Searching for Consumers


Brands/retailers are geared up for holiday sales surpassing $1 trillion for the first time and the strongest growth rate (5.8%) since 2011. Note: Spending further enhanced by a 32-day holiday calendar. Consequently, influence marketers are working overtime to identify nanoinfluencers (a.k.a. “nanos”) to fuel their marketing movements.

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This past year, thanks to my affiliation with the Social Media Research Association, I have been reviewing the current viral wave of influence marketers. Via the different social media platforms, influence marketers are now digitally mining deeper to find their target audience. Their objective is to identify select social individuals who have influence over potential buyers. However, marketers’ question whether is it better to use macro or micro influencers.  Macro influencers are categorized as celebrities with massive, millions of followers, while micro influencers are everyday consumers who have significant social media followings (1,000 to 100,000) they engage deeply with on a regular basis.

Welcome nanoinfluencers (a.k.a. “nanos”), people with small followings (1,000 to 5,000), high engagement, their primary social platform being Instagram. In return for monetary compensation or free goods, “nanos” post Instagrammable, shareable photographs of products, services or travel destinations they like. Their online followers (including close friends) value their advice leading to purchase decisions. An inexpensive form of consumer marketing. For the holidays, Macy’s, H&M and J.C. Penny have implemented Instagram influencer movements.


Garbage Diversion Update – Part Two


In my last post, I disclosed a unique garbage diversion futuristic concept, an innovative model for sustainable aquaculture. Today I am going to review a Tyson Innovation Lab consumer snack product that was developed in only six months.

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İYappah!, a snack launched via crowdfunding in select markets signals a new approach by Tyson. For starters, the protein crisps were designed by a select/lean innovative team in a five-day process comparable to how technology companies develop software. A first in new product development for a CPG company. In addition, the product represents Tyson’s goal to launch more sustainable products. The snack is made from upcycled white chicken breasts, rescued vegetables and spent malt barley, a byproduct of beer brewing. It is packaged in fully recyclable tin cans. Bottomline, Yappah! embodies a food waste solution better known as garbage diversion.

The global food loss and waste challenge from production through retail and consumption is far reaching. Garbage diversion is an innovative baby step in the right direction.

Garbage Diversion Update – Part One


Food loss/waste has significant economic and environmental implications, as well as social repercussions (fighting hunger) when so much food supply is wasted between farm and table.  Consequently, I always enjoy learning about new, innovative food-waste (a.k.a. garbage) diversion concepts.  Time for an update.

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Food waste (a.k.a. garbage) diversion is a novel sustainable approach converting what is normally considered waste in either the beginning (production) or end (consumption) of the food value chain into palatable food products.  Recently, I learned about an innovative waste solution, a potential game changer for sustainable aquaculture.  Fact: Due to fish consumption being at an all time high, a third of the world’s oceans is over fished (source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), thus raising a red flag for the future sustainability of a key protein for millions of people worldwide.  One viable solution is aquaculture (a.k.a. fish farming), the fastest agricultural sector for the past forty years.  However, critics of aquaculture are concern about farm fish feces contaminating oceans, lakes and drinking water, plus the drain on environmental resources (e.g., corn, soy, ground fish, etc.) needed to feed farm raised fish.

Enter TimberFish Technologies originally launched in 2008.  They feed their fish with a combination of nutrient-rich wastewater from food processors (breweries, distilleries and wineries) and wood chips.  Wood chips contain microbes, a source of food for small invertebrates like worms and snails.  The fish eat the invertebrates. Two additional sustainable benefits of their innovative technology: 1.) The fish excrement provides a source of nutrients for the microbes completing a cycle; and 2.) TimberFish Technologies system’s only output is clean water plus spent wood chips further utilized as a biofuel or soil supplement.

My next post reviews İYappah! a new consumer snack food made from upcycled proteins, rescued vegetables and spent brewer grains.

Damaged Brand?


Last Thursday while I was walking through the terminal shopping mall in Heathrow airport changing flights, I was reminded how Burberry, Britain’s largest luxury label in sales, lost their cue.  They are now on damage control thanks to foolishly sending out the wrong signals.

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Back in September I posted Forever Relevant – Brand Stamps 4/27/10 detailing how the core essence (a.k.a. DNA) of a brand is all about its code (what the brand stands for) and cue (the sensory signals communicated over time to consumers).  As it relates to cue, what was Burberry thinking when it announced over the summer they burned tens of millions of dollars’ worth of unsold goods?  Burberry’s rationale: They wanted to maintain their “brand value” to safeguard unwanted items from being stolen or sold at a significant discount, thus negatively impacting the high-end price tags they command at retail.  No surprise, politicians and environmental activists stepped forward to criticize the brand, as well as its younger consumers for being irresponsible.  Immediately the company announced plans to overhaul their practices of destroying unsold merchandise, as well as rebrand its image including its policy regarding sustainable supply chain. 

Burberry, damaged brand?  Will they be able to recover their cue?

Forever Relevant – Brand Stamps (4/27/10)


“No one builds a legacy by standing still.”  Tagline to Rimowa’s new marketing movement featuring Roger Federer.  Comes on the heels of Roger trading his Nike deal for a ten-year contract with Uniqlo.  Made me realized Roger Federer, tennis legend and his team have strategically evolved into brand Federer.

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I would like to share some words of wisdom with all the tech savvy, non-classically trained social media marketing experts out there, specifically as it relates to branding. The message: “Be like a postage stamp – stick to one thing until you get there”   – Margaret Carty

Marketers are utilizing social media tools to reach their customers enabling them to sustain and build their brand’s reputation. Thanks to the Internet, their ability to reach more consumers globally has increased radically. However, with everyone competing against direct or indirect competitors for consumers’ attention, it is now more important than ever to carefully fine tune your social media strategy. For starters, remember you cannot be all things to all people. Revisit the core essence of your brand, better known as your brand’s DNA, a topic I first addressed in my blog Luxury Brands Rock Asia.

The DNA of a strong brand is all about two significant components. A perfect example is Cirque du Soleil:

Code – What does the brand stand for? What is its core promise? Cirque du Soleil is a theatrical circus, absence of animals, but continuous live music and performers, rather than stage hands changing props.

Cue – The sensory signals that capture the attention of consumers. Consequently, credibility is developed over time, thanks to authentic, consistent performance – 19 shows in 40 plus countries on every continent except Antarctica, spanning 26 years.

Somewhere in the branding process, marketers lose their patience/focus. Brand Ego sets in, brand refreshment ensues. Marketers begin deviating from their brand’s core promise. Remember New Coke? I provided a classic case study back in 2009 with Airwalk.

Social media now provides new platforms to refresh brands. A marketer’s dream! I just would caution all the tech savvy social media experts to remain consistent with their brand’s DNA. Cirque du Soleil has taken that approach by developing a YouTube video of their upcoming 2011 Michael Jackson show which they post on Facebook and Twitter. They also use these tools to talk to their tribe, better known as Cirque Club. Over twenty five years they have stuck with their core promise of reinventing the circus – theatrical street performance without the animals.

Brand stamps! Stick to one thing until you get there.



Rhythm: movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements (e.g., the rhythms of country life).

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“Rhythm is essential to life.”     

                               – Ashley Bryan (American writer and illustrator of children’s books)

Have you discovered your rhythm?

A Hostage Tale


Earlier this summer, I learned about Radical Technologies, a book written by Adam Greenfield detailing how technology is transforming our world.  One of Adam’s hypotheses is we are unwittingly handing over vast amounts of information to powerful tech companies.  Are we becoming algorithm hostages?

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Recently I received an email from a friend in France who explained he had been negligent in keeping in touch because he went on holiday with his two sons to Corsica.  He wanted me to befriend him on Facebook so I could view pictures of his boys with whom I play when in France.  I befriended him, but had to hit the translate button.  In the right hand margin up popped an advertisement for Gregory Porter’s new CD.

Who is Gregory Porter?  An award-winning American jazz singer/songwriter who is extremely popular in Paris, France.  How do I know?  I was visiting my brother last month when he played a Gregory Porter CD.  I called my brother to ask him where he bought the CD.  Amazon.  What was the sequence of algorithm computer cues – my befriending someone who lives in France and the second that a consumer named Matorin (rare name) bought a Gregory Porter CD on Amazon.  Or did the algorithm pick up a third cue. My sister always sends my brother and me digital birthday gifts, so the cue knew we were brothers.  For the record, every time I use Google on my birthday, candles flare up.

In my last post I wrote about Walmart: AI Leader.  Consequently, I am a marketing geek who understands the power of consumer data.  Inadvertently, I am concerned we have become algorithm hostages of high-tech.