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  • Consumer Trends 2017

    Feb 14 2017

    As the New Year progresses, clients and agencies alike are scrambling to predict which course consumer habits will follow. Lucky for us here at Phelps, our Research and Strategy team has put together a list of the top 5 consumer trends they predict will take shape in 2017. Check back every Tuesday for our #StrategySquad's trend forecast for the coming year!


    Maya says… 'Experience 4.0 Will Dominate"

    • What does this mean? Consumers are seeking enhanced experiences that blur the lines between the real and artificial environments more than ever before. Recent advancements in computer software have made technology such as virtual and augmented reality more popular because they don’t subscribe to traditional technological constructs.
    • An example of this is… As a promotion for the blockbuster-hit "The Walk," Sony Pictures partnered with IMAX to allow prospective audience members to experience Phillipe Petit's hair raising tread among the concrete jungle of New York City using virtual reality.

    What this suggests for your brand: Experiences are intangible but usually evoke emotions within a person. Think of ways you can put your consumer within your brand's narrative. This will allow your consumer to feel like a part of your brand which, in turn, will build loyalty and affinity.

    Laura says… “Waste will be completely redefined.”

    • What does this mean? The definition of waste has expanded to not only include food, but also time and resources. To capitalize off this, brands will have to optimize their processes and inefficiencies, while thinking of creative and beneficial ways to maximize sustainability.
    • An example of this is… In Brazil, an NGO called Banco de Alimentos utilizes various food delivery services to allow consumers to both receive their food orders and give back donations to the delivery driver, saving time, money and additional wasted food resources while engaging their customers to participate in a greater communal cause.

    What this suggests for your brand: Think of how your brand can become more resourceful whether in process, materials or time. Resourcefulness will show your consumer that you are aware of America’s wastefulness and that you will not be part of the problem..




    ·         Mintel North America 17 Consumer Trends

    ·         Trendwatching 2017 Trend Report

    ·         CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights





  • Programmatic TV

    Jan 31 2017

    Programmatic TV is gaining ground as data and automation advertising technologies advance. Programmatic TV provides the ability to finally be able to use television advertising to target specific audiences in a manner similar to digital programmatic advertising. What this essentially means is that media buying targeting the biggest screen in the house will ultimately move away from spots sold on a gross rating point (GRP) basis to an environment where ads seek targeted impressions bought on a CPM basis. Similar to data-driven digital media buying today, television advertising won’t be identical from screen to screen, but will vary based on hundreds of granular household or viewer data attributes.

    Challenges still exist on the journey to programmatic TV including the pace of household technology adoption. Devices such as over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV lend themselves quite well to the new programmatic ecosystem. As such, programmatic TV buying is far ahead on platforms like Roku and Hulu than can be found on national and local cable networks. Other challenges include measurement as both Nielsen and comScore are talking about implementing measurement capabilities but are not entirely there, yet.

    Bottom line, it pays to begin to become familiar with programmatic TV advertising and its potential applications for your business. It’s the wave of the future in advertising.

  • Is Influencer Marketing Right for My Brand?

    Oct 12 2016

    Did you know that brands increased their influencer marketing budgets by 59 percent in 2015? But before trying to get Kim Kardashian to rave about you, first ask: "Do I know the purpose of influencer marketing and how it can work for my brand?" Believe it or not, it doesn’t need to involve Kim K. tweeting how much she loves you. (But if she reaches your target, by all means, carry on.)

    Influencer marketing amplifies your brand by distributing content through people who already have an "in" with your core target. In return, brands get user-generated content and more brand loyalists after the activation is complete.

    So, what influencer campaign is right for you? Here are three of our go-to campaigns:

    • Social Awareness: Your brand has been dormant, but you're finally back online. Launch a third-party campaign, and create a brand hashtag to be circulated through your chosen influencers and their social platforms. Leveraging a third party your audience already trusts will help your brand gain qualified followers.
    • Product Placement Here's where Kim K. fits in. When launching a new product that needs to be seen by a certain audience, celebrities are the way to go. If that's not in your budget, consider micro-influencers. Micro-influencers may be lesser known, but they'll have a heavy following that speaks to your target. More brands are finding micro-influencer activations more successful than higher-tier celebrity campaigns.
    • Creative Influencer: Does your brand have a seasonal sales goal, perhaps tied to a specific holiday or event? Implement an influencer activation that will create content tying your product or service to that specific time period — like back to school, holidays or sports finals — making it even more relevant to your audience.

    No matter what type of brand you are, there is likely an influencer campaign that will work with your overall marketing goals. And remember, 47 percent of online consumers are using ad-blocking technology, so endorsements from trusted influencers will only become more vital.

    Alexis Antoniadis - Public Relations Coordinator
  • When Virtual Reality (VR) Disturbs Instead of Disrupts

    Oct 12 2016

    Samsung Gear VR. Oculus Rift. Google Cardboard. Maybe you own one or all of these products. At the very least, you've probably heard virtual reality early adopters swear there's a coming revolution in video storytelling. But VR won't disrupt every medium right away.

    Deloitte Global has predicted VR will have "its first billion-dollar year in 2016" — $700 million in hardware sales and $300 million in content. We'll know soon whether the market meets this prediction, but most important, Deloitte believes the trend will be driven by video games, not film or TV.

    Why won't the VR revolution make as many waves in film or TV? Because for a century, film and TV viewers have been trained where to look. VR's 360-degree video places viewers directly in an environment and gives them the power of perspective, which is a perfect match with first- and third-person content. A film's perspective, on the other hand, is determined by camera placement, shot composition, and the relative placement of characters and objects. These things are done deliberately to move the story forward, leaving the viewer powerless of the perspective. VR cannot operate within the constraints of forced subjectivity.

    VR has and will continue to change things in gaming and content on social media. It's already making a splash for our Tahiti Tourisme client, with 360 videos of surfing and the beautiful islands. This is a perfect way to use VR: by placing viewers in an environment wildly unlike their own, make it exotic and tempt them to go explore. Or at the very least, stay on their couch to consume your beautiful content.

    David Tibbets - Editor
  • Creating Content That Helps

    Oct 12 2016

    Content marketing is most effective when brands understand self-interest has to take a backseat. This doesn't mean ignoring sales goals; it means investing in the customer relationship so when the time is right, the customer wouldn't choose anyone else.

    The most obvious touchpoints of content marketing are owned media — blog, email, Facebook, YouTube, etc. While there's no hard rule against publishing "Why You Need Us" content, those messages aren't going to resonate with someone at the top of the customer funnel. Instead, we encourage brands to consistently publish "helpful content."

    We define helpful as "tools people can use." While a comparison chart that shows how you're infinitely superior to your competitors might work when trying to close a deal, it's not going to help anyone casually looking at your site for more information. So, rather than a hard sell, produce something that explains new trends in your industry or offers tips to save time or money.

    Helping customers should continue after they convert, too. A solid resource center on your website can help reduce customer service costs, and thoughtful content can power customer relationship management (CRM). This can increase lifetime customer value by giving your brand a reputation for taking care of customers throughout their life cycle.

    Customer relationships are built on trust and service, and content that is less self-serving can help you create loyalty whether the potential customer is shopping or not.

    Susan Shimotsu - Content Specialist
  • Making Insights Insightful

    Oct 12 2016

    Whether as a seasoned marketer or a student of people watching, I’ve found that one thing remains true across the board: Humans have trouble distinguishing between an insight and an observation (or fact). Every time I think I’ve landed on a strong insight, I run it through the following filters to make sure that it fits the bill.

    An insight is:

    • Psychological: "Now that her kids are on their own, she enjoys having the time to concentrate on the things she likes. She enjoys her family, but now that she doesn’t have to please five people all the time; she just has to please herself."
    • Empathetic: "He finds pleasure in the simple things in life."
    • Explanatory: "She wants to look good so that she can continue to feel young for as long as she can."
    • Leverageable: "His job is to make sure the sandwiches he makes get eaten, so that his family stays fueled all day."

    An insight is NOT:

    • Behavioral: "Baby boomers cook less than they used to."
    • Judgmental: "He is the most boring person alive."
    • Descriptive: "She wears bright red lipstick."
    • Exclusive or proprietary to a brand: "Toyotas are more comfortable to drive than Hondas."
    • Temporary: "She’s really into science fiction right now."

    The next time you tease out an insight, try going through this exercise to determine whether you have a true insight or if you need to go back to the drawing board.

    Laura Bernier - VP, Account Planning
  • A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics

    May 18 2016

    The Google Analytics (GA) dashboard is quite intuitive, and it's easy to collect basic information (number of users on the site, average time spent on site, etc.) without having a deep background in analytics. But what about specifics? Inexperienced users may derive misleading insights from powerful yet raw data.

    Here are three ways beginners can take advantage of Google Analytics for better data analysis:

    • Know your terms. New users can be confused by the terms used by GA — they all seem to mesh together. Sessions, pageviews and unique visits can be difficult to decipher for a beginner (That is, a group of interactions that takes place on your website within a given time frame; an instance of a page being loaded; and an individual user).
    • Custom reports. These are absolutely essential for digital marketers to hone in and present the metrics that are most important to them. Monthly custom reports that focus on a certain set of data provide valuable insight into trends over time. Segments allow marketers to assess data based on specific lenses — e.g., how do user location and device change your website reporting? This slicing of data is a simple tool for marketers to focus on the data that's most important to their goals and campaigns.
    • Google Tag Manager. The simplicity and flexibility of Google Tag Manager makes it a must-have for digital marketers. Google Tag Manager allows you to quickly and efficiently tag events or insert pixels into pages without changing the code on a website. The tagged event data is then sent back into Google Analytics to amplify your reports (e.g., how many people from this campaign clicked on this button).

    If you find yourself flummoxed, take advantage of GA community forums. It's rare that a new user will come across an issue that hasn't been resolved and shared online by a GA enthusiast.

    Brandon Ballew - Marketing Data Analyst

  • How Well Do You Know Gen Z?

    May 18 2016

    Generation Z (Gen Z) — sometimes called iGen — are those born in the mid-'90s to about 2010 (ages 6-20), currently making up 25 percent of the total U.S. population. They're NOT Millennials and marketers can't speak to both audiences identically. With a spending power of $44 billion annually, here's what you need to know about Gen Z.

    Gen Z learned to swipe a device before they could speak, making them more connected and tech savvy — usually with five devices. Technology allows them to proactively create solutions on their own. They're willing to work for their success and create new jobs rather than to wait to be discovered like Millennials.

    Since coming of age, they have known a war on terror, multiple economic crashes, frequent school shootings and a fear of global warming — simply put, chaos. Their reality has made them hardworking realists, unlike the optimistic Millennial generation. The diverse Gen Z kids are self-educators, do-gooders, entrepreneurs and extremely open minded.

    Unlike Millennials, they do not want all their personal business online and they're extremely selective about what they post to social media. They're choosing Snapchat over Facebook for a higher degree of privacy and visual communication.

    Here are three things marketers should know before speaking to Gen Z:

    1. Be open-minded. Gen Z is growing up in a culture hypersensitive to racial, gender and marriage equality conversations. Don't assume Gen Z will fit into a concrete (or immovable) set of beliefs.
    2. Understand snackable, private media. The sharing economy stops at Gen Z, whose eight-second attention span reflects self-reliance. Content will get shorter and one-on-one engagement will outpace shares.
    3. Visuals > text. Gen Z prefer emojis and imagery to text. They're on Snapchat, Whisper and Instagram for heavy visuals, but also private messaging and anonymity.

    Danni Johnson - Research & Strategy Coordinator

  • Surprise and Delight Your Users

    May 18 2016

    Whenever a new website, app or digital product launches, it's expected that the development team did research, defined the requirements and mapped out user needs. However, many product managers don't fully understand which of their features narrowly meet their customers' expectations versus those that truly differentiate them from the competition.

    Noriaki Kano, a professor in quality management, developed a model in the 1980s to help distinguish and rank essential attributes related to customer satisfaction. He believed that products with particular attributes could correlate to a user's happiness. While there have been several interpretations of the methodology, here are three key pillars to gauge your own applications' features and functionality:

    • Basic Features. These are absolute must-haves — users depend on them. Usability expert Jared Spool likened this to having hot water available in a hotel room. It's something a user expects to exist, and basic features often take great effort to build and maintain.
    • Linear Features. Users expect these, too — think heating or air conditioning in a hotel room. Where you can help differentiate your product or service here is by providing more quality, as this typically translates to greater end-user satisfaction.
    • Delightful Features. These are attributes that customers would love, but don't necessarily expect from you. If that same hotel room came with complimentary Uber service, most people would be delighted. These types of features do not necessarily have to be complex or significant time investments — small moments of delight can have large impacts on customer satisfaction.

    Use the Kano model to help prioritize features you should invest in, which will help create your digital road map and align your team on where to focus next. While this can help guide your digital product evolution, make sure to continually assess your customers and the market, as one day what was once a delightful surprise, will ultimately become a required expectation.

    Jonathan Orosco - Interactive Producer

  • Getting Unstuck: Brainstorming Techniques for Resonant Communication

    May 18 2016

    So you're launching a new campaign to accomplish a specific marketing objective. You start by outlining strategic direction, communication mandatories and the key consumer target. But then you're stuck. How do you get your agency the quality information they need to create brilliant work?

    Here are some fun and easy brainstorming ideas to help you get unstuck:

    • Analogies. Sometimes it's helpful to step out of our own categories to identify ways in. Imagine your company is up against stiff competition and new entrants into the marketplace. Step outside of this situation and take a look at a business case such as Apple's declining revenue with iPhone. If you were a marketer at Apple, what types of tactics might you employ to get the business back on track?
    • Get inside your target's head. Create a story about your target. Who is he/she? What are their values and pain points, activities and habits, lifestyles, goals, attitudes, needs, etc.? Map out a day in the life of your target(s) on a timeline. Indicate where he/she goes, what they do, activities they enjoy, etc. Get granular!
    • Identify touchpoints. On that day-in-the-life timeline, indicate all media touchpoints the consumer interacts with over 24 hours. For instance, if he/she commutes to work on the bus in the morning, he/she will likely encounter bus shelter signage, bus wraps, billboards, ads inside the bus, etc.

    It's important to remember that you aren't alone in this. Pull your agency in early to help you work through these exercises. Involving more brains from the beginning will not only help brainstorming for campaigns, but will cultivate true integration.

    Laura Bernier - VP, Account Planning

  • Retargeting: They Love Me. They Really Love Me.

    Mar 11 2016

    It's one of the great sales conversion tools of our social age.

    Retargeting. You visit a website and it sneakily drops a "cookie" on your computer that tracks you across the Internet; only to follow up later with helpful reminders to buy, buy, buy.

    Some people think it's creepy.

    I think of it as helpful suggestions from people who really care about me.

    Last month, a pair of Donald J Pliner shoes popped up (again) on Facebook. Trendy orange soles aren't exactly my style, but I grabbed them up for only $200.

    iTunes loves my taste in music. When I buy one song, they tell me about twenty others they're sure I'll enjoy.

    I'm now spending $100 a month on music I never listen to.

    Just today, a $2,000 trail bike appeared on my Facebook page. The only trail I ever ride is the sidewalk to Starbucks. But if they're so sure I'll love the dirt, who am I to argue?

    They love me, they really love me.

    Howie Cohen - Chief Creative Officer

  • A Non-Negotiable for Digital Innovation

    Mar 11 2016

    a-non-negotiable-for-innovation-jonathan-orosco If you're familiar with the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), you understand the importance of implementing build-measure-learn loop cycles whenever you're creating a new digital site, product or service. Learning about your users during this process is informally called "user research," and it can mean the difference between building something expected vs. something truly exceptional.

    User research is different than market research, which concentrates on the consumer in the market economy. Instead, user research focuses on understanding user experience — those experiences associated with interacting with a product or site. How close your digital team is to potential users of the product can ultimately determine how successful they will be throughout its life cycle.

    Sometimes product requirements drafts are seen as set in stone, which may make user research seem counterintuitive to those solely intent on meeting those requirements. There can even be an intense reaction and quiet resistance to research to avoid exploring alternatives, going back to the drawing board or financing additional rounds of revisions. But the most costly path of all is using engineering teams to build and launch a product, then relying solely on analytics to tell you whether it was the right thing to build (better known as opportunity cost).

    Remember, problems in your site will be discovered at some point, and sticking your head in the proverbial sand will only delay the inevitable — at higher costs. Watching users interact with your product throughout the project life cycle has shown to be a critical tool to uncovering the insights that can help lead to true innovation.

    Jonathan Orosco - Interactive Producer

  • How to Jump-Start Your Inbound Marketing

    Mar 11 2016

    Attracting qualified leads to your brand through inbound marketing — the owned and organic content your brand publishes itself — isn't easy. Your team dedicates hours to writing for your company's blog and social channels, but still you don't see an increase in website traffic.

    The solution to your problem could be as easy as incorporating these best practices:

    • Content is king. Create quality content that answers your target's basic questions about an interest in your industry. Make your content shareable, with information that makes them look smart to pass it on. Add infographics, images and video that will capture their attention.
    • Map the buyer's journey. Address their needs at the right time. Talk to their pain points at the exact time they are experiencing them. Remember, your current customers were once strangers to your brand.
    • Personalize the customer experience. Have a one-to-one conversation with each person who consumes your content. Talk specifically about their most pressing issues. As you learn more about your prospects over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs.
    • Use multiple channels. Inbound marketing reaches people where they are. Share your content across multiple channels, paying special attention to those that your primary target frequents.

    Multiple inbound tactics that work in tandem — and are driven by strategy — can help you reap the benefits of a pull marketing strategy.

    Tonya Walker - Marketing Automation Manager

  • SMS Marketing: Too Intrusive or a Missed Opportunity?

    Mar 11 2016

    sms-marketing-aaron-dubois Simply put, text messaging is personal. It's the one line of communication that happens among people you know personally — a parent, loved one, friends and companies that you give permission to send you information.

    As of today, 64 percent of American adults own a smartphone, with ownership on the rise among the younger generation. SMS is a valuable a way to communicate with your customers by providing deals, promotions or notifications about their account, like an upcoming bill… but only once they've opted in to receive those communications. Companies doing SMS correctly have a greater understanding of what their target's customer journey looks like, what role each channel plays in the customer journey and how psychology lines up with those channels.

    With smartphone users on the rise, why aren't more brands adopting SMS as a way to deliver content to their customers? Some companies might feel that sending a text message as the first touchpoint is too intrusive, but here are some points to keep in mind when leveraging SMS communication in your marketing mix:

    • Content needs to feel like content they would normally receive via text messaging
    • Value of the text message content should be timely and not spam the user
    • Interactivity should be a two-way street and allow recipients to send "commands"
    • Permission from the receiver to opt in or out with ease
    • Measure how many users subscribed and then dropped off

    When developing your SMS marketing strategy, think about your customers as if they were a loved one — after all, they're the ones on their way to becoming your brand ambassadors...who will love your brand.

    Aaron Dubois - VP, Digital

  • How Will the Web Look and Feel in 2016?

    Jan 22 2016

    Design trends often span several years, even decades. Most websites and applications of the past decade continue to follow common layout patterns: header, footer, sidebars and content area. We look back at three of the biggest design trends of 2015 and how they'll impact 2016.

    1. To Scroll or Not to Scroll?
      Most designers agree that the trend of long scrolling will continue into 2016. With mobile browsing now exceeding desktop, the fold is officially dead with new research proving that users don't mind scrolling.

      But is it the best experience for your brand's users? While this trend is hot, we've seen a number of sites opting to go toward the minimal, or even no-scroll, to focus and increase engagement with their users. (For example: Peugeot GTi - Chase the Line.) What the user sees on any given page is everything they need — no further scrolling required.
    2. Component-based and Object-oriented Design
      Object-oriented design isn't new, but it's only been the last year or so that we've seen a growing proliferation toward the ultra-efficient modular and component-based design for the Web. Instead of mocking up entire layouts and comps for every Web page, brands are designing sites using repeatable elements that can be used on different screens and different locations, both within a given website as well as outside of it.
    3. Rich and Subtle Animations
      Vision (sight) is the strongest of our five senses. It stimulates, inspires and even disgusts to capture our attention. With HTML5 becoming standard, users can now engage with content in a much deeper way without suffering from slow load times, lag and having to download additional plugins. Stand apart in the sea of sameness with rich and clever animations to stimulate and engage vision — from expansive, moving hero images and cinemagraphs to small-scale hovers, loading bars and micro-interactions.

      Expect to see this trend evolve this year as designers take it to another level. Get ready for transition animations with deeper thoughts behind them instead of seeing just a generic animation that simply looks pretty.

    In 2016, Web design will to continue to change and grow toward richer, more dynamic and personalized digital experiences. We'll see smarter solutions that improve the way we work, play, live, discover and learn online.

    Hai Tran - Creative Director

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