Making shopping a science

This month, along with the announcement of our retail alliance with AOL, Mediabrands unveiled of a new shopper market agency called Shopper Sciences. Retail veteran and Mediabrands EVP, John Ross will head the agency which will focus on the key influence factors in shoppers’ journey from undecided to decided.

Utilizing a range of tools from across Mediabrands, and relying heavily on the Lab, the new shopper marketing agency will have the ability to pinpoint the media sources that move a shopper from indecision to decision, evaluate the barriers to purchase at different points within the purchase cycle.   The agency will use influence research to reveal points where the shopping process fails to meet consumers’ needs.  By also partnering with Geomentum it will provide clients with location-based insights and customer traffic to retail locations.

The Lab sat down with John Ross to discuss the future of the Shopper Sciences Agency. Continue reading “Making shopping a science”

Meet the next generation of retail shopping

As reported this week in, IPG Media Lab along with our parent company, Mediabrands is joining forces with AOL to create the next generation of retail shopping tools. Our hope is to make it easier for shoppers to get the information they need to make smart choices while harnessing the best of traditional retail advertising with the latest in online and social media technology.

We want not only to build a better, smarter experience for consumer, but a more effective advertising vehicle for retailers themselves. With average circulation of larger newspapers on the decline (down nearly 8.7% according to an Audit Bureau of Circulations study) the media has spent much time wringing its hands over the future of print. What we don’t talk about is what that might mean for retail advertisers. Retailers have spent billions of dollars over the years teaching shoppers to look in the Sunday newspaper for the latest news about what’s on sale in their city. Retailers have relied on print because it has a focused immediacy that online can’t provide; it promotes timely sales, serves as a metaphor for the retail season and even educates sales people. Television, radio, and even banner ads have never been able to make up the difference from a low-tech free standing insert or full page ad in the daily and Sunday papers. As a result, for decades, very little has changed in the regular weekly newspaper insert, or the coupon mailers that go to American homes each week. Continue reading “Meet the next generation of retail shopping”

Confessions of an aging technojunkie

Confessions of an aging technophile (iStock)Ok, I admit it. I love new technology. I love getting new devices, figuring out how they work, learning what they can do for me. But increasingly, I find integrating new technology into my life harder and harder.

I need a new PC for my home office, but I keep putting it off because it will be such a pain to reinstall software, update drivers, connect to my network. I want to switch to a new carrier for my portable phone, but the idea of actually going to the carrier store to switch service irritates me. And my multi that drives my home theater recently died – the thought of buying and reprogramming a new one seems ridiculously complicated, even though I have done it before.

In short, the lure of new technology and the realities of life integration seem increasingly more difficult the older I get. And it seems I am not alone. Continue reading “Confessions of an aging technojunkie”

Is Waveface the future of screens?

Waveface-Light (Asus)With all the hype about 3D television, bendable OLED was not on the list of top CES breakthroughs from most reporters. In fact, the display wasn’t even in the main hall; instead it was tucked away, in just a corner of the Asus booth. “Waveface” is a few years off from hitting the consumer market, but the implications have the retailer in me excited, my eyes filled with the potential communications applications.

What are OLED screens? Micro thin, seamless, smooth, high definition video screens capable of bending around objects. To me it’s the coolest display at CES this year. Imagine a wrist watch where the band, the display, the case – everything – was a seamless video bracelet that wraps around your wrist. Sports scores, weather information, photos of your kids, all moving across the band in one continuous circle of light. Oh and probably the time as well. Continue reading “Is Waveface the future of screens?”

CES: The power of the printed word

CES: The power of the printed word (ThePlan8 Podcast)The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas is crammed with the latest gadgets, all blasting out light and noise and motion in high definition goodness. Much of the news this week will be about 3D TV, motion controlled video games, and the blending of Internet and broadcast on traditional television platforms.

There will also be a lot of press around e-readers. They are everywhere – CES has an entire section of the show floor dedicated to e-reader developers; most major CE manufactures will also have branded e-readers. And of course, the rumor mills churn with the news of an Apple iSlate, though there have been no formal announcements yet.

These little flat, grey-scale tablets seem to have little to compete with the walls of flat screen monitors in every booth. Although e-readers offer lots of consumer benefits, the actual experience is not as exciting as 3D, not as immersive as new gaming technology. It is just reading, after all, right? Continue reading “CES: The power of the printed word”

How shoppers make choices

How do shoppers make choices? (iStock)The laptops are arranged in neat rows, seemingly endless black rectangles each glowing with bright blue screens. I point out to my daughter what the numbers on the little signs next to computer mean. I show her how to evaluate the features – Longer battery life, more RAM, bigger hard drive, larger screen, total weight. With each model comes a trade off, and after a few minutes I can tell she is getting confused. “Look, decide what features are most important to you, and then choose based on that,” I tell her. She nods, then proceeds to look at the back of each computer, and to feel the touch pad on each one.

My daughter finally stops at a mid-priced Sony and nods. Good brand, good choice, I think to myself. I glance at the features – seems like she picked one with a good balance of performance and portability. I tell her she’s a smart kid, figuring out what is best from amongst all those feature trade-offs. “It wasn’t that,” she tells me. “It’s a pretty silver color, not boring like all those others. And I liked the way the keypad felt.” Continue reading “How shoppers make choices”

Holiday bounceback thanks to…robotic hamsters?

Cepia LLC Russell Hornsby's Zhu Zhu PetsCan you feel it in the air? That brisk breath of air may not be the weather; instead it’s the sharp inhale as retailers who have spent as much as nine months preparing for the holidays step back, square their shoulders, and prepare to face what Holiday 2009 may bring.

Every product you see, ad you read, sale you line up for was carefully orchestrated last spring when retailers (and brands who sell into retail) made their call on Christmas. Those decisions came during perhaps the darkest hours of the macro-economic news fest, coming off one of the toughest holiday seasons on record.

Imagine being the buyer who had to commit to inventory, pricing and terms? It must have felt more like prognostication than retail merchandising. I have been asked a lot lately to make my own call on the holiday season. It’s easy to predict the worse. Continue reading “Holiday bounceback thanks to…robotic hamsters?”

How retailers can tap into pre-shopping

How retailers can harness the power of pre-shopping (iStock)Let’s go shopping.

Those three words used to mean climbing into the car and heading to the local mall. But for today’s connected consumer it more likely means going online, hitting the blogs, following a Facebook trail, or sending out a tweet–all without ever visiting a single retail location.

Two recent surveys show that at least 30% and as much as 70% of consumers who bought retail reported pre-shopping for information about a product before shopping a physical store (ARG, “Pre-shopping and the ever changing role of retail” January 2009). And these numbers are up almost 20% since the same survey less than two years ago. Continue reading “How retailers can tap into pre-shopping”

Social media & the unbearable loneliness of being

Social media and the unbearable loneliness of beingIt’s the security lines at airports that make me feel most alone in the world.

All that patting down, removing items from my person and from my belongings… For those few minutes where you shamble through the security scanner, barefoot, divested, unconnected, surrounded by strangers, and observed by cameras and armed security officers, I feel totally, and helplessly alone.

I’ll come back to that in a moment. But first–have you looked at the growth of social marketing activity lately? Exponential growth, faster than any other medium. It took television 30 years to reach an audience of 50 million people; Facebook did it in just two. Over 95% of Generation Y use social media.

The question that fascinates me is simply, “Why?”

Continue reading “Social media & the unbearable loneliness of being”

A chief marketing officer’s worst nightmare

John Ross, President IPG Emerging Media Lab What scares you? What keeps you up at night, and nags at the back of your consciousness? There are a couple of things that frighten me. Being likened to the comedian Carrot  Top is one of them. The other is finding that I have stopped learning.

Can you imagine it? Waking up one day to discover that your capacity for taking in new knowledge has ended. That everything you are going to learn has already happened and that your brain, now filled to capacity, was blinking the “hard drive full” message across your retinas over and over again. It can happen. I have experienced it.

One of the things that happens when you are the custodian of a large marketing budget is that suddenly everyone wants to meet with you. If you allowed every new vendor to come in a pitch, you could spend your entire day watching Power Point slides. Want to know what waterboarding feels like? Just follow the media director of a major brand around a marketing conference and watch the vendors surround them like flood waters. Continue reading “A chief marketing officer’s worst nightmare”