Posts tagged "social media"

digital devices

The Shattering of Mass Appeal and Media

December 22nd, 2016 Posted by brand marketing, Brand preference, Human behavior 0 comments on “The Shattering of Mass Appeal and Media”

Moving from scale to scoped…

In my early years at Ogilvy & Mather, the common view on media strategy was, What’s most efficient (cost per impression) against the target to deliver scale? The usual answer was TV with related assets of print, radio and outdoor arrayed to ‘surround’ the consumer. The communications agenda: tell them, tell them again, and then tell them what you told them.

Historically, it’s been “go big or go home.” Companies have scaled for efficiencies in product production, scaled up in distribution, as well as looked to scale in media. How to amass as many eyeballs with maximum delivery per dollar spent.

The hangover from this era is evidently very hard to shake. The promise of the Internet and its direct pipeline to consumers continues to be viewed as an aggregation challenge: bundling digital channels trying to achieve – wait for it – scale.

eMarketer Media SpendingDigital media spending forecasted to surpass TV in 2017.

However, the fundamentals that favor scale are coming apart. Consumers now themselves gravitate to communities of self-interest. They taper their media consumption to channels that serve those interests – often looking to be uninterrupted by interruption-style tactics. Contently recently reported on this development as the slow death or decline of conventional TV viewership as a scale provider.

In many ways, sports and awards shows are the ultimate litmus test of TV medium prowess and delivery of scale:

1. A prime example of this was the recent Olympic Games. The Rio Olympics showed cracks in the big audience veneer as ratings dropped 15 percent from the previous 2012 event in London.

Importantly, the Olympic viewership downturn is mostly in one segment: the coveted 18 to 34 year-old demographic, off a whopping 31 percent. Yet, despite this condition, NBC raked in a 20 percent increase in ad sales. Apparently, there’s a demand for at least the promise of scale.

2. NFL viewership, once a rock solid bastion of TV audience delivery, is taking a hit in 2016. The unthinkable is occurring as ratings decline for the first time.

3. The MTV Music Awards viewership was also down 34 percent. And elsewhere on the awards scene, the 2016 Academy Awards had its lowest ratings on record for the 18 to 49 segment.

Mass appeal vs. mattering

There’s something to be said for the Pareto principle 80/20 rule that a brand’s most devoted followers and fans are most often the ones who will deliver the profit.

Marketing is now shifting into smaller niche segments and micro targets of consumers who follow brands they care about and ignore everything else.

One of the most dramatic and successful examples of this in my own experience was the change by everyday cheese brand Sargento. The company moved off its “all things to all people” business approach, and refocused the brand on a narrower target of food-passionate consumers we called “Food Adventurers.”

Yes, it was hard for Sargento to let go of the previous model – as it might appear the brand was ‘ignoring’ a significant portion of the population. It was an important move for Sargento to pursue consumers who care about food experiences, ingredient quality, and pay attention to food media. Sargento grasped the meaning of being meaningful.

Sargento embraced this consumer fully and developed new products, namely Artisan Blends and similar incarnations that catered to more premium preferences. Letting go of mass-ness was genius and the outcome was an amazing transformation to observe. Yes, we had a big hand in this effort.

Want to create a more meaningful relationship with the brand or retailer’s core customer? The solution: imbue the business with greater meaning.

You simply can’t get to meaning and relationship by casting a broad vanilla net. Instead, narrowcast to a consumer who has a lifestyle passion and interest in what you do. Be it pet food, packaged food, fresh food or beverages, the benefits of getting focused are compelling.

Feeding the Monster?

Of course for a big brand, narrowcasting sounds counterintuitive – you need scale for big scale biz, right? Well, the world and its irrevocable shift in food culture will ultimately force this spoonful of marketing medicine anyway. Mass media will continue to give way to specialist channels and smaller communities of like-minded people.

It’s hard to let go of the scale addiction. We have to feed the earnings monster, right? The P&L will benefit from a refocus on cultivating relevance, meaning and purpose with consumers who care – rather than attempting to rope in the world of folk who don’t.

The freedom of this switch is palpable. The brand and business both acquire a voice and newfound depth in storytelling that go way beyond the old features and benefits “lather, rinse, repeat” outreach.

The 80/20 rule takes care of the numbers. The end result of this at full scale (pun intended), brings innovation in line with the wants and needs of fans who, in turn, come back for more.

Go scoped or go home. And yes, big food will continue to invest in new, emerging brands who have niche marketing and brand community development embedded in their DNA.

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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Pet Parent and Puppy

Achieving Traction in Pet Food Marketing

October 27th, 2016 Posted by Pet care, Pet food 0 comments on “Achieving Traction in Pet Food Marketing”

What’s the main difference that charts a course for base hit results vs. a clear home run? Said another way, what causes one pet care marketing effort to resonate strongly with its intended audience while another is ignored or stalls out?

In today’s digitally-driven marketplace, pet parents have become increasingly savvy users of media to navigate the content they want while ignoring or blocking everything else. Any investment in pet marketing will require the attention and participation of its intended audience. People are inspired by their beliefs and desires; it is an emotionally-driven category.

The humanization of pet food marketing, much like the dynamic of humanizing our pet parent relationships, is key to informing improved marketing strategies. As a result, this leads to stronger engagement and traction for pet food brand marketing investments.

More specifically, we know from behavioral research there are common cues and conditions that cause people to engage, to listen and to act. If properly considered in the design of marketing strategies, outreach tactics and experiences, we can vastly increase the odds that a genuine relationship will unfold.

In the age of consumer control, there are three core ingredients of pet care brand growth that offer a better path: connection, relationship and trust. Six strategies serve these core ingredients and pay homage to consumer behavior:

1. Social proof

People are drawn to prefer products that other people like and endorse. This is the main component of optimizing the value and outcomes of social media strategy. Reviews are one of the most powerful assets a brand can deploy. Further, the extent to which people perceive a brand to be gaining in popularity performs another form of validation: proof that it’s effective, safe and correctly represented.

2. Exposure effect

Repeated exposure to pet care brand communication breeds familiarity and helps set a path toward securing trust – the primary component of the consumer/brand relationship. Shorter term investments (that often ladder up to a “launch and leave” effort) are far less effective than those delivering a steady, consistent drumbeat of communication across multiple digital, social and retail channels. Messaging and content that’s useful and valuable to the consumer will engage, while self-reverential, product-centric selling will only alienate the audience.

3. Reciprocity

The lynchpin to successful engagement begins with putting the consumers’ lifestyle interests and needs at the center of outreach strategies. The more we can do to help pet parents and enable their pet-centric lifestyle, the more likely they are to reciprocate. Additionally, behavioral studies have shown that when generous acts, unexpected gifts and unique offers are made, it triggers a natural, almost immediate reaction to return the favor.

4. Similarity and alignment

Truth is, we are drawn to brands and people who are similar to us – who share our values, interests and beliefs. This understanding fosters deeper connection and affinity. Thus, it is mission critical to study the lifestyle needs, wants, desires and concerns of core customers. Social media community-building is essential to create a forum for (and of) like-minded pet owners to share their stories and co-create content.

5. Humanization

People connect with people, not companies. Video is a great tool for this purpose. Bring to life “the real people” stories of founders, pet nutrition experts, ingredient suppliers, cause partners and other humans involved in what you do. Do your leaders have a presence on your website? Do your managers across the organization have a voice and the opportunity to publish in content marketing programs? Have you told the stories of your ingredient suppliers – all the way back to the farm?

6. “Help-over-Hype” drives sharing

It may sound counterintuitive, but the path to marketing success is paved not by making your products the hero of your stories, but rather the consumer you wish to reach. It is how we help enable their interests and wishes that we gain their trust and involvement. Providing useful and helpful content is the secret to engagement – and to sharing the content you create. Pet parents are sponges, looking for information on behavior, health, recreation and dietary needs along the continuum of their pets’ journey from puppy to senior. Genuinely useful material and guidance, done in an entertaining way gets shared.

The tendency to focus on ingredient superiority or formulation distinctions is epidemic in pet care. As a result, it is less differentiating because the specsmanship approach can become confusing to pet parents. Experts with varying opinions argue the finer points of dietary percentages, nutritional contribution from various ingredients, while claims related to protein sourcing start to sound similar brand to brand.

The old saying ‘the brand that gets closest to the customer wins’ couldn’t be more true. The emotional bonds and connections between pets and their parents offer better and more powerful territory for engagement.

Consumers don’t want to be sold. They want to feel good about the decision they made based on selecting a brand that has a better grasp of their concerns, needs and passions.

Pet care is part of a wellness-oriented lifestyle. It’s mutually beneficial on so many levels. This is great territory for creative exploration.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Millennials Cooking with Technology

Culture Shifts Transform Food Business Landscape

June 28th, 2016 Posted by food experiences, Food Trend, Insight, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Culture Shifts Transform Food Business Landscape”
Implications for marketing…

Without a doubt the biggest change in food and beverage preferences in the last 30 years is the redefinition of food quality. Fresh, real food and elevated recipe choices are redefining every channel of food and food retail as varying degrees of processed product falls from grace.


If Content Marketing Matters to Engagement, Then What’s the Right Tool?

October 26th, 2015 Posted by digital tools, Insight, Retail brand building, shopper behavior, Uncategorized 0 comments on “If Content Marketing Matters to Engagement, Then What’s the Right Tool?”


This should not be a surprise, but when it comes to engagement and shareability, two primary measures of effectiveness in content marketing outreach — video stands as a leader among tools in the tool box.

Consumers like to watch…


How Trust Triggers The “Buy” Button

June 9th, 2015 Posted by Growth, Insight, Navigation, Transformation 0 comments on “How Trust Triggers The “Buy” Button”

Consumers are creating their own ‘circle of trusted influencers’

Trusted Influencers

People believe it is the business of businesses to sell. And, traditional selling often employs assertions, claims and self-declarations of quality, superior taste or experience. This sets in place a bit of friction: is the claim truthful?

So trust looms even larger these days as the pivot point in purchase decisions. And today’s digital, mobile, “access to anything that can be known will be known” world has arisen as an enabler of how consumers get to trust: through validation.