Chain Leader took some time to look at the slowing industry of restaurants. Hitting its lowest point since 1992, the Consumer Confidence Index fell to 57.2% in May. Everyone is seeing the downturn in spending, including the restaurant industry. The largest age group to reduce eating out was 45-54 year olds. This group has cut their spending at restaurants by 60% citing mortgages and college tuitions for the reason of decreased spending. For those who lived in a household making more than $100,000 a year, the study showed that they ate out at lest one more time a week than any other income bracket at 2.3 visits to a restaurant a week.
A new Genesys Global Communication Survey, detailed here at The Perfect Customer Experience shows that customers make important decisions based on the interactions they have during customer service calls. Some of the interesting statistics detailed were: -38% of customers state that call centers have the biggest impact on their cusomter loyalty -50% of customers have stopped using a service because of a poor customer service call -84% of customers would like to hear about more of your products if they are products that can be beneficial to business
John Todor recently looked at the different statistics consulting age and gender of those using social media. Since this is becoming an important way for businesses to create a value and connection with their audience, companies should realize who is online.
According to the article, females are the dominant users of certain social networks sites, such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, as they are 63% of the users,. The majority of users of these sites are 18 to 25 years old.
On the contrary at LinkedIn, males are the majority of the active users at 61%. This group is also older with average users are between 26 to 35 years old.
In the recent study 2008 College Explorer Survey, by Alloy Media, they found that the attention of college students is turning both online and mobile. They found that 2/3 or college students watched or streamed television shows from sources including Veoh, Hulu, Joost and iTunes. Further promoting this fact is the degrees in ownership of televisions from 82% in 2007 to 79% in 2008. The percentage of those who owned laptops also increased from 63% of students in 2007 to 70% in 2008. MP3 ownership also increased among college students from 56% in 2007 67% in 2008.
When researching for products and services online, customers are beginning to stray away from looking at corporate websites and are increasingly turning to social media like blogs and discussion forums to share their opinions about what they like and dislike. This post from Marketing Roadmaps details that customers are now for different ways to communicate with other customers, and they want it do it fast. The post lists three things I believe companies can benefit from by adding a blog to their customer service strategy.
- Content, or posts, presented in an article-like form, in reverse chronological order.
- Ability for readers to leave public comments
- Ability to subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed or by email
One thing not mentioned though is the reduction of cost going towards customer service. Blogs are relatively cost-free to maintain, and so companies need not worry about budgeting money for it. Even though customer service agents will not be going away soon, consumers are starting to look to their peers for product recommendations, advice on technical support, and other issues.
Socializing on the web started with chat rooms, e-mail, and instant messaging, and then it morphed into social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. Some have wondered, as this blog post indicates, about what the next step in the evolution of these sites will be. In the quest for an answer the post uncovered a new company, called RocketOn, that has a solution. They have created a program where each individual would have their own mini avatar that would be present with them at all times.
As described in this article from TechCrunch ‘Instead of integrating virtual worlds into webpages, it has actually placed one on top of them so that avatars can roam the web just as you currently surf it.’ Avatars would have all the basic capabilities that similar programs have such as the ability to change outfits, and chat. As an added layer, however, consumers would have the option of paying for virtual goods through real money, or by earning points through completion of tasks, and simple use of the program. Below is a video with the demonstration of this product. .
An article found in NY Times, delves into the emotion that is present in many ads today. Anger. In one commercial from Southwest Airlines, in reference to the cost of other airlines, the company is quoted as saying ‘What have they been smoking? Apparently, your rolled-up $20s.’ Southwest isn’t the only company utilizing this strategy. Harley Davidson is using the tag line ‘freedom and wind outlast hard times’, and Jackson Hewitt displays images of taxpayers who didn’t use their services ‘angrily smashing or throwing things’. As the NY Times said ‘The tone and attitude of the ads are part rant, part battle cry, part manifesto and part populist appeal.’ In 2006 a Newsweek Article titled ‘Unhappy Americans’ they alleged that in a poll they conducted, 67% of Americans are unhappy. Are the advertisements based on marketing research accurately reflecting the mood of society today, or has this attitude changed?
Andy Green, Global Managing Editor at Avaya, makes a great point in his latest post on the Avaya Blog in which he details that even though information technology spending will expand by less and less each year, companies should not reduce technology spending on customer service. What’s the reason for this? Arguably, customers are the ones who will give your company money. Investing in advanced software and applications that will improve response quality for customer service agents is a bargain compared to the amount of revenue lost and the costs of acquiring new customers. After all, repeat customers will be more profitable than new customers will ever be.
Many companies have acknowledged the influence of social marketing. Confirming the influence of peer-to-peer marketing is Sephora, a retail beauty chain. As reported in this article in Internet Retailer last year, Sephora, after implementing an ‘online viral marketing campaign’ where certain individuals were picked to test products and spread the word, the company reported that their online response rate from this campaign was three times higher than other forms of online marketing including banner ads, and links from company generated e-mails.
More recently, as reported in this article at cnetnews.com, Internet start-up SocialMedia Networks is announcing that they have a new twist that will also help media buyers increase the success of their online advertisements. What they are offering is a new technology, called Social Banners that will incorporate consumers that are deemed influential among their peer group into their ads.
Social Banners would use a Friend Rank system, similar to that of Google’s Page Rank, where a specific algorithm would determine an individual’s influence on their peer group. As stated by Seth Goldstein, founder of SocialMedia Networks, “FriendRank basically helps us choose which friends to put in the ad.” The data would be gathered from sources such as Facebook, and MySpace. But the question remains, will consumers respond to any overt marketing even through their social network.
The New York Times reported today that Google is introducing a new service called Ad Planner designed to help media buyers determine websites that their target audiences are interested in. This service will place Google in direct competition with Nielsen Online, and comScore. Google is touting that their main benefit to users will be that it is free. The screen shot for Ad Planner can be found below. Shockwaves have already hit the market space with comScore reporting a drop in their stock price of 22.5% from $21.45 to $6.24. Both Nielsen Online, and comScore in response to the new Google Tool have released statements defining why their companies are still viable. From Nielsen Online, Susan Hickey, head of marketing made this statement about Google Ad Planner, ‘We haven’t seen, in-depth, the tool, but the breadth and depth of our data, we feel that clients pay for that.’ Gian M. Fulgoni, chairman at comScore response was to say ‘If I were a competitor of Google, the last thing I would want to do is use their products.’
While Google has stated that the main difference between their service and competition, is that Ad Planner will be free, there is another competitor, Quantcast, who is questioning the validity of the findings of the aforementioned companies. This new start up, as announced in AdAge, stated that they will be offering a tracking tool that has people-based traffic counts, a cross between panel-based data, and cookie based measurements. Nielsen Online, and comScore currently use panel data, and Google has stated that their information will come from multiple data feeds and licensed information from sources including Nielsen Online.