Technology is disrupting the insurance industry, including the claims arena, from new claims management systems and mobile apps that enable consumers to submit loss reports to a remote adjuster to the use of drones to efficiently gather structure damage data. But are the benefits all one-sided or do customers perceive value in these innovations, too?
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series on understanding the streaming video consumer. Be sure to bookmark FreshMR so you don’t miss an issue!
It wasn’t long ago when consumers had three choices for video consumption: free TV (using antennas), paid cable TV, and, if going with cable, whether to add a movie channel like HBO. There was little competition, little innovation and very few choices. What a difference a few years makes!
Those simple days are almost unrecognizable in today’s chaotic, cluttered video world. Sure, consumers can still view local broadcasts over-the-air, but the insatiable appetite for content has dramatically increased our options. Having so many options can be overwhelming to customers but also confusing to the telecommunications and entertainment companies that provide and deliver content.
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once attributed his uncanny ability to read plays to, “I skate to where the puck is going to be.” That concept applies to utility chief customer officers and CX professionals; those who are tuned into consumer expectation trends understand where their “puck” is going to be.
Cogent Reports’ Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement (UTBCE) study is designed to understand customer engagement from a holistic perspective encompassing brand trust, product experience and operational satisfaction, but this blog post offers a simpler framework for customer experience. First up is marketing, which allows you to tell your customers what they can expect of you as a utility. Second, and just as important, is the actual experience customers have interacting with you—and where they judge whether your marketing was truthful or just blowing smoke.
It’s my last day of work in 2016, and I’ve been taking stock of what I’ve done as well as what we as a team of colleagues have done this year: what we’ve focused on, what we’ve written about, and ultimately, what we’ve learned. All told, it’s been an amazing set of adventures and accomplishments. Here at Market Strategies’ FreshMR blog, we’ve been sharing our thoughts on market research since 2011. So far this year, we published 109 posts with 69,706 words and 369,665 characters, covering scores of topics including.
What we do: Research on brand, communications, customer experience, product development, segmentation, syndicated research.
How we do it: Qualitative and quantitative data collection, marketing & data sciences.
For whom: Clients in Consumer & Retail, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Technology and Telecommunications.
Of all we covered in 2016, a few topics stand out distinctly:
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The utility industry has made significant strides in reducing its environmental impact. According to the Edison Electric Institute, in 2015 utility CO2 emissions were 21% below 2005 levels, driven largely by a switch to natural gas from coal and increasing deployment of renewable resources such as wind and solar. Additionally, utility energy-efficiency (EE) programs nationwide save enough electricity to power nearly 12 million homes each year.
Despite this tremendous progress in environmental stewardship, customers do not perceive their utilities as environmental stewards. As we discovered in our 2016 Environmental Champions awards, customer perception of environmental dedication greatly lags other brand trust factors.
Market Strategies is often asked to recommend research approaches that guide decisions about marketing and product/brand management. A topic that’s been of keen interest lately is brand health. NPS has been the “go-to” measure for some time, but we were curious to compare it to other brand health measures so we used our quarterly consumer omnibus study as a research sandbox.
Specifically, we fielded various questions and used the results to test the efficacy of brand health approaches that would serve clients across industry sectors well. We surveyed more than 1,100 US consumers regarding brands in the social media space: Facebook, Flickr, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. We then used these data to run multiple brand health analyses, ultimately comparing NPS and several brand health measures and indices at how well they predict our dependent variables: frequent use of the brand and intention to increase use of the brand in the near future.
If your company uses NPS and nothing but NPS, you’ll want to download this free topline research report to see the results of our experiment. Here’s additional background for context, if you’re so inclined.
I hadn’t paid much attention to John Oliver until he lambasted US retirement plans in a clip that spoke directly to my clients and me with its relevance, comedy and mix of truths, half-truths and misperceptions. This led me to pay attention more quickly when my Facebook feed promoted a new Oliver piece about the Republican National Convention and the idea that feelings can…ahem…trump facts. I encourage you to have a listen (particularly at the 3:13 and 5:56 minute marks), though now is a good time to caution that there is foul language. It’s also important to note that the opinions shared in this video do not represent those of Market Strategies, though perhaps not only for the obvious reason that we do not support a political party or any opinions for or against Antonio Sabato Jr.
Editor’s Note: This is the first of two blog posts to analyze what’s happening to the Biebs and the advice we’d share with his brand manager.
What on Earth is wrong with Justin Bieber?
No, seriously. What’s happening to the Biebs? He is no longer taking pictures with his fans and recently angered all of Argentina by tossing its national flag out of his car in New York. He even did the unthinkable: disrespecting Prince after the music legend passed away. Nowadays, he’s busy falling off the stage at his own concerts.
If these activities are publicity stunts meant to endear people to him and convert them to Beliebers, they are clearly not well thought out. I’m sure executives at his record labels are wishing Justin would take better care of his image, which made me wonder: “What if pop stars tracked their brands the way companies do?”
For this thought experiment, suppose that Justin Bieber’s manager came to us at Market Strategies International, desperately wanting to know how his superstar is doing compared to other artists, and what he could do to make him king of the music industry again…
I am not my peeps
If the ascendancy of Donald Trump in the Republican nominating race provides a lesson in identity politics, it’s not a straightforward one. Safe to say, his primary victories have not been driven by mobilizing his demographic cohort: eccentric billionaires with extreme comb overs. His supporters, in fact, look nothing like him (supply your own joke here; really, it’s too easy).
- Trump brags about his Ivy League education in interviews and debates but doesn’t fare most strongly with college-educated voters. According to CNN exit polling in South Carolina, Trump dominated among those with a high school degree or less, winning 45%, while claiming only 20% of those with a postgraduate degree. After winning the Nevada primary, Trump claimed, “I love the poorly educated.” That’s a locution that would send most candidates running to their crisis communications consultants—and, yet, one that did not appear to hurt him on Super Tuesdays I and II, when the “poorly educated” proceeded to love him back.
- Similarly, Trump is hardly shy about his lavish lifestyle and substantial wealth but draws disproportionate support from lower-income voters. While I haven’t seen billionaire-specific polling, we know Trump does better among lower-income groups. In my home state of Georgia, CNN reported Trump winning 43% of those with less than $50k annual income, compared to 31% with $100k or more.
What explains the disconnect between these key markers in Trump’s personal brand—luxury, wealth, power, education—and the characteristics of his voters? Pundits have amply covered the key drivers of Trump’s voter appeal but few have mentioned a secondary, yet important theme: aspiration. Americans are often more powerfully wired to respond to messages about who they want to be than messages about who they actually are. And, more than other aspects of Trump’s candidacy, that has tangible implications for brand management.
We’ve been part of many brand positioning engagements, from the development of new product brands to the repositioning of corporate brands. Positioning poses some of the most thorny—and rewarding—challenges to marketers and researchers. But, of all the headwinds brand positioning can face, the stiffest is getting true buy-in across the organization. While marketing groups should typically lead positioning efforts, their enthusiasm is a necessary, not sufficient, condition for success. Start to worry when other key organizational stakeholders—especially product teams and sales/distribution—aren’t in the room. As recent headlines teach us, billions of dollars of equity are on the line.
Positioning isn’t just a marketing veneer or a tagline. It needs to be an organizational north star, the core strand of DNA that not only embodies your differentiated value to the marketplace, but also shapes every aspect of the business—from product design to marketing communications to customer experience at the point of sale. The companies that nail it, like Apple, drive enormous brand premiums in the marketplace. Among other brands that have built their success around disciplined adherence to savvy positioning strategy, I would have added Audi…until this week.