TRUSTI had the great pleasure of moderating a panel at AdWeek Europe on the issue of trust earlier this year. The session was titled “Trust: Digital’s New Currency,” and there was broad agreement on the panel—which included among others the CEO of Clear Channel UK, the European Editor of Newsweek, and Phil Stokes, partner, Entertainment

TRUST_EyreDeveloping — and keeping — trust has never been more important for advertisers. With consumers being bombarded by a dizzying variety of messages and choices, trustworthiness has emerged as an important differentiator between brands.

In other words, as Richard Eyre, CBE, chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK) would put it, trust

Social media can be challenging with its many channels and niche audiences. Where does a brand start? And how do brands tie their efforts together? VIZIO, the nation’s largest seller of flat panel televisions, answered these questions by creating its own social network, called Fandemonium.

By leveraging a sponsorship begun in 2010, VIZIO first launched

It sure didn’t take long for 2014 to shift into high gear.

Little more than two weeks into the New Year, we’re already knee deep in stories with big implications for marketers in the retail sector (charged anything at Target lately?), sports marketing (the ruling on Alex Rodriguez’s suspension for the 2014 season), and the

Spotting industry trends and making forecasts for a year ahead is a challenge, especially in an age of constant change and technological developments.  The way I see it, in terms of trends, it is critical to seek out the best when you need to spot trends and discern the real change elements at work.  After offering my year in review and looking back at the trends in 2012, it’s time to also look ahead.  We are at the dawn of a new year – a year filled with potential and uncertainty.  So, let’s get some clarity on what the future holds.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I had the pleasure of speaking with Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas (formerly Euro RSCG) Worldwide PR, North America, who is viewed as the trendspotter in the world today, about her thoughts for the year ahead and some secret tips to spotting trends for the advertising industry.

I’m always fascinated by your annual trends reports.  Without revealing any secrets, could you explain your process for identifying trends and making forecasts for the coming year?

My thing is pattern recognition, incorporating an eye for the oddball statistic.  There would have been no metrosexual mania, at least not instigated by me, if there hadn’t been a few stunning numbers popping.  Back in 2003, guys began to feel they were no longer guaranteed to be CEO of the bedroom or the boardroom.  They suddenly had a serious interest in the kitchen.   Straight men were increasingly comfortable socializing with gay men.  2003 seems like the dark ages, but it illustrates the kinds of observations that set me off on an investigation.  Ever since Al Gore invented the Internet (kidding) in the early 1990s, I have been a huge information surfer.  Today, this process can be automated for me with services such as Factiva clipping in real time.  Finally, my trendspotting would be much less robust if not for an informal network of trendspotters around the globe who log in all kinds of sightings.  (In fact, I did not invent the word metrosexual—it was invented by journalist Mark Simpson in the early 1990s.  But it was forwarded to me by a colleague and I matched the word to my sighting, Men Get Softer – the rest was history.)  This past year, I launched TrendsU, an e-learning program about how to trendspot, for all Havas staff around the world.  About 550 people from around the world studied the four modules and shared their sightings with me, and even pictures are now compiled (the thousand-words adage never rang more true) on our TrendsU Pinterest board.[/a]

In 2012, you focused on the trend toward achieving a grainy, “Polaroid” effect for digital photography with the popularity of apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic. How do you think the world of apps and wireless will evolve in 2013?

Wireless will be so ubiquitous that discussing it will be almost like talking about the Internet or even the dial tone.  I agree with a recent post of yours that it will be very interesting to see how the advertising, marketing and communications industries will adapt to a wireless world.  I remember helping on a pitch for IBM back in the dark ages for which we interviewed people about the future, and Kevin Kelly, the co-founding editor of Wired, talked to us about the future like it would happen a week from Thursday.  Well, it’s finally a week from Thursday, and always-on, constant connectivity is the new normal.  People take mobile devices to bed, to the toilet and onto airplanes and assume, voilà, they’ll be connected because connectivity is a given.  Back in 1993, Kelly told us connectivity would be like air or water.  Apps for 2013 are like software was a decade ago, except that the innovations are coming every 22 seconds.  Before you know you need an app, there it is.  Simplification has been a trend for 15 years, and apps are the epitome of simplification.  Branded apps are a given.  Tablets are making apps even more essential.  I want to do more on the fly, more quickly, and an app ensures I get it done, seamlessly.  The app I expect next year is for voting – the most prehistoric thing we still do without much connectivity.  Seriously, in 2013, you want me to walk to a school and fill out some paperwork and pull levers?  How very last century.  Once Americans can vote online using apps and smartphones or tablets, expect a much more engaged population to be that much more connected on issues and topics that matter to them.

Continue Reading What’s Next in 2013: A Lesson in Trendspotting with Marian Salzman

2012 is projected to be a big holiday shopping season, with consumer spending expected to return to near pre-recession levels.  The National Retail Federation’s 2012 consumer holiday spending survey forecasts that the country’s holiday spending will rise 4.1% to about $586 billion – the most optimistic forecast since the recession.  But a lot has changed since the pre-recession 2007 holiday shopping season.  The consumer shopping experience has seen significant changes in these past five years, and the holiday shopping season is different today than it was then – a sign of the technological advances that have been made, as well as the strides retailers and advertisers are making with digital, data, social media, and mobile.

The Way I See It

The ‘Holiday Shopping Season’ starts earlier and earlier every year, and this year was no exception, with retailers unveiling holiday displays and deals before Halloween.  And Thanksgiving Day became the new Black Friday this year, with major retailers opening on Thursday evening with outrageous “while supplies last” deals on technology, toys, big screen TVs, and other hot items.

  • I see online shopping continuing to boom with sales on the web and mobile devices continuing to grow – aligned with the growth in advertising on digital and social media, and the increased use of social media by retailers.  The NRF survey estimates that online sales this year will grow 12% during the holidays to $96 billion, with more than half of consumers surveyed – 52% – planning to shop for some gifts online, which is up from 47% last year.
  • I see gift card sales continuing to be a major “gift” for consumers and retailers alike.  Retail gift cards have always been a hot item, even five years ago, but now technology has infused the gift card medium, so some of the hottest gift cards are online gift cards, prepaid debit gift cards, and mobile gift cards.  With the NRF survey revealing that 81.1% of consumers will buy at least one gift card this year, it will be interesting to see how much of the pie is taken by the “new” gift cards.
  • I see the explosion in reliance on consumer data changing holiday marketing and shopping – by far the largest and most influential change for holiday shopping in the last five years.  With data, more relevant information – products, offers, and deals – are being delivered to more consumers than ever before.  This effectively results in advertising and marketing dollars doing a better job of getting consumers to shop and buy.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Dana Traci, Vice President in Marketing Rewards at Discover, to discuss the countless ways that the holiday shopping experience has changed for consumers in the past five years.

In your eyes, if you had to choose one development or area of change or growth that has had the largest impact on holiday shopping since 2007, what would it be?

Without a doubt, it’s the access consumers have to information via mobile and Internet channels.  They now have the ability to see a wide selection of products and prices without having to leave their houses.  They can browse deals and/or make purchases on the go, on their own time, without needing to visit an actual store.

How has technology and data changed the way your company prepares for the holiday shopping season and the way you advertise to consumers?

It’s imperative for us to advertise our messages where consumers are, and that means whether they are shopping in-store, looking at products online, etc.  In order to stay relevant and competitive, we need to expand our reach and presence as new technologies change the way consumers shop.

Continue Reading 2012 Holiday Shopping Season: Significant Changes in Only Five Years

The holidays are swinging into full gear, what better time to… reminisce?  Every year, it seems there is a new “hot” item on the shelves that our children, family, and friends have on the top of their wish lists to Santa.  I will never forget the Ty® Beanie Babies phenomenon, the holiday season when people of all ages were frantically hunting for Tickle Me Elmos, or those Tamagotchi keychain games that flew off the shelves faster than you could say “Tamagotchi.”

All of these hot-ticket items were wildfire brands – they launched onto market and became overnight hits with consumers.

And though product makers are thrilled with such rapid-fire consumer hits, there are a number of brand protection concerns that they must work to address while the sales ratchet up in order to protect the brand’s increasing value.

The Way I See It

  • I see new and innovative wildfire products and brands continuing to be launched onto the market through a variety of marketing channels, but especially through viral videos and social media marketing.  As in the past, many of these wildfire brands will become a symbol of a generation and instant pop culture hits.
  • When the products begin flying off the shelves, I see brands working to protect their product and intellectually property from counterfeiters, and other potential threats to the brand – those trying to take advantage of the hit item by trying to produce something similar at a lower cost in order to benefit from the brand’s increasing value, or trying to pass off their goods by using similar trade dress or marks.
  • I see marketers working to launch creative ads and campaigns to continue the sales momentum of the initial brand proliferation period, ensuring the product’s long-term sales growth in addition to its short-term sales spike.

The perfect recent example of a wildfire brand is the Snuggie®, which sold over four million units in three months.  Its launch to market was an interesting one, with a single TV ad, launching the Snuggie® to become an instant pop culture phenomenon.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Scott Boilen, President of Allstar Marketing Group, the company behind many high-profile consumer brands, to discuss brand proliferation and protection.

You’ve seen wildfire success with a few leading consumer brands.  In your experience, what is the most critical precaution to take before launching a product to market in order to ensure brand protection?

As a company, the single most important thing we can do to protect our brand is to make sure all trademarks are applied for and all materials are copyrighted prior to debuting a product.  We also seek patent protection when feasible.  When launching brands with an aggressive “As seen on TV” campaign we build mass awareness in a very short period of time. If all pre-launch legal items are not buttoned up, we are leaving ourselves open to companies trying to piggyback off our success with similar marks, logos or other materials in an attempt to create brand confusion.  Right after launch, we also begin to monitor the market and aggressively do what we can to stop the marketing of any infringing product as well as halting counterfeits from coming to the United States from overseas.

The Snuggie® was launched in October 2008, right at the height of the economic downturn, yet sold over four million units in three months.  With a brand as popular as Snuggie®, are there particular obstacles and challenges that arise during the initial time period of the few months during which the brand is skyrocketing?

The launch of the Snuggie® blanket created tremendous consumer awareness.  It was critical that we ensured we were using our marks in a way that was consistent and protectable. We had many companies attempting to bring out similar products with marks or logos in an attempt to confuse the consumer.  We were successful in shutting down every violator.  This was made possible as our marks were registered and used in a consistent way as to make them defensible.  Ensuring that our own employees, agents and representatives used the marks correctly was integral to the education we also provided to folks in the media when the brand was discussed.  While there is a fine line between getting as much exposure for the brand as possible and making sure the marks are not diluted when not used properly, we did a great job of maintaining a strong brand along with a great product in the United States and abroad.

Continue Reading Brand Protection Concerns for Wildfire Consumer Sensations

Cash and credit and debit cards are certainly dominant in the payment space today.  Some think change will never happen, but they are dead wrong.  Mobile payment is in its infancy, but the benefits are clear:  simplicity, convenience, relevance, and targeted offers and rewards.  No more wallets with multiple cards, just one device.  And this is only the beginning. 

Consumers and retailers are eager to participate.  Starbucks – a market leader – already offers a popular payment app.  It has now moved further into mobile payments by partnering with Square to allow mobile payment at all of its 7,000 U.S. stores.  Customers may soon even be able to pay with their phones while they’re still in their pockets.  With Square, a cashier can see your photo as you approach the register, and you complete the purchase by stating your name. Continue Reading Are Mobile Payment Apps the Next Big Thing?

Increased mobility and access to information with digital media and mobile gives consumers real power to shape the marketplace.  Yet consumers can be fickle and easily distracted, to say the least.

With so many options and constant change, the question for advertisers is:  how do we determine what reasonable consumer behavior and perceptions are when the norm is rapid change?  Let’s look at some examples of what it means to be “reasonable.”

In a recent class action lawsuit, consumers claimed they were deceived into believing Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit by the Foot snacks are made with real fruit.  Using the word “fruit” in the name, along with images of fruit on the packaging, could be enough for a “reasonable” consumer to believe that there was real fruit.  The court said that the ingredients list could not correct the message that “reasonable” consumers took away from the rest of the packaging.Continue Reading Choices, Choices: Do Consumers Really Know What They Want?

It’s hard to believe it’s already mid-November.  The Presidential election is now behind us and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is still all too real for many on the East Coast.  This week, many in the marketing and promotion industry are heading to the Windy City for the 34th Annual Promotion Marketing Association Marketing Law Conference.  This year’s conference is titled, “Converging Platforms & Diverging Laws” and I’m honored to be giving a keynote address again this year.  Throughout the PMA Conference this week, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and perspectives with you.

The Promotion Marketing Association is one of the largest and most influential industry trade associations and has been since its inception in 1911.  PMA represents businesses that motivate behavior, activate response and build brands.  These disciplines include promotion, shopper/retailer, digital, sponsorship and experiential marketing.

The Way I See It

  • I see the PMA’s Annual Law Conference helping marketers and agencies understand the implications of new developments, regulatory updates, legislation, and the effect of new technologies shaping the marketing world.
  • I see candid presentations, panels, and conversations on the critical issues facing the industry:  digital and mobile, data and privacy data security, shopper marketing, the role of the regulators – Federal, state and local, self-regulation, consumer direct action, protection of children, and so much more.
  • I see the PMA changing as the industry changes, and I see the influence of PMA increasing as the industry grows and gains even greater influence.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Bonnie Carlson, the President of PMA, to give you an inside look at what is planned for this year’s Marketing Law Conference, current issues driving PMA’s work in the industry, and how PMA – and the industry – has changed since its inception just over 100 years ago.

I can’t believe it’s time again for the PMA Annual Marketing Law Conference. Can you give us some insight as to what the title of this year’s conference, “Converging Platforms & Diverging Laws,” means and how the panels and sessions aim to address it?

The title is a reflection of the continuing evolution of traditional media/tactics converging with new technology and the challenges this brings legally, often pioneering new ground and testing principles such as self-regulation, marketing to children and First Amendment rights.  Consumers are influenced by a myriad of media and are connected globally, especially because of the internet and social media, which also challenges the overlap or divergence of international and federal/state laws.

This year’s program really touches upon the key topics and issues brands and marketers face – the rise of social media, the importance of the mobile platform, the new regulations and regulators (like the CFPB), the focus on consumer activation, and the need to succeed in a global economy.  Given the developments during the past few months alone, what do you think will be the main themes driving your industry next year?

The consumer will continue to be in charge, expecting more transparency, authenticity and value from brands.  Marketers and retailers will continue to be pressured to do more with less, to advance new technology, stay competitive with a speed-to-market mentality, and have accountability for results.  On the legal side, the themes will be a focus on privacy rules (dot com guidelines, mobile app, and International data privacy rules), renewed attention to the COPPA rules, health and food claims, and cyber cafes.

Continue Reading Gearing Up for the 34th Annual PMA Marketing Law Conference