Archive for January, 2013

10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2013

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Increasingly it seems that technology is shaping how consumers interact with brands and is governing new patterns in how commerce takes place.

According to a new report by telecommunications giant, Ericsson, there are ten new observable trends for consumers this year that have fascinating implications for how technology is impacting on our society, with interesting fault lines emerging across age, gender and urban/regional divides.

To see this fascinating infographic in full, you can click here but for ease of reference, here are the key findings:

1. Reliance on Cloud computing reshapes computer usage: more than 50% of users preferred mobile and tablet devices and increasingly demanded the same access to all of their apps and for key data to be available across all platforms.

2. Computing for a scattered mind: rather than structuring their time and lives around technology, consumers now expect their devices to work around their lifestyle, with purchase rates for smartphones and tablets outstripping that for PCs.

3. BYO Broadband: more than half of all smartphone users now bring these devices to work, using their own broadband while in the office, and integrating their work and life data and useage.

4. Mobile coverage key to quality of life: where once a key determinant of urban happiness was measured by water pressure or TV reception, these measures have been replaced by the mobile telephone coverage strength as a yardstick of metropolitan quality of life.

5. DIY self-promotion: although in years gone by most people used recruitment agencies to find new work opportunities, these days it seems LinkedIn and Tweeting your CV are the new ways to get yourself hired.

6. Women driving on smartphone highway: women are outstripping men as the most frequent users of smartphones,  with the bulk of use centred around sending/receiving SMS and sharing photos.

7. Social networks big in the cities: city dwellers are using social networks far more than the country cousins, with most using it to either update or stay up to date with friends and family, and the remainder using it to share and exchange ideas. This finding prompts the question about whether regional and remote communities still catch up the old fashioned way – i.e. face to face or on the telephone.

8. In-line shopping: no, this is not about picking out new rollerblades. Instead, a new phenomenon has emerged where consumers are using their smartphones and tablets to purchase online while they are actually in store.  Apparently the buyer wants to visit the store to view the merchandise but then can’t be bothered queuing up to pay for it. Fascinating!

9. TV goes social: apparently watching TV is not stimulating enough, we feel the need to share while watching – users said they used social media while watching TV, and were more likely to pay for content that could be watched in a social context.

10. Learning in transformation: Younger people are bringing their technology to the learning space, at the same time that workplaces and education and training providers are finding new ways to enable mobile and home-based participation.

How is technology impacting upon your workspace? I would be interested to know your thoughts on this research, and discover if these findings ring true for you. Is technology exacerbating the divisions we have according to age, gender and location, or merely shining a light upon existing schisms?

136d5eca5dd605591de0c90c68ce88adYours in PR

Consumers Keen to Buy, Reluctant to Share

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Last week I wrote to you about how social media provides great opportunities to learn about customers, and it seems the modern consumer is well and truly on to us, with research revealing they are increasingly distrustful of sharing personal data online.

Michael Barnett of Marketing Week wrote last week about increasing pushback by consumers, who have become wary of tactics by companies who have used the slippery slope approach of the ‘assumed opt-in’ to garner the assent of customers and their willingness to divulge personal information just in order to make a purchase.

Michael writes that new legislation drafted for consideration in the EU, if passed, will require companies to seek the explicit consent of consumers prior to seeking their information, and do away with the ‘pre-ticked box’ approach that has been prevalent up until now.

The Direct Marketing Association is concerned by this trend, and sees it – rightly – as an attack upon the future potential of online sources of direct marketing.

What has been missed here is that these increasing levels of scepticism and mistrust will potentially deliver to brands that are smart enough to capitalise upon it, a great opportunity.

While a consumer may resent wholeheartedly filling in a questionnaire just so that they can top up their broadband account or renew a magazine subscription, they would be more willing to undertake a ‘getting to know you’ exercise by a brand that they really LOVED.

For example – an enterprising jewellery store might reasonably enquire of a customer the dates of their birthdays and wedding anniversaries, with the idea of sending through their latest catalogue just in time for handy hints to be dropped about what someone might like for a present to commemorate these milestones.

Or the sellers of prestige vehicles might enquire as to a customer’s size (along with other key info) prior to despatching a shirt or cap emblazoned with the brand of purchaser by way of post-sales follow up, demonstrating a personal touch as well as providing the company with a captive marketing opportunity.

Although the legislative and regulatory framework still struggles to keep up with online advances in market research as they impact upon consumers and their personal rights, smart companies with good strategies and loyal customers will find they are still able to capture all that they need from their loyal consumers, and more!

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

How to Use Social Media as a Sales Tool

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For many businesses, creating social media content is just the latest on their corporate ‘to do’ list, and while some would recognise its importance in building brand awareness, others are discovering how to turn these virtual communities into tangible sales.

Greg Moore, Managing Director of Huthwaite Asia-Pacific wrote recently that social media now provides a direct hotline straight to the consumers that by-passes the filters inherent in the media and advertising.

By focusing on the consumer, and using social media to better understand their lifestyles, preferences and tastes, companies can target their market offering to anticipate and then fill market needs without having to pay for surveys, focus groups or other forms of market testing.

So, how can we use social media to… for want of a better word… SELL, SELL, SELL!?

Research/Brand Platform: Social media channels enable sellers to understand the kind of user behaviours or opinions in a closer and quicker setting, and without the interference and inherent bias (not to mention cost) of third party input. With the advent of social media, a company can just go to Facebook or online blogs to read what consumers are saying about their products and services or observe the people coming to their websites as well as using the search engine optimisation tool to deduce the familiarity of their brand name.

Prospecting: Social media is useful for a prospecting in the marketplace to learn about the latest news and developments of your prospects businesses. This can then be used to channel your messages. For instance, if the individual prospect blogs, or posts on LinkedIn, then you can learn about what is important to them and what is likely to strike a chord when you approach them.

Building Relationships: Social media channels enable buyers to make their grievances known and sellers can learn more about their buyers’ problems and issues with the products and services and address them. This can enhance buyer confidence, help to build the relationship between the buyer and the seller, enable the seller to easily identify the needs of the target consumer and ultimately cater for these needs.

Achieving Brand Consistency: Consistency in branding and messaging is a necessary promotion any social media strategy. By continuously reaching out to buyers online and leveraging on the relationship, sellers can communicate with their customers on social media platforms and build relationships with their clients, consumers and prospects; a level of engagement that was previously unavailable.

So what’s the learning here? Social media provides your business with the opportunity to put your customer front and centre in your thinking, to study them, learn their behaviour, tastes and preferences, and use that market intel not just to market your products more effectively, but to actually develop your goods and services to fit their needs, and use the same medium to then sell to them. Genius!

How does social media feature in your market research and retail strategy? Write and let me know.

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Yours in PR

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