Tag Archives: marketing

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.

 

Does your business have good online reviews? [Survey Data]

 

We recently conducted a survey with our general consumer panel to explore consumer’s online decision-making process, in which over 320 respondents participated in the survey. The findings reveal that the majority of respondents find online review to be a critical piece to their purchasing decision.

Respondents who participated in the survey fall in the following demographic bracket:

– Male (44%), Female (56%)

– Millennial (22%), Generation X (40%), Boomer (31%), Silent (7%)

– Urban (55%), Suburban (34%), Rural (11%)

How do they surf the web?

In general, the most popular platform of web surfing is computer, as indicated by 63% of the respondents, followed by phone (25%) and tablet (12%). When cross-tabulated this particular dataset with age/generation data, we found out that phone usage, in terms of web surfing, declines by increase in age.

Interestingly, when it comes to surfing the web on tablet PCs, the data reveals that baby boomers were far ahead of other generations.  This perhaps should be a sign for businesses to optimize their web pages for various mobile platforms, regardless of their customer base.

Do they trust online reviews?

98% of the respondents indicated that they generally trust online reviews, and they develop higher confidence with the product or service after reading 6 or more reviews, which are posted within a month. Millennials and Generation X respondents tend to read more reviews (11+) before making a purchasing decision.

Furthermore, when they were asked if they trust online reviews as much as peer recommendations, a striking 84% of the respondents agreed that they do.

Where do they read reviews?

42% of the respondents indicated that they find the reviews through major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.), followed by Amazon at 28% and major social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) at 21%. Surprisingly, while Yelp is considered to be a popular business review resource, only 6% of our respondents indicated that they use Yelp for business review. Other sources included consumer reports and manufacturer websites.

92% of the respondents indicated that they find better deals as a result of reading online reviews. Our data revealed that social media sites ranked as number one places for discount deals, followed by Amazon and search engines.

Our findings is further illustrated in the infographic below:

online-review

Alumni Series: Health Trends (Part 1)

qSample and Alumni Reader Panel conducted a survey to discover health related trends of alumni of top national universities (please refer to the previous blog post for details regarding demographics). The findings from this survey will be divided into two blog segments:

Part 1. Basic preventive health measures/healthy lifestyle

Part 2. Spending habits on healthcare

According to a 2016 study by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, less than 3% of Americans meet the basic qualifications for a “healthy lifestyle”. In order to qualify as living a healthy lifestyle, following four requirements must be met: moderate or vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes a week, a diet score in the top 40% on the Healthy Eating Index, a body fat % under 20 for men or 30 for women, and not smoking. Unfortunately, survey respondents were not aware of the qualifications set by Mayo Clinic, rather they were asked to answer best to their knowledge. Chart below reveals their knowledge and awareness of healthy lifestyle:

lifestyle

Average of 62.7% of the respondents either have some degree of expertise or are trusted from peers with advice on health-related issue. Moreover, in the survey, 74.1% agreed that they are constantly looking for new ways to live a healthier life. Following three charts confirm that majority of the respondents do indeed take preventive health measures (diet, exercise, and regular check-ups):

eatt habits

reg ex

reg check

In summary, 88.1% follow a healthy diet, 75.2% follow a regular exercise routine, and 84.8% visit the doctor for regular check-ups.

 

health


 

Alumni of top national universities: Buying Habits

A survey was conducted by Alumni Reader Panel and qSample to investigate the buying habits of alumni of top national universities. 1,964 respondents completed the survey. Universities represented in this survey are: University of Chicago, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard,  Dartmouth, Cornell, and Brown. Succeeding three charts summarize the demographics of the respondents by each school:

age

gender

employ

In a bigger picture, 4.4% were Millennials, 23% were Generation X, 72.6% were a mix of Boomers and Silent Generation. In addition, survey respondents were predominantly males (66.5%). Prior to discussing the buying habits of alumni, an important limitation to acknowledge is that there is an insufficient amount of data to categorize the demographic of respondents from the results. For instance, if respondents were asked a question about brand loyalty and given four choices, the results were simply netted by counts. Thus, we could not identify what percentage of the total counts stemmed from which generation or gender. With that in mind, here are the findings (note: data are shown in average of eight schools as there were no significant statistical outliers – margin of error is approximately +/- 5%):

They are brand loyal:

brandloyol

91.6% of respondents agreed that when they find a brand they like, they will stick to it. Furthermore, 90.4% agreed that if a product is made by a company they trust, they are willing to purchase at a premium price. These two independent results revealed a correlation coefficient of 0.994. What this indicates is that brand loyal consumers become price desensitized, allowing the brands to obtain greater pricing power. In addition, 66.1% of consumers are aware that brand name is not the best indication of quality (see below):

QUALITY

Although the survey revealed that these consumers are highly brand loyal, behavioral data portion of the survey showed what might be advantageous to competitors with potential substitute products. 99.1% of respondents indicated that they value “curiosity wanting to explore and learn about new things”. Since a mere 25.8% agreed that they are one of the first among their friends to try new product, word of mouth (through peers) would likely be their most trusted source of advertisement.

They are willing to pay at premium for quality not image:

premium

Respondents were asked to answer the following: “I am typically willing to pay more for high-quality items” and “I would pay extra for a product that is consistent with the image I want to convey”. As there is no direct correlation between these two factor, the correlation coefficient is 0.224. Although we do not have to access to the respondents’ income distribution, as 88.7% of respondents are willing to pay at premium for quality, it may be safe to assume that price is not much of a concern as long the product quality meet their standards. Interestingly, even though only 42.8% agreed to buy products to convey self-image, a striking 65% had expressed that they buy from brands that reflect their style (see below):

styleTherefore, it is critical for brands to identify the lifestyles of their target audience to effectively form bonds and trust with the consumers.

They prefer American products:

america

60.5% of respondents agreed that purchasing American-made products is an important factor. “Made in America” label has its strong manufacturing reputation, and considering that majority of these consumers value trust and quality, they are most likely willing to pay premium price for American-made products. As a matter of fact, 82.9% agreed that their purchase decision is solely based on quality rather than price.

Moving forward, blog posts will focus on buying habits and decision factors in specific industries (technology, travel/hospitality, healthcare, etc.).

buying-habits

 

 

 

 

 

Branding Trust in Healthcare

 

Trustworthiness is a major player in brand sustainability. According to 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 62% of global consumers reported that “brand trust” is the primary purchase decision driver. Of which, 72% are willing to pay a premium. Trust seems to act like a magical remedy to minimize the anxiety of risk-averse (or price-sensitive) consumers, which in turn leads to brand loyalty. Speaking of risk-aversion, there is one particular industry that absolutely cannot “screw-up”. The healthcare industry.

A 2014 study on healthcare branding found that “trust is a key variable in establishing affective commitment in consumer brand relationships” (Becerra, Jillapalli, and Kemp 133). In building a sustainable brand, trust is especially critical in this sector due to the fact that individuals surrender sensitive information to the healthcare provider, and also his or her physical and psychological well-being.

Even though trust is a critical aspect in healthcare, consumer’s industry perception begs to differ. According to 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer – Healthcare Sector Results, 61% of general population trusts the healthcare industry, which is on the lower end compared to other industries (technology being the most trusted at 75%, followed by manufacturing at 67%). What measures could be implemented to tackle this problem? Kelly Michelson, Associate Professor of pediatrics and Director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Feinberg School of Medicine states the following:

“Research shows that open lines of communication create trust, and vice versa, and that trusting relationships are key to better healthcare outcomes. One study, for example, has shown that poor communication among the staff in a pediatric hospital influenced their trust levels and how they cared for patients. In another study, clinicians who worked in an intensive care unit were trained in how to conduct a family meeting, specifically in empathetic listening.”

Internal change is vital to cultivating a brand’s trust. As stated in Nielsen 2015 report, “Global Trust in Advertising”, with respect to earned advertising format, 83% of global consumers reported that they trust the recommendations of peers, followed by consumer opinions posted online at 66%. In terms of owned (brand-managed) format, online channels are considered to be the most trusted. 70% of global consumers trust branded websites, and more than half of respondents (56%) trust emails they signed up for.

Sources:

Becerra, Enrique, Ravi K. Jillapalli, and Elyria Kemp. “Healthcare branding: Developing emotionally based consumer brand relationships.” Journal of Services Marketing 28.2 (2014): 126-137. Print.

2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report

2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising

2016 Edelman Trust Barometer – Healthcare Sector Results

Trusting Healthcare Providers and Institutions: Key Findings

 

Download our Physician Panels book:

qSample-Physician-Panel-Book.pdf (5280 downloads)

Reddit: Active Support System for Mental Health Sufferers [Infographic]

 

Power and flexibility of social media sites should not be undermined. Among many usage of these sites, the lesser known is that they serve as an emerging source of data for public health studies, including mental health (Schrading et al.).

According to a study on domestic abuse disclosure on a social media site, Schrading et al. reported that this site offers “less intimidating and more accessible channels for reporting, collectively processing, and making sense of traumatic and stigmatizing experiences”. One such site is Reddit.

Reddit is a popular social news and entertainment media launched in 2005. As of 2015, Reddit has amassed 36 million user accounts and 234 million monthly unique visitors. This site has a vast range of forums dedicated to various topics, known as “subreddits”.  Its forum-style social system allows users to share texts and media as posts that allow votes and comments. Unlike Twitter, Reddit allows lengthy submissions.

Given the unique characteristics of the site, Reddit acts as a support system for mental health suffers, which provides a platform for self-disclosure, social support, and anonymity. Users may interact anonymously and become connected with others who share similar difficulties, misery, pain, condition, or distress (Choudhury & De).

Moreover, each subreddit is moderated by online community volunteers. For sensitive subreddit topics that are related to mental health and illnesses, their main role is to ensure that “the anonymous submitter has access to local help hotlines if a life-threatening situation is described” (Schrading et al.).

In essence, Reddit is a comfortable and safe space for people who cannot disclose their mental health experiences due to social stigma. Even for ones who are simply willing to share a piece of their own life story to help others.

Infographic below summarizes key findings and statistics in relation to this topic:

reddit info

Mind Blowing Text Messaging Statistics [Infographic]

 

Social Media may rule our lives, as qSample has demonstrated. Yet when it comes to marketing or simply engaging deeply with our audiences, email is the king of all internet media (as our president Rudly Raphael proved in his article The Dominance of Email).

The queen might be text messaging. It’s often overlooked as an efficient form of marketing, according to Small Business Trends. Regardless, the relevance of text messaging as a medium is astounding. For example, check these statistics:

  Texting is the most frequently used app on smartphones–with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day.
  More than six billion text messages are sent in the U.S. each day.
  People worldwide will send 8.3 trillion text messages in 2016 alone. That’s almost 23 billion messages per day or almost 16 million messages per minute.
  Text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email only has a 6% response rate.
  Over 80% of adults text, making it the most common phone activity.
  Text messages brag a 98% open rate, while email only delivers a 20% open rate.

For more context and awe, we present you our latest infographic (and please text your friends or colleagues about it; they’ll open it more than if you email them this data):

Mind Blowing Text Messaging Statistics

 

Download this infographic.

Embed Our Infographic On Your Site!