Archive for the ‘Value’ Category

Value Tips from Food Retailing Forum

Monday, May 4th, 2009

I received a lot of attention from my recent posts about how to improve the value equation through meaningful marketing, so I assume that this is a very relevant topic for readers and Googlers. A few weeks ago, our friends at MVI hosted a Future of Food Retailing Forum here in Cincinnati. I was unable to attend the event, but one of our star Client Service Managers, Andrea Bollin, provided our agency with a nice summary of the event, which hit again and again on consumers’ value needs.

The main purpose of the conference was to hit many topics that are useful for vendors and suppliers of all types that serve retailers—and we attended to get more perspective for Bridge Worldwide’s major food retail client, Kroger. There were two main takeaways from the two-day conference that hit on both value and meaningful marketing:

1. “The New Premium”—The concept of what consumers expect in a “premium” brand is shifting dramatically due to the economic downturn, a concern for environmental sustainability, and an overall desire by people to make a more positive impact in their purchases. According to MVI, the new premium brands are transparent and have a focused purpose. New premium brands also never mention price, but instead show added value through their social, sustainability, and health/wellness contributions. In a world where premium brands are less and less better performing than low-cost store brands, they must differentiate along other lines that people care about. I’m very excited to see the future of marketing when leading brands innovate and create marketing along these lines.

2. Teach People New Skills—One of the conference sessions shared some emerging themes in consumer messaging. One specific example is the opportunity for brands to help consumers learn or rediscover new skills. A few things are driving this: (1) People are increasingly interested in “doing it yourself” to save money and enjoy an experience, but they need to learn how; and (2) young adults today spent less time in the kitchens, yards, and garages with their parents learning how to bake a cake, landscape, or change the oil, respectively, so there is a skill gap waiting to be filled. Teaching a skill is one of the big opportunities for brands that I explore in the upcoming book, using examples such as Home Depot’s in-store classes. The idea is that brands can close a sale and earn long-term loyalty by helping people better themselves.

Overall, it’s great to see more and more industry minds triangulating on the importance of marketing that itself adds to the value equation by improving people’s lives.

As a special offer to readers of this post, you can read Andrea’s brief summary of the event by downloading it here.

Adding Sustainability to the Value(s) Equation

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

(In June I will be going to Rome for the P&G Global Alumni Reunion. My parent company, WPP, will be preparing a small magazine for the event, and I was asked to write an article around sustainability. I have to turn it in next week and figured that I would share it here both for your enjoyment and feedback. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.)

In September 2008, Advertising Age challenged the practitioners of green marketing by raising the possibility that support for sustainability would decrease with the imploding global economy. A study by Duke University showed that CMOs ranked marketing that is “beneficial for society” as the last of five priorities over the next year. Meanwhile, in boardrooms and multiagency brand summits around the world, “value” has risen to the top of marketers’ concerns. While most think this is a clear shift from one priority to another, I believe both goals are achievable by shifting to a model of meaningful marketing that adds values to consumers’ brand decisions.

With the meltdown in the global economy, many marketers have given themselves a refresher crash course in the Marketing 101 definition of the “Value Equation”: (Product Benefits + Brand Equity) / Price. This formula naturally leads many brands to refocus their advertising efforts on long-ignored product benefits. Product demos and narrow superiority claims are back in vogue. Results in many cases are mixed.

I believe this textbook formula is due for a new edition—in the form of an addition to the numerator that recognizes the benefit that marketing itself can bring to the value equation. Let’s admit it: Historically, marketing has been dominated by unwanted, interruptive ad messages that hope to gain consumer attention for a few seconds. But with 3,000 ad exposures per day and technology such as DVRs and iPods that have little use for our messages, we are now forced to earn consumers’ attention by adding value through the marketing itself. We call this “Marketing with Meaning”—and examples include the Nike+ system that helps runners track their workouts, Samsung’s laptop-recharging stations in airports, and mobile cold and flu alerts from Vicks. These brands are putting marketing into the value equation:

Six months after Advertising Age raised the question, new studies show that consumers’ interest in buying green has not withered with the economy. A study of CPG/FMCG categories by IRI and TNS found that buying habits have continued a five-year shift toward sustainable spending, and that 30% of U.S. consumers feel it is important to purchase eco-friendly products. Overall, sustainability is still valued by a broad and growing share of the market.

Brands that are making the most gains through the economic crisis have closely tied sustainability between the product and marketing. The SunChips snack brand, for example, delivered on its brand promise to “grow the best snacks on earth” by moving to a completely solar-powered manufacturing plant; and it recently announced that it would release the first compostable bag by Earth Day 2010. Sales in 2008 were up 18%. Clorox worked with the Sierra Club to earn an endorsement of its new Green Works line of cleaners, and quickly rose to 42% share of this growing category.

Promotional efforts can also have a big impact when they allow the consumer to change behavior with help from the brand itself. For example, my team at Bridge Worldwide developed a program for the Kroger grocery chain in the U.S. that allows shoppers to go online and design their own reusable grocery bag. For each bag designed, Kroger offers a free disposable bag. This small step taps consumers’ creativity, encourages them to share, and saves the equivalent of more than 12 million plastic bags each day. The program is driving traffic to stores and increasing registrations to its loyalty-card program.

At the end of the day, the overarching story that encompasses both value communication and sustainability marketing is that consumers demand more than ever before from the brands that they choose to buy. For too long we have failed to turn our marketing itself into part of the value equation that consumers consider.  We need to make marketing itself more sustainable. As Jim Stengel said recently, “If the money we spent on marketing can be spent in a way that brings joy, help, and service to people… the industry will be far better off.”

Adding Marketing to the Value Equation

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Every business in the world right now is talking about how to better communicate value to its customers. Our agency, along with many others, is briefing clients on value case studies and preparing projects that aim to convince consumers that top brands are relevant and worth the price premium over store brands and lesser competitors. There is a lot of talk about what “value” really means. Elements include product performance, of course, and even some mentions of terms such as ”brand trust.” But what has been missing from far too many calculations is consideration of how brand marketing itself can add value.

At his m-cause blog last week, Ryan Jones writes about the idea of a value equation, beginning with a great quote from Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera Bread: Value is about the totality of the experience. This got me rethinking about common value equations from the marketing textbooks. The common formula for customer value is (Product Benefit + Brand Equity)/Cost.

But this formula fails to consider one large source of value that should be added to the numerator of this equation: the added value of the marketing itself, where applicable. I’m talking about Marketing with Meaning, of course. By creating marketing that people choose to engage with, marketing that itself improves people’s lives. Of course the textbooks and company trainings don’t include this (yet), because they are used to a world in which advertising is a cost of delivering eyeballs to a product offer and brand equity. It has always been a necessary expense, rather than a valuable investment. It’s time to evolve the value equation.

Panera Bread’s offer of free Wi-Fi service in its restaurants is clearly an example of added value marketing. When Pringles allows buyers to create their own decorative labels, or Doritos creates a mystery flavor and invites buyers to create a name for it, people get more enjoyment for their $.99. When Vicks offers cold and flu alerts, or Similac provides a pregnancy guide, people receive valuable information that store brands fail to offer. When Home Depot teaches people how to install plumbing, or ConAgra Foods helps people make more balanced life choices, the brands are actually delivering value far beyond the products that either sells.

And so, here we have yet another reason to shift your business model to the method of Marketing with Meaning. In this space, I have shared how meaningful marketing grows short-term sales, builds long-term equity, and allows for more efficient cost savings. Now add “improving the customer value equation” to the list.

My dream is that marketers in conference rooms around the world begin asking themselves: “How is our marketing plan improving the value equation?” Suddenly that annoying TV ad or useless sports sponsorship looks a lot more “costly” than ever, and meaningful marketing becomes the most logical direction to turn.