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Posts Tagged ‘Shopper Insights’

Free Product Sampling Sound Like a Dream? Then PINCHme.

In brand-building, curation, retail, social media on September 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

by Jeff Sandgren

Product sampling: a time-tested stalwart of consumer engagement, new product trial-driving and brand conversion. Whether it’s that first slice at the deli, or the cheery little kiosks scattered throughout Costco, the experiential pull is strong – and historically low-tech. That changed several years ago when online companies like StartSampling began offering subscription-based “e-sampling” programs. But as quickly as the online providers grew, the consumer engagement turned in many cases to disengagement, with complaints about subscription fees, irrelevant product samples … even scams. Indeed, a quick Google search of “online product sampling” includes names like “scamfreesamples,” above the fold. That alone speaks volumes.

Fast forward to 2013, and an innovative Australian company is looking to reinvent sampling into the brave new world of Internet-enabled, socially-connected, value-conscious consumers, with a model that promises to deliver relevance and delight to consumers at the same time as it provides laser-like targeting (and ROI) for the sponsoring Brand Marketers.

Sound like a dream? Jeremy Reid says “pinch me.”

pinchmelogo2No, literally. His company, PINCHme, founded earlier this year in Sydney Australia, is about to cross the Pacific and beachhead in the US market, starting in October. The formula has been a big hit Down Under, where in a mere six months Jeremy and his 30-person team have signed up a half million consumers and 50 major CPGs. In the first 30 days of its launch in the Sydney market, PINCHme signed up 2 percent of the population, and it’s been a steady climb since. As for the brands, they include CPG giants Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever, Kraft, Nestle and many more.

To find out how the new service is different, we asked Founder Jeremy Reid to explain the new approach.

Jeremy_Reid_23-(1)

Jeremy Reid, Founder

“Sampling today is very effective,” said Reid, “but not very efficient. Are the brand sponsors getting the right products in front of the right consumers? Are they getting a measurable ROI on the sampling costs? Those are the problems we’re solving with PINCHme.”

A key element of the platform is its integration with shopper loyalty data from some of the key providers. “It’s a win-win,” said Reid. “The shoppers see only personalized offers on their home page, so they don’t have to browse through products that really don’t fit them. And the brands are only investing in sampling for consumers they want to target.”

There’s a lot of analytics going on in the background, Reid explained. When consumers are presented with their targeted offers, they can only choose one-third of the selections. “That’s powerful choice information, and it drives a much higher trial rate on the samples,” said Reid. Even before the choice, unsure consumers are offered an array of digital content and other product information. In other words, they’re engaged in the selection process – thoroughly.

Fulfillment is handled by PINCHme, who delivers a PINCHme-branded gift box in three to seven days. The offers refresh every Tuesday, but before a consumer can select more items, they have to answer a mini-questionnaire of six questions, anytime within a 30-day window after receiving their package. Reid claims the completion rate in the Australian test market is an impressive 94 percent. Consumers can even make a follow-up purchase right from the survey website … and may be incented to do so with special offers from the Brands.

And, of course, all this is tightly integrated with social media, encouraging the consumers to share their discoveries with their networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and all the usual suspects.

Proof of success back in Australia comes from the Brands themselves: Nestle is already on its eighth campaign, and P&G is on its 10th.

Pinchme-graphics

The big news for consumers is that they can pre-register now for the upcoming US launch, simply by going to pinchme.com. So if you like the idea of trying new things, and love the idea of doing it for free, you might want to check it out …

… and let us know how you like the service. – JTS

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Niche and Innovation: Simplicity Sofas Puts the Pieces Together

In brand-building, innovation, retail on September 24, 2013 at 7:59 am

by Jeff Sandgren

The Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, formed by Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, was once the dominant hub of furniture manufacturing in the US. High Point still tags itself as the “Furniture Capital of the World,” boasting some of the largest showrooms in the country; but the manufacturing core that fills them has moved offshore to lower cost facilities in Asia. Much of the area now has a ghost town feel, with shuttered factories – and shuttered local businesses that once thrived when furniture-making drove a vibrant local economy.

In the middle of this arid business landscape is a bright, thriving oasis of success: Simplicity Sofas. Starting with a small factory in High Point in 2007, they’ve already had to relocate to a bigger facility to keep up with the demand for their specialized product, shipping more than $4 million of furniture to thousands of customers … without a single negative review. Along the way they’ve been a finalist for the Customer Experience Innovation Awards, received two “Best of Market” awards at the International Home Furnishings Market, and been recognized with a $20,000 Grand Prize as Small Business Innovator of the Year. All without moving out of town.

How have they pulled off this commercial miracle?

The answer is twofold: niche and innovation. Back in 2003 designer/inventor/master craftsman Glenn Laughlin and furniture industry veteran Jeff Frank teamed up to create a line of high quality, quick-assembly upholstered furniture that fits into small rooms and tight entranceways where normal furniture cannot go. Glenn and Jeff spent four years perfecting the revolutionary technology and building the first prototypes. Locating in High Point has allowed them to tap into a deep local talent pool. They custom build one piece at a time using solid oak frames, and back their product with a lifetime warranty.

I experienced the ingenuity of this solution firsthand a year ago, when I ordered a full-sized couch, oversized chair and storage ottoman from them. The whole shipment arrived in the back of a van, with room to spare. Because we’re local, a company employee delivered it and assembled the furniture in our living room, in less than 15 minutes. For those outside of the Piedmont Triad, they offer free catalogs and fabric swatches, and shipping across the US.

Dawson and Sydney, furniture installation experts

Dawson and Sydney, furniture installation experts

Watching the assembly process, I realized that I could just as easily have done it myself – and that’s saying a lot, since I’m all thumbs. See for yourself: here’s a video of an 8-year-old boy assembling a couch in less than five minutes. Not impressed?  Then how about a 7-year-old girl assembling a chair in a minute? Go, Sydney!

This fall, the company is innovating into another ‘tight spot’: the RV (recreational vehicle) market. Simplicity began to hear of customers who were installing their furniture in RVs, easily navigating the extremely narrow door width and avoiding the headaches and cost of the previous solution. The old way? Remove the windshield. No wonder they love Simplicity Sofas. But what the RV enthusiasts said they really wanted was a convertible sofa bed that could fit into the same tight spot.

So Simplicity Sofas innovated for this new niche, designed one, perfected it and launched it earlier this month at the largest RV show in the country, the Annual Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show in Hershey, PA, drawing more than 40,000 attendees. It takes a little longer to assemble, and probably isn’t a project to delegate to the children, but it’s still … simplicity.

Jeff Frank, President Simplicity Sofas

Jeff Frank, President
Simplicity Sofas

“Everything we develop is designed to meet an existing need,” said President Jeff Frank. “Our sectional sofa is another example. We had a customer whose family room was at the end of a particularly difficult staircase, so even our sofa couldn’t navigate the turn. We went back to the drawing board and developed an easy-to-assemble sectional [just see Sydney’s video] that solved their problem. Today they’re another happy customer, and we’ve got another successful product line.”

Therein lays perhaps the simple key to Simplicity Sofa’s success: fanatical devotion to understanding and satisfying their customers. They listen to customers, innovate designs to solve problems no one else addresses, and then delight buyers every time – all right here in the former heartland of American furniture making. As William Shatner (yes that William Shatner) recently observed, “Simplicity Sofas furniture boldly goes where no furniture has gone before.”

And by the way, I love my sofa.  Maybe too much. – JTS

New Valassis Survey Reveals Fresh Insights on Millennials’ Shopping Behaviors

In brand-building, mobile & tablets, retail, Shopper Marketing on September 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm

by Jeff Sandgren

This week Valassis released the results of its Sixth Annual RedPlum® Purse String Survey, to gain insight from today’s shoppers and learn more about their shopping behaviors – especially where and how they look for deals. The study, based on insights from more than 5,100 respondents, found something surprising about Millenials in particular: although they are more ardent digital devotees (no surprise there), they prefer good old paper coupons.

Lisa Reynolds, Valassis Vice President of Consumer Engagement

Lisa Reynolds, Valassis Vice President of Consumer Engagement

“The RedPlum Purse String Survey results are somewhat counter intuitive from what you might expect based on what we know about Millennials,” said Lisa Reynolds, Valassis Vice President of Consumer Engagement. “While they are heavy digital users, this group also embraces tried and true methods for savings, as much as any other age group … they area a true testament to the use of savings from both print and digital sources.”

Perhaps most surprisingly, 51 percent of Millenials indicated that print is their first choice for savings. Unlike other groups, they rely slightly more on in-store coupons and deals than retail circulars; but like other groups, their top four sources are newspaper, emails/coupon alerts, Internet searches and their mailbox.

We wanted to learn more, so we were fortunate enough to get some Q&A time with Lisa Reynolds. Here’s what she had to say.

BTN: Millennials are seen as being less brand loyal than other demographics.  What strategies do your most recent findings suggest for Retailers and CPGs to at least hold ‘share of wallet’ with this segment?

LR: When asked to self-identify as promotion sensitive, price conscious, brand loyal or time crunched, Millennials like all other respondents indicated they were promotion sensitive (69 percent  versus all respondents 75 percent). Given their desire to seek out savings from a variety of sources and the multitude of influencers along the path to purchase, retailers and CPGs must utilize an omni-channel approach, using not only digital but also print and in-store initiatives to reach this consumer.

BTN: You mention various vehicles for conveying offers – have you observed any correlation between offers types and conveyances?  i.e., what types of offers work best as retail circular deals versus mobile coupons?

LR: While we didn’t specifically ask a question correlating offer type, what we do know is that Millennials use their smartphones to a higher degree for savings and in a variety of ways. For example, 45 percent (compared to 24 percent all respondents) of Millennials accessed a coupon in an email on their smartphone; 38 percent downloaded a savings app (versus 21 percent of all respondents); and 36 percent compared deals on their phone (versus 20 percent overall). The RedPlum Purse String Survey also found that these promotion-sensitive Millennials are getting their savings the same way as all other consumers across age groups and income levels with 51 percent indicating newspaper is their first choice for savings.

BTN: You note several differences between Millennials and all age groups.  What trends are you observing in these gaps – are Millenials pulling away from the herd and becoming more distinctive in their behaviors over time, or are any other age groups (if so, which) becoming more like Millenials, closing those gaps?

LR: The RedPlum Purse String Survey confirmed Millennials’ penchant for all things digital. They are leading the way using more mobile coupons and using their smart phones to access a coupon in an email, a coupon code, compare deals and download a coupon to a loyalty card. These trends will continue. We also found some distinctions between the Haves (those with an income over $60,000) versus the Have-Nots (those with an income under $60,000). Haves spend about 10 percent less time looking for deals to achieve the same savings. Both use their savings for basic necessities; the Have-Nots to a higher degree (65 percent versus 52 percent for Haves). Next, the Haves use their savings on dining out while the Have-Nots put it toward paying down debt. As a result, besides groceries, the Haves are more interested in coupons and deals on dining out and entertainment.

BrandTech News View: Regardless of demographic, consumers embracing digital coupons still rely heavily on paper coupons. Wise retailers and brand marketers need to tightly integrate their omni-channel offers and messages to make sure they engage all consumers at the Zero Moment of Truth.

BrandTech News Q&A with CoreBrand CEO James Gregory

In Apple, brand-building on September 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm

One of our preferred sources for updates on big brands is CoreBrand’s BrandPower reports.  CoreBrand specializes in helping organizations understand, define, express and leverage their brands for measurable results. They offer practical and applicable brand research, valuation, strategy, identity systems and management. Independent since their founding 40 years ago, CoreBrand focuses on using brand as a business asset to improve corporate value.Jim Gregory 01 (Square)

We recently spoke with CoreBrand’s CEO, James Gregory, about their latest Brand Respect report, just published in August. Jim is the founder of CoreBrand, and the creator of the Corporate Branding Index®, an annual research survey designed to capture vital reputation and financial statistics for CoreBrand’s various measurement products. The Brand Respect report factors in ‘familiarity and favorability’ to identify the most-respected and least-respected brands, based on a survey of a large panel of business executives.

BTN: What common characteristics do you see in the Top Ten Most Respected Brands that place them so highly?

JG: If I could put it into a single word I would say “consistency” — Consistency of vision and communication, consistency of business processes, consistency of the culture within the company are all keys to getting the most out of your brand building efforts.

BTN: What do you think is keeping Apple out of the Top Ten, and/or what could they do to move to the head of the class?

JG: Apple is not universally loved except by those us who are brand zealots. Certainly Apple has been moving up over the years and is doing very, very well as a brand but it has not yet achieved the Top Ten status among the business leaders we survey.

BTN: Do you see a relationship between the Favorability decline and the rising influence of Millennials and their notorious lack of brand loyalty?

JG: Certainly something has been putting downward pressure on Favorability. We look at inflection points such as when did all of this start and we can trace it back to 2003-2004 when Sarbanes-Oxley was enacted holding management more accountable for their financial statements. We have not arrived at a conclusion as to the drivers of the decline — certainly Millennials may play a role in the decline of Favorability.

BTN: Your report mentions that Delta and Best Buy, while among the least respected, are on the rise.  Can you offer any insights or examples on what they’ve been doing that may be contributing to that rise?

JG: The “Least Respected” list represented companies with the greatest divergence between Familiarity and Favorability. Best Buy is going through a major reinvention of its brand and we’re watching it closely to see if it has traction. Delta has nearly universal Familiarity but quite low Favorability for a company of that size. Delta’s merger with Northwest and their rebranding efforts are starting to show signs of improving the brand, but they have a long way to grow. Also, this was not a reflection about their customer service but rather about three attributes of Favorability including: Overall Reputation, Perception of Management, and Investment Potential. The airlines industry scores very poorly on Investment Potential and all companies within the airline industry could use more respect.

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