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 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 Mark Russell, Consultant
If you’re anything like me, you probably walk on by feeling somewhat useless, with no real understanding of what you could do about it, or where you could turn if it ever happened to you.
Launched in December 2012, Streetlink, the new initiative from Homeless Link and Broadway aims to change this. Building on the successful No Second Night Out project launched in London in 2011, Streetlink enables members of the public, police officers, healthcare professionals, and rough sleepers themselves – to make contact with local authorities and support organisations, ensuring that rough sleepers are located and given access to the services they need as quickly as possible.
With over 2000 people estimated to be sleeping rough in England on any given night, Streetlink is an essential service, and arrives at a time of year when it is vital that rough sleepers don’t spend a second night on the streets.
When Homeless Link and Broadway approached us to help with this project, we were proud to be involved, whilst at the same time quite daunted by the numerous challenges the project presented – not least of which were a fairly tight deadline, and the need for a flexible, intuitive back end interface for the staff managing referrals.
But most interesting for me were the unique aspects of the site’s user experience. How could we ensure that reports were as detailed and useful as possible, without making the process too arduous – especially given that most referrals would likely be made on dark streets, at night, using smartphones? How could we enable people to report when back at home or in the office, while still allowing them to precisely pinpoint the location of the rough sleeper?
The guiding principles behind the Streetlink site were simplicity and direct action. The homepage of the desktop and mobile versions focuses on encouraging users to refer online, or to call Streetlink to make a referral. The referral form itself contains very few mandatory fields – asking at the very minimum for a location and description of the rough sleeper’s surroundings to help local authorities and support agencies find them. Users can add more detailed information, or leave their contact information for follow-up by phone or email.
After referring rough sleepers, users are given more information on what will happen as a result of their report, and also given advice on other ways they can get involved in helping rough sleepers in their area.
The desktop site integrates with Google Maps to allow users to search for a location or postcode, before dropping a custom pin to refine and adjust the location – crucial for referrals made from home or work, where a general location might be known, but the specific location of the rough sleeper might rely on recognising a nearby landmark or an unmarked location. This information is matched against local authority location data to ensure that the referral reaches the correct services. An interactive map also allows users to see figures on rough sleepers in their area, and numbers of people helped by Streetlink.
When viewed on a smartphone, the user is redirected to the mobile version. Featuring a further stripped down site structure, and building on our experiences in creating the Crimestoppers mobile site mobile utilises device features such as ‘tap to call’ to enable quick referral to the phone line, and geolocation to pinpoint the user, while allowing them to refine the position and location description in situations where geolocation does not behave as expected.
Finally, the mobile app reproduces the mobile site functionality, but capitalises on the interest shown by users engaged enough to download it in the first place by allowing them to save their personal details not only to save time on referrals, but also to receive information on future initiatives and ways to get involved in helping rough sleepers, as well as a mobile optimised version of the rough sleeper numbers by local authority from the desktop site. The app is now available for Android from the Google Play store and for iPhones from the iTunes app store.
Streetlink has already started making a difference to people’s lives – and we can all help. So download the app, or bookmark the site today, and next time you pass a rough sleeper, you’ll know exactly what to do.
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 , Senior Designer
Ed Richards tells of the design student mentoring taking place at Precedent’s Cardiff office in conjunction with UWIC and Cardiff Council.
After mulling over the design brief set by Cardiff Council, our students Sarah, Ashleigh, Alex and Harry were given a week to go away and do as much research as possible based around stats, facts and how creative ideas could in some way change people’s commuting patterns in and around Cardiff.
We began with an initial discussion on how we could really hope to change people’s habits. We talked about ideas around awareness on climate change and how by making one small change, it could make a big difference.
However, we knew that using climate change as a hook for people to alter their behaviour in today’s current climate was not enough; people now worry more about their finances and grabbing a bargain than global warming. This fed into the idea that to change people’s patterns we would need to reward them in some way which would make it attractive to change.