Meet Your New Supermarket Cashier

30 06 2008

Sexy stuff indeed.

A German supermarket is encouraging customers to scan their shopping using mobile phones, and check out without the help of a cashier. If this were to become widespread, there would be a ton of possibilities for CPG marketers — recipes, coupons, point-of-purchase marketing, etc etc. It might even have supply-chain implications: imagine consumers being able to let you know when they run into out-of-stocks.

Click here to see the video from the BBC.

Unilever: Evolution

30 06 2008

According to Simon Rothon, senior VP-global marketing services, in North America Unilever is “closing in on 15% of our total [marketing] investment going through digital media.”

Unilever has shown tremendous leadership in digital from the earliest days of the Internet, and continues forging ahead today. Today’s Ad Age has a good interview with Unilever CMO Simon Clift. Fun read.

Average Age of a Network TV Viewer: 50

30 06 2008

I wanted to come up with a more provoAverage age of a network TV viewer is 50cative headline for this post. I can’t.

The average age of a network TV viewer is now 50 years old.  When these viewers were 20, K-Fed, Kobe Bryant and Katherine Heigl were newborns. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were 5 years old.

According to Magna Global Worldwide,

“Not long ago, CBS was by far the oldest network, with a median age above 50. But ABC and NBC have gradually gotten older and are approaching 50 themselves.”

For live viewing, the report put CBS at 54, ABC at 50, NBC at 49, Fox at 44 and The CW at 34, although it noted that the latter network “is struggling to manage even a 3 household share with its new programming.”

Yikes. For more scary numbers, with breakouts by ages, click here.

I’m convinced video will ultimately remain the best way to build brands and sell product. But I think what we’re seeing now is a sort of ugly middle stage, where TV is losing relevance and the new forms of video and video advertising are not yet ready to take over. 

Still. if anyone tells you things aren’t changing and there’s no need to adjust how you do business right now — drop this bit of knowledge on them.

In Praise of Underthinking

29 06 2008

Your brain knew you were going to read this 10 seconds before you knew it.

“Dutch researchers led by psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis at the University of Amsterdam recently found that people struggling to make relatively complicated consumer choices — which car to buy, apartment to rent or vacation to take — appeared to make sounder decisions when they were distracted and unable to focus consciously on the problem.

Moreover, the more factors to be considered in a decision, the more likely the unconscious brain handled it all better, they reported in the peer-reviewed journal Science in 2006. “The idea that conscious deliberation before making a decision is always good is simply one of those illusions consciousness creates for us,” Dr. Dijksterhuis said.”

The full article is here. Go ahead, click the link. You decided to read it 10 seconds ago 🙂

Will CPG Marketing Go Psychic?

28 06 2008

Have you ever been thinking about a problem, and came across an ad with a pretty good solution for it? We used to call this serendipity. Soon, it may be so commonplace we won’t call it anything at all.

For the first time, Google is experimenting with using multiple recent searches to target banner ads. This is potentially very important. Think of these as “psychic banners”.

Paid search brings consumers into the tent. But “psychic banners” can get them so excited they can’t leave without buying.

If this idea works, packaged goods marketers may be able to combine the intelligence of paid search (which leverages consumer intent) with the emotional triggers that strong creative — including video — can bring to the table. 

For all the science we apply, CPG marketing remains a series of good guesses. We guess if we reach enough people with about the right demographics with an ad that hits pretty close to home, we might sell enough to make our numbers (which, if we’re honest, were a guess to begin with.)

Stay tuned. Better guesses may be available soon. 

When Brands Are Fair-Weather Friends, Watch Out

27 06 2008

Marketing loyalty goes both ways. For consumers to be loyal to us, it pays to reward that loyalty in good times and bad. At Combe, we manage our Just For Men loyalty program online because it lets us keep the quality of our communication high, and our costs low. Everybody wins.

When times get tough, it reveals how much is true loyalty and how much is habit or weak preference. Today, the leap in prices for food basics (see chart from is leading nearly half of consumers to skip buying their favorite food brands.

No wonder fully half of consumers are saying they’re buying more private-label products in the last six months. How much loyalty has you brand shown its customers? How much loyalty are you seeing in return?


26 06 2008

Our company is global, so my job is global — on any given day I can be writing a commercial for the UK, adapting a U.S. website for Spain, or planning a paid search campaign for Brazil.

This week, the managers of all our Latin American offices were at our company HQ for meetings. It’s always fun, but this time the director of our Mexico office brought me something special: a stack of manouche CDs he picked up while in France. Fantastic. Here’s a look at a live manouche performance.

What does this have to do with consumer packaged goods, or new media? I could probably find an obscure way to link these. But the truth is, I just wanted to share something fun.

TV 2.0: The Empire Strikes Back

26 06 2008

UPDATE: Solutions Research Group Predicts People Will Spend As Much Time With Video As They Do Sleeping

The :30 commercial may or may not have an entirely secure future. But I have no doubt about the future of video, or advertising opportunities. In fact, they will be almost literally everywhere.

Forrester Research lays out a future landscape dominated by video in a new report, “How Video Will Take Over The World.”

Analyst James L. McQuivey, Ph.D, envisages consumers being confronted with “a dozen video platforms per day.”

He asks us to imagine:

  1. waking up to a video alarm clock;
  2. checking satellite weather videos on your mobile phone;
  3. watching traffic videos on your GPS unit while driving in to work;
  4. watching an ad for a Ford Edge on Gas TV while fueling up at a gas station;
  5. streaming MSNBC stock reports from your desktop at work;
  6. seeing a short address from your CEO in a meeting-room photo frame;
  7. watching a promo for American Gladiators in the back of a video-enabled taxi on the way to the airport;
  8. hearing Glenn Beck’s take on the elections while waiting at the airport gate;
  9. watching a clip from your daughter’s middle-school debut in Guys and Dolls that your spouse emailed as you board the plane;
  10. indulging in American Idol on the satellite TV on your JetBlue flight;
  11. checking in at your hotel through a video kiosk; and finally
  12. catching Iron Man in HD on the hotel room’s flat-screen TV.”

The future is not about TV vs digital. It’s about harnessing them so they work together.

Why Interactive Ad Metrics Are Like Potato Chips

25 06 2008

At the Advertising Research Foundation audience measurement conference in New York, Lee Doyle, North American CEO of Mediaedge:cia, said CPG advertisers need better metrics to show better ROI.

With respect, I’m not at all sure he’s right.

Interactive metrics are like potato chips. The more we have, the more we want. And no matter how many we consume we cannot make them healthy for us.CPG Metrics Are Like Potato Chips

It’s time to come to grips with two important realities:

Reality 1: Low-interest categories (drumroll, please)… are, always have been and forever will be low-interest.

Reality 2: It’s OK to be low-interest.

New media doesn’t change these realities. Nor will dozens or hundreds of new metrics in a presentation deck the size of the Titanic. Digital doesn’t have to be perfect to work, and it doesn’t have to be better than TV. The job here is about being creative, visible, relevant and — whenever a brand can be — about genuinely being part of the conversation.

Let’s stop fretting over what interactive can’t do, and use it for what it can do well. Since video (notice I didn’t say TV) is likely to always be the primary means of generating awareness, we’ll never be able to prove down to the penny what the contribution of online has been. So what?

What matters is we know our customers are online, and we know online works as part of an overall plan to reach them.

Man cannot live by potato chips alone. Neither can CPG marketers.

How Strong Is Your “Change Muscle”?

25 06 2008

Fostering change at a successful company is hard work. You’re fighting history, which usually looks far rosier in retrospect than it ever did at the time. And, you’re selling a vision of the future that you can’t guarantee.

Why are some of us better at change than others? Ariane de Bonvoisin, founder and CEO of The First Thirty Days, Inc. believes there are 9 principles that make people good at change:

  1. They have a positive belief about change — they are “change optimists.”
  2. They believe in the change guarantee: something good always comes from change.
  3. They know they have a “change muscle”–that they are strong, capable, powerful, and intuitive enough to handle any change that comes into their lives or that they want to initiate.
  4. They refuse to become paralyzed by “change demons”–negative emotions that arise during change.
  5. They don’t resist change–choosing instead to accept the reality of their situation.
  6. They understand that their thoughts, the words they say and the feelings they allow themselves to experience during change have a direct affect on how easily they move through the transition.
  7. They believe that life has a deeper meaning than what can easily be seen or felt, that something greater is at play, and that no change is arbitrary.
  8. They surround themselves with a support team to help them move through change.
  9. They refuse to get stuck during change. They keep moving and take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If you’re having a hard time inspiring change, how many of these principles are you applying? How many of these are your company having a tough time with? There’s more to learn here. It’s from Guy Kawasaki, who always, always has useful stuff here.