Dec 28, 2006

A game of Tag and branding

What was that again...Zeilg....never mind !

If you had to see someone with a name tag like that, its highly likely you'd give that name tag one long hard stare in trying to remember it, repeat it silently at least 5 times hoping you are pronouncing it correctly and perhaps even embrass yourself when you say it.

In case you are wondering why I am saying all this - I am taking off from C.B's post here. She posted an interesting thought about how the 'game of tags' in the virtual world could be put to use in the real world to enhance customer experience. She writes...

The whole concept of 'blog tag' reminds me that often the hardest part of developing a relationship with customers is that initial point of connection. So, imagine enabling that connection through a non-virtual version of 'blog tag'... Think of hotels where the concierge and others wear nametags showing both city of origin and name. Don't your eyes gravitate to that information? And, don't you start a conversation with that person relating to that info?

Whenever I am asked which mobile handset i use, I say 'Nokia'. Even while i say it, i can anticipate the next question. Which model? And i have to reluctantly say 'I don't know'. The conversation does not end there, but it suffices to say that no matter how hard i try, I cannot for the life of me remember alpha numeric codes. It is for the same reason that communication for hardware / electronics - that reel out such numbers - does not resonate with me.

Vin Cuit
Ever been to a restaurant, where instead of telling the person taking your order what you'd like, you've had to point a finger to the menu since you were too embarrassed to pronounce. Worse still ever had an experience where instead of deciding what you'd like to eat, you stare at the strange words on the menu with the alphabets rolling in front of your eyes. Names that are originally linked to a cuisine do have a ring of authenticity, though the customer could have the an unpleasant experience with the words rolling over his tongue.

Of Scandinavian lakes & Swedish Islands
Ever bought garden furniture or bathroom accessories that were named after lakes and islands. You probably have except that it hasn't clicked that funny looking jumble of words on your IKEA products actually meant something! People who buy IKEA do so for the design elements and affordability and a product name would not deter them from their purchase decision - but it does leave consumers wondering, gives them no context to the product name and in some cases even causes inconvenience.

Where do the 'dots' go
My last thought on the subject is on and i still don't know whether i have got the dots in the right place and frankly, it does not matter any more since if you did type just 'delicious' - it would take you to their site, but once upon a time it did not and one had to take the trouble to remember. Fortunately for them, they recognized this and made the corrections early on!

The point is

Poor Zeilgyiv did not have a choice with his name,
Marketers do!
(In what and how their brands / products are named)

Where i first read about the trouble with the delicious name - the delicious tax
A two part article decoding the mystery behind the IKEA product names - Part 1, 2
What to watch out for while considering brand / product names - here and here

brand names,product names,IKEA,,

Dec 19, 2006

The Qualitative Research Blog : On why this blog has a new name

Not that any one would notice, but this blog used to be called 'What I do for a Living' ....and now it is not! As much as I would have liked to chose something that sounds more interesting and esoteric I have adapted a very boring, prosaic phrase. Why?

1. What I do for a living is very generic - I could be making peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches for a living! Do a google search on that phrase and you will see results describing 'what the living do' to 'someone who sings happy birthday to his car every 1000 miles'. So I have a hope in hell with a name like that, a serious surfer on research would find my blog.

2. I have been looking for qual research blogs and haven't had much luck finding them. In the process i happened to figure out a little google secret. Google blog search picks up blogs and displays those amongst the top urls 'only if your blog title / name has words that coincide with the search phrase' - So I put in a title as simple as 'The qualitative research blog' - and did a search using the phrase 'qualitative research' - and it worked!

If you are going to spend a great deal of time and energy writing about a subject, it makes all the more sense to tweak your blog elements, to be seen and heard by the right audience!

qualitative research,qualitative research blog,qualitative market research,market research,

The Marketing Z-list : A little nudge to the left

If you are one of those bloggers who is happy typing away at the keyboard each day without ever looking at your site stats then there are just two possibilities a) you are amongst the top 5 % - who have far too many visitors on for them to even keep track of OR b) you belong to the 0.001 % of the blogging population who just blog for the love of it and you are way above the mundaneness of things like visitor stats or blog ranks. For the rest of us - we sit on the belly of the normal curve and try to stealthily inch our way to the left.

The revenge of the Z-lister is one such attempt. Technorati / Google - where people generally stop to look for blogs - use the number of incoming links to a page as an indicator of authority. So if you are a nube, there'll be few bloggers who'd know of you, even fewer linking to you, your chances of appearing on these search engines become slimer and you'd probably be pushed away into obscurity.

The other thing many of us inadvertently do is, when we start blogging, we read those popular, authoritative blogs and link them to our blog rolls - feeding them with more incoming links - and more authority - nothing wrong with that - expect that many of these blogs are already so visible - they probably dont need that extra publicity - where as some one else may deservedly earn a huge mileage from the extra links. And the law of diminishing marginal utility - returns!

So here's to increasing marginal returns with links where they still matter...

Chris Brown
Shotgun Marketing Blog
Customers Rock!
Being Peter Kim
Two Hat Marketing
The Branding Blog
The Emerging Brand
Drew’s Marketing Minute
Golden Practices
Tell Ten Friends
Flooring the Consumer
Kinetic Ideas
Sports Marketing 2.0
Black In Business
On Influence and Automation
Marketing Hipster
Viral Meister
Trend Watching
Social Media Marketing
Customer Experience Crossroads
The Curious Shopper
The Qualitative Research Blog (What I do for a living)
Customers Are Always

And My additions to the List

B2B Blog
Mind Space
Marketing Profs:Daily Fix
Blackfriars' Marketing

How you can take the list forward

Cut and paste the list of blogs into your new post, adding any additional blogs that you think need more air time. Add the same instructions in your post so the next blogger does the same.

Follow the Trail...
The meme started here and then went here, here and here (where you will find the html for 25 or so links that will save you some Ctrl C / Ctrl V effort) I found it on this blog

* Confessions of a Z list Blogger - a hilarious piece of writing on the subject! Must Read.

Marketing Z-List,Z List Blogs,Buzz Marketing,technorati,Z List,Z-List,

Dec 14, 2006

Packaging elements Part 2 - What consumers infer

While reading about Innocent Smoothie for my last post on packaging i stumbled upon a number of blog posts where people had written about walking into supermarkets and finding their innocent smoothie bottles lined up on the shelves in their pretty winter caps. The kind souls at 'innocent' will give away 50p to Age Concern for every bottle sold. Well, it truly is a warm gesture but I will restrict my post to the packaging idea.

The guys at Innocent smoothie - a bunch of warm and happy people

- This is like stating the obvious but, bottles lined on the a shelf with cute colourful little hats on them definitely break the clutter and stand out without really being in-your-face-loud.

- I have come across marketers using collectibles before, but only ones which have been targeted at kids - pokemon, tazzos and such like. These supergran hats are collectibles for adults or should i refer to them as 'grown up kids'. While reading the bloggers who had written about this, I came across so many who mentioned - I looked but couldn't find many more such bottles on the shelves...with people responding in the comment box saying...I want that too

The brand through these hats has really infused some fun into people's lives. Look through this flickr group to see some of the fun people have had with these cuties. It makes the brand more endearing to the consumer. Google is one more such brand that inspires warmth amongst people who talk about it.

- It generates a buzz. It gives people something to talk about. Look what I saw today...Look what i got home...look what i did with my many people blogging about these supergrans

Zune - a great out-of-box experience going sour

Moving away from Innocent Smoothies, the second brand I had spoken about in my last post was the Zune. Apparently, Microsoft really did get the packaging right this time. The are loads of reviews out there about the fantastic out-of-box experience and aesthetics. I don't want to repeat what is already there.

What i did learn from all that I read about people's reactions to the Zune (in the context of packaging) was this

- The OOBE tells a lot to the consumer about what he should expect from the product. With Zune, people expected the stereotypical Microsoft packaging - cluttered with needless info. What they saw came as a surprise. It created 2 expectations

a) this is a diversion from the usual microsoft way of doing things - consumer starts to feel positive about the product
b) the design aesthetics are subtly similar to that of the iPod - clean, bold yet stylish - you have set the tone for the consumer to compare your offering against your competitor even before using the product.

There is nothing wrong with both the above expectations. Provided the product experience the user has matches the initial euphoria he has on seeing the pack. Unfortunately that did not happen with the Zune. Many recounted nightmarish installation experiences. The over simplified installation guide and lack of tech support at such a critical time only added to that negativity.

- Packaging sets the tone for what consumers expect and how they slot the product.

- Manage expectations. Product images on the pack raise consumer expectations on how products would turn out (especially in case of categories like food). If you are showing some exceedingly yummy food shots, your product better taste that yummy too. Honesty goes a long way. One good thing about the Zune pack was that the size and thickness of the Zune player was rightly depicted on the pack. Many applauded that honesty especially since 'size and weight' are considered critical to the category of portable music players

- Consumers pick up cues from the pack size / shape / colours / dimensions - on where to slot / position it and what other products it is pitched at. For instance, in India most of the detergent brands have packs that are blue in colour. When we researched a food product that has a similar blue - many consumers at the first glance dismissed the pack we showed them saying that it looked like a detergent pack and it could not contain food. Other cues they picked up were that if the pack showed a glass with milk - it meant that the pack contained milk that is to be consumed cold, while if the pack showed a shot of a mug with milk - that mean - the pack contain a powder to be mixed with warm milk - because one cannot hold a glass full of warm milk without a handle

Read more about innocent supergran hats here
If you are looking for initial reactions to the Zune, you will find some of them here and here

Packaging Research,Zune,innocent smoothies,supergran hats,

Dec 12, 2006

Packaging elements that work

Every since I brought home the innocent smoothie carton, I have been itching to do a post about packaging. It brought back some interesting memories from a packaging research I was part of. Trying to check whether consumers understood the key benefit of the product, I remember asking a woman in one of those interviews

What do you think the person who designed this pack is trying to tell you? What was their intention? And the lady replied…

They are trying to tell me never to read this pack. I tried not to laugh knowing I was being watched by clients and asked her with a very serious face….

Sorry I did not follow what you said…And she added…Now you only tell mewho has the time to read all this technical information these days…

She said what most people feel. Packs are boring, cluttered with too much information, almost designed ‘to never be read’. I don’t know yet the fate of that pack we were researching; it is still to be launched. Though I distinctly remember the prototype. The faces of that carton were being treated like prime real estate. Each square inch of that space was filled with symbols, logos, nutritional guidelines, the ingredient list and tiny pictures to symbolize the ingredients, and that was not enough there was the brand charter about 60 words of highbrow talk – and in two languages! And…there was a tiny quiz game - an arcane question, the answer to which had to be found on the pack. Honestly, we did not need to do research to find out the pack was too cluttered but even the slightest suggestion to do away with any of the pack elements would get the marketing team cringing. For them all of it was non-negotiable territory…all of it had to be there!

Isn’t it a twisted logic…first we create clutter and then we spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out…how to break the clutter.

Of the many packs I have seen in the last one year, two elements have stood out in my memory.

- The Sainsbury wheel of health.

o A simple way of depicting the nutritional guidelines. They use colour coding instead of having to look at numbers

o Moves the information from ‘back of the back’ – associated mostly with boring technical information nobody wants to read – to front of the pack where it catches the attention at the first glance.

o The colour coding uses colours that all of us already have associations with – the colours of the traffic signal – red on the the wheel means, stuff that should be eaten sparingly - since it has far greater amounts of nutrients than what is the recommended daily allowance (RDA). More green on the wheel means that the amounts are in line with the RDA– stuff that is good for you.

- The second being the copy on the innocent smoothies pack

o Simple, easy to read, warm and talking to you in the first person. Makes you want to read.

o Sounds authentic. In synch with their brand values. You believe what you read.

o The font they use on the pack looks friendly and so is their language. You have fun while reading it. Look at what this person found at the bottom of his pack. Mine had an innocuous rhyme :)

If you want a reminder about what not to do with your packaging – watch this youtube video about how Microsoft would design the iPod pack. Contra expectations they seem to have done well with the Zune packs. More about that and some more innocent smoothie talk, tomorrow.

Learning: Consumers are also humans. Talking to us like human beings might help :)

Packaging Research,Sainsburys,Sainsburys wheel of health,innocent smoothies,