Brands face Russian crisis

23 December 2014
MOSCOW: A rapid decline in the value of the rouble is seriously affecting the operations of many Western brands in Russia, with some pushing up their prices and others temporarily suspending sales.

Apple has done both in the space of a few days, the tech giant having stopped all trading on its Russia website last week "due to extreme fluctuations in the value of the rouble", and subsequently adding a 35% price increase to its iPhones to follow a 25% increase in November. The rouble price of an iPhone has now risen 69% in less than a month, Bloomberg reported.

The falling value of the rouble not only pushes up the cost of imported goods, but also adversely impacts overall sales figures when translated back into the currencies of a parent company. According to the Financial Times, a report from Citi bank suggests that, outside of those businesses operating directly in the financial sector, drinks companies are most exposed.

Two examples of this are brewer Carlsberg and soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic, for both of which Russia accounts for more than 30% of sales.

"Pretty much every company with international aspirations has been looking at Russia," said Freddie George, retail analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald. "But it's not the attractive market it once was." He added that he did not expect the current issues to be resolved any time soon, meaning that many retailers would delay expansion plans.

In further evidence of the extent of the crisis, Carlos Ghosn, chief executive Renault-Nissan has stopped all car sales in Russia, describing the commercial situation there as "a bloodbath".

But sales of luxury vehicles experienced a short-term boom, with Moscow car dealers reporting they had run out of stock as buyers raced to convert depreciating roubles into tangible assets before prices rose further.

"New cars will be manufactured in March, so you'll be able to get one in April," according to a manager at one Moscow Porsche showroom.

Data sourced from Bloomberg, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Russia Today; additional content by Warc staff


Britons fund leisure with cheaper food

23 December 2014
LONDON: Britons' spending on leisure activities is growing between five and seven times faster than that on groceries according to new research which suggests that they are using the savings on the latter to fund the former.

According to Barclaycard, the credit card provider, consumer spending in the UK has risen 3.3% during 2014, but certain categories have grown significantly faster, the Telegraph reported. Spending on restaurants has leapt ahead 14.6%, for example, while entertainment is up 11.3%.

In contrast, grocery spending, at 2.1% was one of the three weakest performing categories; only furniture and petrol retailing were worse.

Barclaycard said this reflected the fact that consumers were "squeezing the best value from their essential purchases", with discounters Aldi and Lidl continuing to take market share.

A recent survey by Marketing Sciences for the Guardian found that one in four people were more likely than last year to shop over Christmas at one of these two German supermarket chains, while one in ten planned to do their main Christmas food shop there.

"The real trend is promiscuity," observed Andrew Stevens, a retail analyst at Verdict, who said that shoppers were switching across all the brands.

Barclaycard also noted that UK households had adopted a "smaller, but more often" approach. Average spend per transaction was down 3.7% in 2014 but the overall number of transactions was up 7.4%.

"The value-seeking behaviour that we saw take hold in the tough economic times has become entrenched and we've seen consumers responsibly balancing the books by cutting back in one area to spend in another," said Val Soranno Keating, Barclaycard's chief executive.

"I suspect it's a behaviour we'll continue to see until meaningful wage growth," she added.

Data sourced from Daily Telegraph, Guardian; additional content by Warc staff


4A's breaks ranks on viewability

23 December 2014
NEW YORK: The American Association of Advertising Agencies will not endorse new IAB guidelines on the viewability of online ads according to reports.

A week ago the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) published a position paper in which it called on the industry to move to a "70% viewability threshold" in 2015, when 70% of ads would meet agreed viewability standards

These require that at least 50% of each display ad is visible on screen for a minimum of one second and at least half of a video ad must be on screen for at least two seconds.

"It's time to set the record straight about what is technically and commercially feasible, in order to get ourselves on an effective road to 100% viewability and greater accountability for digital media," Randall Rothenberg, IAB president and CEO, said then, adding that 100% viewability was "currently unreasonable" because of the variety of ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors and measurement methodologies made it impossible to achieve common numbers.

But the Wall Street Journal said that the 4A's had sent a letter to some of its members at the end of the week in which it stated it would "not endorse" this approach.

And Todd Gordon, evp at media agency Magna Global, was emphatic: "Running a campaign and paying for 30% of the ads not being viewable isn't acceptable to us or our clients," he said.

Last month FMCG group Unilever set its own viewability standards, requiring that 100% of an ad must be viewable in a browser; and for video, a person must click to start it rather than having it play automatically, and then they must play at least half the ad with the sound on.

Measurement issues appeared in a different guise in a new report from the video ad targeting platform, Clearstream. It suggested that 55% of video ads bought using real-time bidding are "misaligned", in that what an advertiser believes it has purchased (a video ad, say, 600x400 in size, supporting flash, positioned above the fold on a US site) is not what he actually receives (with at least one of the stated data points being wrong).

A source told MediaPost part of the problem is that there is no standard definition for video sizes and what exactly constitutes "small", "medium" and "large".

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff


'Depth deficits' in marketing research

23 December 2014
NEW YORK: "Depth deficits" and an aversion to risk are limiting the advertising industry's "collective imagination", according to Gerald Zaltman, a leading professor at Harvard Business School.

Zaltman assessed the relationship between facts and insights in marketing research for his paper "Are You Mistaking Facts for Insights? Lighting up Advertising's Dark Continent of Imagination", published in the winter issue (Volume 54, Number 4) of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR),

More specifically, he tapped into 19 years of results drawn from the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET), a tool introduced in 1995 to explore how unconscious thinking drives behaviour.

Based on this data, Zaltman, the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School, argued there is "a lack of careful reflection and bold thinking with rich customer information".

More specifically, certain sub-optimal characteristics typically dominate current practice, including "the failure to go beyond customers' own surface thinking".

Other common problems include "the failure to use insights from different disciplines to understand research issues and interpret facts" and "the absence of bold, imaginative thinking about what can engage a customer's mind".

The flaws, Zaltman explained, "often reflect an organisational climate that encourages strip-mining research techniques to confirm existing ideas while discouraging approaches that help to read between the lines of customer thought and to ignite new communication ideas.

"Managers and researchers can avoid mistaking facts for insights by being more attentive to what and how they think about customer data. This will help light up advertising's dark continent of imagination."

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by Warc staff


Affluent optimism grows

23 December 2014
NEW YORK: Affluent Americans are not planning on spending more individually this holiday season, but their overall numbers have grown significantly since last year and a new survey consequently expects a positive holiday result for retailers.

The latest quarterly Ipsos Affluent Barometer, a study tracking the lives and spending habits of Americans with at least $100,000 in annual household income, found that 49% of Affluent Americans were optimistic about the US economy, up from 45% in Q3. This attitude was particularly strong among Affluent men, Affluent Millennials, and Ultra Affluents.

Overall, the survey said that Affluents anticipated spending an average of $1,939 on holiday gifts this season, and while this figure was comparable to 2013, the total Affluent population had grown 8% in 2014.

The result, according to Dr. Stephen Kraus, Chief Insights Officer for the Ipsos Affluent Survey, has been "continued 'expansion without dilution' of the Affluent market – five million more Affluents than last holiday season, earning and spending at the same levels. In terms of aggregate spending by the Affluent population, the prospects are bright for a happy holiday season."

This was especially evident in the near doubling of the proportion of Affluents preparing to purchase a high-end gift: 48% in 2014 compared to just 25% in 2013.

Vacations (on the giving list for 22% of Affluents), fragrances/colognes over $30 (17%), and smartphones (13%) were all popular options that were significantly up from a year ago.

As well as buying trips for others the survey said that more than half of Affluents planed to travel at the holiday season, including 42% planning to travel for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, and 28% planning to travel for New Year.

One in ten purchases by this group are made by mobile device, double that among younger Affluent Millennials. Otherwise holiday purchases are split evenly between retail stores (45%) and computer (44%).

Evan Borak, Head of Ipsos MediaCT's Audience Measurement Group, observed that one quarter of the population held three quarters of the net worth. "Affluent spending is a crucial factor in mainstream categories as well as luxury ones, both in the holiday season and throughout the year," he said.

"With the growing size and spending power of the Affluent population, every marketer in every category needs an Affluent strategy," he added.

Data sourced from Ipsos; additional content by Warc staff


WOM drives India auto market

23 December 2014
CHENNAI: Indian car buyers tend to visit car dealerships only to validate prior research including recommendations from family and friends, according to a new study.

A report from consultants Deloitte – Driving through the consumer's mind: Steps in the buying process – was based on a survey of 1,813 adults across India, of whom more than 1,500 were car owners.

This found that word of mouth was the most important source of information, the Times of India reported, with social media and sales people at dealerships having relatively little influence despite the efforts manufacturers made here.

More than half those surveyed spent up to ten hours researching which car they wanted to buy, but they were less keen on talking to a dealer: half wanted to spend as little as 45 minutes at a car dealer's. Having made the decision to go to a dealer, however, most (70%) took a test drive.

Male customers typically spend more time on research than female, the report said, and older Generation X buyers spend much more time on research then the younger Generation Y.

Deloitte highlighted the finding that less than 20% of customers conducted research on all the brands they had in their initial purchase consideration set and suggested that potential buyers had a shortlist in mind very early in the process.

This view was given added weight as more than 50% of people considering three or fewer brands for purchase were found not to carry out research for even a single car brand.

Customers readily endorsed products to their family and friends, even those which they did not themselves own. More than half of respondents who considered four or more brands recommended at least one which was different to what they had. And more than 40% of respondents considering three brands recommended at least one non-owned brand to others.

Focus on reference from existing customers, Deloitte recommended: "Given the influence they can have over their friends/relatives, getting them to be the brand ambassadors would be of critical importance." 

Data sourced from Times of India, Deloitte; additional content by Warc staff


China's millennial mums spend big

23 December 2014
HONG KONG: The Christmas shopping bug is leading some millennial mothers in China to spend up to $1,300 on gifts for their child, according to new figures.

Seasonal research from the Dentsu Aegis Network suggests there will be a significant level of indulgence by young mothers on their offspring across Asia this December. But the China figure is dwarfed by spending in more developed markets – comparable figures for the UK are $3,113 and for the US $10,000.

Writing in Campaign Asia-Pacific, Marie Gruy, Dentsu's Asia Pacific director of insight, said that these figures included even those whose household income was below national norms.

Millennial mothers in Indonesia were not far behind China in this analysis, with spending per child set to be just $100 less, at up to $1,214. For Singapore, the figure was $907 per child and for the Philippines $672.

Branded goods were twice as important for mothers in Asian markets. Where just 21% of millennials mums in the UK and 26% in the US indicated to Dentsu that their children only wanted well-known brands, that proportion was over half in Asia.

It was highest in China, at 57%, with the other three countries considered more or less equal, at 53% for both Indonesia and Singapore, and 52% of the Philippines.

In terms of what branded toys were being sought, Lego remains popular after 50 years, with, for example, 14% of Singapore mothers buying this. Barbie dolls also retain their appeal for around one quarter of all millennial mothers.

More recent items relating to the animated Disney film Frozen are present on the shopping lists of 16% of millennial mothers around the world.

These figures highlight another trend recognised by Denstu – traditional gifts such as building blocks and dolls are being widely given rather than digital treats. Less than 10% of mothers in Asian markets planned on giving digital gifts, down to just 3% in China; this compared with 25% in the UK and the US.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff


Convenience draws online shoppers

22 December 2014
LONDON: The convenience of online shopping has encouraged more than 60% of British and American consumers to do their holiday shopping via the internet this year, up from 50% in 2013, a new survey has revealed.

Based on the opinions of 2,000 adults in the UK and US, technology consultants Wipro Digital said consumers are choosing convenience over price as their top reason for shopping online.

This requires brands to compete on experience, not just price, the report said, especially as less than 10% of the survey respondents think prices are more competitive in-store or that sales staff are sufficiently knowledgeable.

Only slightly more think physical stores provide a more personalised experience and parking turns out to be another disincentive as nearly half expect to have trouble trying to find a parking space.

"This holiday season, it looks as if physical stores have not yet done enough to draw consumers into their stores," said Avinash Rao, global head at Wipro Digital.

"Improving the in-store experience, for example by offering virtual wardrobes side-by-side with displays, could give consumers a reason to reverse the trend of shopping more online.

"Either way, businesses which can deliver experiences based on deep insight into customer journeys will stand out."

However, on a more positive note for bricks-and-mortar retailers, over 80% of shoppers say they would like to be able to match an in-store promotion when shopping online. The trouble is 60% expect that would be difficult to do.

Also, the phenomena of "showrooming" and "webrooming" is not expected to feature much this holiday season because less than 5% plan to research in-store and then buy online, or research online and then buy in-store.

"While we see an increase in online shopping at this time of year, people are still looking for the best way to combine online and offline experiences," Rao concluded.

"Brands that can peel apart all the interactions that form a customer journey and offer what customers want are the ones who will succeed not only this holiday but going forward."

Data sourced from Wipro Digital; additional content by Warc staff


Wearables market grows threefold

22 December 2014
GOTHENBURG: Shipments of connected wearable devices more than tripled in 2014 to 19m units, up from 5.9m in 2013, and they are expected to reach 168m units in 2019, a new study has forecast.

Swedish research firm Berg Insight said fitness and activity trackers were the largest category in 2014, recording shipments of 13m units, but that the market has now become very competitive with the entry of major technology companies.

"This product category is now facing fierce competition from smartwatches that have activity tracking features," said Johan Svanberg, senior analyst at Berg Insight.

But, he predicted: "Decreasing prices and new form factors will still enable dedicated fitness and activity trackers to reach shipments of 42m units in 2019."

Sales of this new generation of smartwatches include Android Wear versions from Asus, LG, Motorola and Sony, which were launched in 2014, as well as the Apple Watch, which will enter the market in 2015.

Other major smartphone vendors are expected to follow, but traditional watch vendors also intend to compete in the coming years as they launch traditionally styled watches with basic smartphone notification features.

Although currently the second largest category of connected wearables, smartwatches are anticipated to become the largest category by 2019, the report said.

The market for smart glasses has been "very modest" so far, the report went on, but it is expected to become the third largest category in the next five years as the devices fill niche segments of the consumer market.

Smart glasses also have a place in specific work roles, such as medical treatment and particular enterprises.

"The opportunities are plentiful," said Svanberg. "Improved imaging capability together with hands-free operation, real-time communication and augmented reality functionality would, for example, make smart glasses a serious contender on the action camera market."

Data sourced from Berg Insight; additional content by Warc staff


TV-generated tweets impact brands

22 December 2014
NEW YORK: Marketers often hear about the impact of digital offerings such as Twitter and Instagram in terms of numbers, but brand guardians can also now move away from volume and start assessing the value of such social-media engagement.

In the winter edition of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR), Judit Nagy (FOX Broadcasting Co.) and Anjali Midha (Twitter) introduce the concept of an "earned audience", or users exposed to tweets about TV programs and their sponsors on Twitter.

And the research demonstrates what the authors believe is untapped marketing potential for programmers and advertisers.

"The Value of Earned Audiences: How Social Interactions Amplify TV Impact: What Programmers and Advertisers Can Gain from Earned Social Impressions" was one of several research papers in a special "How Earned Media Works in Advertising" section.

In their analysis, Nagy and Midha write: "A fast-developing area of study covers the relationship between social media and television - frequently referred to as social television - describing the impact of television on social-media behaviors (and vice versa).

"The most prevalent, most measureable outcome from the interaction between these channels is television viewers taking to social media to share their reactions to television content, essentially participating in a 'social-soundtrack' supplement to the big screen."

But the new study also demonstrates that, beyond programming comments, user-generated tweets about brands "meaningfully influence behavior related to the sponsors of television programs, prompting more than half of the 'earned audiences' to take a multitude of further actions across various social-media platforms or search solutions."

One key JAR takeaway for marketers was that tweets sent during original TV programs can be "very significant levers" in driving awareness, interest, actions and engagement with advertisers.

Another was that exposure to "tweets about television triggers action: people seek out and engage with content".

They also generate additional earned impressions across a variety of social-media platforms, the study revealed.

Data sourced from Warc


Upbeat auto industry looks to 2015

22 December 2014
WASHINGTON, DC: Following a number of difficult years, carmakers in the US are upbeat about their prospects for 2015 as the economy continues to improve and falling petrol prices mean consumers have more disposable income.

Speaking to AFP, industry insiders from some of the largest car companies in America agreed the outlook is very promising and they're looking forward to strong sales.

They also observed that consumers are beginning to shift their choice of vehicle because lower prices at the pump are making fuel efficiency less of an issue.

Doug Handler, an economist with IHS Global Insight, said that over the coming year "consumer spending on gasoline will be about $92bn less, at around $750 per household".

Meanwhile, the US auto industry posted its best November sales figures in a decade and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has forecast that US sales will reach 16.3m this year, rising to 16.6m in 2015.

"Based on recent data, consumer spending is poised to make 2015 the best year for the economy since 2005," said Richard Curtin, director of surveys at the UMTRI.

With the price of petrol at its lowest level in half a decade, some carmakers reported that consumers are turning away from diesel to less fuel-efficient vehicles.

Volkswagen spokesman Mark Gillies said that the percentage of diesel vehicles that the German automaker sold has dropped over the last two months from 23% to 16%.

Toyota, too, has seen a change as sales of its hybrid Prius dropped 13.5% in November and are down 11% for the year.

It comes as new data from industry consultants IHS Automotive revealed that no auto brand in the US now has more than 18% of the market, Automotive News reported.

GM's market share since 2000 has fallen from 28.2% to 17.6% while Ford's has fallen from 24.1% to 14.7% over the same period. Toyota has 14.5% market share while FCA, formerly known as Chrysler, now has 12.7%.

Of particular note for marketers, the IHS report said: "With no manufacturer accounting for more than 18% of the US market, the battle for consumer share will be fought on the marketing front more than ever before."

Data sourced from AFP, Reuters, Automotive News; additional content by Warc staff


Baidu plans Thai marketing push

22 December 2014
BEIJING/BANGKOK: Baidu, the largest search engine in China, intends to expand in Thailand next year and will increase its marketing budget significantly in support of that aim, one of the company's leading executives has said.

Richard Lee, director of international business development at Baidu, told The Nation that the company regards Thailand as an important market because of its fast-growing adoption of technology as well as its mobile internet usage.

"By next year, we will be more active in Thailand," Lee said. "We will have Baidu search-engine service for Thais and we will continue to heavily promote our existing services in Thailand.

"Next year, the marketing budget for Thailand is set to be rapidly increased by several times compared [with] the usual annual marketing budget."

Baidu, often referred to as China's Google, has been operating in Thailand for three years and views the country as an early step in its bid to expand into more than half the countries of the world by 2020.

It also operates in Indonesia and next year plans to open offices in India and Mexico.

However, the company was hit by a series of complaints from Thai internet users earlier this year after some computer stores pre-installed Baidu software without customers being made aware and it was claimed that slowed down their computers.

Commenting on the controversy, Lee said: "We realise that there was some negative feedback in the Thai market for some services that users might feel not comfortable using. It is because some of our local partners broke the rules to use inappropriate ways of expanding our services."

Baidu plans to make its search engine fully available for both personal computers and mobile devices while it also seeks to improve its communication to Thai consumers.

Data sourced from The Nation, Tech in Asia; additional content by Warc staff


US consumers need a faster web

22 December 2014
WASHINGTON DC: A significant proportion of US consumers have limited choice when it comes to the high-speed broadband which is required to meet the optimal functionality of popular applications, an official report has found.

As commerce and information increasingly moves online, this situation also risks further widening the digital divide, the US Commerce Department warned following an investigation into internet service speeds in the country.

It found 88% of the population have the choice of at least two mobile ISPs plus two or more fixed ISPs at downloads speeds of 3 megabits per second (Mbps), but this level is not fast enough to meet demand for video and other streaming services.

Speeds of at least 10 Mbps, which MediaPost reported Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler as saying should be regarded as the new definition of broadband, are available from two fixed ISPs and three mobile ISPs.

However, when it comes to speeds above 10 Mbps, only 37% of Americans have a choice of two or more fixed-service providers at speeds of 25 Mbps or greater.

This is the speed at which a 6-gigabyte movie can be downloaded in 16 minutes and only 9% of the population have three or more choices of provider at that level.

"We know that competition typically drives down prices," said Sue Helper, chief economist at the US Commerce Department. "And we also know that increasingly higher internet speeds are required for optimal functionality of popular, high-bandwidth computing applications.

"As more and more commerce and information move online, we risk further widening the digital divide if access to affordable, higher speed internet doesn't keep pace."

Data sourced from Commerce Department, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff


Indian FMCG brands are hopeful

22 December 2014
MUMBAI: The FMCG sector in India, which suffered during the economic downturn, should end the year on a positive note and can look forward to better trading conditions in 2015, industry executives and analysts have said.

After posting the decade's worst volume growth figures in 2014, FMCG brands are now expected to receive a lift from low inflation, falling energy prices and signs that spending is picking up in the cities, they told Livemint.

"The FMCG index usually reflects the consumer confidence index with a two-quarter lag. We will see consumption going up," said Piyush Mathur, president of Nielsen India, referring to the research firm's consumer confidence index of Q2 2014 which ranked Indian consumers as the most bullish in the world.

"By January, the trend will be more evident as we complete the six months' lag," he added, while noting that there was 10% value growth in October, up from 6% in the same period last year.

"There is hope now that the New Year will be better as the macro-economic factors have improved," agreed Pinaki [Ranjan] Mishra, a partner at consultancy firm EY.

Urban consumers, who Nielsen says account for $25bn out of the $37bn FMCG market, are likely to be the first to drive the revival with rural areas following up three to six months later.

Nielsen said in November that it expects FMCG market growth to increase to 10-11% in 2015, rising to 12-13% in 2016, and some industry observers believe food and groceries stand to gain as more consumers go shopping online.

"In the New Year, we will see the focus move to food and groceries in the ecommerce space as well as offline…66% of the total consumer spend is on food and groceries," said Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak Advisers, a retail consultancy.

C K Ranganathan, MD of CavinKare, the Chennai-based conglomerate, summed up the more buoyant mood among India's FMCG executives by saying 2014 is ending positively.

He said: "It was one of the worst years with growth rate being the lowest in the past decade. But it is ending on a positive note. The growth rate is picking up and costs are coming down. We can't ask for anything better."

Data sourced from Livemint; additional content by Warc staff


Advertisers seek control of digital ads

19 December 2014
LONDON: CMOs are increasingly turning to technology, not their agencies, in order to ensure success in digital advertising and achieve greater transparency in media buying, a new industry survey has revealed.

No less than 43% of advertisers plan to bring more responsibility for digital planning in-house within the next 12 months as only a quarter (27%) believe retaining the most talented media agency contributes to the success of their digital ad campaigns.

Furthermore, almost half (46%) of advertisers believe in-house technical knowledge is the most important factor for digital campaign success – and this rises to 56% of advertisers with budgets of more than £40m.

These are the key findings from a global survey of over 795 industry practitioners, including senior advertisers and agency workers, conducted by InSites Consulting on behalf of AudienceScience, the advertising technology and services company.

Insights from the study form part of the second annual International Media Image Survey (I-MIS), which is run in partnership with the International Advertising Association, Warc and M&M Global.

A perception that transparency in media trading has stayed the same or got worse is shared by more than two-thirds (69%) of advertisers and 43% of them believe there are still too many vendors and middlemen trading digital advertising space.

"Our research shows that although the way advertisers buy media is changing, opacity and complexity of media trading remain a major problem for the industry," said Mark Connolly, chief revenue officer and vp International at AudienceScience.

"Advertisers are starting to respond to this lack of transparency by taking ownership of their digital advertising away from media agencies and by adopting enterprise technology that ensures transparency and control in-house," he warned.

Specifically, 60% of brand advertisers believe improvements to the targeting of paid digital media is where the application of audience data has the greatest potential for making a positive marketing impact, the survey found.

And more than three-quarters (76%) of brand advertisers intend to plan and buy media across digital screens to target multiple device-using consumers more effectively.

Data sourced from AudienceScience; additional content by Warc staff


Marketing activity slows, budgets grow

19 December 2014
LONDON: Marketing activity growth declined in Europe and the Americas in December, bringing the latest headline Global Marketing Index (GMI) down 1.4 on its value in November, although this was partly offset by gains made in Asia-Pacific.

The Global Marketing Index, compiled by World Economics, provides a unique monthly indicator of the state of the global marketing industry because it tracks current conditions among marketers and their expectations in the three key areas of trading conditions, marketing budgets and staffing levels.

The headline GMI for December registered a value of 55.1, down from 56.5 last month, but all three regions remained in positive territory where a reading of 50 indicates no change.

Europe recorded 56.3, down 1.8 from its November reading of 58.1, which was still a good performance although it was another monthly fall from its peak of 60.2 in September.

The Americas recorded 53.2, down a more steep 2.7 from the 55.9 value the region reported in November. But Asia-Pacific remained more buoyant with a reading of 57.0, up 1.1 on its 55.9 value last month.

Trading conditions continued to be strong in December even though the index fell in all regions. Europe declined 2.6 points to register 58.8, Asia-Pacific dropped by 1.4 to 59.4 – itself a robust score – but the index fell a sharp 4.9 in the Americas to 54.1.

The index for global marketing budges rose by 0.4 to 53.8 and marketers in all regions reported that their budgets were continuing to grow, although there was a noticeable gap expanding between the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

Marketing budget growth in Asia-Pacific rose an impressive 5.5 points to 56.4 while the index for the Americas fell 1.5 to 50.5. Europe, meanwhile, fell by 0.7 to 55.3.

The index of staffing levels, the final element of the GMI, registered a value of 54.6 in December, down by 1.3 since November. Although all regions recorded a fall, the overall figure still indicated that marketing departments are recruiting staff.

On a regional basis, Europe registered a monthly fall of 1.8, the Americas 1.6, while Asia-Pacific saw a decline of 0.5.

Commenting on the report, World Economics chief executive Ed Jones said: "Decemberss Headline Global Marketing Index reading indicates marketing activity is rising across all regions with marketing budgets having increased every month for two years without pause."

Data sourced from Warc


US online ad revenue at all-time high

19 December 2014
NEW YORK: Internet advertising revenue in the US reached a record $12.4bn in Q3 2014, representing a year-on-year increase of 17%, according to the latest data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PwC US.

The figure also marked a 6.5% quarterly increase from Q2 2014, which delivered $11.7bn, and it topped the previous record of $12.1bn that was set in Q3 2013.

"This milestone demonstrates marketers' commitment to digital," said Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the IAB.

"Brands are tapping into the ubiquity of digital screens, now an undeniable vital part of consumers' lives, as they seamlessly move from smartphones to PCs to interactive televisions throughout the course of the day."

David Silverman, a partner at PwC US, added: "Interactive advertising is clearly maintaining its strong momentum. These figures directly reflect how brands are increasingly embracing digital as a must-have in their marketing mix."

Compiled from information supplied by companies selling advertising on the internet, the report includes search, display and other online media and it is issued twice a year. Top-line quarterly estimates are issued for the first and third quarters.

Warc's latest International Ad Forecast (a free sample of which can be downloaded here) expects US internet adspend will rise 15.9% annually in 2014, well ahead of the all-media growth of 5.4%.

US internet revenues should amount to some $49.6bn this year, just under a third of total advertising expenditure in the world's largest market. A further rise in internet adspend of 13.6% is forecast for 2015.

Data sourced from IAB, PwC; additional content by Warc staff


Tesla Motors is top US cultural brand

19 December 2014
LOS ANGELES: Electric car maker Tesla Motors has overtaken Google to be named as the most culturally vibrant brand in the US, according to the latest USA Cultural Traction report.

Now in its fourth year, the study was produced by strategic marketing firm Added Value, which questioned 7,500 US consumers about more than 70 brands in 14 sectors.

Consumers were asked to evaluate which brands projected the most Visionary, Inspiring, Bold and Exciting (VIBE) attributes, and Added Value said there have been several changes since last year.

As well as noting that Google has slipped from the top spot, the report said third-placed Amazon's VIBE had climbed 10% as it continued to extend its business into new areas, such as drones and mobile phones.

Apple, which was the top cultural brand in Added Value's inaugural report four years ago, was ranked fourth although it still "remains a strong force to contend with".

Samsung and Microsoft were ranked fifth and sixth respectively while Etsy, the online marketplace, came in seventh 

Etsy had managed to edge out rival eBay from the top ten because it offered a brand experience "that is more real, personal, and fun," the report said.

Sports brand Nike, Ford and Coca-Cola rounded out the top ten and the report highlighted Ford's category leadership in social as helping it to drive the brand forward.

"We're in an age where people seek a multiplicity of brand experiences, super-personalised connectivity, and deeper, more meaningful interactions with the world around them – including the brands they affiliate with," said Maggie Taylor, CEO of Added Value North America.

"Tesla, Google and Amazon stand apart from the pack as those best leveraging, even driving, these shifts in culture," she concluded.

Turning to some of the brands outside of the top ten, the report noted that Jaguar, the upmarket auto marque, posted the biggest gains in cultural traction over the past year after its marketing drew on its strong British heritage.

But Facebook's brand VIBE has fallen 25% since 2011 and retailer Target saw its cultural traction decline 27% since last year's report.

Data sourced from Added Value; additional content by Warc staff


FMCG sales growth slows in Asia

19 December 2014
SINGAPORE: Average FMCG sales growth in Asia Pacific slowed to 6.7% in 2013, declining further to 5.5% in Q1 2014 and 4.1% in Q2, the latest data from Nielsen has revealed.

The research firm's Asia Pacific Retail & Shopper Trends Report examined 13 markets in the region and also found that volume growth accounted for less than 3% of overall growth in 2013, falling to just 0.3% in Q2 2014.

By contrast, the region recorded robust sales growth of 12.4% in 2012 and 13.1% in 2011, leading Nielsen to suggest that consumption growth is adjusting to a more stable level, Mumbrella reported.

High inflation has hit consumer spending in a number of countries which are also witnessing longer-term trends, explained Peter Gale, Nielsen's MD of retailer services for Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Greater China.

He said these trends include decreasing household sizes, increasing household debt and consumers' prioritisation of spending on technology and out-of-home consumption.

"The lack of growth in FMCG is somewhat of an anomaly in a region where overall economic performance and forecasts remain relatively positive," he added.

He recommended retailers keep pace with consumers' basic expectations by offering competitive prices and greater convenience, improving their in-store experience and focusing on ranges that appeal to shoppers who are strapped for time.

On a more positive note, Nielsen noted that sales did not contract in Hong Kong and also attributed a significant proportion of what growth there was in the region to the rising influence of convenience stores and minimarkets.

This trend is being seen in both mature markets, especially South Korea and Taiwan, and the emerging markets of Indonesia and Thailand.

In addition, pharmacies and personal care outlets should continue to gain FMCG market share as more consumers visit each week, the report said.

Data sourced from Mumbrella, Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff


Purpose guides SunTrust

19 December 2014
BOCA RATON, FL: SunTrust, the banking group, believes finding a clear sense of purpose can help financial-services brands stand out in a category which frequently lacks meaningful differentiation.

Jeff Van De Velde, svp/director of client experience and loyalty and executive director/purpose integration at SunTrust, discussed this topic at The Market Research Event, a conference run by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

"There is a lot of this word 'purpose' in media these days," he conceded. (For more, including how the firm discovered its mission, read Warc's exclusive report: How SunTrust dug deep to mix purpose and profit.)

While this notion is a hot topic among marketers, Van De Velde suggested that banks had a particular incentive to foster emotional bonds with consumers.

"Banks are somewhat commoditised," he said. "Our products look a lot alike: they're named uniquely, but – pretty much – they are allowed to have the same things. So we needed to find something else to compete on."

In response, SunTrust has reconfigured its operations around a deeper set of motivations that could tangibly connect with both its own origins and current customer desires.

"We're going to try to transform our business from product-focused to client-focused, and figure out how to make money along the way," said Van De Velde.

"We believed that we could compete on a compelling 'why', if we could discover what that 'why' was."

Part of that process required reconnecting with the firm's long-term mission – with roots in the post-Civil War south to assisting companies like Coca-Cola and Walt Disney at important moments in their history.

"A lot of people that do this work say: 'The further you get from your start-up story, the less you are true and authentic to who you are.' So, we're 150 years away from our start-up story," said Van De Velde.

The organisation's fresh objectives are summed up with the aim to "Light the way to financial wellbeing", and was epitomised with the marketing tagline, "How can we help you shine today?"

Van De Velde said: "This is truly our purpose; this is what we now pursue ... If you were around at any time in the history of the company, they would say, 'Yeah, that's it.'"

Data sourced from Warc


Tech bridges India's urban-rural divide

19 December 2014
MUMBAI: Marketers often talk about a divide between rural and urban India, but a leading industry figure has argued that this is a myth and that the play between traditional and progressive mindsets is more significant.

As part of Warc's New perspectives on Indian youth series, Narayan Devanathan, executive vice president and national planning director at Dentsu India Group, drew on his own experiences of travelling around the country to suggest that young people everywhere have rapidly adopted the modern trappings of mobile technology, rendering their actual location increasingly irrelevant to marketers.

"India can no longer be suitably studied by demarcating geographic lines," he declares. The old idea of segmenting youth markets along regional and linguistic lines is no longer particularly relevant in the new digital age.

"More relevant," says Devanathan, "is the play between traditional and progressive mindsets."

And where the rural-urban framework sets up two separate groups for marketers to address, his assessment can be applied to a single person. The mindsets he identifies "are merely characteristics displayed in specific types of behaviour, depending on need and circumstance, most of the time in the same individual".

So, for example, a Jodhpur student can combine "the proud badge of progressiveness in owning and flashing a Blackcherry alongside devouring rajma chawal at the only fast food joint in town".

Devanathan highlights three further factors he regards as significant in addressing India's youth, all of which are being driven by digital and mobile technology.

Internet access is creating a wave of aspiration and fuelling choice as an expectation – "It's why small town India shops in a big way for international fashion brands online" – with e-consumption quickly becoming the preferred mode. Taken together, these are making geography immaterial, or at least, unintimidating.

"Brands and companies would be smarter if they delivered ways for youth to balance the traditional and the progressive, to harness aspiration, to enjoy choice, and enable e-consumption in a world run increasingly by the Internet of Everything," Devanathan concludes.

Data sourced from Warc


Millennials want control and freedom

18 December 2014
LONDON: Achieving control of finance, career and social life in order to take advantage of freedoms and opportunities are key to the happiness of Millennials and brands should engage with them on that basis, a new global report has argued.

Based on a poll of 5,800 participants in ten countries, media agency network ZenithOptimedia said global consumers aged 18 to 34 have a "fundamentally different approach" to achieving happiness compared to previous generations.

Disinclined to adopt the "free spirit" attitudes of the Baby Boomer generation, Millennials seek to gain much more control over their lives to obtain happiness.

Health and wellbeing, financial stability, career, following a dream and pursuing a passion, as well as formal education, are the most important areas Millennials seek to control.

Once in place, Millennials then feel they have the freedom to pursue their passions and they regard "meaningful experiences" and social interaction to be more important than the ownership of material goods – unlike older generations.

This is why social media has become so important for this generation, the report stated, because "it is their primary platform for sharing stories and creative expression".

Understanding how and why Millennials want to live more fulfilled lives has important implications for brands, argued Linda Tan, strategic insights director at ZenithOptimedia.

"Brands that can help Millennials achieve happiness stand the best chance of securing long-lasting and profitable relationships with this important consumer group," she said.

"While Millennials might seem a very care-free audience, obsessed with social media and celebrities, scratch below the surface and you will discover very savvy, discerning and astute consumers," she added.

The global survey questioned Millennials in Argentina, Australia, China, France, Mexico, Russia, Spain, the UAE, the UK and the US while also drawing on the opinions of the company's own staff from that generation.

Data sourced from ZenithOptimedia; additional content by Warc staff


European web use grows steadily

18 December 2014
BRUSSELS: The number of Europeans aged 16 to 74 who access the internet every day has doubled since 2006, but usage varies considerably across the region's diverse nations, new official data has revealed.

According to Eurostat, the European Union's statistical office, nearly two-thirds (65%) of citizens in the 28-member bloc used the internet daily in 2014, up from less than a third (31%) in 2006.

Over the same period, the proportion of people who have never used the internet fell from 43% in 2006 to less than a fifth (18%) in 2014, but stark differences remain between poorer countries and the more advanced economies of northern Europe.

People who have never used the internet, either at home or at work, accounted for just 3% of the population of Denmark in 2014, followed by Luxembourg (4%), the Netherlands (5%), Finland, Sweden and the UK (all 6%).

But this compared with Romania (39%), Bulgaria (37%), Greece (33%) and, in perhaps a surprise finding, Italy (32%).

The share of daily internet users among the population of the EU28 ranged in 2014 from 32% in Romania to 87% in Luxembourg, Denmark (85%), Sweden (83%) and the UK (81%).

Daily users also accounted for a huge 94% in Iceland and 89% in Norway, although both countries are not members of the EU.

Coinciding with the uptake of the internet in the region, the report also confirmed that cloud technology has secured widespread adoption, especially in Denmark (42%) and the UK (38%).

Spread across the full 28 member states, over a fifth (21%) of the population used cloud services to store files in 2014, although only 11% used paid-for services.

Cloud services appealed largely because they can be used from several devices or locations as well as the ease with which files can be shared with other people (59%).

Protection against data loss was cited by over half (55%) while 44% liked its larger memory space. Over a fifth (22%) wanted access to music, films or TV.

The importance of the internet for the EU's growth prospects was underlined earlier this month with new research from the Boston Consulting Group, which analysed the market in the EU's five largest economies – Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain.

It said the mobile internet economy generates €92bn each year to the economies of the EU5, produces a consumer benefit, or surplus, of about €770bn and has created no less than 250,000 jobs.

Data sourced from Eurostat, BCG; additional content by Warc staff


Apple is top wearable device brand

18 December 2014
NEW YORK: Apple is by some margin the preferred brand for US wearable device buyers, according to a new survey that also confirmed the influence of brand trust on the decision-making process.

An online poll of more than 2,000 American adults conducted by Ipsos MediaCT, the research firm, established that 70% of likely buyers agree that they will only buy a brand that they trust and that a seamless connection across devices is essential.

Apple is the brand of choice for 62%, followed by fellow tech giants Google (44%) and Samsung (43%). But Fitbit, the activity tracker specialist, is ranked fourth (31%) and Nike, the sports brand, is sixth (27%).

Sony (28%), Amazon (26%), HP (24%) and Microsoft (23%) also feature on the rankings.

Of the nearly one-fifth (18%) of US consumers who are ready to buy wearable devices, style is as important as functionality. Almost seven in ten (69%) agree that colour, shape and size matter when shopping for a wearable device.

When asked what type of wearable tech would stimulate their interest, over half are drawn to fitness monitors and smart watches (56% and 55% respectively), followed by jewellery (44%), smart glasses (40%) and contact lenses (36%).

Ipsos also said that it's significant that many consumers will purchase despite 45% of likely buyers having concerns about privacy and 42% fearing potential health risks.

Coupled with the finding that only a fifth (21%) of non-owners understand how wearables may benefit their lives, Ipsos MediaCT vice president Julia Roland urged brands to improve their communication.

"Brands in the wearable market would benefit from educating consumers about product capabilities and personal relevance," she said.

"Our research shows that the opportunities are there. But to convince consumers that these devices are worth the price tag, the benefits and use cases need to be clearly highlighted in product marketing and communications."

This latest study follows research earlier this month from Forrester, which predicted that the number of people in the US and Europe using a wearable device will triple in 2015, although Americans are more open to the new technology.

Data sourced from Ipsos, Reuters; additional content by Warc staff


Brands should 'flip' conventions

18 December 2014
BOCA RATON, FL: Brands aiming to stand out from the crowd could benefit from trying to "flip" category conventions, a leading professor at Harvard Business School has argued.

Youngme Moon, the Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation at Harvard Business School, discussed this subject at The Market Research Event.

And she reported that pioneering companies like Google, IKEA and Mini generally share one thing in common. (For more, including more detailed insights into this strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Why brands need to "flip the fundamentals".)

"They have figured out how to flip on the fundamental; how to take a fundamental assumption about their category, something that everyone else in the category assumes to be true, and flip it upside down," said Moon.

Successfully challenging widely-held assumptions in their industries helped these organisations achieve differentiation.

The launch of the Mini Cooper in America provided a paradigmatic example of this process in action, as the auto marque made the comparatively small size of its cars a true marketing strength.

"It took what was considered to be a weakness and transformed it into a strength. Indeed, it took what was considered to be a weakness and filled it with pride," said Moon.

"It flipped the fundamental … When the folks at Mini Cooper were preparing to launch, they agonised over their 'size problem'."

Pursuing such a strategy, however, requires a willingness to take a bold step which is not guaranteed to work.

"At the end of the day, to be different is to be alone. It is to be doing something that nobody else in your category is doing and that is a really scary thing for a business to do. And it is a really scary thing for an individual to champion," Moon said.

Data sourced from Warc


Young Indians seek a balanced life

18 December 2014
MUMBAI: Young Indians are committed to succeeding through hard work but their definition of success is moving beyond from simple material acquisition to include meaningful work, according to a leading industry figure.

As part of Warc's New perspectives on Indian youth series, Madhukar Sabnavis, vice chairman and country head, discovery and planning, Ogilvy & Mather India Board, outlines ten trends that marketers need to consider when targeting a millennial generation that has grown up since the country embraced economic liberalisation back in 1991.

This age group understands that true achievement requires perseverance, Sabnavis says, highlighting the fact that biographies and 'how to' books tend to top the bestseller lists.

Where people previously sought short cuts to fame and success, for example, they are now more likely to have taken on board Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule which states that to become proficient at anything requires 10,000 hours of practice.

Sabnavis further notes an interesting nugget from one of those short cuts, the TV reality show. These now routinely praise the hard work of all the participants rather than focusing on the winners, while judges will reassure close losers they will get there if only they continue practising.

Economic development over the last 23 years has produced a couple of generations of well-off Indians who already have some experience of the material things life has to offer. Today's youth are less exercised by having more of the same than by making a difference and achieving recognition.

More MBAs are opting for entrepreneurial ventures, Sabnavis notes, either on their own or with start-ups, with the aim of "finding joy" rather than just big salaries and company labels.

Joy, of course, comes in many forms and in a society riven with conflicts this generation is keen to find a balance, "a harmony in thinking", in those areas that threaten to destabilise their lives.

The battle between the traditional and the modern need not be an either/or choice but an acceptable compromise: an arranged love marriage, for example.

India's millennials have grown up more exposed to Western culture than their predecessors and have taken on board some of the attitudes one might associate with their peers, such as being more socially sensitive and aware of inequalities or welcoming the unvarnished truth.

At the same time, they are under more pressure than ever to make the right choices and have fewer people they can confide in.

Facebook may help them stay connected with friends and make new connections but "depth has given way to width", Sabnavis observes. "Together alone is an apt description of their state."

Data sourced from Warc


Women drive Asian online shopping

18 December 2014
GUANGZHOU: Almost half (49%) of Asian women, including 69% of mainland Chinese, agree or strongly agree that they prefer the experience of shopping online than in a physical store, according to a survey of five key regional markets.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Vipshop, a Chinese online discount retailer for brands, questioned 5,500 female shoppers in Greater China, India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Their joint report discovered that nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents browse the internet at least once a day for goods and services, and their favourite purchases are clothes and accessories (nearly 90%), cosmetics (83%) and groceries (almost 80%).

They are motivated mostly by price (62%) and time-saving (60%), but also feel they can rely on e-retailers to have the products they want to buy (59%) and they appreciate the range of choice that online shopping can offer (56%).

In addition, they regard quality (83%), price (83%), genuine products (82%) and convenience (77%) as the top four factors that determine their choice of retailer.

While clothing and cosmetics as leading purchases may not come as much of a surprise, the survey also showed that Asian women are important decision-makers for other categories, such as electronics and travel services.

"Women are controlling spending in a variety of categories where you would expect them to, such as clothing and accessories, cosmetics and groceries," said Laurel West, EIU's director for Asia.

"But they also have an increasing influence in bigger ticket items such as electronics," she added. "Many brands are realising this and making efforts to better understand what is important to female consumers."

Interestingly, the report also found that a majority of Asian women (62%) are buying for themselves most of the time when online – and this rises to three-quarters (74%) of mainland Chinese.

This finding prompted the report to state: "At least on the internet, many Asian women do not seem to be living up to the stereotype of selfless, family-focused individuals."

However, in terms of brand communications, the report found over half (54%) still respond positively to messages that address them as mothers, wives or girlfriends.

Data sourced from Vipshop, EIU, Yahoo Finance; additional content by Warc staff


Brazil lowers spend on luxury goods

18 December 2014
NEW YORK: Brazil, once regarded as a prime emerging market for luxury brands, now represents a "difficult climate" because of its faltering economy and inflationary pressures, according to a leading market analyst.

Speaking to Luxury Daily, Gustavo Gomez, the director of research and methodology at New York-based consultancy Envirosell, warned that falling wages during the current slowdown has led to a psychological need among people to save money.

But he said luxury brands could take heart by concentrating on their quality and by using effective segmentation.

"While Rio might be struggling, São Paulo might be booming," he explained. "Luxury brands need to look at results at the city, neighbourhood and even store level to make strategic growth decisions. There is still a wealthy segment; growth just needs to be targeted."

His observations come as a new survey of 2,000 Brazilian consumers by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found 72% intend to reduce their discretionary spend.

With the country's economic growth forecast to amount to just 1% this year, Brazilians want to reduce their debt and are cutting back on loans for everything except cars.

Average spending on clothing and shoes, for example, is down 10% because consumers are using less credit to make purchases in the category.

Brands should rethink their pricing structures, BCG advised, as well gain a clearer understanding about specific locations where wages are improving.

"Given the slowdown in spending, companies must be prepared for more intense competition," said Olavo Cunha, a partner in BCG's São Paulo office.

"They'll have to adjust their cost structures, improve their innovation capabilities, rethink the value they deliver, and focus on the product categories with the greatest growth potential," he added.

However, Gomez appeared to disagree that discounting offered the best route forward.

"Luxury brands need to reinforce their quality," he said. "In slow economic times, consumers want items that last. They are seeking value and not necessarily price reductions."

Data sourced from Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff


Chinese brands grow digital ad share

17 December 2014
BEIJING/NEW YORK: Google dominates global spending on digital ads while Facebook has the fastest growth among the major players, but both face a growing challenge from Alibaba and Baidu, the latest estimates from eMarketer have revealed.

Out of the $146bn expected to be spent on digital advertising in 2014, Chinese search giant Baidu and ecommerce firm Alibaba are forecast to be the third and fourth largest digital ad sellers in the world with market shares of 4.68% and 4.66% respectively.

While this is way behind the 31.1% share taken by Google, the two Chinese companies recorded the highest market share gains since last year apart from second-placed Facebook, which grew its global market share by two percentaqe points to 7.75%, and social network Twitter, which grew 71% year-on-year to take 0.84% overall share.

When combined with the 0.83% market share secured by Tencent and the 0.38% by Sina, the online media group, that means these four leading Chinese companies will account for 10.55% of all digital adspend this year.

Alibaba and Baidu's influence is even larger in the global mobile internet ad market, eMarketer said, where Alibaba is forecast to increase its market share from 1.6% in 2013 to 6.2% in 2014.

Meanwhile, Baidu will nearly double its mobile adspend share from 2.6% to 5.1%, although Google and Facebook are set to continue their leadership of the $40.2bn global mobile ad market.

Facebook is forecast to grow its share of mobile from 16.6% in 2013 to 18.4% this year while Google, at 40.5%, will remain by far the largest player despite seeing its market share drop sharply from nearly half (46.6%) in 2013.

Returning to the overall digital adspend projections, eMarketer also noted that Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL – three of the largest original digital ad sellers – have each lost market share.

Microsoft's global share fell from 2.84% in 2013 to 2.72% this year, Yahoo fell from 2.83% to 2.36%, while AOL's share decreased from 0.93% to 0.81%.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff


UK shoppers turn to social networks

17 December 2014
LONDON: Although traditional search engines and e-retail sites remain the most popular online sources for Christmas gift ideas in the UK, social networks are gaining ground, according to new research.

A poll of 1,000 UK adults by Searchmetrics, a search optimisation platform, found 61% search Amazon for information about possible gifts while 50% also use Google and more than a third (38%) check eBay.

But almost a quarter (23%) of UK online shoppers are turning to Facebook where they can discuss products and ideas with their friends as well as receive purchase recommendations.

Pinterest, the virtual pin-board social network, and micro-blogging site Twitter are also used as a research source by 7% of UK online shoppers, the study found.

Marcus Tober, chief technology officer and founder of Searchmetrics, said the findings highlighted how social networks are increasingly playing a role in product purchasing decisions in the UK.

"One of the benefits of looking for product ideas on social networks is that you get to see feedback and preferences from other consumers, as well as participate in online discussions about products with a range of people, including your own friends and followers," he said.

"And, of course, purchase recommendations from other shoppers – especially friends – can be very powerful," he added.

The survey also found that nearly a third (32%) of UK consumers regard online shopping at Christmas to be less stressful  than the traditional way of shopping, and over a quarter (28%) prefer to use the internet to avoid queues and crowds.

And, in another interesting finding for retailers, 6% say they intend to buy Christmas gifts online after Christmas itself in order to benefit from discounts in the New Year sales. In all, 2% are likely to buy gifts on Christmas Day.

In a final piece of advice to retailers, Tober said: "They should use a variety of methods to promote their products at Christmas – and also throughout the year.

"They should be trying to increase their visibility in Google searches, as well as building a strong presence on social networks such as Facebook.

"And even if they are not present on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, they need to be checking these sites to see what their competitors are doing."

Data sourced from RealWire, Searchmetrics; additional content by Warc staff


Retargeting grabs digital ad budgets

17 December 2014
SAN FRANCISCO: Nearly three-quarters (71%) of US marketers spent 10% to 50% of their digital ad budgets on retargeting in 2014, a new industry survey has shown.

This is a significant rise since last year, when 53% invested in retargeting, and comes as the proportion of marketers now spending over half their digital ad budget on retargeting has doubled from 7% to 14% in 2014, Marketing Land reported.

These are among the key findings of a poll of 1,000 US marketers commissioned by AdRoll, the retargeting platform, which also analysed campaign data from 11,000 of its advertisers in the US, including 3.7bn ad impressions.

More than 90% of respondents said retargeting performed equal or better than search, email and other display campaigns, and they said they used the technique for a variety of reasons.

Retargeting was used by 70% for brand awareness, followed by social engagement (60%) and customer retention and driving sales (58%).

Over half (54%) of B2B marketers said insights into customer behaviour was their most important campaign success metric, while a similar proportion (57%) of B2C marketers thought total conversions was the number one campaign success metric.

High ROI and Return on Advertising Spending was an important consideration for both B2C marketers (44%) and their B2B colleagues (43%).

Over half (54%) of all marketers said social was "the hottest topic in retargeting", followed by mobile retargeting (20%) and data-driven marketing (11%).

Underlining the importance of mobile, AdRoll's analysis of its clients' campaign data found they acquired 1.05x more impressions, 1.23x more clicks and 1.08x more conversions when they added mobile to their Facebook and web retargeting mix.

Adam Berke, AdRoll president and CMO, summed up the report by saying: "Retargeting has become a must-have advertising channel for marketers with performance objectives. It solves a clear business problem by helping brands stay engaged with customers who demonstrate intent to purchase."

Data sourced from AdRoll, PR Newswire, Marketing Land; additional content by Warc staff


Consumers embrace mobile payments

17 December 2014
BIRMINGHAM: Almost half (47%) of mobile phone users in the UK would like to use their device to pay for goods and services, which equates to more than 23m people being interested in making mobile payments, a new survey has revealed.

According to the results of a poll of 1,000 UK adults by Oxygen8, the integrated mobile solutions provider, 5.3m people in the UK (11%) would stop using their credit and debit cards if they could pay with their mobile phone.

A further 17.9m people (36%) would like to use both cards and mobile phones as payment options. Taken together, the report said this meant 23m Britons would be interested in using their mobile device "to purchase anything, anywhere".

Using a mobile phone to purchase a product from eBay was the most popular transaction carried out by 25% of respondents, while 14% used their mobile device to pay bills.

The purchase of clothes and groceries via an app was conducted by 10% and 9% respectively, although women and young people aged 25 to 34 were the most active for buying clothes while men were twice as likely to buy groceries via an app.

British men were also much more likely to buy a coffee via an app because they made up 70% of the 1.54m UK consumers who used the Starbucks app.

With so many mobile users in the UK already accustomed to using their devices to buy goods and services, they are likely to respond well to the convenience mobile offers, according to Kevin Dawson, head of payments at Oxygen8.

"Not only will mobile payments provide a new and simplistic opportunity for consumers, the planned groundbreaking developments will open up new payments opportunities for companies wanting to make their own products and services more accessible to their customers," he told Retail Times.

Euromonitor International, the research firm, predicted earlier this year that the increasing sophistication of mobile banking apps and their rapid uptake by consumers could soon take mobile payments mainstream.

It estimated that UK consumers, on a per capita basis, will spend $824 via mobile payments in 2014, with almost 80% coming from purchases made on tablets.

Data sourced from Oxygen8, Retail Times, Euromonitor; additional content by Warc staff


Price gap opens between Canada and US

17 December 2014
TORONTO: Consumers in Canada are paying significantly more than their American counterparts for tablets and other high-demand electronic devices, new cross-border analysis has established.

According to GfK, the market research firm, a comparison of advertised prices for electronic goods in the first 11 days of December 2014 showed Canadian shoppers paid a premium for most electronic goods during the holiday season.

Furthermore, this trend has been consistent throughout the year while the only key category that registered cheaper prices than in the US was for printers and multifunction devices.

GfK's comprehensive list of Canada versus USA price comparisons showed all (100%) tablets on sale over the period had better prices in the US, delivering an average 20.5% saving for American consumers.

Similarly, 88% of TVs were cheaper in the US, averaging 27.7% savings, as were four-fifths (80%) of wearable technology and home theatre systems, averaging savings of 13.4% and 7.6% respectively.

Just over half (55%) of digital cameras had better prices in the US, although only 18% of printers and multifunction devices were cheaper in the US than in Canada.

Coming just a week after the Canadian government announced a Price Transparency Act aimed at narrowing the price gap between goods sold in the two countries, GfK said Canadians have been paying more on a consistent basis.

"These cross-border pricing discrepancies are consistent with trends we have seen throughout 2014," said James Kennedy, country manager Canada at GfK.

"Canadian consumers continue to pay more than US consumers on high-demand electronic goods, whether it is holiday season or the middle of summer," he added.

For example, the premium Canadians pay for TVs has nearly doubled since 2011, rising from 13.2% to 24.4% in 2014, although the premium for digital cameras has dropped from the 10.4% they paid three years ago.

Under the new legislation, Canada's Commissioner of Competition will be empowered to investigate alleged cases of price discrimination and will be able to force retailers to disclose details about how they decided on their pricing structures.

They may be required to provide evidence to show that their price differences are justified and the findings can be reported back to the public.

Data sourced from GfK, CTV; additional content by Warc staff


Mobile will 'take off' in Asia in 2015

17 December 2014
SINGAPORE: The mobile market in Asia-Pacific will continue to record strong growth in 2015 when over half of consumer transactions are expected to be conducted on mobile, according to a leading analyst from the region.

"The conditions couldn't be better for strong mobility growth in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming year," said Ian Song, a research manager with the International Data Corporation, in comments to IT Wire.

"We're seeing the perfect storm of strong consumer transition to mobility for every facet of their lives, as well as enterprises treating mobility as a strategic initiative."

Coupled with the likelihood of more business enterprises looking to use m-commerce as a driver of growth, Song predicted the regional market will grow rapidly.

But he also cautioned that brands and vendors would have to take account of the sheer diversity of the region and remember that "success in mobility in the region requires a very Asia-Pacific mindset".

IDC expects m-commerce in the region to grow from $16.6bn in 2013 to almost $67bn in 2018, driven in part by mobile payment options, such as those offered by ApplePay, Alipay in China, and paytm and Freecharge in India.

The company also expects that simple wearables, especially fitness devices, will find a lucrative new market and will begin to become widely adopted next year.

However, the market for Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) solutions, is expected to continue to struggle in Asia-Pacific as consumers increasingly buy off-the-shelf mobile business apps from existing vendors.

Data sourced from IT Wire; additional content by Warc staff


Insights drive Under Armour

17 December 2014
BOCA RATON, FL: Building a network of in-house advocates and using innovative techniques to present research are among the ways Under Armour's consumer insights team has enhanced its status within the company.

Cassie Lopez, senior manager/consumer insight at Under Armour, discussed this subject at The Market Research Event (TMRE), a conference held by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

And she reported that the organisation's insights function, which was established approximately five years ago, faced a "daunting task" when it came to making an impact at the sporting apparel and accessories firm.

"This is a brand that was founded around people who were the consumers themselves," she said. (For more, including further tips for researchers, read Warc's exclusive report: How consumer insights strengthened Under Armour.)

Given Under Armour's executives possessed strong personal knowledge about their sector, with many having played sports professionally, the brand had typically relied "on gut" in creating or disrupting categories.

The task for Lopez and the company's insights department was to "build buzz" surrounding their work and "change the language" around the business to reflect the new lens being used to understand the consumer.

One part of that process involved fostering in-house advocacy, and a major component of this strategy was helping key leaders tackle pressing problems.

Footwear and marketing were among the units which the insights function prioritised, as they both had an extremely significant role at the firm.

"It's all about building these ambassadors that are going to start championing consumer insights, and if you create wins with them, it's really going to start to help," Lopez said.

Another important aspect of Under Armour's approach has been to present its research in ways best-suited to an internal audience, including designers and very creative professionals.

That has incorporated illustrating its findings with a coffee-table book and demonstrating a segmentation exercise with a physical installation showing the preferred type of room.

Data sourced from Warc


Dual-screening ad tactics evolve

16 December 2014
LONDON: New technology developments mean that advertisers have the ability to reach even those dual screeners who are engaged in second-device activity unrelated to what's happening on TV.

A number of adtech businesses have developed listening technology that enables second-screen advertising synching and insights company Millward Brown expects this to take off in the coming year.

Automatic content recognition technology detects the audio files of commercials as they air and then sends a message to a demand side platform to buy up all of the available inventory in that 30-second window to create the 'synching' effect.

While that clearly involves a degree of media efficiency and the ability to hit consumers with multiple messages, Duncan Southgate, global brand director/digital at Millward Brown, pointed out it could be a lot more.

"It's also a new storytelling opportunity that allows brands to add extra value for people who just watched their TV spot," he said. "We expect it to grow rapidly in 2015."

The effectiveness of this technology was highlighted by one provider at a recent London conference. Fiona Smith, country manager at WyWy, claimed that the use of its LiveSync product by automaker Nissan had led to a 96% increase in brand awareness, compared to a 55% uplift on standalone TV.

Further, its SiteSync product, which creates a bespoke landing page directly correlated to an ad, has been shown to more than double conversion rates.

Hyundai is using the two together and has reported a 50% uplift in site visits and a near fivefold increase in conversions for a mere 1.5% additional spend.

Millward Brown suggested that second-screen synching also offered complementary brands the chance to cross-promote products, with for example, viewers of a TV ad for vodka subsequently seeing an ad for a suitable mixer drink on their digital device.

Another possibility was the opportunity to hijack competitor ads by running targeted digital counter-claims at the same time as a competitor's TV ad.

"Synching technology seems likely to have broad appeal across categories from financial services to FMCG and looks set to become a standard part of the marketing toolkit for smart advertisers," Millward Brown concluded.

Data sourced from Millward Brown, Vnet; additional content by Warc staff


Humorous ads gain edge with placing

16 December 2014
LONDON: Humour sells, but how funny an ad is perceived to be is not simply down to the creative but also to media placement, according to a leading industry figure.

More than 20 years ago research by University of Houston psychologists showed that the same piece of creative is regarded as funnier when seen by the viewer in a group setting: ads watched in a group of three were found to be 20% funnier than those watched alone.

Writing in MediaTel about the social nature of humour, Richard Shotton, head of insight at media agency ZenithOptimedia, also cited more recent work from Millward Brown, which ran the same creative on TV only in one region and cinema only in another. Some 61% of those seeing the cinema ad said they "enjoyed the humour" compared to 52% of the TV viewers.

"The perception of funniness can be boosted through channel selection or implementational tactics," Shotton stated.

So, for example, it makes sense to run humorous ads in cinemas as they will be consumed by much larger groups.

Similarly, a useful tactic is to identify those TV genres which tend not to be watched in isolation – films, documentaries and news are around twice as likely to be viewed in groups.

Comedy Central's Power of Laughter research, which won an award at this autumns' ESOMAR Congress in Nice, took a different angle to analysing the impact of humour.

This used facial coding in a domestic setting to measure actual rather than reported behaviour. The study established that funny content creates a "halo effect" for the ads which follow it, with increased ad attention and engagement.

Further, the halo effect continues throughout the ad break and does not cease after the first ad. The results are even more impressive when an ad is also humorous.

Across all markets, there was an average +57% uplift in positive engagement throughout the advertisement sequence for those who had watched the funny content compared to those who saw the serious clips.

"Presenting your message within a format that is both entertaining and consistent with your brand, together with placing it in a conducive environment, can lead to higher engagement," the authors concluded.

Data sourced from MediaTel, ESOMAR; additional content by Warc staff


McDonald's searches for Millennial bait

16 December 2014
NEW YORK: McDonald's has joined the swelling ranks of brands looking for new ways to engage with Millennials, a search that has taken on greater urgency in the wake of recent poor results.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the burger giant has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to both agencies and media owners. The three-pronged thrust of the RFP combines a hunt for a "big idea" that "generates significant support for a charity" and at the same time "engages Millennials to support this charity by speaking directly to their philanthropic priorities and leveraging their behaviours and habits".

And any resulting partnership should also help improve "the brand perceptions of McDonald's as a good corporate citizen".

A week ago McDonald's reported like for like sales down 2.2% around the world and down 4.6% in the US market, a situation it attributed to "strong competitive activity".

And leading the competition is Chipotle which, Vox stated bluntly, "is killing McDonald's", in the US at least.

Apart from its rapid rate of growth – it opened 132 new restaurants in the year to September while like-for-like sales were up 17% – Chipotle is notable for its stance on sustainability, which has informed both its business model and its marketing.

That sense of purpose is an idea that has been picked up by other brands in the food industry which see millennials leading a reappraisal of how consumers relate to brands.

Mark Addicks, svp/cmo of General Mills, whose brands include Old El Paso and Food Should Taste Good, told a recent conference that this younger generation "think about the brands they are going to affiliate with, the brands they are going to care about, how they are going to engage, the causes that they are going to engage in, how they are going to participate and – more importantly – the values they are going to live by."

It is a theme highlighted in Warc's Toolkit 2015, which observes that Millennials' access to information means they know more about the products and services they buy (and the companies behind them) than any previous generation. As a result they have high expectations of companies and gravitate towards those that combine purpose with profit.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Vox; additional content by Warc staff


Filipinos adopt multiscreening habits

16 December 2014
MANILA: Digital consumers in the Philippines are increasingly using more than one screen and video ads are proving an effective means of promoting product search and purchase, research has shown.

The Nielsen Cross-Platform report, which looks at digital video consumption by internet users across screens, found that 96% of online Filipinos used two screens simultaneously and 80% had used three at the same time.

"The swift integration of connected devices into the lives of consumers is instrumental in the shift in the consumption of media, which includes multi-screening as a prevalent behaviour," said Stuart Jamieson, managing director of Nielsen Philippines, in remarks reported by Marketing Interactive.

He added that this was opening up major new opportunities for brands to connect with consumers.

Viewing online video, for example, is now a common pastime for digital consumers in the Philippines, with 85% watching online videos at least weekly, and more than seven in ten report watching TV content and movies via online sources.

They are also responding in large number to advertising they see there, although the choice of device can make a significant difference to their reactions.

The bigger screens of laptops and PCs are, not surprisingly, the most popular device used to view video on demand (89%). And fully 89% of digital consumers using these devices went on to search for an item seen within online video advertising, while 62% made a purchase as a result, according to Nielsen.

Viewing on mobile devices produced lower, albeit still respectable, figures: 67% were moved to search for an item after watching a video ad, while 49% completed a purchase.

Nielsen cautioned that the explosion in online media consumption was not replacing traditional media, with both TV viewership and radio listening having edged upwards over the course of the past year, while newspaper readership remained stable.

"People are using traditional media in union with the new media," Jamieson explained, whether that was accessing content online related to what was being watched on TV or accessing something else altogether.

"Dual screening behaviour is fragmented and thus, it has become increasingly more important to understand how people behave across different media," he concluded.

Data sourced from Marketing Interactive; additional content by Warc staff


US males are biggest smartphone shoppers

16 December 2014
NEW YORK: Younger American men are significantly more likely than any other demographic to use their smartphones to make purchases rather than just carry out research, according to a new survey.

The study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence and Precision Market Insights from Verizon, entitled Holiday Shopping in a Cross-Screen World, was based on a poll of 2,013 adults, including 1,176 smartphone owners.

It found that three-quarters (76%) of male smartphone users aged 18 to 34 made a purchase via smartphone in a typical month compared to 59% of females in the same age group. In the population at large the gender divide was not quite so marked at 56% men, 45% women.

Millennial men were also the biggest spenders on mobile, with 39% spending $51 or more via smartphone in an average month, compared to 27% of overall survey participants.

During the current holiday almost two thirds of smartphone owners plan on utilising their device in some shopping capacity and those shopping this way will be hoping primarily to save money (51% of respondents) and time (36%).

The report further found that while holiday-themed ads were definitely having an impact generally – 92% had seen some prior to Thanksgiving across a full range of media channels – this was limited when it came to mobile, with just 29% saying they had specifically seen holiday-related ads on their phones during the same time period.

As well as shopping via mobile, many people will also be shopping for mobiles and giving them as gifts. The study highlighted holiday opportunities here for advertisers.

"Conventional wisdom has held that consumers may not be as receptive to advertising messages during the week between Christmas and New Year's, but with nearly one in five American smartphone users planning to spend 'New Device Week' learning about and accessorising newly received devices, advertisers have a unique opportunity to connect with an audience that is engaged and primed to make a purchase," said Colson Hillier, Vice President, Precision Market Insights.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff


Boost for Hindi web

16 December 2014
NEW DELHI: The lives of global advertisers seeking to reach India's fast-growing online audience may just have got a little easier with Google's introduction of a new ad product designed for consumers whose first language is Hindi.

Rajan Anandan, vice president and managing director of Google India, recently noted that most of India's English-speaking population was already online and that there were 500m Hindi speakers coming online who needed to be better served with content in their own language.

To that end, Google has partnered with publishers and technology businesses in the Indian Language Internet Alliance (ILIA) to accelerate this development, with the aim of having 300m Indian language speakers become highly engaged internet users by 2017.

It's not an entirely altruistic move as Google's launch of Hindi Ads will enable advertisers to build campaigns reaching Hindi language sites on the Google Display Network using text, image, rich media, and video display ad formats.

"We hope that this launch will give a boost to the growth of the Hindi web and will encourage the creation of a whole new wave of online Hindi content that will not only be useful to the burgeoning Hindi internet audience, but also make it easy for advertisers to market to this very important consumer base," said Dushyant Khare head of partner business solutions - India & Southeast Asia, Google.

Google's commitment to furthering the cause of the Hindi language has also included the introduction of Voice Search in Hindi and a website – – that acts as a repository to discover the best Hindi content across websites, apps, videos and blogs for Hindi-speaking internet users.

The internet giant has been involved in similar initiatives elsewhere, most notably in the Middle East, where its Arab Web Days project has inspired users and businesses to collaborate and create online Arabic content.

Newspapers in India have also been producing more regional papers in local languages with a focus on local affairs, partly to exploit growing literacy outside metropolitan India and partly as these have been seen as less at risk from the growth of the internet than their English-language counterparts. The shelf life of that particular assumption is getting shorter.

Data sourced from IIFL; additional content by Warc staff


Motrin escapes the 'me too' trap

16 December 2014
BOCA RATON, FL: Motrin, the pain-relief line owned by Johnson & Johnson, has leveraged fundamental "human insights" to effectively escape the trap of being a "me too" brand.

Ryan Helzerman, associate director/global strategic insights at McNeil Consumer Healthcare – a unit of Johnson & Johnson – discussed this topic at The Market Research Event, a conference held by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

And he reported that a sea of sameness has long characterized the pain-relief category, due in large part to a strict set of regulatory limitations. (For more, including how the brand identified the right insights, read Warc's exclusive report: Motrin provides relief for me-too brands.)

The difficulty of delivering breakthrough innovation in a mature industry, coupled with the speed at which rivals can duplicate any such activity, only builds on that issue.

Overall, the result of these problems is a market segment where shoppers are faced with a lot of similar offerings on store shelves.

"Whether you're Advil, whether you're Motrin Migraine, whether you're the blue ibuprofen store brand or whether you're the orange ibuprofen store brand, the active ingredients, strengths, dosings and indications all look very similar," said Helzerman.

"Anyone can say they relieve pain. We can all say we're fast. We can all say we're strong. We can all say we're long-lasting," he continued.

Motrin, though, wanted to change that situation, and stand out from the pack by tapping "human insights" based around pain depriving consumers of valuable time.

"The human insight is frankly nothing new," admitted Helzerman.

What is new, however, is leveraging this notion in a way that truly resonates with Motrin's target customer.

"It's a specific articulation and it's the marrying [of that] with the pain insight that makes this powerful," Helzerman said.

Data sourced from Warc


Media costs rise in emerging markets

15 December 2014
LONDON: Advertising costs are expected to rise significantly in China, India and Russia over the next year, with outdoor seeing some of the greatest increases according to Warc's latest Media Inflation Forecast.

The study covers eleven key markets – Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the UK and the US – and is based on a poll of four global media agencies regarding whether media prices, in terms of the cost of reaching 1,000 adults, are likely to rise or fall. (Warc subscribers can view detailed figures here.)

Television costs are rising fastest in China and India, where the prices of a 30-second spot increased by 16% and 15% respectively in 2014, and will continue to move sharply upwards in 2015, at 15% and 14%.

For the rest, TV inflation in 2014 is running at between 0% (Italy) and 8% (UK) and that spread will narrow slightly in 2015 to between 2% (Japan) and 8% (Russia).

Outdoor costs are shooting up in Russia, with a 23% increase in 2014 followed by an 18% rise in 2015. Other emerging markets are following a similar if slightly less dramatic pattern: the price of a standard billboard in 2014 rose 15% in China and 16% in India, figures which are projected to be repeated in 2015.

These rates of increase stand in stark contrast to the situation in developed countries where the US reported the biggest rise in 2014, and that was just 2%; in Spain the cost actually fell by -1%. In 2015, however, the spread will become greater, from 0% in Japan to 5% in the US.

A similar gulf is evident in the media inflation figures for standard 468 by 60 internet display ads. Costs per thousand are falling or growing only slowly in the more developed countries, from -2% in Australia in 2014 to 3% in Spain, and a forecast -3% in Australia in 2015 to 4% in Spain.

The greatest increases are once again coming in China and India, up 13% and 10% respectively in 2014 and expected to rise 12% and 10% in 2015. Russia stands somewhere in the middle with figures of 7% for 2014 and 6% for 2015.

Print inflation is most pronounced in China, where figures of 14% for newspapers and 10% for magazines in 2014 will be followed by 11% and 9% respectively in 2015. No other market is expected to see double digit inflation in either year, with newspaper costs falling in the US and several European countries.

Data sourced from Warc


Click-and-collect saves retail parks

15 December 2014
LONDON: The growth of online shopping has the paradoxical potential to save failing retail parks according to new research.

An analysis of more than 1,500 UK shopping locations by the Local Data Company found an increasing polarisation between those retail parks that were doing well and those that were performing poorly and suggested that parks had been more badly affected by online shopping than the high street.

A major issue for the older out-of-town parks has been the decline or disappearance of some of their best tenants – big box stores selling electrical goods, home entertainment items and domestic white goods – much of whose custom has migrated to the web.

These retailers have been "caught like rabbits in the headlights", Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, told the Financial Times.

The impact has been especially hard on smaller parks, which have found themselves in a spiral of decline. Hopkinson noted the knock-on effects when retailers shutting up shop were not replaced and footfall declined.

"Retailers stuck on these parks will not be spending money refitting their stores, making them a less attractive destination for consumers," he said. "At some stage, you are going to reach the point of no return."

Larger parks were faring better, particularly those anchored by high street retailers offering click-and-collect services. Local Data Company also found that those hosting fashion brands and places to eat and drink performed better.

One retail park owner confirmed the analysis. Andrew Jones, chief executive of LondonMetric, argued that the convenience of click-and-collect was a major benefit.

"Retailers are already having problems with internet delivery this Christmas," he said. "Click and collect gives you near-instant gratification, and unlike the high street you can park outside at surface level, and it's free."

The demise of general stores such as Woolworth has been exploited on the high street by a new wave of discount retailers like Poundland and B&M which have taken over large empty shops.

These outlets are now moving out into what Hopkinson termed "value retail parks" which he said had become a "destination for bargain hunting".

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff


Facebook adds more features

15 December 2014
SAN FRANCISCO: Brands that use Facebook Pages as part of their engagement and sales strategy will soon be able to add a new call-to-action button to the mix, the social network has announced.

"Designed to bring a business's most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence, call-to-action buttons link to any destination on or off Facebook that aligns with a business's goals," the company said in a blogpost.

There will be seven call-to-action options that Page admins can choose from – Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up and Watch Video – and any one of them can appear at the top of the Page, just to the left of the Like button.

Facebook said the new feature will roll out in the US over the next few weeks and then go worldwide in 2015.

It added that online retailer Dollar Shave Club had been testing the call-to-action buttons on its Page and was pleased with the results.

"Over the course of a three-week test, the Sign Up call-to-action button delivered a 2.5x higher conversion rate versus other comparable social placements aimed to drive new user acquisition," said Brian Kim, director of acquisition at Dollar Shave Club, in a testimonial.

To allay concerns raised by VentureBeat that users might face the potential risk of being taken to malicious links on other sites, Facebook said it will monitor these links in the same way it tracks current ones by using its "Site Integrity" technology.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also raised the possibility of adding another button for users to express sentiments other than simply liking.

"A lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives," he told a Q&A session at the company's California headquarters. "Often people tell us that they don't feel comfortable pressing 'like' because 'like' isn't the appropriate sentiment."

But he ruled out having a 'dislike' button. "That's not something that we think is good for the world," he said.

Data sourced from Facebook, VentureBeat, BBC; additional content by Warc staff


Chinese brands lack long-term view

15 December 2014
BEIJING: Many Chinese brands are ignoring the importance of purpose-based marketing, according to a leading industry figure who says they are too focused on achieving quick returns when they venture overseas.

Doreen Wang, global head of BrandZ, the Millward Brown-owned brand equity database, told China Daily that while many Chinese firms wanted to expand into overseas markets and become leading global enterprises, "few realise the significance of bringing more purpose-based societal benefits to their consumers".

Achieving brand dominance on the global stage requires them to build their brands, she advised, and that means more than just raising awareness by, for example, putting an ad in New York's Times Square.

Marketers need to consider how they can "make the brand meaningful to its users, spiritually and mentally, so that consumers recognize your products and are willing to buy".

But Chinese brands face an uphill struggle in the US, where BrandZ research shows that only 6% of consumers can name a Chinese brand.

In part that may be because relatively few have made the effort to crack that market, as the huge domestic market is quite big enough for most to deal with.

Some have opted to instead explore other developing markets, such as Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. "The US and some European countries are markets of commanding heights for Chinese firms," said Wang. "Few Chinese brands consider the US as the strategic market, and that's part of the reason for the poor recognition of Chinese brands in the country."

A few, including computer technology business Lenovo and home appliance manufacturer Haier, do see the US as a potentially lucrative market, but even these "financial powerhouses", Wang noted, "are still unable to make their brand well known and accepted".

She held up Alibaba as an example for Chinese firms: by affirming its entrepreneurial purpose, helping small and medium enterprises realise their dreams, it had turned itself into a successful global brand.

"Many Chinese firms do have the great products and potential to ascend to the top of the global markets, but many just don't know how to compete and how to penetrate in an efficient way," Wang said. "It takes time, but the outlook is still optimistic."

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff


MillerCoors tackles light beer decline

15 December 2014
BOCA RATON, FL: MillerCoors, the brewing group, is taking a nuanced approach to countering the decline in light beer sales, mixing big marketing initiatives with activities to maintain top-of-mind presence for its brands.

Brittnye Dougherty, director/brand and consumer insights at MillerCoors, discussed some of the challenges facing light beer at The Market Research Event, an event held by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

"It's a mature segment, it's the largest segment in beer and - unfortunately for us - it's declining," she said. (For more, including why researching rival brands is important, read Warc's exclusive report: Advertising in a declining category: insights from MillerCoors.)

Figures from Impact Databank suggest light beer sales fell by 3.5% to 98.4m barrels in 2013. It also forecast a further decline of 4.9m barrels by the close of 2015, taking the segment to its lowest volumes in a decade.

Such unfavourable trends were largely replicated by the entire beer market, where demand - excluding non-alcoholic beers - dipped by 1.5% to 195m barrels, whereas wine and spirits both grew by more than 40%.

Within the beer sector itself, craft beers are posing an increasingly tough challenge to established brands, with sales rising by 18% over the period to July 2014, according to the Brewers' Association.

In response, MillerCoors has run eye-catching campaigns such as releasing limited-edition versions of the iconic Miller Lite can from the 1970s for a tie-up with the movie Anchorman 2, a move then extended to bottles and taps.

Moving beyond generic messaging and tapping "unique, ownable core equities", Dougherty reported, remains the ideal.

"That seems very intuitive … but when you have relevance issues, I think there's a tendency sometimes to put those equities in the backseat, hold a mirror up to your consumers and do some shared values lifestyle advertising."

Alongside these programs, however, it is important for Miller Lite to ensure it is at the forefront of customer thinking at the day-to-day level, given many shoppers now have a more functional relationship with light beer.

"Light beer KPIs have really been showing increased vulnerability over time, and this is particularly true for us in terms of imagery," said Dougherty.

"So we're all about making sure that we're maintaining consumer imagery, maintaining top-of-mind awareness, maintaining consideration and loyalty."

Data sourced from Warc


Cable TV faces 'cord cutting' threat

15 December 2014
SEATTLE: American TV viewers are increasingly turning to the internet as their preferred gateway for content and channels in a trend that has implications for traditional cable providers, a new industry report has revealed.

According to Marchex, a mobile advertising technology company that studied data from 1.1 million consumer phone calls to leading cable providers across the US, the way Americans pay for TV programmes is changing significantly.

The Marchex Institute, the company's data and insights arm, found over a quarter (26%) of new customers only wanted TV via the internet compared with 22% who asked for cable only.

This suggests that Americans are increasingly looking to "cut the cord" with cable providers in order to stream their favourite TV shows over the internet, the study concluded.

Furthermore, nearly 40% asked providers about opting for specific channels, suggesting more TV viewers now want flexible packages that allow them to cherrypick content.

Of those consumers, nearly half (47%) wanted premium channels, especially HBO, while sports fans were five times more likely to ask for ESPN than Fox Sports (20% versus 4%).

Interestingly, in a finding that should provide a degree of comfort for cable providers, the report found the sports category to be "critical" in leaving fans largely unable to "cut the cord".

Chen Zhao, director of analytics at the Marchex Institute, warned cable providers that they need to adapt because change is crucial to their future success.

"Cable companies are coming face-to-face with the threat of disruption," she said. "Our data shows that providers need to start addressing pressing consumer demands; otherwise, they risk losing real market share when people decide to cut the cord for good."

She went on to tell Business Insider: "it's clear that consumers want very specific things from their cable providers — and, at the most fundamental level, they increasingly just want a reliable internet connection to serve as a gateway to their own channels and choices."

Data sourced from Marchex, Business Insider; additional content by Warc staff


Indian women are confident in ads

15 December 2014
MUMBAI: The depiction of women in Indian advertising has moved from homely mothers to confident multi-taskers, with marketers increasingly regarding them as an educated, financially independent group that needs to be targeted in its own right.

A report from IAA and Hansa Research, Changing Trends in Portrayal of Women in Indian Advertising, surveyed almost 100 senior professionals in advertising and marketing to assess gender stereotyping and the impact of communications that challenged this.

The most popular description of the portrayal of women was energetic (94%), followed by multitasking (93%), modern (87%) and self-confident (86%).

A gender divide was evident, however, as female professionals strongly believed the portrayal to be more about the energetic and multitasking aspects, while the male professionals thought the portrayal was modern and self-confident.

And opinions were split on whether these depictions reflected women's status in wider society, although more leaned towards no than yes. But all accepted that they had changed and that this was a welcome development.

Further, they all expected this change would be sustainable in the long run, as women gained more financial independence and as society itself changed.

Among the campaigns they felt had been especially good at showing women positively was one from jewellery maker Tanishq. This used a bridal story to tackle a number of taboos, first by showing a confident, dark-skinned bride rather than the usual fair, demure choice, and, second, by showing her daughter to indicate she was remarrying, as divorced women are never seen this way.

Another was for Bournvita, where mothers were shown helping their child prepare for various challenges and focusing on the role of inculcating good habits. One of the films forming part of this, Race, also produced one of the highest returns on investment of any Mondelez campaign anywhere.  

So, publicly at least, India's advertising professionals are in the progressive camp. But they will have to guard against a repeat of the infamous ads produced by JWT staff for the Ford Figo in early 2013.

These were never, the agency stressed, intended for paid publication but when a cartoon image appeared online of three women bound and gagged in the back of a car driven by then Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the backlash was global.

Data sourced from, New York Times, additional content by Warc staff