Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Want focus group success? Ask questions, listen, observe, read between the lines

 Although our authors represent many different companies and opinions, they are also in accord on somethings. Author Robert Morais (Refocusing Focus Groups), responded to a comment on this blog by Judith Langer (author of The Mirrored Window) about the advocates of neuromarketing who believe that focus groups are out of date.

Here's what Bob Morais has to say:

"I agree with Judy Langer’s comments on the Fast Company Neuromarketing story.  As much as critics deride focus groups, marketers still spend about $1B a year to field them.  Some of that money is wasted because there are countless wrong ways to conduct focus groups.  But some of the investment in focus groups is surely well spent, producing knowledge and insight that neuroscience cannot generate.  The key to better focus groups is asking the right questions, using smart techniques, listening and  observing closely, and reading between the lines."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Is Twining's Making a Mythstake to change Earl Grey?

Consumers of Twining's Earl Grey tea are up in arms because the company has added more citrus flavor to the tea. A company spokesperson said the company would not respond to consumer calls to return to the old flavor because it had done market research and the tea had to "evolve."

Innovation Myths and Mythstakes (Mistakes) by Tom Coffey, Dave Siegel, and Mark Smith includes 7 myths, several of which deal with following consumer research, no matter what. In Myth # 12, "There's No Such Thing As A Bad Idea," the authors caution against using such research to change a product without asking some vital questions such as:
Does the consumer intend to buy your new item?
What is the most compelling reason consumers give for their interest?
Is there reason besides "needing to evolve" (such a steep decline in sales) to think that innovation is needed?

We have to wait and see whether Twinings is about to have a "Classic Coke" moment as many "tweeters" are predicting and be forced to back down from the new recipe. But before  you decide you need to innovate, just to say you are doing so, step back and consider the 27 myths.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Whatever happened to American Demographics?

That was such a great magazine!

Often, when our customers learn that Paramount Market Publishing was founded by former staff members of American Demographics,  Jim Madden and Doris Walsh, they will ask, Whatever happened to the magazine? Although it is no longer published as a separate magazine, some content and the name was incorporated into Advertising Age. The two covers you see in this blog were drawn by Tom Parker (and you see the self-portrait), who illustrated the covers for many years.

Last week, Cheryl Russell, the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine was quoted extensively in a USA Today update on what we have learned from the 2010 Census. The article begins with the following summary:

"The USA is bigger, older, more Hispanic and Asian and less wedded to marriage and traditional families than it was in 1990. It also is less enamored of kids, more embracing of several generations living under one roof, more inclusive of same-sex couples, more cognizant of multiracial identities, more suburban, less rural and leaning more to the South and West."

"It was always predicted that we would be diverse, but it's happened faster than anyone predicted," says Cheryl Russell, former editor in chief of American Demographics magazine, now editorial director of New Strategist Publications, publisher of reference tools. "Diversity and the rapid growth in diversity is one of the reasons we have a black president today. That's one thing that would never have been predicted."

Read more here about How America Changed

 And you really can't talk about American Demographics without mentioning Peter Francese,  Founder and President of American Demographics, Inc. Peter now lives and works in New Hampshire and continues to be a widely recognized demographics and consumer markets expert. He speaks and writes frequently on demographic and consumer trends. Earlier this year, Peter helped PMP author Pamela Danziger flesh out a demographic profile of luxury market consumers for her new book Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury.

"It is necessary for anyone who is marketing consumer products in America to figure out what are the faster-growing segments; what are the wealthier segments; what are the segments that buy more of my product than average; where are these people and what are they like? ...it's easy to get mired down in the technicalities and forget about the fact that real people have to go out and spend real money to buy what you are selling. And if you expect them to do more of that in future years, you've go to learn who they are. It's nothing more complicated than that." 

Read more about the book: Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Are focus groups old fashioned? No way.

 Judy Langer, one of the founders of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) and a highly respected qualitative researcher responded to an article in Fast Company touting "new" research methods (neuroscience) and criticizing traditional types of focus group research.  Here is the original Fast Company article. Her response which appeared on her Facebook page follows:

" Sigh. Just about everyone who touts a "new"
(sometimes not really new) qualitative method uses "traditional" focus
groups as a straw man.  "We get insights through our wonderful method
that we would never have gotten any other way, just believe us," the
argument goes.  It used to be that the quants attacked qual but now the
attacks come from other qualies as a way to promote their services.
Besides the fact that so-called traditional focus groups have often been
valuable, this ignores the trend to deeper focus group methods.  Too

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Luxury Brands Like Prada Struggle with Mixing A-List Reputations and D-List Countries of Manufacture

By Pam Danziger, author of Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury

Get Inspired>>
Prada is going to China not just to sell, but to make — Is this where your brand should go too?
Prada – it’s a name synonymous with luxurious Italian fashion and design. That’s why the Wall Street Journal story on Prada manufacturing in China gave me a jolt. Click here to see the story.
Prada is gambling a great deal on the notion that its customers won’t care about where their clothes and handbags are made as long as that logo is there.  Miuccia Prada, the brand’s designer, says, “Sooner or later, it will happen to everyone because [Chinese manufacturing] is so good.” Many luxury consumers would beg to differ, as would I.

For a brand like Prada, being made in Italy is one of the foundational pillars of the brand. Without it, all that’s left is a hollow shell of the classic luxury brand. A recent Unity Marketing survey among 1,321 affluent luxury consumers with an average income of $287.2k reveals the danger in Prada’s made in China strategy. Over 80 percent of the luxury customers agreed with this statement:
“Many luxury goods brands have a heritage associated with a particular country, such as Chanel with France, Gucci with Italy or Mercedes Benz in Germany. These country associations are important to maintain and integral to the perception of the luxury brand.”

Brands like Prada, which displays ‘Milano’ proudly in its logo, are closely aligned with a specific country or place and have the most to lose if changes are made to where it traditionally has manufactured products. These companies need to understand that the mystique of their brands is a complex amalgamation of reputation of the company, experience in the store or online, and knowledge of the craftsmanship in manufacture of the goods.  If a luxury good is made in a country with a questionable reputation, this decision can damage the brand far more than it saves in overall costs.
In that survey, China led the ‘D-list” of countries for place of manufacture. Some 56 percent of the luxury consumers surveyed said that they associate China with poorer quality goods.
Even Chinese luxury consumers are suspicious of made in China goods, as consultant Armano Branchini says in the WSJ article, “Chinese consumers are ready to pay higher prices for luxury brands, but they want products not to be manufactured in China.”

Take Action>>
Think verycarefully about brand integrity and consumer confidence if you chose to ignore the halo that traditional place of manufacture bestows 
In this time of economic uncertainty, the pressure is on for brands to move to China or other low-cost countries in order to bolster operating margins and keep prices in line. Further, production capacity in many traditional European countries is limited, as we were reminded not long ago when Louis Vuitton had to close some of its stores early in the day because stock was running low.

Before making any such drastic move, companies need to conduct market research to talk to loyal customers who will be affected by such a move. Marketers need to learn through one-on-one interviews or focus groups about their customer’s prejudices and fears should products be manufactured in new places. By understanding the specific areas of concern to the customers, marketers can develop marketing messages that address these concerns directly.

Such research will reveal to luxury marketers the importance of place of origin in the buying equation for their brand. Through this understanding, they can use country of manufacture to their advantage when they can; and if not, take steps proactively to counter negative perceptions about a country as a place to manufacture.

Brands may find it is better to accept the increase in price and limited availability of product in order to play up the prestige that comes from association with an ‘A-list’ country of manufacture, rather than switching to production on the cheap in a country that might damage the brand.

For companies that already source their goods in ‘D-list’ countries or decide the time is right to make the move, they need to educate the consumer. Luxury marketers in these cases must convey to the consumer that they hold high standards of quality, regardless of the country that produces the product.  For example, they might take their customers behind the scenes into the factories through videos or pictures on the company website to demonstrate quality standards are in place.

Luxury marketers must work to overcome the negative association with the “Made in China” stamp
While it is tempting to ignore the country of manufacture in one’s marketing efforts, especially if it is a ‘D-list’ country, luxury marketers do so at their own peril. They must address head-on the country of origin of their products, because they can be sure their customers are flipping the item over to take a look at that country stamp before they buy.

For example, Coach is a USA heritage brand which has moved much production overseas to China. They have been able to seamlessly integrate their global sourcing thanks to the company’s iron-clad lifetime guarantee, which reads, “Coach products are made to ensure satisfaction and service for the natural life of the product. If, during its lifetime, your item should require repair, we offer a repair service for many of our products.” Such a guarantee gives reassurance that quality standards are not compromised no matter where the item is made.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hispanic language wars

David Morse, author of Multicultural Intelligence: Eight Make or Break Rules for Marketing to Race, Ethnicity, and Sexual Orientation,  blogs about the new Census findings and the two sides of the argument for and against using Spanish language in advertising.  You can read the entire post here.

More about David's book can be found here.

Do you struggle for perfection?

In his latest thought piece, author Tom Asacker asks the question, "Is perfection the enemy of the good?" and answers, "It depends on your point of view."  Tom says, "Our world is advanced by those who dare to struggle for perfection, the rebels and provocateurs who, like our Founding Fathers, help change our
lives from what it is to what they believe it should be." You can download a pdf of Tom's latest here.

Tom's books which are extended thoughts on branding, advertising, and finding opportunities in the current marketplace include A Clear Eye for Branding, A Little Less Conversation, and Opportunity Screams.

You can find more of his provocative thoughts and a video at his website.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trying to please everyone (NOT)

Chris Wirthwein, CEO of advertising agency 5MetaCom works primarily with producers of technical and scientific  products. In his book, Brand Busters: 7 Common Mistakes Marketers Make, he gives  advice on how marketers of these products can use well-accepted consumer marketing principles to reach their target audience effectively.

Here are 5 insights from Chris about Mistake # 4, Trying to please everyone.
1. In trying to appeal to everyone, marketers weaken their message to the point that they end up appealing to no one.

2. In marketing, it's about finding out the strengths of your brand that really resonate with your customers and making the most of them.

 3. Studies show if you make a lot of claims in your advertising, you're inviting greater skepticism than if you make just one strong claim.  Narrow your focus.

4. Most marketers use mass media to get customers to make a decision about their products. Mass media are idea for creating  awareness and consideration. One study showed people exposed to product ads were nearly twice as likely to buy those products as people not exposed to the ads.

5. Your product doesn't have to be excellent in all areas for it to be successful. Claiming excellence is all areas only makes  your marketing weak, unfocused, and difficult to believe.

The concept of small luxuries

The small luxury concept...
In a recent story in The Arizona Republic, PMP author Pam Danziger commented on the success of a boutique wine and cheese retailer and an important new trend in luxury marketing.

"Retail isn't a product business anymore," said Danziger, whose Unity Marketing is based in Pennsylvania. "Retail is about experiences. People have come to realize they don't have to spend $1,000 on a handbag to feel pampered. They can buy gourmet food, chocolate or spirits with pocket money and still have an experience that makes them feel special."

Read the article: Couple brings unique concept to Ahwatukee with cheese, wine shop

Danziger's new book identifies FIVE luxury market segments and explains how consumers are redefining the way luxury will be marketed for the foreseeable future.

More about this book: Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury    

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Set an agenda for an interview

Here's an agenda that William E. Miller, author of The Art of Strategic Interviewing, suggests using whenever you are interviewing job candidates:
1. Break the ice and defuse the situation.
2. Ask a few personal questions. Tell me about yourself.  How do you spend your leisure time?
3. Review education history.
4. Review career history.
5. Ask questions to assess compliance with hiring standards.
6. Allow questions from the candidate.
7. Sell the company and job. (optional)

From The Art of Strategic Interviewing by William E. Miller

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Learn from our authors

Most Paramount Market Publishing (PMP) book authors are researchers and independent consultants. Many of them share their insights with their own clients, but we want to make those insights available to a larger audience, including PMP bookbuyers, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter followers. Our authors will be contributing to this blog on a regular basis and we'll provide additional information to help you link to their books, conference appearances, and special research offers.