Making the right decision is a constant issue for parents
Life is tough for parents, not only do they need to make sure they can earn enough money to put food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads, they also need to worry about education, their child’s safety, if they are bringing up a child that is going to be a positive member of society etc etc etc. The last thing they want to worry about is deciding where to go on holiday, what movie to watch in the cinema or what smartphone to buy. Making th`e right decision on what restaurant to go to for your sons 8th birthday can end up generating an unfathomable amount of stress, getting it wrong is just too costly.
Helping parents with these decisions will pay dividends
Brands that help people do far better than brands that just sell to people. Helping someone might not pay dividends today but it pays dividends tomorrow and for as long as you continue to add value to their lives.
So, it goes to reason that brands that help parents with decision making will reap rewards in the long run. And those rewards can be sizable, each year families in the UK spent around £187B, that’s £20M every hour of the day and night.
In order to help you must first comprehend
In the past lazy marketers assumed there was a gatekeeper, one person who was the head decision maker, with the unilateral power to decide for everyone. Back in the 1920s to 1940s this was the man of the house, then in the 1950s and 1960s this changed and marketers went after the women as the decision makers. Then in the 1980s pester power came into fashion and markets believed they could get the kids to annoy parents into submission, and thus they drove the decision making frame work.
However, a new approach is emerging, but the problem for marketers is that it is not about approaching a single demographic that sits nicely in a media quartile, it is more complicated than that. You can’t just talk to one person and get them to bring the whole family along with them. Over the last year we have spoken to nearly 2,000 families from all over the world, asking them about how decisions get made within the family. Through this research we are seeing an emergent family decision dynamic where the decision making is more democratised across the whole family. No single person makes a decision, it is made in collaboration between all parties.
Obviously some families collaborate more than others, but we believe the number of collaborating families will only be increasing over the next 5-10 years. Families that collaborate more tend to perceive themselves as time poor; they think the children in the family are experts in some categories; and they are not ‘traditional’ nuclear families. Each of these factors is on the increase in families around the world, meaning, in our opinion, collaborative family decision making is on the increase too
All collaboration isn’t the same
Sectors where collaboration is the highest (beyond sweets) are the entertainment industry (both movies and games) and the destination industry (holidays abroad and trips in this country), however even though they have similar levels of intergenerational collaboration (children actively involved in around 50% of purchases in these sectors) the actual dynamics of the child’s involvement is dramatically different, and the drivers for involvement are also different.
Let’s have a look at how decisions are made in the UK around holidays to be taken in the UK. We know this is a particularly collaborative decision, we also see that it is more collaborative in families who perceive themselves to be time poor. As part of the qual research we carried out it was clear that families that didn’t spend much time together (or at least felt they didn’t spend much time together) would involve children more in deciding on where to go. This was to ensure they got the decision right, the last thing they want to do was pick a holiday and when they get there have the kids declare “This place is rubbish”. This would be a real waste of the precious time they get to spend together. Should holiday companies help parents by creating assets that ensure kids have embraced the holiday before they arrive and thus minimising the likelihood of complaints when kids get there?
One in 9 holidays in the UK are initiated by the child, and for one in 20 holidays the child (6-11 year old) actually does the research into where to go, yet how many destination sites have kids in mind when they are showing what you can do and laying out the benefits? Kids deserve more. If they are out there picking where the family is going to go on holiday should we not be making their lives easier and not harder?
Make collaboration easier
This specific set of decision making roles is unique to ‘staycation’ holidays, how decisions get made for what TV to buy, what car to get or what to watch on TV are different and nuanced in their own way. Sadly, although there are a few guiding principles, there is not a simple formula you can apply to how this fascinating family decision making dynamic works. This means we need to rethink how we approach creating experiences that engage the whole family. The ultimate strategic output is no longer ‘which member of the family do you target’, you need to be smarter than that. It is not a single gate keeper, there is no simple theory that you can apply that will help you understand what the proposition should be, or how and when the messaging should land. You need to really lift up the bonnet and not just study the data but talk to families. To really win you need to understand, enable and empower the collaboration, and not try to pick off the individual.
Following on from the launch of our DREAM day out report we have been having lots of interesting conversations about how destinations interact with their audiences to drive attendance. One such conversation was with the authors of this guest blog The Little Big Partnership who help organisations connect with children, young people and families.
By Lindsay Herbert, Head of Digital Marketing
This weekend was a heavy one. I meant to stop after just one on Saturday at the Tate Britain at the Schwitters exhibit, but before I knew it, I was binging on Lichtenstein and ‘A Bigger Splash’ at the Tate Modern, followed by blowing the last of my mind on Sunday at the jaw-dropping Russian exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery.
To try and redeem myself this Monday morning, bleary eyed and sore, I’ve collected three thoughts that relate well to my work as Head of Digital Marketing that I hope will also be a help to others. Two of the thoughts have a strong digital connection, whilst the last is just a general thought I need to remind myself of more often.
1) Untitled. (Really?)
First, knowing what a picture is about doesn’t just help to understand it, it can give you an appreciation of its value. Cartoon-like tattoos of chains and sad, busty women on moustached men, looking not unlike aged portraits of Shoreditch hipsters in the Saatchi Gallery, took on unsettling new meaning when the captions revealed them to be the gang tattoos of lifelong Russian criminals. Or at the Lichtenstein exhibition where the captions showed just how many of the paintings were borrowed from private collections – meaning that despite their iconic status and societal value, when the exhibitions ends we’ll likely never get to lay eyes on many of these famous works again.
It made me think back to my work on the web and the time it takes to load those big carousel banners many brands are so fond of (or at least, fond of the in-fighting they often resolve internally), and it’s worth thinking of the potential value added when making the call on whether to include space in the carousel template for that precious, value-adding editable text.
2) Yours sincerely, the Tate Modern
My second thought relates to the DREAM Destinations seminar series we’re currently running (next stop, Edinburgh!) and how attractions like galleries can (and are) using technology to forge closer connections with their visitors, and bridge the time between in-person visits.
The moment I scanned my membership card at the Tate Modern, an email popped into my Hotmail account asking what I thought of the Lichtenstein exhibit. Whilst I thought the wording could have been a little less praise soliciting (‘Looking at the comments so far, it’s clear that people have enjoyed…’) I was still impressed, first by the efficiency and then by the fact they thought to ask at all.
It’s also noteworthy though that it was my second visit to the exhibition (yes, I’m really getting my money’s worth out of my membership!) and the second time receiving the same email. Should the second email have been different and recognized me as a repeat visitor? In an ideal world (where the Tate gets the unlimited marketing resource and advanced CRM it deserves), yes, but it did prompt me to wonder what other ways the Tate could have bridged the virtual and real life gap.
For example, I was disappointed when my favourite paintings weren’t available for sale as prints at each of the galleries I’d visited – could I have been asked to vote online for which additional prints should be procured for their online shop? Could QR codes have been added to the paintings so scanning saved them to a list of favourites that I could then share and refer to later (rather than have to surreptitiously snap photos of the captions for my own un-shareable records)?
One thing I will say, even though I didn’t click through on either email from the Tate, was that I was touched to see the curator’s name pop up in my inbox. It was a sign they are keeping track of my interactions with them in a meaningful way – one that should later result in fewer ‘email all’ messages down the road – but more importantly, tells me my visit is helping them shape future visits for everyone.
3) Art: The brain’s drain cleaner!
The last thing I’ll mention is how standing for hours in four different galleries this weekend, overloading my brain with creativity and introspection, is making me oddly eager to get stuck back in at work this snowy Monday morning. I don’t know how some of the most impressive things I saw (like a giant painting at Saatchi gallery that from far away looks opulent and intricately detailed, but close up is actually made from systematically torn and paint-soiled cardboard sheets) are going to factor into the projects I’m working on, but the feeling in my head right now is a bit like the one you get right before a great idea pops in.
Not a new revelation I suppose, but a good reminder as to why we should all reboot our brains and trade staring at pixels for paint strokes whenever we get the chance.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Attractions should ensure that every aspect of their digital engagement works simply and intuitively in order to minimise drop out and maximise conversion rates.
One of the main recommendations I made in our recent DREAM day out report was that attractions should be constantly evaluating and refining the usability of their websites in order to maximise conversion opportunities. In truth it was difficult to find examples of effective ticket booking interfaces in all but a few of the 200 odd websites I looked at to compile the report, and there was little evidence of considered user-journey mapping, or UX design principles.
Jakob Nielsen a renowned usability guru has maintained for many years that 10% of any digital design project’s budget should be spent on usability. He contends that such expenditure will result in an average improvement in key performance indicators of 83% (see http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-roi-declining-but-still-strong/). Of course this is for a new project, but having looked at so many attraction sites recently it strikes me that the vast majority could benefit significantly from improved usability.
I was struck yesterday by a massive promotion of the new ride at Alton Towers in the Sun newspaper. Around four pages of the red top was dedicated to an offer encouraging readers to collect tokens from the paper to secure a couple of free tickets to the Towers.
Now I am sure that such activity increases awareness and to an extent footfall in the real and virtual attraction worlds, but I am convinced that attractions, particularly Alton Towers, would benefit by forsaking one or two of their traditional marketing activities and using the money saved on increasing the effectiveness of their websites in order to ensure conversion and actual ticket purchases.
As Dan Baker, our Head of UX says in the report “A philosophy of measurement and continual improvement needs to be adopted which, if fully embraced, is guaranteed to deliver digital success”
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Last year we produced a report looking at the digital properties of 50 financial services companies in the UK. We looked at banks, asset managers, insurers, building societies and importantly the new kids on the block, the online only finance companies. We assumed ahead of conducting the research that it would be these online operators who would be most progressive and aggressive in their online efforts, and so it transpired.
The ‘newbies’ seemed to have a greater understanding of the online space, how it can all be fitted together strategically to drive awareness and ultimately, sales and conversions. In short the question posed by the title of the report, ‘Integration or isolation?’ was broadly answered by our findings in as much as the traditional retail finance firms operated in isolation with little integration between digital channels and seemingly little cohesion across internal teams and their digital objectives. By contrast the purely online providers had an integrated approach, which was clearly strategically aligned across integrated channels.
It comes as no surprise therefore that a research report by digital agency Stickyeyes, which looks at the online visibility of the top 50 consumer finance brands revealed last week that the traditional brands are losing out to their newer rivals. In search results it would appear that the only way that traditional brands can compete is through PPC, since they are being blown away in natural search results by the more savvy and strategic brands such as MoneySupermarket, which featured in the top ten for all the markets analysed. In fact price comparison sites dominated both search marketing and social media presence analyses. (more…)
By George Evans, Head of Melbourne office
Cities such as New York and Palo Alto have begun to strategise their development by considering the merging of the physical and the digital, also called ‘phygital’ if you like a trendy portmanteau.
The City of Melbourne has also taken on this approach. The City seeks to explore how digital technology can help keep Melbourne one of the greatest places to be today — at work, at play and at home. Have a look yourself!
Some of the Precedent team including myself were invited to kick this off with an event last month: CoMConnect. We quickly realised this event developed into a collaborative forum. All partaking groups united to help figure out ways digital technology can improve Melbourne at work, play and home.
In other words, CoMConnect was an open discussion between the City and certain key audiences: community leaders, thinkers, designers, technologists, researchers, urbanists and makers. This format is known as ‘unconference’, meaning a loosely structured conference emphasising the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants. It was great fun and I highly recommend the format for anyone interested in trying out variations on the ‘open space’ method.
I facilitated a discussion on the topic “UX, Community engagement, and experience mapping”. The discussion suggested methods the city could use to engage with their audiences, both digitally and in analogue forms, as ways of understanding the publics’ needs. I put forward recommendations such as more unconference style events, whiteboards in city squares, using existing communication channels. Another key for a better understanding of who the cities audiences are is to create personas. Like every story, you need characters; and characters, or personas, allow personalisation and prioritisation of short and long term actions.
Participants’ ideas were shared, recorded and developed over the event, and eventually made out for three separate themes:
- Theme 1 — Long-term projects: changing policy & infrastructure to be able to respond better to technological advancements, such as opening up the huge amounts of data sets a city possesses
- Theme 2 — Short-term projects: quick win projects and conversations which the council can pick up and move forward with
- Theme 3 — Tools: localised search, leveraging NBN, ethnography, gamification and crowd sourcing
Crucial to the success of this great venture is to combine the three themes. This will make open data and progressive policy allowing groups to collaborate and use tools to improve the lifestyle of Melbournians.
Over the last few weeks I’m keen to see how the city is moving forward, tackling the following goals:
Identify and prioritise the long and short term themes
Support short-term projects
Work towards long-term goals
Continue to engage, and with a wider audience
In short, I think the answer is to think big, start small and act quick.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Now this isn’t about me sitting at home while the Olympics were on in a T-shirt, sipping whisky and working on a new report, although a new report is imminent and for the second week of the Games I was researching it at home.
Our forthcoming report looks into the digital presence of Scottish distilleries. Specifically, those producing single malt whisky. As a result I have been trying to get my head around what is a somewhat complicated business, and what they should/could be doing online.
So what have I found? Well, a large number of Scottish distilleries are owned by big drinks brand names such as Diageo, which means that in many instances their online efforts are quite sophisticated and in some cases quite innovative. More of that and T-shirts below, however despite the enormous clout of the big names I have been surprised to discover how many sites are not mobile friendly including some that are entirely built in Flash and therefore do not work at all on the Apple OS.
Surprisingly, some very popular whisky brands do not have a website at all, but all seem to be rather popular on social networks. However, I have not as yet found much evidence of social intervention by these brands, by which I mean interacting in general enthusiast networks to build reputation and credibility, but I continue to monitor this and it may change. (more…)
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
For reasons that will become apparent I found myself today looking for the origins of the phrase that forms the title of this blog. As is often the case I was distracted by an apparently unrelated news article, this time on the Boy Genius Report (BGR) website.
The item concerned the unveiling of Microsoft’s new tablet device and was titled ‘Microsoft Surface tablet is sincerest form of flattery for Apple’. I was intrigued.
The article quoted Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White writing in a note to investors:
“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the compliments from Microsoft poured down like a torrential storm on Apple last night. At the same time, this event indicates to us that Microsoft is still searching for its own identity in the post-PC era, something that has come naturally for Apple with the rise of the mobile internet.”
Of course the question that everyone is asking is whether the Surface is a serious contender for the space that Apple has dominated in recent years. White’s assessment was quite blunt when he said; “we found little in yesterday’s presentation that would convince us that a consumer would prefer Surface over an iPad”. (more…)
With many structural changes, mergers and service changes within the NHS, it can be a challenge to communicate these successfully to your audiences. However digital can be the perfect way to not only keep your audiences informed about these changes but also help them to embrace new ways of delivering services.
We’ve recently been working with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Barts Health NHS Trust to help them with their digital communications following their mergers. Together we’ve learnt some important lessons and would like to share some tips with you.
1. Make practical information easy to find
No matter how important a new brand, partnership, department or building is to your organisation, your service users’ priorities will still be access to information about practical services and care. Ensure they can quickly find this without having to figure out your internal restructuring to do so.
This practical approach can also be extended to GPs and referral information. This can be as simple as providing downloadable referral forms.
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (shown below) do a great job of providing clear practical information aimed at different audiences.
2. Provide reassurance
With the news full of headlines about NHS cuts, bear in mind you are talking to a suspicious audience who now more than ever need reassurance they are getting top quality care. Show them how delivering familiar services in new ways, for example through integrated teams or at home can actually be a better experience for them. Consider using video to explain new services; having staff or even patients explain changes will help you instil trust in your users.
By , Consultant
There has been much debate about Facebook’s timeline with an equal following of lovers and haters. Regardless, it looks set to stay, at least for a while. With many marketers still finding their feet, we’ve put together a short hit list to help you make the most the timeline’s features quickly and easily.
What does your cover image say about you?
The new cover image provides an opportunity to make an impact in an instant. Think about what you want to say about your brand and how you want to engage with your audience.
Below, the Ted cover shows a packed event instantly telling the user what they do, whilst Oxfam demonstrate the positive impact they are having with a photo of happy, smiley children.
Take note to adhere to Facebook’s brand guidelines which stipulate that the cover image cannot include prices, offers, calls to action or contact information.
By , Head of Strategic Research
In the Trends section of the London Evening Standard on Monday, Joshi Herrmann (@JoshiEHerrmann) wrote an interesting, and in places amusing, article about his and others’ attempts to cull the number of friends they have on their social networks. He mentions David Shing (@shingy) from AOL who last month said that ‘the age of treating the web as a popularity contest is over’. Shing apparently ‘predicted that the next phase of online usage will be unfriending and unfollowing, as people try to reduce the noise of their social networks and make them more relevant again’.
So what criteria do people use when deciding to cull? Herrmann, in getting rid of 300 ‘friends’ used ‘the social pint formula’. Would he enjoy sitting down for a pint with this person? If not – the chop! On this basis one must assume that Herrmann doesn’t have any brands as his friends, and if this trend is in fact that, and not just a journalistic aberration, then it seems feasible that not many other people do either. This appears to be the case according to a recent ‘Digital Life’ survey by TNS; nearly two-thirds of Brits don’t want bothering by big-name brands on Facebook, Twitter etc.