Kids’ food market is expected to grow

Recent research in the kids’ food industry expects it to grow from $16.4 billion in 2007 to $26.86 billion in 2011. New concerns over these obesity, hyperactivity, brain function and gut health are some of the maladies that are sources for the diet change in children.

According to the study detailed at Food Navigator, these are the some of the ways companies can innovate to capture use the growing market:

?? Fortification: With vitamins and functional ingredients ?? Taste: Which is ‘evolving and maturing’, and must be balanced with nutrition ?? Packaging: Including portion size, convenience and shape ?? Trust: Sought through organic, allergen free and additive free products

Going Viral: Campaigning or Complaining?

We’d like to welcome another guest blogger to the NACCM Blog. Becky Carroll is the founder of Petra Consulting Group, a strategic consultancy helping companies grow through lengthening and strengthening customer relationships. Through her work with companies such as HP, Electronic Arts, and Ford, she has spent a lot of time improving customer experiences, driving increases in marketing results, and helping companies re-think their customer service and support. You can read her blog at http://customersrock.net/.

It can be easy to get customer service wrong, with the results sometimes splattered all over the Internet. When I hear this in the news, I think about viral campaigning vs. viral complaining. Here is what that looks like:

In Viral Campaigning… customers tell their friends and family how great your company is.
In Viral Complaining… customers tell anyone who will listen how much they dislike your company.

In Viral Campaigning… loyal customers are turned into raving fans.
In Viral Complaining… loyal customers are turned into frustrated screamers.

Viral Campaigning… spreads slowly, but surely, over time.
Viral Complaining… spreads like wildfire.

Success Factors
Which type of customers your company will have depends on several factors. The following are the top tips for building “viral campaigners”:

  • Foster a strong sense of community among customers. Social media is a great tool for helping this to happen quickly. Be sure to go to where your customers are already hanging out online; if they don’t have a good virtual meeting spot, invite them to your “house”!
  • Put together a proactive customer strategy. Understanding customer needs and differences will help you figure out how to treat them based on their own preferences. This can be a key competitive differentiator when done well.
  • Meet and exceed customer expectations. This doesn’t mean “do everything the customers says”. It does mean understand what customers expect and do all you can to exceed those expectations. In order to accomplish this, it is important to properly set expectations up front, empower employees to do what’s right, and measure employees based on customer expectations.

A company that has been doing a great job of creating viral campaigners is Zappos.com. The CEO of Zappos.com, Tony Hsieh (twitter.com/zappos), has been personally using Twitter and blogging (along with many of his employees) to build stronger customer relationships. His customers regularly evangelize Zappos.com to others; you can see many of their testimonials, as well as their ratings and reviews, on the Zappos.com website. They are indeed raving fans!

Taming Complainers
What can you do when viral complaining happens? The first few company reactions to the complaints can stop the negative words from spreading further. Here are a few tips:

  • Act swiftly. Don’t let things simmer for too long! It is important to try and contact the complainer directly or, if that is not possible, respond in the forum where the complaining started.
  • Be honest and sincere. Acknowledge what happened, don’t be condescending, and show your human side as much as possible. Customers are more understanding when they are dealing with other people rather than corporations.
  • Keep your ears open for further concerns. Best thing to do is always to be listening to your customers; this way, you will be able to keep track of the “temperature” of customer sentiments.

A company that is working hard to do tame the complainers is Comcast. Frank Eliason (twitter.com/comcastcares) is in charge of customer care and told me he has been successfully turning around the complainers into customers who care not only for him but for each other. He has had them answer each other’s questions when personal matters have called him away from his duties. He also takes time to listen to the ‘net. For example, whenever someone complains about Comcast on Twitter, Frank responds with “How can I help?”
Putting Customers First
Whether you have viral campaigners, complainers, or both, it is critical to always listen to customers first and then respond to them through their preferred channels of communication. This helps the campaigners feel that they are appreciated, the complainers feel that they have been heard, and your customer team remain focused on the customer.

MarketWatch: An Assessment of the Growing Customer Relationship Management Market – CRM as an Effective Cost Saving Tool ….

Check out this great article on MarketWatch, it discusses how Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Customer Relationship Management Market Assessment 2008″ report to their offering. The article discusses how CRM has seen growth through cell phones, Web 2.0 strategies and new software serving both big and small organizations. It’s a great booster to any CRM professional. I highly suggest that you check it out. Do you agree that CRM is growing and ever changing industry?

Could the environment affect consumer purchasing habits?

In a study done by Jonah Berger and Grainne Fitzsimons, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, published a study on how consumers choices are affected by the subtle enviornmental factors they see every day. If companies can find a way to relate their products to things that are already in the environment, they can get an automatic boost.

One of the studies conducted showed that people who saw dogs on a daily basis were more likely to buy Puma shoes. This is a result of dogs relating to cats, and then consumers transferring this thought to seeing cougars on the shoes. Another study asked consumers to list types of candy both before the day of Halloween and then a week after. The day before Halloween, out of the 144 consumers questioned, they were half as likely to say candies that were colored orange. Read more about the survey here.

Have you seen results show up like this when it comes to selling your products? Are you more likely to sell more of something in the fall than the spring? Why?

Social Networks: The New TV?

In this post on Social Times Robert O’Neil calls ‘social networks the new t.v.’ Robert bases this trend on a new agreement between Slide, Warner Brothers, News Corp, CPS, and Hulu that will allow Slide to distribute premium content over platforms.

Most social networks out there are opting for the partnership model; MySpace is a great example of this model. Slide has the most popular application on Facebook, but unfortunately for Facebook it doesn’t amount to much profit, only increased pageviews. Will Facebook as a platform try to gain more profit from popular applications in the future?

Drew Stevens: Cures for the Customer Service Puzzle

Posted today on examiner.com, Mr. Stevens outlines the main components to problems businesses have with customer service. Here’s a hint, it’s the businesses who are the culprit. What with a huge gap between 8% of businesses actually providing good customer service and the 80% of businesses who claim to do so; Stevens provides some tough love that business owners big and small should seriously consider. How do you rate the customer service of your business? Do you find these percentages correct?

Mzinga: Building White Label Social Networks for Businesses

Researching the web this morning I came across this post on Mashable in which they have a conversation with Mzinga about their recent success of building white label social networks for companies. In case you haven’t been keeping your eyes on Mzinga, they have over 14,000 communities in 160 countries worldwide. These numbers are impressive!

We’ve also produced a webinar with Barry Libert and Aaron Stout from Mzinga titled ‘Building a ‘WE’ Company: The New Competitive Edge‘ where they demonstrate how to reap business benefits and real value from business social networks. Make sure to watch the archive here. Barry Libert was also a speaker at last year’s Community 2.0 Event which will now be held at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, CA from May 11-13, 2009. Check back for regular updates on this blog for confirmed keynotes and other news across the community industry.

Here’s the recent conversation video from Mashable with Mzinga. Enjoy!

Online retailers now have action points

A recent study by PayPal recently did a study looking into customer behavior when shopping online. They found that price was not the overall determining factor when customers bought items online. It is important that online services provide complete customer service before, during and after a purchase, including quick site speed, accessibility, after sales service and the ability to exchange goods. The research done by PayPal also found that customer registration requirement for small sites accounted for 68% of customers turning away from their purchase. There was an additional 57% of users who cited poor site experience and confusion when it came to navigation made people turn away from making purchases as well. Read more about this at Retail Bulletin.