My Apple Watch finally arrived this week, a full two months after being ordered. This purchase was made purely for research purposes on behalf of you, dear readers.
Below are my first impressions, now I've got up close and personal with it. What's good? What's bad? What might be coming? This follows on from my initial post on whether it would be a hit or miss, here.
1. What's good?
The overall look & feel is, as you would expect from Apple, top notch. It is beautifully engineered and finished, with a sapphire crystal screen and a nifty rubber strap designed by one of my favourite designers, Mark Newson. Indeed, you could just spend your £300-500 and use it as a nicely designed watch.
Some of the apps have been very cleverly adapted for the Apple Watch and manage to cram a lot of info onto the little screen. For example, you can see a whole day's weather on the screen. And you can easily scroll down through the stock prices you are following (you scroll down by turning the crown on the top right hand side).
Some apps go further and offer an actual benefit in terms of convenience. In particular, the passbook app means you can, for example, have your BA boarding pass on your phone and just go, "beep", to go through security without having to get your iPhone out of your pocket, briefcase or bag. Then there is the health app, which monitors how much you move and during how many of the 12 hours per day you have stood up for at least a minute. As someone who sits at a desk for too long each day, this is quite useful, although I wonder if being reminded to stand up i. will become irritating, and ii. is a bit too much Big Brother-like
2. What's bad?
The first and most obvious issue is that you need your iPhone on you for most of the watch's functionality to work. And many of the iPhone apps are much, much better on the iPhone. For example, it is sort of cool to be able to order an Uber with a single click on the Apple Watch. However, there are several drawbacks: i. the watch can only order the type of Uber (X, XL, Lux etc) you ordered last time, ii. you can't enter your route to get an estimate of cost, iii. you can't share the cost of the trip with other Uber users etc. etc. And trying to navigate with the tiny map on the watch screen is much less convenient that using the maps app on your iPhone.
Other apps seem even more dumbed down. For example, the Open Table app just shows upcoming bookings, you can't actually do a booking on your phone.
You do need A1 vision and fingers ideally shaped lick match sticks to operate the incredibly fiddly home screen menu, made up of a series of floating little bubble-like icons. As they are so small, and so close together, they are hard to distinguish from one another, and I often tapped the wrong one.
It can be irritating to get the notifications (new text, stand up instructions etc.) via a buzzing and vibrating on your wrist, especially if, like the Taylor teenage girls, you get a notification every 10 seconds or so. You can turn these off if you want, but this does take a bit of time and hassle to do (more complex operations like this are done on your phone)
3. What's coming?
There are some cool things coming soon which could make the Apple Watch much more interesting as a device. First up is Apple Pay, due in the UK in July 2015. This will enable you to pay for things in participating stores using your watch. And Starwood Hotels have started to let you use your Apple Watch to unlock your hotel room door. And I'm sure there are more applications in the pipeline. One of Apple's smart tactics is not to "fire all the bullets in one go". They hold stuff back to have wave after wave of new news.
So. Is it worth getting an Apple Watch?
As it stands today, I like it. But I don't love it. However, my guess is that with the functionality upgrades coming down the pipe in the coming months that may change, and it may become much more useful.
If you are thinking of getting one, perhaps waiting to have it as a Xmas present would mean getting more out of your new toy, sorry, your new personal productivity device ;-)
Fosters has announced that it is killing off the Brad & Dan characters from its Good Call campaign after five years. The final ad in the series started airing recently, in which the duo of "agony uncles" pack up their beach hut office to marry their girlfriends Dawn and Matilda.
Is this is a smart move?
From heros to zeros in a matter of months
Ditching the Brad & Dan campaign seems strange to me. It has been incredibly successful, as I posted on here. Indeed, only a few months ago the brand and its agency Adam & Eve DDB were on stage collecting the Grand Prix at The IPA Effectiveness Awards. The campaign achieved the highest estimated ROI of any beer campaign in the awards' 34-year history: £32 in revenue for every £1 of advertising, moving Foster’s from third to first place in the off-trade lager market, as reported here.
Four years of "fresh consistency" helped create some excellent "memory structure" for Brand & Dan. In our IcAT survey (Iconic Asset Tracker) they were shown to be the most effective brand properties in the UK beer market at activating brand recall.
So, why kill off such a successful campaign?
The reporting of Brad and Dan's demise suggested that this was prompted by a move away from "laddish" advertising that was ‘dismissive’ of women. However, this rationale was denied in the same report by Ifeoma Dozie, brand director at Heineken. Her rationale for the change was that “‘We are looking for a more 'lean-forward' approach. [The target drinker] wants to give life a ‘red hot crack’. It is more about the experiences once you have the right kind of attitude and approach, as opposed to saying ‘no worries’.”
But could this evolution not have been achieved by evolving Brand & Dan, and having a better balance between freshness and consistency? Our research with marketing directors (see below) shows only a minority of changes (24%) are made based on hard data, like our research shown above. It would be interesting to know if Fosters realise just how effective Brand & Dan are.
The biggest reason for changing properties is a change in organisational structure or team (55%). And I have a sneaking suspicion that the heart on Brad & Dan night be more in this area. First, it looks a new marketing team started working on the brand in August/October 2014, according to Linked In here and here. Second, I think the two actors playing Brad & Dan were signed up in 201 for five years, based on the IPA Effectiveness video on the campaign. So (conspiracy theory alert) perhaps the two actors wanted to re-negotiate the original deal, having seen how successful the campaign had been, and asked for too much?
"The new ad campaign, which will be unveiled in the coming months, will continue to use the Australian theme and comedy elements and primarily focus on male beer drinkers," according to reports here. “Australia and comedy are at the heart of the brand and will always remain, ” went on to comment the Heineken team. So, there should be at least some consistency in the Fosters' campaign. But time will tell if it can reach the same heights as Brad & Dan.
In conclusion, given that it takes 2-3 years to create memory structure, think twice before following Fosters' example and changing your brand properties. Consider doing a survey like the IcAT one described here so you will at least have hard data on what you are throwing away.
I nodded vigorously as I read Mark Ritson's latest "Ritson rant" about how "brands’ inane visions have lost touch with what consumers really use them for" in Marketing Week here (sign-up needed). He suggests that several brands have "Climbed from product features past functional benefits and emotional advantages to the top of the ‘benefit ladder’, leaping dramatically into an aspirational swan dive that plummets into an ever growing sea of bullshit below." The examples he quotes include:
- Coca-Cola's global mission to inspire moments of optimism, refresh the world and make a difference.
- McDonald’s new brand vision to use fast food as a catalyst to oppose “all the negativity that surrounds daily life”
- Kellogg’s global brand positioning of ‘Let’s make today great!’
- Starbucks' mission to ‘inspire the human spirit’.
I've written many times about the risk of brands climbing too high up the "benefit ladder", leaving behind the product and thinking they can change the world. I call this "brand ego tripping." Tom Fishburne did a great cartoon that brings this problem to life (see below)
So, what are the risks of this brand ego tripping?
1. Lack of relevance
The first and most fundamental problem Mark highlights is that "Twinkly-ass horseshit that has nothing to do with the actual product or consumer, leads inevitably to tactical work that exhibits the same bizarre, detached quality." He quotes as an example Starbucks baristas being encouraged to discuss race relations with bemused customers and writing #racetogether on their cups.
2. Lack of credibility
Mark's says that people "Just want a coffee, or a burger. They also want race equality and loving feelings – but they don’t want hamburger multinationals telling them how to achieve it." You do wonder how credible the lofty ambitions of these everyday brands really are, especially for younger consumers who are more questioning about brands and their real motivations (selling more burgers/fries, coffee or sugary drinks)
3. Lack of distinctiveness
The final issue with brand ego tripping that Mark highlights is that brands' higher-order visions tend to look and sound similar, as shown by Starbucks’ quest to “inspire the human spirit”, Kellogg’s dream of “making today great” and Barclaycard’s desire to “get more from today”. By losing sight of their product truths, these brands risk losing touch with the real roles that play in consumers' lives.
An example of a brand who climbed back down the brand benefit ladder to reality is Dove. I posted here on the learning of the Dove team and their agency, Ogilvy, during the creation of their Campaign for Real Beauty, an example from the Brand Vision book. The team developed three different "brand anthem" campaigns that urged women to stop judging themselves so harshly ('Beauty Has A Million Faces One Of Them Is Yours', 'Give Your Beauty Wings' and 'Let's Make Peace With Beauty'). However, as the planner from Ogilvy agency commented :
"Unfortunately, women were not impressed. They found our ideas patronising. The top-down approach seemed to lead to rather didactic, theoretical and distant work. So we decided instead to work bottom-up - product first, wrapped in beauty theory."
The Dove team decided to get the "sausage" (product) and "sizzle" (emotional values) working together, telling a product story in an impactful, emotionally engaging way. This led to the launch of Firming Cream, with the now famous advert of real ladies in their undies. It was fresh. It was honest. And it plugged a product: "As tested on real curves". "Real-ness" and "honesty" was the brand's personality, but not the idea itself. This helped create impact for the brand, at the same time as selling lots of product.
In conclusion, be on the watch-out the next time you work on your brand vision to avoid brand ego tripping where, as Mark puts it, you "depart from consumer reality and enter the kind of aspirational emotion zone that only ad agencies and the most deluded brand manager inhabit"
Mondelez announced this week that it "will continue to add “Buy Now” buttons to owned, earned and paid media platforms across 25 markets, linking to over 130 retailers’ websites". You click on the button and it takes you to an online retailers' website. So, does this move from Mondelez mean that social media can start to show you the money if you are an FMCG brand?
Making it easier to SMS
The Buy Now buttons should, in theory, help overcome one of the barriers to FMCG brands monetising social media. Up to now, there has been only an indirect link between social media and selling more stuff (SMS). In contrast, with online brands you are only 1 click away from buying something.
It is encouraging to see that the Buy Now button has been through "A successful pilot phase in 20 markets with over 100 retailers", suggesting that the early signs are positive.
Will you make a one-off chocolate purchase?
It will be interesting to see how Buy Now works for impulse purchase products like chocolate and candy. On many occasions you don't just want to buy now, you want to eat now. Also, a pack of Trident gum or Oreos will be part of a much larger online shopping trip on most occasions. Will you want to go to the trouble of clicking through to an online retailer to make this a one-off purchase?
We've been here before...
I posted two years ago on another service that allowed you to link it to the online shopping basket of your preferred online retailer. Clicking on the Slingshot button on a brand's webpage added the item to your next shopping basket. This seemed smart as it added the item to your next online basket, rather than asking you to buy it now as a one-off.
I don't know how Slingshot has done, but the signs from their webpage are not that promising. Two of the four websites featured had broken links to Facebook. And a third was for a discontinued product. Hmmmm....
So, it will be interesting to see how the Buy Now button works for Mondelez. If it is successful, it is a big step forward for social media, making it more likely that it can show you the money if you are an FMCG brand.
In many hotels you would struggle to know which brand you were staying in if all the signage was removed. An exception to this rule is LUX* Resorts, who have made brilliant use of brand properties to create a truly distinctive guest experience. And this seems to be paying off in satisfaction scores, with an amazing 83% of Trip Advisor ratings being 5* for the flagship Belle Mare resort in Mauritius. There are other resorts in the Seychelles, the Maldives and Dubai.
Here are some of the things Lux have done beautifully.
1. Start with a big brand idea
The brand idea for LUX* is "Lighter, brighter", which is what the "*" refers to in the logo. This is a simple idea, but one that is brought to life in the whole customer experience, and in the brand's communication. And it is distinctive compared to many more traditional tropical luxury resorts that tend to cue sophistication by using darker brown colours in their fabrics, graphics and furniture.
2. Leadership from a "Brand CEO"
Talking to the team at LUX* they spoke very highly of CEO, Paul Jones, a hotel industry veteran who was formerly President of One & Only. He seems like what we call a "Brand CEO", who not only works on the business side, but also brings to life the brand vision through his own behaviours. Check out Paul's handwritten note below, via Style Cartel, which brings to life his vision in a very LUX* way. The page is headed "A NOTE FROM THE PRODUCER" and starts by talking about "Staging unique performances in beautiful island settings": miles away from your normal CEO bland business-speak.
3. Distinctive service features
What is really cool about LUX* is the number of brand properties they use to create a distinctive customer experience. These are what we call "defining gestures": ways of creating brand distinctiveness at key moments of truth. Here are just a few of these:
- Café LUX*: at the heart of each LUX* hotel is a Café Lux where baristas prepare great, freshly roasted coffee. Not only do the drinks taste better than average hotel coffee, the café looks great and the smell of freshly ground coffee wafts through the reception area
- ICI: each LUX* has its own ice cream bar, serving lovely little sorbet lollies in the morning, and more indulgent ice cream in the afternoon
- Screen on the beach: three of four times a week there are movies on the beach, complete with popcorn and ice cream
- Phone home: enter the classic red phone box and you can ring friends and family for free
- Sounds of LUX*: no piped "elevator muzak" here. The music selection has been carefully curated to be cool and contemporary
- Beach Rouge: a stylish beach bar and restaurant that wouldn't look out of place in St Tropez
4. Distinctive brand identity
If the distinctive service features deliver the product "sausage", the whole visual look and feel adds lots of emotional "sizzle". The LUX* Belle Mare Plage is the flagship resort, having had a major makeover by design doyen Kelly Hoppen. Her style is very much in tune with the Lighter, brighter vision of LUX* , and she has brought this brand world to life beautifully. This is in the general areas of the resort, and also in the rooms and suites themselves, which are bright and fresh.
More on the interior design of LUX* here in a blog post by Mrs Taylor, who is an interior design coach.
In conclusion, LUX* is a lovely example of creating a brand idea and then bringing it to life to create truly distinctive customer experience. It's a rare example of a service brand where you could quickly spot the brand, even if all the signage was removed.
Today we look at what brands can learn from reality TV star Kim Kardashian*, based on this article by BBH's Kate Nettleton. Its dedicated to my 16 year old daughter, Jessica, who is one of the many millions of young folk who, for some inexplicable reason, follows the Kardashians.
*If your response is "Who the **** is Kim Kardashian, then you are, like, so totally, like, out of it. Kim's statistics are impressive (no, not thosestatistics, behave at the back of the class): annual income of almost $30million, fuelled by c. 30 million followers on Instagram and Twitter, and a game with revenues estimated to reach $200million. Yes, I know. What is the world coming to .... Oh well, here we go
1. Distinctiveness is more important than differentiation
I love the way that Kate uses Kim to make this point, which I've posted on many times. As she says, "If Kim K proves anything it’s that fame isn’t about offering something different, it’s about doing it in a way that’s bigger and better, and communicating it in a way that’s distinctive".
Kate goes on to illustrate this point by referring to one of Kim's most valuable brand assets (stop sniggering): "Kim’s bum isn’t different she just made it look bigger and better. With some liberal oil application, and a talented photographer, she rode the wave from waif, to booty."
2. Fresh consistency
Kate points out that Kim is strong enough to ignore all the negative attacks she takes from internet "trolls" and stay true to her brand promise, "rather than reacting to any negative result, comment or bump in the road." She suggests that brands need to be more consistent as well, something that is hard to do in today's world where companies are bombarded with real-time data about how people are reacting to their brand: "We’ve lost sight of the need to stick to our guns. We need to have the steeliness of character to not react to every comment, red traffic light, or slight downturn in sales."
3. The power of brand alliances
In case you didn't know, Kim K's most famous "brand partnership" is her marriage to pop star Kanye West. This was a carefully thought through alliance, based on the fact that her future husband had a first name that also started with a "K" ;-) This protects the K part of the brand identity, with her sisters called Kourtney, Kendall, Kylie and Khloé and her mum Kris.
In addition, Kim K. has "leant her name to an iPhone game that made $43m in just three months, as well as lucrative deals with everyone from Armani to weight loss brands."
Kate points out that brands can also benefit from carefully choses partnerships, to "confer qualities onto a brand that perhaps weren’t previously there and utilising established infrastructures, and audiences."
So there you have it. There are actually some branding lessons from Kim K.: be distinctive, be consistent and seek out alliances.
I heard today that innocent are pulling their Veg Pots to focus on the core drinks business. This is what I suggested back in 2008, almost six years ago, in this post:
"The risk with the veg pot is that this "new toy" distracts management time and resources away from the core smoothies business. A shame, as there is still plenty of opportunity to grow the core (e.g. in the UK prompted awareness is c.85%, but trial is only 10%). Also, this is a time when the core business is under pressure"
brandgym blog readers agreed with these concerns, with 85% of people saying the launch would be a miss for inoocent in our 2009 hit 'n miss survey.
Well, fast forward to 2015 and the innocent website has the following announcement:
Since we launched innocent in 1999, we've spent most of our time making healthy, delicious, natural drinks. We've got some really exciting plans for our drinks over the coming years and we want to give those plans our full attention
Why has innocent decided to pull the pots? Below I re-cap two issues I raised in 2009, a year after the launch. Maybe one or both of these has persuaded innocent to re-focus on the core.
Will veg pots will be "a dwarf"?
The big question is will these pots make pots of money? My concern is not with the brand equity stretch. We can trust innocent to go from fruit to veg. And the funky new design and quirky pack copy are very innocent. No, the concern is with the business model stretch. Can innocent profitably create a new market sector, and get the product into peoples' repertoires, given a high price-point of £3.50 and a sub-contracting manufacturing model?
The only report I have been able to find suggest sales are c.£8million. And the fact innocent are advertising the veg pots suggest they must be doing OK. And credit to innocent for doing some good stuff with this brand extension: solves real consumer problem (what to have for lunch?), decent, tasty product and creating a new, premium segment.
However, compare this to the sales of smoothies at c.£100 million, and you get a slightly different picture. The veg pots are still dwarfed by the smoothie business. Now, as one smart Unilever manager asked at a recent workshop, "Is this a dwarf, or a toddler (that will grow to be big)?". As it stands, the veg pots look pretty dwarf-like. But, innocent think they have potential to grow. Net, I think we need more time to see what happens.
Also, I'd love to know the profitability of the veg pots vs. the smoothies, as in most cases new products make less profit than core products.
Risk of neglecting the core
The other issue raised, which has unfortunately come true, is the risk to the core business when stretching. I suggested that the time spent by management in 2008 on developing veg pots should have been spent on driving growth of the core smoothies business, and defending it against the launch of Tropicana. I shared this view with innocent founder Richard Reed when I met him at the innocent AGM back in Jan 2008, suggesting a need to drive distribution and also move down pricing to make the brand more accessible. This would also have protected the business against the ravages of the recession that was to come.
Well, unfortunately this bit we called right. UK smoothie sales fell 17% last year, a loss of £17million. In other words, twice the amount of new sales in veg pots. If effort had been focused on the core smoothies business, lets say half of this loss could have been avoided. This would have produced the same revenue result, but a much stronger business.
Neglect the core at your peril. The growth in sales from the new product seems to have ben more than off-set by loss in sales on the core. If you are going to stretch, ensure your protect enough time, effort and money for the core.
Many of us may think two main things about stress: first, that stress is bad for your health; second, that you have too much stress in your life. Well, this in fact is wrong, according to fascinating research quoted in a new book called "The Upside of Stress", by Kelly McGonigal, and covered in the Times online here (subscription needed).
Here, I look at how stress might be good for you, and how to change the way you experience it.
You are what you think
Research on 30,000 US adults found that, as you might expect, high levels of stress increased the risk of dying by 43%. However, this applied only to people who believed that stress was harming their health. People who didn't view stress as harmful in fact had the lowest risk of death.
A subsequent study explored further the effect of beliefs about stress. In this study people watched one of two videos before taking a stressful job interview. Video one said that that stress was positive, whereas video two said that stress was debilitating. The first group released higher amounts of the stress hormone DHEA. This hormone helps your brain grow stronger from stressful experiences, and is linked with lower levels of anxiety, depression and heart disease.
The challenge response
We often associate stress with the "fight or flight" instinct we learnt as cavemen. Here, stress from life or death situations like being faced with a mountain lion helped trigger a reaction to fight or run for your life. However, when the stressful situation we face is less threatening, the body and brain can move into a "challenge response". An example of this response would be an artist or athlete so immersed in what they are doing that they reach state of "flow". Here, the challenge response gives you energy and helps you perform better.
Stress is linked to meaning
Kelly also suggests that feeling stress is part of living a meaningful life. She quotes research from the Gallup World Poll, in which 125,000 people from 121 countries were asked "Did you feel a good deal of stress yesterday?" The researchers found that countries with higher levels of stress also had more feelings of love, joy and laughter. The happiest people were those who were stressed, but not depressed. The biggest sources of stress were shown to be the very things that give life meaning: work, parenting and relationships.
So, what can we do to access what Kelly calls the "upside of stress"?
- Acknowledge the stress when you experience it and notice how it effects you
- Connect to the positive motivation behind the stress - what is at stake that matters to you?
- Use the energy created by stress - rather than trying to manage the stress, what can you do right now that reflects you goals and purpose
The total and utter failure of polling to predict the outcome of yesterday's UK general election is another example of the shortcomings of conventional research.
The polls predicted that the Conservative and Labour parties would be neck and neck on election day, leading to a "hung parliament" where neither big party has a majority. Multiple research companies ran multiple polls and they all told the same story. Nice work if you can get it, right?
Well, it turns out that what must have been thousands if not millions of pounds of quant research was an utter, total waste of money. The Conservatives did much better than the polls suggested, and got an overall majority. So, what can we learn from this?
The limits of rational research
Back in 2010 I posted on the limits of rational research, writing that "Asking consumer what they "think" is flawed, as it engages explicit thought, not auto-pilot reaction." As Neil Davidson says in an interesting Marketing article, "People don’t really know what they’re going to, or even aren’t always sure what they’ve already done." He gives some great examples of this:
- 70% of people who stated their affinity for and intention to fly British Airways were actually flying EasyJet
- 60% of people stating they didn’t and wouldn’t eat at McDonald’s proved themselves wrong when they kept their own behavioural diaries.
Use more "real world" research
Rather than asking people directly and rationally about brands, products and services there are other real world techniques which can be used. For example, we often ask people on food projects to create diaries where they write down and photograph what they actually do. Ethnography is also a powerful tool, where you follow and video people in their everyday lives. Doing this on a coffee shop project showed that the cup and saucer a coffee was served in were as important as the coffee, something that didn't come out in qual research. Digital technology means you can also use "social listening" to understand what people are really saying to their friends, not what they say when sitting behind a mirror, being paid to answer questions.
Implicit quant research
There are also things you can do to make your quant research more real-life. In the pilot of our IcAT study (Iconic Asset Tracker) to measure the impact of brand properties we used "implicit research", as I posted on here. This involves getting people to react more quickly when asked image questions, so they use their auto-pilot, system 1 thinking. This should give a truer read on what is really in their heads. I wonder if this would have more accurately predicted the election result?
In conclusion, the election shows just how unreliable research can be. It is often used like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination. My suggestion: do less conventional research, and more real world studies instead. Even better, prototype your ideas and try them out for real on a small scale, learning then refining.