Tag Archives: consumers

7 Ways Technology is Changing the Way Consumers Behave In-Store

By: Phillip Adcock
The retail landscape is constantly changing and the only way that
stores can keep up is by constantly evolving. But how?
Modern day consumers use technology in a way that is
completely different to consumers earlier in the decade. These changes have
altered the way shoppers navigate stores and shop. So how should shops be
following these changes ‘ or even anticipating them?
 1) Shoppers Are Using
Their Phones to Research and Buy Products In-Store
You might think that a customer browsing in your store is
giving your products their full attention ‘ 
but you may be wrong. Many shoppers are combining trips to the store with trips online,
comparing and contrasting price and quality. While you can’t always compete
with online stores, it’s worth seeing which products are competing with yours.
2) Amazon Dash Has
Given Consumers the Ability to Buy with the Push of a Button. How Are You
Amazon is trying to corner the market in next-day
consumables with its new Dash button. A Dash button
automatically orders a set product for next-day delivery when pressed, with
products ranging from toilet paper to lemonade.
Amazon knows that one of the key things retailers need to do
to compete in the current market is to make shopping as quick and easy as
possible ‘ and make the process so simple, a child could do it (which is
potentially why one of the Dash buttons available orders a round of Play-Doh).
3) Overseas Importers
Offer Prices That Are Nearly Impossible to Beat. So What Other Advantages Can
You Offer?
One of the main types of retailers you’ll find online in
stores such as eBay and Amazon are importers. Importing products from China
allows them to source vast quantities of a product extremely cheaply, allowing
them to sell at a very low price, with many items at 99p. How can you be
expected to compete with those prices?
Answer: you can’t. Rather than cutting your profit margins
to try and match importers, make sure your business outshines theirs in ways
they can’t hope to compete. Instead, provide services that they cannot, such as
fast delivery and great customer service.
4) Modern Shoppers
Want to Speak Directly to You as a Company. Are You Easy to Reach?
One of the ways you can offer the level of customer service
that modern customers expect is to communicate with them directly on the
platforms they use. Consumers now expect to be able to do everything online, so
to provide strong customer service, you need to make yourself available to
them. Facebook and Twitter make it easy to interact with your customers, but
beware: companies can easily fall into traps on social media.
5) Every Store Needs
to Have a Mobile and App Equivalent. How Functional Is Yours?
As customers have evolved to be fully phone-reliant, the
market for mobile apps and mobile sites has increased. These days, having a
website without a mobile equivalent is a foolish move and may lose you sales. A
mobile site should be as functional as your regular site and an app should
function on a similar level.
6) Virtual Reality Is
Growing in Popularity. Are You Ready to Make It Work for You?
IKEA recently launched a new Virtual
Reality feature
, allowing users of the HTC Vive to explore a kitchen
(and throw meatballs into open spaces). Although this particular application is
fairly low-function, virtual reality has revived and is well on its way to
being the big sales tool of 2017 and beyond. Do you have the ability to allow
your customers to use VR to interact with your store in a meaningful way?
Whether it’s navigating a virtual store or trying out new furniture in an
existing space, virtual reality is set to become a staple.
7) Free Delivery: A
New Standard
One thing that stores forget is that yesterday’s exception
becomes today’s norm and tomorrow’s rule. As consumers become more and more
used to convenience, what would have seemed exceptional when online shopping
began ‘ for example, free next-day shipping ‘ becomes expected. Shoppers will
now potentially abandon a sale because of a lack of next-day shipping and will
frequently choose a deal containing free shipping, even if it works out to be
more expensive.
It’s worth remembering that consumers love the word ‘free’.
Whether it’s ‘free shipping’ or ‘buy one get one free’, shoppers will always
gravitate towards those deals.
It’s hard sometimes to keep up with new retail developments.
If you’re concerned about being left behind, remember: what consumers want, and
have always wanted, are high-quality products for prices that are good value.
Although it is beneficial to follow the latest technological trends, providing
value for money is, and always will be, the best way to appeal to your
About the Author: Phillip
Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the shopper research agency
Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd ‘ an organisation using consumer insight to
explain and predict
retail shopper
. SBXL operates
in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco and

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 

Exclusive Interview: How Google is Disrupting Market Research with Technology

From the collection of data to the curation of insights,
technology is disrupting market research at every turn. And, it’s new
technologies that are driving this significant change. Traditional research just
isn’t enough anymore.  Brand new ways of
working including lean product development, remote collaboration and
accelerated cycles are requiring that look at research through a different
lense. They are enabling us to gather insights in new and exciting ways, but
also inundating us with myriad sources of data about users that needs to be
Fortunately, this year the producers of The Market
Research Event present InsighTech:
Innovations in Research Methodology & Technology – an event that covers innovative
new ways to deploy mainstream methodologies and presents emerging technology
likely to disrupt the industry even further.
We recently sat down with our InsighTech keynote speaker and Google’s Head of Digital
Transformation Joris Merks-Benujaminsen for an in-depth interview about how
market research is being transformed and disrupted by new technology and how
Google is participating in this transformation.
IIR: How is
technology disrupting and transforming market research?
Joris: I believe
the biggest disrupting factor in market research is the emergence of behavioral
data. In performance marketing organizations you can already see people do a
lot less market research because they rely on real-time optimization and A/B
testing. This doesn’t mean the skills of market research companies are not
useful to the type of questions these companies have. I believe research
agencies can add a lot of value there like they do for instance in brand
building organizations.
Attribution modeling on consumer journey data is for
instance something a lot of performance marketing companies struggle with.
Research companies can be of help if they learn to work with the big consumer
journey databases of their clients and if they can embed analysis outcomes in
the real-time decision making tools that performance marketers use. Also,
behavioral data is very good at delivering the ‘what’, but not so good in
delivering the ‘why’. Questionnaire research and qualitative research can often
add a layer of insight to A/B experiments and other behavioral insights. Again
the art is embedding these insights in the real-time decision making tools
rather than presenting findings to facilitate a one off decision.
IIR: How is
Google specifically disrupting market research?
Joris: Google
analytics in combination with full stack solutions like those of Doubleclick
are likely to have most impact on the role of market research. The biggest
limitation of behavioral data currently is the fact that it is shattered all
over the place. Full stack solutions allow clients to bring data from many
sources together in one system so they provide deeper insight in consumer
journey and consumer behavior. The biggest opportunity here would be to help
clients with that integration of data sources, help them create a structure of
analysis and dashboarding to get the most useful insights out of these complex
databases and finally add deeper layer of insight based on traditional research
methods that can be utilized in the real-time interpretation of the behavioral

IIR: How do you
sort through the current technology trends to uncover what will eventually
change how you do business?
Joris: The
reality is that the technical capabilities to support what you could call the
‘strategy of the future’ are already here now. So the main thing you need to do
is look at the separate technical capabilities and put them together in one
strategic puzzle and then estimate the sum of that puzzle. Full stack solutions
for instance are already here and have most of the capabilities you need to
bring the right advertising message to the right person across the full
consumer journey. Despite that, most companies still use full stack solutions
to get better CPA’s at the end of the funnel, or they use them to run big bulk
deals at the earliest stage of the funnel. Strategies do not yet guide
consumers from awareness towards purchase and loyalty step by step.  Full stack solutions are also already starting
to embed algorithms for data driven attribution modeling. Very few clients
however have successfully integrated their available data sources in the
system, so they can start running meaningful calculations on the data.
Also, you can only gather behavioral data across the full
consumer journey if you have meaningful content across the full consumer
journey. You can only track behavior if people interact with your own online
domains. You can’t for instance track interactions with the website or
advertising of a competitor or a comparison site that is not your own (you can
in a research panel, but not in your own real-time tracking systems). If you
focus your marketing efforts completely around the last stage of the purchase
process, that is the first moment people arrive at your domains and start
transmitting behaviors that you can store in your database. If you invest in
content strategy that offers consumers answers to questions they may have in
the early process of purchase orientation (for instance ‘what are the nice
areas in Asia to visit’ instead of ‘book your hotel now’), they will interact
with your domains much earlier and your database gets richer.
So, the power of data is not just dependent on data
infrastructure, but also on the (branded) content you offer. Hence even though
all systems are already in place, advertisers are not anywhere close to
utilizing the full possibilities. Understanding the interdependencies between
various systems helps you put the puzzle together to predict how the future
changes business.
IIR: In the
digital age, what IS the new consumer angle at Google?
Joris: Digital
marketing has focused on last click attribution for many years. The early parts
of the consumer journey, which include branding, have been ignored for too
long. Questionnaire research and behavioral research in opt-in panels has shown
us that consumer journeys are long and complex and that you need to guide
consumers through step by step. Most data related efforts both of Google and
other digital companies nowadays are about making the consumer journey
transparent and offering the right message at the right moment for different
types of people.
Quantifying the impact of brand advertising is part of that
challenge since brand impact is basically a delayed conversion. We have tools
that allow you to measure brand impact as a one off study (e.g. exposed
unexposed methodologies) or tools that help calculating visibility, reach and
online GRP’s, however what you really want is optimizing your campaigns on
brand impact real-time and with the same level of detail as what you do in performance
marketing. The key lies in translating traditional brand metrics towards
behaviors that are a proxy of those metrics (e.g. likes, subscribers, comments,
voluntary views etc). Only behaviors help you optimize campaigns real-time.
That is not possible using questionnaires because those don’t scale will
enough. If behavioral proxies of brand impact can be embedded in full stack
databases and in data driven attribution algorithms we are a step closer
towards the future of marketing and advertising.   
IIR: How is
wearable technology affecting market research?
Joris: I see
wearable technology as part of the mobile trend and the diversification of
devices. The big challenge here is that again there is an extra factor that
contributes to the shattering of data. Cross-screen, cross-device and cross-channel
behavior makes it harder to follow consumers throughout their journey towards
purchase. Advertisers together with their data partners need to think
intelligently how to find unique identifiers that help keeping a consistent
view of their clients so a person that just visited a website on a mobile
device is not treated as a completely new visitor if he or she visits the
desktop site five minutes later.
IIR: What is the
best innovation in market research that you have seen? 
Joris: I think
the industry has taken big steps in building the first panels where digital
behavior can be tracked across devices with software. In the best cases these
same panels also track online and offline purchase behavior. For instance together
with Gfk that has allowed Google in the Netherlands to run more than ten
studies looking in detail at the consumer journey of consumers in various
product categories. These studies provide a level of insight that you can’t get
anywhere else. Not by using questionnaires or qualitative research and also not
by looking at your own real-time behavioral data. Advertisers are really happy
with these kinds of studies.
IIR: Where do you
see market research technology going in 5 years?
Joris: I hope to
see a full integration between questionnaire research and qualitative research
on the one hand versus the use of behavioral data on the other hand. I believe
traditional research can add a lot of value that helps using behavioral data in
more intelligent ways. Research agencies need to think how to embed outcomes of
traditional research methods to enhance real-time decision making like for
instance the intelligence of real-time bidding in programmatic marketing or the
interpretation of real-time A/B tests.

Want to hear more
from Joris? He will be presenting a keynote session entitled ‘Digital
Transformation for Data Driven Professionals’ at InsightTech on Tuesday, May 5th
at 10:15 am. Learn more about the event and register here: http://bit.ly/1C4fJnr
About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and
print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing,
and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs
including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.

Insights on Diversity in America from US Census Bureau, Univision, TV One & HBO Latin America

Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau projected that
“by 2042, so-called racial minority groups will make up the majority of
the U.S. population.”
New technologies and viewing behaviors are not the only
things that media professionals have to worry about – the new challenge is
connecting with an ethnically diverse audience. What are you doing to better
understand this “new America” and engage with them on a deeper level?
The Media Insights & Engagement Conference has brought
together research leaders from ethnic networks (including MNet America, TV One
and Univision) to discuss The Changing Face of America with the U.S. Census
Bureau’s Data Dissemination Specialist, Marilyn Stephens. This keynote and
panel discussion will present an overview of ethnic population growth and their
incredible spending power, as well as viewership, media consumption and more.
Media Insights & Engagement Conference 2015
February 3-5, 2015 // The Westin San Diego // San Diego, CA
Download the conference brochure for full details: http://bit.ly/1xPvEBC

Plus, you’ll also hear from HBO Latin America on:

Decoding the Entertainment Landscape in Latin America Across
In order to understand the evolution and current state of the Latin American
Media Consumer, HBO Latin America conducted an audience segmentation study to
uncover the consumption habits and traits that define today’s generations. By
uncovering these specific segments, HBO can more specifically target their
heavy consumers, loyal viewers and potential subscribers. Find out what Luis
Duarte, Audience Research Director, DirecTV Latin America (and Media Insights
2014 speaker) is looking for in partnerships: http://bit.ly/1BpdQ49
 For the full session description, download the
conference brochure: http://bit.ly/1xPvEBC
Join us in San Diego
and gain the insights you need to understand and engage with the Changing Face
of America. Register by Friday & save $600: http://bit.ly/1xPvEBC
The Media Insights and Engagement Conference Team

Live from #TMRE13: A Brand Romance. Refocusing on WHY Consumers & Shoppers fall in Love

To develop love, you need to research lovers.
Brands have figured this out, like Mountain Dew, Apple or
Harley Davidson. Some brands have made 
mistakes to find their lovers, which they then had to fix, like Coke
Zero or Bengay’s classic marketing stories.
Don’t grow too broad: Do not mistake your brand lover for
your brand as a heavy user! E.g. I love Gatorade, except for when VitaminWater
is on sale! That is a heavy user, not a lover. Love has to do with an emotional
connection to your brand. If you show scenarios or ask consumers for their opinions,
even those that don’t care will respond. So don’t necessarily go too broad.
Pursue the why: Don’t focus so much on the what, but try to
get more into the why. Many are overwhelmed with so many whats and hows, which
doesn’t help. Foe example, Gatorade’s ad focuses only on why to buy it by
sending a message across, without focusing on its flavors, line extensions,
etc.  Similar for the iPhone photo app,
which only focuses on the pleasure of photography.


What factors affect brand love? Functional perceptions,
relaxation when shopping, price and value, and tradition ‘ at least for
retailers. For consumers, Doritos offered a DIY approach that was quite fascinating, as seen below in a pre and post research set.
A helpful tip: don’t go fix what you do bad, but emphasize
what you do great. A la Walmart.
Overall, a  fascinating antithesis of classical research by Pepsico
and GFK.
, 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
He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com. Follow him on

Where is the ice cream industry going? (Hint: Away from nostalgic memories)

Things change as we grow up. And its not just us, its also the things around us. So why are we always surprised? 

I am a foodie in disguise. Or perhaps not so much, as evident from my food blog. But above all, I specialize in desserts. And being wired into marketing and trend-watching, I have wondered many times about where the ice cream industry is going. Witness it in Where’s my Ice Cream again, mommy? An ode to nostalgic ice cream.

Classic ice cream, as we knew of it as kids, has now evolved into a whole new plethora of ice cream treats. From meaty to vegetably, from spicy to cheesey, and from an entire meal to a teatime substitute, I have identified several trends that I have tasted, relished, appalled, and naturally, documented. Kids, to whom ice cream is conventionally marketed, may no longer be
the target segment for the out-of-the-box flavors, explaining the
namesake title of this article. Like many businesses, the ice cream
business has to also grow and stretch beyond traditional norms, which is
why brands like Haagen daaz choose sexual connotations to position themselves as an adult brand, or why the existence of an evolution of ice cream trends exists
in the first place. The  new target market comprises of invidividuals
that are not segmented by age or demographics, but by tastes and mindsets. I feel that my Mindset Framework applies best to ice cream eaters, driven so strongly by the emotional
connection with this delectable treat!

The ice cream market itself can perhaps never decline; it has however
reached maturity, thus explaining the many trends that ice cream makers
have taken to keep it alive. My curiosity about how this happened has led to a mapping of the
evolution of ice cream, and what may lie in store! Though the trends are
not distinct from each other, with various combinations that give rise
to even more diversity, the following figure maps the evolution, trying
to grasp the strategy behind each phase.

Business Management
the onset, generally ice cream companies behave like a business. They
make something, sell it, keep selling it, see what sells, and continue
selling more of it. Kaboom, you have a market, a business, profits, and
ultimately, the economies of scale make the ice cream somewhat
commoditized. This explains the variety in quality amidst so many
classic makers.

loving vanilla ice cream, who wouldn’t love it with chocolate chips? Or
walnuts? Or a swirl of chocolate? Thus begins an era of infiltrating
ice cream with other favorites, at the time limited to things like
chocolate chips or gooey swirls of caramel and chocolate. Ice cream
floats can fall into this category too, which interestingly are making a
comeback, as witnessed by the street long lines outside Philadelphia’s Franklin Fountain.

Skinny and Healthy
On seeing the expanding waist sizes
and increasing health concerns, fat free and sugar free versions of
aforementioned ice creams begin to hit the market in this phase. The
target market here is those consumers who want the indulgence, but want
to walk out wearing the same pair of pants. This is a profitable way to
diversify the product, as it targets a large and growing segment. Less
sugar, sugar substitutes, smaller portions, and sometimes misleading
claims rule the roost here.

Super-premium Difference
Realizing the commoditization of the business, which rightfully erupted from the business management phase,
naturally ice cream creators in this phase look for a way to better
differentiate their product. So, taking inspiration from luxury
products, super premium ice cream is introduced, to give consumers the
ultimate indulgence, a divine treat, at a higher price point. Lovers of
ice cream inevitably fall for the trick, and at times, the taste is
indeed to swoon for! Today every brand has this, with much competition and merger activity on the battleground, but the classic Dove visuals
of rich melting swoops and rings strike a recollective memory bell. And
when the Godivas and Ghiriadellis begin to enter the ice cream market,
its easy for any marketer to see that the industry is booming.

Co-branding Smartness
it nice when you can dive into two indulgences with one scoop?
Friendship blossoms between brands of chocolate, cookie dough, cookies
and candy, and the world of ice cream, and the infiltration phase is repeated, this time with infiltrants that actually come with brand baggage. Co branding becomes the smart, creative and breakthrough business model.
Although perhaps an extension of diversifying from the business phase,
this is a new enticement for hungry consumers who can get their Snickers
and their ice cream all in one! And hey, its not bad if ice cream
makers can share their costs and profits alike with Reeses peanut butter
pieces, since the more eggs there are in the basket, the more likely it
is that they will be safe together, or crack together. Cannibalization?
Brand competition? Leave these worries to the corporates while we lick

Inspired Flavors
This is probably where we are now, given the recalls on Nestle Toll House cookie dough and the overdose of co-branding. Similar to the diversification of food inspired body care products,
this is perhaps an era of drawing inspiration from the unlikeliest of
foods, ranging from rose petals, basil and cinnamon, to pumpkin, cotton
candy and bubble gum. Toss in a bit of the original fragments, be it
mint leaves or petals or strawberry pieces, and the experience is
authenticated. While the flavor craze is probably restricted to
boutiques and ice cream parlors, it may not be long before wacky
combinations begin hitting grocery stores, which are already densely
packed with flavors ranging from watermelon and grapefruit to all the
aforemnetioned trends, so gleefully glaring out of identical packaging
and confusingly similar artwork.

Meal inspirations and Combinations
This is what I have noticed a surge in globally. One may call it the
Willy Wonka Phase. Instead of simply having flavors, and pieces of other
infiltrants, entire meals are being combined to give you an ultimate
ice cream experience. Peanut butter and jelly ice cream sandwiches
replace the classic sandwich; bourbon ice cream with crunchy corn flakes
are akin to a breakfast; and as already discussed in the predecessor of this article,
these can foray into the savory category too! Ice cream made with salad
ingredients, vegetables, sesame seeds, combined together with trends
from previous eras, all formulate a world that Tim Burton would enjoy
crafting into a whimsical sattire.

Makes you wonder what happened to good old ice cream right? After all, where’s my ice cream, mommy?

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

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

Could Twitter be the next big marketplace

Shel Israel recently brought up an interesting topic on his blog. Although the web is known as a marketplace with eBay and Craigslist leading the way, Twitter is up and coming. eBay and Craigslist are forums where buying and selling go on, but Twitter is a true community of members. Israel shares several stories about how people have heard through items through Twitter, and it’s resulted in new jobs and the purchasing of homes. Although Twitter is not intended to become a marketplace, it may set the stage for community members to interact and connect consumers to the products they need.