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Brand engagement, turning people into ambassadors for your brand, getting them to be social media Johnny Appleseed-s all SEEM like the holy grail in a social media world. Certainly, a marketer should position a brand in that magical way that creates a special “walk on hot coals” kind of love between customer and brand. Right?

Maybe not so right. At the last ARF shopper insights council meeting, OgilvyAction presented sobering statistics that about 40% of brand decisions are made in-store and 30% of category purchases are unplanned. Clearly, shoppers are often going through active decision-making processes where the game is NOT won or lost in the consumer mind but at the point of purchase. This is consistent with my own research from a prior life. So, what heuristics ARE shoppers using?!

The ARF will encourage a public debate about this. Obviously, engaged customers are much more valuable, but actually more sales probably come from consumers/shoppers who are considering you along with other alternatives. How do we balance these effects, reshape marketing objectives, especially in light of an unprecedented economic environment that has changed shopping patterns and preferences for national brands vs. store brands?

Now, we believe the debate needs to include more than consumer branding experts. That is why we have enlisted the help of anthropologists, behavioral economists, cognitive scientists, and shopper insights experts to figure this out. The debate will be center stage at the Advertising Research Foundation Annual conference, “ReThink 2009” on Monday March 30th and continue throughout the three days.

By coming to the annual conference, I think you will leave with a much clearer perspective on how consumer marketing builds predisposition and how shopper marketing can deliver the knockout punch.

Please help start the debate with your comments here and then come to our annual conference to watch the sparks fly.

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4 Responses to “Are Marketers Getting It Wrong?”

  1. I have no problem with bolstering the in-store experience with today’s technology platforms and metrics but data’s a funny thing. Funny thing data. 40% in-store means 60% pre-store. Media branding experience and in-store experience work hand-in-hand. Marketers have already learned how successfully television drives to web so now we talk TV/Web integration. TV has been driving to store for more than half a century. They go together. Let’s not forget the basics.

  2. actually, that is point I am making. predisposition is very important but is not equivalent with “engagement”. it can mean consideration set and priming. Then you need to close the deal at POP.

  3. You often hear that consumers are now in control. We have always been in control – just easier to talk to in the past. And maybe brands used to be more important. But that’s not just because they had a louder voice. It is also because they used to make a genuine and significant difference to people. When Procter & Gamble first sold branded soap it provided an alternative to making your own with household fat. That made a difference in way that five razor blades instead of four doesn’t. Most brands now occupy a nano-fraction of consumers’ thinking. So if you want consumers to buy them, relying on and leveraging that nano-second of thought is not enough.

    Sure, they think you are ‘refreshing’ and ‘fun’ and ‘suitable for special occasions’ and I am sure they dutifully check those boxes in your annual online U&A (with a 3% increase since last year – which is “not statistically significant but may represent a trend”). But the relationship between that and their likelihood to buy is tenuous. To effectively influence purchase, marketing requires an understanding of the process of decision-making.

    Marketing and market research has always ignored that process of consumer decision-making, assuming it was a result of reasoned calculation and that if your product is right and presented in the right way it will be chosen. The ‘emotional’ element required is the communication about the brand that influences predisposition to purchase .

    Now science tells us that the decision-making is nowhere near a reasoned calculation. The evaluation of the decision to buy a brand is a split second emotional one that barely registers in our conscious thinking.

    You are right, Joel that marketers need to understand the details – including heuristics – of that decision. The ‘how’ as well as the ‘why’.

    Shopper insight is not an extension of our understanding of brand marketing into retail. It is an attempt to guide a complete marketing strategy by incorporating consumer decision-making.

  4. I love Robin’s statement:

    “Now science tells us that the decision-making is nowhere near a reasoned calculation. The evaluation of the decision to buy a brand is a split second emotional one that barely registers in our conscious thinking.”

    So moving the in-store purchase decision from 70% (POPAI) to 40% (Ogilvy Action) is simply a move in the right direction. No single number can be as informative as Robin’s summary.

    This reminds me of the story about the boss who was interviewing candidates for the position of sales manager. He begins the interview with the first candidate by the strong statement, “2 + 2 = 5. What do you say about that?”

    The first candidate responds, “That’s crazy. Everyone knows that 2 + 2 is 4.” Well, that candidate was dismissed.

    The second candidate responds, “I understand you clearly on this. However, there have been careful studies of this matter, and throughout the civilized world there is an overwhelming concensus. I’m really sorry to have to say this, but the truth is that 2 + 2 is 4.” Well, that went down a bit easier, but still just wouldn’t do.

    The third candidate responded, “Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, that we are clearly communicating, let me repeat what you have said. I hear you saying that 2 + 2 is six! Did I get that right?”

    The boss says, “No, no. I said 2 + 2 is 5!”

    To which the third and final candidate responds, with a huge smile on his face, “Well, THAT’S a whole lot more like it!”

    So I’m saying to Ogilvy Action, “THAT’S a whole lot more like it!”