The old adage that if you build it, they will come is an adage that as marketer researchers we simply don’t use. Identifying a buyers' need or pain point first is crucial and then build your product or service around that by understanding what is happening in the marketplace. One of the best tools I’ve found to identify rising trends and consumer digital behaviours is the Think with Google collections of studies, analysis and reports. For example, this month I found data from Google as to what Gen Xers are watching on YouTube (turns out it is nostalgia related videos and commercials); and, the declining trends in skincare (skin bleaching, seaweed lotion and eyes coconut oil body wrap) are all losing popularity!
Check out our latest issue of Insights, where you will find out how to get hold of case studies that just might help give you some insight on how to solve a problem, using the benefit of others experience. No need to reinvent the wheel - ha ha!
We also feature a great resource which graphically plots where an executive fits in an organisation. That's always interesting to see who their equals are and who they report to, as you can sometimes get a feel about where the company is positioning itself. Don't forget to also see the link to where you can get some great, free market research.
As co-chair of the AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals) Local Groups team, I recently had an article published in the Association's magazine about how to set up virtual networking groups. It's a great way for solopreneurs to discuss and motivate others, who get what they do, and face the same ups and downs in their businesses. If you'd like to explore how you can set up a virtual group, here's the PDF of my article.
New Zealand is well known for the quality of it's food. It is fresh and consumers enjoy the security that food safety regulations and local provenance gives them. They often know what region the food comes from, and this brings a high level of trust and expectation to support the purchase of products.
A recent survey showed that around 70% have a clear preference to buy food such as vegetables, meat, fruit and milk which are produced in New Zealand. Around 14% of Kiwis buy New Zealand food products because they are proud of what their compatriots have gown, but 59% strongly or somewhat agree that they buy local brands because they want to support NZ business. Sounds like identifying NZ made products is an important branding tool that food producers need to include on their packaging to attract consumers.
In 2015, New Zealand consumers were introduced to 13,984 new branded products. Nielsen found that only 64 (0.4%) had sales over $NZ1 million, with only 7 products being truly innovative new offerings. The rest were just line extensions. Manufacturers seem to be sticking to rather boring ways of growing their market share and in turn, reinforcing price sensitivity. However, smart, nimble small innovators have a chance to grab a slice of the market if they can look at changing demographics and target those with growing populations. Think Chinese, South Korean, Indian and Pacific Island peoples, as well as the growth in millennials and the over-50s.
A recent article in Harvard Business Review found that 45% of competitive intelligence (CI) findings weren't used when management was making decisions about strategy. However, those companies who used the power of CI for their decision-making had four common factors:
- The CI analyst was assigned a "sign-off" authority over major decisions.
- Management was open to perspectives that were different from the internal consensus.
- The analyst's report called for proactive action more than reaction.
- The analyst was involved in product launches.
The CI analyst having sign-off for major decisions was the most important factor to getting CI used out of the four reasons above. This would indicate that the CI analyst must sit with the decision-makers and be comfortable debating and influencing others about the CI collected. They can't just drop off the slide deck and leave, but must actively champion the value and opportunity that CI brings, and make it a core component of decisions. They've also got to have "skin in the game", by having their name and research seen to be supporting decisions in a very public way that is accountable. That also helps keep the CI honest and reliable. What's not to like about that!
Millie is a new market research tool which gives a lot for free. It brings together market research, news, and reports in one place, with the added bonus of a robust search platform which enables you to filter out the info you don't want. When I tested 'Millie' on a search for avocados and the recent price hike, it directed me to a variety of national and international websites explaining the reasons behind the rising cost of this fruit, as well as analysts reports on large scale growers of avocados, and links to further earlier news reports. The result screen is a bit overwhelming to look at to start with, but once you get to grips with it, the information has been nicely curated, and offers text analytics too. One restriction for me was that it only covers eight sectors at the moment, but they are big ones such as food and beverage, health care, energy etc. Millie is a work-in-progress, so this may change, but even as it stands now, it is a pretty good resource for the desk researcher.
Our latest newsletter (Insights 13) gives some handy tips on pulling country demographic statistics on just about every country in the world. We also feature a great new DIY tool on how to find valuable patent information. A patent search can highlight who is investing in R&D to be more efficient, and where they are focusing their efforts. Finding this sort of valuable competitive intelligence is usually a job for the expert searcher, but with the tips in this slide deck, you can learn more about the information contained in a patent. As mentioned earlier, patent searching can be fraught with danger, so get in touch with me if you need assistance. I can refer you to an experienced patent researcher.
Uber and Airbnb are changing the face of not only holiday travel, but business travel too. With events such as the World Cup in Brazil and the New York Marathon, these 'sharing' companies help fill the gaps of traditional accommodation and transport providers by providing personalised experiences. Now companies such as Experient, which is the world’s largest third-party meeting management company, are offering conference attendees the opportunity to book Airbnb apartments close to convention centres as well as hotels. Families traveling on holiday, while Mum or Dad go to a conference come to mind as a segment that will want this option.
An article in the Harvard Business Review this year explored the idea that companies are spending up large on competitive analysis data and strategies, but they are not being used at the level where it’s needed. The advice is often ignored by senior management, and then companies miss out on opportunities to grow their market, or fail to notice disruptive technology taking business away from them. How can you ensure sure that managers are actually using the competitive information their analysts are producing? One way is to "audit" decisions made by managers. This is essentially finding out what information they used to make a decision, and why this decision is valid when surrounded by all the other "noise" swirling around. In turn, managers become better decision makers - they have to use competitive intelligence to plot and defend or champion what happens next. They also get a better sense of what is happening in their market, and the organisation gets ROI from its investment in market research. A win-win for everyone.