Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

Things are happening, and our strategy team would like to share two main cultural and socioeconomic events that are, or may soon be, affecting consumers’ buying habits. 

I think it’s important to frame what a consumer may think and feel with what’s happening around them outside of the market transaction of goods. After all, there are many factors that contribute to how and when a consumer will spend. Outside of natural disasters, armed conflicts or goods shortages, there are a few things that happen with more regularity that can shift habits for all of us.

Rising Interest Rates

One such current ly is that the Federal Reserve recently signaled another possible rate increase in September. The year 2017 ended with an increase of 25 basis points as inflation hovered around 1.7%. The magic percentage, 2%, is what the Federal Reserve uses to judge an acceptable inflation rate for price stability and maximum employment. As we near it, this is an important indicator for several reasons beyond interest rate increases to mortgages, car loans and credit cards. For a marketer, it should mean that consumers will be looking to extend their cash a little further.Additionally, we recently entered a 10-year high in core inflation. What this may mean is a more fiscally conservative general population moving into 2019. Spend will continue to occur, albeit cautiously, and marketers may need to increasingly focus on timelier offers that pair products with emotional triggers, as well as clearly differentiating their product from others on value. (See our previous posts on emotion and rational messaging.)



The other thing that’s happening is general distrust across all institutions in the U.S. According to Edelman, there was a 37-point aggregate drop in trust from 2017. A closer look reveals greater distrust across platforms (social, search) and an increase in trust among journalism. And this makes sense considering the privacy issues, legitimate news concerns we’ve experienced as of late. For marketers, it may mean that trust will be harder to develop over time if your business is focused on scaling and keeping customers long term. Questions marketers should consider are: 

  1. How do I start this relationship right to elicit repeat buying, engaging and advocacy?

  2. How do I create an experience early on to provide customers with a sense of comfort, belonging and trust with my brand?

  3. What are my competitors doing to generate trust over time?

So, in a world where trust could be waning, and prices across industries may be rising, how do you break through with marketing and get consumers to react? Offers aside, and assuming you have mechanisms that deliver timely and relevant messages, you address trust by aligning your product with trust, and you address cost concerns by directly challenging perceptions about your competitors with value messaging and elements of emotion. Why would this be?


We return to the focal concern for marketers, and the desired state, of messaging consumers in moments where we understand their concerns, their anxiety, their excitement. From Think with Google (July 2018):

Knowing when your audience is most receptive, moments when you can really capture
someone’s attentionor change their mind, and then meeting them with the right message...

This is truly the desired state for marketing, and in future posts we can share some concrete examples and ideas around the mechanism required to operationally pull it off. I hope this is useful in planning for 2019. Our number-one suggestion is to take what’s happening in society and begin applying it to your marketing programs, starting with building a long-term, trust-oriented focus to acquire and keep customers. As always, it’s important to look at culture and other external factors when trying to evaluate a consumer’s mind-set. Otherwise, we’re only evaluating a small piece of the iceberg.

Original Post on KERN’s CRM Blog


Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

We’ve been entertaining this hypothesis; that video viewers can and will follow preferred content wherever it goes. Regardless of platform, cable service provider, or mobile device, consumers can now comfortably navigate different service providers. 

In a not so distant past, consumers were locked into single service providers by geographical boundaries. Entire counties could only be serviced with content from one cable company, for a determined amount of time, and if lucky, that might include a packaged bundle consisting of an email address (that you never used) and some Wi-Fi enabling equipment. Don’t get us wrong, a bundle is still a wonderful tool for selling services that bring great value to consumers; however, the market has changed so much over the years that the cost savings associated with bundles have become increasingly challenged. 


Some insights shared from 451 Research last October made it clear that Pay TV Customers are actively looking for special deals and promotions to switch from their current providers. From skinny tv packages to no equipment or rental fees, a desire to not only tailor but meet a growing demand of needs is persistent in the market for media and entertainment companies. Now, consider these needs alongside the growth of streaming behavior (HBO announced last week it grew from 2 to 5 million subscribers in the past year), its penetration across all age groups, pervasiveness in all devices, and it may lead one to wonder if content providers (OTT, TV, Satellite) can not only address consumers’ swiftly changing behavior but also retain them long-term and mitigate churn. 


This got us thinking beyond “why are people switching?” to the following questions: 

  1. What has happened in the marketplace that has allowed for switching to occur so easily?
  2. Can customers in a multi-device world with multiple needs be retained long term?

Today we’ll share our understanding as to changes in the marketplace that have resulted in the shift to switch providers and to do so regularly and readily. We’ll cover long-term retention at a later time as it will require a more complex analysis. 

Moving Pieces 

Simply put, the pieces are in place. Cancellation fees and long-term contracts are no longer a barrier for TV viewers to leave one provider for another. Quality content has become ubiquitous, even available as a free add-on through new means (T-Mobile One and Netflix), and its shortened seasonal nature has become a perfect moment for viewers to jump around from one service to another within short periods of time. In March, a viewer may sign up for an OTT product delivering free Showtime so they can catch the latest season of Billionaires. Only to cancel their subscription to join HBO NOW for the newest season of Ballers. Additionally: 

  • Devices like Chromecast and Amazon Firestick have become increasingly affordable. In most cases, the cost is less than a month’s cable bill.
  • Internet speed is becoming a bit of a commodity… “it’s fast enough.” Finding an ISP with the fastest internet is no longer a priority, it’s all fast.
  • It’s questionable where loyalty lies… with the content, or the pipes that provide it?


As traditional barriers to switch, like price and contracts, continue to disappear, more high-quality content and preferred content becomes accessible across multiple channels, content providers should continue to feel increasingly pressured to not only expand acquisition and engagement programs but place even more emphasis on win-back strategies. 

Customers will leave, but it looks like the market has created an environment where it’s even easier to come back.

Cultural Colonization

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

The term cultural colonialism refers to two related practices: the extension of colonial power through cultural activities and institutions (particularly education and media) or the asymmetrical influence of one culture over another. -  Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology


+ This:

When a perceived superior culture (financial and/or military advantage) forces their beliefs, interpersonal behaviors, and social practices on another as a standard for acceptance. Where the adoption of that culture may secure socio-economic acceptance, and when deviating from that culture can lead to not being accepted, seen as, and treated as other.


This Week In Conscious Capitalism

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

Just a quick list of conscious capitalism activity over the past few weeks and some thoughts...

1. Nordstrom deciding to no longer carry Ivanka Trump products

This one in particular is interesting because the ongoing discussion on 45's influence over his business interests while in office. Also see Kelly Anne Conway's remarks, because seriously wtf?    

2. Uber's apology here following JFK surge pricing during taxi strike. And the eventual step down of CEO, Travis Kalanick's from Trump's business advisory council. Also related, LYFT's reaction. 

3. AirBNB's super bowl ad or just about every super bowl ad this year.

4. Amazon Dash Button for ACLU

This is probably my favorite of the examples this week. As it incorporated the latest in consumer behavior and product innovation. It also targets a user base with a timely need.

Regarding all the interest and questions don't align so much with concerns about how genuine these moves are for the mentioned companies as much as these actions further proving that all corporate strategy moves have an economic factor in mind. So while we may praise a retailer for dumping a brand just remember that finance can explain just about everything. 


Related to the above is what's happening to Under Armour at the moment. Perhaps no other clothing brand has diversified and experienced growth quite like UA has. They've made their target clear (opening up offices in Portland) and have signed some of the biggest names in sports. Their growth, fueled by a mix of diversifying at the right time and integrating technology as well any brand, was increasing at + 40% YOY since 2014. How unfortunate would it be if a company like UA were to experience the effects of conscious consumerism after comments made from CEO Kevin Plank. The concept of a consumer's moral alignment affecting a brand should be explored a little deeper (maybe the next white paper). It certainly raises questions about how far a company should extend it's influence on social issues if it leads to financial impact. And if that company is sports or entertainment oriented, good luck not being affected by reactions from celebrities and athletes like The Rock, Steph Curry and Misty Copeland.