Forrester predicts: consumer 2018

This blog post comes live from the 2008 Forrester Consumer Forum in Dallas, October 28-29, 2008. The October 29 keynote consists of “Consumer 2018: Separating Fact from Fad” by Forrester Principal Analyst Lisa Bradner. Lisa addresses a thorny question: what will consumers be doing 10 years from now? How do you recognize the absolute truths about consumers versus passing fads?

Lisa contends that in the analog world, marketers have done a pretty good job at making things convenient for consumers through mass marketing, witnessed by the ease with which products can be mass produced, marketed, and distributed to your local Target. But too many companies are trying to apply a mass marketing approach to digital, which is why the web is awash with spam. Consequently, many consumers navigate the digital world without marketers. For instance, six out of 10 are influenced by peer reviews.

Consumers trust themselves and each other. But they don’t trust marketers. So how do marketers adapt?

The answer is fairly simple: follow consumer behavior — don’t try to “manage” it. To help the marketer, Lisa introduces the four “Ps” of understanding consumer behavior in the digital world: permission, proximity, perception, and participation:

1. Permission: consumers derive comfort by managing with whom and when they engage. Example: Gilt.com is a closed, invitation-only shopping community.

2. Proximity: consumers tap into networks and affiliations based on on content and association. The notion of curated content is important here. Example: Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast content curator connects people with common interests. Daily Beast brings proximity to its readers.

3. Perception: consumers inhabit multiple personas. Marketers need to engage the persona consumers are willing to reveal and allow consumers to manage their own perceptions. Example: Apple enables consumers to customize our iPods however we want, and we pay Apple for the privilege.

4. Participation: consumers participate in order to feel connected. Example: Sprint and and Suave have collaborated to create In the Motherhood, a community managed by moms for moms.

Consumers use these 4 P’s to manage their fluctuations between core need states. We cannot “control” them. We have to let consumers guide us.

Lisa’s closing thoughts: if you’ve gotten permission from consumers to participate in their world, ask them to share their experience with others. Consumers will act as brand advocates for you – if they like you.

So what do you think of these four P’s?

New Razorfish report studies consumer purchase behavior

Social media influence consumer purchase behavior far more than you might think.

That’s a key finding of new Razorfish thought leadership, FEED: The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report. The report is available in Flash and PDF download here: http://feed.razorfish.com and on the Razorfish Digital Design Blog. FEED, launched on 20 October 20008, helps marketers design better consumer experiences by uncovering insights into consumer behavior in the digital world. The report documents the results of a 2008 survey that Razorfish conducted of more than 1,000 “connected” consumers (a coveted group who spend money online and have access to broadband). Here are a few key findings from FEED that marketers might find noteworthy

1. Social media increasingly influence purchase decisions. Four out of 10 consumers surveyed by Razorfish have made a purchase based on advertising they saw on a social media site, and 76 percent welcome advertising on social networks. Consumers’ purchasing behavior reflects the larger influence of social media on their lives. About 75 percent of consumers surveyed spend at least one hour a week on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. More than 68 percent of connected consumers are active on two or more social media sites.

2. Consumers are adopting social media and web 2.0 technologies with startling regularity. Nearly 7 out of 10 connected consumers have customized their home pages with content feeds, scheduled updates, and other features. Sixty percent use widgets on websites. The widespread use of widgets is the most surprising finding. We believe the uptake of widgets, mobile devices and social media means that marketers need to design experiences for consumers across a world of fragmented digital media.

3. Video explodes as an advertising format. A whopping 94 percent of consumers surveyed say they watch interactive video with some level of frequency, with nearly a third watching video on a daily basis. We also find that consumers are open to advertising through interactive video, with the majority preferring companion banners to pre-roll as well as new, emerging forms of video advertising such as tickers and interstitials.

4. Personalization and loyalty sway consumers. Razorfish reports that 65 percent of connected consumers say that retail loyalty programs highly influence purchasing decisions. According to Razorfish, loyalty services like Amazon’s Prime or Best Buy’s Reward Zone are essential for retailers to succeed on the eve of the holiday shopping season. Moreover, websites that give personalized recommendations strongly influence connected consumers. Of the total surveyed, 65 percent said that they have made a repeat purchase on a site that issued an automated recommendation based on their previous purchase.

FEED also consists of a series of essays that examine the ways consumers interact with digital media. A few of my favorites are “Putting Jakob Back on the Shelf” and “What’s in a Game?” Both of these firmly assert that simply designing functional websites isn’t going to please a broadband-enabled audience that expects an interactive experience. Instead, designers instead need to ask how to employ concepts like gaming, storytelling, and interactivity to create the next generation of consumer experiences. For instance, “What’s in a Game?” challenges marketers to imagine how consumers could experience one’s product or brand in a playful, game-like fashion. The essay cites Razorfish client work with Lipton tea, where we designed “BrainTrain,” a collection of mental alertness games that engage the consumer while branding Lipton in a subtle way.

Other notable essays include “Twitterific,” “Life after the iPhone, and “Designing Experiences for the Facebook Generation.”

I welcome your feedback.

Say hello to Razorfish

File this one under “physician, heal thyself.” On 20 October 2008, my employer Avenue A | Razorfish shortened our name to Razorfish.

As many people know, our agency resulted from the merger of Avenue A and Razorfish in 2004. I helped lead the effort to research the adoption of a new name. Our homework showed that we do not need to use two company names anymore. Clients understand that we operate as one agency with integrated capabilities. And frankly we were tired of the lengthy Avenue A | Razorfish name.

Although both Avenue A or Razorfish would work as standalone names, we decided on Razorfish because it has better awareness around the world, which is important as we build a global brand. To give you some perspective: in 2004, we employed 800 people in the United States. Now we have 2,200 people in 20 offices in Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Indeed, the name change is global. In Australia, where were known as Amnesia Group, we’re now operating as Amnesia Razorfish. Later on, our operations in Greater China will change from e-Crusade to Razorfish, our London office will become Razorfish, and in Germany, our Neue Digitale operations will become Neue Digitale/Razorfish. Finally, in Japan, where we are known as Dentsu | Avenue A | Razorfish, we’ll eventually become Dentsu Razorfish. Our agency in France, Duke, will become “Duke, a Razorfish company;” Here is an example of how we’re cobranding in Australia:

Amnesia Razorfish office signage

This is a significant first step toward operating as a global brand, and we’re also eliminating some identity confusion caused by perpetuating two names. I’m delighted with having a simpler name. A few reasons come to mind:

“Are you with Avenue A or Razorfish?”

“Sorry. Could you repeat your email address s-l-o-w-l-y?”

“Let me get this straight. Your Tokyo office is Dentsu | Avenue A | Razorfish?”

“AARF. Kind of cute. Like a dog.”

“How do I type that weird pipe symbol between Avenue A and Razorfish?”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Have you ever been involved in a company renaming? What was your experience?

Goldie Hawn, American icon

The marketing of trading cards has come a long way since the days of cheap cardboard and stale bubble gum.

You can still go to a store and buy baseball cards in foil-wrapped packets just like kids and grown-ups have been doing for decades. But the cards themselves are slicker. The photography and design are more sophisticated, the card stock is sturdier, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, the packages contain delightful surprises like a swatch of game jersey or a real (not machine produced) autograph of someone famous.

Which brings us to the strange case of the Donruss Americana trading card series. In 2008, Donruss launched a new trading card series that would feature a “stunning lineup of celebrity icons” like James Dean and Marlon Brando, according to a company press release. “Collectors have been anxiously awaiting the release of this one-of-a-kind program” crowed Donruss, which touted its own “unrivaled entertainment trading card portfolio built over 40 years.”

Heady words indeed.

While shopping at Target recently, I came across one such card package, decorated with a rugged, all American image of John Wayne, who looked like he was going to kick my butt if I passed him by without making a purchase.

Well, who could resist? I’m a celebrity junkie of the worst kind. Perez Hilton, TMZ, and The Superficial: I read them all (not even to be ironic), and I’m a trading card buff to boot. So I plunked down three dollars plus change and eagerly opened my silver-foil package, wondering which celebrities made the cut. Humphery Bogart, perhaps, or maybe Steve McQueen?

The first image to greet me at the top of the stack of cards was a somewhat bemused looking Goldie Hawn in an ill fitting dress.

Goldie Hawn?

I keep flipping through the set, and more names and faces appeared: Ed Asner. Helen Slater. Regis Philbin. And the immortal Wink Martindale.

Yes, those are among the names Donruss has enshrined in its elite list of “heavy hitter names” from Hollywoods, the music industry, sports, and television.

Nothing against these esteemed professionals, but may I suggest that if you were running Donruss, your list might differ ever so slightly?

Just wondering.