Disappearing Acts
Earth Day Approaches: Are You Earthy?

It's All About Giving Consumers Value and Values - John Gerzema & The Brand Bubble from SES NY

 By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk

SES New York Last week I attended SES NY (Search Engine Strategies) which was a three-day conference that comes to New York every March and is visits cities around the world. I attended last year and thought it was great, so I went back for more this year. I've wrote a few posts already on my blog and I Twittered live from the event. I was amazed at how many people this year were live blogging and Twittering. It's a wonder how we still have time to network in real life with one another, which there was plenty of that going around.

Gerzema-brand-bubble What I haven't written about yet and wanted to cover today was the Thursday morning Keynote Speaker, John Gerzema, author of The Brand Bubble: The looming crisis in brand value and how to avoid it. You can actually download his "Calamity" presentation here which I've included a copy of the first slide below. Now since this was the third and final day of the Calamity-Pres.-Introconference, the Grand Ballroom at the NY Hilton was a bit sparser than during Day 1's Opening Keynote by Guy Kawasaki, but I believe those of us that were there were pleasantly pleased with the content.

 John started us off on some very discouraging stats about our current state of the economy which he calls "The New Fear Economy". So I started wondering where this was going. Conferences are supposed to be inspirational, right?

Reality is we're already in our 18th month of a recession. Unemployment is the highest in 25 years with the three straight months of over 600,000 jobs lost in this country. We’ve seen $36 trillion loss worldwide. House values have eroded. Equity markets are down. National debt is way up. Detroit is going bankrupt. Bank lending is down and credit card exposure is the new bubble.

This all equals a consumer confidence crisis. Confidence is at its lowest since the Consumer Confidence study was started. This has turned into an equal opportunity recession as well with millionaires losing 1/3 of their net worth. Middle class families are having to give up their pets! 14,000 Americans are losing health insurance every day. People are delaying having children and are looking at basic needs.

So what are marketers supposed to do? In the Brand Bubble they found that trust in brands today is down 50 percent and trust is the #1 goal of a brand. Brands now represent 1/3 of all operating value in a company. That’s an 80 percent growth in two years. Brands are a huge sector in our global economy. Brand esteem and regard is down 12 percent. Brand awareness has declined 20 percent. Perception of brand quality is down 24 percent. Trust has continued to erode.

So John's recommendation is that marketing today must move from "Passion to Compassion" for brands to succeed. We have to focus on the positive and connect with consumers in different ways.

New Culture Values:  It's now all about "Value for Consumers as well as Values"! We have an indestructible spirit. There’s no safety net so we have to do things for ourselves and focus on both short term and long term goals.

New Consumer Behaviors: Durability is key. We need to make things last. Brands and companies offering this are experiencing growth:

Shoe repair and sewing are on the rise. Tide's Total Care Program guarantees that your clothes will look like new for 30 days or your money back.

Comfort foods are back. McCormick Spices and Campbell Soups are promoting more home cooking recipes. Kraft has created ifood assistant that creates meals on the go for busy moms. It’s the number two iPhone application right now.

Managing food to last longer. Ziploc is educating consumers on how to use their products to do this.

Americans are holding on to their cars longer,  9.4 years on average, so service stations are booming.

Couponing is up 300 percent.

People are nesting more, so they may buy that new flat screen TV or improve their home. LG is promoting energy efficient appliances and electronics.

Self-improvement is on the rise. More of us are going back to school. 68 percent of Americans now
carry a library card.

Craigslist has become the new local classifieds from selling and buying just about anything to pets, jobs, etc.

Sears & Kmart had a great holiday selling season due to bringing back the classic lay-away plan (I'm old enough to remember buying this way!)

There's a need to become more real. Examples are Oil of Olay's "Love the Skin Your In" campaign, McDonald's "UnSnobby Coffee" campaign which makes fun on Starbucks (I still order a medium Latte!!) and Alpo's Let Dogs Be Dogs Again Campaign offers savings coupons only if you "check your sequin dog collar at the door."

Giving value back to the consumer; Continental Airlines is now offering free meals in-flight again. Denny's Super Bowl promotion offered free breakfasts; FedEx had Free Resume Tuesdays where they gave away 25 copies of your resume.

Connecting with consumers; Hyundai's Assurance Program offers to buy back the car if you lose your job. GM and Ford followed suit yesterday and announced plans to offer the same type of programs. Jet Blue as also launched a similar program with their airline tickets.

Getting back to basics: Candy sales are up. So is lingerie. (Sex with your partner has always been somewhat free, right?).

New Management Principles: Dollars and Sense. We all have less to spend so give your consumers the practical reasons to buy into your brand. 

P. Diddy is even toning down his bling. At the New York Fashion Show, Duckie Brown gave models coupons for McDonalds. New York's 5th Ave. designer stores are using brown paper bags for their customer's purchases. Radiohead let people set their own price for their album. Haggling is now in fashion.

Hulu is replacing TV online (maybe we can give up that cable bill). Miller Light took a shot at Budweiser and created one second SuperBowl ads to make fun of the huge expense. Frito-Lay realized people have more discretionary money at the beginning of the month than the end and change their package sizes to offer different pricing in-store.

Social media is now the way to get information and deals on brands we can trust. Brands need to be a proactive and encourage community organizers. We’ve seen the tremendous effect the mommy bloggers have had on brands as well as the individuals within the brands that are engaging.

Here are some big companies that are doing some great, creative things with social media; Look at Zappos and how they've used Twitter. You can also follow Scott Monty from Ford there. Legos is connecting with their fans to design customized products. Wal-Mart Check-Out blog is written by their associates and their Elevenmoms blog is a huge hit.

So in summary, yes this recession hurts, however it may not be such a bad thing. We're going through a readjustment period and getting back to the real world and our community. Look for the brands reaching out to you and use those insights in your own marketing. We're all consumers. Thanks John for an interesting look at where we are today. I have to read his book now!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)