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Project Reconnect:
Establishing how consumers think
marketers should behave
“Advertisers just shout
their message to sell
their product.”
Female 16, Belgium

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WFA launched Project Reconnect to provide guidance to marketers so that brand communications more closely reflect what people expect from brands online. We want to build trust by bringing people and brands closer together around an agreed set of ground rules. We asked parents and kids what they thought. Here's what some of the kids told us. More here: http://tiny.cc/ltxrl

WFA launched Project Reconnect to provide guidance to marketers so that brand communications more closely reflect what people expect from brands online. We want to build trust by bringing people and brands closer together around an agreed set of ground rules. We asked parents and kids what they thought. Here's what some of the kids told us. More here: http://tiny.cc/ltxrl


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Project Reconnect

  1. 1. Project Reconnect: Establishing how consumers think marketers should behave
  2. 2. Background
  3. 3. “Advertisers just shout their message to sell their product.” Female 16, Belgium
  4. 4. Consumer scepticism 62% UK & 54% US consumers say corporations "only interested" in selling products. Source Alterian, May 2010 (sample 1,000 adults in the US and UK)
  5. 5. Marketers to blame? Marketing is perceived to be contribute to an environment in which: - Children are overweight and obese - Alcohol-related harm is on the increase - People’s online privacy is at risk - Environmental concerns are trivialised through « greenwashing » - Marketing turns children into little materialists at too young an age
  6. 6. Consumers control what’s said about our brands And we now market products and services without full control over the messaging that surrounds our brands, yet we are still accountable for every message, both good and bad.
  7. 7. The new normal 1 2 3 4 People think we They are sceptical of They blame us for problems They control much of what is don’t listen our motives and want to regulate us said about our brands
  8. 8. Re-setting the relationship As an industry, we need to rebuild trust. But how? 1 2 3 4 Listen Dialogue Engage Change
  9. 9. Project reconnect: To demonstrate to consumers that marketers are listening to concerns and will change when necessary
  10. 10. Process
  11. 11. Project Reconnect Focus groups of parents 1 Listen Listen of children 12-18 years: What’s acceptable and unacceptable to them as consumers and parents (focus on online marketing)? 3 Engage Engage Amongst industry: assess learnings, next steps 2 4 !deablogs (social media tool) with Open discussion children aged 15-17: with general public: What’s acceptable and what is acceptable unacceptable (focus on versus unacceptable Dialogue Dialogue online marketing)? Change Change brand behaviour?
  12. 12. Talking with parents: Focus groups in Shanghai and London We wanted to talk to people face-to-face in their capacity as both consumers and parents: How do they relate to brands, how do they form their opinions and what media they use to engage with brands? In this way, we could begin to understand what forms of marketing are more acceptable than others, especially in the digital environment and aimed at their children. *All were parents with kids aged 12-18 at home and all used the Internet and were aware of social networking sites
  13. 13. Talking with children: We also wanted to ask the same question to We interviewed kids aged 15-17 via children of the same age as the kids of the IdeaBlog, an online platform that allows parents we had spoken to before. Instead of researchers to engage with consumers in using focus groups though, we used a tool an environment that is intuitively more befitting of their generation. comfortable for them, since it emulates social media platforms (such as Facebook). Discussions last a whole week and can go into a lot of detail. With time to explore and reflect, consumers can provide more contemplative responses. This provides us with richer insight
  14. 14. Our IdeaBlog Respondents: A mixture of males and females aged 15-17 across four countries, US, UK, Brazil and China. They are at school or college, are web savvy, are users of digital social networking sites and are non-rejectors of advertising.
  15. 15. Brands and marketing in consumers lives Before talking about online advertising, we asked our focus groups and Ideablog communities what was important in their lives. We then opened up the discussion more broadly about companies, brands and advertising.
  16. 16. Brands are not top of mind for kids or parents < Money < Jobs Music, my interests, family < Education and school Female, 15 (UK) < Safety < Family Friends > [Parents] think about School/Studies > the bills, about how to increase the income. Hobbies > Female, 16 (Brazil) Family > Studies (China) >
  19. 19. Knowing a brand doesn’t mean liking a brand Both children and adults spontaneously mentioned brands that they claimed were not their favourites. Asked why their favourite brands were their favourites, they mentioned product experience, what the brand ‘stands for’ and what they know of the company behind the brand. They rarely mention the marketing
  20. 20. Age colours consumer perceptions of online world < Less comfortable You can be exposed to things < I’ve lost control: that are inappropriate, but my Kids spend too parents trust the way they much time online raised me Male, 16 (Brazil) (except in China where going online is a treat) < Tendency to trust Comfortable online > teens (less so for I’m in control > under 12s) Teens sense parental trust > < Parents appreciate Awareness of inappropriate > regulatory controls subjects (alcohol, drugs, sexual content…)
  21. 21. Negative predisposition to online marketing I hate pop-ups. They are annoying, < What online interrupt what I am doing, put me marketing? in a bad mood and need me to < Pop-ups and spam? close them Male, 15 (China) < Passive avoidance < Less inclined to accept advertising for free content What online marketing? > < Find it harder to Pop-ups and spam? > ignore ads Passive avoidance > I understand it pays for content / social networking > “Banner blind” can ignore ads >
  22. 22. Ambivalent views on targeting < Targeting less understood < Parents slightly more sceptical but I like the idea of customized generally welcomed design so I don’t have to < Concerns about watch things that I’m not length of data interested in Male, 17 storage (China) < Companies need to be transparent Targeting is easily understood > Most kids see value > Generally welcomed > Concerns about length of data storage> Companies need to be transparent >
  23. 23. Brand interaction online restricted to websites, except…. Consumers who have everything from a brand, massively Brand interested in it and will make an effort to seek things out ‘superfans’ (e.g. Apple) Trendy Becoming a friend / fan reflects well on you – you are brands keeping up with the latest (celebrity) trend Tech Tech brands (such as Xbox) using SNS to deliver something brands that is not found elsewhere (such as tips, extra games etc) Brands who provide you with a tangible reward for signing Rewarding up and showing loyalty (such as free products, gifts, brands promotions)
  24. 24. Games: An appropriate forum for brands Although a number of rules apply… •If it is a free game then advertising during game play is valid (revenue generation to allow the game to be played for free) •If it has been bought or subscribed to then any advertising / marketing message must ALWAYS be in the form of placement or integral (such as an ad on a billboard in GTA) •And the brand / product must feel relevant to the context in which it is seen.
  25. 25. Discussion forums, a source of brand information In China, Internet Word of Mouth is especially important as a source of credible information about brands
  26. 26. Here is what the kids had to say…
  27. 27. Insights
  28. 28. Insights for Digital Marketers
  29. 29. 1. It’s not what you say but what you do Everything a company does is a form of advertising. The brand image will be determined by more then just marketing. Thanks to digital, everyone knows what your brand is doing, not just what the brand is saying. Increasingly, consumers don’t distinguish between the brand and the company behind the brand. The chief marketing officer needs to be strategically linked in to everything a company does.
  30. 30. 2. Don’t call me, I’ll call you Advertisers must be invited to be part of each consumer’s digital world. In order to be acceptable, all contact from brands needs to have been specifically agreed. The consumer needs to feel in control of the conversation.
  31. 31. 3. What’s in it for me? Brand contact needs to offer a tangible benefit to the consumer. Communications must be different, fun, engaging and/or offer something extra.
  32. 32. 4. What are you doing with their data? People, and children in particular, are broadly positively disposed to tracking if it makes as more relevant. But they’re nervous about how long you keep their data for. A day is OK, a month is often seen as too much. Brands need to be transparent about data storage.
  33. 33. 5. Consumers think there is a time and place for commercial messages Email contact is OK (if agreed), but SMS marketing is often rejected (in Brazil, UK and US but less so in China). Younger respondents universally preferred being contacted during school holidays rather then during school time. Don’t pester; brands need to be willing to be ignored if it’s not convenient as it shows more respect.
  34. 34. 6. Don’t fake it! Be open, transparent and treat people with respect. Many consumers are turned off when they sense “commercial contrivance.” Celebrity endorsement can backfire if the consumer instinctively thinks: “I know they don’t use that product!”
  35. 35. 7. What digital advertising? When asked about advertising, most people mention outdoor and TV. When pushed, they instinctively think of online advertising as pop-ups, banners and spam and are therefore negatively predisposed to the concept of online marketing. Children claim to be “banner blind” and prefer advertising they can simply ignore (such as in the margins of Facebook).
  36. 36. 8. Age colours consumer perceptions of online advertising Children (“digital natives”) instinctively feel that they have control over their exposure to advertising online. But parents find it harder to engage as many do not yet regard the online space as a channel of communication. Both groups find it difficult to be specific about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, because collectively they aren’t familiar enough yet with online advertising. But they are all quick to denounce pop-ups, spam and anything that slows down or gets in the way of their online experience.
  37. 37. 9. What’s unacceptable offline is also unacceptable online Parents apply the same principals online as they do offline when it comes to issues such as safety and permissibility. They use the same filters to decide what is acceptable and what is not. Marketers need to use a good dose of common sense and apply the same advertising standards everywhere.
  38. 38. 10. There is a triangle of trust between parent, teen and regulator Parents appreciate the controls set by regulatory bodies. It is reassuring for them to know that there are certain guidelines in place and as a result, they worry less. They also understand they can’t control what their kids look at online, but they say they largely trust teens. Indeed, our teens corroborated that their parents trust them online and that they shouldn’t abuse that trust.
  39. 39. 11. Consumers understand the advertising trade off Consumers, and children in particular, understand that they get free content because advertising pays for its production. Conversely, this means that if they have paid for their content then they don’t expect brand messages, unless they are properly integrated and add to the experience, for example, real-life billboards on Gran Turismo.
  40. 40. 12. Keep perspective: Brands aren’t that important Brands help people identify themselves and feel comfortable. They are a means to an end, rarely an end in themselves. Marketers need to ask themselves: does your brand serve, enhance, empower...does it help people live their lives better?
  41. 41. 13. It’s good to talk People enjoy talking about brands and advertising and they want the opportunity to be heard. Too often, however, they feel marketers talk at them and not with them. People express the need to engage with listening brands.
  42. 42. Next Steps
  43. 43. It’s good to talk: “It is really nice to be asked to give an opinion, especially It’s good to talk: when you are asking for the opinion of teenagers. It will be interesting to see if the advertising companies take note.” Female, 17 (USA)
  44. 44. So, Let’s talk... WFA will partner with Ethical Corporation • To facilitate open dialogue between people and brands • To help guide marketers so that marketing more closely reflects what people really want and expect
  45. 45. Project Reconnect was conducted by Alice Moss and Caroline Bright at Firefly Millward Brown for the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). For more information and more detail from Project Reconnect phases 1 & 2, please contact Will Gilroy at: will@wfanet.org