Marketers have a challenging job. We have to develop goods and services and then communicate the benefits and awareness of those products to a diverse customer base. We use tools like segmentation and target marketing to help narrow our focus but ultimately we have to wrestle with the fact that no two customers are identical and if we segment too much we run into diminishing marginal returns. This is also a challenge when conducting research to learn about the needs and motivations of potential customers. The use of personas is a common way of trying to personify our target segments but challenges and pitfalls still exist. This Marketoonist cartoon and the associated article talks about the author’s experience working with a client who was drowning in customer data and unsure how to use that data effectively. The persona creation process ultimately gave them the clarity they needed. The article includes some additional great persona cartoons as well.
Marketing strategies universally need to incorporate mechanisms to attract, upsell, and retain customers. Some companies focus more on one aspect than another but they’re all there somewhere. Loyalty programs are one of the mechanisms used to help with both upselling and retention and this Marketing Dive article takes a close look at some of the changes taking place with retail loyalty programs. Interestingly the article talks about conflicting strategies. Some stores are moving more toward inclusivity and trying to let as many customers join as possible. Others go the opposite direction. Amazon increased the price of Prime membership, Wayfair implemented a $29.99/year fee for their loyalty program, and Lululemon is testing a program that would cost $128/year. The article also talks about how services can impact loyalty as well. For instance, offering same-day delivery increases loyalty for 61% of shoppers. A significant benefit of loyalty programs is detailed information about the customer and their browsing/shopping history. Stores are using that information to try to foster a stronger emotional connection and thereby increase loyalty even further. The article is full of content that could be used for a great in-depth discussion with students debating the merits and drawbacks of different strategies.
Ben & Jerry’s is the latest company to join the movement to discontinue use of plastic straws. This follows similar decisions by Disney, Starbucks, Royal Caribbean, the city of Seattle, and more. Ben & Jerry’s reported that they currently use 30 million plastic spoons and 2.5 million plastic straws each year. Concern over social responsibility is a growing trend and a great marketing tool for attracting employees and loyal customers.
Interestingly, if you want to talk about market research and validating secondary data, there’s another angle you can take on this story. If you search the Internet to see how many straws are used by Americans each day one of the most frequent figures you’ll find is 500 million. That statistic is quoted by National Geographic, government agencies, news networks, and more. However, that statistic hasn’t been well authenticated. This New York Times article covers the history of that statistic. It originated in 2011 from a 9 year old boy named Milo Cress. According to the NYT article, more rigorous studies suggest the number of straws is likely between 170-390 million. It’s still a very large number but this helps illustrate the need to authenticate the actual source and validity of secondary data.
Tom Fishburn recently ran this Marketoonist comic which hits close to home, particularly during holiday season. We teach students the importance of making market-based decisions and getting direct consumer feedback is an important part of that process. However, companies now inundate consumers with surveys. The volume of surveys increases which leads to surveys being ignored which only leads to reminder messages and more aggressive survey tactics.
Marketing week ran a recent article by Tom Goodwin talking about this issue. In the article, he talks about this dynamic and suggests the issue is rooted in a desire to gather easy to measure KPIs rather than really digging in to understand customer needs. Electronic addiction is making it easier for marketers to gather information on consumers but we don’t always know how to properly interpret that information. Marketing data analytics is an emerging need for companies to learn what information is worth gathering, how to interpret that information, and how to use that knowledge to drive strategy.
Students understand the concept behind celebrity endorsers but if you ask them whether an endorsement was a good idea or not they typically answer anecdotally. When pressed on how to measure the effectiveness they generally struggle.
In September, Hilton Hotels launched an ad campaign featuring Anna Kendrick. YouGov recently published the article “Hilton has a hit with Anna Kendrick” that does a great job of showing the impact that her endorsement has had on Hilton’s share of voice and brand preference. The article also talks about the effect celebrity endorsement has on their purchase behaviors as compared to consumers 35 years old or older.
If you wanted to take this discussion to the next step you could build an exercise that models the number of increased stays required for Hilton to have a positive ROI from the campaign.