Category Archives: Marketing

What they’re saying about autonomous technology

Published in Autonomous News
Web Link: http://www.autonews.com/article/20160911/OEM06/309129989/what-theyre-saying-aboutautonomous-technology

In the aftermath of the crash, consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” a study shows.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company with offices in New York and Mumbai, India, conducted this study.

The study analyzed 3,081 conversations from Jan. 1 to Aug. 15. The conversations were evenly distributed before and after news of the fatal crash of a Tesla using Autopilot became public on July 30.

MavenMagnet analyzes data from all digital sources — including social networks, communities, forums, chat rooms and product reviews — to provide insights about U.S. attitudes toward emerging and rapidly evolving topics such as autonomous vehicles. Its work for corporate clients has included analysis of more than 40 vehicle nameplates.

Perhaps predictably, online conversations about autonomous vehicles turned markedly negative this summer after a fatal crash involving the driver of a Tesla Model S operated in Autopilot mode.

What’s less predictable — and more encouraging to developers of self-driving vehicles — is that consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” according to a new study done for Automotive News.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company that combs through online discussions, noted the changing attitudes by comparing comments before and after the Tesla accident became news on July 30.

The study sifted through thousands of conversations. It analyzed U.S. consumers, trying to sort out their attitudes toward a disruptive technology with positive and negative possibilities.

“It was not a surprise that safety was a big concern and became a bigger concern,” said Aditya Ghuwalewala, MavenMagnet founder. “What was more surprising was that even after the accident, there was optimism that this was the next big thing.”

Ghuwalewala added that people posting opinions online split over the responsibilities of human drivers and autonomous technology.

“It’s a very engaging topic, from the look of the conversations,” he said.

Another division was between consumers who want to keep driving themselves — except in traffic jams – – and those who apparently can’t wait until they can nap, text or watch a movie while being transported autonomously.

Cleve Langton, MavenMagnet president, said that reflects “the tedium of driving vs. the pleasure of driving: “Oh my God, I face this commute every morning, and if I could just zone out, that would be great.’ And then there’s the visceral satisfaction of driving.”

Selling services

Services are the intangibles consumers buy to meet a specific goals. People and business generally like services. Services in most cases end up to be have a much better price-value equation than products. There’s no value depreciation and upgradation is as easy as anything can be. Services when done right makes the consumer feel good.

These benefits of services has led to a whole slew of things being sold as services. SAAS (Software-as-a-Service) and IAAS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) are two great examples of evolution of selling products as a services in the technology industry to make it easier for the consumers to consume as compared to buying products. The concept of selling services as much as the consumer needs and when they need it is not new. It dates back to consumers buying electricity rather than generating it using a grid in their backyard. It’s convenient and cost effective.

A big benefit of selling services is that it is much easier to get broad scale adoption than selling products. The reason being it is easier to provide trial service to consumers than giving products on trial basis. Mobile phone operators give customers a month free of data connection on their smart phones. Getting that service free for a month made people realize they can do so much on the go that otherwise needed a bigger computing device.

Selling services has its own challenges. You are selling intangibles. The consumer buying it is not buying a product, they are buying something else. What they are buying is the comfort, the expertise, the ease of use and the option to get rid of it when they don’t need it anymore without much guilt of buying it in the first place.

Delivering On The ‘Brand Promise’ Is Key In Luxury

What luxury brands do consumers talk most about? Which ones are the sexiest, most in vogue, best at brand promise, best at customer service, best social appeal, and best emotional appeal? MavenMagnet completed a study that answers these questions.

But the top finding is that there is a shift toward “affordable luxury,” the move to brands that are luxury in perception (inwardly by the buyer and perception of others) but are within reasonable budget parameters. Another key finding is that “practicality” is finding its way into the luxury space. This is reflected in greater emphasis on the brand promise and on functional appeal. It is important for brands to understand that consumers are looking for practical products in the luxury market, more than ever before.

The study analyzed over 10,000 consumer conversations across a broad cross-section of social media platforms to understand consumer purchase and brand preferences in the luxury market. Findings reveal consumer sentiments toward both the category as well as specific brands and identify specific equities that brands can own. Ten brands were included in the study: Burberry, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Swarovski and Tiffany. Hugo Boss had the most favorable conversations at 88%, followed by Coach and Armani at 68% each.

Brand promise is the most important benefit category for luxury brands, claiming 42% of conversations, followed by functional appeal, product experience, emotional appeal, and social appeal. Consumers define brand promise differently for different brands. Consumers associate the luxury category and most specifically Tiffany, Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani with the brand promise of “upscale” as measured by consumer buzz around price and snob value of “unaffordable to most people.” “Quality standards” is another important promise for the luxury category, which consumers qualify in terms of materials and craftsmanship. Burberry and Tiffany share the most positive buzz around the sentiment, which consumers generally associate with quality materials and craftsmanship. It is interesting to note that consumers also overwhelming associate Burberry – more than any other brand — with the brand promise of individuality as defined by uniqueness and character.

Functional appeal is the second most important benefit category for luxury brands, which includes qualities of value justification, durability, convenience, customer service and performance. Conversations show that Tiffany owns the positive buzz around value justification – specifically, consumers believe they can justify the cost because of the resale value. Louis Vuitton and Coach share the positive conversations around durability. Consumers simply expect luxury bags and wallets to last longer. Consumers associate convenience — ease of use, wearability, multipurpose — most positively and most often with Coach, followed by Burberry. Customer service is an important quality for these consumers. Repairs and warranties become the primary measure of good customer service. Consumers have the strongest positive performance perceptions for Hugo Boss and Dolce & Gabbana.

Product experience ranks third in benefit categories identified. Aesthetics – a subset of product experience — is the most important factor in the luxury goods industry that spans across multiple product categories. Consumers define aesthetics in terms of overall looks (perception of overall design and appearance), elegance and colors. Consumers associate design excellence with Coach, elegance with Gucci, colors and elegance with Burberry.

Ranked 4 is emotional appeal, which is defined in terms of brand affinity and indulgence. Brand affinity, which often drives loyalty and advocacy in luxury brands, has high consumer sentiment for the category and, in particular, for Coach and Hugo Boss. Split 50/50, consumers qualify indulgence in terms of “expressions of love,” such as gifting, and “self-gratification.” Interestingly, women often justify the guilt of expensive luxury products with self-gratification. Louis Vuitton owns the positive buzz around indulgence.

Social appeal is the 5th ranked benefit. Consumers define the sentiment in terms of “in vogue,” status symbol, and sex appeal. Tiffany dominates the positive consumer sentiment around “in vogue” followed closely by Burberry and Louis Vuitton. Ralph Lauren and Burberry lead positive buzz around status symbol which consumers predominately discuss in context of apparel. As for sex appeal, consumers find Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani the sexiest brands of those studied.

Note: MediaPost published this article: http://bit.ly/TQdbnL

Branding and differentiation

With several choices available in the marketplace for any given product, be it a bar of soap or a car, it is important to define differentiation for your branded product. You can differentiate your product, no matter how generic it is in its properties, to make it own a unique identity and connection with customers. That is in very simple terms the definition of branding. It’s the distinct identity that you create to help your customers connect with your product. It’s the perceptual aura that you create for your product. It’s the stamp of confidence that you build around your product. It’s the bedrock for differentiation.

In order to define your brand, it is important to focus on elements that are sustainable over a long-term. It can be your technology that differentiates you from the rest, puts your brand at the forefront of innovation and a step ahead of competition. It can be the design excellence that defines your brand. It can be the customer service that is at the core of your business and makes you command the trust of your customers.

It is often asked if price can be the differentiator for a brand. How much a product costs the customer can be an important element of the product. It may be the most important consideration factor for many products, but it cannot be the differentiating element. Price more often than not is a sanity factor. Price-value equation triumphs the price very easily. You cannot define your brand purely on price. On the contrary, if you brand it right, you can command a premium for your product.

Your differentiation is something that makes a statement on why consumers must select you above anyone else. Branding is that statement. It’s something that stands out for you. The best way to define it is by understanding the needs of your customers and gaps in the marketplace and mapping them to your strengths.

Don’t ask

One of the biggest issues (there are many) with traditional research is that it is based on a Q&A system. You get people in a focus group, send them surveys, organize panels and do interviews to get answers to key business questions. The basic problem is that information is probed and can be very easily manipulated to prove any hypothesis. A focus group is just as effective as the moderator, surveys are as good as the questions and answer options in them, a panel is as useful as the topics and directives used to stir the discussion and interviews provide as much information as the interviewers want to ask.

Asking questions puts the respondents in a specific mindset that is limited to answering questions. The respondents are talking to a company, they are artificially incentivized and their answers largely depend on their willingness and comfort level in sharing information with a complete stranger. To sum it all up, what you get in case of traditional market research are claimed responses with high degree of respondent bias and no real insights.

So how to transform market research to find the real insights from the consumers? Short answer: don’t ask. There is enough information available in the super connected world out there to learn about the consumers and extract insights from their conversations. What is needed is a technology infrastructure and innovative techniques to collect this information, organize it and analyze it to extract real insights.

Contrast traditional market research with MavenMagnet big social data based research. MavenMagnet research has zero bias built in because it is dependent on patterns formed out of the information out there. There are no respondents. People are sharing information in their social world, not with a company. The mindset is a normal like it is in their everyday life. They are not incentivized, but are self-motivated. The insights are real and actionable.

So the question is why is something that is cumbersome, slow, expensive and biased not completely replaced by something that is convenient, quick, economical and impartial? The core reason is legacy. Traditional research has been around for several decades. Generations of market researchers have grown doing this and have a certain comfort level with it. And above all, transformation takes time. Eventually the comfort and confidence level of market researchers with big data based research will increase and reach a tipping point which will change the face of this industry for ever. Why we know that? Because we can analyze past trends to predict the future!

The ecosystem game

A product does not live in a vacuum. Several variables play a role to make a product a lucrative sell and an attractive buy. The important thing is to understand and in some cases build the ecosystem surrounding the product.

For years success of Microsoft Windows has been attributed to the army of Independent Software Vendors and the ecosystem of applications on Windows making it the preferred desktop operating system in the world. The power of ecosystem is evident again when you look at the smartphone industry. Both Apple and Google have been able to create an ecosystem of applications on iOS and Android respectively making them the leaders in the industry.

Ecosystem is not important only in the computing world. It is prevalent in pretty much every industry out there. Take car rental industry as an example. Car rental is lot more than just the cars that are rented to the consumer. It’s the whole ecosystem consisting of elements like insurance of the cars, used car market, roadside support and so on. A consumer while renting a car leverages the entire ecosystem in the process.

The constituents of a product’s ecosystem varies from the social drivers to infrastructure support. It needs a lot of innovative thinking and a certain inclusiveness to bring in many players to be part of the game. It’s something that is in many cases essential for the viability of the product and provides unparalleled competitive advantage and a great deal of stickiness factor leading to customer retention.

Verbs

“BBM me on Whatsapp.”

“Paint is good enough to photoshop this picture.”

“The automatic xeroxing capability of my new HP printer has saved me hours of manual labor.”

What’s wrong with these everyday conversational statements? These statements, it turns out, are blunders for Blackberry (BBM), Adobe (Photoshop) and Xerox respectively. People have relatively low brand affinity towards these brands while they are completely engraved in everyday vocabulary. In some cases, such brands even lose the brand awareness and start getting treated as verbs.

It it awesome when your brand becomes synonymous to the product you are selling. It signals clear market dominance and leadership in the category. But it takes no time to become dangerous when the brand becomes verbs with better and more economical alternatives substitute you in the product category.

The way to dodge it is by preventing your brand from becoming a generic verb. Keep the focus on the problem you are solving, whether its easy messaging, picture editing or photo copying. If you are too good and far ahead to avoid that from happening, just stay ahead of competition. Keep innovating. Keep getting better. Just don’t let anyone else become the brand to “verb” you in the category.