper Marketers In 2012

Tracy Stokes

Shopper marketing is going digital, providing shopper marketers with a plethora of new high-buzz technologies, devices, and platforms to communicate messaging, promotions, or content to their shoppers along their path to purchase. But with limited budgets, and such a wealth of options, which ones should they choose? To help shopper marketers prioritize their technology investments in 2012 and beyond, my colleague Cory Madigan and I evaluated 17 digital tools for using Forrester’s TechRadar™ methodology. The highlight trends reveal that:

  • Cool isn’t necessarily critical . . . yet. Social networking pages, interactive displays, and QR codes get a lot of attention in the marketing world, but we found that in terms of shopper marketing utility, real shoppers aren’t quite as smitten. The opportunity is there, but lack of scale, measurement, and clear value for the consumer has limited the traction of many of the more talked-about technologies in the digital shopper marketing arsenal.
  • The digital oldies are still the ROI goodies. When it comes to shopper utility, consumers and marketers still rely most on brand websites, content that brands create for specific retailers, and email to deliver the value they seek. Rather than being replaced by new technology, watch for these platforms to become better optimized for mobile. With mobile optimization, shopper marketers will be able to tie shoppers’ online activities at home — on a PC or tablet — to their smartphone activities while on-the-go.
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How Is Social Media Changing Your Brand Strategy?

Tracy Stokes

How many times have you been asked, “What’s your social strategy?” As Facebook’s IPO grabs the headlines, and new social sites like Pinterest and Tumblr grab consumers’ attention, many marketers are wrestling with what brand building looks like in today’s social world. But the real question you should be asking yourself is, “How does social media change your brand strategy?”  

Marketing leaders now view social media as critical for brand building. In our February 2012 Marketing Leadership Online Survey, nine out of 10 marketing leaders told us that social media is fundamentally changing how brands are being built in the 21st century. In fact, they view it as second only to search for brand building. But many are still struggling to determine how to integrate it into their marketing plans. The truth is, while social is a great new tool, it lacks the power to build a brand alone. Marketing leaders such as Coca-Cola and JetBlue recognize this and are integrating social with paid and owned media to build a 21st century brand experience. In my new report, "How Social Media Is Changing Brand Building," I identify three ways social media can help marketers harness the power of social to build their brand by 1) building a relationship to become more trusted; 2) differentiating through an emotional connection to become more remarkable; and 3) nurturing loyal fans to become more essential.   

How is social changing your brand building strategy? What challenges are you facing in the social brand building world? Comment here, or join the conversation in our community of marketing leaders.

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Break Down The Walls Of Shopper Marketing

Tracy Stokes

As the economic malaise lingers on, a more frugal consumer mindset is spurring consumers to embrace new digital technologies to make more informed buying decisions. This shift in behavior is releasing shopper marketing from the confines of the store walls, as consumers make purchase decisions at home and on-the-go. Once a tactical outpost in the sales organization, shopper marketing is now being embraced by forward-thinking marketers like Kellogg’s and Clorox, which are focused on getting on their consumer’s shopping list before she even gets to the store. But with this new opportunity comes potential organization confusion. Where does shopper marketing end and brand marketing begin? And where should it sit in the organization? Check out my report, “Shopper Marketing Breaks Out Of The Store,” to find out how consumers' shopping habits are changing, how retailers are responding, and what it means for brand marketers.

How is your consumer shopping differently? And how is shopper marketing changing your organization? Answer here or join the discussion on The Forrester Community For CMO & Marketing Leadership Professionals here.

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Time For Marketers To Move To Adaptive Planning?

Luca Paderni

Marketing planning has changed little in the past century. It's essentially a linear process built on the development of rigid 12-month plans built around brand and channel metrics. This approach is coming increasingly under strain as the combined effects of the growth of digital marketing platforms and a volatile economy demand marketing plans that deliver clear business outcomes and can adapt and improve to meet evolving market dynamics.

Over the past 12-18 months, we have come across several marketing organizations that have decided to do something about this situation and look for new ways to improve their approach to marketing planning by adopting some principles borrowed from a relatively new methodology originally conceived for software development efforts: agile development.

From the interviews that we did with marketers that are experimenting with this new approach, several of the key principles of "agile" development looked particularly relevant to innovating their approach to marketing planning:

  • A clear definition of business outcomes and associated business metrics
  • A dedicated cross-functional team
  • A deliberate test-and-learn approach
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TV Upfront Deals Hold Firm As Stock Market Rocks

Tracy Stokes

Last week’s financial market roller coaster is so far not affecting fall TV upfront buys, which are due to convert to orders in late August/early September. MediaPost reports that media agency leaders aren’t seeing any signs of adjustments to the TV upfront buys and expect Q4 to remain strong despite economic uncertainty. Steve Lanzano, president/CEO of the TV station association TVB says, “Back-to-school consumer spending should provide a good barometer for retail spending in the upcoming holiday season . . . But at this time it is not expected that planned advertising spending will be affected."

This attention to the TV market reflects its continued advertising power position. Despite frequent proclamations of TV’s demise, the fall 2011 TV upfronts showed that it remains the go-to media for many advertisers. What is new, though, are signs that nascent TV and digital convergence is now being led by the ad sellers themselves. TV networks like Fox and The CW are following their consumers to multiscreen viewing by offering integrated video ad deals that span on-air and online. What does this mean for marketers? To stay connected with their consumers, marketers must get off of the couch and out of the living room to reach consumers through and beyond linear TV programming. Check out my report “The 2011 TV Advertising Upfronts Preview Convergence Of TV And Digital” to learn more about how these trends will affect brand marketers. 

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Make A Digital Connection With Women Around Life Stage And Passion Points

Tracy Stokes

When the FBI finally captured Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger after a 16-year hunt, it did it by talking to women. Why? Because it realized that women would be more likely to have connected with his more conversational girlfriend Catherine Greig. The FBI went the traditional daytime-TV advertising route, but modern marketers should integrate social media into their marketing communications to make a more personal connection with their female consumers. Women are higher users of social media than men and have the potential to drive a brand’s reputation online because they are more connected and like to talk about brands and products. The key to making a digital connection with women is to understand their life stage and engage with them around the passion points that intersect with your brand. Brands like Kraft are leading social media, with Kraft innovating through its “Real Women of Philadelphia” campaign that uses social media as a creative inspiration. Check out my report “Engage Women With Personal And Relevant Social Interactions” to learn how to connect with your female consumer. 

How are you using social media to connect with women? What’s its role in your marketing mix? Answer here, or engage in the discussion we have started in the CMO Community here, "How are you using digital to connect with your female consumer?"

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How Green Does Your Brand Need To Be?

Tracy Stokes

The recent Earth Day celebration brought a slew of often-conflicting reports on consumers’ environmental or green attitudes and behavior, such as “consumers cut spending on green,” “green worth paying more for,” “Americans hate faux green marketers,” and “[Boomers] passionate for green.” Green marketing initiatives were also everywhere, from Jet Blue’s “One Thing That’s Green” pledge to Procter & Gamble’s “My Carbon Footprint” app and Target’s eco-conscious “Refresh Your Nest” home makeover sweepstakes. Faced with this barrage of information and activities, many marketing leaders will be asking themselves what this means for their brand. Should they bide their time until the dust settles, or jump in? What about the risks of green-washing? Do consumers really care about the environment, or is it just something that they think they should care about? In truth, there is no one answer, because green marketing and green consumer behavior is changing rapidly. That being said, the expectation for companies to be more sustainable, from consumers and CEOs alike, is not going anywhere. So marketing leaders need to figure out what level of green engagement is right for their brand and their consumer.     

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Four Reasons Interactive Marketing Is Ready To Lead Your Brand

Nate Elliott

Brand marketers don’t spend much online. It’s been a long-time frustration for me, but it’s undeniably true: According to our most recent interactive marketing forecast, marketers in brand categories spend less than half as much of their marketing budgets online as marketers in direct response categories. Brand marketers also continue to spend a huge portion of their marketing budgets on TV.

I’ll be honest: Five or 10 years ago, this made sense. Although lot of us were shouting from the rooftops back in 2000 about the scale and power of the Internet, the truth is back then its scale and power were relatively limited. The majority of the population still wasn’t online, Internet usage averaged only a few hours per week, and the brand stories we could tell online were constrained by both tiny banner ads (anyone remember "half banners"?) and tiny bandwidth (broadband access, and with it online video and other rich creative, was years away from the mainstream).

In that environment, it made sense that TV was by far marketers’ most important channel for building brand. After all, it offered brand marketers by far the largest media opportunity (more total users, and way more total hours, than any other media channel) and by far the richest brand impact of any platform. Marketers would have had little choice even if they wanted it: 30-second TV spots were the be-all and end-all of how they explained the meaning of the brands, and all other channels — online, radio, print, outdoor, and everything else — were simply a chance to reinforce the messaging in the TV spots.

But the conditions that made TV the de facto heart of our brand messaging no longer exist. Today, interactive marketing is ready to lead your brand campaigns, for four key reasons:

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From Soap To Shoes

Tracy Stokes

I’m often asked how I went from marketing women’s skincare at Neutrogena to Timberland boots for outdoor guys, as they seem to be such different businesses. But for me, they have more in common than you might think. They are both strong global brands, with products you can trust and passionate, involved consumers. My passion is for figuring out what is at the heart of a brand, how consumers connect with it, and how to connect with them — understanding what those consumers have in common and where their needs are different, whether they are in Milan, Minneapolis, or Mumbai or whether they are an outdoor guy or a city woman.

At Forrester, I’m going to delve into these areas: harnessing the consumers’ voice in the marketing process; when you should listen and when you should not; the similarities — how global brands can stay true to what they are, while embracing local consumers' needs; and what this looks like in the virtual age, when global walls separating consumers in different countries have fallen down. What’s the butterfly effect of a marketing program in Shanghai on a consumer in San Francisco? What are the differences — for example, how women consume media differently than men, particularly interactive and social media, and how that affects the media mix. Finally, with so many choices, and so few dollars (or pounds or RMB), how can marketing leaders identify what return they are getting on their spend?

So here’s where I need your help. What are your brand-building challenges? What would you like to learn more about that will help you and your team connect with your consumer?

Friday Afternoon Brainstorm: What's The Best Digital Branding Effort You've Ever Seen?

Nate Elliott

I've been talking a lot lately about how to build great digital branding programs, and it's gotten me thinking about the best ones I've ever seen. Remember the Ford Explorer home page takeover on Yahoo from years ago, that actually shook the browser window as the truck drove across the screen? (It's so old I can't even find a screen shot of it online.) Apple reprised the idea for an iPod program about 18 months ago — as have many others — but the Ford one was both more amazing (I mean, the browser shook) and one of the first that really got people talking. It was incredibly bold in its creative execution but also in its media buy (while there's nothing special about buying home page advertising on the then-biggest website, just think about the monetary bet they put on that buy! It must've cost a fortune).

The Audi program that won a Forrester Groundswell Award last year was fantastic too — using a combination of online content and social media to raise awareness of the automaker's new A1 model. Why? It gave users a customized impression of the new brand (by letting them customize the car) and it was intelligently distributed through a huge number of social channels.

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