Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Marketing Mother’s Day 2015

“Tradition” is the watchword again this year when it comes to gifts for Mom. Eighty-seven percent of consumers plan to celebrate Mother’s Day, with total spending estimated to reach nearly $20 billion, according to our annual Brand Keys Mother’s Day survey.

More-and-more, Mother’s Day encompasses a broader spectrum of relationships, as it’s become a universal holiday. It embraces everyone from moms to wives to step-moms to female relatives, to female friends, and divorced and single-parent households. This holiday crosses all ethnic, cultural, and religious boundaries, which makes it a real opportunity for retailers –an occasion nearly everyone can celebrate.

Celebrants intend to spend an average of $193.00 this year, up five percent over 2014. Men, following a long-standing tradition, intend to spend more than women, reporting an anticipated average spend of $215. Women reported an anticipated spend of $161. But buyers are again leaning towards more traditional gifts, a continuing trend with, this year, “tradition” outpacing “tech,” with consumers reporting intended purchases of traditional gifts like cards, meals (brunch or dinner), flowers, spa services, jewelry, and clothing.

As part of our annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, we polled 6,000 men and women, ages 18-65, asking them if and how they were planning to celebrate Mother’s Day, with most consumers indicating multiple gift purchases. This year’s largest increases were seen in Meal Occasions, Jewelry, and Clothing, up 8%, 7% and 6% respectively. Gift cards were down 8%, the first decline we’ve ever seen that since the category became a gift-option staple. (Percentages in parentheses indicate changes from l2014 with a margin of error of +2%).

2015                                      Percent Purchasing

Cards                                       95%              (-2%)
Brunch/Lunch/Dinner               88%              (+8%)
Flowers                                    86%              (unchanged)
Clothing                                    70%              (+6%)
Gift Cards                                 52%              (-8%)
Jewelry                                     52%              (+7%)
Spa Services                             50%             (+4%)
Candy                                       15%              (-2%)
Electronics/ Smartphones         11%              (+6%)

Preferences for shopping venues continued to reflect this year’s fondness for more traditional gifts, with Department Stores up slightly (4%) and Catalogues down again this year. Discount (55%), Specialty (50%), and Department Stores (50%, +4%) were at the top of consumers’ list of places to shop for Mom. Online (30%) was ­unchanged. Like many major gift-buying holidays, many consumers indicated they are waiting until the last moment to make their purchases.

But waiting or not, this is the time of year when everybody loves Mom. There’s a saying, “a Mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, quickly announces she never really cared for pie at all.” Maybe that’s why Meal Occasions are up this year!

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Basketball’s Most-Loyal Fans

The 2015 NBA playoffs are just underway, and while it may be unwise to jump to conclusions as to which team will ultimately win over all others, fan loyalty turns out to be much more than just the teams’ win-loss ratios. As they say in New York City, when it comes to making the playoffs, “it couldn’t hurt.” Making the playoffs helps increase a team’s fan loyalty levels by about 10%. Winning almost doubles that and the 23rd annual Sports Fan Loyalty Index reflects just that.

The Sports Fan Loyalty Index was designed to help professional sports team management identify what drives fan loyalty in their home and national markets and allows team management to identify areas, particularly the emotional ones that need strategic brand coaching. Brand Keys assesses all teams, interviewing 250 self-classified fans from each of the 30 NBA teams’ immediate metropolitan catchment areas. The current 2015 NBA top-5 and bottom-5 team standings (and their standings last year) are as follows:

Top-5 2015                                       2014

1. Chicago Bulls                                (#5)
2. Los Angeles Clippers                    (#4)
3. San Antonio Spurs                        (#1)
4. Miami Heat                                    (#3)
5. Dallas Mavericks                           (#6)   

Bottom-5 2015                               2014

30. Sacramento Kings                    (#30)
29. Minn. Timberwolves                  (#29)
28. Milwaukee Bucks                      (#27)
27. Orlando Magic                          (#24)
26. Detroit Pistons                          (#23)

Winning may be the only thing when it comes to a playoff championship, but when it comes to fan loyalty it’s not the only thing. Fan loyalty correlates very highly with broadcast viewership, merchandise purchase, and to a certain degree, ticket revenues. Teams can count on some “lift” to fan loyalty from making the playoffs (a 10% lift) or a championship win (about a 20% lift), both of which fall into the “Pure Entertainment” category driver.

Before your go ballistic that your team didn’t make the top-5, keep in mind that teams don’t leap to the top of the loyalty roster just because they win a playoff or even a championship. It adds to a team’s loyalty bond (and their related ranking), but you need the complete package, and there are three other emotionally-based factors that must be taken into account when measuring real fan loyalty: Authenticity, Fan Bonding, and History & Tradition, with all the loyalty drivers functioning like this:

How well they play as a team. Sometimes a new arena and, often, new manager, can help lift this driver. Which brands sponsor the team can matter here as well.

Fan Bonding:
Are there players ­– the more the better – that are particularly respected and admired, but in this case that means respect and admiration for something more than just a great 3-point shot. If it helps, think of it as the “Jordan Factor.” And if you have to really think about who that might be on your team, or can only come up with one name right off, your team’s Fan Bonding is likely to be low. And yes, all these pro players are supposed to be the best of the best, but the roster of players that fans emotionally bond with is relatively small.

History and Tradition:
Have the game and the team become part of fans’ and community’s rituals, institutions, and beliefs? This is one of the strongest drivers when it comes to fan loyalty in all of Major League Sports. For some teams it accounts for the lion’s share of loyalty they possess. Think about a team like the Utah Jazz where only a reasonable level of History & Tradition keeps them out of the bottom-5.

Teams need to meet some minimum levels on all four factors to create reasonable levels of fan loyalty. If one of those drivers weakens, or even disappears, so do high levels of loyalty. Want proof? Consider the New York Knicks’ past season.

The NBA again ranks 3rd of the four Major League Sports Brand Keys tracks. The National Football League is currently 1st, with Major League Baseball in 2nd place, and the National Hockey League last. Keep in mind that overall league and team rankings – no matter which league – correlate with viewership merchandise sales and ticket sales, and since rankings can be influenced depending upon how loyalty drivers are managed, it’s critical team marketers act as strategically as the coaches.

Want to know the secret to high NBA loyalty levels? Have 5 great players – and as many fans as possible for as long as possible.

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015’s Top-50 Greenest Brands

Today is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Its celebration comes with the hopes of tens of millions of people that this is the moment in history where equilibrium between sustainability and economic growth is realized. According to the experts, to do that, everyone – including brands – have to commit to a low carbon future.

For brands, simply playing the environmental awareness card as part of a CSR or PR campaign isn’t an actual option anymore. Brands have to do it in ways that meaningfully support a sustainable future that is palpable to the consumer. And as the number of companies trying to co-opt environmental issues for their brands has grown, so too have the number of skeptical consumers. Most consumers have heard such promises before and – in the face of increased expectations – have begun to demand authenticity. They understand that the technology exists, and more and more consumers feel that all brands need is the will to make it so. To borrow a phrase from the Wizard of Oz, consumers want brands to be "morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably" green.
While we recognize that there are many corporations looking to find ways to do business in a sustainable way, of the 550 brands included in this year’s Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, here are the top-50 brands deemed authentically and resolutely “green” by their own customers. They are presented alphabetically since environmental demands and consumer expectations are category-specific.

  1. Acer
  2. Adidas
  3. Air Canada
  4. Amazon.com
  5. Apple
  6. AT&T
  7. Aveda
  8. Avis
  9. Brother
  10. Budget
  11. Burt’s Bees
  12. Canon
  13. Chic-fil-A
  14. Chipotle
  15. Coke
  16. Dell
  17. Discover Card
  18. Dunkin’
  19. Epson
  20. Ford
  21. Hilton Hotels
  22. Home Depot
  23. Honda
  24. HP
  25. Hyundai
  26. IBM
  27. InterContinental Hotels
  28. JetBlue
  29. Kohl’s
  30. Konica-Minolta
  31. Le Pain Quotidian
  32. Macy’s
  33. McDonald’s
  34. New Balance
  35. Nike
  36. Panera
  37. Peet’s
  38. Pepsi
  39. REI
  40. Samsung
  41. Starbucks
  42. Subway
  43. Tom’s of Maine
  44. Toyota
  45. Under Armour
  46. United
  47. Walmart
  48. Whole Foods
  49. Wyndham Hotels
  50. Zappos

Two thousand fifteen could be the year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty and citizens and corporations divest from fossil fuels and both politicians and consumers put sustainability and renewable energy solutions where their mouths are. It turns out that consumers are fiercely loyal to brands that do that.

If you want to put your own principles and environmental standards to the test, Earth Day Network has a Personal Footprint Calculator, so you can see the impact you’re having on our planet. Just click here and take the test: http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator

For what it’s worth, when it comes down to the bottom bottom-line, unlike many things in our lives, it’s exactly what environmentalist Wendell Berry said, “The earth is what we all have in common.”

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Want 60 Million Customers? Here’s How.

Netflix posted a 24% sales gain with a subscriber base of over 60 million users Wednesday, with attendant revenue growth just shy of last quarter’s 26%. Some of that -2% has to do with “currency-related transactional losses with the strength of the U.S. dollar affecting international revenue.

What we know for sure is Netflix was again #1 in the Streaming Video category, as measured by the Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, a predictive leading-indicator of positive consumer behavior toward a brand. As the metrics are predictive of that favorable consumer behavior – in some cases 12 to 18 months ahead of earnings reports – we weren’t surprised to see that Netflix had added nearly 5 million new subscribers in the last quarter, outpacing the previous quarter, for a grand total of 62.3 million members worldwide. If it helps to picture what a subscriber base like that looks like, think pretty much the entire population of the United Kingdom.

None of this came as a surprise since emotional engagement and loyalty metrics always play out in the marketplace, and Netflix has been managing to exceed customer expectations for a while now on virtually all the drivers of loyalty and engagement, like connectivity and viewing options or fees, with the most important having to do with “a wide range of original entertainment,” the critical and resonating engagement value being “original.” Currently, rankings for the category look like this:
  1. Netflix
  2. Amazon
  3. Google Play / Hulu / iTunes
  4. Crackle / YouTube
  5. Vimeo / Vudu
  6. Veoh
  7. Iwatchonline
  8. Cinema Now
  9. Blockbuster 

HBO just released its standalone streaming video service – HBO Now, the non-customer version of their HBO Go – this month, but given the timing, it was not included in the January 2015 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, although it will be included the 4th Quarter Loyalty Leaders Listing, so we’ll see whether subscribers tune in to the new offering at a price higher than Netflix’s. That said, while Netflix is doing very well, HBO isn’t sweating just yet. HBO currently has 140 million subscribers.

About the population of Russia.

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Baseball’s Most Loyal Fans

It’s just like Yogi Berra said. “A home opener is always exciting whether it's home or on the road," and Major League Baseball opened its 2015 season this week with the cry of 'play ball' accompanied by the release of the 23rd annual Sports Fan Loyalty Index.

For some teams this season starts with high levels of emotional engagement and fan loyalty. For others, well, they found themselves in the cellar just as the season started. But fortunately, the Sports Fan Loyalty Index was designed to help professional sports team management identify precise fan loyalty rankings in their home and national markets with metrics that correlate very, very, very highly with viewership and purchase of licensed merchandise. Like batting. 800. Interviews with 250 self-declared fans in each team’s local catchment area provided more than just attendance numbers – they enable league and team management to identify areas, particularly emotional ones that need strategic brand coaching.

Current 2015 MLB top-5 and bottom-5 brand standings are listed below:

Top-5 Teams - 2015            2014 Rankings

1. St. Louis Cardinals                    (#1)

2. San Francisco Giants                (#5)

3. Los Angeles Dodgers                (#6)

4 Detroit Tigers                              (#6)

5. Washington Nationals                (#8)

Cellar Dwellers                     2014 Rankings

30. Houston Astros                         (#30)

29. Arizona Diamondbacks            (#21)

28. Colorado Rockies                     (#26)

27. New York Mets                         (#22)

26. Texas Rangers                         (#19)

The Sports Fan Loyalty Index, which measures all the teams in the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL provides apples-to-apples comparisons of the emotional intensity with which fans within a team's local area support the home team versus corresponding values for fans of other teams in that market.

OK, let’s get one particular perpetual area of contention out of the way right away.

Sure, everybody loves a winner, but it's important to note that win/loss ratios only govern about 20% of fan loyalty. Losing may have little to recommend it, but it turns out that ultimately there are more leveragable things than the final score – three other emotionally-based things, in fact, that make an 80% contribution to loyalty and must be taken into account when calculating the loyalty score for a team. These include:

Pure Entertainment: How well a team does, sure. But even more importantly than a win-loss ratio, how exciting is their play? Think St. Louis Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Pirates (#13, up from #23 last year).

Authenticity: How well they play as a team. Offensively or Defensively. How consistent they are. A new stadium can help lift this driver, but more usually, a new manager. Look at the Detroit Tigers.

Fan Bonding: Are players particularly respected and admired? Not every team has a Derek Jeter, but there are players like Buster Posy of the Giants or the Dodger’s Clayton Kershaw.

History and Tradition: Is the game and the team part of fans' and community rituals, institutions, and beliefs? No matter how you feel personally, the Yankees (#7, down from #6 last year) have the highest rating when it comes to History and Tradition and, for what it’s worth, It’s what keeps the Cubs (#16) loyalty levels going!

Again, because overall league and team rankings correlate so highly with viewership and merchandise sales, and since rankings can be influenced depending upon how loyalty drivers are managed, it's critical that team marketers do accurate scouting regarding the strategic ball they intend to pitch to fans. Bobble heads and foam fingers only go so far.

All teams can benefit from increased fan loyalty levels, but as baseball is traditionally called America's “National Pastime,” there’s a real emotional connection for the fans. It’s worth remembering baseball is the only place in life where a sacrifice is really appreciated and teams can build on successes and put failures behind them.

For you other fans, we’ll be issuing the rankings for the NBA just before playoffs, the NHL for the Stanley Cup, and NFL rankings in time for their kickoff in September.

In the meantime, Go (YOUR TEAM GOES HERE)!

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.