Monday, April 25, 2016

Dressing Up Mom: Mother’s Day Spending Up 6%!

There’s a saying that goes, “a sweater is something a child puts on when a Mother feels a draft,” which turns out to be a lucky turn of phrase since clothing has increased most as Mother’s Day gift-of-choice this year. 

According to the annual Brand Keys Mother’s Day survey, 88% of consumers plan to celebrate Mother’s Day, and clothing is this year’s big winner. Celebrants intend to spend an average of $205.00 this year, up six percent over 2015. Men, following a long-standing tradition, intend to spend more than women, reporting an anticipated average spend of $228. Women reported an anticipated spend of $182. Like many major gift-buying holidays, the majority consumers (65%) indicated they are waiting to make their purchases until the deals shake out at toward end of April and the very beginning of May.

Tradition trumped tech, with cards, meals, and flowers the holiday’s ‘price-of-entry’ purchases. Clothing gifts are up 10 percent. Jewelry was up 7%. Tech related gifts were generally unchanged from last year, with only 12% indicating that category of purchase.

Today Mother’s Day encompasses a broader spectrum of relationships. It’s a universal celebration with the celebrant-range includes virtually everyone: moms, wives, step-moms, female relatives and friends, divorced and single-parent households. It crosses all cultural, ethnic, and religious borders, all of which makes it a real opportunity for retailers.


Brand Keys, the New York City-based brand and customer loyalty and engagement research consultancy, as part of its annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, polled 6,133 men and women, ages 18-65 from the nine U.S. Census regions, asking them if and how they were planning to celebrate Mother’s Day, with most consumers indicating multiple gift purchases. The analysis has a margin of error of + 2%.

What Are Consumers Buying For Mom?

(Percentages in parentheses indicate changes from 2015)

Category                                       Percent Purchasing                       

Cards                                                 95%    ( --- )  
Brunch/Lunch/Dinner                         90%    (+2%)
Flowers                                              85%    (- 1%)                        
Clothing                                             80%    (+10%)                      
Jewelry                                              59%    (+7%)
Spa Services                                     52%    (+2%)
Gift Cards                                          50%    (- 2%)
Books                                                19%    ( --- )
Housewares/Gardening Tools           16%    (+1%)
Candy                                                12%    (-3%)                         
Electronics/ Smartphones                 12%    (+1%)  

Where Consumers Are Shopping For Mom?

Discount Stores                                 55%    (unchanged)
Specialty Stores                                50%    (unchanged)
Department Stores                            44%    (-6%)
Online Stores                                    30%    (unchanged)
Catalog                                               2%    (-4%)

How Are Consumers Connecting With Mom?

Given the ubiquity of smartphones and the holiday itself, Mother’s Day has become one the most popular holidays to place a call.

Phone/mobile                                    65%    (unchanged)            
Personal Visits                                  22%    (+7%)            
Online                                                11%    (+1%)
Cards                                                 10%    (unchanged)

As we approach the big day itself, it’s probably worth remembering another saying that goes, “a Mother always has to think twice; once for herself and once for her child.”

But when it comes to Mom, when it comes to this holiday, most consumers aren’t thinking twice about celebrating.

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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Does Your Brand Have A Flux Capacitor?

This past February we announced the results of our 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. It’s a 100% customer-derived predictive view of how 635 brands will be treated by consumers in the future.

Eleven of those brands fall into the Athletic Footwear category, a class of clothing that’s been transformed by customer expectations and brand innovation, although it’s kind of a nose-to-nose race as to what’s driving which one.

The customer expectation part of the equation has to do with the fact that consumers are looking for “Performance Optimization Via Innovation,” the 2nd most important engagement driver of the category’s four, and the one for which consumers hold the highest expectations in the category. And when we look at how the brands’ own customers see them in terms of meeting their expectations for that driver, the top-5 ranked like this:
  1. Nike
  2. Under Armour
  3. New Balance
  4. Adidas
  5. Skechers

The innovation part falls to the brands themselves. So we weren’t totally surprised when, a month later, Nike unveiled their HyperAdapt 1.0 semi-self-lacing sneakers, a more-than-just-a-nod to the futuristic sneakers Marty McFly wore in “Back to the Future Part II,” although, except for a turquoise light emitted from the sole, they don’t really look like Nike Mags.

The new line of shoes – with a heel sensor that adjusts fit without having to adjust laces – is something Nike calls “Adaptive Lacing” (rather than “self-lacing”) because they can be adjusted via + and - buttons on the side of the shoe. The HyperAdapt 1.0 will be exclusively available to users of the Nike+ app in time for the winter holiday season.

Right now “Customization” (the 4th most-important engagement driver in the category) will be limited to black, gray, or white. As to “Brand Value” (a component of the 1st most-important category engagement driver), we’re betting the sky’s the limit when it comes to getting a pair of these babies! By the way, “Full Range of Shoes” is the 3rd most important driver, but since everyone pretty much has the same stuff – at least until Nike releases the HyperAdapt 1.0 and others follow with other versions of automated shoes – consumer expectations are currently pretty reasonable and pretty much table-stakes for major athletic footwear brands.

But since consumer expectations only grow, what are the brands to do next? Based on where category values are sprinting, it would seem that the next step in smart apparel is increased automation.

That means that brands will take data being tracked through smart watches, fitness bands, smart-clothing and all sorts of smart wearables and use it to create enhanced, innovative versions of athletic shoes that – on their own – fulfill consumers’ expectations for optimized performance. Imagine, a shoe that adjusts for fit and prevents laces from loosening or coming “untied,” to use the present vernacular.

What’s next? Who can tell? Although it’s been said that the future is only the past again, by entering through another doorway.

And sometimes, driving a modified DeLorean.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

MLB’s Most (& Least) Loyal Fans. The Dynamics of Root, Root, Rooting For the Home Team.

The Major League Baseball season opened this week with the cry “play ball,” accompanied by the release of the 24th annual fan survey conducted by Brand Keys, the New York City-based market research firm specializing in brand loyalty and consumer emotional engagement modeling.

It was Yogi Berra who said, “If the fans don’t want to come out to the ballpark, no one can stop them,” and though teams may not be able to manage that aspect of the game, they can manage fan loyalty. Our annual survey – interviews with 250 self-declared fans in each of the 30 team’s local markets – was designed to help sports teams identify precise fan loyalty metrics in their home and national markets. Those metrics correlate very, very highly with TV viewership and purchase of licensed merchandise. Oh, and the survey is more than just gate counts and win-loss ratios, but real insights that enable both league and teams identify areas – particularly emotional aspects of loyalty – that need strategic brand coaching.

The 2016 MLB top 5 and bottom 5 team standings are listed below. Numbers in parentheses represent the teams’ 2015 loyalty rankings.

Top 5 Teams - 2016           

1.    St. Louis Cardinals (#1)

2.    Los Angeles Dodgers (#3)

3.    San Francisco Giants (#2)

4.    Detroit Tigers (#4)

5.    Washington Nationals (#5)

Cellar Dwellers                    

30. Seattle Mariners (#25)

29. Arizona Diamondbacks (#29)

28. Colorado Rockies (#28)

27. San Diego Padres (#24)

26. Houston Astros (#30)

The Sports Fan Loyalty Index, which measures all teams in the four major sports leagues, provides an apples-to-apples comparison of the emotional intensity with which fans in a team's home market support the home team. Everybody loves a winner, but it's important to note that win-loss ratios govern only about 20% of fan loyalty. Losing may have little to recommend it, but it turns out that ultimately there are three, more loyalty-leveragable aspects (in addition to the final stats, which fall under “Pure Entertainment”) that need be considered, including:

How well they play as a team? Offensively or defensively, one or the other, sometimes both. Sometimes a new stadium or new manager can help lift loyalty when it comes to this driver.

Fan Bonding:
Are the players particularly respected and admired on and off the baseball diamond?

History and Tradition:
Is the game and team part of fans' and community rituals, institutions, and beliefs? No matter how you feel about them, the Yankees (#9, down from #7 last year) have the highest rating when it comes to this driver and, for what it’s worth, it’s what kept the Cubs going for years!

Pure Entertainment:
This has always been the most-important driver when it comes to reinforcing or building fan loyalty, but that said, while winning playoffs or the World Series certainly moves a team up the loyalty list, it doesn’t automatically skip a team to the top of the list (unless, of course, the team was already ranked in the top five, then it’s a high probability that their loyalty rank will end up #1!)

Because overall league and team rankings correlate very highly with game 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. All teams benefit from increased fan loyalty levels, particularly baseball teams.

There’s a reason it’s called America's “National Pastime.” Teams need to create strong emotional connections if they want to succeed with their fans. Former San Francisco Giants third baseman, Al Gallagher, may have expressed baseball’s emotional bond best. “There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem is once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.” Which is why teams need to track fan loyalty with emotional metrics because those are the most meaningful values of all.

As to other major league sports leagues, Brand Keys will be issuing rankings for the NBA before playoffs, the NHL for the Stanley Cup, and NFL rankings in time for the season kickoff in September.

In the meanwhile, for the rest of the season, “Go (INSERT YOUR TEAM’S NAME HERE)!”

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