Tag Archives: Consumer behavior

Take Valentine’s Day Marketing Off Autopilot

The holiday marketing calendar seems to function on autopilot. After the last bit of discounted Christmas decorations are cleared from the shelves, Valentine’s Day candy and stuffed animals quickly furbish the “seasonal” aisle. Pink and red advertisements grace the windows of retail stores and pop-up Valentine’s’ Day ads for flower orders appear on our digital search screens. The turnover between the holidays is automatic and consumers are acclimated to this method. Retail industry professionals know that Valentine’s day is generally a high profiting holiday and the marketing effort behind it follows a pre-fixe methodology. Valentine’s Day sales reached a record high in 2016, but that number is expected to decrease in 2017. Retailers will need to explore new opportunities to maintain Valentine’s Day sales momentum through market research.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) consumer spending for Valentine’s Day 2017 is expected to reach $18.2 billion this year, which is down from last year’s $19.7 billion record high. The decrease in consumer spending is congruent with the decrease in people who plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which has dropped from 63% in 2008 to 54% for this year. With roughly 50% of Americans considering themselves as single, retailers will have to market towards a wider audience and repackage the holiday marketing plans that move away from the cliches.

Valentine’s Day is often marketed towards couples, but consumers are also celebrating Valentine’s Day with family and friends. According to Entrepreneur, 20% of people who searched the term “Valentine’s Day Gifts For…” followed the phrase with “friends.” Also, NRF data shows that the average person is spending about $26 dollars on gifts for family members. This shows that Valentine’s Day is not just a holiday for spouse and significant others. Retailers could benefit from collecting consumer insights from their customers in order to create more effective marketing campaigns that reach a broader audience. For example, a cosmetics retailer could conduct a study to find out what are their customers’ Valentine’s day plans, how they celebrate the holiday, and their relationship status. This will help the retailer identify if they should conduct a “date night” theme campaign or one for “Valentine’s Day beauty treatments with friends.” Instead of marketing products for the holiday through traditional modules, a more inclusive approach could gain access to  a broader audience and increase sales. The “one size fits all” module needs a more creative approach to attract a broader audience.

Ultimately, marketers have grown far too comfortable with traditional Valentine’s day campaigns. In order to boost the reception of their holiday campaigns and see an upward sale trend, it is imperative to conduct market research. Research studies that gather consumer insights about how people are spending their Valentine’s Day and their shopping spending habits provide key information.  This data will help marketers develop a campaign that is relevant for today’s consumer and expand their customer base. Subsequently, retailers will see more sales during the holiday season.

If you are looking to conduct a research and need quality sample, please contact us at sales-team@qsample.com

Think Like a Consumer: Knowing your Audience

 

In today’s technology-driven landscape, consumers can have a packaged delivered to their door with a few clicks of a button and information can be disseminated across multiple platforms in a matter of seconds. The most pivotal shift is that consumers are keeping up with all of these advances with mobile phones. Today’s consumers have adopted a lifestyle where they are juggling multiple tasks, interests, and responsibilities. Retailers, media outlets, and other companies are all competing for the consumers’ attention and research panel providers are not exempt.  To attract the right respondents to join a panel, panel providers must adopt the mindset of the consumer. Consumers’ lifestyle, habits, and preferences mold the way respondents participate in research.

Moreover, social media plays a large role in the general consumer’s lifestyle and their behavior models the usage of various online technology platforms. Aside from socializing with friends and family, social platforms are a place to become informed about news, events, and products as well as share opinions.  According to a 2016 study conducted by Facebook, the average person spends about 50 minutes using Facebook or Facebook platforms daily. Social media platforms are attractive to consumers and to mirror this same magnetic approach, online panel providers must establish their company’s presence on social media platforms, to attract respondents to participate in research.

It is imperative that the platforms that respondents utilize align with the convenience consumers are accustomed to when using social media or other mobile platforms. Consumers have become acclimated to simplified platforms that are easy to use on both computers and mobile devices. It is important to match this same sense of convenience, even when it comes to research data collection.

In sum, the ability to think like a consumer and become familiar with the audience will attract respondents to participate in a panel and ultimately increase response rates to studies. The general consumer is gathering information, making purchases, and socializing in a fast paced environment that is accessible through online platforms and mobile devices. The attraction to platforms that are fast and simple has become a standard expectation. Research panel providers use this familiarity with the consumer as a way to recruit panelist, keep them engaged, and ultimately increase survey response rates for clients.

 

Market Research is the Key Ingredient

As usual, Amazon is on the move and presenting even more great ideas. In 2017, we have plenty to look forward to when it comes to shopping. Amazon will be opening the Amazon Go store to the public in early portion of the new year. The store will be like no other grocery store. There will be no cashiers, instead shoppers will use a mobile app to enter the store, gather what they need, and walk out. This takes artificial intelligence to the next level as innovative  “walk out technology” will track what  customers placed in their shopping bags and charge their Amazon accounts for those items. They are also making strides in their drone delivery system as well . The company’s first commercial drone delivery was announced last week. As large companies like Amazon strives towards creating an easy and fast shopping platform for users, these concepts leave room to be explored through market research. Amazon is accelerating technology and influencing consumer behavior. To complete these tasks effectively and keep the momentum going, an intense amount of market research is necessary.

With every new technological update or product release, there is a sense of unpredictability with how the consumer will react. This is where market research becomes pivotal. Conducting research before, during, and after the update can help understand the consumers’ mindset and the market conditions that affect their habits. Market research can also help shape and mold product revamps. Amazon is currently conducting research internally with their employee base. The Amazon Go store is currently open to Amazon employees, this a way to test the store before it opens to the public. Once the store is open to the general population, it would be helpful to gather a diversified sample of people who have been to the store and people who have not. Collecting their thoughts and opinions through an online platform could be beneficial in understanding what would draw more people to become customers.

 

Consumers’ behavior is also being influenced by Amazon’s innovations. This behavior is always changing due to what is made available in the marketplace. We have seen the preference of visiting brick and mortar facilities ebb and flow as online shopping has made great advancements. Amazon has ventures in both of these avenues and because of their impact on the market, it directs consumers towards their products. For example, the drone delivery service fuels the consumer’s’ need for immediacy. Although consumers are constantly shopping online, they still want the sense of immediacy achieved when they are shopping in-store. The drone delivery system marries the comfort and ease of online shopping with the sense of immediate access. However, Amazon will still need to conduct more market research to understand how consumers perceive their idea. With mixed emotions regarding the use of drones, market research could be conducted with a sample of the general population to gather public opinion. Amazon could also gather information to establish a price point for the service that  consumers would find acceptable, whether than the consumer resulting to other delivery methods.

 

Ultimately, market research is the key ingredient for a company to be successful. When new products or services are  introduced into the marketplace, in-depth market research offers insights into the consumers’ mindset and predictions on how the product or service will be perceived. Market research can help a company make changes or updates that fit the consumers’ lifestyle as well as show how much they are willing to pay for it. Companies like Amazon who are constantly releasing new innovations can benefit from collecting information through on-line sample.

———————————–

For more information on how to conduct market research with online sample, reach out to sales-team@qsample.com

Pink Tax: Building The Gender Price Gap?

 

When it comes to marketing for the female consumer there are endless possibilities. Major industries such as the fashion and beauty industry have honed in on the buying power of women and are making significant profits; more than 460 billion USD a year.  Female consumers are eager to experiment with new gadgets while staying on top of the latest trends in the industry, this why industries often release a wider variety of product offerings for women. Consequently, this has created a significant increase in consumer spending. According to the Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of all consumer spending in the US is influenced by women. With women driving most of the consumer spending, companies have taken the opportunity to add a premium price to personal care products such as razors and shampoo. This increase in price on the female version of these items has created a gender price gap known as “The Pink Tax”.

The Pink Tax is most commonly found on personal female hygiene products but has also been implemented in some service industries. According to a study conducted by The New York Department of Consumer Affairs, shampoos and conditioners marketed towards women cost an average of 48% more than those targeted for their male counterparts. Overall the study found that items advertised for females cost 42% more than those marketed towards men. Additional research done by the state of California, shows that women spend $1351 more on items and services that are not specifically women-oriented. For example, dry cleaner’s charge more to clean a woman’s shirt than a man’s shirt due to size and fabric. The premium price added to female products and the gender price gap women face have stirred the conversation on how manufacturers and marketers can reduce the pink tax phenomenon.

There are some logical reasons why women’s products cost more than men’s, even when those items look similar. For instance, manufacturers have expressed that most of women garments require more workmanships than their male equivalent. Also, the increase competition between brands in the female category justifies manufacturers increasing the price on female items; due to the high cost associated with marketing to women. In the digital era that we live today where consumers are experiencing content shock, marketers need to increase their efforts to stand out in a pool of brand pictures and names. However, this leaves the female consumer paying for the industries’ extra marketing efforts. Women are spending a significant amount for personal care needs and services just because marketers want to capitalize on gender based products.

While is true that companies have seen major avenues to target female consumers, this should not be synonymous with higher prices on basic female care products.  Congresswoman Jackie Speier has aimed to put an end to gender product pricing.Speier introduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act—a bill that prohibits companies from charging different prices for similar products or services simply based on gender. Women have also taken their opinion to social media calling for an end to the gender price gap under the hashtags #pinktax, #genderpricing, and #gendertax. A step needed since not all female consumers are aware of the so called pink tax. Also, under this campaign conscious buyers have vowed to not  purchase female care products that have a male alternative.

Marketing towards the female consumer represents several challenges for today’s marketers. Since competition in the fashion and beauty industry is fierce, company’s need to increase their marketing efforts in order to make an impact on their consumers. However, through this process, the female consumer’s wallet has been negatively impacted by the introduction of higher prices in basic care products and services.

In sum, both women and men want the same result out of most personal care products. They both want shampoo that keeps their hair conditioned and razor that offers a close shave. Lifting the gender binary on these products and simply selling the products based on product results could add a sense of neutrality in price. The reduction of the Pink Tax relies on understanding where in the supply chain is the pink tax being incurred and how can it be reduced. The introduction of new marketing strategies is also imperative, in order to diminish the cost associated with marketing towards women.

Red Cups and Consumer Behavior

In the winter of 1997, Starbucks made a permanent imprint on pop culture with one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time – the red holiday cup. At the time, Starbucks had only 1,400 stores and had just opened their first stores outside of North America in Japan and Singapore. They were on the rise as a company, so the creative team decided to generate some excitement around the holidays and created a festive holiday cup. Almost 20 year later they have nearly 24,000 stores in 70 countries and the Starbucks red holiday cup is still creating lots of excitement. The red holiday cup has influenced consumers’ behavior, set a standard that has been a challenge for their competitors, and has created conversations surrounding the brand.

The release of the red cup paired with holiday themed beverages has become a marketing frenzy and Starbucks has reaped the financial benefits. Customers anxiously await the red cup and the artistic designs  are usually leaked prior to the actual release date. The marketing efforts start with the holiday cup, but are carried by limited edition drinks such as the salted caramel hot chocolate, eggnog mocha, and the gingerbread latte. The marketing efforts proved to be profitable with Starbucks holiday revenue increasing by 12% last year. Starbucks has perfectly timed their holiday marketing efforts with a slight price increase to compensate for their efforts. This past November several menu items increased 10 to 30 cent. Although the company did not say why prices were raised, it is presumably aligns with the holiday season. Due to the red cup and holiday menu items release, consumers’ are such in a rush to get the limited red cup and holiday themed items that they pay little attention to this price hike.

The red cup has become a trend and competitors can barely keep up with Starbucks holiday cup popularity. In order to stay competitive, Dunkin Donuts has also created festive cups for the holiday season. Dunkin Donuts changed their logo cup to a white cup decorated with the word “joy” in red script as well as Christmas stocking and snowflakes. Dunkin Donuts also released a creme brulee macchiato that is reminiscent to one of Starbucks holiday drinks. However, the enthusiasm of Starbucks consumers is still unparallel to the efforts of Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks have created a high standard that competitors are simply not reaching. The brand attachment and consumer expectations have not been phased by competitors nor controversy.

The red holiday cup is sewn into tradition and pop culture, subsequently the red cup is central in conversations both positive and negative. In 2015, Starbucks released their most controversial holiday cup. A solid red cup with no embellishment was caught in a social media firestorm. Many argued that the lackluster cup was a piece “anti-Christmas” propaganda. Some customers even decided to decorate the cup themselves and post it on social media. Despite the controversy, Starbuck’s holiday sale revenue still made a large climb. The company harnessed this energy and held a design contest for the 2016 holiday cup. This year 13 red cup designs were released, featuring designs by Starbucks customers. This is an example of how Starbucks built from last year’s controversy.

In summary, Starbucks holiday red cup has become an essential component during the holiday season. It is just as classic and memorable as your favorite holiday movie. Starbucks has used the holiday cup as a building block in their marketing campaigns and the company has grown from this marketing strategy. The red cup symbolizes the start of holiday season, which triggers and emotional brand attachment. The popularity and attachment is unchallenged by competitors. This red cup tradition is only expected to grow as 2017 will be the 20th season for the holiday red cup. Starbucks more than likely already has a plan to celebrate the milestone anniversary of their classic holiday cup.

Deck the Aisles: Marketing vs. Food Waste

The holidays are a time to share memories, thoughts, and food. This time of year represents a celebration that brings nations, culture, and views together while sitting around a dining room table sharing it all with family and friends. Unfortunately, the increase of family feasts lead to food waste. During this season, supermarkets are one of many entities that increase marketing strategies as a way to meet consumers’ demands. Aisles are filled with banners and handouts, tastings and coupons are being distributed, and the consumers’ eye is drawn to specials and their favorite holiday goodies. From turkey to pies and ham, the holiday season is a mecca for marketers. While it may seem overwhelming at times, it is the result of consumers’ demands, supermarkets increase of marketing initiatives, and the constant strides for sales. However, this also means an increase in inventory. This in turn leads to a surplus that inevitably leads to disposal. The end product is increasing amounts of food waste, The Guardian conducted a study which concluded that Americans alone waste up to $160 billion worth of food a year.

The epidemic represented by food waste is nothing new, but it has also become a problem hard to ignore by the public and distributors. According to The US Department of Agriculture, in the US alone 10% of the available food supply is wasted at the retail level. This is fed by the increasing number of grocery stores nationwide, overstocked shelves, as well as the increase in marketing initiatives during the holiday season. From better brand aesthetic to new advertisements and billboards, food companies are in a constant race to meet unrealistic consumers’ expectations. Fruits and vegetables must look pristine at all times, any bruising or spots are deemed not fit for sale. No surprise, this leads to countless amounts of edible food products being thrown away straight from the grocery shelves each year.

The nature of the grocery business stresses the importance of product variety. Food companies and grocery stores want to offer their customers a variety of options, in order to reduce the likelihood of them purchasing products from competitors. In turn by providing more variety, grocery stores induce the psychology of the consumers by creating the illusion of food abundance. However, having a wide range of options constantly contributes to the disposal of unsold food items. Labels like “sell-by” or “best-by” also add to massive amounts of food disposal, these terminologies mislead consumers into believing the food is inedible after a certain date. “Best-by” and “sell-by” labels actually have no basis in science, they are the manufacturer’s best guess for when the product is likely to be the freshest. Furthermore, there are no federal standards for expiration dates, except for baby formula.

It is highly unlikely that the grocery store industry will drastically change the way it operates from one day to another. However, some supermarkets have taken the initiative to reduce food waste and their carbon footprint. Trader Joe’s has implemented a food donation program- where they donate food that is not fit to sell but safe for consumption. These items are given to local food banks and homeless shelters. Earlier this year Whole Foods opened their first “green store”,which will also send leftover food to food banks while other food scraps will be composted to reduce their carbon footprint. The main goal of this store is to produce zero waste, this could set the parameters for how grocery stores operate in the future.

The problem of food waste relies on how grocery stores operate and how consumers sometimes subconsciously buy in surplus as a result of overwhelming advertisements and availability. Marketing strategies in the food industry need to re-iterate to individuals the power of reuse, recycle, and reduce. Which sometimes can be misleading considering the nature of marketing- increase sales. Food companies need to remember the corporate social responsibility they have to communities, it is imperative for them to implement sustainable practices that will reduce food waste. If marketing strategies are executed along with sustainable practices, food waste in America will be reduced and companies will continue to diminish costs and increase efficiency.

 

May the Best Marketer Win: Strategies from the 2016 Election

The next president of America has been declared, but conversations are still circulating regarding the campaign. Donald J. Trump’s unpredictability and lack of “political correctness” drew a lot of attention during the election. While, Hillary Clinton past infractions seem to never diminish. Despite, the question that has been centripetal in these conversations is how did a billionaire businessman with no previous political experience win the presidency? One answer – the best marketing team won.

A successful campaign is a reflection of in-depth market research and strategy. The candidates enact the same business plan as companies use to sell a product, except they are selling hope. Candidates must address the audience’s mindset with the perfect mix of logic, emotion, and empathy for the audience to believe in them. The candidate then must find the perfect strategy to deliver this message to the public. However during the 2016 presidential election, candidates utilized a mixture of traditional and non-traditional marketing strategies.

Both of candidates started their campaign in traditional manner by selecting a campaign slogan, but these slogans struck very different tenures with the American people. Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again,” was controversial but catchy. His slogan set the tone for the rest of his campaign, as he mentioned repealing some historical proceedings such as Roe v. Wade. This appealed to his followers who believe America was better before these preceding. Trump’s slogan also subtly alluded to returning to Republican authority after eight years of a Democratic president.  Whereas as Hilary’s slogan “I’m with Her” represented a historical event were women and men across the country vowed to elect the first female president. Clinton established an emotional appeal through her slogan, that continued through her campaign. She continued to gain her followers through emotionally charged video on her social media channels addressing verbal attacks on women. This video emphasized her goals of gender equality and “breaking the glass ceiling” for women in politics.  

Clinton and Trump both attempted to attract followers through personalized and unique approaches on social media platforms. Nowadays nothing sells without a social media footprint and political campaigns are not exempted. Hillary Clinton used multiple platforms to expand her audience. She used Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest, which were not popular platforms for the Trump campaign camp. The Clinton campaign wanted to build a personal connection with their audience by sharing everyday images such as Clinton’s family photos and videos from Clinton’s campaign headquarters. This tactic was used to increase Clinton’s relatability with the public, which is a traditional approach.  In contrast, Trump was not focused on making an emotional connection with the public, but instead using his business skills to present an improvement plan to the American people. Trump’s marketing strategy was rooted in the “any publicity is good publicity” principle. This is apparent in his perfectly timed controversial Twitter posts, which were  then disseminated on other media outlets. Whether negative or positive, this drew attention back to Trump. Trump harnessed this energy and made both the public and the media focus on these moments more than his political stance.

Another marketing strategy that both candidates used was endorsements. Since Hillary Clinton had political experience, she took a traditional route and enlisted multiple celebrity endorsements. Hillary Clinton brought along pop stars such Katy Perry and Beyonce to perform for her rallies and attract the youth vote. She interviewed multiple times on the infamously candid radio show The Breakfast Club to increase her popularity in the African American community. Clinton even earned an endorsement that aired on prime time Thursday night television from executive television producer Shonda Rhimes. However, Donald Trump’s campaign took a  different route. He needed powerful political figures and business professionals to support him because he lacked political experience. Clinton wanted to appeal through popularity, while Trump needed powerful representatives to ease any concerns about his lack of experience. His endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich were pivotal in Trump’s campaign because it illustrated that seasoned political figures would support the non-traditional candidate.

Ultimately, Hillary Clinton’s traditional campaign route did not supersede Trump’s fiery message of “Make America Great Again.” Trump was able to successfully divert the media and public attention to himself through his marketing methods, which encouraged constant conversation about his latest tweet or speech. Trump’s success also illustrated that the American people have grown accustomed to tradition. In order to gather their vote, candidates must find a way to stand out from the crowd. In four more years this campaign will be far behind the American people, but we may see a new era in marketing strategies inspired by it.