Friday, April 23, 2004
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
How can entrepreneurs tweak their marketing and sales campaigns to better reach today's young families? A new survey of 3,020 parents, conducted in late 2003 by Boston-based marketing-strategy firm Reach Advisors, lays the foundations for a better understanding of the social and attitudinal differences between Generation Xers -- those born from 1965 to 1979 -- and their baby boom parents. What follows are some of the key points drawn from the survey, Generation X Parents: From Grunge to Grown Up, and the lessons savvy businesses will draw from them:
• Better educated, downwardly mobile: Gen X parents have more schooling than boomers yet are far more pessimistic about their financial futures. Gen X parents are more uncomfortable with their debt levels, have much lower expectations of remaining in their current jobs, and are less likely to expect defined-benefit pensions in retirement. The specter of financial insecurity haunts them much more than it did their parents at the same age.
Lesson: Value sells -- and permanence, being such a rare commodity -- sells even better.
• More family time, less contentment: Gen X moms and dads are more likely than upwardly mobile boomer parents to turn their attention from careers to put a greater emphasis on children and household responsibilities. Still, the Gen X parents are less satisfied with the amount of time they allocate to family -- not because they don't like the trade-off, but because they wish they could spend even more time with their kids.
Lesson: While "quality time" was the much-quoted goal of boomer parents, Gen Xers also want "quantity time" with their kids. Bear that distinction in mind if marketing family-related goods and services.
• It's all about value: Generation Xers in the top 5% of household income -- those with annual incomes of $150,000-plus -- tend to be in industries that have seen layoffs and where income growth has stalled. The consequent uncertainty leads to more cautious spending across the entire income spectrum. Where wealthy boomers might brag about how much they pay for something, Gen Xers relish talking about how much they managed to save -- and that applies even to those in the top income brackets. Spreading the word to friends and workmates about great deals and where to find them is actually a means for Xers to signal their tech savvy.
Lesson: If an Xer thinks you're offering a great deal, expect to see his or her friends as word spreads.
• The "soccer mom" is history: Only 9% of Generation X mothers describe themselves that way. Today's young moms are more difficult to classify, given the variety of factors that shape their existence: They have high levels of education, and they married and had children later than their boomer counterparts. As a consequence, they generated higher percentages of household income before confronting decisions about whether to return to work after having children.
Lesson: Ad and marketing campaigns that target young mothers with one-dimensional portrayals are likely to be met with a resoundingly cold shoulder.
• Dads do more at home: Today's fathers are less likely to draw a hard and fast line between work during the week and family on the weekend. Dads are proud to be involved in the daily lives of their children and are more likely to play a significant role in purchases and activities for their kids.
Lesson: Put those Ward Cleaver stereotypes in the shredder. Fathers have an ever-growing say in their kids' lives and day-to-day upbringing. If you ignore this social and cultural change, you do so at the peril of the bottom line.
The survey's findings should be taken as indications that, just as families are changing, so must marketing tactics. Says Reach's James Chung: "For companies that serve mostly baby boom parents with older children, much of this change is on the horizon. Companies serving Generation X parents with younger children, however, are starting to feel this shift earlier than others."
The smart business owner will swim with the tide -- or be swept away by it.
The author, Karin E. Klein, is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues. This article appeared in Business Week Online, April 15, 2004.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Two out of five U.S. internet users have broadband
NEW YORK (AP) -- Two in five Internet users in the United States now have high-speed access at home as telephone companies slash prices to better compete with cable broadband services, a study says.
In a report Sunday, the Pew Internet and American Life Project placed the adult residential broadband population at 48 million, or one-quarter of all adult Americans.
Among college-educated adults age 35 and younger, penetration has reached 52 percent.
Most of the growth has been since November from connections over souped-up phone lines called DSL, which now make up 42 percent of the home broadband market, up from 28 percent in March 2003. Cable modems still have the lead, with a market share of 54 percent, but they no longer enjoy a 2-to-1 edge.
The increase counters Pew's findings from last spring suggesting that the broadband market had begun to stabilize. That study found fewer Internet veterans wishing to upgrade their dial-up lines.
But broadband fees have dropped since then, with DSL available in some markets late last year for just a few dollars more than dial-up.
Although only 3 percent of home broadband users cited affordable pricing as the reason for switching, price has an indirect effect.
"People don't buy it because the price is too high, but when the price is lower and closer to dial-up, you have more people convert over" even if they cite other reasons for switching, said Dave Burstein, editor of the online newsletter DSL Prime.
Major dial-up services typically cost $22 to $24 a month. SBC Communications Inc. dropped DSL service to as low as $27 and Verizon Communications Inc. to $35, Burstein said.
The report stated that in rural areas of America only 10% of households have broadband internet service.
Friday, April 16, 2004
Extremely different marketing - brought to you by BK
Click below, type a command into the box ... and get ready for some of the zaniest humor ever... all brought to you by Burger King.
It's weird. It's wacky. It's web-based.
You type a command into a box on a very uncluttered screen.
A person in a chicken costume (at some undisclosed location .... Cheney's bunker?) does exactly what you request.
Simple. Stupid. Funny. Slick. So, why is it funny? It's funny on multiple levels.
First, there's the visual humor-a person in a chicken costume.
Then, there's the interactive humor of racking one's brain to come up with commands... eventually trying to outwit or confuse the poor poultry person. (think: "raise the roof")
Humor lies in trying to figure out "how does this work?" Is it live? Is there some database of requests that intiates a given film clip? I can't say. I can't figure it out. I love that about this site.
Finally, there's humor in wondering about "who concocted this ... and why?"
It's the twisted product of a tiny ad shop out of Miami, Florida. They specialize in publicity-stuntish, buzz marketing. It's very sticky. It drives WOM on the web. They generated buzz for Ikea and Cooper Mini. Now they're doing this chicken shtick for Burger King.
Just because it's Friday--thought you'd enjoy a laugh or two....
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Do you know how to Wiki?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The terms wiki (pronounced "weekee", /wiki/ in SAMPA) and WikiWiki are used to identify either a specific type of hypertext document collection or the collaborative software used to create it. "Wiki wiki" means "super fast" in the Hawaiian language.
It's a form of collaborative publishing, information sharing and knowledge management. A wiki contains a link that allows anyone to add, delete or modify text. HTML is not permissible. A wiki is completely open-source, without passwords or permissions. So, in short, a wiki is a form for building a body or base of knowledge that a population can access to generate concensus, debate issues, explore topics, formulate ideas/strategies and share knowledge.
Like weblogs or "blogs," wikis utilize RSS to notify readers/participants of changes to content. The difference appears to be that wikis almost, if not completely, abandon the concepts of ownership and control.
So... what does this mean in marketing terms? I'm not sure, yet. But a few really neat examples come to mind:
1- War-room style project management
Who owns the project? The whole team does. I like the idea that everyone can contribute equally to debate and challenge, plus the idea of immediate notification of content changes would be highly useful.
2- Customer proposal & work scope documentation
Who owns the proposal, anyway? No one does, if you think about it. A proposal is worthless to the vendor if the client won't accept it. Conversely, if the client pushes too far and makes the deal sour or unpalatable for the vendor, the vendor will walk from the negotiating table.
3- Online collaboration
Who owns the logo, the story or the brochure while it is in production? Ask the attorney... but hey, a wiki would be a great tool for online editing in some of the work that we do for our clients. I can see that the handy 'track changes' feature might be missed on certain projects, of course. On simpler projects, wiki might just work.
I'm sure there are other marketing applications. Drop me a note with your ideas.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Here's a link to a great op-ed from The New York Times. The essay is about our affinity for rankings ... Top Ten lists and such. The author, Austan Goolsbee from the Univ. of Chicago's School of Business, provides a much-needed reminder that in a great many cases, there are no statistically significant differences between ranked contenders, whatever the list, regardless of the category. In today's information-rich world, we tend to assume that those ubiquitous rankings are more analytically sound than they are. In reality, what we would find if we were to dig into the numbers is that there tends to be a few contenders which are measurably different, followed by a huge mass (the "pack" - if you will) tied for the next place on the list.
Enough rambling... go read it.
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: How Rankings Rate
P.S. - If you don't have a username and password to enable you to read the Times, go get one! You are truly missing out.
Everything isn't white in my shower
Looking around this morning in the shower (see Skip's post below):
Edge Shaving Gell - orange, black and green
Red Strawberry Shampoo
Green Aloe Vera Body Wash
Yellow Baby Soap
I see a research project in the making.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
Every product in my shower is white
I'm not sure what led me to notice this, but every product that we use in our shower at home is white.
Paul Mitchell shampoo (white)
Phi Tenbella shampoo & conditioner (both white)
Dove body wash (white)
Beauti Control facial cleanser & scrub (both white)
Lever bar soap (white)
Tilex mildew control spray (white)
This may mean, simply, that my wife and I have an affinity for products that are white. Or, it may mean that white is the color preference of packaging design today for personal care products. What colors do you find in your shower?
By the way, I do my best thinking while showering and shaving. It has to do with the right-brain shift, which I have studied extensively. Two fundamental works on the topic are:
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Betty Edwards
The Breakout Principle - Herbert Benson, M.D.
... in case you want to learn more.
Sunday, April 04, 2004
Google stepping out to capture a piece of the e-mail market. Watch out MSN and Yahoo.
PG.comHere's a marketing game. Figure out how many Procter and Gamble Brands you use in a week by looking on the P&G site, under U.S. Product Information, look at the Choose a Brand drop down menu.
Annualize the amount of money Procter and Gamble gets from you each year by you purchasing products they make. What's their share of total grocery/household expenditures? That's the power of mass marketed Brands dollarized.
Kellogg's Clubhouse(TM) | History
We've all eaten the cereals, now find out the history behind some of your favorite breakfast pals.
Friday, April 02, 2004
Yet another study on simultaneous media usage has confirmed what many media pros have long suspected: audiences continue to inhale several media at once, even at work. Conducted by the Mobium Creative Group, the survey found that as many as 83 percent of business professionals media-multitask while performing activities related to their jobs.
The report arrives on the heels of a similar study conducted by Agora/BIGresearch. Unveiled a mere eight days ago, the report revealed that 70 percent of media users try at one time or another to absorb two or more forms of media at once.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
For our friends and clients in the gaming industry, here's an interesting article from the NY Times. It speaks to the breadth and impact of gaming, which is carrying over into PC hardware and other sectors.
The irony is that the tool (personal computer) created the game and brought it to be. Decades later, the product created by the PC (i.e., the computer game) is influencing the design and mechanical/electrical engineering of the personal computer. Hmmm.
For Those Who Play, Laptops Get Serious