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The Digital Wallet: Are You Ready?

Customer UnderstandingAnna and I have been at SXSW Interactive for the past few days, and the discussions have been fantastic. One of the recurring themes we’ve been hearing is the shift to a “digital wallet”–using smartphones to make payments, collect and use tickets and passes, and manage finances–and the implications for retailers, financial services firms, and wireless carriers.

The most interesting tidbits so far: Read More »

This Decade’s Social Media: The Game Layer

Posted on  14 March 11  by 

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social marketingOne of the most talked about events at South by Southwest this year was the opening keynote on “The Game Layer” by Seth Priebatsch, CEO at SCVNGR, a location-based service company.

“The last decade was the decade of the social layer,” says Seth. It was all about connections – as epitomized by Facebook.  The next decade will add a “game layer” to everything we do.  This layer will transform everyday activities into games designed to encourage certain behaviors. This isn’t just about Angry Birds or Farmville; it’s about understanding what motivates us and then tweaking the rules and rewards of the “game” accordingly. The social layer, combined with location-based technologies, laid the groundwork for communal games between groups of otherwise unconnected individuals. Seth thinks this has the potential for ten times more impact than social media – and he makes a good case for it. Read More »

The Power of Consumer Tribes

customer loyaltyReading Corey’s post on the power of social communities in brand building, I began wondering about the nature of these communities and what we could learn from them.

Consumers have gathered from the beginning of consumption. Auto enthusiasts, quilting bees, and Tupperware parties are early examples of the impulse. Many consumer groups share an affiliation that is based upon enthusiasm and knowledge of a specific consumption activity.

In fact, academics and consultants have recognized these groups and dubbed them “consumer tribes” – a term borrowed from anthropology, describing groups of people who are brought together not around something rational, such as a job, but around deeper, more profound needs, such as kinship, passion, and identity. Read More »

India Spotlight: Honk if You’re Sitting in Traffic

consumer marketsOn the highways here in Delhi, the past and future share a lane. Creeping one way are shiny PR campaigns meant to thwart the raucous honking that accompanies any congregation of more than a couple of cars. Headed the other direction? The very audible, commonly agreed upon rules of the road, signified by armadas of old trucks, their tailgates painted with instructions begging for a sonic blast (“Honk please!”).

For most consumers, traffic’s an interminable, unavoidable, incidental cost of urban life. For the cities themselves, though, traffic is a perfect manifestation of the present. Outside Delhi, every morning jam is a horn-honking, engine-idling purgatory of acceptance and frustration. But it’s also a daily, ritual affirmation of aspiration. It’s an inherent part of a world that millions of consumers here in India’s biggest cities have chosen to participate in.

Late last year Iconoculture launched a new consumer advisory service — in and about India. It’s the culmination of years of groundwork we’ve labored very hard to lay, but it’s also a mere glimmer of what promises to be a fast-moving future.  With that work behind us, our next step will be to collect your feedback on what you need to know about this dynamic market and infinite variety of the consumer base in India. MLC members, contact your account manager if you’re interested in joining the conversation.

In the meantime, here are some of our latest observations from a fascinating market: Read More »

The Mind of the Luxury Consumer

Posted on  8 March 11  by 


customer experienceTo help our members react to recent changes in how consumers make purchase decisions, we recently launched a 5,500-participant survey of North American and UK consumers. The study covers numerous segments – everything from small purchases to non-subscription services. You read a first take on some of the findings in my colleague Anna’s post, and now I’d like to delve into one particular category – luxury.

Some anecdotes seem to indicate that affluent consumers have given up on their hair shirts and that luxury as a category is back with a vengeance: The 2011 New York Fashion Week was among the most opulent ever; Porsche is experiencing double-digit sales increases, and Hermes sales are up 10%. So is there a luxury comeback? We’re not sure, but after our survey, we know a lot about what drives the luxury consumer: Read More »

MLC’s Guide to SxSW 2011

Posted on  8 March 11  by 


Going to SXSW, but overwhelmed by the jam-packed schedule?   Not going, but want to keep up on the hottest topics?

Here’s our quick guide to the biggest themes and hottest events this year, including our day-by-day schedule.  We’ve looked through the dozens of events taking place every hour and have picked out two of the most interesting sessions for big brand marketers to attend at each time-slot.  We’ll be there taking notes on these events – so watch this space for highlights.  If you’re going and would like to discuss our research on how social/mobile are changing the consumer purchase process, please let us know – we’d love to meet up and share ideas! Read More »

B2B Commercial Innovators – Examine Your Customers’ Dislikes

Posted on  7 March 11  by 


Marketing Innovation - DowIt’s amazing how much the word “innovation” has entered our lexicon this year, and for good reason. B2B companies are finally seeing the light at the end of the economic downturn and as a direct result are staring at growth goals again—big ones.

Sadly, our budgets haven’t exactly expanded at the same speed as our growth expectations, and product innovation can be expensive (check out our new innovation research to find out how to get more reliably breakthrough innovation).  Luckily, successes from several companies have shown us that we don’t need to rely solely on product or service innovation to create value and growth.  Instead, we can look at commercial innovation: growing the top line with existing capabilities. Read More »

“The Great Stagnation” of the Consumer Economy

marketing innovationFor the last 10-15 years, we’ve been bombarded with examples of rapid, conspicuous technological change. Vinyl record players and AM radio have been replaced with iPods and XM; address books have been replaced with Facebook; phone calls have been replaced with video chat, IM and SMS. It’s become an out-and-out cliche to talk about the era of rapid technological change we live in, but has anyone ever stopped to ask if that change is truly fundamental? Read More »

The Consumerization of the B2B World

By Ana LapterB2B Marketing Strategy

The origins of B2B marketing lay in academic studies developed in the 1960s when the terrain was initially framed as “industrial marketing”, a type of relationship between organizations, as opposed to relationships between individuals or between organizations and individuals. Ever since then, research findings and theoretical discussions have mainly focused on understanding the specific characteristics of business – rather than individual – behavior.

Over the last seven weeks, I participated in about 30 conversations with B2B marketers trying to understand how they view the early, research-intensive stages of the purchasing process. The majority of these discussions acknowledged that individuals, rather than corporate entities, ultimately make purchasing decisions. The divergence in opinions arose with the question: “Is there a clear, dividing line between B2B and B2C marketing?”  The spectrum of answers ranged from: “There is zero or limited resemblance between the two worlds”, to “Consumer practices are irreversibly reshaping business behavior.” Read More »

Part III: MLC’s Mobile Execution Scorecard (Beta)

Posted on  1 March 11  by 


Mobile Marketing ScorecardLast week, I wrote about the “Good for the Brand” criteria that are starting to emerge from our study of gold-standard mobile executions.  The third and final installment of the scorecard is focused on “Speed to Scale”.  Too many marketers are taking a Field of Dreams mentality—“If you build it, they will come.”  Turns out, they won’t.

Thus, the speed to scale category is about driving broader consumer engagement with our mobile executions to improve the chance of driving real business results.

Here are the four Speed to Scale traits: Read More »