This post is by Reynold D'Silva, group head, FMCG / CPG, Tech, Telco, Auto, Media / Entertainment at Facebook Singapore.
When cities in Asia start creating separate pedestrian lanes for people who walk looking down at their mobile screens, we know we are truly in the age of the mobile-first generation.
By 2020, 80% of consumers in Asia will own mobile phones, the majority of which will be smartphones. All these devices can and will be connected to the internet and for the majority of people they will be the main channel of internet access and digital media consumption.
Mobile-first consumers already spend from 37% to 90% more time on their mobile screens than they do watching TV screens. But with this increase in time spent comes a reduction in attention spans and a desire for instant gratification.
Craig Mod is a product designer (best known for his work on Flipboard) and one of my heroes. Recently, I rediscovered a brilliant article he wrote a few years ago called 'Subcompact Publishing'. It's a rather wonderful rant about the stupidity of digital magazines.
He poses a simple question: physical magazines and books are simple to use. So why are most digital magazines and books so complicated that you need a set of instructions? Why do they take forever to download? Why are they full of motion graphics and video that get in the way of the experience rather than enhancing it?
Craig thinks the answer is down to a tendency that can be seen in Homer Simpson's car, The Homer. Given the chance to design his dream car, Homer just adds more and more layers of stuff on top of everything cars have ever offered. More horns, more cup holders, more soundproof bubbles for children and sisters-in-law.
There's a lot of talk about the 'new normal' in China. And with the slowdown now percolating every corner of Chinese life, one is left with a palpable sense that, from consumers, the 'new normal' calls for 'more value'.
There was a time, several years ago amid the double-digit growth era, when the deep frugality of Chineseness almost gave way to financial flippancy. People were so confident of the future that the cost of things was rendered not unimportant, but less relevant. When everything is going up, what matters is what it will be worth, not what it costs now.
With steadily declining GDP growth rates and two severe down-jolts in the Shanghai share market, the value 'reflex' is back in the forefront of the Chinese mind. And in the context of the highly anticipated 'rerise' of China, it makes for unusual headlines.
Advertising has benefited significantly from the application of Daniel Kahneman's research into behavioural economics. However, Kahneman is not the only Nobel Laureate that advertising should look to for inspiration. Konrad Lorenz's work, for which he was awarded the Noble Prize in 1973, deserves more attention than it currently receives as it has direct relevance to marketing.
In Lorenz's most famous experiment he split a batch of Greylag geese eggs into two. One set, the control, was raised by their mother while the experimental set was exposed to no-one else but Lorenz. The goslings in the experimental set became deeply attached to Lorenz; to all intents and purpose he became their mother figure. They followed him wherever he went and mimicked his behaviour. When, after a few days, they were introduced to their mother they showed no sign of recognition.
From this experiment, and others like it, Lorenz developed the theory of imprinting. He hypothesised that there was a short window of open-ness, roughly 32 hours for geese, in which basic characteristics and behaviours could be shaped. Outside of that window habits became solidified and no amount of hectoring could change them.
In many ways consumers are like those geese. There are short windows of opportunity in which brands have a good chance of influencing behaviour.
When we first began to replicate reality at reasonable resolution, it was such a novelty we confused it with the real thing.
Famously, early moving pictures of trains speeding towards the camera would frighten audiences so much they would leap from their seats. Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio broadcast sent the populace into paroxysms of hysteria.
When everything you experience is real, you assume reality. Jean Baudrillard predicted the counter position – when more of existence was mediated than not, as a 'hyperreality', where we can't tell the difference between illusion and everyday experiences.
We now consume media more than doing anything else, including sleep. The illusory power of verisimilitude is still strong – the suspension of disbelief when watching film, the sense that the camera can't lie – but the modern media literate knows to trust nothing he or she sees. Photoshopped, framed, edited and excluded, all media is susceptible to manipulation, in manifold ways. The assumption of truth becomes the suspicion of falsehood.
One major accusation levelled at the pollsters in their failure to correctly predict the likely outcome of the UK general election back in May was that their incorrect forecasts influenced both the intentions of voters, and the strategies of the political parties.
Recently, I've seen two further examples of how we have to think carefully about the consequences, intended or unintended, when conducting research.
The first echoes the issues surrounding political opinion polls. As you probably know, the heat is already being turned up under the 2016 presidential election in the USA, especially with the first round of TV debates by prospective Republican contenders' launching their primary campaigns producing a lot of contentious statements and debate. It's a blog post by John Dick (CEO CivicScience, Pittsburgh) warning pollsters of the dangers posed by the 'audience reach' of findings based on inadequate samples which can become disproportionately high due to media coverage. In support of his case, Dick cites two recent USA national surveys designed to study political attitudes of Republicans based on samples of 252 (Wall Street Journal) and 423 (Monmouth University).
One of the longest-standing criticisms of advertising is its unhealthy fascination with youth. The majority of campaigns target the under 55s and a disproportionate number of brands focus on the under 35s.
Why are marketers so obsessed with targeting the young when older groups tend to be wealthier? According to the Daily Telegraph the over 50s account for 40% of the population but hold 80% of the wealth. Not only are older groups wealthier but they are also growing in number: data from nVision shows that there are 11m over 65s, an increase of 17% versus 2003.
Bob Hoffman, one of the most insightful advertising commentators, is scathing: "There is only one type of person confused enough [to ignore the over 50 market] – a marketing person".
This post is by José Carlos González-Hurtado, President of IRI International.
Even the most price-focused brands have come to understand the importance of customer loyalty in recent years. Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair – once famous for its stark approach to customer service – recently credited its 25% profit increase to the "enhanced customer experience" it now offers. Discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl have also realised that low prices are no longer enough to keep customers returning.
Many FMCG retailers still have a long way to go when it comes to making customer loyalty a priority, however. As margins are eroded, price wars break out and online retailers and discounters rise, growing sales by building and sustaining a base of loyal customers is critical. Yet retailers are failing to make use of the rich consumer data they have ready access to, applying it primarily to inform short-term price and promotions activities.
FMCG product manufacturers, on the other hand, have spent years building strategic, analytical and consumer-focused organisations, with the aim of long-term retention of their hard-won customers.
McArthur Wheeler’s infamous career as a bank robber was short-lived. He robbed two Pittsburgh banks on single day in 1995 – but didn’t keep the money for long. Rather than using a mask, as tradition dictates, he had the misguided idea of rubbing lemon juice on his face. He mistakenly believed that since it was used in invisible ink it would prevent security cameras from recording him. The police caught Wheeler on the day of the robbery and he was soon sentenced to 24 years in prison.
The story of the failed robbery is of interest to marketers as it inspired two Cornell psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, to come up with an important insight into human behaviour.
The psychologists wondered how such an inept criminal could think that he had the necessary skill to successfully evade capture? More importantly they decided to test whether this lack of self-knowledge was widespread. They recruited students to take a series of maths and grammar tests and then asked them to predict how well they would do compared to their peers.
This post is by Sam Farrand, account/planning director at the7stars.
BT is attempting to buy EE for a reported £12.5bn. The deal, should it go through, represents the latest move within the utilities industry to shore up a company's position across multiple products, bundle them up and sell customers a suite of services.
Big money acquisitions only represent the crest of the wave: Sky offers its customers TV, a phone line, broadband and mobile; Vodafone provides Spotify Premium as part of its higher price contract bundles; and even energy companies such as Southern Electric are now offering products as diverse as broadband on top of power supply. In short, bundling is big business.
However, in the media world there are hints of a very different future, one where content is being actively 'unbundled', with veteran market-disruptor Apple leading the charge. CBS CEO Les Moonves views Apple as 'trying to change the universe' – the universe in question being the traditional satellite or cable subscription TV model.