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.