LONDON/WASHINGTON: Brand strategy, customer loyalty and innovation were among the subjects featured on the Warc Blog in the last week.

In anticipation of the forthcoming Online Research: Now & Next conference, to be held in London on March 1st, Warc interviewed Guy Rolfe, Kantar's mobile knowledge leader.

In a video available here, Rolfe discussed why he believes mobile is forging a "smarter" society, and the potential influence of the "always-on" culture being fuelled by gadgets such as smartphones and tablets.

Mike Cooke, global director for online development at GfK NOP, offered further insights into how researchers' data collection techniques are evolving.

For Cooke, the "internet of objects" is an online trend to look out for, with millions of devices from fridges to satellite navigation systems set to go digital over the next few years, offering rich data about popular habits.

In another recent post, Waqar Riaz, a strategist at Rapp London, suggested marketers must focus on the needs of shoppers, rather than overinflating their own role, or making misleading assertions to stimulate demand.

"In reality, people don't need brands, they need products," he said. "They need assurance and points of differentiation, to help them in their decision of consuming one product over the other."

As such, the purpose of communications is to act as an "advisor" or "spokesperson" - supplementing the value provided by production, delivery, consumption and support - instead of serving as a substitute for them.

Riaz cited the example of a campaign for Bing, Microsoft's search engine, which challenged Google's authority by stating its main rival overloaded visitors with information.

"With all its ignorance, Bing tried to create a need for not having millions of search results. However, it failed to understand that a large index is not a user issue, but a better output," he said.

"It failed to realise that the user is only interested in the first few search results and Google assures that those few are the most relevant from its index of millions for the given query."

Elsewhere, Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, discussed which brands enjoy the highest loyalty levels among US consumers.

Based on research covering 528 products in 79 categories, the consultancy reported that Netflix, Apple and Walgreens led the rankings.

"Values relating to 'experience' and 'authentic innovation' were found to exert the strongest impact on customer decision-making, category-expectations, and brand engagement," said Passikoff.

In a separate entry, Bob Deutsch, president of Brain Sells, assessed the vital processes which lead to successful new product development.

"Given the new economic environment, it's time to review the conventional wisdom about business, brands, and consumers, and to recognize that rewarding innovation is the only way forward," he said.

He added that characteristics like curiosity and self-knowledge are essential prerequisites, and should be supported by interdisciplinary skills and an understanding of sensuality.

Openness and flexibility are similarly important, with the best work often resulting from attacking problems using a "blank sheet."

Data sourced from Warc