Visual Enticement

23 04 2009

Zappos is the latest brand to hop on the data visualization bandwagon.  And I love it.  Here’s a screenshot of their new online map which shows who’s buying what, where.


No, it’s not useful on the surface.  But sure is a fun way to encourage discovery of new products.



22 04 2009

Michael Fassnacht wrote a strong piece for AdAge about the rise of self-segmentation in marketing.  His premise points to three cultural shifts that mitigate the impact of traditional consumer segmentation.  Paramount among these are that consumers are moving between segments.  And if consumers are dynamic, moving ever more easily between segments, the onus is on the brand to make itself accessible at all of the relevant possible points of discovery.  As Michael puts it:

It’s not surprising that two of the most successful product and retail companies, Apple and Amazon, are not masters of consumer segmentation but experts in building relevant products that consumers choose. Their marketing communication is segment-based but does not depend on pursuing an ever-increasing level of micro-segment-specific relevance. They are far more focused on building and communicating relevance relationships than in micro-segmenting consumers by any kind of attributes.

The rise of social networks has allowed for even greater fluidity among customer segments in both expression and discovery.  On Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I connect to different groups with different interest (multiple forms of self-expression) and in those environments I am exposed to new conversations (which leads to discovery).  Through My Family connection on Facebook, I am now exposed to my Aunt Nancy’s ardent evangelism for Harley thanks to her new motorcycle.

The article provides 4 tips for encouraging consumer self-segmentation [excerpted here]:

  1. Build correlation clusters between purchased products and services, and serve them up as recommendations (Amazon, Apple’s Genius feature).
  2. Offer networking opportunity based on self-acclaimed interests (Facebook, LinkedIn).
  3. Design and provide content or a deal-alert function that automatically informs consumers about something new or interesting in the “opted-in” interest domain of a consumer (Google Alert, Orbitz Fare Alert).
  4. Enable sharing of consumer-generated content or feedback in the context of your brand (BlueCross’ “Power of the Human Voice” campaign).

The lesson here: in addition to consumer segmentation, marketing departments are going to have to work extra hard to make their brands more discoverable and accessible to consumers.  Consumers’ interests are ever-changing, they have infinite choice and now they have a say in your brand.

The new Green Economy

14 04 2009

Last week, MediaPost ran an article about the double-digit increase in the home gardening sector.  This is a bright spot, but not altogether unexpected given the seismic cultural shifts toward self-sufficiency, consumer basics, and spending more time at home.

What is interesting is how quickly companies are jumping on this bandwagon.  Last night, Home Depot ran a primetime, network ad that featured all of the ways in which Home Depot can help you with your gardening.  Hedgeclippers, lawnmowers, fertilizer and, of course, vegetable plants.  What struck me was how much airtime the $3.49 container of tomato plants got.  It’s obviously not their big ticket item but it does reposition Home Depot to be in the consideration set for home gardeners.


This morning, MediaPost ran an article on Campbell’s Soup.  Campbell’s is running a promotion called “Help Grow Your Own Soup” (HGYOS), with the goal of growing one billion tomatoes.  They’re doing this by making their tomato seeds available to the public through a code-redemption promotion.  They are also raising money for agricultural education and helping create five community gardens.

This is a well-planned reinforcement of Campbell’s persona as a downhome brand, one that’s nourishing and good for families.  It also squarely re-establishes itself as an essential pantry basic so parents will keep stocking their pantries with Campbell’s, even when making those tough grocery budget decisions.  Nice work staying relevant, Campbell’s.

If these initiative work as I am expecting, be on the lookout for more Green marketing initiatives around home gardening.  I’m sure Target, K-Mart and food manufacturers will continue this trend throughout the spring.

Net Promoter Scores are Out

7 04 2009

Surprise, surprise.  Apple has the second highest net promoter score.  This makes it the brand that general consumers recommend the most, according to Satmetrix.  The top ten includes:

The overall winners:

2. Apple
5. Google
6. Facebook
7. Wikipedia
8. eBay
9.  Craigslist
10. Barnes & Noble (

For more on the rankings, check out this Brand Week article.

Blatant Optimism, post 1

7 04 2009

HBS ran a short article titled “Cheers to the American Consumer.” In it, author John Quelch details 6 qualities of the American consumer that provide hope for an economic recovery:  (relative) wealth, mobility, immigration, independence, recognition and technology.

This is a short article that makes its point in broad strokes.  Not much meat to chew on here, but it does provide a context for hope.

For months now I have been decrying the pessimism of the American media, business leaders and political leaders.  I am not buying into this “sky is falling attitude.”  Our capitalistic and innovative tendencies are too ferocious to allow it (unless, of course, we succumb to our own fear and doubt).  So, from here on out, I will be searching for articles that point out bright spots in the economy, areas of growth and change.  Auto industry: stop whining and build better, more responsible cars.  Airline industry: make flying fun again.  Department stores: offer a unique retail experience based on service and local tastes.  Credit cards: make responsibility part of your customer experience again and having a credit card a privilege, not a right.

With so many old business regimes and models falling by the wayside, we have the unique opportunity now to rebuild a stronger, more valuable, more enjoyable and more sustainable economy.  No excuses.

Segmenting Moms

7 04 2009

1-800-Flowers has launched a new campaign, Spot-a-Mom. Working across a broad range of traditional and social media outlets, the company is encouraging everyone from their CEO to the (wo)man on the street to recognize the moms in their lives. What’s unique about this is that they are using Twitter and Facebook to segment the moms by interests and hobbies. Participants can then nominate the moms in their lives to be the 1-800-Flowers Mom of the Week.

Of course, this campaign is a lead-up to next month’s Mother’s Day. And the more that 1-800-Flowers can do to associate its brand with that holiday, the better for them. But at least they’re recognizing Moms in the process.

(tip to 1-800-Flowers: Don’t be so cheap. The $100 gift certificate for being the Mom of the week makes you look cheap).