Analytics & Research shows a Difference
When we think of the magnitude of the digital age, we might assume that marketers are swimming in deep pools of data. But surprisingly, Rupen Seoni (above image), Senior Vice President and Practice Leader of Environics Analytics, says, “There is relatively little data out there, and it’s been relatively expensive to use.”
Data has mostly been generated and used by larger organizations that had the budget and were able to leverage data and analytics in their businesses and their marketing. However, “what’s been happening over the years,” say Seoni, “is the democratization of more of that data. It’s now cheaper to collect.” Data is, in fact, everywhere. Any business using a CRM system, or doing digital transactions in digital media, is generating it.
“The quality of it is not necessarily consistent,” adds Seoni. “There used to be a lot of good data around, and now there is some great data and some bad data. There is more of everything. The challenge that a lot of organizations have is to bring the systems in place and to have the right people in place is to help use all of this data.”
“There used to be a lot of good data around, and now there is some great data and some bad data. There is more of everything.”
Solving real business problems at both a strategic level as well as bringing it right down to an educational level is a big challenge. Data is being used for all kinds of interesting things. Says Seoni, “In our experience – and we have a nice perspective because we work across pretty much all industries – we see what in practice is going on with all kinds of organizations, large and small, private sector, public sector, not for profit sector, really in all industries. What we see is that there can be a lot of distraction with the bleeding edge. At the very leading edge are interesting examples which are aspirational, but will one day become the norm.”
The reality is that organizations are “still struggling with some of the basics: existing tools that they have had for years, pulling their files, cleaning their data, integrating their data… You’d be surprised, large organizations that you think would have excellent data that they’re using, are still struggling with a lot of the basics.”
Adding to the complexity is that marketing people and analysts think very differently from most executives. So the marketers and analysts need very good data, models and analytical approaches to take to the executives who make the final decisions.
Not for profits
The not-for-profit industry has some specific needs. Fundraising is an obvious one. Use of data would help identify potential donors, those who have the capacity to give a large gift. Fundraisers could use statistical modelling, identifying the best prospects for that so they can zero in on the right people as well as knowing those donors better. By applying technical and population data to donor pools, says Seoni, “you can understand what they’re interested in, what they care about, etc. So foundations can acquire donors with more efficiency.”
Another need is around mission. Not-for-profits need to be more relevant about their mission, whether it’s environmental, health of community, or politically motivated. They will benefit from an increased understanding of what issues are going to be more relevant with the donors and influencers. Any charity needs to be focused, and targeted to the actual population that is going to naturally gravitate to their cause. They need to know what will let them identify with that population, understand them and speak to them in a targeted and specific way. There are so many opportunities these days in terms of cost, like communication through social media and other digital media, so you can get very specific in your target.
For a charity, the first steps should be to invest in the process. Develop a good understanding of “actually who you are trying to reach,” says Seoni. Historically, the not for profit centre has been reluctant to invest in obtaining and using relevant data; the private sector understands it much better and has the will to invest and will be ready to invest much quicker.
Says Seoni, “Not-for-profits are more reluctant to spend money and understandably so – they want to make sure there money is been put to good use.” But the adage, that you have to invest a little bit to reap a return, reigns true, as long as those returns support whatever cause they’re trying to fund further.
Seoni argues that organizations have many tools, but now have to deploy them better. Two current trends in deployment are “refinement and systematization” "synthesizing the whole process, so that it’s a machine that runs, generates a lot of efficiencies and targets messaging in a refined way.”
Seoni stresses that you need to be creative around the deployment and the measurement, “really proving out the value case for using new media, because they have not traditionally being used to get the message out there.” In addition, the mobile consumer is fascinating. Watching for data on mobile device movement will allow an organization, like a conservatory, amusement park, outdoor festival or ski hill, to understand their consumer at a whole new level. This is a relatively new level, and a very different level of insight on consumer behaviour that's being generated.
A look at deployment tools reveals the medium for sending a message. Messaging is targeted to individuals via large communication platforms, but are the messengers spending enough time on understanding the demographics and what messages they are sharing with them? “A lot of assumptions are made in the advertising and marketing advertising spaces. [But some are wrong. For instance,] you just can’t lift ads from one market to another. The reality is that you just can’t,” according to Scott Megginson (below), President, Kantar-Insight Division, Canada.
Ads don’t travel
“Our research, very emperical research, indicates that ads don’t travel from one market to the next.” It really comes back to a lot of cultural variables for marketers, for example, roles in the household – how women are portrayed in advertising. “Because it’s a real myth in Canada.” Megginson highlights the unique Canadian marketing culture, which is, he believes, “very, very focused on the scientific part of it.” He’s referring to the insights, the ways we find people and the tools we use to find those people, and the tools we use to deliver the message. All of that, he argues, “is coming at the expense of the art part of it.”
For instance, multiculturalism is celebrated in most corners of the country. Megginson says it's “one of the defining and enduring features of Canadian life, and that’s not true in the United States,” where the portrayal of diversity and the use of ethnic insights in US marketing is very different and very complicated.
He contends that Canadian marketers are not as focused as we could be on some of those cultural factors – the nuances. He argues that marketers get stuck in the language of the “consumer”, forgetting that consumers are people, people whose lives are very complicated. Trying to use the same words for diverse people will not be effective. Instead, understanding what the un-met needs are, and then trying to position products and services in the right way requires a pretty sophisticated understanding of not just the tools to do it, but what the problem is in the first place.
Megginson says, “If I could put my finger one thing that I think we can do better for the next generation of marketing professionals, it is to create a greater cultural literacy among marketers.”
Another area where Canadians are different from their US counterparts is that Canadians tend to be less brand-centric, “not brand agnostic, sort of brand forward, maybe that’s a better way to put it,” says Casey Ferrell, Kantar VP Head of Canada. “We ask people what type of experience did you have with a brand?” When they name their first choice of brand, “the difference between the US and Canadian is sizeable, it’s significant, it’s over 75% for Americans, it under 70% for Canadians. While that’s not a massive change, it is a big enough difference that where if, thinking about status and brand, how it’s thought of represented in US marketing, we will be missing that here, simply because brands don’t play the same role that they do to that same extent, in Canada as they do in the US.”
Analysts find that Canadian run a different home than Americans do. It’s more egalitarian, the home is run by the couples. In Canada they are a lot more likely to say that they share equally, different household responsibilities like paying the bills, cleaning the house and talking care of the kids, all the things you need to do to run a house.
That sets us up to talk about gender stereotypes and marketing.
Megginson points to the last crop of graduates that he's seen come out of marketing schools, saying they “are very focused on ‘head of household’”, the grocery shopper. That, he says is "the fundamental challenge, problem, or flaw - I should say … our research shows, that that’s not the case anymore. 90% of men and 90% of women say that they share the grocery buying in the household.”
“Everyone I talk to about that phrase ‘female empowerment’ is tired of it, they want to take the ‘em’ and the ‘ment’ off the front and back of it and just talk about power.”
A greater problem, Megginson says, “is how women are portrayed in advertising. We did a global study called Adreaction, and we find that women are featured in more ads than men in Canada. However, those ads are less receptive than ads featuring men. It comes back to the portrayal of women … you can close your eyes and think of five or six ads that really aren’t in step with what consumers believe. What we’ve learned about it is that Canadian women are more receptive to humour in advertising than men and that’s rare, it’s not like that in other markets, it’s really interesting. The sense of humour in the US is very different than it is in Canada, that’s one problem. We’re talking quite a different culture, in a market that has a different sense to it.”
If you rely on gut instinct and your guts come from an all-male boardroom, you may just might miss the funny bone.
Megginson says that one approach to being effective is to deal with specialization. This has less to do with methodology, than in areas of exploration, like customer experience and how people relate to brand.
Ferrel (right) says that, “We’re going to go where consumers take us … when I look at the consumer landscape, and I see where the prevailing trade winds are blowing, I think that we are looking at increasing inclusivity, and increasingly, diversity and increasingly, female lead in the consumer environment.” These three things are going to be “in the near term”, a force that forces marketers to “think about doing things differently.”
Ferrel reflects on the reality that, for a long time, we have been talking about female empowerment. He contends that “everyone I talk to about that phrase is tired of it, they want to take the ‘em’ and the ‘ment’ off the front and back of it and just talk about power.”
He says, empowerment is about representation whereas power itself, raw power, is about “agency” and having the “ability to affect change on ones own.” He continues to say that women have for a long time been the key decision makers in some sectors of the consumer market, in some areas of daily life. And while we may still have very male dominated notions of who the power broker is in the house, when it comes to lots of decisions, like big ticket items, or financial and investment decisions, “that’s a trend where I think we are watching really carefully, because as women find their way into the upper echelons of home power, then the game changes quite a bit from gestures and nods to needing to really innovate in fundamentally different ways.”
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