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Eight predictions for marketing in 2008

We are coming to the end of 2007 and dawn of another new year. It's time for predictions again, I presume! Chief Marketer has some predictions:

  1. There will be an ongoing emphasis on “engagement” measures. This is getting harder and harder to measure using models that had already lost their efficacy in 1985, and when you combine that with the power of today’s “bionic” consumers, born hot-wired into the Internet with an iPod in one hand and a TiVo controller in the other, engaging them will be the only way of guaranteeing loyalty and profitability.
  2. More “brands” will become “Category Placeholders.” As brands become more and more enamored with and enmeshed in “new” media like social networking and messages beamed into consumers’ living rooms from outer space, marketers need to ensure that their brands actually stand for something in the mind of the consumer.
  3. Companies will have to move from saying they’re ”Green” to actually being “Emerald City Green.” Playing in the environmental arena won’t be an option in 2008 and brands and holding companies will have to find ways of positioning their offerings in ways that meaningfully support a sustainable future.
  4. Media planning will become more touch point focused and personalized.
    Planners will still classify touch points as “above-the-line,” “below-the-line,” and “new,” but planning will be based on three critical considerations: a) which touch point best reinforces brand values, b) where the brand + media equation yields real engagement, and c) where the plan is seamless, believable, personalized, and authentic.
  5. Behavior will (finally) trump attitude.More marketers will come to realize that “to know you is not necessarily to buy you” (or, for that matter, even like you). Loyalty and engagement metrics – particularly those configured to provide brand-to-media engagement measures—will be used to identify behavioral “hot buttons” that marketers can add to their toolboxes and their search efforts.
  6. Consumer expectations will once more grow.Brands are only barely keeping up now. Expectations remained stable for a short time, but only while consumers were catching their breadths and adopting –then devouring – the newest of the new technologies and innovations.
  7. Personal health management will impact brand engagement and loyalty.U.S. obesity is at an all-time high, with Americans among the fattest people on earth. This increase is primarily the result of consuming more calories, that behavior the direct result of technological innovations making it possible for food to be mass/fast prepared far from the point of consumption, and coconsumed with lower costs of preparation (even if you factor in marketing costs).
  8. Innovation and loyalty will matter more. What is clear is that the ever-expanding universe of brands will require an informed action plan – one that makes sense to the people on the brand and marketing side of the equation, but one that also accurately identifies and capitalizes upon what people on the consumer side really feel, really want, and really believe. nsumed with lower costs of preparation (even if you factor in marketing costs).

What are the icons of your customer service?

If you are obsessed with customer-centricity in your organization, it make sense to have some icons that serves as a benchmark for the organization to emulate and live-up to. CRM Buyer has an interesting article on how Lands' End did it:

Motivation can take many forms. At Lands' End these days, it has taken the shape of a London taxicab parked in front of the company's headquarters, its black paint buffed to a mirror-like shine, its grille festooned with a Christmas wreath.

Historic Return Policy

Lands' End, now a division of Sears, has built a reputation for 44 years on customer service. The London taxi, returned by a customer in 2005, has become Lands' End's version of a well-known Nordstrom legend, in which a customer was allowed to return tires even though Nordstrom never sold tires.

However, in this case, Lands' End really did sell the car, back in 1984. The London taxi was featured on the cover of Lands' End's holiday catalog that year as a special luxury item. The cab, complete with a right-side steering wheel, and filled with classic English cashmere clothing and gifts, was sold for US$19,000 to a Kansas native. The woman bought it as a gift for her husband, who was a car collector.

In 2005, the man called Lands' End and invoked the company's unconditional guarantee policy that allows customers to return any item that they are not satisfied with for an exchange or refund of the full purchase price. He got the $19,000 back, and Lands' End got the car.

The taxi would be worth between $10,000 and $12,000 now, according to Richard Lentinello, editor of Hemmings Motor News, a monthly publication for car enthusiasts based in Vermont.

It's more than a cab. McCreight says the taxi is a valuable symbol.

"For thousands of employees, or new employees, to say, if you're designing a product, and you're going to need to stand behind that product 21 years later, how dearly and how much attention do you take to design it," McCreight(President of Lands' End) said.

I personally think this is a lovely quote from McCreight and one that is extremely relevant. Many companies develop products or policies, sell or run it for sometime, only to later revoke it! Companies need to realize that such revoked products or policies leave customers confused, frustrated and miffed. It pays to plan just in case your customer returns after 21 years!

Capital One's Card Lab - Get your customized credit card

Capital One recently announced the launch of Card LabRon Shevlin writes about this:

Capital One launched Card Lab, which it claims is the first “do-it-yourself” credit card offer. It’s an interactive tool that lets prospective card applicants choose among a number of options to build their own card package. Not surprisingly, you can’t get a 25% annual bonus and 2 points per $1 charged and 1.25% back on purchases and….you get the picture (otherwise see below).

My take: Card Lab is a winner because it:

1) Builds up versus narrows down. Card Lab’s approach puts prospects in charge, and presents the options in such a way that they can easily see the tradeoffs they make when selecting certain options.

2) Engages with interactivity.Card Lab, on the other hand, is a great demonstration of the interactivity the channel is capable of delivering. Serious prospects can play what-if to their hearts’ content in order to understand the product features and tradeoffs available to them.

3) Yields actionable data.The web analytics folks at Cap One are going to have a field day with Card Lab. Analyzing the usage, trends, clickstream, etc. should help Cap One marketers get a really good understanding of who’s looking for cards online, what their preferences are, which features are most popular, and so on.

I agree with Ron completely. It's a great idea and extremely customer-focussed.But, CardLab sounds a little intimidating to me.Another key issue though is actually the process of accepting or rejecting applicants - that is, how customer-level data is connected real-time for approving and disapproving an application as credit cards are fraught with credit-risks. Am sure Capital One has the process taped-up for this.But, this is a key factor for positive customer experience and product adoption. 

Here's one more product that fits-in with all the advantages what Ron is talking about:

Closer home in India, my example is HDFC Bank's NetSafe card for customization,customer-centricity and the method to manage the process well. It's a lovely little product. In fact, it works on the fear of Net Security which is a primary concern for credit card customers using their cards online.

NetSafe, is a unique online payment solution that offers complete security while shopping on the Internet. With NetSafe, customers can shop online through a virtual credit card, without revealing their actual HDFC Bank Credit Card number. What's more,they can use the HDFC Bank Debit Card(Check Card) also for online purchases. Customers here choose their account limit for this specific card - Value of credit limit, date of expiry of the card etc.! Customer can create as many online credit cards as possible(subject to the overall accepted credit limit).