September 19, 2014

Exemplary examples

Filed under: Business,Consumer Trends,Marketing — by xrematon @ 1:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When you work in marketing strategy and consumer trends, you often end up using ‘things’ to help you tell your stories. Some examples can be used to explore how society has developed over time – as this article about the changing fortunes of Wimpy does; whilst this piece on bagels in North America doesn’t just tell you about where to find the best bagels in Montreal but also offers rich insight on immigration, evolving tastes and shifts in society.

There are other examples that represent the now – the ‘zeitgest’ – as oppose evolving developments. These examples in effect epitomise certain aspects of what is going on and interesting to marketing and marketers.
For a while, one of my favourites was the coffee store chain Harris and Hoole. Obviously, it has already been dedicated a blog post. Like any great character, it has a complicated backstory – Tesco has a big stake in the company – hence our rather ambivalent attitude.

However, from a marketing perspective, Harris and Hoole ticks many of the boxes for trends we hold dear, in particular the idea of integration into the community – all the more poignant for the fact that Tesco is a big force behind the company. So what do they do? Well, the décor aims to be sympathetic to its milieu, original function and aesthetic. There is a Community Blackboard onto which people are invited to write about any events going on in the area they would like to publicise, whether it’s a plant sale or someone’s birthday. Events are also hosted in the store itself too, further adding to this impression that Harris and Hoole is an important local hotspot. And when it comes to the staff, we are made to feel they are part of the family: often when you go in, there is a board which introduces each team member and what makes them tick (hobbies, favourite music, relationship with coffee etc). I am not sure how much of it makes a difference to the average customer; they are probably oblivious. Maybe it’s better if they just focus on the coffee!

I think I have found a new exemplary example – Goggle Box. On paper, it’s a ridiculous concept: we are watching people watching TV. Numerous commentators have observed that this could be seen as the pits for reality TV – finally, it is TV effectively eating itself. However, the show has proved to be thus perhaps surprisingly popular with close to four million viewers for the final episodes in the latest third series and international versions in the pipeline. So what’s good this time?
•It feels more authentic than much other reality TV on at the moment, in particular if you take into account the rise of structured or scripted programmes such as Made in Chelsea or TOWIE. The participants on Goggle Box are less the stars of the show than the programmes they are watching, though it will be interesting to see how this dynamic changes as the programme goes on.
•The individuals involved do, to some extent, reflect the diversity of the nation. There are retired couples, gay couples, close friends, multiracial families, older kids still living at home and so on.
•The way they watch reflects how watching today happens – it is rare we sit passively and in silence. Instead, banter about programmes is carried out using social media and genuine human social interaction.
•The idea of being able to share in the viewing experience is also powerful when we remember there are a growing proportion of us who will be living on our own. Through Google Box, we can feel we are in something together.
•Finally, as I have discussed with other colleagues in the industry, it is very useful directly in marketing. Watching it allows you to know what are the big programmes of the moment and what topical issues get associated with them. Goggle Box has also inspired new forms of research – effectively replicating the set up with recruited respondents.

I did watch the programme but I must confess I actually found it rather dull. It’s more fun to talk about Goggle Box than to goggle at it!

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