Category Archives: Marketing

This year, “say it with socks”

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.20.03 AM

William is not an Artist, nor a stylist but by watching him, he grabs your attention. Everyone is seduced by his charm. They are impressed by his confidence.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 10.42.36 AMA few months ago Brendan and I attended UX Camp Ottawa. On the first day we met two incredible designers and entrepreneurs, Francois Boisvert and Sylvain St-Germain, founders of Socks by William. Organizers of the event had commissioned Socks by William to produce custom socks for the event to be gifted to each attendee. They had also set up a booth at the event where they were showcasing their collections.

As luck would have it, Brendan and I had the opportunity to share food and drink with the “men behind the socks” at a funky wood clad bistro-brasserie in Vieux Hull called Gainsbourg. After a few drinks and a few prefunctory “Sock, Sock jokes“,  Francois and Sylvain invited us to share our ideas on how we might help them take their business to the next level. The rest is, as they say…history in the making!

Objective:

Pop up shop December 11th at Java U on Rue McGill.

Pop up shop December 11th at Java U on Rue McGill.

Working in collaboration with our two “Socksperts” our initial mandate was a complete look and feel re-fresh of their Shopify site geared specifically to hit Black Friday and close our 2014 in style. Our Black Friday / Holiday campaign was all about increasing engagement online and off. While working in paraleel on physical and social channels we did deep POS market testing at a lovingly designed pop up shop in Old Montreal and invited the influencer, fashion bloggers and host of prominent sock fans.

 

Challenge:

The challenge for our creative team was to create a visual story different from other sock designers while still adhering to time-honoured industry standards. To start things off, we needed to take Francois’ and Sylvians’ initial inspirations for the ten designs and further develop them into concise but compelling stories. As you’ll see on the site, and beyond the sheer beauty of the designs are the prominent artists behind them and story they tell through their choices of patterns and colour.  The ever popular Tour de France is a great example:

tdf-social-story

We designed a series of these graphics (In French and English) for Facebook and Instagram.

In order to accomplish this task we needed to get super creative and then a little bit more. All told, the H&C team spent triple digit hours in the boardroom cultivating and developing ideas.

The next big challenge came with the online shopping experience. We knew we wanted to do something different. We decided to create a continuously scrolling story that drew the user through the – pardon the pun – thread of the collection. With custom photography and a complete content re-fresh, we were able to successfully engage with the consumer through beautifully designed experience of beautifully designed products. And it seemed our work paid off. Within the first week of our launch of the campaign, three of the ten designs were sold out.

Moving into 2015, Socks by William has tasked us to expand their retail program, design new stories around each collection and continue to help grow their online community.

Technology:

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.29.39 AMWe custom designed and coded a responsive multilingual Shopify theme using original design concepts, photography, and content.

Check it out and tell us what you think.

Giving Tuesday and a new approach to donating online

Giving Tuesday

Nothing like a bright, brisk, BITTERLY FREEEEEEZING COLD day to remind you that some people may not be enjoying such a cosy christmas this year.  Just as Montreal delivers its first belting blast of cold, a stalwart network of charities across town are hoping that today, Giving Tuesday, will make a difference.

It’s heartening to see how many companies are taking up the cause. CIBC’s simple Ret-tweet=$1 is bang on. I hope it goes INSANELY VIRAL….;)

NOTE: Google, who seems never to miss a day with its fun and frivolous dedications is strangely absent.

One of the big challenges charities face, beyond the obvious hurdles of being heard over the racket, is handling the cost of giving itself. Believe it or not this represents a considerable share of their administrative costs. You’ve got to spend money to make money, right? Right! And once the estimated 50% of their budgets that go to fundraisers is spent, they’re squeezed just a little but more by the credit card companies and growing number of “philanthropic startups” that help handle payments and other stuff. That generally amounts to an additional 5-7% of donated dollars NOT going to those in need.

It’s a bad old story. And it’s one of the reasons many people cite for not wanting to give through organizations.

Take Ed Norton’s Crowdrise concept. Great initiative right? Well, let’s a take a closer look at their pricing model.

If you go straight to their pricing page, it looks pretty much the same as any of the others, with three tiers of transactional costs ranging from 5% in the basic “FREE” plan to the 3% all bells and whistles “Royale” plan (nice name, that one), that costs $199 per month (with an annual commitment paid upfront). Oh, yeah and in the spirit of doubling down, as a Crowdrise donor you are asked to make your own contribution to their effort through the checkout process suggesting that the charity hasn’t already paid.

It’s the same basic concept employed by Classy.org but classy isn’t afraid to go Royale with Cheese, imposing a sliding per transaction fee from 5% to 2% and then 1% as you enter a monthly fee structure with them that starts at a $499/mo and goes up to a whopping $1,999/mo. But hey, that gives all sorts of awesome web integration, banking and admin options and multiple sub domains!

No one would blame the tech industry for being entrepreneurial but there’s a big difference between leveraging technology for good, and being predatory. These models, even if they can argue some machiavellian case for raising more money in the aggregate, are simply not doing charities any favours.

As you may have guessed, I am building up to a point here, but before I make it I want to provide full disclosure. As I present what would seem to be the antidote to this problem, and a possible game changing alternative, namely Ensemble.co happens to be a Horse & Cart client.

The brain child of Jason Dominique, Ensemble.co not only turns the whole online charitable giving concept on its head. It also takes what might have been considered a suicidal business model and makes it one of the most attractive aspects of it for charities and donors alike.

NOTE TO READERS: Ensemble is currently signing on charities to it’s service. As such its donor functions are not fully activated. If you would like to help the Ensemble cause, please urge your favourite charity to claim its free page on the site. 

Instead of engaging charities as clients, Ensemble speaks directly to the donor and their desire for fair and transparent pricing. It’s so transparent in fact that the company bravely commits to a model that is now and forever 100% free to charities. Hand in hand, Ensemble does a great job of empowering donors. In their words:

“Because a gift isn’t a gift if it isn’t free. This simple, immutable principle is the reason Ensemble exists, but we can’t do it alone. Collective Responsibility empowers donors to take on the cost of giving and ensure that their gifts of charity really and truly are gifts.”

Ensemble

Ensemble.co’s pricing page

Of course the credit card fees are inescapable. But what if the credit companies could get on board and actually stop charging transactional fees for charitable donations? Shouldn’t they be doing this already?

Happy Giving Tuesday, and here’s hoping this season we all find a way too help out and make life a little better for the people around us.

For Iceland Foods Christmas isn’t that special

Good morning December! You’ve finally arrived. We can finally admire your Christmas commercials without feeling too awkward. You never let us down, with your gorgeous and poetic advertisements. But we’re also really amused at the terrible ones!

On today’s Bad Marketing post, we will see a commercial that comes from the other side of the Atlantic, where Her Majesty rules the Kingdom. The United Kingdom has given us a treat with this commercial from Iceland, a food-retailer business specializing in frozen food.

This Christmas commercial features Peter Andre, a British singer, presenter and TV personality. Although I’m not a good judge in this instance, by the reactions of the ladies in this commercial, he must be quite famous and attractive!

The ad starts with an elderly couple doing their groceries at Iceland, when the woman notices Peter Andre. Her husband says that “it isn’t” him, but the woman is quite sure! So Andre takes notice and replies “it is!”

Here’s the joke – he’s not talking about himself. He’s talking about the cake in his hands – the “winter berry glistening gateau” – which he’s thrilled to find at £4 (about $7). “It is!” refers to a festive Christmas cake.

As Andre is ogled and hit on by various ladies at the Iceland grocery store, he can only focus on the Christmas cakes, their deliciousness and their excellent prices. The tagline “That’s why Peter goes to Iceland” ends the commercial and serves as a reminder that cheap products doesn’t mean cheap quality and aren’t only reserved for low-income families.

Where this commercial fails is on the way the message is sent. It’s not just a Christmas commercial. This ad could play at any time of the year, all you’d have to do is remove the garland and Christmas packaging. The cheapness of the products is not so much of a problem. But focusing on it for a Christmas commercial is a bit too déjà-vu as you can see the same kind of commercial during the rest of the year.

You can’t continue your campaign just by hinting that the products are for Christmas. This is a terrible idea. Your daily consumer already knows who you are and your prospects won’t be more attracted to your store than before. It is the same kind of ad they saw the rest of the year, and if they didn’t become one of your customers, chances are that this one won’t help either. As a result, this is why it’s featured in our Bad Marketing blog post!

Video of the Week – Martini Plays on its Italian Roots

Martini launched its new campaign a couple of weeks ago with new commercials and the hashtag #BeginDesire. Spoiler alert: It’s beautiful.

The world famous Italian aperitivo brand has been on our tables since 1863! Made by 3 distillers from Turin, Alessandro Martini, Luigi Rossi and Teofila Sola, the first mix of vermouth and gin was the Rosso. The Bianco, the one that is most commonly known today, was only introduced in 1910 and has been part of James Bond’s – shaken, not stirred – Vodka-Martini cocktail since Ian Fleming’s novel Diamonds are Forever in 1956. James Bond couldn’t represent the Martini brand better as his character incorporates all of the elements of Martini: elegance, glamour and desire. After all, it is an Italian brand !

In this brand new ad, Martini has chosen a poetic route to launch it new campaign with a full 2-minute-long commercial. A classy Italian man finishes his drink at a small caffè and then magically disappears. The young waitress picks up his drink and notices two words on the little Martini napkin: Begin and Desire. From now, a long and poetic run takes place in the streets of Rome.

The man that was drinking earlier, is now on the top of a building standing against a giant Martini sign. With a sign of his hand, the man makes the word Begin appear on the ground and then make it slip it into a little cobblestone street as an invitation. The woman, intrigued, approach carefully the street corner before a man with the word Desire written in the back of its suits grabs her hand to bring her in a crowded and running mob. The soft and simple music gets higher with light notes like a puppet show. The man standing against this huge Martini sign keeps orchestrating the mob, and making the words Desire and Change here and there, but also controlling people’s actions to interact with this young and beautiful waitress. He is like a puppet master, like he was the spirit of Rome, the one that controls everyone’s decisions.

This young waitress is then orchestrated through several fantastical occurrences within the mob of people, until she is put by herself in front of a building with the words “Il Futuro Sei Tu” which literally means “the future is you” just as the music stops. Now she is facing a decision: should she take this suitcase which magically appears next to her?

As the music starts back, she’s grabbing the suitcase and starts running and enter the building that was facing her which turns out to be a train station. She jumps into a futuristic train and discovers a new set of words on the napkin she was holding: Desire Begins Change. The puppet master has finished the job as he blows a kiss while the Martini sign lights up.

This fabulous commercial, directed by Jake Scott, brings everything that represents Martini. The glamourous waitress, the elegant puppet master and the invitation to desire. After seeing this, you are eager to rediscover Martini again, you want to share a classy Italian night with some friends or with your lover.

This ad brings a poetic touch that isn’t often seen in advertising, and for that reason, it is our video of the week!

Video of the week: Choose Your Winter

nike_logo_wallpaper_for_mobile_iphone-t2Let’s face it, winter is here and we cannot do anything about it. It’s easier to be lazy and snuggle with your warm, cozy blanket with a bowl of chips and hot chocolate, while watching TV shows all day. An easy excuse to hibernate than to exercise.

“Is winter out to get us?” the Irish actor, Chris O’Dowd as a weatherman says.

The weatherman then presents various winter sports that features athletes who train and perform during winter, whether you are out in the soccer field or inside an ice rink. He also, ironically describes the effects of the cold on a human body by exaggerating of what would ‘happen’ to you. His corniness adds a flair of comedy to the campaign while simultaneously showing athletes how Nike’s new line is efficient.

Additionally, the ad is promoting Nike’s new line of products called ‘Nike Hyperwarm.’ The ads show how their new winter gear is beneficial and effective, how the fabric is made to keep you dry, and warm, and their fit is streamlined so you can have full range of motion, effective performance and are comfortable.

The approach is to tackle a dilemma that everyone faces during winter whether you are a professional athlete or not. With Nike Hyperwarm, everyone can keep training and exercise harder. “You can’t choose the weather, but you can choose your winter,” Nike stated. Basically, as their slogan says, “Just Do it.”

The Classic ‘Glass Half Full or Half Empty’ Scenario Explained by Behavioural Economics

We all know the common saying, “is the glass half empty or half full?”. Normally we are talking about whether to be optimistic (half full) or pessimistic (half empty) about a certain situation. The answer we choose can reflect our mood, our outlook or even our worldview. It is a test of perception, because we all know that the same amount of liquid is in the glass no matter how we phrase it. So why does our wording or phrasing affect our outlook? Or is it our outlook that affects our word choice?

Here is an experiment:

Imagine you love really good red wine and these two options occur:

Option 1:

Someone places a glass in front of you and pours you half a glass of wine. You feel ok about this since you have some wine to drink. Maybe you even feel good about your glass of wine. The glass appears half full to you.

Option 2:

Now imagine instead the same person places a glass in front of you and pours it completely full. Just as you go to reach for it, the server grabs the glass back and pours out half of your wine and then places the half glass of wine on the table for you. Now  you feel king of upset, a few minutes ago you had a full glass of wine, now you only have half. Suddenly the glass feels half empty.

Even though both examples leave you with the same amount of wine, the emotional response is very different. In the first option you feel pretty good about the amount of wine you have and in the second option you are pretty upset that you didn’t get the full glass of wine. Suddenly you realize that there is a big difference between having a glass that’s half full and a glass that’s half empty.

This is a prime example of a behavioural trait in humans, which Behavioural Economics calls Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion is the term used to explain the theory that humans strongly dislike loosing things. One definition reads, “Loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains”.

Dan Ariely, the author of The Upside of Irrationality, puts it this way, “Loss aversion means our emotional reaction to a loss is about twice as intense as our joy at a comparable gain”. For example if you find $50 on the street versus lose $50 from your pocket, studies would suggest you would be twice as angry at loosing $50 compared to the joy you felt finding it.

This theory helps to explain why people struggle to give away old unused clothing, why people will pay $10 more to save $2, why gamblers become reckless and bid bigger and bigger hands when losing and even why people sometimes stay in unhappy relationships.

In fact it was first discovered in 1979 when psychologists Kahneman and Tversky studied the different effects of gambling on their students. The explanation for this behavioural bias lies in a specific part of our frontal lobe called the amygdala. This area of the brain is mostly associated with negative emotions and behaviors. It is the amygdala that makes us feel loss as a negative emotion.

Another explanation is the idea that humans put greater value on things which we own than things we don’t own. For instance an old tea mug might only be worth $2 on the open market but to the owner of that tea mug it is worth a substantial amount more. We become attached to things we own and the loss of them is more painful to us than gaining a similar item.

 

So how does loss aversion affect marketing and advertising?

Clever advertising has caught onto this human behavioural trait and uses it to better sell products or services.

Example

Grocery shops in the District of Columbia tried to incentivize people to bring in their own reusable grocery bags by offers a 5¢ reward for each bag brought in. This incentive had little to no effect on people behaviour.

Next they tried a different incentive. The grocery store charge 5¢ for each plastic bag a customer required. Although 5¢ represents a small fee, it resulted in a major reduction of plastic bags.

This same effect has been replicated by grocery stores across North America with great success.

The success of this example lies in a simple shift from gain to loss. Again, people hate loosing something, even if it’s only a couple of cents.

 Example

Pet store everywhere have long known that the best way to entice people to get a new pet is to let them take the pet home for a weekend to ‘try it out’. Whether or not pet storeowners know the specifics of loss aversion, they definitely understand that idea that humans will become attached to the pet over the weekend and have a very hard time giving it back.

Adoption rates of new pets are definitely up with this technique.

 This technique also works, to a lesser degree, with trying on clothing at a clothing store, or putting clothing on hold to possibly buy later. Once people have picked something out, tried it on, and put it on hold they begin to feel a sense of ownership over the item and are more likely to purchase it.

 

Conclusions

You can see the similarities here. By framing a situation as loss rather than gain, greater motivation is generated and generally greater results are produced.

Here’s another example that came up during a conversation the other day.

How do we get people to drive more economic cars? Currently the Canadian government offers varying amounts of money in rebates if you buy an economic car. The way the rebates work is you first pay the full value of the car and then apply for rebates. The rebate comes in the mail months later. This incentive has yet to result in a radical shift by the Canadian population.

If we apply loss aversion theory to this problem we would conclude that a better solution is to discount all cars by the eco rebate amount, lets say $1000 and then make anyone who buys an non eco friendly car pay $1000 to the government after they purchase the car. People hate loosing money so this technique might help convince people to be more environmentally friendly with their purchase.

In the end we know it is all the same thing no matter how you frame it, the glass still has the same amount of liquid in it, the shopping bags still cost your 5 and the a car cost the same regardless of if you pay all up front or in two stages but humans are irrational beings, with complicated brain processing units and one this is for sure, we hate loosing things.

 


More reading and resources

http://danariely.com/tag/loss-aversion/

http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/02/10/loss-aversion/

http://www.investorwords.com/16526/loss_aversion.html#ixzz3It5IaMTu

 

Do More Choices Really Make Us Happier? Choice Paradox and Human Decision-Making.

The other day I was out at a greasy spoon for breakfast. I was half asleep and happy to see there were only two items on the menu. Nice and simple, I don’t have to think, just have to choose option 1; standard breakfast, or option 2; omelet. Oh but how wrong I was!

Here is a rough memory of my conversation with the waitress:

Waitress: “What would you like to order?”

Paula: “Standard breakfast please”

Waitress: “How would you like your eggs? Scrambled, over easy, sunny side up, fried, well done, boiled or poached”?

Paula: “ummmmmm, over-easy”

Waitress: “How would you like your toast? White, brown, rye, whole wheat or a bagel?

Paula: “ummmm, brown”

Waitress: “Would you like bacon, sausage, felafel or back-bacon?

Paula: “oh man, I guess bacon”

Waitress: “Would you like coffee, tea or orange juice?”

Paula: “oh um, I think tea”

 Waitress: “Green tea, black tea, mint tea, herbal tee, decaf tea?

Paula: “Black tea”

I don’t even like my eggs over-easy and I much prefer rye toast over brown toast. So why would I order them? The overwhelming number of choices for each aspect of my breakfast made it difficult for me to choose what option I actually wanted. I felt overwhelmed by all the options and felt pressure to choose quickly since I was at a restaurant. The result, I pretty much picked at random just to be finished with the process. And then was unhappy with the result.

Now this abundance of choice is not solely breakfast’s fault. Products are being offered in a huge variety of options across almost every consumer industry. According to my own math Lays offers 39 different flavours of potato chips in the United States. Walmart carries 60 different types of toothpaste, Old Navy offers 206 different types of women’s jeans and Starbucks boasts that they offer over 87,000 different drink combinations.

laysThis constant expansion of choice seems to be based on the idea that more is better and that choice equals freedom. Or companies think the more they make, the happier people will be and therefore, the more they will buy. But does all this choice actually make us any happier? At what point does too much choice actually equal restriction and even stress?

The Jam Study

A study conducted in 2002 by professors at Columbia University and Stanford University tested this relationship between choice and purchase. In a series of high-end groceries stores in the United States the study set up two different gourmet jam tasting stations. The first jam station offered 24 jams to taste while the second offered only 6 jams.

The percentage of people who stopped to taste the jams?

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The percentage of people who actually purchased a jam after trying one?

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Interestingly enough this study seems to suggest people don’t actually like choice, they like the illusion of choice, but ultimately find too many choices difficult to deal with. In fact in the Behavioural Economics’ sphere this is referred to as Choice Paradox (or the Paradox of Choice) since an abundance of choice often renders people unable to choose effectively. Barry Schwarts, author of the Paradox of Choice; Why More is Less, explains that an abundance of choice makes people overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. Schwarts goes as far as to say “Unconstrained freedom leads to paralysis”. Emphasizing that the increase of choice leads to the decrease in ability to make effective decisions.

So what is it in our decision-making that makes choice so stressful for humans? Dr. Russel James from the Texas Tech University explains it best, “Choice and our satisfaction are driven by the comparisons we make”. Basically, as our choices increase we have to make more and more comparisons, and this increase in comparisons leads to lower satisfaction because we can’t tell which option is actually better. Think of this way:

Which ice cream flavour would you choose?

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Easy, right? And most likely you eat the ice cream and be happy with your choice.

Now which ice cream flavour would you choose?

Icecream2

Humans just hate making decisions, its stressful, it is hard work and it has consequences. As the number of choices in any situation increases it forces our brain to work harder to evaluate all of the options. We try to compare every option available and recall past decisions for similar situations.

As we have noticed the number of choices available in any one industry is insane. Can you imagine having to evaluate 87,000 different drink combinations at Starbucks before ordering?

So what do humans do when faced with vast choice? How do we survive in a world of over whelming options? It seems as if our coping mechanism for vast choice situations is to choose something familiar to us. We might buy the exact same drink at Starbucks each time or alternate between three we know well. This appears to help our brains because it relieves the need to evaluate all of the options available. As Dr. James explained it also makes us happier because it removes the risk for potential disappointment from a new choice.

There are of course some brands who have figured this out. Even Costco themselves – the Kings of choice – have started to slim their offerings. In an article by the New York Times, Costco CEO explains that the company has tuned into the fact that, “Selling fewer items increases sales volumes…”. One of their newer company philosophies is to sell a limited number of items. While Walmart sells 60 types of toothpaste, Costco only offer 4 toothpaste options.

The most interesting part about Choice Paradox is that it backs up why humans like to choose from three choices, as we discussed in last weeks blog. It is widely believed that the Centre Stage Effect is most effective when 3 options are presented and becomes less effective as the number of choices increases. If we include Barry Schwartz studies, at some point in increases choices people just begin to choose at random and no longer are influenced by a Centre Stage Effect. However my guess is that Social Proof could still play a part in human decision making even when a large number of options are offered.

Which ice cream flavour would you choose?

Icecream

In all of this it is not say choice is important to humanity and that people shouldn’t try new things. It is just to talk about and explain how excessive choice puts stress on our brains and can make us feel as if we are in a Choice Paradox. We seem to like the idea of vast choice but dislike actually having to pick from vast options. Another example of the humans brain irrationality.


More Reading and References

http://www.businessinsider.com/costco-is-the-anti-walmart-2012-11#ixzz3IEDrPrte

http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140930/BUSINESS/309309952/12335/NEWS?template=printart

http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice/transcript?language=en 

http://www.economist.com/node/17723028

http://www.jeremysaid.com/customers-will-choose-middle-offer/

http://www.slideshare.net/rnja8c/paradox-of-choice-2139360