Tag Archives: Consumption

Say It Ain’t So! More Great Cup ‘a Joe Tech?

This morning, while putting gas in my car, I pulled out my mobile device and placed a mobile order for a Venti Latte (1% Milk and No Foam) with around 5 button presses on the Starbucks mobile app. When the gas was filled, I jumped in the car and drove 100 yards to the nearest Starbucks (I live in Los Angeles, after all…) and walked past a line of 18 people transfixed by their mobile devices while standing in line to grab my coffee that was just popping up on the counter. I still don’t get it. How can so many people not be using this great piece of technology?

What Starbucks has done – and Dunkin Donuts is following suit – by advancing a use of an app that is absolutely helpful in getting through your day rather than just being an occasional doldrums distraction, is a model for companies of all verticals to follow. By utilizing connectivity and UX in a hyper-intuitive way, they have not just made lives easier for people who only have the time to jump in and out for a coffee, they have used the available technologies to increase loyalty and gain an even stronger source of data to make their customers happier while boosting business practices. *Starbucks also gains a huge financial advantage as the customer has to have a balance in their app in order to participate – allowing the company to take on a huge amount of capital before they have to deliver the goods.

We’ll have to see if their latest program marrying the mobile ordering component of their app with a delivery service  delivers the goods that can scale. The great and innovative learning in this is they are piloting ideas that take industrial knowledge one step further to keep moving forward. I don’t know how many people will want to pay a multi-$$ surcharge for a cup of coffee to be delivered, or how many markets it would actually work in. But, if they can figure out how to provide the service in areas that make sense and are profitable… even better.

Of course, once more of the world catches on to the mobile ordering and goes straight to the counter, Starbucks will have to figure out how to deliver on greatly expanded expectations. But that’s a good problem to have. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy walking past the line at the register while shaking my head in wonderment of when more people will make the jump.

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Brands and Ramifications of Earth Day’s Collateral Damage

Earth Day has always been a peculiar holiday when it comes to marketing and promotional ties that are made to a day reminding us to honor the planet. Even though the tie to honoring nature was clearly evident in the film AVATAR, I still had a concern when we were promoting it for release on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  I totally appreciated the strong message in the film and how it related to the holiday – I just wondered how people would react to the additional physical needs required for releasing on Earth Day (it fell on a Thursday rather than the traditional Tuesday release day and the amount of packaging manufactured was huge for the highest selling BD/DVD of all time.)  Surprisingly, there wasn’t as much of a backlash as I thought.  There was barely any. So, for all of the hubbub about Earth Day and the interests of brands in promoting their products in the spirit of the day, there is quite a bit of collateral damage.

Heading into Earth Day this Sunday, there are a number of companies tying themselves to the holiday – with Target being among the largest.  They are giving away 1.5 Million re-usable bags on Sunday and promoting a bunch of their ecologically sound products.  Other companies are doing their own twist on the theme with Disney Stores allowing guests to trade in 5 disposable shopping bags for a themed re-usable one, Origins is offering the opportunity to trade in existing skin care product for one of two Earth-friendly products at Macy’s stores, and Pottery Barn Kids providing sunflower seed packets.

The value and awareness that is brought by large retailers and brands doing their own bit to celebrate the day are great and definitely needed.  Perhaps it could become the exception when a company is NOT doing something in support of the day. Partnerships with eco-organizations are the easiest ways to both make a statement and increase awareness.  There are definitely a large amount of non-profits that fit the bill.

The bizarre thing is what I refer to when mentioning Collateral Damage – the ill effect that some programs have on the environment.  While Target is doing their huge program and increasing awareness by fostering a strong partnership with Recyclebank, an organization that is working towards a world without waste by rewarding people for taking everyday green actions – like recycling and reducing water use – Target has created a huge opportunity for waste.  Don’t get me wrong.  They are doing something for the better good and they are not new to the game – they have been giving $.05 discounts to consumers who use their own bags since November of 2009.

Their true good has been made murky by the fact that they have created 1.5 MILLION bags – objects that would not have existed otherwise – and brought them into the marketplace.  The message is strong about helping the ecology, but what about the message of all the materials that went into that manufacturing?  Additionally, their promotion of savings on numerous eco-friendly products requires consumers to print out coupons on pieces of paper.  Couldn’t they just say that all those items are on sale on Sunday – no coupon/waste required?

Ultimately, it’s a challenge.  How do products that require manufacturing of some sort ever even themselves against any real or perceived destruction of the ecology?  I’m not saying that brands and retailers should throw up their hands and say its no use. It’s just the opposite.  They should be looking deeper into how they can make a statement – whether through packaging, year-long practices and the simple things like having items be on sale without requiring paper to be wasted in order to redeem the savings.

To some extent, we will always be playing a zero-sum game with the idea of consumption and preservation.  Perhaps we will get to the point where we are actually preserving and recycling at a greater rate than what we are wasting.  It is baby steps and we can only hope to keep the damage to a minimum – especially as we celebrate Earth Day.

Playing Chess with Affluent Folks and Media

This study came out this past week from Ipsos Mendelsohn.  The interesting thing is that it seems they’re playing all angles on the wealthy.  At about the same time they released the study below, they released information about the Affluent and Print still being king.  Its not like the two topics are mutually exclusive – just funny that they would come out at the same time from the same organization… it really points to the continuing complexity and nuance of media planning.

Wealthy Man Etching by Tom Otterness

Here’s a solid recap of the study as reported by Karl Greenberg for MediaPost:

The wealthy spend more time online and recall digital ads better than the general public, according to a study by Ipsos Mendelsohn for the Internet Advertising Bureau. No surprise here, but the wealthy — generously defined by the study as households making $100,000 or more per year — are just 21% of U.S. households, but they now have 70% of all consumer wealth, and spend 3.2 times more than other Americans on purchases.

The survey-based research finds that 98% of affluent consumers use the Internet versus 79% of the general population. Wealthy people also spend 26.2 hours online weekly (versus the 21.7 hours the general population spends online), 17.6 hours watching TV (versus 34 hours for the general public) and 7.5 hours listening to the radio (versus 16 hours by the general public).

Affluent consumers are also much more wired than the rest of us. The study, “Affluent Consumers in a Digital World,” is based on an online poll in February of 2,088 adults, half of whom are in households making over $100,000 and about half making less.

Ipsos Mendelsohn says affluent Americans are twice as likely as the general population to own smartphones, and that 79% of the affluent say their lives have become “intertwined with technology” over the past decade.

The study says that since the wealthy spend more time online, they also have better digital ad recall and are more aware of advertised brands, products and services. But the data suggest those differences are minor. For example, according to the study, 88% of affluent consumers recalled being exposed to one or more digital ads during the previous week, compared with 84% of non-affluent Internet users. Within these groups, affluents recalled 21.1 ads on average, versus 20.2 for non-affluents, per the study.

Affluent people are a tad more likely to be aware of new products (55% vs. 49%), new companies (51% vs. 49%), and new websites (46% vs. 44%) after viewing digital ads. The same percentage of affluent consumers as everyone else said they took action based on a digital ad during the preceding six months.

The big difference is that wealthy folk have a better understanding of ad targeting, the virtues of opt-ins and benefits of divulging personal information versus non-affluent consumers because they would prefer customized ads for products and services relevant to their interests.

The study said 32% of affluents versus 23% of non-affluents said they’d be willing to share information about themselves in order to “get a more customized online experience.” Nearly three quarters of respondents versus 61% agreed that “most websites are free because they are supported by advertising.”

And more than half of affluent consumers said they would “prefer to see ad-supported online content that is free, rather than paying for content that is ad-free.”

“Affluent consumers have increasingly come to desire relevant and customized experiences, in part because they are living technology-infused lifestyles,” said Bob Shullman, President of Ipsos Mendelsohn, in a statement about the study. “Virtually all the affluent are online. Their ownership of tablets and e-readers has increased by 50 percent over the past six months, and shows every indication of continued growth. They have come to expect the benefits of digital media, even if it doesn’t alleviate all work-life pressures.”