online marketing psychology

May 29, 2010

Balancing global and local marketing: Knorr

knorr logo unilever
Brands that are sold all around the world are usually adapted to the local market. Making small changes to the actual product, changing the packaging or using advertising that acknowledges the local culture. I find these changes to the products really interesting.
I came across an internal Knorr presentation from to 2006 which offers a really nice look on the the strategy of one of the world biggest CPG brands.

Knorr is a brand with products such as sauces, seasoning, bouillons and soups. It is the biggest brand in the Unilever portfolio. With sales of over 3 billion euro.

The presentation outlines three different actions to improve the annual growth rate: a change in the organisational structure, strengthening the brand equity and refresh the brand.

The flatter hierarchy of the brand means a better division of tasks between the local and global level. This global level is responsible for the brand vision, the strategy and other equity elements like visual identity and product innovation (mainly through R&D I assume). The local level is responsible for adapting the brand and products to local needs and to implement the innovation into it.

local packaging knorr

This local adaptation is not limited to the packaging and advertising but also the actual product. This can mean launching products varieties based on local recipes or tastes from the specific countries.

To implement certain decisions, some control was shifted back to higher level. For example: In Europe there were 17 different kind of package designs used for Knorr bouillon, this was reduced to one. Decisions like this probably allows some use of the scale and improvements in efficiency.

knorr packaging redesign bouillon

The brand refresh, reflected in advertising and packaging was inspired by a similar strategy used for the Dove made a couple of years earlier.

May 26, 2010

Product copywriting that strikes like lightning

Recently I have been working on a product website for a software product of ours. It has a couple of features that make it different from its competitors. And each of these features has a benefit to the user.

A long list of features bores everyone. Explaining what the product is and how it is of use to the user is not easy.

An article at Copyblogger describes a four step approach (1-2-3-4) to write text that sells products.
  1. What I’ve got for you? Start with a simple product overview.
  2. What it’s going to do for you? List the benefits and then get back to #1 and explain the features in more detail.
  3. Who am I? Show credibility and possible expertise. Why you? 
  4. What you need to do next? Provide a clear call to action.

The always interesting Performable blog recently wrote about product copywriting as well. They argued that there are three benefits that apply to any product or service: speed, ease-of-use or cost.

Apple talks on its website about how easy it is to use their products. And Google focuses on speed.

But the other generic benefits also can apply to both products. Buying an  iPad is cheaper than buying a regular computer to surf the internet. And the design of Google Chrome definitely makes it easier to browse the web

But still they only use one benefit and focused on that. So why did they choose that one?
Apple is positioning its iPad as the easier alternative to laptops and netbooks…it’s easier to browse, read, and watch video than ever before. Google is positioning their browser against the frustrations people have with slower browsers IE and Firefox.
It is all about the here and now. What benefit is most important to your customers at this moment?

Instead of trying to mention every feature and the benefit that comes with it, just pick the relevant one and laser focus.

While Google uses the 1-2-3-4 approach, Apple goes for an product overview, describes a couple of features and then finishes with the benefits.

Seeing how the amount of books and writing blogs that are trying to explain and teach good copywriting, there seems to be no magical bullet for it.

The 1-2-3-4 approach offers a good features/benefit balance, and Apple and Google show that you only need one benefit to write compelling content.

To finish this post I want to look at the legendary Rolls Royce ad by David Ogilvy from 1959. How did he handle the features and benefit problem?

Apart from the title and subtitle of the ad it seems a different kind of ad.

The rest of the ad consists of a mix of features and benefits that focus on the quality of the car. How about those handy picnic tables in French walnut that slide out from under the dashboard!

Different times or a different approach?

May 22, 2010

The effectiveness of text e-mails in B2B marketing

copywriting Mad Men Don draper thinking

E-mail marketing had been done in a traditional way in our company. Templates customized to the individuals that were in our database. Nothing automated or batched.

A while after I started working here, the idea came to try and re-hook the people in our database that we had lost contact with.

This was the start of a 'real' e-mail campaign in which we would try to convince the audience to sign-up for a trial of our software platform.

I read a lot of ebooks, case studies and blog posts on the subject. E-mail design, subject line testing, call to action, well targeted audience, delivery times, etc

After crafting the first email (of course I didn't use a custom design!), we sent it to 200 people. Good open and click rates (27.5% and 10%). The campaign helped to get a couple people to trial our product.

All good so far. So it was only logical to try the same approach for a different product of ours.

The template was reused, content rewritten and a different call to action added.
Three hundred fifty emails were sent out.
After one week I checked the stats.
13 percent of the mails were opened and a click rate of less than 1 percent.
That means 3 people actually did what the e-mail was intended for.


I was expecting to get at least the same rates or better (of course!).

So what was different? I immediately blamed the e-mail list we had used for the second mailing. Unlike the one for the first campaign this wasn’t composed of people that we had been in contact before. It was more of a database that we had collected from various sources.

I shared my ideas with my colleagues and blamed the list.

The next day one of my colleagues called me over. He had send out a e-mail for the same product to a larger audience. And he did get response. One day later there were already 50 replies waiting in the inbox. Including people that had ignored the first e-mail. (I know, mailing people because they ignored a first mail is a bit tricky, but let’s forget that here.)

So what was different this time?
  • The second email was a simple text email, no HTML, no images.
  • The call to action was different. The first e-mail tried to convince the reader to click and signup for a trial. The second had a simpler message: can we please have the contact details from the IT manager.
These two elements allowed for an essential thing to happen: the forwarding of the email. Apparently people in our list weren't the decision makers themselves. They forwarded the text version to the appropriate person and not the HTML version. (Come to think of it I have forwarded very few HTML emails myself.)
Second was the call to action. Even if the first person receiving the email doesn't have any idea what you are talking about, he can provide the contact details of someone you asked for. Since the buying process for most of our products is a long one, the contact details are of great value to us.

So what did I learn?
  • Target audience: not only know who exactly your are sending the email to and develop your content accordingly. But more important, know your clients buying process! Who is involved in the buying decision? Appropriate and simple  call-to-action.
  • E-mail design: fancier is not always better. A lot of work to design emails can be avoided if it is not needed. And in this case the simple text email improved the forwardibility of the e-mail.
Less is more in practice.

May 19, 2010

Is free the solution for failed product launches?

Image of the free sample store(clube amostra gratis)

Can handing out free products reduce the amount of new products that fail when entering the market?

A concept born in Tokyo a couple of years ago thinks it can. It is a shop that looks normal, only with that difference that everything is free. Consumers take home products and review them. 

A mix of product research and word of mouth marketing. Manufacturers of products like deodorants, biscuits and clothing can test their products in a real store. And they can use the feedback provided by consumers to possibly tweak the product. If the consumer likes the products, this will get out as well. Especially if the store provides a good online platform that allows people to easily share the product information.

Recently Clube Amostra Grátis (Free Sample Club) opened in São Paulo. A store operating similar as described above. The customer signs up online, gets a fidelty card when she first visits the store and then can take home products for testing and review. The system is based on credits, which are awarded for each completed review. These credits can be exchanged for other products in the shop.

Coined tryvertising it seems like a business model with advantages for both consumers and companies. Consumers pay a one time fee of R$50 (about 20 euro) to access the store. And it is quite successful, in a couple of days the store got 8000 signups. The 90 brands that are available in the store buy their shelf space from the store owner.

Back to the basic question: can all of this reduce the number of product failures?

I don't think so as it only impacts the very final stage of the product development process.  At this point the company already has invested a lot of money in the product to have it completely cancelled based on a couple of customers reviews. A little bit of product or package tweaking however is possible.

But the real power of this system is the switch from mass advertising to an more customer centered approach.

Source: R7 Noticias (Portuguese)

May 13, 2010

Advertising art

UP THERE from The Ritual Project on Vimeo

A beautiful video about the passion to create something.
Even though everybody has moved on, they persist.

May 10, 2010

A new view on brand building

Branding essentially tries to convince people to trust you. A customer trusting you means you can rely on him to make the right choice when he has to buy something.

After reading Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing I saw a new approach to this.

He rates brand trust only as a low form of permission marketing. Fourth out of five to be exact. The other possible levels of permission that marketeers can attain are: personal relationship with the customer, a point system and intravenous marketing. These all involve a higher level of trust. Which not only means that they will buy your product more easily but also that it will cost you less to convince them.

Most brands, seem happy to reach the brand trust level. And they don't seem to aspire a higher level of permission. But this type of permission is hard to build up, requires a lot of repetition in media that are often expensive and it is hard to measure.

If achieved, many brands use this brand trust to push other similar products: their brand extensions. It will still take some convincing for people to give the new product a try, but the initial product created some kind of trust basics on which future sales can be built. The danger remains that if one of the brand extensions doesn’t deliver or does something with the permission that the customers find too intrusive, it will hurt the trust they have build up with a customer for the overall brand.

This trust approach looks more at the combining elements that create a brand in the consumers head. Not just a logo, tagline and a fuzzy commercial.

May 3, 2010

Public transport: a true love?

Arriva public transport branding

Special seats installed in every bus that show you are willing to talk to other people.

That is what Danish public transport company Arriva is doing. Besides trying to improve the atmosphere on its buses it is also an experiment to convince car drivers to abandon their cars and make use of the public transport. (You can take boats instead of buses in Copenhagen!)

Although this branding campaign might bring some joy, the greater goal of course is to convince people to leave their car behind and take the bus.

My guess that love seats and the possibility to find the love of your life, however promising that may sound, don't change much. Show that drivers can save time or money and they will change.

Source: Yahoo

May 2, 2010

Ambev - Brands of Brazil

The World Cup allows us to have a month of summer in the middle of winter.
Ambev CFO Nelson Jamel
And normally summer is big business (think Carnival!) for a beer company. Especially for Ambev, which produces a big part of this beer.

Ambev was formed after the merger of Brahma and Antartica. Later the company merged with Belgian brewer Interbrew. And in 2009, with the integration of the American brewer Anheuser-Busch to become Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the biggest brewer in the world. The group is active all around the world and Ambev operates independently in South America.

Ambev is the biggest brewer in South America with Heineken as a main competitor. The company is most known for its beer operations but apart from the it is also the largest bottler of PepsiCo outside United States. It sells and distributes PepsiCo products in Brazil and other Latin American countries.

In the beer market, Ambev controls almost 70% of the market. It's closest competitor, Heineken is pumping its investments into Latin America but its  market share is still less then 10% in Brazil.


First of all it has its corporate brand. But this brand is not visible for the consumers. That is where the 75 other brands and brand extensions of the company come in.


Skol is the biggest brand with around 32% of the market. Tagline: A cerveja que desce redondo (The beer that goes down round) This element, the rounded smoothness has been used is many of its advertising. A sexy, humorous image. Ideal to make every activity more fun. This also positions them towards younger public, the sponsorship of an electronic music festival (Skol Sensation) is the illustration of that.

Brahma is the number two with a market share of 19,2%. The brand tries to appeal to be the friend of everybody, Joe Average. Efforts to export this beer to the rest of the world have seen mixed results.

The third Ambev beer brand is Antarctica, which has  12,6% of the market.

In the premium segment Ambev is represented by Bohemia, Original, a sub-brand by Antarctica and Stella Artois, the Belgian import brand.

soft drinks

Soccer is the main interest of Brazilians. So it is no surprise that many of these brands are tied around players and teams.

Guaraná Antarctica
After Coca-Cola it is the best selling soft drink in Brazil and leader within its category. It uses famous footballer Ronaldo in its commercials

The licensing agreement with PepsiCo means that Ambev is also responsible for brands such as Pepsi, Lipton Ice Tea and Gatorade. This last brand sponsors many of the major soccer clubs in Brazil.

Ambev has a good presence for certain of its brand on the social media scene. For Skol and Guarana Antarctica, two of its brands that appeal to a younger audience.

More Brands of Brazil!
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May 1, 2010

Brand advertising doesn’t work

Advertising with the pure focus to build a brand, not sell a product, doesn’t work. That is what I read in an ebook[pdf ] from the Ad Contrarian. And what he writes makes a lot of sense.
Brand advertising, focused on imagery or lifestyle, is least effective against your most desirable customers. It may be effective against light users or nonusers in your category, but it tends to be ineffective against heavy users.
For example I buy quite a lot of books. Say that Amazon tomorrow would set out on a brand building advertising campaign (not that they would but imagine!). In it they focus on how fun it is to read, and how fun and easy it is to buy from their store. This without referring to any of the products they sell. Probably they would manage to convince a lot of people to give it a try and make their first purchase.  The problem is that these people won't spend much. Not as much as the people that have bought books before. An advertisement featuring a certain product could convince them to spend more.

This reminds me a of one of the basics of business: selling to a current customer is a lot more profitable then attracting new ones.

While it is a nice advertisement, it doesn't advertise any product. More of a brand building advertisement. It can be argued that it is part of Volkswagen's sponsorship strategy with this specific team, but it illustrates the point made above.

How can you know if you are building a brand by not selling products?How do you know if your advertising is working? Isn’t the best possible indicator whether people are willing to spend their money on your brand?

The concept of building a brand is a complex one, with many factors (product performance, customer service, R&D,etc.)besides advertising play a role. And because customers in some categories change brands often, this holistic view of a brand is more important.

It also affects on how you can establish your position in the market. It takes more than an advertisement.

The best way to build a brand is with persuasive product advertising. This should be focused at:
  • your heavy users (who have the money and are willing to spend it)
  • convincing people to try your product/service, the love might come later
What do you think? Does brand advertising affect you in an area you are a heavy user in? Or just in places where you are less familiar?