Retailers and brands in dire need of some Sexual Equality
Thanks to an increasing number of ill-advised comments by Andy Gray and Richard Keys and declarations by MP Dominic Raab that men get a raw deal from ‘obnoxious feminist bigots’, sexual equality has suddenly become such a hot topic across the UK that the economy-ruining snow has melted away.
However, before we start preaching about how middle-aged sports presenters need to brush up with what is and isn’t an acceptable way to behave in 2011, we may want to look closely at our own industry and address the outdated way many brands and retailers still deal with the reality of the modern male shopper.
The conclusions of a recent study by Saatchi & Saatchi X suggest that just as women are fully entitled to get offside decisions as wrong as their male colleagues regularly do, so men are encroaching onto the traditionally female territory of ‘shopping’.
The study further implies that the failure to create retail experiences that appeal to men’s needs limits their engagement and that we need a much better understanding of the whole male purchase journey. Their Director of Strategy Simon Goodall notes,
“Men love doing things they can do well. They like opportunities to demonstrate mastery, which means they like to go into a shopping environment knowing the answers to questions they might want to ask.”
Goodall also believes that retailers ought to do more to help men find the information that they need to make decisions before they reach the check out.
This view supports the findings of OgilvyAction’s 2008 global study examining the decisions that shoppers made in store. Managed and analysed across EMEA by yours truly, this research suggested that across a range of categories, UK males were generally less likely than females to know which brand they are going to buy before entering the store.
Anything that helps with that decision making process should be considered.
Craig Inglis, Marketing Director at John Lewis states that men dwell less than women when shopping and are more rational and pragmatic in their shopping habits. Thus, male-oriented areas of the store should be clean and modernist with obvious signposting to help men navigate their way around the store.
However, brands and retailers can begin to engage men long before they reach the store. Goodall cites Best Buy’s ‘Twelpforce’, which offers advice on Twitter as an effective example of a retailer engaging with men and empowering them with the information they crave.
Twelpforce: A good example of engaging men
What’s more, cracking the male shopper is something that will only grow in importance.
Yahoo’s Director of Research and Insights, Lauren Weinberg, commented that while panellists may have inflated their involvement in purchase decisions, male customers’ perceptions of, and interest in, shopping are changing fast.
Regardless of whether some respondents exaggerated their role or not, the results indicate that gender boundaries are disappearing and modern households no longer see grocery shopping as a ‘womans job’.
Within the set that is ‘Male Shoppers’, we also need to understand the different mindsets men have across different categories, retail environments and lifestages. For example, the Yahoo! study found that fatherhood was influential with 60% of dads claiming to be the decision maker across a range of categories including pet care, clothing and packaged goods.
All of this means that brands need to think not only about who they target, but also how they represent men in their adverts.
Domino’s Pizza: Not such a good way to get men onside
Not only do such depictions alienate men, but a 2010 multinational study by EuroRSCG found that there was a “pining for chivalry” from women in the developed world and that “young people want to see demonstrations of male strength and responsibility.”
Chivas attempt to celebrate chivalry
Dove celebrate ‘being a man’
Even a seemingly harmless campaign like P&G’s “Behind Every Olympic Athlete is an Olympic Mom“ Winter Olympics ads resulted in grumbling from underappreciated dads, who still make up the vast majority of volunteer coaches for youth sports.
There is clearly still plenty to learn about engaging male shoppers effectively, though with the Yahoo! research finding that men are more brand-loyal and less focused on promotions than female shoppers the rewards for those who are successful are huge.
Either way, just as it has become clear that old dressing room banter is no longer appropriate in a TV studio, so it is equally apparent that failing to engage such an influential and lucrative proportion of shoppers is just as unacceptable.
As Zeitgeist splits itself down the middle to search for new opportunities, it seemed fitting to show the following video, illustrating the integrity we must keep within ourselves if we are to be part of successful advertising agencies. I leave behind “the lonely man”, and no small thanks to him.
Luxury group LVMH acquired what is to be a 17.1% stake in Hermès, it was announced at the weekend. Historically, the group has a tendency to purchase a minority stake before settling in for a full assault on the target acquisition. In order to leverage such a purchase, it is rumoured that LVMH is considering selling off the “MH” part, Moet and Hennessy, which Ogilvy client Diageo is understandably very keen for. Any rumours of takeover may just be that, of course.
But what of Hermès? Zeitgeist has paraphrased current IPA chairman Rory Sutherland before when he spoke of clothes today being about much more than mere “atoms”; these goods, especially in the realm of luxury, are sold on their intangible benefits, not on the assumption that they will merely keep you warm. Hermès, futhermore, really is a world unto itself, having been controlled by the Dumas family (offspring of Thierry Hermès) since its inception. The death of the brand’s patriach clearly left room for a potential hostile takeover.
LVMH must tred lightly however. One of the things that makes the Hermès brand so coveted by so many people around the world is that it is fiercely independent. Its heritage is bound up in the history of a single family, rather than a more homogenous consortium of initials. This family history has, without doubt, strong – though intangible – brand equity for its consumers, for obvious reasons. If it is to become subsumed into a phalanx of other brands however, the loss of this familial association might having a thoroughly tangible impact on the brand’s bottom line.
Charles de Gaulle once commented, “China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.” As astute as this observation was (and is), it was hoped that a trip that Zeitgeist paid to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum ten days ago, entitled ‘Going Global: Advertising Works UK China 2010′, might provide a little more insight. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising described the morning as,
A conference in association with UKTI and linked to London Design Festival looking at the value of advertising and how the UK can act as a creative hub to Chinese brands seeking to go global.
Hosted by the IPA, the conference involved talks from a series from numerous luminaries from Ogilvy, BBH, McCann Erickson and JWT. Our emcee for the morning, IPA Director of Marketing Ms Janet Hull, noted that the UK was the fourth largest market in the world for ad expenditure. Ms Hull also talked about the increasing interaction between UK and China advertising; senior BBH and M&C Saatchi people have been on IPA visits throughout China over the past 18 months.
The great Rory Sutherland (whom Zeitgeist has mentioned in previous articles on behavioural economics and neuromarketing) was next up, speaking in an introductory manner to the morning’s proceedings, stressing that “value is subjective”, that it is created at the point of consumption. Added value exists mostly in the mind, he went on, not in the physical atrributes – “the atoms” of your product. He gave luxury brands as an example of this. He also pointed out that China currently has six brands in the top 100 (six years ago they only had one), according to WPP’s BrandZ survey (which Zeitgeist played a small part in helping develop). He foresees many more Chinese brands entering this pantheon in the next few years. One of those brands is China Mobile, and it was the Chief Representative of this company, Henry Ge, who would speak next.
Launched in 1995, China Mobile is now a $53bn brand. A recent survey conducted revealed 74% customer satisfaction with the brand, higher than any landline or mobile provider in the US. Curiously, not only do they have a very high loyalty rate, they also have a very high return rate, suggesting that perhaps of those who do leave, most will come back. Mr. Ge talked next about brand strategy, talking about how the company offered different plans (divided by pricing, services and rewards) in order to exploit customer segementation, while also seeking differentiation from competition and pricing for sustainable growth. Also of interest was to hear the development of the brand’s USP over the last ten years. In 2000, the brand’s selling point was coverage. In 2010, it’s platform, referring to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS, as well as more specifically mobile shops and apps. The future? Well, according to Mr. Ge, the future is all about experience, putting the consumer in control. Nothing new you might think; it will depend on how China Mobile and others execute this. It gels well with a recent article in the New York Times which stated “spending money for an experience… produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff”. Of course, as a company comprised principally of engineers, Mr. Ge confessed that those at China Mobile would be understandably nervous about such a shift in power.
Orlando Hooper-Greenhill, Director of Global Planning at JWT spoke next on HSBC, aka Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation, set up in 1865. Any regular traveller would be able to tell you of the bank’s perpetual presence on “jet bridges” – the bits linking the airport to the plane – the idea behind which, Orlando stated, was to say goodbye to you as you left one country, and for it to be the first thing that says hello in a new country. HSBC’s proposition rests on the suggestion that even though their offices are spread the world over, they still provide superior service through their local knowledge. This was exemplified when Orlando showed the room two TV ads for HSBC, one from the US and one from China. Zeitgeist has had a terrible time tracking down the Chinese ad, and at the time of publication Orlando hadn’t responded to our request for where we could get our hands on a copy to post here. Needless to say the ads demonstrated an insight into each audience that it was targeting more than simply laying its cards on the table as to what services the bank could provide. He also presented the audience with a fascinating graphic, which Zeitgeist did manage to track down, see below. It puts into context just what a large audience is waiting out there for your advertising messages (albeit an audience with some maturing to do still).
Next up was Li Fangwu, Assistant Secretary General of the China Advertising Association. He began by mentioning that it was in 1978 when the ad industry as we know it (or don’t) today was “restored”, presumably as part of the Beijing Spring, currently with 170,000 agencies and over a million employees, which is quite staggering. However, Mr. Fangwu was forthcoming as he showed that year-on-year advertising turnover had declined since 2005, which made Zeitgeist realise that China is not completely immune to the effects of a recession. Most amazing was the advertising law dating from 1994, currently under revision. The levels of bureaucracy involved in getting advertisements legally processed was stupefying. Hopefully the blurry pictures below of the numerous government bodies needed to rubber-stamp their approval of a campaign gives an impression of the dizzying complexity currently involved. The word ‘byzantine’ comes to mind.
Nick Blunden of Profero was up next, who spent part of the beginning of the conference polishing up his presentation sat on the row in front of Zeitgeist and a colleague. Mr. Blunden was full to the brim with interesting, topical statistics proving the oft-proved power of the Internet etc. One of the more interesting stats was that smartphone handsets will find their way into the hands of 250m pairs of hands this year, quite a figure. Among some of the more innovative and intriguing case studies he mentioned were Pepsi’s superb Refresh campaign, Lufthansa’s MySkyStatus and Diageo’s Windsor campaign in Korea. Last but certainly not least was Chris Macdonald, CEO of McCann Erickson did his best to convince Zeitgeist that he shouldn’t shoot off to the Cote d’Azur when the Olympics (and the unwashed masses in their millions) descend upon London in 2012. An informative talk all round, and surely but a taste of things to come as China’s sphere of influence grows.
“The trouble with market research is that people don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say”
– David Ogilvy
On Wednesday night, part of the Zeitgeist entity found itself at a Holiday Inn. No, it was not part of a dare. The Account Planners Group [APG] had chosen this venue in central London to host a conference on neuroscience, with specific reference to its application in marketing. Neuromarketing involves using tools, tasks or tests from the realm of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to measure non-conscious reactions in the brain to marketing stimuli. The use of the above image was made even more appropriate given that the organiser of these events goes by the name Steve Martin (I kid you not). AdAge recently featured a pretty good article on the subject.
Our host for the evening was Gemma Calvert. As Warwick University notes, “In 1997, Professor Calvert established the world’s first neuromarketing consultancy, Neurosense Limited, which has undertaken numerous fMRI studies for clients in the advertising, marketing and pharmaceutical industries. The company’s clients include Unilever, Viacom Brand Solutionts, GMTV, Omnicom, Quest International and McDonald’s Europe. This expertise has formed the basis for the establishment of a dedicated academic group at WDL which aims to help marketers and manufacturers understand how the brain responds to products/fragrances, brand extensions, packaging design and marketing messages.”
Ms Calvert began by talking of Descartes, one of the leading figures of the Enlightenment, who espoused philosophies on the inherent superiority of human beings to primates, because we had the rational mind. But then, more recently, in the 90s, some dude came along called Damasio. Damasio claimed that we were at heart (or rather, in brain) emotional beings ruled by emotive impulses. This theory, it turns out, is closer to the truth. While our brains have expanded as we have evolved, our limbic brain sits comfortably over our reptilian one, and our neocortex rests on this. The cortex makes our rational decision for us, while the more base parts of our brain do the instinctive “fight or flight”, “must have sex now” stuff. Unfortunately for those supporting the rational part of our brain however, the cortex makes no decisions without consulting the limbic part, subconsciously. Our brain is unable to tune into all the information it needs to, so sometimes we block out things that we see as extraneous. This is dangerous as it can lead to unexpected dangers down the road (see global recession and the premise of Black Swan). It’s well-illustrated by the following video:
Remarkably, we even rationalise post-hoc, telling ourselves something we know is not true but forcing our rational mind to accept it. There is an excellent article here on the subject of confabulation (link updated 2014). Zeitgeist watched this video last night at the conference and did not believe that there had been a gorilla in the video the first time it was shown. Watching the YouTube video this morning, he now believes this is a different video that does contain bears in both clips. It is very unlikely that he is correct. Ms Calvert also highlighted the fallibility of focus groups, as evinced by the great Mr. Ogilvy at the beginning of this article. One of her more whimsical comments came after her statement that 97% of new products fail in Japan within the first 12 months (there are specific reasons for problems in this region). This despite months of testing, focus groups and general consumer research. Ms Calvert’s opinion was that you were just as – statistically speaking, better – off flipping a coin, as at least with that you had a 50-50 chance. Neuromarketing on the other hand can give you an insight into how consumers actually feel, rather than merely what they are telling you. The application for this study is done through eyetracking, fMRI scans and EEG. MRI involves the rather unnatural state of lying down surrounded by a gigantic magnet. Wearing fibre optic glasses, the subject can be shown pictures, movies, or even be given a joystick to engage on a virtual shopping trip. It can be used to study how a 30-second spot holistically effects the brain. EEG on the other hand can be used to examine how someone feels about something on a second-by-second basis, with a positive or negative timeline.
Ms Calvert also spoke briefly on behavioural economics. Zeitgeist has commented previously on behavioural economics – which, contrary to classical economics, argues that we are not all inherently rational beings making purely rational decisions – which is a methodology that, according to Ms Calvert, aims to effect large-scale population change. Thinkbox has the pleasure of hosting none other than Ogilvy’s very own Rory Sutherland on the subject on its website, video of which can be found here. These methodologies can help validate and measure effectiveness. It can help divine brand empathy, loyalty, liking and recognition. The findings were most interesting for subjects where the consumer was actually lying to themselves. When Dove tested to see whether they should enter the house cleaning market, those tested with neuromarketing revealed they were very turned off by such a notion, with their brains showing high signs of disinterest and even disgust. In focus groups though they told researchers they would be quite happy to consider buying such a product. Brain imaging better predicts intended purchases than what consumers actually tell researchers. How to reconcile these contrasts? Well perhaps the fact that fully 85% of consumer behaviour is driven by non-conscious awareness is part of it; we are not even aware of most of the decisions we make. Now neuroscientists are. Sounds like a movie I saw this summer…
The Louis Vuitton brand has been featured several times in Zeitgeist articles, not least because almost all the comms for the brand are spearheaded by our francophone cousins at Ogilvy Paris; it’s also a fascinating brand in its own right.
This summer, the Louis Vuitton Art Academy was born, the first of a 3-year summer show in collaboration with several major art galleries in London; the Hayward Gallery, South London Gallery, Tate Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery and the Royal Academy. The idea behind it is to encourage young people to the world of the arts, according to Dazed Digital, “giving 30 young people aged between 13 and 25 the chance to get hands-on-dirty in the creative arts”. The project will allow the youngsters to become involved in the physical production of art, beginning specifically with portraiture.
Louis Vuitton is of course no stranger to flirtations with the arts. Takashi Murakami (whom Zeitgeist has met) and Richard Prince (whom Zeitgeist would love to meet) have both produced collaborations with Marc Jacobs, creative director at Vuitton. Head of LVMH Bernard Arnault is a very keen owner of art, and pieces from his personal collection can be found at the new London Vuitton Maison on Bond St., including a large piece by Gilbert and George in the menswear department. Last year it was announced that Vuitton will build a permanent institution dedicated to the arts, designed by the perpetually-busy Frank Gehry.
This may all be terribly fun for Monsieur Arnault, but what value do you think it adds to the brand? Answers on a postcard or in the comments box, please.
LV may have been around since 1854, but, as the saying goes, you’re only as good as your last picture. Just as many an actor has been condemned to Hollywood purgatory through making one poor choice, so it is with a brand. A brand’s equity is made or broken by its perception, i.e. what it’s done lately. Ogilvy’s own Louis Vuitton has been in the press a lot recently, for reasons both good and bad. Zeitgeist takes a look at Vuitton’s goings on, and what impact the machinations will have on it’s brand.
The last Friday of May heralded the reopening of London’s New Bond St. Louis Vuitton boutique, with the new moniker of ‘Maison’, presumably denoting it as a flagship store. Never one to miss a way to include Facebook, Vuitton recorded the event in a live stream over the social network, beaming around the world images of the oh-so tiring Alexa Chung as she hosted the broadcast. The brand has done this previously to great success for it’s Ready-to-wear collections from various shows, which inspire great community interaction. Concurrent with this was the launch of a brand presence on Foursquare, one of the first of any brand to have an account on the location-based social network. (Indeed, this democratisation of fashion could be an article in of itself; Ermenegildo Zegna are taking a leaf from Vuitton’s book with unprecedented access to what goes on in the runup to a runway show). Photos of designer Marc Jacobs, Gwyneth Paltrow et al. graced the front pages of several of the city’s dailies the next morning. Diagnosis: Very good
At the opening, in a separate story that appeared with very little fanfare on the Vogue website, a brief interview was conducted with Vuitton’s creative director Marc Jacobs, who said that when he began working on the brand, his initial thoughts might have taken it in a completely different direction, “When I arrived at Louis Vuitton 12 years ago, and I was figuring out how to create a new tier of Vuitton for a different customer, I thought it would be clever to hide that monogram, which was very stupid of me. That logo is part of what makes Vuitton so desirable. It allows people to become members of an aspirational club.” Zeitgeist has never heard Jacobs utter such an admission prior to this; it is surely an incredibly controversial thought. The problem is that the designer may have been quite right to have thought of removing the logo. Without it, they are almost certainly missing out on what he refers to as a “new tier”; the customer that loves the quality and craftmanship of Vuitton but does not need the validation of having “LV” emblazoned on every product, so instead chooses to shop at Bottega Veneta or somewhere similar. For how long can a brand remain aspirational when it begins to be seen everywhere, including in all the wrong types of places? Zeitgeist recently spotted two pieces of genuine Vuitton luggage sitting in the window of a McDonald’s. Diagnosis: Not good
Elsewhere in Vuitton’s world, the Advertising Standards Authority recently upheld three complaints on a series of advertisements that Ogilvy Paris had concocted, which had received positive press from the FT at its inception, and to which Zeitgeist has referred to previously. The ads, though beautifully photographed in an homage to that brilliant artist Vermeer, were withdrawn after complaints that the print ads gave the impression that the products were completely handmade from start to finish, and that at no point was machinery involved in the manufacturing process. In reality, this is not the case. Craftmanship by hand is indeed a significant part of the process, but the ASA deemed this insufficient. It is also unlikely that such young, beautiful people as depicted in the advertisements work in such immaculate clothing with only chiaroscuro lighting to work by, but there did not seem to be any complaints regarding these artistic licenses. Perhaps this is because such things should be taken with a pinch of salt, instead of at face value. Diagnosis: Not good
Louis Vuitton continues to contest in court in efforts to cut down on the re-selling of goods or the distribution of counterfeit products. The last victory came recently against eBay when the company was fined €200k in damages and €30k in legal costs made payable to Louis Vuitton. TelecomPaper reported “The court described as ‘parasitic’ eBay’s purchase of keywords such as ‘Wuittton’, ‘Viton’ and ‘Vitton’ so that online shoppers searching under these misspellings would be directed to links promoting eBay.” More recently, however, holding company LVMH lost it’s battle with Google over charges “that Google’s practice of selling keywords in advertising searches to the highest bidder damaged trademark law”, according to the BBC. Diagnosis: A tie
Lastly, having already made clear it’s association with a new part of the Journeys campaign – previously featuring such luminaries as Sean Connery, Keith Richards and Catherine Deneuve – that had Pelé, Zidane and Maradonna huddled around a table football game together, this week the company cemented the connection. Vogue recently reported that the World Cup would have an official home in a piece of luggage designed specifically for it by Vuitton. The luggage was revealed in Paris to great fanfare, by that [super]model of restraint, Naomi Campbell. Diagnosis: Very good
It’s been a period of mixed blessings for Louis Vuitton, some of which were completely out of their hands. It’s had some big wins with the new London store opening, as well as the excellent association it has created with the impending World Cup. Long-term, it will be fascinating to see if this is the beginning of a brand embracing to an increasing extent the entertainments and pastimes of the masses (prior to the World Cup, the only sport Vuitton had been involved in was the America’s Cup sailing race, crewed and supported by nought but multi-multi-millionaires), and how they will maintain an aspirational slant if they do so (presumably by continuing to charge £300+ for a shirt). Exciting times are ahead, no doubt…