Tag Archives: Apple

This Week In Market Research: 11/30/15 – 12/4/15

According to a study put out by Texas A&M University, executives are more willing to take a significant pay cut working for a top firm rather than having a greater salary at a mid-range company. This week, Fast Company wrote a piece detailing 5 reasons why these individuals choose the top brands over higher pay. The first listed among the others, is that working for a top company boosts personal identity. In this sense, where you work becomes your self-identity and by working for a top company, your self-identity gets a boost. Secondly, an obvious point, is that working for a top company offers prestige. Clearly being able to claim you work for a company like Apple give an individual a bit more status. The third reason they argue, is that it sends signals about quality. ‘In addition to paying less, the study found that top brands also attracted CEOs of higher quality, based on their experience, board appointments, and other factors.’ The article ends by claiming that working for a top company can trump a long list of experience and affect your salary in the long run. What do you guys think? I’m inclined to agree with most the points made, although I do believe there is much to be said about gaining experience from various organizations and becoming well-rounded. 

An article posted on Fast Company this week details allegations against Google on the premise of illegal data collection on young students. The group filing the complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, goes by the name ‘The Electronic Frontier Foundation’ (EFF). According to EEF, ”Despite publicly promising not to, Google mines students’ browsing data and other information, and uses it for the company’s own purposes.” Additionally the group harshly criticized Google by stating that minors should not be treated as ‘guinea pigs.’ They continued their criticism in saying that ‘If Google wants to use students’ data to ‘improve google products,’ then it needs to get express consent from parents.” In response to the allegations, Google has stated that it ‘will disable the setting on school Chromebooks that allow Chrome Sync data to be shared in the near future.’ This is definitely an interesting case with respect to market research and what can cross the line ethically. As always, I encourage individuals to read the article here and comment on what you think.  
Did you know that females are still the largest buyers of pop music? According to an article on Forbes this week, women continue to make up the majority demographic for consumers of pop music. ‘What do Adele, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith have in common? Most of the buyers of their albums are female, according to an article by Hannah Karp in the Wall Street Journal based on data from a number of market research firms.’ The article points out that, while this may come as no surprise, the ability to have an understanding on an artist’s fan base corresponds nicely with the ‘conventional industry wisdom.’ According to the article, a Nielsen study also found that the majority of Adele’s fan base are females between the ages of 25-44 years old with children. This was an interesting statistic to me because I would have assumed this number to include more of the demographic that we call ‘tweens.’ Regardless of the stats, I found this article extremely interesting in its explanation of how market research is being used within the music industry.

Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com

This Week In Market Research: 9/14/15 – 9/18/15

This week Fast Company wrote an article titled, ‘How to (Gently) Crush Your Client’s Dreams.’ Interesting title right? The basis of this article centers on the scenario of a client having unrealistic goals and having to bring them to reality without losing them as a client. As Jennon Bell Hoffmann, a Chicago-based freelance writer and marketing consultant, explains, there are often times when a client’s dream or goals are too unrealistic or far-reaching. In describing a case where a client wanted to be on the Today show, Hoffman says ” They were under the impression that getting something big like the Today show happens automatically if you get a marketing person.’” Obviously this is not the case in most cases, so how do you get your client to realize the lofty nature of a request like being on the Today show? According to this piece on Fast Company, one needs to first explain exactly what it is they do, and make sure the client understands their product entirely. From there, you can attempt to reshape the client’s expectations by allowing them to see goals in a different light. The full article is very insightful and shares some deep aspects of working with clients.
It’s the dilemma that all women undergo when they are expecting a child while also holding down a full time job; how can I move up if I go on maternity leave? Well, according to Ann Cairns of MasterCard, this doesn’t have to be the case. This week Fast Company sat down with MasterCard’s president of international markets, Ann Cairns to hear about her story and encouragement to other young women about how to be a professional and mom at the same time. Cairns’ story begins when she was 37 working as the head of sales for Citibank. At this same time, Cairns found out she was pregnant and worried about a future of being on the road five days out of the week with a newborn back at the house. Luckily for Cairns, she was in for a surprise when, 12 weeks into her maternity leave, her boss offered her a promotion of considerable gain. Cairn explains that before worrying about maternity leave and one’s career after, you should put things into perspective. ‘In the context of what will amount to a 40-year career, those three and a half months are close to nothing.’ She also discusses how having a supportive boss makes all the difference as you go through the whole process. Learn more about Cairn’s advice to all young women on how to progress professionally with children at Fast Company’s website.
If you have a passion, you can change the world. These are similar words to those spoken by Steve Jobs in 1997 after he returned to Apple as it was on the verge of bankruptcy. ‘Apple is not about making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. Apple is about something more. Its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.’ An article released by Entrepreneur this week discusses how passion can drive business and markets. Halfway through the article the author states that most successful business individuals are passionate, ‘but not necessarily about the product’ itself. The author then brings up the example of Steve Jobs and how he wasn’t necessarily passionate about computer hardware but rather, passionate about creating the tools that would aid people in being more creative. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was interviewed for this article as well and claims, ”Coffee is the product, but it’s not the business we’re in.” In other words, the passion is for the concept of what Starbucks can be for people. Passion, therefore, acts as the driver of force in business and markets.
This week, Entrepreneur released an article detailing three simple ways a person or business can get more shares and likes on Facebook. It’s evident from social media, especially Facebook, that likes and shares drive ‘virality’ and boost the search engine optimization of any entity. One of the strongest ways to achieve this, according to the article, is to make sure you aim your content strategy toward being accessible through mobile devices. ‘More than 70 percent of Facebook traffic comes through mobile devices, which means you must optimize content for mobile in every possible way.’ The second way discussed in the article is to only boost posts that receive earl engagement. In other words, your audience will be more likely to engage if they notice that other people they may or may not know have already liked/commented or shared. Lastly, the author states that in order to gather more Facebook likes and shares, one should ask the fundamental question of whether or not the post will pass the ‘share test.’ In this way, the author is simply trying the get you to think about whether or not the post has color, intrigue, surprise, or could strike the reader as different. Whatever it is that will get the reader to reverse the scrolling motion and take a second look is, in the end, what will give you more viewership and more visibility.
Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com

This Week In Market Research: 7/13/15 – 7/17/15

Knowing your consumer is the biggest name of the game for
most companies. So if your employees demographics make up a large percentage of
your consumer base, why not conduct market research internally? This is what
Poshmark, a mobile marketplace for fashion organization, did in giving each employ (over 85 people) apple watches. Around 70% of Pochmark employees are
made up of women who love to shop, according to the founder.  In lieu of launching the Poshmark app, the
move to provide employees with apple watches was motivated by the desire to
gain insight into how women interacted with the new app. After giving the women
time to play around with the app, the results very extremely valuable. Among
many other behaviors noted, the women were extremely happy with the way the app
gave real-time notifications but some individuals were not as drawn to the
amount of images displayed; which could pose an issue for a fashion app that is
driven by images. In general the research was highly educational and showcases
a unique opportunity to conduct market research within the office. 

This week, Google released that it is testing a new feature
that will let consumers purchase products through advertisements. The function,
labeled ‘Purchases on Google’ will allow people using smartphones to ‘click
select search ads to visit retailer-branded product pages hosted by google.’
Going up against competition from companies like Amazon, Google is beginning to
invest in ways that attract the mobile shopper. ‘Thanks to smartphones,
shopping now happens anytime and anywhere,’ a spokesperson from the company
stated. It will be interesting to see where this function takes off from here
and how users will interact with it. 

You’ve seen it everywhere on Facebook: ‘Win free Chipotle
for a year!!’ Like who doesn’t want free Mexican fast food for the next year!?
So why is this irresistibly delicious fact food chain offering free chipotle
for a year and what do they want in return? Well, as it turns out, Chiptotle
just released its own app called, ‘Friend or Faux.’ In order to build more of
an awareness and audience on the app they’re offering a buy one get one free
coupon for anyone who plays the game. On top of that, 50 fortunate players will
be randomly selected to win free chipotle for themselves and a friend for an
entire year. In order to increase your chances of winning, each participant is
encouraged to tweet about ‘Friend or Faux.’ Essentially the game is another way
to highlight that Chipotle tops any other traditional fast food chain as far as
health goes. This campaign carries a brilliant strategy in order to gain more
app attention while also building up the reputation and brand of Chipotle.  


Nichole Dicharry,
is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who
works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing
analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com 

Big Privacy: It’s Coming

By Marc Dresner, IIR

My blog last week focused on data brokers and the looming threat of a Big Privacy backlash
in response to Big Data collection run amuck.

I want to
stick with Big Privacy this week, because I believe strongly that the
consequences of inaction for those in the consumer insights field could be more
serious than most of us realize.

For starters,
high-profile gaffes by Facebook, Apple (I’m referring to “Locationgate” not the naked photo scandal) and the like have done much to educate
the public on the data-for-service arrangements those of us who didn’t read the Privacy Policy unknowingly entered
into with such companies.

I think most people have since resigned themselves to this trade-off. 

Maybe that’s
because many of us did a rough cost-benefit analysis and, if not ideal, we found the
model acceptable, harmless, reasonable’ 

The absence of any evidence suggesting widespread public outrage has to do with the fact that
people don’t think they have any choice

But I suspect that more likely than not, the relative absence of any evidence that suggests widespread public outrage has to do with the fact that people don’t think they have any choice in the

A friend I recently mentioned
this to dismissed the idea, noting that Facebook isn’t forcing anyone
to use its network.

That’s true. And it’s pretty much irrelevant to a realistic discussion about privacy, because what matters here is the perception of transparency and ethical conduct.

No one is being forced to Google anything, either. But that didn’t
prevent the European Union Court of Justice from ruling in May that Google must amend search results upon request’a precedent-setting decision that asserts
the rights of the individual to control his/her personal data.

Indeed, it’s this notion of control (and informed consent) that we need to start considering when we talk about privacy.
are waking up to the fact that information about them is being collected and
used for purposes that they aren’t aware of and might not consent to if they

People are just
now starting to wake up to the fact that information about them is being
collected by unknown others and used for purposes that they aren’t aware of and
might not consent to if they were.

Most of the general
public, I think, knows that privately held data’credit reports, purchase
histories, loyalty data’about them exist and are shared between companies, but
I’d wager few people understand the extent of this sharing or what policies or
rules govern such activity.

Josh Klein, author of ‘Reputation Economics: Why Who You Know Is Worth More Than What You Have,’ points out that most people would probably be surprised to learn that Acxiom and LexisNexis have been aggregating purchase history to develop health profiles, which they sell to hospitals who then
use the information to advertise targeted medical services.

“Tell people this sort of
thing and it’s no leap for them to imagine that information going to their
insurance adjustors,” Klein said in a presentation he delivered at TMRE’s sister event, Shopper Insights in Action, this past July.

People would probably be even more shocked to know what can be amassed about them in the public domain’tax
records, voting records, ethnicity, religion, who your neighbors are, if you’re
married, do you take care of your parents, do you have children, etc.

This information isn’t
just available to Big Brother; it’s available to, well, me if I want it.

Klein pointed out that Spokeo combs publicly available sources, aggregates the data and basically provides
a docier on individuals to subscribers for about $3 per month.

Now, you can opt out of a Spokeo listing, but you cannot close the spigot of publicly available data about you. That alarms some people. 

is a loaded word, but that’s what is happening when we go online, isn’t it? 

is a loaded word, but that’s what is happening when we go online, isn’t it? And
on such a massive scale that Orwellian is almost an understatement.

Klein notes that Google only needs 22
points of data to figure out who you are wherever you log on. (Whether you hit the logo to go back to the home page or hit the
home button is one such data point.)

And then there’s mobile’where you go, what you do on your phone’it’s all being collected. 

People may have signed on, but they are not on board.

So, again, why haven’t we
seen a bigger backlash?
Maybe it’s a matter of ignorance or denial. Maybe people think it’s futile. Maybe we’re just lazy.
Whatever the
case, it is a curious thing and I’m not the only one who believes the situation is unsustainable.

Coming Next: Data Custodianship, Privacy By Design and a Huge Opportunity for Consumer Researchers.

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

Apple Maps Still Can’t Find Their Way

As of late, Apple has delivered significant updates across virtually every facet of the company. In fact, the tech giant has released 4,000 new APIs to developers; a more aggressive push in cloud services; and changes across its mobile and desktop operating systems.
But, one area of Apple’s business that is seriously lacking in function and updates is Apple Maps. Maps are important to Apple because, just as search has been at the heart of how people find their way around the Internet, maps are the key to how many people use their smartphones.
According to Apple, there is a feature in iOS 8 that will give venue owners the ability to add more indoor positioning data. But from what we understand this was far from what Apple had intended. A source told Apple Insider, ‘There were multiple improvements that didn’t make it into iOS8,’ a source tells us.
After two years of parting ways with Google, Apple is still working on its Maps app. Some key changes included enhanced, more reliable data; more points of interest and better labels to make certain locations like airports, highways and parks easier to find; a cleaner maps interface; and public transit directions.
Further ahead, the report noted plans to integrate augmented reality features to give people images of what was nearby. So, why didn’t they appear?
One source said, ‘Many developers left the company, no map improvements planned for iOS 8 release were finished in time. Mostly it was failure of project managers and engineering project managers, tasks were very badly planned, developers had to switch multiple times from project to project. I would say that planning, project management and internal politics issues were a much more significant contributor to the failure to complete projects than developers leaving the group.’
Over the years, Maps have been a sensitive area in Apple’s business. It was at the 2012 WWDC that Apple unveiled a new version of its Maps app, but it turned out to be a disastrous move for the company. Unreliable data produced random renderings and bewildered users, and even prompted an apology from CEO Tim Cook with the promise that things would get better.
Apple appears to be taking similar steps to bring search closer to its core business, so there will be two areas to watch to see how the company evolves. 

Track This: Indoor Positioning/Mapping Meets Real Time Marketing in 2014

A couple of things happened this recently that makes me think we are on the verge on a big change in the way we use data to push marketing messages and segment desired audiences.

Over at Foursquare, an engineer and a data scientist figured out a brilliant data hack for an innovation they had been trying to develop for years – figuring out how to send tips to users when they were in a certain location automatically without any prompt based on their GPS proximity by matching a cloud of points to another.

nerd candy. some iBeacons have arrived
Nerd candy. some iBeacons have arrived (Photo: mrtruffle)

Everyone’s been admiring Apple’s iBeacon technology hold promise for a hyper-personal in-store shopping experience but over at Qualcomm, they’re about to give Apple some fierce competition in the playing field:

Use of the platform enables brands to increase sales and drive loyalty by delivering highly relevant communications while those consumers are physically present in their stores and venues. Brands using the Gimbal platform can send customized communications based on interest derived from geofence triggers and proximity triggers, all matched to inferred interests.”

Also gone mainstream: “Indoor location technology brings Internet-style tracking to physical spaces…RetailNext, a company offering ‘comprehensive in-store analytics,’ says its products are being used by 100 large retailers and in thousands of stores. Euclid also says it has 100 customers, including Home Depot.”

Indoor location services on mobile phone
Indoor location services on mobile phone (Photo: IntelFreePress)

So what will this mean in 2014? How will this change the way we analyze data and use it? It seems to me that companies who stash researchers away in silos or lack innovative and collaborative teams are likely to miss these types of new opportunities. Also something to keep track of is the privacy issues that terrify consumers but I believe those can easily be appeased by making the returns on sharing way more beneficial than the concerns and then taking the right steps to ensure that their data is safe with you.


Formerly a senior copyeditor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book Group, Valerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogWorld Future Trends.tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and founded Literanista. She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at vrusso@iirusa.com or @Literanista.

Who’s winning the culture wars?

Brands are beginning to question whether knowing their consumer is enough. In a world of constant change, being culturally relevant and future-focussed is increasingly important. Culturally-connected brands can be nimble and operate in real time. When your brand is part of culture, not sitting on the surface, you stand a better chance of being noticed and loved.

But how exactly do you connect with something as amorphous as ‘culture’? And how do you know when you’re doing it right?
 For the last four years we’ve been measuring how successfully brands are connecting with the zeitgeist.
We asked 62,950 people in 10 countries in our Cultural Traction’ 2013 Report. We measured each brand’s VIBE ‘ that’s how Visionary, Inspiring, Bold and Exciting they are ‘ to see how well they’re tapping into cultural trends.

The change in a brand’s VIBE over time is its Cultural Traction’. If traction is decreasing, the brand is falling out of step and faces trouble, if it’s increasing the brand has its finger on the right pulse and may be destined for greater things.

In this year’s Top 10 ‘ somewhat unsurprisingly ‘ tech titans Google and Apple dominate.  Google seems more Inspiring and Exciting, Apple more Visionary and Bold. They’re joined by other industry innovators, Samsung, Microsoft and eBay, as well as BMW and Audi. Surprise entries are IKEA and Coca-Cola, proving you don’t have to make machines to join the cultural conversation.

So what makes a winner? At the heart of our top 10 brands is the belief and opportunity to drive the human race forward. Google gives us access to endless potential and innovates constantly. Apple is the original brand to give us access to the future (although its traction has been slowing over the last two years). Ikea opens our minds to possibilities and approaches the future with real optimism and Coke, well they’re all about optimism. It seems that in tricky times we’re looking for direction, vision, confidence and hope.

And the losers? Lurking at the bottom are booze brands who, despite their size, are losing cultural relevance. How we connect with people has fundamentally changed over the last decade, and alcohol brands need to work harder to keep up.  At the bottom are mainly FMCG brands, but Twitter and Yahoo are also languishing, failing to join other tech brands on the podium.

So, what do brands that are out-of-step with culture have in common?

Brands in the bottom 10 encourage us to live life to the full, but exist only in the moment. They want us to have fun, but are without direction ‘ hedonists with nowhere to go after the party. Brands that connect with culture are visionary, opinionated, give direction and create change. Brands in the bottom are fun without substance.

One thing seems certain ‘ brands who ignore the world around them do so at their peril.


Izzy Pugh, Cultural Insight Director, Added Value UK. This blog was originally published in Contagious Magazine. You can learn more about Cultural Insights from Added Value’s North American CEO, Maggie Taylor, as she presents ‘Refresh.  Or perish.  Why Cultural Vibrancy Counts’ at The Market Research Event in Nashville October 21-23 

8 Stats Proving the Importance of Customer Experience

Is customer experience really that important? Well, the recent Fortune list of the world’s 10 most admired companies in 2013 includes seven that are renowned for excellence in that area: Apple, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Southwest, Disney and FedEx. Here is some recent research by Business2community.comthat proves customer experience should be a top priority for companies today.
  • Dell has published internal metrics showing that 97 percent of dissatisfied customers can be rescued with proactive intervention and more than 40 percent of those people become raving fans.
  • Siegel+Gale’s 3rd annual Global Brand Simplicity Index reported last year that nearly one third of American consumers would be willing to pay an average of four percent more for simpler brand experiences.
  • Gartner estimated last year that by 2014 ‘failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers.’  
  • Research by Temkin Group last year reported that only seven percent of the 255 large companies it surveyed could be described as reaching the highest level of customer experience maturity, although 60 percent said their goal is to be the industry leader in customer experience within three years.
  • A July, 2013 Lloyd’s survey of 588 C-suite executives found that customer loss was their second biggest concern, exceeded only by worries about high tax rates. Respondents also indicated they are under-prepared to address this risk, with executives giving themselves only a 5.7 rating on a 1-to-10 scale. 
  • Sixty-two percent of B2B and 42 percent of B2C customers purchased more after a good experience, while 66 percent and 52 percent, stopped making purchases after a bad experience, according to a survey of 1,000 people who had had recent customer service interactions.
  • An Oracle survey of 1,342 senior-level executives from 18 countries earlier this year found that 97 percent agree that delivering a great customer experience is critical to business results, and that the average potential revenue loss from failing in this area is 20 percent of annual revenue. However, 37 percent are just getting started with a formal customer experience initiative, and only 20 percent consider the state of their customer experience initiative to be advanced.
  • A survey of 2,000 adults last year found that 83 percent are willing to spend more on a product if they feel a personal connection to the company. One-fifth said they would spend 50 percent more on companies that they felt the company put the customer first.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

The Marketing of Creating Product Anxiety

Daily, we hear of a new fad in the world of thirsty consumers. Apple rules the roost of having new products yearly. Recalling the years when Harry Potter and Twilight releases meant brands clamoring for attention still rings a marketing bell. Teetering on borderline obsessive, the anxiety attack is something I have explored several times before, and its a psychological facet that continues to amaze me.

makes these tremendous launches a mega success even before they hit the
earth are the hype  that they generate, which in turn induces anxiety
amongst a majority of populations. Hype truly resonates with today’s
yuppy and less yuppy generations alike, and is the apt verb used by lookbook.nu‘s
ecstatic fashionnistas trying to carve a name or make a few friends
based on inspirational looks. With multiple footholds of hype, anxiety
comes into play, which in turn represents the gap between needs and

needs and wants represent the degree to which we aspire something, it
is the level to which its utility and our anxiety align that predicts
how popular it will be when it hits the public. This in turn can allow
firms to manage their marketing expenditures, for if something creates
an unaided hype, it can be profitable to reap the benefits of this
induced anxiety. Yet, for a sustained hype, the product must also be
positioned as somewhat useful; hence the utility aspect.

This gives rise to the Anxiety Framework, whose parameters and quadrants need not be confused with the Shopper Psychology framework. Utility describes the usefulness of something that we desire ‘ a movie, a product, or anything. Anxiety is the level to which we want it (where notice that the want can be created, as  in aforementioned examples).


When high on utility and anxiety,
products and experiences become a necessity. They are useful on many
fronts of daily life, and with the ability to create enough anxiety to
make the waits worth it, this is where every company, manufacturer, and
experience maker wants to ultimately be. Apple often holds this enviable
spot, being a category creator for MP3 players and tablets alike. The
Macbook Pro (so frequently not called a laptop), with its
portability and ease of working ability, is by far a necessity. Other
laptops are substitutes in comparison, or perhaps a functionality.


A functional product or experience is
one that is high on utility, thus incredibly useful in the objective it
fulfills, but low on anxiety. Marketers have often either not adequately
created the hype, or have not felt the need to create it at all. And
yet, if sales are high, then unaided awareness shows that the product is
truly a success. Showbiz underdogs and word-of-mouth movie hits like
Slumdog or Million Dollar Baby exemplify this. And of course, the
underhyped releases of laptops that still place Dell and Sony in
business sans inflated anxiety shows that functionality can be a
bread-and-butter winner for any corp.


Products and experiences that are so
high on anxiety with a low relative utility are a craving. Our urge to
watch cinema, for most, falls into the craving quadrant, unless of
course we are aspiring showbiz stars seeking inspiration. A craving is
the dream of modern day marketing, where with the use of public
relations and social media can enable the creation of hype to fulfill
the initial costs of investment. Thus, even though media showed a slump
in the Deathly Hallows penultimate theatrical revenue, the tremendous hype ensured record openings. iPads can fall into this category, as many have reviewed that they are not the best for what they cost. And yet the sales refuse to
plummet, as competitors come out with their own versions. My favorite
craving was from Spanish accessory and jewelry line Uno de 50 ‘ claiming to make only 50 pieces of any ensemble that was created. Scarcity indeed induces anxiety!


Low on anxiety and low on utility? While
this lethal combination would make it sound like a company ought to
close shop, products and experiences here thrive on the fact that they
are a support to others. Often product complements, and sometimes even
substitutes, fall into the support category. A cool multi-functional
gadget (where the strangely shady advertising does not indicate the
longevity of the product), a cheaper tech gadget, an unhyped, marginally
ineffective but more economical smartphone would fall here. For even
the worst of smartphones still have a market! As would the series of tech accessories ‘ from
underperforming stylus pens to low budget unexpected hits  that garner
revenue nonetheless ‘ Snakes on a Plane, anyone?

Notes to take?

As a corporation,
try to always allocate marketing budgets wisely, bearing in mind what
position your product, experience, or consumer output is attempting to
take. Hype is a useful tool to generate anxiety in both your target
market and growth opportunity markets. The key is to learn how to
sustain the hype.

And consumers,
watch thy anxiety level! Always try to match it, or rather pre-empt it,
with utility. The ‘do I really need this’ clich?? never fails, albeit is
often forgotten or found to be duller than a ‘I want it!’ urge.
Emotional drivers are always challenging to manage, as discovered in a
study of emotional decision making. As always, things are easier said than done.

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at
s.sharma@skimgroup.com. Follow him on

Looking at The Apple Customer Experience

It’s not breaking news that Apple tends to evoke strong feelings amongst their customers. Indeed, “Apple has led the market for the past few years as one of the most innovative, most loved, and most powerful companies and brands in the world.” according to stock market opinion and analysis website Seeking Alpha.

Apple products tend to be innovative and ground breaking, setting the bar high, but challenges like the much-complained-about Apple/AT&T partnership and competing technology available more easily or at lower prices do arise.

It’s not just the products building Apple fans. So what is it that Apple is doing right to generate this sort of emotion in its customers?

Unique, coordinated customer experiences
This video below from the Wall Street Journal offers some interesting insights into the Apple retail training process that largely controls customer experiences within the store.

Customer-facing team members such as the “Genuis Bar” employees are trained to solve problems, rather than sell, and employee handbooks provide potential scripts for a wide variety of situations. According to this article on PCMag.com “Apple Store staff is forbidden to correct a customer who mispronounces the name of a product.”

The in-store experience also extends to design. Developed by executives such as Millard Drexler, formerly of the Gap, and Ron Johnson (formerly of Target and now moving to JCPenney), Apple develops different stores in unique locations, although each has certain elements in common: an open plan, curved edges, natural materials such as wood, glass, stone, and stainless steel. The stores feel like a larger reflection of the products being sold there.

What can we learn from Apple’s customer experience successes? This blog post points out ways to translate Apple’s innovation to the restaurant industry, and it’s easy to see how a corporate culture that balances innovative ideas with highly coordinated in-store experiences can extend to any industry.

What do you think of these inside views of Apple’s training policies? Will the public learning of this negatively affect perceptions of the Apple experience? Share with us in the comments!

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com.