We aim to help brands improve their understanding of Millennials while providing actionable guidance that will help their marketers answer the question: “How do we market our product, service or experience to Millennials?” – and grow our business today, sustainably, and profitably over time.
Our goal is to create a science of Millennials through which we understand the mindsets, preferences, and economic trade-offs Millennials make daily about products, services or experiences. Each “chapter” of the initiative will focus on a single product category. To date we completed two studies on beer, one on macro, the other on craft, and have one on wine in the field. We will rollout to financial services, food, travel, entertainment, transportation, and more.
We plan to make top-line findings available through this blog, and we plan to publish a series of ebooks, one for each studied category. We expect to publish 3-4 per year.
Sponsors underwrite the cost of the research. They gain a thought leadership platform for their marketing, and they have access to the full data set for slice-and-dice analysis for themselves or to advise key business partners.
Interested in sponsoring a study in your category?
My good friend Mark Earls is coming into town in November for the IIeX forums. You may know his books “Herd” and “I’ll Have What She’s Having.” They make the point that observing what other people do influences us. It doesn’t mean we will always copy what they do, but what we notice gives us something to think about doing and, if we do it, the idea spreads. With enough spread, mass behavior, such as product adoption, may take place. Mark’s books offer a range of examples. This grassroots approach contrasts with the top-down Influential-Follower model that rules much of today’s influencer marketing programs.
I’m always looking for illustrations of how observational influence works because, living in our interconnected interpersonal world, it’s vital that marketers understand how ideas spread by people and through people, not merely to people. As with so many things, “Seinfeld” nailed it perfectly. Watch.
The knife and fork Snickers eating technique spread when people saw it, copied it, and added momentum by riffing on it – cookies, Almond Joys, donuts, even eating M&Ms with a spoon on the street. People bring ideas they come across into their lives for their own reasons, in ways meaningful to them, and will keep them for however long they want – they aren’t told by an Influential Person what to think, feel, or do. Elaine’s exasperation with watching people eating handheld snacks with cutlery shows that adoption is not automatic: resistance to new ideas exists, and this resistance impacts where, how fast, and how far an idea may spread. (The notion that social networks govern the spread of ideas is closely related to Microsoft researcher Duncan Watts).
Social networks like Amazon and Facebook get and leverage the power of observational influence. Amazon product pages give visitors the ability to see what others are doing, buying, or thinking about for just about any item. Facebook’s News Feed improvements get better at presenting the items that any user is probably most interested in seeing and connecting with because they draw upon the social graph, the network of people a user is part of. Facebook figures out what each of their users notices and gives them more of it, until Facebook recognizes a shift in interest and then re-jiggers their news feeds.
Observational influence is subtle and indirect, yet our habit of mind is to default to the Influential-Follower model. Mark Earls says that influence occurs when “normal people see and copy (or not copy) what other normal people are doing.” Duncan Watts makes that point, as do Facebook and Amazon who use it to their advantage. For most of us marketers, the obvious question is: How can we?
I coined the word “humetrics” while writing The Digital Metrics Field Guide to capture the idea that digital measurement increasingly captures what people are doing, saying, and feeling, and that measurement becomes a way to understand people as people, not as inanimate numbers. This edition of SAS showed that promising technologies are not merely becoming commercialized but becoming applicable, useful, and capable of generating meaningful business results.
We still have a way to go – I can’t believe how much writing about social media in particular is focused on strategies and tactics but not what individuals are looking to accomplish in their lives.
But SAS 2015 showed that the cutting edge is understanding people, their feelings, emotions, and actions for business-building insights. Here were some of the highlights:
Seth Grimes, conference organizer and probably the most knowledgeable person about all things text, started us off with the notion that we are operating in a research world of “facts and feelings.” The two are inter-related. He and I have been thinking along similar lines. Independently of one another he started emphasizing a term similar to humetrics, what he calls “human analytics.” This idea appears to be gaining prominence within the zeitgeist.
John Liu of cognitive computing company Digital Reasoning is on this path, too. He told me: “advances in tech and sentiment have brought us to the point where mining cognitive and emotional behavior is rapidly becoming mainstream. Take a quick look at the Digital Reasoning website to see what he means.
Emotient demonstrated their very cool facial coding application. If awards were given out for best demo, theirs would have won best in show. Not only does their software analyze one person, it is capable of analyzing groups of people. For those of us in communications, their software is used to analyze commercials. Their approach brings the cost of emotional response research way down while making it highly scalable and more precise. Unlike many of the neuromarketing approaches that signal when an emotional response occurred, this goes further by specifying the emotions and the sequence of emotions that people experience while watching an ad. Emotient can integrate with third-party surveys, which opens up many possibilities.
Along with emotions, the work of motivational psychologist David Forbes (CEO of Forbes Consulting, a Copernicus Company) was showcased in a workshop centered on his new book The Science of Why: Decoding Human Emotion and Transforming Marketing Strategy. David’s approach centers on 9 motivations that are discoverable through a method he developed called MindSight. In just three minutes a person can be motivationally typed. When a sample of respondents is typed, the patterns of motivations suggest segments that are unique and mutually exclusive, thereby allowing them to be used for target marketing purposes. Like Emotient, MindSight can be linked to from a third-party survey or task to add a motivational layer to the analysis. Again, nearly unlimited opportunities. I plan on testing it in the cognitive economics studies I’m doing for my new book Millennials, Mindsets, and Money.
In addition to these solutions, many papers went beyond reporting numbers to talking about people. Look through the agenda to see what I mean.
I’ve attended several of the SAS meetings over the years. This one had the strongest program so far. I’m looking forward to the next one.
Ted McConnell, sought-after digital consultant, former EVP Digital at ARF, and past head of digital for P&G tells a story about how one client of his, a small content company, depends upon The Digital Metrics Field Guide to make themselves smarter and to give top-notch service to their roster of large brands. The Field Guide is available here: http://bit.ly/FieldGuide_Buy
Fordham University’s Center for Positive Marketing put on its 4th Conference for Positive Marketing on March 26. A great blend of academic and practitioner talks and viewpoints, most of us participating felt refreshed and energized.
For me, I was absolutely thrilled that the humanistic ideas I and others have written about and talked on for a few decades are becoming accepted more widely and by mainstream brands. It also served to frame my own journey in business and research.
Empathy and Experience Design
I got a charge from hearing Stacy Graiko of Millward Brown Firefly talk about a retailer who wanted their customers to leave feeling better than when they walked in, irregardless of whether they bought something. When my mother and I opened a restaurant, City Island Diner, back in 1986, those exact words were the first principle of my business plan – they emerged from listening research I did to figure out what type of restaurant City Islanders wanted that we could create for them.
Cigna’s Christine Chastain and Tim McKnight, VP Global Innovation, talked about empathy, design thinking. and consumer experience.
Their excellent presentation reminded me of how I designed the restaurant from that first principle: the menu was to focus on comfort on familiarity – I described it as “the food you had growing up, but made with the freshest ingredients, to order, and in front of you.” I also banished square edges and right angles to the extent possible, which offered respite from the gridded world most of us live in, where our vision is forced to be straight, forward or back, up or down. This took form in the plates, cups, and saucers – only round or oval, chamfered edges on the tables, round stools, a curved counter, and so on, which let the eye wander. For dinners, every night had a theme that was warmly evocative and alliterative where possible: Meatloaf Mondays, Turkey Tuesdays, Wegetable Wednesdays, Pot Luck Thursdays and Fish Fridays. Many menu item names reflected the nautical heritage of City Island, and several local characters lent their names to desserts. My mother owned the restaurant for 11 years, then sold it to a local family – the “new” owners – who’ve had it for 18 more and counting. Some of the people hired over 25 years ago still work there, as do their kids, sometimes. A number of movies shot scenes in there, such as Solitary Man, with Danny DeVito as the Diner owner who offers his friend Michael Douglas a job. Jerry Seinfeld did an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Ricky Gervais at City Island Diner.
Brand Love, Materialism, and Happiness
Prof. Aaron Ahuvia of the U. Michigan Dearborn Business School gave a talk about brand love, materialism, and happiness. Generally he found that materialism was not related to happiness, but he also found that, paradoxically, people who expressed love for brands were happier. He admitted that he didn’t have an adequate way to explain the findings yet and urged the audience to submit ideas. This was unusual at a conference – so often the ideas presented are so apparently airtight, but very welcome, showing that we have much to learn and can do so collaboratively.
Using Mobile Technology for Good: Mobile Apps, mHealth, and Mindsets
The Conference offered 6 Salons – presentations followed by participant discussion. These were held in 3 sets of two that ran concurrently. I gave one with Dr. Sandy Ng of RMIT (Melbourne Australia) having to do with mobile apps, mHealth, and mindsets. Sandy talked about her research on mobile apps, and I reviewed research by my colleague Howard Moskowitz on reducing hospital re-admission rates. Conversation we stimulated dealt with creating apps that helped people improve their lives, the need for integrated apps, and different ways to think about monetizing apps.
Training Positive Marketers
Dawn Lerman, who heads the Center for Positive Marketing, and Yanan Wang of Bishop’s University led a salon on training positive marketers. Yanan recapped a course she gives on “Happiness Marketing.” She covered a lot of ground. What I found interesting was the emphasis on training marketers to be happier people in order to create products and programs that help people improve their well-being, quality of life, and life satisfaction. Dr. Wang outlined specific frameworks that strengthen marketers’ empathy and understanding. The discussion following was far ranging and very engaging, touching on areas like inner strength, self-knowledge, and how can happiness marketing avoid being seen as a cute fad and become integrated into marketing culture.
I couldn’t attend every salon, but all the topics were of interest. They were: Gifts, Reciprocity & Obligation: Applications for Positive Marketing; Psychotherapists, Life Coaches & Professional Organizers: Why Consumers Seek Professional Help and How Professionals Improve Consumer Well-being; Overcoming Stereotypes in Multicultural and Global Marketing Strategy; and Purpose Driven Marketing: Achieving Social Change Through Brands and Consumer Advocates
With 2,592 unique craft brands sold Millennials—and all persons of legal drinking age—enjoy a stunning and sometimes bewildering array of lagers, pilsners, IPAs, stouts, pale ales, sours, and porters. They can be malty, hoppy, clear, dark, spicy, citrusy, or taste of coffee, toffee, nuts, cloves, bananas, and bittersweet chocolate. And we’re just scratching the surface. Millennials, we’re told, love choice. Marketers are told, “give them choices.”
Giving choices is one thing … but no guarantor of marketing success. We need to know why a person chooses—or doesn’t choose—a marketer’s offering.
Millennials … Why Do They Prefer One Beer—And Buy One Beer—Over Another When There are So Many to Choose From?
That’s the question my colleagues Howard Moskowitz, Kimmy Lee, and Helena Bollini will answer through two cognitive economics studies that are now in the field: one on microbrews, the other on macrobrews—the big-company “golden suds” lager beer like Budweiser, Miller, and Coors that is the most popular style worldwide.
When thinking about Millennials and beer, the issue is this: Generations may shape demand for beer, but they don’t buy beer: Individuals buy beer … one bottle, one draft, one six-pack, or one case or keg at a time. And individuals differ from one another. People may look alike on the outside and share some common traits, but they differ on the inside—the ideas they hold, what interests them, and what motivates them to buy. Discovering those “inside differences” and then exploiting them for product development, innovation, marketing, and sales are keys to brand growth and profitability. Hence, our research.
Discoveries We Will Make about Millennials and Beer
Using the Mind Genomics and Cognitive Economics research tradition, we expect to make a number of discoveries, which are:
Identifying the different mindsets MIllennials hold toward microbrews and nationally distributed macrobrew lagers like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller?
Within each mindset, specifying which elements of beer increase interest, decrease interest, or have no effect … and by what amount?
In dollars and cents, what is a Millennial willing to to pay for what interests them in microbrews or macrobrews?
What are the narratives that each mindset has towards microbrews or macrobrew lagers?
Guided by the narratives … What does a brand say—and who does it say it to—to bolster a brand’s chances for success in the market.
Approaches a beer marketer can take to accurately assign any single Millennial or millions of Millennials to a mindset segment using an algorithm produced by inputs from the research … enabling them to target individuals with personalized, tailoring messaging?
Aspects of Beer We are Studying
The elements included in the two studies are in these areas: style, taste, appearance, mouthfeel, finish, food, origin, packaging, presentation, promotion, and emotions.
Demographics, Attitudes, Media, and Consumption
Our research captures Millennial demographics; their attitudes towards beer and beer occasions; their social media use regarding beer; and patterns of consumption. The data will be analyzed and cross-tabulated with the mindset data.
Millennials, Mindsets, Microbrews … and Golden Suds – the book, will be Available in Q3 2015
The book will be available as an e-book during Q3 of 2015. This title is one volume in our series Millennials, Mindsets, and Money.
Millennials, Mindsets, and Money … A Series of Books on the Consumer Economy
Millennials, Mindsets, and Money (M3) is a series of books developed by me and Howard Moskowitz, with contributions from colleagues in the business world and academia.
M3 researches categories that are essential to the consumer economy from the Millennial perspective. Each book tackles an area and answers the six questions above. Our initiative primarily concerns advertised categories that are part of the everyday experience of Millennials.
You Can Sponsor Category Research in Millennials, Mindsets, and Money
Brands targeting Millennials who are interested in cost-effective and fast ways to grow their business are invited to sponsor a category study. Please email me for details.
You’ve probably felt it. Advertising and measurement has changed. And you’re uneasy. You sense that the old school ideas centered on the impact of media exposure—the one that led us to ask: “what is our advertising doing to people?”—doesn’t really describe how advertising works today.
But many of us—and probably you, too—realize that we need an up to date model to understand how advertising works in today’s digital, social, mobile world. A world where people act, transact, speak, and feel. One where the data we collect captures their humanity and life in the world. And one that asks a different question now: “What are people doing with our advertising, and with what effect?”
5 Different Ways to Think About Advertising
I asked experts contributing to The Digital Metrics Field Guide to share their thoughts about how we should be thinking about advertising today. They boil down to five:
#1. Digital Currencies May Not Be Needed After All
Merkle CRO Yaakov KImelfeld presented a challenge: Do we need a currency for digital media? His provocative answer—“it’s not clear that we do.” Well-designed online campaigns “thrive in the absence of a currency.” Kimelfeld questions the need for comparable cross-media metrics. While their familiarity comforts us and are simple to understand, they chain us and restrain us from exploiting “online’s unique capabilities for brand building and customer experience.” Focusing on reach and frequency forces us to serve ads based on demographics, not on relevant audience characteristics such as interactions with the ad, sharing, influence, and other uniquely online behaviors. Kimelfeld urges us “to start facing forward.”
#2. We Need to Shift from Models Of Audience Delivery to Models of Advertising Effectiveness
Graeme Hutton of media agency UM advises the need to develop an advertising model for our 21st century, not the 19th—when straight line Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) and purchase funnel models appeared on the scene. Hutton argues that we should shift from models of audience delivery—which we still need to measure—to models of advertising effectiveness grounded in contemporary science and empirically supported. Hutton sees progress coming from research areas like neuroscience and analyzing online social behavior. Armed with a contemporary model of advertising rooted in effectiveness, advertisers and agencies should be better able to explain why their advertising will work and how it will work, leading to improved planning and purchasing that reduces uncertainty and improves business results.
#3. Include The Consumer’s Context to Understand Effectiveness
Advertising’s effectiveness model should include context. Kevin Moeller, formerly of Media Behavior Institute but now at UM, contends that effective targeting in today’s complex media system depends on deep insight into the roles consumers are playing, the situations they are in, and the emotions they are experiencing at the moment that messages reach them. Reaching audiences when they are most receptive to the message often improves the response to advertising, resulting in enhanced advertising ROI and increased value to advertisers.
#4. Evaluate Advertising Performance on Consumer Actions
Niels Schillewaert and Annelies Verhaegheof InSites Consulting believe that the “key performance metrics we need to add to our arsenal for measuring communication effectiveness should really be centered on consumers’ online and offline brand-related actions (COBRAs).” Marketers need to know what people do for their brands after exposure to marketing initiatives for products, services, or experiences. Conversation, sharing, reviewing, and buying are some of the brand-related actions people take. Niels and Annelies found that TV ad effectiveness was related to an ad’s ability to stimulate conversation among viewers.
That finding just received substantial support. Keller-Fay’s Brad Fay recapped a very rigorous WOMMA study analyzed by Analytic Partners. It concluded that “The single most important factor in the success of an advertisement is this: Does it stimulate consumer conversation and sharing? Nothing else matters as much.” Consumer conversations, the study found, “actually increase the sales impact of advertising by 15% and account for an average 13% of consumer sales overall.”
#5. Develop Predictive Indicators for the Outcomes of Actions
MotiveQuest’s David Rabjohns takes consumer actions further. He studied many types of consumer actions, one of which was advocacy: the number of unique people strongly recommending and promoting a brand because they want to. With Northwestern University, his firm modeled the relationship of advocacy to sales—one of the “gold standard” measures of return on investment. Rabjohns and his team discovered correlations that make advocacy a leading indicator for next-month sales. Correlation is not causation of course, but the level of advocacy tells us that something is going on in the real world, as well as in online conversations, that is boosting sales or forcing them to plummet.
These 5 Ways Lead to The Emergence of Humanistic Advertising
A cynic might look at these ideas and say we’ve heard them before. They could be dismissed as nothing more than overused trade terms: engagement, advocacy, and effectiveness. But that sorely misses the point. Too many digitally-oriented campaigns narrowly focus on getting “more” with the belief that if brands can get more consumers to engage, advocate, and act, then marketing success will follow. So they do things that get those numbers up.
But when you consider these ideas, you soon realize a humanistic impulse underlies all of them. They aim to understand people as people living their lives. They see brand marketing and advertising as one means to help people live their lives more as each person would like, and less as the brand wants them to. Now we can relax a bit. We have a newer way to think about advertising.
This more humanistic model will grow in importance over time as we become more comfortable with “humetrics,” or understanding people through measurement, and as more brands shift from a “do to” to a “do with” mindset. The media exposure model will be around for media buying and selling reasons—it’s the way that business is done, but we can expect that its grip on strategy will weaken.
6 Actions You Can Take Towards Humanistic Advertising
There are a number of things we can do for our brands—and ourselves—to help them succeed in this humanistic era:
Challenge accepted strategy. How can a “do-to” strategy transform into a “do-with” strategy?
Identify and study brands that have adopted a humanistic approach and talk them over with your colleagues. These ideas need to be socialized for them take hold . Apple is one of the poster children for this. Find others.
Experiment. Test out old model vs. new model thinking when you can. See which works better, when, and why.
Understand people better. Acquire penetrating insights into who they are, what they value, and what they would like to achieve or attain. Discover the ideas that make a difference to a person and to the business.
Learn about social processes. Most brands still treat social, mobile, and digital as they do mass media.These media are not simply delivery channels, they are webs of connected people and enablers of social interaction and interpersonal communication. Large knowledgebases exist in the social sciences about why people share, engage, or advocate and what results from that at the individual, group, and community levels. Leverage that.
Think of your customers as people living lives in which your brand is a part that contributes to their happiness. Figure out what your brand should do-with them.
Link of the Week
The Google Trends Data Goldmine by Ben Spiegel explains Google Trends and its many uses. I’ve been a fan of Google Trends for years and include it into the hands-on sections in my workshops on social listening. This post is a Link of the Week because the data provides a window into the humetrics of people’s interests and intentions,.
Since we’re early into our Consumer Mindsets Tuesdays series, I will use the first several posts to introduce core ideas of Mind Genomics, the “science of everyday experiences,” on which our research is based. Today’s post explains four of them, including the direct contribution that mindset segments make to creating revenue-building marketing campaigns.
Core Idea #1: Mind Genomics Studies our Experiences in all their Richness
We live in a world of rich experience where many aspects hit us all at once: it is a world of mixtures that we often evaluate as a whole. Just think about buying wine. In real life choosing a bottle results from weighing a host of factors such as : price, grape varietal, sensory attributes, origin, winery, winemaker, recommendations, marketing, food pairings, and occasion.
Mind Genomics takes these variables, mixes them in systematic ways, and discovers through experimentation and statistical analysis which aspects drive interest, or not; how people differ in the way they respond to these aspects of wine, and how these differences cluster to form segments, which we call mindsets.
Core Idea #2: Mind Genome
People do not have a single mindset, we all have thousands upon thousands of them. Towards every individual “thing” in our lives, e.g. a person, pet, brand, product, service, or experience, we have a mindset. Mind Genomics enables the discovery of the different mindsets that exist towards each “thing” (usually between 2 and 5) and assign a person to one of those mindsets.
The Genomics part of Mind Genomics borrows from the concept of the human genome, as our image above suggests. As each genome sequence is unique to an individual, so is the sequence of mindsets that describe a person’s mind. Mind Genomics enables us to understand the structure of the mind genomes for individual persons in specific terms and market or advertise to them specifically.
Let’s take a look at the mind genomes of two guys named Dylan and Jack. For simplicity we’ll take just three categories. Say for coffee Dylan is mindset 1, for Caribbean vacations he is mindset 3, and for bar soap he is mindset 2. Dylan’s sequence is: 1-3-2. Now look at Jack. He is mindset 2 for coffee, mindset 1 for Caribbean vacations, and mindset two for bar soap. Jack’s sequence is 2-1-2. (Note: I will explain the segment assignment process in a future post).
Core Idea #3: Mind Genomes Differentiate People
Conventional segmentation is based on the notion that people who share characteristics are alike and can be sold to the same way. Consider the advertiser who wants to reach tech-savvy men. That target group might be described as: male, 18-34, have a college degree, boast household incomes in the range of $50-$65k, own an iPhone, and eat out a few times a week. Let’s assume that Dylan and Jack fit this description.
Consider a new coffee chain wants to reach this target. Advertising messages would be directed to the group but, as we saw with Dylan and Jack, they look alike on the outside but are not the same on the inside. Because their “mindset gene” for coffee differs, Jack and Dylan are likely to respond differently to the same advertising message.
We see this routinely in our research. Let’s take the example of red wine. In a recent study we discovered three mindsets towards red wine: the person only interested in the wine itself; the person interested in an affordable bottle that goes with a range of food; and the person who is keen on wine contributing to a good time. One of the messages included in the mixtures was “Imported from France.” In the first mindset, when the message “imported from France” appeared it raised interest by 23%; in the second mindset it had no impact; and in the third mindset it decreased interest in red wine by -8%.
Understanding the differential responses to messages by mindset enables marketers to select and direct the right message to the right person for maximum impact
Core Idea #4: Mindset Segments and Tailored Messaging Lead to Revenue Growth
Continuing with Dylan and Jack, the coffee chain would treat each mindset as a segment then market and advertise to each with great precision. Doing so increases the chances that Dylan and Jack will respond more favorably to the directed messages.
The key idea is simply that mindset segmentation provides us with the ability to market and advertise to people with messages that are more likely to get a positive response. Mind Genomics reveals which messages raise or lower interest within a mindset … and by what amount. This gives advertisers and marketers a tool for scientifically selecting messages that “pop” within the mind of the consumer.
Future posts will discuss how to assign thousands or millions of people to mindset segments easily and with little cost, introduce cognitive economics, and competing through narrative.