Does Your Company Need A Dedicated Tweeter? Fast Company Yes, it appears, in what is no doubt a rare dose of good news for writers who write very tightly. A new study from Weber Shandwick claims that while about 75% of Fortune 100 companies have Twitter accounts, many are not being utilized and few are using the medium correctly -- retweeting relevant posts, using hashtags and things like that. "Twitter is so popular because it's so personal and so direct; give one person the keys to your brand's castle, and they'll go out and connect," Chris Dannen suggests. But, he writes, "don't feel bad if your company hasn't yet found that person. It was big news when Twitter itself hired an outsider who got Twitter." In a Forbes commentary , meanwhile, Charlotte Dunlap writes that "CIOs should consider deploying a secure social networking strategy similar to corporate e-mail." The vp of research Synergy Research Group says "businesses should share information over an enterprise collaboration platform, and leave Twitter to Oprah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher."
Does The Tata Nano Offer The Right Solution? Harvard Business/Bloomberg Scott Anthony was tooling through the traffic in Bangalore when a friend commented that he thought that the Tata Nano -- widely reputed to be the low-cost vehicle that will bring carbon emissions to the masses -- will be a flop. Anthony's first response was knee-jerk: "But look around," he said. "That family will surely flock to an affordable car that projects social status and provides a safe, comfortable ride." He was referring to a family of four hanging onto a scooter zipping though the heavily congested traffic. A light bulb went off even as he was talking. In short, the family was zipping through the heavily congested traffic. Well, they were zipping through it a lot faster than could a Nano -- no matter how cheap it may be. The moral of the story: "My colleague reminded me how important it is to look at the world through the consumer's eyes ... The disruptor has to compete against the solutions the consumer considers." Time will tell if his colleague is right or wrong, he concludes.
American Airlines Co-Stars In George Clooney's 'Up in the Air' Los Angeles Times George Clooney's character in the soon-to-arrive "Up in the Air" is a corporate-executioner-for-hire who tries to accrue 10 million frequent-flier miles in American Airlines' Advantage program. And while Clooney is clearly the star, the airline gets lots of "friendly" screen time in the marketing partnership, Hugo Martin reports. The Walter Kirn novel that writer/director Jason Reitman's script is based on had Clooney's character flying on a fictional Great West Airlines. But Reitman wanted to use a real airline. "American was represented by Rogers & Cowan, and we've worked with them on many clients," said LeeAnne Stables, Paramount's evp of worldwide marketing partnerships. The benefits are mutual. The airline gave Reitman free filming access to its terminals, planes and the Admirals Clubs. And American is also promoting the movie with a "Find Yourself Up in the Air" auction and sweepstakes for AAdvantage club members.
Burger King Franchisees Sue Over Dollar Double-Cheeseburgers Ad Age The National Franchise Association filed suit in Miami yesterday, charging that Burger King doesn't have the right to set "maximum prices" for certain menu items, Emily Bryson York reports. The operators say that they cannot afford the dollar double-cheeseburger deal that BK is promoting nationwide. "Our franchisee community is united in protecting our entrepreneurial rights as independent business owners, but we are also disappointed that we need to take legal action against our franchisor," association chairman William Harloe, Jr. said in a statement. Burger King said that it believes that the suit is "without merit." The NFA represents about 83% of the BK-franchised restaurants in the U.S., or 5,200 stores. Getting to the heart of the issue, one franchisor interviewed by Bryson York said that although traffic was up at his store, thanks to the promotion, his gross profit margin is lower.
WALL STREET JOURNAL McDonald's Investing To Prep for Recovery McDonald's Corp. is testing and rolling out new products, remodeling restaurants and experimenting with new technology as it prepares for a global economic recovery. The burger giant plans to open about 1,000 new restaurants and remodel 2,300 existing ones around the world next year, executives told analysts gathered at its headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., Thursday. The restaurant industry overall has been losing customers throughout the economic downturn, but McDonald's has managed to grow and gain market share. However, rising unemployment has had a damping effect, with same-store sales at McDonald's U.S. restaurants flat last month, compared with 5.3% growth in October 2008.
Marketers Have To Listen If They Want To Get The Whole Truth Forbes CMO Network Mary Lou Quinlan, CEO of marketing consultancy Just Ask a Woman and co-author of What She's Not Telling You, Why Women Hide The Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It , says that marketers not only have to start listening to women better but also must pay attention to what's really being said between the lines. After all, women buy 85% of what is sold in the U.S. Quinlan writes that marketers who commission focus groups don't pay attention -- not only to what is being said but also to body language. What exactly are they doing behind the glass? Chowing down. Or passing notes to each other. Or sending e-mails. More than 50% take phone calls and 46% leave before the research is finished. What's to do? Challenge canards and test those half-baked half truths. ("Half truth: 'I'm so busy!' Whole truth: 'But I make time for stuff I like to do.'") Spend more time with your female customers. Immerse yourself in their habits. And "endorse a team of listening police to pay attention to your target consumer's words, to her body language and to what she's not telling you."
Recession's Lasting Effects on Consumers A new study, entitled "Marketing to the Post-Recession Consumers," by Decitica, addresses the lasting effects of the recession in the way American consumers have internalized the recession experience. It's particularly relevant in developing "positioning" and marketing/merchandising/advertising strategies. Dr. Val Srinivas, Principal at Decitica, says, "This research... decisively shows that marketers need a fresh lens through which to view consumers in the post-recession world..." Specifically, this research concludes that: The effects of the Great Recession on consumer behavior are so profound that many of the assumptions underpinning consumer segmentation are no longer valid; and Marketing strategies that do not fully recognize the diversity of consumers' recession experiences won't have the desired potency in the post-recession world. Many have accepted this radical change as the "new normal," and not just a cyclical phenomenon. The recession has caused a profound, deep-rooted change in consumers' spending habits in favor a more restrained approach. There are four distinct consumer segments emerging from the recession according to the study, identified as: Steadfast Frugalists, Involuntary Penny-Pinchers, Pragmatic Spenders and Apathetic Materialists.
Steadfast Frugalists are committed to self-restraint, engaging in prudence with unequivocal enthusiasm. They make up about one-fifth of the American consumers, representing all income and age groups. 80% of Steadfast Frugalists say the new behaviors they have adopted will likely stay with them for a long time. This is in contrast to 24% of Apathetic Materialists who feel this way. The main characteristics of the Steadfast Frugalists are: 6 in 10 are women. Composed of people from all age groups; however, fewer from Gen X and Gen YThe most disciplined in their behaviors and seriously committed to self-restraint Many of these individuals deemed themselves tightwads even before the recession 29% of individuals in this group considered themselves tightwads in this survey "Marketers will find this group to be the most challenging, as they are the least brand loyal and most likely to discount marketing messages," notes Dr. Srinivas.
Involuntary Penny-Pinchers , about 29% of the population, have been severely affected by the recession, and are mainly made up of households with less than $50,000 in income, with more women than men. This segment has been forced to embrace thrift like never before. Presently, their actual behaviors do not differ widely from those of Steadfast Frugalists. Where they drastically diverge is in their aversion to expending effort in money-saving strategies. Only 17% find buying store or generic labels to be satisfying, compared to 59% of Steadfast Frugalists. 77% of Involuntary Penny-Pinchers admit to being more scared by the recession, 81% stressed, and 87% more worried about the future than other groups. The main characteristics are: 6 in 10 are women. Over-represented by people in their 30s and 40s. Involuntary Penny-Pinchers are the most severely affected, financially and emotionally, by the recession. Their new-found frugality for the most part has been forced upon them. Half have not saved any money for emergencies 38% in this group exceeded their income last year, indicating that they were not that disciplined to begin with Marketers will find this group to be quite challenging to influence mainly due to their lower/diminished capacity to spend.
"Pragmatic Spenders are the most attractive group for marketers because of their higher spending power," says Dr. Val Srinivas. "While it is true that they have also curbed their spending, they are the most capable, both psychologically and financially, to willfully resurrect their past spending patterns," he added. This group comprises 29% of consumers whose income has blunted the effects of the recession on this segment. Only 28% of Pragmatic Spenders feel the recession has changed what and how they will buy in the future, compared to 55% of Steadfast Frugalists. The main characteristics of this group are: 6 in 10 are men Over-represented by people in their 60s, and from the Northeast and West Over a third of the people with greater than $75,000 HHI are in this group Pragmatic Spenders have the greatest capacity, both financial and psychological, to willfully resurrect their past spending patterns Their approach to spending is tempered with caution; they have cut back and are engaging in thrift like others but seem less troubled by the recession. Pragmatic Spenders will be the most attractive to marketers given their above-average financial wherewithal
Apathetic Materialists seem least changed by the recession. They have not embraced the new frugality to the same extent as others and get minimal satisfaction from such behaviors. Only about 6% in this group find price comparison to be satisfying, in contrast to 85% in the Steadfast Frugalists camp. The Apathetic Materialists segment has more men (55%) and younger consumers (72%) are below the age of forty. Only 8% admit to being very focused on value compared to 30% of Pragmatic Spenders and 52% of Involuntary Penny-Pinchers. The main characteristics are: 22% in the population. Slightly more men than women. Over-represented by people in their 20s (Gen Y) The least changed in terms of their spending habits and future intentions More younger, single people with limited disposable income at the moment Apathetic Materialists will be an attractive target for youth-oriented marketers
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