Tag Archives: san francisco

brands-do your research now!

inspect Adapt or die. Never has this statement been more true. Consumer brands are dealing with an overnight change in attitudes and values that is unprecedented in modern consumerism. From travel to jeans to soap to museums – no product or service or experience will survive this tumultuous period without re-examining their value proposition and the role they play in their consumer’s life.

Between the economic crisis lead by Wall Street and AIG, the environmental crisis and now adding insult to injury – the AIG bonus payout – consumers are retreating and rethinking every single dollar that leaves their pocket and who it will go to. In fact, the Edelman Trust Barometer reports that U.S. consumer confidence is even lower than it was after the dot.com bust and the Enron scandal. Things aren’t much better internationally, 62% of respondents across 20 countries included in this same survey report less trust in business than a year ago.

The result is that the brand relationship with consumers is about to get very interesting. Current brand equity will still play a critical role in consumer decisions but each and every brand needs to get out there and understand what their new consumer needs are a.s.a.p. There are a plethora of marketing reports coming out on issues of sustainability, moderation behaviors and other factors that will play a role in future consumerism. These reports are valuable but are simply the backdrop for independent research that should be done to understand these trend drivers first hand as they relate to a company’s brand. This shift doesn’t mean that brands need to lose or even change their core brand assets. They simply need to look for new ways to relate and to re-look at how their products communicate with their current audiences and their new behaviors.

For example, the New York Times reported last week that museums across the country are now opening their doors to entirely new audience segments via discounted special events that build on their core offerings. In San Francisco, the Academy of Sciences has debuted Nightlife – a weekly evening event incorporating DJ’s and special science activities that brings together a much different crowd than the kids, parents, tourists and science geeks the Academy usually attracts. Not only are they finding new hours to open their doors but they are attracting new audiences that have traditionally dismissed this type of cultural institution en masse.

It’s this type of re-invention and exploratory relationship building that needs to take place across the spectrum. Simply speaking to green or pricing trends via advertising or promotion will ultimately miss the opportunity to play an important and trusted role throughout the upcoming years of significant value and lifestyle restructuring.

Advertisements

floating garbage

ba-plastiki03_ph_0499860243A sailboat made of recycled plastic?  The Plastiki is the brainchild of David de Rothschild, a polar adventurer and scion to the Rothschild family heir.    It  is a 60 foot catamaran that is potentially an innovative wonder made of recycled plastic bottles and materials crafted from self-reinforced PET.   Intended for completion and launch “sometime next month” (or maybe next), the Plastiki is currently undergoing its build off Pier 31 in San Francisco.  The intent is to raise awareness for his foundation Adventure Ecology and the work it does via a sail from the U.S. to Australia which will take it through the little-known Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Sounds like an amazing endeavor with the potential to draw much-needed attention for the harm plastic garbage thrown into our oceans causes.  Yet, this journey has all the markings of a Richard Branson stunt, minus the “credibility” – which firmly moves back all those strides  greenies have been making in getting the green movement out of hippieville.

I am actually a big fan of Richard Branson, but it takes more than money to draw credible, actionable attention.  I absolutely “heart” David for his intentions, but I’d like to take this opportunity to propose a bit of context for his next well-intentioned and ambitious adventure:  1) develop a solid plan that meets the approval of experienced engineers – self-mockery on the liklihood that it will contribute to the aqua-junk doesn’t help focus attention on the cause of waste as resource. 2) establish credible partnerships that can help you spread the word –  companies (like P&G or Nestle) that buy into your strategy and can promote your success will actually create impact where the problem starts – at the corporate and consumer level.  3) Which goes to say that self-depracating humor is infinitely enjoyable, but avoid the trappings of a “stunt”.    The best story (and video) I read on David was found on a National Geographic Adventure blog dedicated to the Plastiki because it included lots of facts and established some solid grounding for the whole concept. Still the humor of the “we might not make it” (in the video) will only work for the cause – if truly, he makes it. (and I hope he does!)