Posts Tagged ‘habit’

uPumpItUp: Social Motivation from Crystal Light

Monday, July 14th, 2008

One of my favorite topics to cover is anything that my loyal readers suggest. Last week, “doohan” sent me a link to uPumpItUp, a program from the Crystal Light brand. I would call uPumpItUp a “platform for social reinforcement of habit change” targeted at women. It is certainly meaningful marketing, and an interesting play for Crystal Light.

The site itself challenges women to “inspire each other to do more of the things that make us feel great, and help share that good feeling with others.” The program is “hosted” by Mandy Moore. It revolves around four categories and includes video hosts who are experts in each: Connect (share moments with the people you love), Express (upgrade your style), Inspire (“tune out distractions and tune into yourself”), and Explore (find new passions and be spontaneous).

Each category includes some short suggestions and ideas; but the focus is on member-generated challenges. And each challenge has multiple steps to ease members into the change. For example, on the Explore page, there are 152 members of the “Backyard Explorer: Become a Tourist in Your Hometown” challenge. Steps include: “Do Your Research” and “Explore a New Neighborhood.” Such challenges are another example of building meaningful connections in a social setting. People are often more motivated to change if others (even strangers) commit to joining them.

Overall, this feels like a meaningful marketing program. There are more than 50,000 consumers in the program, and I see a good amount of activity in the challenge membership and comment areas. These comments are very positive and I imagine that a good number of consumers who choose to engage with the program are making small steps to “pump up” their lives.

On the other hand, I see some room for improvement. First, the videos are a bit over-the-top and slow to load, and can be annoying for return visitors. There are other issues in how the information is presented and accessed. These issues really speak to the need of websites to prioritize User Experience over creative bells and whistles. In tools like this, people want easily accessible information. It’s why “ugly” sites such as Craigslist score so well with visitors. This is one of those areas of expertise that brand managers are just beginning to understand, and where many digital agencies are behind in building. (Yes, I’ve become a UX snob and we’ve got a great crew.)

The site is also missing critical aspects of Web 2.0 that make these tools more useful. I see no RSS feeds, downloadable content, or the ability to integrate with existing social networks such as Facebook. The hosts’ content is flat and unchanging. You can’t even search the site. I believe these are missed opportunities, and leave members wondering if this will go away in six months. The people who would participate in such groups have come to expect these features.

I think the jury is out on the business impact of uPumpItUp. The Crystal Light brand does not seem well integrated into the program. Branding is missing, aside from a logo at the bottom (below the fold) and a design element of colored liquid flowing across the page. I’m dying for Crystal Light to explain why it is hosting this program, and why it is a fit with the brand. On the positive side, it seems to have gotten a lot of press from leading magazines and online properties.

I think uPumpItUp is a good step into the world of meaningful marketing for Crystal Light. But I hope this is the first baby step toward real change, rather than a short-term promotion that will shut down when Mandy Moore’s contract expires.

Adding Value By Building Habits

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I need to purge myself from the decadence of Cannes and its endless flow of both wine and drumming gorilla videos. So it’s a great time to dive into the healthcare category. Healthcare is one of our favorite industries because our clients’ products and services themselves significantly improve lives. And we find that marketing in healthcare is fertile ground for marketing that itself can improve lives.

One of our favorite clients is Align, a new brand at Procter & Gamble that is in a pretty unique category. Align is a entrant into the growing probiotic category. Probiotics are digestive supplements that introduce helpful bacteria into your system. They are gaining acceptance and acclaim for a wide range of benefits - from preventing colon cancer to lowering blood pressure.

Align specifically helps build and maintain a healthy, balanced digestive system. It is made with a probiotic called Bifantis. Both are getting some very positive reviews from consumers whose lives have been upended by digestive issues. Moms are missing kids’ soccer games because they are stuck in the bathroom. Dads have to know where the closest public bathrooms are at all times.

As you might imagine, the key consumer and business challenges for Align are the fact that it is a pill that must be taken daily, and it can take a month for the full benefits to come into effect. And as a business school marketing professor warned me on the first day of class: “Habit change is really hard.” Further, the daily supplement is not covered by insurance, and it costs about $1 per day. People who try Align desperately want to adopt the habit, but they need help to ensure that they experience the desired results. Otherwise, it can be a frustrating loss of time and money with nothing to show for it. We saw an opportunity for marketing with meaning.

Based on our years of work in healthcare, we know that people are actively seeking online tips and advice that will help them start a new medication habit or make a significant lifestyle change. So several months ago we brought our client team the idea of creating “My Align Advisor” – a relationship marketing program that would help people adopt the Align habit and ensure that they get the maximum benefits of their investment in the product. Here are a few of the ways we help build the habit:

  • Invite consumers into the program at the time that they first buy the product.
  • Offer a “digestive tracker” that they can use to measure their progress and results.
  • Send weekly emails that explain what people are likely feeling and experiencing at every stage of the process. This helps encourage them when they may feel frustrated.
  • Request that they share their results with others through a “Tell Us Your Story” program.

We know that by engaging people with reminders, journal entries, and social reinforcement, we can significantly improve compliance. And the My Align Advisor program test showed real results. In terms of meaning, our survey of users showed that a majority agreed that the program “added to the overall value of Align” and that “Align allows them to enjoy life again.” As for the business, I cannot share results here, but suffice to say that the program continues and our clients are happy. The best news for all of us – including consumers – is that Align has expanded from an online-only test and is now available in select cities as well.

The My Align Advisor program is a model of meaningful marketing that many brands could follow. Other daily prescription and OTC medications are a natural, but I could see similar models anywhere a frequent habit needs to be created. It could be Scotts helping people get their new yards off to a good start, or Toyota helping Prius buyers get used to hybrid driving.

At the end of the day, habit change IS hard. But marketing that helps people adopt the habit can be extremely meaningful for both consumers and businesses.