消费者行为 | consumer behaviour | 소비자 행동

Vicarious Experiences

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I had a chat with Gi at Techlightenment over a coffee in the Tea Building at Shoreditch last week when we got to discussing what I had blogged about in my ‘fire hose of content‘ posting earlier on that week. And we diverted on to vicarious experiences, let me give you an example:

Occasionally I used to go to The Haçienda nightclub in Manchester at the junction of Whitworth Street West and Albion Street, I couldn’t afford to go that regularly and having quite a broad Liverpool accent preferred not to venture out in Manchester without at least one or two friends in tow.

The Haçienda was a musical venue that was as influential in its own way as CBGB, The Warehouse, Paradise Garage or the Woodstock Music and Art Fair since it was a crucible for musical innovation, social change and urban renewal.

The club nights weren’t that full on many nights, much of the music were very avant-garde. Factory Records who owned the club with music group New Order nurtured the avant-garde as kind of a bet on the future, but that didn’t result in packed houses most of the time, in fact some of the stuff I found to be almost unlistenable let along worth a car journey to central Manchester.

The nightclub now has such a mythical status that if all the people who’ve told me over the years that they went on a regular basis then the club would have had to been about the size of the GMEX centre to house them all. Instead the club eventually closed due to a combination of gangsterism, police harassment and because it lost money.

Ok, ok, the reason for this trip down memory lane is all those club-goers who weren’t there. The thing of it is that you have a substantial amount of people who at best have experienced things through other people and feel that it was good enough to have been an experience of their own.

How does this relate to PR?

Ok, imagine if you have a call to action that is an experience (for instance trying out a hot new website) and for this bunch of ‘vicarious experiencers’ reading about said website or seeing a short broadcast segment news story is the same experience and just as fulfilling as following through on the call to action.

This is an additional factor to consider with the firehouse of content. It is no longer about ensuring that the audience doesn’t get exposed to too much information that leave them with no ‘opportunity time’ to respond to the campaign call to action.

Vicarious experience now means that we need to think about PR campaigns in terms of a fan dance that titillates but doesn’t reveal enough that the audience loses their curiosity. It also implies that PR is optimally used in launch and pre-launch activity rather than in campaign momentum where the outline of a product, service or experience is understood. Coverage derived from momentum PR is likely to provide just the kind of show-and-tell coverage that allows the audience to vicariously experience the campaign call to action without engaging with the campaign or the company brand in a meaningful (or profitable) way.

Its not only important to balance marketing communications activity to give the audience the right incentive and time to follow up on a campaign call to action, but also encourage real over secondhand experiences.

市场营销 | marketing | 마케팅 消费者行为 | consumer behaviour | 소비자 행동

Customer insight

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Open (Subway Sandwich Restaurant) on Villier Street

I have been thinking a lot about customer insight recently. Part of this thought process goes back to when I was at college I was told the story of instant coffee’s launch in the US. The story went something like this: instant coffee granules were successfully launched in the US, and then sales dropped off. Conventional marketing support tactics such as in-store sampling and discounts didn’t work out.

Meanwhile, the advertising agency on its own initiative took a different tack, by interviewing the target purchasers and watching how they interacted in their homes. It seems that the housewives felt that a key part of being a good homemaker was brewing coffee through more traditional (presumably a french press). Women that used instant coffee were perceived as being slovenly and sluttish. So a programme of advertisements and sponsored programmes was developed showing instant coffee being used as part of life within a happy and healthy family.

The rest as they say was history until Starbucks managed to get us to drink coffee on-the-go and pay 5 USD per cup.

A more personal example happened to me on Sunday, I got called by Stuart, the owner of Mainline Menswear, who followed up with me as I was a first-time customer. Part of the reason was help prevent card fraud but by the end of the call he knew I had a specific interest in adidas’ original line and had told me that if I could get an adidas part number for an item and dropped him an email he could plug in directly to adidas and get the item.

PR as an industry is shockingly bad at getting decent quality research done like that adverting agency to gain real customer insight, developing a big idea based on the findings and building our programmes on top of them. Part of the reason for this is that PR spend is only a fraction of that for media buying or advertising and PR people only really get paid for implementation. Our research tends to be secondary data and very media content focused rather than looking at the audience itself.

We can understand the media, we can understand the problem from the clients perspective like the coffee problem, but we don’t have a real tap into audience motivations. Digital channels allow us to do research to find out what people are saying, but anybody who has been in a relationship knows that what people people say and what they mean or the reasons behind what they do often don’t match up. For example, you have an argument with a loved one about the last incident that tipped a scale, rather than all the factors that have caused discontent.

Is customer insight research a more important resource for the PR agency of the future than digital skills?

在线 | online | 온라인으로 消费者行为 | consumer behaviour | 소비자 행동

Facebook Fatigue

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In early January I talked about the future decline of Facebook. Since that posting about a month and a half ago I am already seeing signs of Facebook fatigue amongst my friends. Ok, this isn’t a quantitate evidence, but I think that its the first brushstrokes in painting a larger picture of Facebook’s decline.

From one of my ‘early majority’ friends which I received on February 8th.

HI Guy’s

I have decided to leave face book as it’s rubbish, feel free to send me emails at

Talk soon

I also received a message from Lloyd Davis about the Social Media Cafe. Lloyd is moving member engagement beyond Facebook. The interesting thing about the mail is that Lloyd recognised that ‘early adopters’ like social media mavens don’t all ‘actively engage’ on Facebook

This FB group has been great for getting your attention and for you to show your committment (I’m thrilled that we still have 300 members) but it doesn’t really work for day to day activities and not everyone is an active facebook user – btw please *don’t* leave the group just because we’re doing stuff elsewhere – it goes down very well when I’m bigging up what we’re doing with money people that we’ve got 300 peeps on FB :)

Whilst I don’t think that the Daily Mail is one of the leading authorities when it comes to social media, but they have data points that they feel indicates the start of a decline (if not a plateau) in UK usage of Facebook.

商业 | business | 상업 在线 | online | 온라인으로 媒体与艺术 | culture | 미디어와 예술 市场营销 | marketing | 마케팅 时尚 | style | 유행 消费者行为 | consumer behaviour | 소비자 행동 香港 | hong kong | 홍콩

Further tales from the mall and etch-a-sketch

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This post follows on from earlier retail observations a few days ago on HKG life:

  • Copywriting – is so different to the UK. Even though it comes across as a little odd, Hong Kong copywriting like the the MTR advert above always puts a smile on my face. For that alone, I think that we can learn from them. (Click on the image if you would like to see it in a larger size)
  • Bespoke versus tailored – Westerners who come out to Hong Kong are a sucker for the tailored suits, however locals love swish off the peg garments and Italian designers are particularly favoured. Ermenegildo Zegna is a particular favourite. They also like Bally shoes and for casualwear men over a certain age favour US-style golf attire like Ashworth Golf Company and Ralph Lauren
  • Something for free – I lost my sunglasses and struggled to find another set of Oakleys, I also picked up a sweatshirt because the flight out was a bit chilly. As I was paying my bill at the counter, I was asked was I a Hong Kong resident and then ten per cent came off the bill and was then told that I get a free gift. The gift in this case was a Mickey Mouse Club travel towel. What is most interesting about this was that a) I got a free gift and b) They didn’t actively promote the hell out of it before you got to point-of-purchase, which I guess was a way to ‘delight’ shoppers and blow post-purchase dissonance out of the water. On further enquiry I found that most shops were giving gifts themed around the forthcoming year of the rat celebrations

Hong Kong isn’t known for its online and web start-up community, so I thought I would link to the details of a site that I got sent by email the other day. Sketchplanet is a very primitive way of sharing doodles (done in an etch-a-sketch style) with other people on the net. Maybe enough to provide a bit of amusement on a three-hour conference call when you are noodling on a sudoko problem.

创造力 | innovation | 독창성 思想 | ideas | 생각 消费者行为 | consumer behaviour | 소비자 행동 铭记 | branding | 브랜드 마케팅

A site named Sue

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When Johnny Cash sung A Boy named Sue, he knew the value of a name. I thought of Johnny Cash, when I was reading danah boyd’s blog. danah talked about her new car and the way she named it and I thought about my first ride.

My first car was a dilapidated Fiat 500 called Tia (because the car skated around a wet road in a similar manner to the girls in high heels that used to drink too many Tia Maria cocktails in the wine bar I used to DJ in during the week.) I had various company and personal vehicles over the next few years, the highlight being a company Unimog pick-up called Beverley after an ex-girlfriend.

My MacBook Pro has a name (Toshiro after Toshiro Mifune), but my iPod doesn’t since I seem to go through them before I get attached to them. Which got me thinking, naming a thing: a car, my Mac is about a recognition of a deep relationship with an immersive experience. A relationship that makes you tolerant to look over the bad things and focus on the good things. For instance, Tia’s handling weren’t a death trap, but more like an extreme sport.

Despite all the hoopla, you still don’t have that kind of relationship with your facebook page or your flickr account. Now, you could argue that facebook is a channel rather than experience that you can develop an attachment/relationship with. But then a car at its is just a personal channel in the physical world. But like the web it can be the vehicle to personal freedom and adventure. So the problem for the pet name website must be in the user experience, depth of engagement and experience.

Being able to tap into the consumer’s psyche wouldn’t only benefit a sites web traffic numbers but also benefit the marketer in deepening their relationship with the client. And unlike the car radio, every interaction has an answer-and-call mechanism behind it, allowing a virtuous marketing circle to develop. This also offers the opportunity to square the circle between transactional marketing typified by online campaigns and brand marketing which happens to various degrees in traditional mar.coms elements like PR, design and advertising as well as all customer-facing aspects of a business.