Quirk's Blog

Buyers or sellers: Who is driving customer-to-customer Web transactions?

Editor’s note: All quotes come from a University of Michigan Ross press statement. Puneet Manchanda’s working paper can be viewed here.

As Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba prepares for what could be the biggest IPO in history, University of Michigan Ross School of Business professor Puneet Manchanda has dug into its Taobao Web site to help solve a lingering chicken-and-egg question.

Taobao.com is the world’s largest customer-to-customer shopping site, with nearly 500 million users and more transaction value than Amazon and eBay combined. The buy sellcompany gave Manchanda access to its data to help answer a question: Who drives the growth that results in higher transactions – buyers or sellers?

It was long assumed buyers were the primary drivers of traffic, but Manchanda’s research showed otherwise. His working paper with Junhong Chu of NUS Business School in Singapore reveals that sellers are the ones who get the ball rolling. The finding has implications for how companies like Taobao that set policies for buyers and sellers.

“There’s very little information on these platform markets, and it’s not clear that companies know which side is more important when they’re doing the matchmaking,” says Manchanda, Isadore and Leon Winkelman Professor of Marketing. “It’s difficult to get information right from the site’s beginning to study this cross-network effect – how buyers affect sellers and vice versa – but Taobao gave us the data because they wanted to know.”

The prevailing wisdom that buyers were more important for driving traffic comes from the belief that it’s buyers who have the money to spend. But the research showed those buyers won’t come if a Web site doesn’t have enough to sell.

Manchanda’s and Chu’s analysis revealed that the cross-network effect of a seller – the probability that it induces a buyer to join – is 3.5 times that of a buyer inducing a seller.

The finding can affect how companies set policy and promotions. For example, some policies will become more “seller-friendly” after seeing the results, Manchanda says.

His analysis also revealed product variety is critically important for buyers. That can help companies induce more buyers by fast-tracking sellers who bring something new to the table, he says. For sellers, it turns out that the quality of the buyer base – the number of transactions per 100 buyers – is critical. Based on these results, Taobao started running programs to incentivize dormant buyers to “wake up” and start buying again.

“Taobao is huge and has a virtual monopoly in China,” Manchanda says. “These types of platforms are growing, so being able to study and contribute to this new way of doing business was a big motivation for us.”


Posted in Chinese Consumers, Consumer Research, Shopper Insights | Comments Off

NFL fan loyalty drops after Ray Rice scandal

A new survey demonstrates how National Football League fan loyalty is affected by action on and off the field. Fan loyalty in the NFL has fallen from first to third place among major league sports as a result of the Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice scandal according to a new survey. The Brand Keys survey Sports Fan Loyalty Index measures overall professional league loyalty.

football In January 2014, self-classified football fans representing the NFL’s 32 teams rated the NFL first in terms of league loyalty. Survey results taken after the Rice domestic violence case show the fans rating the NFL in third, dropping below Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. Loyalty for the Baltimore Ravens team (ranked at number 7 this year) has not been unaffected by the publicity surrounding the Rice video.

The Sports Fan Loyalty Index was designed to help professional team management identify precise fan loyalty rankings in their home and national markets. The survey is based on an apples-to-apples comparison of the intensity that fans within the team’s home market area support their team versus the corresponding values of fans from other teams or leagues. The survey measures on the following components:

History and tradition (33 percent): Are the game and team part of a fan’s community rituals, institutions and beliefs? These include both moral and legal codes of behavior and principals.

Fan bonding (29 percent): Are players particularly respected and admired? (An issue like domestic violence will not only have its effects primarily on this driver, but on an overall basis as well.)

Pure entertainment (21 percent): How well a team plays, wins and losses – but even more importantly than a win to loss ratio, how entertaining is the play?

Authenticity (17 percent): How well do the players work as a team? What’s the offense and defense like? (How does the team – and in this particular instance the league – behaves in a situation like Rice’s.)

Here are the top five and bottom five NFL teams according to the 2014 survey. For comparative purposes, the numbers in parentheses provide the team’s 2013 rankings:

Top five

1. New England Patriots (1)
2. San Francisco 49ers (4)
3. Green Bay Packers (2)
4. Denver Broncos (7)
5. Indianapolis Colts (5)

Bottom five

32. Oakland Raiders (32)
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (31)
30. Cleveland Browns (30)
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24)
28. Dallas Cowboys (26)

Posted in Brand and Image Research, Consumer Research | Comments Off

Confessions of a binge-watching Millennial

I binge-watch TV. Actually, aside from the rare addictive sitcom, binge-watching is the only way I watch full TV episodes. After weeks without picking up the remote I find myself on the couch for five hours watching Rules of Engagement on-demand. My Facebook feed is often full of binge-watching confessions from my Millennial counterparts so this seems to be common behavior. But are my TV consumption habits really on par with those of other Millennials?

YuMe Inc., a provider of digital video brand watching TVadvertising solutions, along with Instant.ly, a consumer insights platform provided by uSamp, recently reported on survey results of consumer TV viewing habits and preferences. The study explores TV consumption trends such as engaging with short-form content (short clips or excerpts from full TV episodes available through streaming); watching live TV versus on-demand, either prerecorded or streaming; as well as binge-watching.

The study showed that 67 percent of consumers agree with critics who claim we are in the “second golden age of television.” In addition, the majority of American Millennial and GenX TV viewers think that HBO “produces the best content” (55 percent), while Baby Boomer viewers think that CBS provides the best content (59 percent).

Other highlights from the survey of over 1,000 consumers include:

  • The top three reasons consumers agree we’re in second golden age of TV are:
    • the large amount of high-quality TV,
    • the variety of TV content and
    • the ability to binge-watch;
  • Twenty-four percent consider watching three shows in a row binge-watching; another 24 percent say it’s four shows; and 21 percent think it needs to be five to qualify as binge-watching.
  • Only 13 percent said they have never binge-watched TV. Thirty-six percent of those who have never binge-watched, the highest percent, are 65 years old and older;
  • Sixty-eight percent of those who watch short content do so “to catch up on TV and watch highlights;” 51 percent “to watch content related to a TV show (behind the scenes, actor interviews, etc.)” and 24 percent to “see user-posted content about favorite shows.”


When it comes to multitasking across devices while watching TV:

  • Thirty-six percent said they interact with a second screen “somewhat often” while watching TV; 27 percent said they don’t do so very often, while 20 percent say “never” to such a distraction.
  • Of those who do multitask while watching TV, 54 percent say it’s on a laptop and 41 percent each said a smartphone or tablet.


The study also explores whether consumers are currently paying for cable or satellite TV service as well as what would incentivize them to cancel those subscription services if they were offered online.

  • Eighty-eight percent are paying for a cable or satellite TV service.
  • Thirty-two percent would consider canceling their service if online/streaming providers offered better sports coverage. Twenty-two percent said better live coverage of a world event like the Olympics or World Cup might sway them; 11 percent chose better election coverage; but 55 percent said none of these incentives would make them cancel cable.

Posted in Consumer Research, Statistical Analysis, Television Research | Comments Off

Notebook vs. laptop: study shows back-to-school spending trends

Let’s face it, shopping for back-to-school has gotten a lot more complicated since the pencil, pad and paper days.

As always, today’s parents and educators look to give back-to-schoolstudents a leg up when they head back to school – but for many, getting ahead increasingly means the latest technology. With educational devices – from two-in-one computers to tablet add-ons – as well as school time staples like notebooks and clothes to buy, school shopping has become a mad dash to find the newest gadgets and the best offers.

A recent study by Nielsen found that, like other “holidays,” consumer spending on back-to-school shopping is happening earlier as savvy back-to-school shoppers look to get the most bang for their bucks on essential items. In fact, the August study found 18 percent of respondents have already started their back to school shopping – significantly higher than at the same time in 2013 when only 7 percent reported they had already started. And those waiting will start soon: 75 percent plan on beginning their shopping within the next few weeks.

It’s no wonder.

Advertisers are starting their back-to-school campaigns earlier in the summer. While 2014′s campaigns are currently underway, 2013 saw back-to-school television ads air as early as July and continue well into September according to Nielsen TV Brand Effect data. The biggest summer advertising push typically comes from retailers, such as Target, JCPenney and Office Depot, which made up 95 percent of last year’s back-to-school advertising. This year, 54 percent of shoppers plan to head to mass merchandising stores, up 7 percentage points from the year before.

Ad effectiveness can vary based on where these ads run. In 2013, back to school ads that aired on reality and news programming were most effective at driving both brand awareness and purchase intent. Better still, deals and offers from back to school campaigns help retailers get consumers off the couch and to store. These ads were 16 percent more likely to drive higher shopping intent scores among TV viewers (as compared to non-back-to-school themed retail ads) in 2013. The study also found that ads highlighting a wide variety of products and competitive pricing drove the highest shopping intent during the 2013 back-to-school season.

Top categories

While old standards such as notebooks, apparel and binders are all among the top categories consumers intend to buy in 2014, shoppers are less inclined to purchase them than in 2013. In fact, technology like laptops and phones are the only categories that show growth.

While back-to-school shoppers may also be less inclined to add tablets to their carts this year, tablet penetration among U.S. homes continues to increase quickly, with nearly 40 percent of U.S. TV homes boasting this device (a 187% increase since 2012).

And tablets have definitely found a place at the school desk.

According to Nielsen’s Q2 2014 Connected Device Report, 55 percent of connected device owners who have children in their homes report that their kids use it for educational purposes. What’s more, 41 percent of connected device owners have used their tablet for taking notes while at school, 34 percent for reading and nearly 30 percent for completing homework/school assignments.

Getting ready for the first day

Once again, the top influences for back-to-school shopping remain the same as in 2013. When shopping for back to school, consumers report considering price first, making deals key for retailers seeking back-to-school shoppers. Consumers also consider value, convenience, in-store promotions and advertising. Finally, with so many devices gaining popularity, social media is playing a bigger role in back-to-school shopping and shouldn’t be ignored by retailers. According to a recent survey, 28 percent of respondents say they’re very likely to post about their back-to-school shopping on Facebook and 15 percent plan to Tweet about it on Twitter this year, both up from 9 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in 2013.


Posted in Advertising Research, Apparel, Consumer Research, Product Research, Retailing, Shopper Insights | Comments Off

Security and privacy: Are top consumer Web sites making the grade?

Editor’s note: The complete 2014 Audit & Honor Roll report and methodology can be accessed here. All quotes come from an OTA press statement. OTA used a combination of resources, including Alexa, comScore, the FDIC, government rankings and Internet Retailer Magazine’s Internet Retailer 500, to determine which organizations to evaluate. security

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA), announced the results of its 2014 Online Trust Audit earlier this summer. Out of nearly 800 top consumer Web sites evaluated, 30.2 percent made the Honor Roll, distinguishing themselves by safeguarding data via best practices in three categories: domain/brand protection, privacy and security. Conversely, a disappointing 69.8 percent didn’t qualify for the Honor Roll with 52.7 percent failing in at least one of the three categories.

This comprehensive audit underscores the importance of continued monitoring of security and privacy practices and the risks of becoming complacent. As cybercrime escalates, yesterday’s practices may no longer be applicable or meet today’s regulatory or threat landscape.

Top performers

Social networking market leader Twitter topped the Honor Roll for the second consecutive year with the highest overall trustworthiness score. Of all sectors analyzed, the “Social 50” – comprised of social networking, gaming and dating Web sites – outpaced all others in terms of average score and percentage of companies on the Honor Roll (50 percent).

“Twitter is honored to again receive the top overall award for the highest score on the OTA Honor Roll. It has become increasingly clear over the past year that companies need to be even more vigilant in applying security and encryption technologies like always-on-SSL, forward secrecy and DMARC in order to protect their users, and we’re glad to partner with organizations like the OTA to raise the security and privacy bar,” said Bob Lord, director of information security at Twitter.

American Greetings scored best among the Internet Retailer 500, a strong testimony of its management’s commitment to collaboration and data sharing. The 2014 top 10 most trustworthy online retailers (11 due to a tie) are:

  1. American Greetings
  2. Netflix
  3. Christian Book Distributors
  4. Sony Electronics
  5. Ancestry.com
  6. Big Fish
  7. Walmart
  8. Newegg
  9. Books-A-Million
  10. JackThreads and Zulily (Tied)

“Data security and respecting consumer privacy are guiding principles for American Greetings,” said Joseph Yanoska, executive director, interactive operations at American Greetings. “Trust is the foundation of our businesses and we are honored to be ranked number one among all e-commerce sites worldwide. We share OTA’s vision on the importance of collaboration, consumer choice, stewardship and self-regulation.”

The 30.2 percent success rate among all evaluated Web sites constitutes a drop-off from 32.2 percent in 2013. This decline is attributed in part due to more stringent security standards, as well as the addition of a new category – the top 50 news and media sites. The online media sector fared poorly in its debut, with only a 4 percent success rate and a 62 percent fail rate. Discounting the news sector, the overall percentage of Honor Roll members across all sectors remained on par with 2013 (32.1 percent).

Report highlights

Internet Retailer 500: Online merchants showed strong growth in e-mail authentication, as 88 percent complied with recommended best practices. However, their privacy policies need improvement, as more than one-third of the sector failed in that regard.

FDIC 100: The banking industry continues to dominate all sectors in adoption of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a technology that establishes an encrypted link between Web servers and browsers. Nevertheless, banks suffered the highest industry failure rate – 65 percent – due to inadequate e-mail authentication support and insufficient and vague privacy policies.

Social 50: Despite sporting the best Honor Roll success rate among industries, the social sector possessed the highest percentage of Web sites experiencing a data breach within the past year (18 percent).

Federal 50: The top 50 Federal Government Web sites (not factored into Honor Roll due to lack of privacy data) lag in all aspects of e-mail authentication and SSL. On the bright side, these Web sites are devoted adopters of DNSSEC, a technology designed to prevent hijacking of the domain name system. The Fed 50 boasted a 92 percent implementation rate, reflecting a White House mandate.

News 50: Considering their collection of registration data, many news media sites are not complying with best practices or regulatory requirements. Their low scores are attributed to several issues including third-party data collection, indefinite data retention policies and failure to encrypt their registration or login screens with SSL, leaving personal data exposed and ripe for abuse.



Posted in Consumer Research, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comments Off

E-com earning trust? Social networking has a ways to go

Consumers don’t trust and don’t use social networking sites when it comes to e-commerce, new research for YouGov shows.

The “E-commerce: Trust in online transactions” report shows that 55 percent of online shoppers say a store having a presence on a social networking site makes them trust the retailer less, while 27 percent say it makes them trust it more.social

YouGov found that there is only a marginal increase in the level of trust among Facebook and Twitter users toward retailers on social networks. Fifty-five percent of Facebook users say presence on a social networking site makes them trust the retailer less, while one in three (33 percent) say it makes them trust it more. The numbers are similar among Twitter users (52 percent say it reduces their trust in an outlet and 37 percent say it increases it).

The report reveals that many e-consumers segregate their online shopping and social habits. Almost four in ten (39 percent) like to keep their social media and shopping activity separate, with around the same proportion (42 percent) believing that networks such as Facebook and Twitter are for friends, not retail. There is limited support for logging into social networks to shop, with just one in seven (14 percent) believing it is easier to sign into retail sites without having to put in their details again.

Interestingly, the youngest online shoppers (16-to-24-year-olds) are the keenest to keep their social networking activity separate from their shopping activity. Fifty-seven percent don’t like sites such as Twitter and Facebook to be linked with their purchasing history and three in five (61 percent) like to keep their social networking and online shopping activity separate.

YouGov’s report shows that when it comes to researching products, online shoppers are much more likely to turn to adverts on TV (26 percent) or newspapers and magazines (15 percent) than to social networking sites (10 percent). However, all of these trail behind customer reviews on a retailer’s own site (60 percent), shopping comparison sites (48 percent) and consumer reviews on third party sites (40 percent) when it comes to where consumers research their online purchases.

James McCoy, Research Director at YouGov, says: “The rise of social networks over the past decade has coincided with the growth of online shopping and many retailers have tried to harness the power of sites such as Facebook to increase sales. However, it appears that consumers prefer to keep their shopping and social sites separate, with online consumers not trusting retailers that are on the likes of Twitter. What is worse for retailers is that younger, more social media savvy consumers are the ones who have the greatest objections to using their Facebook and Twitter accounts for shopping. This is something they will need to address if they are to effectively deploy online marketing budgets.”


Posted in Advertising Research, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Research, Public Opinion/Social Research, Social Media and Marketing Research | Comments Off

Q&A: How research partners can take advantage of big changes in MR

forwardIn conjunction with his speaking appearance at its Research Asia Interactive Conference in June, the Asia-based magazine Marketing published an interview with Tyrone Almeida, director, insights and planning, Asia Pacific/S.S. Africa, Kellogg Company, to find out how Kellogg’s has taken advantage of the new wave of market research to better understand its customers.

Marketing: How has the use of market research at Kellogg’s evolved over the years?

Almeida: There have been a number of aspects that have changed over the past few years in terms of how we use market research.

The first big change has been in using MR to be more forward-looking versus just seeking to explain the past or have a gauge of the immediate future (like gauging a proposed product’s market potential). This means that the same MR we did in the past is now redone, allowing us to understand shifts in the market dynamics and their underlying micro and macro causal trends. An understanding of these underlying trends then helps us build possible scenarios for the future and in a way predict what kinds of ideas or product streams are likely to be more successful than others in the future. This is far more efficient and I would dare say more accurate than the old process of brainstorming based on today’s market conditions.

The second big change has been in terms of the places where MR insights are applied. Traditionally it has been in marketing and product development. Now it is playing an increasingly prominent role even in areas like supply chain – right from ingredient-sourcing options that best resonate with consumers to location of warehouses and depots that best balances sales coverage with cost of coverage. PR and corporate communications are other areas that MR is increasingly influencing. In a nutshell, the application of MR is going wider and deeper.

The third big change has been our shift to reuse and re-mine existing data rather than just generate new data. Each new piece of data or information is actually just one part of a large jigsaw puzzle (or the market) with the added complication that this jigsaw puzzle is an evolving one. So the best way to understand the jigsaw is to always look at any new piece in the context of all the pieces you have so far and not in isolation. What this means is that all new pieces of data are examined in terms of how they fit in with past data – what is consistent, what is different and what that means to our overall understanding of the evolving marketplace. To do this we’ve had to shift some of the focus to reanalyzing past data through different lenses versus just generating new data. This has also been helped by the fact that new analytical approaches applied to old data sets often yield new insights.

Marketing: What are your views on traditional marketing research versus emerging marketing research?

Almeida: Well this is a topic where any answer is going to sound very cliché. So let me get a few patently obvious observations out of the way first. MR, or for that matter any field, has to continuously evolve with the environment to stay relevant. Like many other industries, in MR the forces driving change have largely been technological, social and economic. We have newer ways of generating, collecting and analyzing data. We have a better understanding of the science of consumer behavior and that’s driving new research methodologies. As markets become more sophisticated with newer trade channels, modes of buying, newer communication, interactive forms and so on there are more avenues to apply MR work. So on the whole, MR has rightly had to evolve.

I specifically refer to the emerging and recently emerged practice areas like social listening, behavioral economics, neurosciences and others which have not been fully integrated or made fully compatible with work from traditional MR – the case in point being the still long drawn-out process of trying to create new unified media measurement metrics that merge traditional media GRPs with those for new age digital media.

This is because, unlike many other industries, the emerging approaches have come from agencies or vendors not traditionally involved in MR (social media research, neurosciences and others). This has created two distinct sets of players in the industry – those pushing the traditional approaches and those advocating the new ones – while what is really required is for both to be compatible. Perhaps the collaboration of multiple countries or merger and acquisition activity in this space might be in the interest to the entire MR industry.

Marketing: What are the top challenges for market research as a discipline?

Almeida: If I take the role of MR “to inform stakeholders to make better decisions,” then based on that premise there are two key challenges I see for MR as a discipline.

  1. Providing insights in a timely and easy to understand way: The biggest barrier here is the dramatic proliferation of data sources, which often leads to conflicting views of what exactly is happening in the market. This same data proliferation also slows down decision-making because data is being generated faster than it can be analyzed and put to use. So the critical need is to reconcile the different sources and provide an integrated view of the marketplace using the different sources and doing that in as real-time a way as possible.
  2. Organizational structures that best enable the use of MR insights.

The best and most action-oriented insights come from MR practitioners who possess the following skills:

  • MR technical knowledge so that they understand what the best tools are to solve a particular issue;
  • brand, category and market knowledge so that insights can be tailored to the context of the problem being solved; and
  • organizational knowledge so that they can navigate organizational complexity (identify and convince the right stakeholders) and ensure that the insights are acted upon.

Unfortunately given the complexity of each of these skills and the trend of outsourcing complex tasks to specialized firms, it’s very difficult to develop people with all the three of these skill sets. In the current ecosystem of client companies, consultants and MR firms, each party comes with one or two skills but almost never all three. Clients, consultants and MR firms that work in long-term partnerships with joint training and development programs and have an intimate understanding of each other’s businesses and operating practices come the closest to achieving an organization structure that can seamlessly leverage all three skills to deliver the best and most action oriented insights.

So for me this continues to be one of the biggest challenges today.

Marketing: What are some of the current research tools employed by Kellogg’s?

Almeida: I’ll cite three examples:

  1. Demand space-driven segmentation which looks at the what, when, where, with whom, why and why not. Segments created in this way often tend to be far more insightful than just clustering consumers or their needs.
  2. Mix-modelling for both understanding category and brand dynamics as well optimizing our spending and efforts.
  3. Element-wise driver analysis, which looks at the different components that go into a product or proposition and quantifies their end impact on consumer appeal so one can optimize for the product experience and the cost.

Posted in Big Data, Consumer Research, Product Research, Promotion Research, Research Industry Trends, Social Media and Marketing Research, State of the Research Industry, The Business of Research | 2 Comments

Relocating consumers look to relieve stress and build new relationships


In today’s world, a move to a new home may damage more than your personal belongings. A new national survey commissioned by Our Town America reveals moving also scars personal relationships as couples fight over why and where they moved while struggling with money problems and decreased intimacy. And talk about relationship revenge in a move! Nearly one in three survey respondents admitted to “accidentally losing” a significant other’s prized possession or purposefully tossing it in the Goodwill bag.

The survey was released for May’s National Moving Month, the start of the busiest moving time of the year. More than 40 million Americans are expected to relocate this year and most will make their move during summer months when the weather is favorable and kids are out of school.

The national survey of more than 300 men and women who have moved in the past five years reveals:

  • Of those in a relationship, more than one third (35 percent) say moving has scarred their relationship due to increased fighting (51 percent), decreased intimacy (49 percent) and financial strain (49 percent) – the top three moving relationship stressors.
  • Forty-six percent of respondents say they disagreed over where to move and 42 percent say they fought over the reason for the move – negative feelings that can linger long after they unpacked the china.
  • Those with children say the stress hit the whole family with “choosing the right school” and “helping the kids find new friends” as the top two moving stressors related to their kids.


Dirty dumping  

  • Nearly one in three (30 percent) respondents admitted they had “accidentally” lost one of their partner’s prized possessions – by breaking it (43 percent) or dropping it off at Goodwill (34 percent).
  • Topping the “I hate it” hit list of the five things people secretly toss are knick knacks, photo albums, books, decorative towels and old trophies.


Unfriendly neighbors add to moving stress

More than half (53 percent) of the respondents said that today’s neighbors are not as friendly as the neighbors they remember as a child because they “seem too busy.” This is unfortunate as nearly half of respondents (49 percent) also voted “meeting new neighbors” as a top three requirement to feeling comfortable and settled in a new home.

Housewarming gifts matter

More than half (54 percent) of survey respondents have moved six or more times and more than two in three (67 percent) have moved out of state or out of the country. Today’s movers need a helping hand to feel comfortable and learn more about their brand new surroundings.

  • Eighty-eight percent of respondents said that receiving a housewarming gift would make them feel more comfortable in a new home/neighborhood, yet less than half (46 percent) have ever received a housewarming gift when new to a neighborhood.
  • Eighty-one percent of respondents said they would have liked advice about their new community upon move in. Ninety-three percent say they would take advantage of an offer from a local business that took the time to welcome them to the community.


This online survey of 306 men and women was conducted by a third party and commissioned by Our Town America. Survey participants have no affiliation with Our Town America.

Posted in Consumer Psychology, Consumer Research, Lifecycle/Lifestyle Research | Comments Off

Is the engagement off? E-com comes to wedding-dress shopping


In an attempt to slowly check off items on my wedding to-do list (I’m getting married in 2015) I found myself shopping for the most expensive piece of clothing I will ever purchase: a wedding dress. Standing at the crowded check-in counter filling out the shop’s customer information form, I confidently wrote down my price range. My range was probably a bit lower than that of the 15 other women in the room, according to TheKnot.com’s latest U.S. survey, which lists that the average bride spends $1,281 on a gown.

In an industry that screams “once-in-a-lifetime” and calls on brides to forget looking at the price tag, I found it necessary to peruse the Web and determine an initial budget range for my dress before stepping into a store. I didn’t want to walk into my first appointment and fall in love with something I couldn’t afford.

Traditionally, the bridal industry is one that has remained focused on the brick-and-mortar store. Brides still desire that in-store experience of saying yes to the dress (thank you TLC for fostering the dream of well-lit podiums and three-tier mirrors). But the bridal industry is not immune to e-commerce. Whether buying a wedding gown online to take advantage of a huge discount, simply perusing the Internet for styles and prices or searching for the perfect store, brides are taking to the Web.

According to a recent article, David’s Bridal has latched onto increasing online engagement with brides through the IBM e-commerce solution to boost overall sales. Since launching, the company has seen a 20 percent growth in traffic year over year and pages-per-visit have increased from 20 to about 30. While the article doesn’t go into what this means for online (or in-store) sales, it does show that brides are interested in more interactive online engagement.

How will the bridal industry take further hold of e-commerce and online engagement? Are stores (unlike David’s Bridal) currently missing out on a huge marketing opportunity by maintaining that an in-store experience is necessary? Or should the industry be applauded for creating an exclusivity that requires an in-store purchase? What are the implications when a purchase that is so laden with emotion moves to the dispassionate (at least in theory) e-realm?

Posted in Apparel, Retailing, Shopper Insights | Comments Off

As World Cup nears, ambush marketing takes to the field

With international marketers readying for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA) has released Ambush Marketing: A Global Legal Perspective, which summarizes laws and other rules governing ambush marketing in 52 countries around the world. “Ambush marketing,” a controversial marketing practice that pits non-sponsors against rights holders, is as prevalent as ever, as marketers seek to associate themselves, rightly or wrongly, with significant sporting or entertainment events.

481459817According to the Ambush Marketing Report, most countries do not have specific legislation addressing ambush marketing. Therefore, rights holders, event producers and official sponsors generally have to rely on traditional trademark and unfair competition law to protect their rights.

Some jurisdictions have enacted event-based legislation that addresses ambush marketing practices when they were required to do so by rights holders, such as the International Olympics Committee or FIFA, in order to get the rights to host the event. For example, Brazil enacted its General World Cup Law (“Lei Geral da Copa” — Law 12.663/2012) in June 2012 after being awarded the right to host the FIFA World Cup.

“We anticipate that more countries will enact event-based legislation to help protect against unwanted ambush marketing,” said Alex Kelham of Lewis Silkin, GALA’s United Kingdom member, in a press statement. “Existing laws are often not sufficient to combat or deter many creative forms of ambush marketing. Rights holders therefore push governments of host countries to enact special legislation to protect their sponsors’ exclusive rights of association, and thereby preserve a primary source of funding for the event,” she said.

Major event producers also continue to aggressively enforce their rights against ambush marketers, according to the Ambush Marketing Report. “With the FIFA World Cup only a few weeks away, we are seeing extensive efforts by both the Brazilian government and FIFA to guard against unauthorized marketing efforts,” said Valdir Rocha, a partner at Veirano Advogados in Brazil and GALA’s vice chairman.

Countries take many different approaches to addressing ambush marketing, adopting a wide variety of rules and enforcement practices. “It is critical for global marketers to understand the rules of the road,” said Jeffrey A. Greenbaum, managing partner of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz in New York and GALA’s chairman. “With markers using social media to try to stay relevant to consumers on a real-time basis, it is easier than ever for marketers to unwittingly step over the line.”

The report, which updates GALA’s 2011 edition and is available for download here, addresses legal, regulatory and commercial considerations and includes recent enforcement actions in the field of ambush marketing.


Posted in Advertising Research, Brand and Image Research, Marketing Best Practices, Media Research, Television Research | 1 Comment