The Patos Challenge: Deal or No Deal?

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Patos is the fastest growing salty snack brand in Turkey and Kraft’s most sold product amongst Turkish consumers. Kraft wanted to take their efforts a step further and increase sales for this product amongst the Turkish youth by creating excitement and buzz about the brand. The strategy was to reach them directly and engage them through the channels that this mobile/web savvy demographic already used. The result was a comprehensive approach that involved traditional public relations techniques and a variety of advertising tactics to support an engaging and insightful digital marketing campaign.

How Did They Do It?

Kraft, in partnership with Vodafone and Mobilera, realized that the best way to increase sales was to let consumers interact with the brand.  They did an excellent job in profiling their target audience and understanding the best ways to grab their attention and keep it.

The way to pull in consumers was easy. Patos bags came with a unique code inside that you could text from your Vodafone mobile device and redeem for 5 free minutes, or… you could accept a challenge.  The amount of price minutes increased every time you accepted a challenge and won. Strategist for this campaign wanted not only engagement, but longer engagement time between consumers and the brand. They also knew that the way to take them further had to be within a single purchase or they could quickly lose their grasp of the audience.

Considering Vodafone is the second largest mobile phone provider in the country—with 25% of the market share—and also considering that Vodafone has identified young users as one of the fastest growing segments, this was the right partnership to target this audience. Since prepaid mobile plans are particularly popular in Europe, free minutes were a great incentive for consumers to participate. This dynamic maximized the campaign’s effectiveness because Kraft is an established organization partnering with Vodafone, which is an already trusted operator in Turkey.

But, it was not only about the mobile texting campaign. This campaign included a mobile game version of the challenge and a web version. All these supported by radio, TV, outdoor, point-of-purchase, web and mobile advertising and even buying keywords with Google AdWords to boost website traffic. Additionally, there was intensive public and media relations’ support through events around the concept of ‘Deal or No Deal?’ (such as trying to break the world record for people who fit in a Volkswagen, inspired by one of their TV commercials).

 

Because of the success of this campaign, Kraft has continued to use these marketing tactics to promote more of their products. 

The Results

  • 10 million unique codes were distributed and 3.5 million were used, this is a 35% response rate.
  •  Sales increased by 27% and market share by 1%.
  •  238,000 downloads of mobile game.
  •  The number of Patos sold reached an all time high during the campaign.
  • Created huge buzz in the industry. Campaign was nominated for multiple awards and won the Best Messaging Campaign Award of MMA (Mobile Marketing Association EMEA, 2009) and the Most Creative Campaign Award by Digital Age, Turkey 2010.

Why This Worked?

Kraft’s marketing team had a vision and they where able to tie it together sucessfully. They knew that mobile would easily engage their target audience but they chose not to make ‘just another tactic’. Their all-inclusive approach not only grabbed their consumer’s attention but also motivated them to take action (by participating in the game) because this campaign made it easy enough for the consumer to want to continue engaging. They also used the technology effectively and were creative with it, using their insights to develop the approach. Basically, they targeted the right audience with the right offer through the right channel. Not an easy task. Kudos!

China: Where Bargaining Is A Way of Life

August 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

I go gaga over sales (and I’m not talking about the singer).

This appreciation for sales probably goes back to a very young age. My grandmother would pick me up everyday after school and often she would take me shopping. She introduced me to the wonderful world of consumerism. But, she was not only an avid shopper she also had a sixth sense for sales and bargains. She was skilled. Thanks to her, successful bargain shopping was a fundamental part of my formative years. Today, sales are my addiction. My appreciation for items has a direct correlation to the percentage off regular price that I paid for it. Nuts? Not really, everybody likes stretching his or her dollar or in the case of China, their yuan.

CNN’s Eunice Yoon couldn’t have said it better. In a country were labor rights are forbidden, the term collective bargaining takes a whole new meaning. The new trend is group buying or, as known in Chinese: tuan gou.

CNN REPORT: Group Buying in China

You might be thinking, where is the innovation in that? The United States has Groupon, Living Social, Buy With Me and tons of others group buying websites that offer great deals. Well, this is a somewhat different approach. I bet you’ve never seen a Groupon with a $1,500 discount on a new Audi. If you see the report by CNN linked above, you will meet office worker Jin Fen, 26, who says he spends an hour and half every day looking for bargains on the web. Last October he grouped with four other strangers and managed to save over $1,500 when buying a new Audi.

This is basically a flash-mob-meets-shopping strategy that stems from the Chinese tradition of bargaining for the purchase of goods. It’s simple, one buyer connects with other buyers who want to purchase the same product and agree approach the vendor as a group. These groups are sometimes acquaintances or can also be groups of strangers that connected through online forums. By “bulk buying” consumers are able bargain a lower price and businesses simultaneously can sell multiples of one product. Everybody wins.

Chinese online innovators are leveraging this trend as a business opportunity and developing group buying sites much like the ones we know. This new business model is now a huge trend in China and it’s getting massive consumer support.

In fact, according to SinoTech Group, group-buying sites grew dramatically in just two years (early 2009 to December 2010) going from four to nearly 1,700 and quickly increasing in numbers. Most of these businesses will quickly tank because of lack of consumers, lack of vendors or lack of credibility but quite a few have managed to become emerging leaders in the industry.

The real innovation on this new business model is that Chinese consumers are known to prefer cash-on-delivery or checks to online payment systems. Online shopper Fang Hua said: “I usually opt for cash-on-delivery. But I have succumbed to impulsive buying on group purchase websites, because the prices are so low!” Today, one in 10 Chinese consumers are shopping online, changing consumer behavior in China.

Will this trend live on in China? I think e-commerce has taken its time but is now steadily developing in this country. Plus, a good deal is a priceless commodity that never gets old, no matter where are you from. Will it substitute the in-person bulk buying approach that the Chinese consumer has mastered? Highly unlikely. Bargaining in China is more than a strategy; it’s a way of life. Take it from a bargain aficionado, there is nothing like the thrill of a negotiation and the control you feel when you walk away from what you consider a bad deal.

It’s about increasing your purchasing power. Many consumers around the world are no longer satisfied with the usual retail experience. This consumer behavior will continue to influence the market and new business models will be developed considering this. Consumers need to take the power and run with it. It’s about time the weight starts shifting in our favor.

Lessons learned? The Chinese have a point…don’t buy retail.

Kodak: A Lesson In Mobile Marketing

July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

iPhones, Androids and Blackberries have changed the way we live. Every time I have a few minutes, I pull out my phone and scroll my emails, monitor the breaking news, update Twitter, check out my Facebook news feed or even take the opportunity to chat with a friend through text or instant messaging. Without my phone, waiting time just feels like wasted time. Whether for doing research on-the-go or scrolling websites while waiting for the next train, my phone provides me with a powerful, and sometimes addictive, source of information.

Like me, there are many others. In fact, with 67% of the world population being mobile users and mobile Internet usage on the rise, I am probably an excellent example of where the world is heading. Mobile Internet use is even close to replacing computers in many parts of the world and the way mobile technology has revolutionized our lives is being noticed by businesses worldwide.

Why Mobile Marketing?

According to Mobile Marketing Watch the potential for this technology is obvious, especially in developing nations such as Africa and India where cellular penetration (CP) has more than doubled since 2005. A study conducted by Nokia in partnership with TNS India shows that mobile web users are using their mobile to access the Internet 2.4 days per week versus using traditional web 2.7 days per week and even more users get new product information via the mobile web (28%) than the traditional web (26%).

Mobile Internet marketing is the way to engage consumers. Not only because of its reach but also its cost efficiency.  In the words of Sanjay Gupta, CMO of Airtel, a global communications company: “The cost of interaction of mobile is low, there is a huge cost efficiency to use mobile for interaction, low cost of transaction and, therefore, there are big opportunities for advertisers to leverage the use of this medium.”

Additionally, as Indus Mobile, a mobile marketing services and technology company headquartered in Mumbai, India, explains, this technology provides a unique communication channel that is direct, personalized, targeted, interactive and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  This is a powerful marketing tool broadens your reach by effectively targeting audiences who are not as accessible through traditional media channels.

In India 65% of the population are mobile users and this figure is rapidly increasing at a rate 20 million new subscribers per month. Organizations in the Indian market know this and are rapidly becoming innovators in this type of marketing.

Let’s look at a great example!

Kodak

Kodak understood how to use mobile marketing to engage their customers and ensure strong results. This company turned to mobile advertising in order to increase their customer base at Kodak Express photo processing outlets in India.  But, it wasn’t just about increasing foot traffic to their shops, it was also about gathering customer information to create a database with profiles of preferences that could help them understand consumer behavior. Customers were willing to submit this information (through surveys) because, once they completed,—and completion included sending 50 prints to your local Kodak Express Photo Outlet—they would have the opportunity to win a 2GB iPod Nano or a 1GB memory card

But the prize wasn’t the only reason customers engaged… With simple and concise messages such as “Kodak Express Shoot It Win It!”  and “Print them now. Win them now!”, Kodak encouraged costumers to click through banners and navigate to their site efficiently and cheap.

More than seeking to engage mobile users Kodak customized their approach and related it back to their brand by aiming towards camera-phone users, therefore potential consumers, rather than focusing on demographics. “The mobile campaign was a sort of experiment—promoting Kodak to people with camera phones,” said CEO of the Singapore based advertising company. “The goals were to increase footfalls to the Kodak Express outlets in India and to consolidate user profile and behavior understanding from Kodak Express users.”

Additionally, I found this approach especially interesting because now that digital cameras are the preferred modus operandi not many people print their photos.  Personally, I still print a few pictures here and there but I would never think of printing the pictures from my camera phone and, now that Kodak mentions it, why not? This approach worked not only because the tactics related to the product but also because it wasn’t about a developing a mobile campaign, it was about reaching key publics to possibly change behaviors and introduce the consumer to new options, furthermore, correctly choosing the tool to accomplish it.

What did Kodak get? During the one-month duration of the campaign, Kodak generated 11 million visits to the survey page, with a click through rate of 1.7 percent.  Even more, Kodak now has a database of profiles and preferences that will teach them about consumer behavior and will help them develop more strategies and tactics.

This campaign was not only creative, targeted and well put together, it also showed that the people in charge of strategizing it understood the medium and their audience, a skill that many struggle with in this era characterized by an overwhelming amount of available mediums.  Cost effective and efficient marketing tools like this are revolutionizing not only India but also the world and this I way I think mobile can only get more relevant going forward.  As for Kodak, they have an interesting head start.

Social Media And The Chilean Government… Hitched For Better Or For Worse?

July 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Social Media and Democracy

The social media movement is here to stay shifting the Internet from a one-way informational medium to a two-way conversation with dynamic interaction. 

According to a recent Pew Internet study 81% of U.S. internet users looked for information or completed a transaction on a government website in 2009. Many of these users believe government websites, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and podcasts are critical supplements to traditional means of communication (snail mail, phone customer services, etc.) and they are a great way to interact with government agencies. Social media is being used to improve the quality of interaction with the public because this type of engagement makes the government seem more accessible to the public and provides them with a more personalized approach, whether for informational or transactional purposes.

Take for example the United States President, Barack Obama, he used social media as part of his presidential campaign strategies because his campaign understood the potential to cheaply and effectively share his message with the masses, using a grassroots approach.  World leaders have come to understand that social media can be leveraged strategically to share information across organizational boundaries and become more accessible to a public that is motivated to connect, share and learn. Even more, this real-time active flow of information lends itself to more government transparency and represents a potential tool for accountability.  This trend is known as digital democracy or e-democracy. Like the United States, Chile is joining this trend.

Chile Enters The World Of Digital Democracy

As of 2010, Chile has 54.8% internet penetration and, according to a ComScore research, social networking sites reach 91% of Internet users in Chile, the most popular of these being, Facebook, Fotolog, Windows Live Profile and Twitter. It would be wise of any candidate to tap into this kind of outreach because of its massive reach potential and inexpensiveness. Sebastián Piñera, the current President of Chile, did exactly that during his presidential campaign election.

Founder and Director of Twitter, Jack Dorsey with President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera.

The Chilean President used social media sites such as Twitter not only to communicate his campaign ideas but also to segment his public and make sure the correct information was reaching the intended public, according to his campaign director, Pablo Matamoros. Additionally, this approach created closeness with his constituency, making the candidate more approachable to citizens.

Now that Piñera is President, his entire Cabinet is on board on this strategy. In fact, all of them have opened Twitter accounts. Chilean social media users are noticing and are taking advantage of this new way of interacting with their leaders. Many hope that this is a sign of progressand rather than a platform for merely sharing information, this will serve to steer Chile towards a stronger democracy where citizens can reach out to their officials directly. Even more, that through social media, the Chilean society will feel more to empowered to participate in shaping this country’s political future.

“I hope this is a way to establish greater horizontal communication between the ‘authorities’ and the citizenry, Chile is light years away from a real citizen government, and we have the means to do it, not only technologically, but also a large movement of people interested in the common good and with a desire to be heard… I am talking about real democracy and citizen expression.” -Enzo Abbagliati Boïls expressed in his blog, Cadaunadas.

The Backlash… Unjustified Or Traces Of An Old Regime?

Recently, a report by Radio Bio-Bio revealed that the Government of Chile hired a private company to monitor the country’s social media conversation. In a country that still hasn’t forgotten many years of dictatorship, (having started a democratic government in 1990 after a 17-year military government headed by Augusto Pinochet) some fear this is an intimidation tactic.

The government insists that it is their responsibility to listen to online conversations and gather this already publicly available information to be more in-tune with their citizen’s needs. But, social media users in Chile are concerned that along with this monitoring could come censorship based on dissenting opinions, according to Ana Piquer, Executive Director of Amnesty International Chile. “One [concern] is the right to privacy or intimacy, the other concern lies in the preservation of freedom of expression and right to assembly,” she explained.

However, it is not yet clear what will be done with the information that the government is gathering and until an ulterior intent can be proven, I consider it smart for this new tech-savvy government to access this information, which is already publicly visible, and use these tools to make their practices more efficient.

In this 2.0 world it is important for governments to be in par with new technologies and maximize their resources in order to promote productivity. Social media, when used correctly, is a powerful tool that can establish direct relationships between leaders and those affected by their measures but governments need to listen to the conversation and actively engage. Hopefully, the Government of Chile will use these resources to continue to develop democratic best practices for the country.

Twitter: The Knight in Shining Armor of Customer Service

July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

"Because your goal shouldn’t be merely to vent, but to get results." From Time Magazine’s "Customer Service Hell" by Brad Tuttle.

I have this theory that time waiting on hold should not be considered life. If you are like me, you are probably in a bad mood the moment you hear the pre-recorded message telling you all the possible numbers you can press in order to fulfill the purpose of your call. I always used to press zero (o)–it seemed logical to me–I would get a message saying something along the lines of: “In order to transfer your call to the appropriate customer service representative, I need to know the reason for your call.” My response was always to press zero again and persistently.  This was my way of saying: “No you don’t need to know, you’ll probably transfer me to the exact same place regardless” and I would always get my way. Let’s face it, the representative would probably ask me to explain all the details again; I was not trying to be difficult, just time efficient for the benefit of everybody involved.

At some point, companies realized the “just-press-zero” trick and it stopped being the magic number.  Now, I find myself with a closet full of things that I do not use or care for just because I refuse to go through the complain-so-you-can-return-or-get-a-refund process (which will probably result in a useless store credit anyway).

According to a feature in the July issue of Consumer Report I am not the only one who thinks there is something severely wrong with today’s customer service.  Frustration runs high among many consumers these days. In fact, more than sixty percent of those interviewed for the article said that, in the past year, they had either left a store because service was poor or hung up on customer service without having had their problem addressed.

The idea that the customer is always right has become an idea of the past and if you do not think so, try calling an airline representative.  A few months ago, I was visiting my family back home and got really sick but doctors could not figure out the cause. I called American Airlines and told them I was having a medical emergency and had a doctor’s order (in writing) instructing me not to fly–not only for my safety but also for the safety of others. The customer representative agent informed me that being ill is no longer a reason to change my ticket without a penalty fee and that my ticket was what they called “use it or lose it” (their exact words) because it would be more expensive to change it than to buy a new one. In what world is that ok?

Thankfully, along with social media fever comes the possibility of a shift in the balance of power from companies to consumers. People are starting to speak up regarding their complaints on very public forums and companies are rapidly discovering the extent of damage one review or complaint can make, as well as, how important it is to handle their customers correctly in order to ensure customer loyalty. Complaints are no longer a nasty letter to the CEO or a five-minute venting session to the manager; an unhappy customer is now only a tweet (and many re-tweets) away from representing some major damage.  Bad PR on Twitter could destroy a company, not because of one customer complaint but because of its potential reach.  Same principle applies the other way; good PR on Twitter can expand your customer pool.

Those companies that have successfully embraced customer service through Twitter understand that an integral part of efficiently managing their brand is monitoring the web and satisfactorily responding to these customer complaints. A great example of this is Comcast. Although calling Comcast, and all cable companies, can be a pain in the neck, this company monitors the web for customer complaints and responds immediately–picking up customer frustration with the company instantly and providing solutions.

Another great example of customer service through Twitter is Jet Blue. This company uses their Twitter account to communicate to its followers not only about their current promotions and sales but also to inform about flight delays and changes in policy. Jet Blue engages with its customers by reaching out directly to them through Twitter. Even more, for them it is not only about offering solutions to their clients but they also tweet fun facts and even respond to the passengers who tweet positively about them. This is an excellent example of a brand that understands their audience. I have feeling that had I been flying Jet Blue when I got sick, their Twitter customer service representatives would have been much more useful and that will definitely be a consideration the next time I need to buy a plane ticket.

Companies such as Comcast and Jet Blue are being rewarded with a powerful reputation and an incredible brand loyalty.  Dell, Southwest Airlines, Ford, and Starbucks, among many more, are more examples of companies that have been successful in promoting a positive brand image through Twitter.

This is not as easy as it sounds though. Companies need to understand the medium and understand their audience in order to ensure communication. The most important thing a company must know is that Twitter is not a one-way PR channel; it is about being engaged in the conversation around your brand and being transparent in this engagement. If successful, this could mean a reduction in customer relations’ costs and an improvement in brand image. Everybody wins.

This trend is truly genius. It’s about time consumers regained some power. Our voices should be heard and considered since we are the reason these companies have business at all!

As for me, I am just happy that I no longer have to wait by the phone or spend time writing a letter that will go unanswered. All I need to do is take out my phone and write my complaint in 140 characters or less.

Hopefully, it will not be long before this trend becomes the standard. This just might be beginning of the end of the customer service inferno; a knight in shining armor has come to save the day.

Welcome!

July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am a Georgetown University Student currently finishing her Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. I will be updating this blog post weekly with interesting public relations initiatives from brands and organizations around the world.

This blog started as part of a course called “Global Communications In The Age Of Social Media” in the Georgetown University Center for Social Impact. For this class, I had to write weekly post with insights about digital communications in different countries.

All posts are open for anyone to comment. I would love for you to share your thoughts.

Thanks for reading and please come back!