Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another reason I don't want a new Bissell vacuum for Christmas.

I hate house cleaning. And I don't cook. But I do own more pairs of heels than I care to admit and I enjoy socializing. So pretty much, I'm just like Cathy Bissell. You know the one, the lady who plays the main character in all the recent Bissell vacuum cleaner commercials. 

She tells the audience that even she is challenged with keeping her carpets clean, and she is part of the Bissell family. Imagine that. Busy family, pets, parties and more, means poor Cathy needs to vacuum just as much as me. 

But, tell you what, she sure as shit seems to enjoy it more than I do. Take a look at one of her commercials where she dons a silk shirt and heels while she vacuums her stairs, then cleans up after the dog. It's almost as ridiculous as Kim Kardashian trying to convince us that she really buys her fashion collection from department store bargain bins, except maybe worse because vacuuming the stairs in heels -- even kitten heels -- is not safe. And the notion that women can have it all -- a successful business that claims more than 20% marketshare with over $900m annual revenue, her own family with all the normal overcommitments, and a hectic yet necessary social life -- AND still have to get down on their hands and knees and clean up after everyone...is fucking ridiculous. 

While the initial marketing flaw appears to be a message that is not very believable (that Cathy Bissell really cleans her own house, let alone wears silk and heels while doing so) the bigger issue is that the whole campaign does not connect to a mom who REALLY does vacuum her own floor. Because no mom who has it all wears heels to vacuum. Not one. 

And a recent study published by The Next Web showed that women make or influence more than 85% of household purchases and that women control $7 trillion (WITH A T) in consumer and business spending. So to ignore her is bad. For women and business. 

But I'll give credit where credit is due. I think what the brains behind this marketing campaign did do was try to pinpoint their target to directly hit moms. And because moms are such a critical subsection in the category of the female audience, it should be noted that what Bissell was really trying to do was connect with moms, according to published best practices. 

Caroline Winnett, of Nielsen wrote an article for Forbes recently, where she outlined proof points why moms brains are wired for shopping more than any other group. A moms brain has more capacity to multitask, over deliver, identify efficiencies, and they value community, giving back and shared ideology systems so that they can make excellent marketing targets if you combine the earlier fact that they also make at least 85% of the household purchasing decisions. So, sure, mom likes to have it all and have it all at the same time. She is searching for solutions (brands) that will allow her to do just that.  She spends more time on social media channels, online shopping sites, in brick and mortar retailers than any other group and by far, is the best influencer group, both online and offline. So it was noble for Bissell and other brands to try and connect with her. She makes the majority of purchasing decision based on a lot of factors, but emotional connection is critical among the path to purchase. Bonds have to be built and marketing messages must be sustainable. Then mom will likely give you a chance...even a second chance. 

Unless of course, you piss her off by vacuuming in heels. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Are the best things in life really free or are they crappy retail loyalty programs?

Oh, the season of shopping is upon us. Deals, offers, coupons and marketing tricks, oh my! A new report from Nielsen takes a look at what makes retail loyalty programs tick. And stick. Especially through the bitter holiday shopping season. What has people signing up for and coming back again and again for more? 

According to Nielsen's report called "Free and Easy Loyalty Program Benefits That Matter Most Globally," there are a few things that a retail loyalty program better get right if they want a program that has potential to "to be a successful strategy for increasing store traffic and inciting loyal patronage."

There are some differences depending on geography & demographics, but here is a quick list of what people respond positively to:

1. free shit
2. discounted shit
3. free shipping
4. good, no great, customer service
5. exclusive offers (These are savvy shoppers. They know when a store uses the same offer in direct mail, email, online, other...and that shit will piss them off. Be honest or fail.)

So is the goal really to increase store traffic and incite loyal patronage? Because that's a noble, not ideal, but noble goal. And also, I have participated in loyalty program strategy sessions where the end goal was never so simple. The end goal was always to guarantee that every single customer would buy more, buy more often and did I mention...buy. Wait a minute. Does that mean that there is a way to guarantee a purchase? Aside from Amazon's drones, of course. Who wouldn't buy ANY OLD KIND OF SHIT if you thought there was a chance a freaking drone would deliver it to you. I would call for a neighborhood backyard barbecue if I were to order a drone-delivery. And I would be a viking for it, too. 

But seriously, that's the question. What is the goal of the loyalty program? Is it to try and guarantee a purchase from someone who may otherwise not care to purchase or is it more? 

That may or may not have been a question that surfaced during one of these meetings; you know the meeting I am describing...the decision makers for the business, the creative agency people who need more billable hours and the analytics team who always recommends their interpretation of data as fact and all others as opinion. Of course, there is no real response to that ridiculous claim...of course you CAN NOT guarantee a sale, because you will always have to factor in the human factor. The one that was also, interesting enough, missing from the meeting.  

If the customer is not represented in a real way during the formation of a loyalty program strategy, they will remain that way. Missing. You may get caught with a deal or a free piece of shit, but you did nothing to "incite loyal patronage." Inciting loyal patronage comes from forming a bond that is intimate, real, lasting and mutually beneficial, just like in real life. If you can do that and also increase your card-carrying memberships, then good for you! And good for the card-holders, too.

But if it's not authentic, it won't last, no matter what your dev team promises or your metrics guru has calculated. But don't worry. That's not a threat, that's free advice. 

What do you think? What loyalty program do you subscribe to and why? 

For more information, be sure to check out Nielsen's date-rich report on loyal customers and their real cost/worth: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/reports/2013/how-loyal-are-your-customers.html