Archive for PR management

10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2013

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where once a key determinant of urban happiness was measured by water pressure or TV reception, these measures have been replaced by the mobile telephone coverage strength as a yardstick of metropolitan quality of life.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

2013 – What Does the Future Hold?

Future Trends
As the year draws close to closing, in our minds we prepare for what the new year will bring, and given this, I thought it opportune to share what the futurists are predicting as the big new trends in consumer behaviour for our immediate future.

A report released by EuroMonitor has revealed their picks for the top 10 trends that will emerge over the next five years, and their list makes for fascinating reading.

Top 10 Trends For the Next Five Years:

1. The search for value: One of the key outcomes of the recession was that consumers reigned in spending and became much more cautious about how, when and where they shopped. With recovery slow and employment high, this thrifty mindset looks set to continue over the next five years.

2. A more cautious approach to credit: Since the start of the recession, consumers in developed markets have prioritised the need to live within their means and have tended to acquire new credit only for larger, specific purchases.

3. People power: In a new age of cautiousness and considered purchasing, consumers no longer take marketing at face value. Individuals are taking it upon themselves to carry out their own research, make their opinions known and take a more active role in product development and promotion.

4. Multicultural consumerism: Societies are becoming more multicultural as developed markets see an influx of migrant workers and foreign students, while existing ethnic populations expand. In the US, babies born to minority groups represented a majority of all births for the first time in 2012.

5. The fight against obesity: Despite the growing trend towards health and wellness, obesity rates have reached record levels and continue to grow, albeit more slowly than before. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity rates have doubled since 1980.

6. New attitudes towards growing old: As populations have aged and society has become more liberal, attitudes towards youth, middle- and old-age have changed markedly, blurring the traditionally-perceived boundaries of age-appropriate fashion and lifestyles.

7. Experience-based consumption: Since the start of recession, consumers in developed markets have focused less on conspicuous consumption and the gain of material possessions, and more on seeking out mood-boosting or even life-changing experiences.

8. The rise in social responsibility: Despite consumers having become more value-conscious since the start of the recession, there are also signs that many have become more compassionate and socially responsible.

9. The chemical backlash: As consumers worry increasingly about their health and wellness and the effects of potentially harmful chemicals found in everyday products, demand for natural ingredients in everything from packaged food to toiletries continues to grow.

10. Mobile cocooning: Consumers worldwide are becoming addicted to smart devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers as they are able to fulfill an ever growing multitude of tasks anywhere and at any time, from shopping, entertaining and networking to banking, education and GPS.

How do you feel about these trend predictions? In my own business and from personal experience I can verify the push towards creating ‘stories’, adding ‘value’, making personal connections through content, and the push towards mobile everything – news, travel, commerce, sales.  As a society, and as business cultures, we are becoming more agile, more value-oriented, more cynical, searching for meaning, and looking for authentic experiences, and this is as true in PR as in any other industry.

How do we translate these general trends into how our consumers research, plan and buy what we have to sell? That is our challenge for 2013.

Are these new trends already affecting your business? Write and let me know!

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

Turning Loyal Customers into Brand Obsessives

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There is much discussion about how to generate brand loyalty, but increasingly the new yardstick is to recruit customers who don’t just like your brand, or even love it, but are OBSESSED with it.

So, what does this look like – to have brand-obsessed consumers?  You can see it at work when Apple releases a new iteration of  i-devices, with brand disciples literally camping out the night before just to get the latest product.  Riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles tattoo their bodies with what is essentially a corporate logo, because to them it represents more than a product – it is a statement, a lifestyle, it is key to their very identity.

So, it begs the question – how do you make that intimate connection with a customer?  How do you make them obsessed with you, in a good way?

Award-winning author and CEO of Trend Hunter, Jeremy Gutsche insists to make a powerful connection with consumers, brands must “intimately observe their customer” in order to understand them better,  to discover the right space in which to innovate.

He says the willingness to experiment and the commitment to understanding customers will yield winning results.  He encourages CEOs to ‘win like you are used to it’ and ‘lose like you enjoy it’, advocating that it is only companies who continue to experiment, create new things, have a culture that fosters creativity and are prepared to try and fail, that will be nimble enough to tap into the new generation of consumers, and to keep pace with them as their modes of researching and purchasing goods and services evolves over time.

Sounds chaotic, right? As the current economic environment is more fluid and prone to change that at any other time in our history, with the speed of change only accelerating, change is the only constant that can be depended upon, and smart brands are those that make a cultural and personal connection with their customers that can be built over time, and  is available across a broad range of opportunities for both commerce and sharing.  In short, embrace the chaos.

To see Gutsche’s video in its entirety, click here and I would love to know from you what your business does to create brand obsessives, and how you are coping with the inevitable chaos of commerce.

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the pre-Christmas Slump into a Season of Growth

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Many businesses experience a slowdown over Christmas, but there is no reason to just take the foot off the growth pedal at this time of year.

Making the strategic decision to grow your business over the holidays sounds almost counter-intuitive, but making smart moves in December can turn a slump into a spike for your business.  Here are some ideas.

1. Tis the season to be thankful: Over the course of a year business leaders, can engage with hundreds of people, many of whom have gone out of their way to deliver great service.  What better time than now to say thanks for connecting with you over the year.  According to Adam Smith’s law of scarcity, hand written notes are now highly valuable due to their rarity, and at this time of year when people are snowed with off-the-shelf cards and Christmas emails, a personal note with a heart-felt message of appreciation is GOLD and will not go unnoticed.

2. Practice corporate goodwill: Although this time of year is good for planning for the holidays, it is a time when many CEOs do their more general planning for the business as a whole.  If you have someone with whom you would like to collaborate, or to secure as a client, why not put some groundwork in place now to get them on board for the first of the New Year?  Schedule time each day in December prior to the 25th to call a potential client or business partner to wish them the best of the season, and then while debating Noosa vs Mooloolaba as a holiday destination, ask what their plans are for the future, and ask if your business might help them achieve those goals.

3. Networking with nous: there are innumerable Christmas parties coming up, and it can be appealing to try to duck as many of these as possible, but if done correctly, they can set you up for the next year with a host of hot business leads and ideas.  When choosing which invitations to accept, rather than playing it safe and catching up with old acquaintances, make a point of choosing ones where you DON’T know many people and where you will make NEW leads. Before each event, draw up a list of what you want to get out of it, and don’t stop meeting people until you have made a connection worth keeping and set a date to catch up in 2013 to develop those ideas further.

4. Plan your success for the New Year: Spend time reviewing what worked best in your business in 2012, and what you intend to change for 2013, mapping out which resources, people and ideas you need to achieve those aspirations. If you need to acquire new assets to achieve those goals, lock them in place NOW, don’t wait.

By following these easy steps, the pre-Christmas yawn may well be transformed into a eureka as you experience your busiest and most productive time of all.  What a great Christmas present to give to yourself!

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

How to Reach Presumers (Pre-Consumers)

 

We have all heard the expression that the customer is always right, and in our current market, the consumer is more in control now than at any time in our history.  Expectations are running at an all-time high as consumers want the best, they want it now and first, and they want a real, human connection, too.

The demand for consumers to be in charge of their purchasing decisions has driven a new phenomenon – consumers are now PRESUMERS.  Rather than waiting for a product to be developed, attending the launch and making an order, consumers are now TELLING companies what products they want, helping to design them, and via crowdsourcing and rampant self-entrepreneurship are doing it for themselves and circumventing traditional methods altogether.

This appeals to a key element of human nature.  We love to get the first look at something – the sneak peek, the insider insight, the first look and PRESUMERS love nothing more than getting involved with, pushing, funding, and promoting products and services before they are available.

So what are the key factors driving this trend towards PRESUMERS?

According to Trendwatching, the five drivers converting consumers into presumers are:

1. FIRSTISM: More, faster, better, special, now

While the desire for something new is, well… nothing new, what is different is how consumers now seek to make purchases and shop in the future tense.  By helping to develop products that are not available yet, they are literally consuming their own future.

2. STORIES: Great story, great status

Having what is new, before it is even available, is all about bragging rights and status for the consumer, so, naturally, being a presumer is the ultimate in consumers showing off. Getting something before everyone else, in fact being involved in developing a new product is the ultimate consumer brag, perfect for sharing via tweet, post, status update and other social media forms.

3. BELONGING – Come together, right now

Being part of the creation of something new gives presumers a sense of belonging to a special and unique club, and given them a a sense of community.  It gives them a bedded-down tie-in with the brand, and with the other consumers who are fellow-advocates.  This investment is likely to have longevity too, as they can become brand disciples potentially for life.

4. OFF = ON – Online is offline is online…

Presumers want the same feeling of ‘special’ they get from their online interactions with brands as they do in a traditional retail setting and the in-store ‘pre-launch’ is the perfect vehicle for this.  They get excellent customer service, they get the new, but it is still ‘in store’.

5. NEW PLATFORMS: Disrupted funding, making and selling

DIY has taken on a whole new life in the world of the presumer.  Platforms such as crowdsourcing have created a new ‘make it yourself’ phenomenon leading to a whole new generation of startup entrepreneurs who are quite literally creating new companies in their bedrooms.  To reinforce the financial power of this trend, it is expected in the USA alone, this trend will raise USD 2.8 billion this year.

So what is the takeaway from this?  It is worthwhile remembering that as consumers become more educated, more mobile and more web-savvy every day, more and more consumers will become PRESUMERS.  And if you don’t give them what they want, now more than ever, they are just as likely to get out there and create it for themselves!


Yours in PR

Are You Joining in the Click Frenzy?


It is fascinating how time, the seasons, and the calendar all have such an impact upon consumer purchasing patterns.  It used to be that we all filled up our cars at the petrol station on a Tuesday, and each year we wait anxiously for the Boxing Day sales but there are new consumer trends that, for some at least, will change this behaviour.

Tonight in Australia, the largest mass online purchasing offer that has ever been created takes shape in the form of Click Frenzy.  According to news reports, more than one million Australians have already registered for the sale, which goes live at 7pm AEDT tonight.

This latest craze is an interesting hybrid of a flash-shop, an online sale, and a digital voucher, backed by big time hype, the likes of which have barely been seen before.

What I am wondering is, will these flash-in-the-pan, marketing-driven sales actually have a significant, measurable impact on how people budget for the Christmas retail bulge, and will it wean them away from more traditional spending patterns than are time and calendar-sensitive.

For my own part I have participated in time-sensitive sales before, including those for airlines and hotel rooms, in which a very few items at very low prices are offered and are snapped up almost as soon as they go online.  While this may create a ‘win’ for the lucky few, there is the danger of a customer backlash if what is offered – in reality – differs greatly from what is actually available for sale.

In the longer term, does this have the potential to change consumer behaviour, to recruit a whole new group of online shoppers that have never dipped their toe into the waters of e-commerce or voucher sales or flash stores before; or will it backfire in spectacular fashion due to high demand and low availability?  Or perhaps like many over-hyped events, will it simply run out of puff?

Time will tell, and that time is 7pm this evening – let me know if you are taking part in this consumer experiment. To click or not to click… that is the question!


Yours in PR

Is M-Commerce Retail’s Final Frontier?


Retail is experiencing nothing short of a commerce revolution and the speed of change is accelerating, and with Australian consumers known to be early-adapters and with mobiles at mass saturation point in the market, the implications for Australian businesses are profound.

According to Michelle Hammond of Start Up Smart, Mobile Commerce or M-Commerce is one of five key new trends that are transforming the retail marketscape.

She cites the latest eBay Online Business Index (OBI),  which reveals that nearly half of Australia’s top eBay businesses said they would optimise online content for mobile.  These findings were backed up by new research from Nielsen’s who have underscored the power and potential of this new trend.

So what does this actually mean for business?  It seems the attention span of consumers is shorter than ever, and the edge that M-Commerce has is in shrinking the time-lag between the initial stages of product research and identification and the eventual purchase.

Businesses who want to tap into this mobile marketplace need to enable their web presence not only with an online ‘store’ for purchases, but to take that extra step so that there are only a few easy, linear steps in the sales trajectory.  While Julius Ceasar famously Came, Saw and Conquered, for M-Commerce the mantra needs to be ‘I see’, ‘I want’, ‘I’ve bought’.

It seems to me there are a few must-dos for business here.

If your business has a good or service for sale, there must be a way to complete that transaction online.  Cataloguing and uploading your inventory may seem painful but it is a crucial step.

It is worth considering in addition to the traditional ‘online store’, can you develop an ‘App’ that you can offer for a free download for your customers?  The development of these Apps need not be expensive, and is a worthwhile investment to set you apart from your competitors.

If, on the other hand, your business offers more esoteric and less tangible products, such as knowledge, advice and expertise; then think about how to ‘commoditise’ your business… if you are selling your insights, why not distill them into a buyable format – can customers buy your book, or pay for a consultation?

Once you are M-Commerce enabled, you place your business in a space where you can recruit your customers as your secret sales team – why not prompt purchasers after they have bought your latest product to ‘share’ the sale via social media, and incentivise them for doing so?  This ‘word of mouth’ sales endorsement is nothing new, and is so easily adaptable in our digital age.

How is your business faring in the push towards fleet, fast, flexible commerce of the future? I would love to hear your insights on this.


Yours in PR

Publicity Queen Scores Two Covers in Two Weeks



There are times when as PRincipal of Publicity Queen I could not be prouder of what my team have achieved, and recently I had that experience when not just one but two of our clients made front page news within a fortnight across two States.

Both the Hobson’s Bay Leader (pictured far left) and Brisbane’s mX newspaper (pictured left) featured colourful and informative coverage of our clients, namely Oktoberfest Brisbane and Animal Aid.

These achievements take our total to more than 20 front page covers that we have achieved for our clients, and it is a reminder to both me and my team of talented Queens of just what is possible when great story ideas, teamed with great pictures and content, when pitched by a gun publicist, can achieve!

These latest cover are now framed, mounted and adorn the Publicity Queen Wall of Fame in the office, and it occurred to me to share with you exactly what we do to celebrate our wins here at Publicity Queen.

I wonder how other businesses celebrate their successes and share that sense of achievement with their staff?  I would love to hear from you exactly how you ‘share the love’ in your businesses, giving recognition and inspiring your teams to succeed.  Do write and let me know.


Yours in PR

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