Archive for the ‘Matt Powell’ Category
In his latest Thursday Night Insight post, Matt Powell reflects on his experiences working in our China office and the difficulties inherent in conducting business across cultural boundaries.
I recently saw a TV advert from one of the world’s major banks that professes to its excellent local knowledge in every single country. Of course, this campaign has been going for quite some time now as the bank positions itself not as a sprawling, faceless mega-corporation, but indeed as a very localised and personal bank. Whether or not the bank does in fact deliver upon its promise remains to be seen, but the importance of local knowledge cannot be underestimated.
There are many horror stories about corporations naively taking one product or brand that is successful in one country and launching it into a foreign market without first adapting the product or its branding to meet the local culture. Pepsi and Coca-Cola give two sterling examples of ‘how not to do it’.
When Pepsi launched their cola in China, the company thought it would be sufficient to translate their slogan "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" into Chinese and simply launch the product. Unfortunately, the slogan was translated a tad too literally and instead proclaimed that "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave." Of course, the problem was rectified, but damage had already been done.
Coca-Cola did something fairly similar when launching their product in China; they chose to launch their brand using Chinese characters that read phonetically as “Kekoukela”. Of course, the phonetic spelling sounded similar ‘Coca-Cola’ to a westerner, but I imagine there weren’t many Chinese consumers looking to purchase a refreshing can of “female horse stuffed with wax”. Surely, even just the smallest foray into market research would have highlighted these significant blunders, and saved the companies millions of dollars – let alone the damage done to the brands.
Indeed, in many cases, the same message or piece of information can still cross hazy lingual and cultural boundaries. I myself had an experience when on secondment in our Beijing office, where lingual barriers became slightly hazy to say the least. Each day when finishing work I would order a taxi to where I lived, pronounced ‘Hua Mao’. Every time I asked, the taxi driver would either laugh, shake his head, ask to see a map, or (in one extreme case) make a loud cat-like ‘miaow’-ing noise at me. I knew I was saying the name of the location correctly, so although slightly perplexed at the behavior of the Beijing taxi drivers, I thought nothing of it… until, that is, one day towards the end of my stay when I took a taxi with some of my Chinese colleagues. When I asked the taxi driver to me to my destination my colleagues burst into uproarious laughter – it turned out that for two months I had been saying the words correctly, but pronouncing them with the wrong tonal inflection – and, of course, was asking the taxi driver to take me to ‘cat with flowers’. At least the miaow-ing taxi driver seemed slightly less disturbing after that.
Although it is an amusing story, it does indeed highlight the importance of local knowledge and just how critical the nuances of any language and culture really are. To most westerners, what I was saying and what I should have been saying sounded fairly similar indeed, but (despite me always managing to get to my destination) the difference it made to the local person – the person who mattered – was huge.
At B2B International we, like the large bank, recognise just how important local knowledge is. Every country is different and brings with it a whole set of language issues and cultural traits. We use ‘mother-tongue’ interviewers when conducting international interviews for this very reason; the cultural nuances are critically important in understanding information and indeed any subtle inferences that may be missed by someone who is not completely immersed in that particular culture or language. Indeed, across our three offices we can span the globe from Asia, to Europe, to the Americas.
Our expertise can help our clients in many ways – from conducting multi-country studies in various languages, to conducting in-depth research and analysis in specific countries, to researching new markets to enter. For more information about how we could help your Company, contact a member of research team at our European headquarters in Manchester, our Asian headquarters in Beijing, or our American head office in New York.
What do a cassette tape, a boomerang, and a 1980′s electro-pop song have in common? In Matt Powell’s latest Thursday Night Insight entry this week, he looks at the impact of ‘thinking outside the box’ and standing apart from the competition, and the lasting impression that it can make.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve come into contact with a few advertising campaigns that have, in one way or another, caused me to devote at least some part of my day to thinking about them. By that, I mean more time than just taking a glance at a glossy piece of direct mail that goes straight into the recycle bin after couple of seconds. These pieces of marketing have really engaged me – either through getting me to think, causing me a great deal of intrigue, or just appealing to my inner child.
The first was a cassette tape that arrived in the post in a brown padded envelope, in a Mission Impossible-esque manner. On the cassette was a label with a personalised web address for me to visit. I was not the only one of my in the office to receive one of these tapes, so there was some discussion as to what they were for. A quick visit to the website, showed that it was a campaign from E-Rewards that centred around constant evolution – the cassette tape being one of the evolutionary step in the personal music player. The campaign certainly stood out from everything else that landed on my desk that day, it created discussion around the office, caused me to visit the website, and now the cassette is adorning my desk-top. Certainly more interaction and longevity than standard direct mail would have been afforded.
My second encounter with out-of-the ordinary marketing was on a lunch break whilst in the local supermarket/convenience store. Whilst I was perusing the assortment of soups on offer, I – and my fellow shoppers – were treated to short minute-long blasts of a very familiar 80′s electro pop song. I first dismissed it as the slipping standards of the store, probably allowing staff to play their own music through the store music system. Still, the familiar music was annoying me – I couldn’t remember where I knew it from. After a few more minute-long blasts it dawned on me why the dated music was so familiar – it was the music that backs Dairy Milk’s latest advertising campaign (with the boy and girl and the dancing eyebrows). Once I realised that, it evoked the amusing images from the TV advert – by coincidence I was stood at the counter waiting to pay – with an assortment of Dairy Milk products on display in front of me. Very clever. Plus, I was feeling slightly jubilant that I had remembered where I knew the music from – something that would have irritated me throughout the day if I hadn’t have figured it out. Again, slightly different approach to getting the message across, but a memorable impact.
The third piece of marketing that I found particularly engaging is in fact B2B’s latest mailer – not that I’m blowing our own trumpet – it could be a mailer from any company and I would still be writing about it. It is, as the first sentence of this article has probably given away, a boomerang. The boomerang is a play on the theme of ‘getting a return on your investment’. The boomerang has instructions of how to use it on its reverse. This piece of marketing is now sat on my desk awaiting the day when I can finally find somewhere large enough, and unpopulated enough to throw it without posing a threat to the public. Indeed, over the past week, whenever I have come off the phone, I usually find that the boomerang has moved from my desk into my hand.
Of course, there are many, many more examples that could be added to the three I have outlined above, but the message is the same. In order to stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression, we need to somehow differentiate our offering. This applies not just to direct mail and advertising, but to business as well – and is even more important in times such as these. There is no harm in sitting with the pack – but thinking outside the box or offering something different to the competition, can really make the difference in setting a product or company aside from the rest, and create lasting success.
For more information on how to differentiate your offering, why not cast your eyes over the following white paper: Differentiation: Are Product, Brand and Service Still Enough?
As the UK government takes measures to boost the economy, some quick-thinking companies use the opportunity to demonstrate that the season of good will is well and truly upon us. But, as Matt Powell discusses in his latest Thursday Night Insight, customers have certain expectations that must be met, and if a company doesn’t quite get it right, they can end up damaging – rather than differentiating – their brand.
As most people in the UK are undoubtedly aware, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling reduced the level of VAT from 17.5% to 15% on the 1st Dec, in a bid to boost the ailing economy. It remains to be seen whether or not it will actually do any good, but it has certainly made for some interesting PR opportunities.
When the announcement was made on 24th November, a number of retailers saw an opportunity to pounce on the story and offer the reduced VAT rate ahead of its scheduled 1st December implementation. Most notably, DSG International (the owner of Currys and PC World) offered the reduced rate less than 24 hours after the rate reduction was announced. Other retailers such as Amazon, Tesco and Sainsbury’s followed suit soon after, along with a raft of others. Of course, they would have to pass on the reduced rate regardless a few days later, but then so would everybody else. TV adverts, and print campaigns were hastily concocted and implemented – and the weekend before the change, TV advert breaks were packed with advertisements from retailers enticing consumers into their stores a few days early to spend.
By leading the pack, and taking a slight hit on their profits for the few days ahead of the change, the companies that were quick off the mark had taken the opportunity to stimulate a feeling of good-will around their brands. By offering the reduction ahead of the 1st December, it was in fact the retailers who had offered the cut to the consumers, rather than the Government. In some respects, thanks to some quick thinking, they had stolen some of Mr Darling’s thunder.
Other organisations have also taken an active approach in publicising their reduced VAT rates. Manchester United has made quite a point about the fact that they will be refunding season ticket holders with the difference in price.
Many organisations made good use of the news and found a way to boost their brand image, as well as drawing in more sales over a busy Christmas-shopping weekend. But what of those that did not offer the cut in advance? Of course, they would not be losing out by changing their rate on the 1st Dec – it just would not have been such a positive PR opportunity.
O2, one of the leading mobile telecoms provide in the UK, let its customers know that it would be passing on the VAT reduction to its customers via text message. The only problem is that it missed the boat somewhat in terms of being quick of the mark. I received my text message on the 8th of December. Although it was only a week late, and only seven more windows on an advent calendar had been opened since the day of the cut, the impact of using the VAT rate reduction as positive PR had all but gone. In fact, it seemed a bit ridiculous to be creating any kind of PR around the change so far after the change.
In market research we speak of how certain elements of an organisation’s performance can impact on the said organisation’s overall satisfaction score. Issues are usually grouped into two main categories – ‘Hygiene factors’, and ‘satisfiers’.
‘Hygiene factors’ are elements of service/performance that are expected – those that do not boost the overall satisfaction score higher if they are met, but they can lower it if they are not met.
‘Satisfiers’ are issues or elements of service/performance that correlate closely with overall satisfaction and can drive the overall satisfaction score higher. These issues can be differentiating features that separate an organisation away from its competitors.
Issues can change over time in importance as to whether they are hygiene factors or satisfiers. This can be for a number of reasons: an issue may have been a differentiating feature that competitors have since caught up on, and has now become a hygiene factor. It could be that through a successful marketing campaign, an organisation has changed perceptions of an element of its service that was once a hygiene factor, so that it is now an issue that drives satisfaction.
The message that I received from O2 telling me about the VAT reduction made me realise that a similar thing had happened with the PR stories that surrounded the 15% VAT level. By exceeding peoples’ expectations and staying ahead of the competition, the companies that had dropped their prices early had created an opportunity for themselves to potentially boost satisfaction levels and create good will around their brands. After 1st December, the 15% VAT level PR opportunity changed from being an issue that could be considered a satisfier, to an issue that was a hygiene factor. The impact had diminished, and is the reason that O2′s message – despite the good will behind it – was greeted (by myself anyway) with a level of indifference.
Matt Powell’s recent trip to the Glastonbury festival proved an unlikely source of inspiration for his next Thursday Night Insight. As Matt was to witness, the economic forces and marketing techniques which play such an important role in the success of huge multinational corporations around the world, can be just as relevant to entrepreneurs in rural Somerset…
A few weeks ago I made my annual trip to the Glastonbury festival in Somerset, England. For those that are unfamiliar, Glastonbury is one of the oldest, and largest, music and arts festivals in the world. It was founded by a farmer, Michael Eavis, in 1971, and is still run by Eavis and his daughter on their farm some 25 years on.
Each year 170,000 people make the pilgrimage to Worthy Farm to soak themselves in a diverse range of music and art and, of course, to be soaked by the rain. Over the 5 days that the festival runs, the farm owned by Mr Eavis turns into a chaotic bustling town (Europe’s most densely populated area for the days that it is running), with its own values and economy, and then packs up and goes home, leaving nothing but some muddy footprints and a few rogue tent-pegs.
This year, I noticed how Glastonbury offers quite an interesting and simplified insight into economics and marketing. Indeed, Glastonbury seems to have its very own mini-economy. From the wellington boot seller who hikes up his prices when the heavens open, to the way that spare cans of beer and packs of cigarettes replace £GBP as the currency of choice by the end of the 5 days.
The first time I noticed this microcosm of marketing and economics in action was when I was sitting opposite a row of stalls at this year’s festival. Two of these stalls, that were side-by-side, both sold doughnuts. One of the stalls had a large row of people queuing up outside it, whereas the other didn’t have a single customer. “How can that be?” I wondered. Surely no-one could have been to both of the stalls previously and found one of the stalls’ doughnuts to be more exemplary than the other? And both of the stalls had the same prices for their doughnuts. Then I noticed the stall names. The empty stall was branded “Doughnuts”. Fair enough. However, its more successful neighbour was dubbed “The best doughnuts in the world”. I’m quite confident that they weren’t the best doughnuts in the world – probably far from it – but the owner had a message that resonated with his target market, and given the choice, why would anyone choose ‘doughnuts’ over ‘the best doughnuts in the world’? Amusingly, the next day the ‘doughnuts’ stall was having a new sign installed (though I didn’t get to see what it said, I would hope it professed to at least be providing the best doughnuts in the universe) – its owner had realised that its marketing message had to be changed, and responded accordingly.
The second most notable bit of economics and marketing in action that I saw was to do, again, with a battle between two stall owners; a battle that highlights the influence of supply and demand quite well. One stall owner sold rubber wellington boots, the other sold summery hats and sunglasses. On one day the glorious sunshine had people flocking round the sunglasses and hats stall whilst the boot seller sunbathed on the grass outside his empty stall (that was sporting a ‘reduced’ chalkboard price sign). Later that evening, however, the inevitable deluge struck, and as the heavens opened, the sunglasses stall owner ran for cover, whilst the boot stall owner kept increasing the price of his boots as his stocks started to deplete due to the high demand. Of course, although both these vendors enjoyed high periods of sales, what they both really wanted was a steady stream of custom rather than the chunks of intense sales.
The next day the rain had stopped, but the mud still remained. The boot sellers of Glastonbury no longer had the hordes of people running to them waving their damp £20 notes above their heads; their market had dried up (pardon the pun). This didn’t stop one clued-up boot seller. The skies were blue and there was no sign of rain – so he knew he had to take his existing products to new markets. He took some rubber boots to the crowds of people in front of the music stages – the places that were still swamped with mud from the night before – and started successfully selling his product to his captive market. After selling his initial quota of boots, he returned a while later with more, and with a colleague in tow, who was carrying a box full of fold-out chairs. Now his customers could keep their feet dry, and rest their legs! Not only had the seller taken his existing product to a new market, he had diversified his product range and brought a new product to a new market.
All of the above can be summarised quite neatly in the model of the Four-Ps. The basis of the Four-P’s was devised in the early 1950s by Neil Borden, and was refined to the most well-known version by Jerome McCarthy in the late 50s. The Four-Ps is widely used in marketing to assess and streamline the marketing mix in order to meet organisational objectives and create a higher value relationship with customers. The Four-Ps are indicated below:
So how can we explain the Four-Ps in relation to the microcosm of activity that I witnessed at Glastonbury? Well:
A new survey by B2B International examines the increasing demand for security at the front door in Europe.
Friedland have been manufacturing door chimes, wireless security and security lighting since 1938 and their brand, especially for door chimes, is synonymous with high quality products.
Friedland’s main market is the buildings and construction industry. This sector has been buoyed in recent years by strong growth, but faces a more challenging environment in the near future. The way buildings are constructed and periphery products (security, lighting) to the building are specified is also changing with the roles and responsibilities within the supply chain slowly becoming merged.
Given the continually changing market conditions in which they operate, Friedland commissioned B2B International to research the French and German markets for door-entry systems, security lighting and alarms.
The market for door chimes in Europe is in decline due to the increased demand for audio/video intercoms for door entry.
Installers are the key decision makers when it comes to deciding what doorbell is fitted in nearly nine out of 10 cases. Quality, reliability and functionality are the key requisites that installers look for from a door chime. Wired door chimes are preferred mainly due to the robustness of the system but also because many installations are replacing existing wired systems.
Friedland’s brand in the door chime market shows very high awareness with nearly all installers in Germany and three quarters of installers in France being aware of Friedland.
In contrast to the door chime market, the market for security lighting and security alarms is in the ascendant with the heightened demand for greater security. The annual market for these products is growing at between 3% and 5%.
B2B executive of this report, Matt Powell, says:
Everyone is becoming more security conscious, so it is not surprising that the research indicates a growing demand for security products in general and for new door-entry products in particular. In the future, companies will need to revise their offerings to meet different market segments. What we see is that brand is important and gives installers comfort that they will be getting a reputable product. Freidland are in a strong position with their ever-present brand. This research will enable Friedland to position itself as an innovator and leader and develop new security products – in other words, to become more than just a door chime company.