online marketing psychology

December 31, 2009

How the battle against smoking is lost in Brazil (and the rest of the world)

We all know that smoking is stupid and expensive. Not just for the smoker but also for everyone that pays taxes. Between 1980 and 2006 tobacco related injuries in Brazil accounted for US$ 0.5 billion, that is 1.6 percent of the total hospitalization budget. In a country with an underdeveloped health care system, this impacts the care for the other patients: longer waiting lines, less material, less access for people that need it most.

smoking in brazil

After a peak in the 1980, the number of smokers decreased to 20% of males and 13% of females in metropolitan areas in 2006. But as the above numbers show, it still affects too many people. The government has imposed a ban on tobacco advertising , a ban on smoking in public places (including bars and restaurants) and featuring explicit warnings on packages. The price hasn't been used as a tool to prevent smoking. And compared to other Latin-American countries and others in the world the cigarette prices in Brazil are very low. But raising the prices of cigrattes probably just increases the amount of cigarettes sold on the black market (piracy, contraband, or tax evasion); which represent around 30% of cigarette consumption (130 billion units).


The Brand Strategy Insider featured an article by Martin Lindstrom on the anti-smoking battle. Authoring a book on the matter of neuromarketing, his research findings have been very interesting.

The study shows that people are not smoking less because there are big warnings, even the explicit pictures don't work. In a way similar to Pavlov's dog, smokers see these horrible pictures and a bit later they feel good because of their cigarette. The image has been over time associated with something good. By spending a lot of money on ant-smoking advertising, governments are actually helping big tobacco companies. One initiative towards a solution is to substantially change the package lay-out, warnings, pictures and colors. This so the link between the image or warning and the good feeling is not made.

picture by new_disaster

December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays

Instead of a jolly selection of funny Christmas cards, I found this Christmas project of the Mother London advertising agency.

It is a bit ironic to see the money go to a Nigeria related charity. but hey, Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2009

Green marketing in Brazil: theory or reality?

My general belief is that the new emerging markets don't care so much about the environment, as they feel now it is their turn to be the big players. They believe the established nations should make up for what they have done wrong the last 60ish years. This idea was enforced through China's behavior on the COP15 last weeks in Copenhagen.

But luckily consumers in these countries don't completely share this opinion. A global survey on green brands by the branding firm Landor revealed some surprising facts. Green marketing is really important to most consumers, and Brazilians turn out to be the most opinionated about green matters out of the seven countries participating in the study.

The majority of countries in the study  believe the environment is on the wrong track, whereas the majority of Indian and Chinese respondents (around 65 percent) think that the environment is on the right track. Rather surprising that only participants in India and Brazil are more concerned about the environment then about the economy. This might be an indication that countries like the US, UK, France and Germany are afraid that too much 'green' could hurt their economy.

Consumers also make a conscious effort to buy green products (81 percent in Brazil ) and they intend to spend more on green products in the year to come. India, China and Brazil score the highest here, but this might be because the green marketing trend is only just emerging, while consumers in other markets are already buying more products.

Consumers in all countries indicate that there are still obstacles to buying green products, the reasons depend on the country. While in developed countries the price is the main hurdle, consumers in India and Brazil find it hard to find green products. Chinese consumers on the other hand are concerned with unclear labeling of products.

Buying from companies that are environmentally responsible is very important (more then 93 percent of the respondents) in emerging countries while established countries iew this less of an issue.

In Brazil consumers heavily rely on advertising to inform them about green products. Western countries seem less receptive to this, maybe distrust of the media plays a role here.

So while governments remain skeptical of green initiatives (or slow in the actual execution of these initiatives), the consumers seem really open to green products. 2010 will no doubt present more opportunities for brands to capitalize on this green trend.

Different opinion? Please share!

December 21, 2009

Marketing in Brazil: Big Ideas for 2010

Some of Brazil's top marketeers got together on the TV show Reclame for a short discussion on their thoughts for the year to come.

When asked for the big marketing innovations that influenced these last couple of years, most of them agreed that increased digital content and the rise of social media have had a big impact. These days internet plays a role in most campaigns. And the measurement of consumers engaging with these campaigns gives a tool to optimize these initiatives. But a very valid point was made by Maíra Barcellos, marketing director for Hoté, she stressed the importance that these online initiatives are monetized, checked if and how they contribute to profits. A remark that jumped a bit from the pack came from Regina Macedo, marketing director at HP. According to her cloud computing has been the innovation with the most economic relevance because it has changed business models and allowed better collaboration. Rodrigo Lacerda of Carrefour has noticed a bigger focus on brand reputation management, with every piece of communication to the end users and other stakeholdersdefining this reputation.

With two big events in 2010, the presidential elections and the World Cup soccer, there are a lot of opportunities to capitalize on them. Easier access to online sources changes the way people will look for information on both the presidential candidates and everything football related. Brazilians will spend more time online.

For Ms. Barcellos the challenge in 2010 is the user generated content and its management in a way that is relevant to the consumer. Christine Ponte from Chevrolet sees things from the consumer's side: because of the consumer's increased exposure to online information, the brand needs to shift the way it communicates. Olavo Ferreira of Yahoo! Brasil sees the future rise of Twitter and the related increased mobility of the consumers. This different way of consuming information was also mentioned by Eduardo Toni from LG with "Prime time any time" where the consumer selects its own media exposure. Ricardo Monteiro of Reckitt Benckiser sees a continuing shift in advertising to more simplified communication, especially in commercials, to a more direct and easy communication. Finally Carrefour executive Rodrifo Lacerda thinks that the a focus on the Brazilian identity will continue, after the political and economic crises people feel proud securing the World Cup 2014 and  the Olympics 2016 bid

Participants represented Yahoo! Brasil, Phillips, Credicard,, HP, Chevrolet, Carrefour and LG.

Check here for part 1 and part 2 of the discussion.

December 17, 2009

What mobile marketing should not be.

When I arrived in Brazil and needed a new SIM card I was clueless about the different providers I chose Claro.

A couple of months have passed in which I have called and texted and received the occasional promotional SMS from my provider to invite me for one of their information services. I ignored all these but about a week ago I started getting these "messages". My phone is just sitting there with its keypad locked and I receive these pop-ups informing me about news, entertainment or sports. I haven't exactly counted them but there are well over thirty messages a day.

After some internet searching I discovered it is a service called 'Canal Ideais' or Idea Channel.

A quote from Celtix, the technology supplier for the service.
"Mobile marketing is taking off as a medium around the world and the new service will allow Claro Brazil to capitalize on this potential as well as deliver increased value to its subscribers."
Although this announcement came in February 2009, it appears that only in this last week they have really started pushing the service. Apart from being utterly annoying (the screen lights up, drains the battery and my attention), it is also an illustration of bad mobile marketing. In fact I would categorize it more as spam then any type of marketing effort.

I am personally not a fan of SMS based information services but I'm sure that there are still useful purposes. In that case, a few things can be learned from this case:

1. Unlike other countries, every pre-paid card in Brazil is registered to a user. First of all this gives a lot of information in the hands of the cellphone companies, which allows decent basic targeting. Secondly this registration takes time and costs money, which means there are switching costs for the consumer. But instead of using this advantage to create a relevant  dialogue with the customer, mobile operators push their luck by spamming their customers

2. Opt-in instead of opt-out. Get permission from the user to send him text messages. The messages will reach people who actually care about this kind of a service. Another related upside from this approach is that less useless messages are sent, which frees up network ressources.

Can you see other lessons to take away from this case? Or how would you handle SMS based mobile marketing?

December 13, 2009

Showing the magic behind the brand: Unilever Brasil

As mentioned in an earlier post: when it comes to brand architecture, most FMCGs apply the same techniques. But Unilever Brasil seems to be deviating from this idea.

In 2004 it shifted from a pure house of brands approach and started to include its corporate identity in its communications. This coincided with a redesign of their logo. In 2008, Unilever Brasil launched an advertising campaign (created by Ogilvy & Mather Brazil) to put the focus on the corporate image and more specific on the logo. The campaign consisted of five commercials with a feel-good atmosphere, each one of them tried to communicate some feelings, while introducing the flagship brands and explaining the corporate logo.
Some Unilever commercials: human potential, community involvement and self esteem.

Now that Unilever Brasil is celebrating its 80th anniversary, the consumer is confronted with the Unilever brand through all sorts of promotion and advertising. In this campaign, which uses Brazilian talk show host Faustão as a celeberity endorser, Unilever puts the the focus on its flagship brands (Ades, Axe, Lux, Rexona, Hellmann's, Seda, Knorr, Omo, Kibon and Dove). Promotion is done through use of impressive point of sales displays and a product code on the back of each of their top brands. This code, after surfing to their website or using sms, is an entry in a competition with prizes up to 2 million reals (about 780 000 euro).

According to Unilever, the shift in communication in 2004 aimed to achieve higher levels of transparancy and accountability for its brand. In a world were there is an ever increase for private label brands this might also be a way to protect market share, this by showing the people that behind each of the main brands is some Unilever "magic". This anniversary campaign is a strategic experiment for Unilever all over the world, to see if this degree of brand communication pays off, says Luiz Dutra Jr, VP Corporate Affairs Unilever Brasil.

Although there are a lot of risks involved in this strategy, I think Unilever has found a good opportunity to show their brand. What is your opinion?

December 8, 2009

Branded entertainment, a way through the clutter?

In the very competitive and cluttered an competitive world of tv advertising, it is hard to get noticed. That's why more and more brands engage in more subtle ways to get the viewers attention. The latest case here in Brazil is a TV show called Zero Bala (slang for a new car). It is a Sunday afternoon television show where five contestants compete to win a brand new Volkswagen Fox. Contestant that want to participate need a car older than twelve years, which they bring to the studio.

The concept created (called Go) by Endemol has been sold to different countries but Brazil is the first country that puts a car brand, Volkswagen, at the center of the show. The Brazilian agency Bullet came up with the idea to work exclusively with Volkswagen instead of having the show sponsored by multiple brands. The show gives a good opportunity for Volkswagen to promote itself and its entry level Fox car. Volkswagen is the number two car manufacturer in Brazil. Competitor and market leader Fiat sponsored the last Brazilian version of Big Brother by featuring its cars in the show. So apparently both see it is a way to get more media attention. 
The show will run for thirteen weeks on Bandeirantes TV.

December 6, 2009

Can advertising bring peace?

Advertising serves a lot of puposes. Most of the time it tries to convince us to drink this drink or use that shampoo. Or to show us that short-distance flights kill polar bears.

Now the Colombian governement has turned to advertising to get FARC guerilla fighters to defect. It is their latstest tool in the civil war that has been going on for 40 years. The campaign consists of radio and telvision ads broadcasted around football matches. FARC fighters are known to listen to and watch these games through their jungle satelite TV. The campaign also distributes flyers in the jungle where guerillas are known to hang around and there is a 24-hour hotline that they can call if they are interested.

The tv commercials tell the story of demobilarized soldiers and tries to show the others that there is a way out. The commercials also are  produced quickly: when a fighter defects, a commercial based on his story is created. His old collegues might recognize the situation andrealize that they too can get out.

There are no concrete results yet but there seem to be more defections, including those of high-ranking soldiers. Another goal of the campaign is communication to the Colombian people, that the war is going in the right direction.

This campaign was created pro bono by the Colombian agency Lowe SSP3.

December 3, 2009

brand architecture 101

A brand is basically always the same, it is a way to identify a product. But when a company starts adding more products to its portfolio, things get more complicated. A company that controls hundred different products needs a system to manage these individual brands. This brand management system is also known as the brand architecture. On the most basic level, there are these possibilities.
  • Umbrella brand: a company uses one brand, often the corporate brand, to centralize its branding efforts. Examples: Virgin (Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Cola), Harvard (Harvard Business School, Harvard Business Review) and GE (GE Finance, GE Jet engines).
  • Branded house: each product of the company has its own brand, the company is the 'house' in which all the brands are hosted. Examples: Colgate (by Colgate-Palmolive), Knorr (by Unilever), and Tide (by Proctor&Gamble).
  • Endorsed brand: this is a mix of the two options above. Although these brands have a brand of their own, the corporate brand is also mentioned. Examples: Sony Playstation, HP Laserjet.

Creating and maintaining new brands costs a lot of money. And a first thought might be that it is probably cheaper to focus one brand instead of supporting multiple brands. But apart from the cost of the approach, there are other differences.

Individual brands offer an opportunity to make a fresh impression on the consumer. Umbrella branding on the other hand brand gives the consumer a sense of familiarity which might influence purchases in other product categories. A downside to an umbrella brand is that all the products are interconnected, if something goes wrong with one product, it will have an effect on all of them. Plus there might be confusion in the consumer's mind what this umbrella brand exactly stands for, especially if the brand has been stretched across some unrelated product categories brand.

Among FMCGs (companies that produce Fast Moving Consumer Goods such as Unilever or Proctor&Gamble), the branded house is the most popular approach. Also in Brazil. But there are some differences in the execution of this brand architecture compared to Western-Europe

In future posts I will illustrate the different approaches these companies take through a analysis of their advertising, promotion, point of sale materials,etc.

December 1, 2009

Getting the hands dirty in Brasil

A simple google search will reveal the excess of websites and blogs about marketing, advertising and branding. And this is exactly what this blog is about. Or not entirely.

Most current information cover campaigns or the roll-out of new strategies in developed martkets. And I loved reading about these and still do. But recently I moved from Belgium to Brazil and found myself surrounded by things I was not so familiar with. Not all of them are relevant to share here but a lot of things are. Brazil is an emerging market, this mainly means that things are happening here at a fast pace. Business is booming, consumers are getting more wealthy and are looking for ways to spend this money. This combined with the cultural differences between Brazil and other nations offers an interesting angle on marketing.
The main focus will be on the way how the marketing battles are being fought here, how the marketing people get their hands dirty.