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Abandon The Real World At Your Peril: Lessons from the Rosseau Marriott Trenches

Hand over your tips or else, posh Muskoka hotel warns staff – thestar.com.

Muskoka resort backs down on plan to take portion of staffers’ tips — the star.com

The latest exercise in near fatal brandicide committed by the Rosseau Muskoka (Ontario) Marriott offers interesting lessons to all of us, on many levels.

The story is quite usual:” posh hotel needs money, sees opportunity, grabs it, thinks”. The somewhat sordid details, that the hotel saw the opportunity in the tips of a certain class of employees (spa staff — not even much money there) and determined to make a grab for them, are perhaps less usual, especially given the reality that this would reduce the income of the staff. Or that it would convert a voluntary gratuity into a mandatory 20% add-on to the price (plus sales tax, which brings what is an effective price increase to 23%, if my math is right — this kind of price increase by stealth is anathema to consumers, but more on that another time).

We don’t need to go into the bizarre executional overtones (sending the employees a letter saying they are welcome to quit of they don’t like it…hello?), or the timing (a private-member’s bill is sitting in the provincial legislature — State Assembly — to forbid hotels and restaurants from pooling tips, sharing tips out with other classes of employees or taking a small admin fee for processing tips on credit cards — Premier Dalton McGuintyseeks a ban on “tipping out” to the boss.).

What is particularly interesting is the medium!

The story was based on a tip (no pun intended) received by a daily newspaper; it was published in a daily newspaper and took on a life of its own in a daily newspaper. The Star has a daily circulation something north of 600,000, so it is no surprise that the front page article was noticed.

And here’s the lesson: do not forget the power of traditional media! While dozens of Marriott denizens were arduously watching the twitter sphere so they could nip threats just like this in the bud, they overlooked the traditional media. Clearly no plan was in place to deal with the negative upshot (while, I bet, much thought had been given to the question of how to deal with the negative backlash in social media). But the damage that the front page of the daily newspaper seen by 600,000 plus people can do is quantitatively greater than the damage even millions of tweets can do.

Why? Because social media can be managed. The hotel, or the brand (should they wish to distance themselves from this, as, in this instance, they should) can direct information, explanations, loyalty points and all kinds of mitigations, directly at the people who are interested. Unfortunately, the people who are interested, the people who tweet about this stuff, are not the people who count — very few of them could or would spend $300/night in a hotel. The people who do buy $300 night hotel rooms see the newspaper headlines, even if they don’t read the stories.

People tweet from their slow thinking brain — that is, they tweet as a result of rational thinking. But people judge hotel brands in their fast thinking brains: judgement, response, brand evaluation, whatever we call it, is not rational. It is an outcome of myriad information sourced consciously and unconsciously from myriad sources. Even if the headline is not consciously registered, it may well be stored away in the depths of our brains to be used as fodder for ultimate evaluation of whether the brand is one we want to be associated with or not. This accidental informing of our opinions is not likely to happen on twitter.

To add to this, these negative headlines are absorbed in the absence of any balancing positive information. If the only unconscious information we are absorbing about the brand is this negative stuff, then it is likely that our positive emotional opinion of the brand will be eroded. Not immediately, but over time.

It’s nice to think we can manage the world online: a world in which we can control from a dash-board everything our specific “target” (as metrically determined by unending data mining and on-line  behavioral correlations) sees and learns about our brand. And then we can “interact” with them, set them straight on misinformation that accidentally seeps through the cracks in our “relationship”.

But this is not the world we live in.  Punters (customers in Englandish), are constantly subjected to messages out of our control in the real world they inhabit. and by abandoning the real world in favour of total focus on the digital world, we open ourselves up to the kind of damage this story has probably done to brand Marriott.

Filed under: Hospitality and Tourism, , , , ,

Silly me: I thought only gay or straight could be determined by the length of index fingers

Obama vs Romney: Their Hormonal Quotient® Makes The Difference | DervalResearch.

I have heard much about the influence of testosterone and estrogen in the mother’s womb on characteristics (physical and emotional). Specifically whether somebody is gay or straight (oddly enough I never thought this was all that outlandish, but then I tend to believe most of what I hear). But this is the first window into a world of “applied prenatal hormonization (my name, sorry).” And fascinating it is!

In fact, based on my own index finger and ring finger (ringless probably because of the relationship between the two) I learned the following about myself: my HQ is “estrogen” and I share this trait with Brad Pitt, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood. I am a trend setter, I am diplomatic. I am meticulous. I am also cheap, as I did not order the full $29, 15 page Hormonal Quotient® Estrogen Report.

The link above will take you to an analysis of the presidential contenders based on their assumed finger lengths (I doubt either volunteered the exact measurements of their index and ring fingers).

The applications of this marketing are obvious. I can see grand segmentation plans based on the length of index fingers, and I am quite excited at the prospect of conducting focus groups among very testosterone Hormonal Quotient® persons (which would include, apparently, most US Presidents, Angela Merkel and of course, Margaret Thatcher. While there is nothing on the site to confirm this, I would imagine that most Canadian Prime Ministers fall on the estrogen side of the Hormonal Quotient®.

Click on the picture to take your own Hormonal Quotient Test.

Filed under: Behavioral Economics, Uncategorized, , , ,

Luxury Marketing: How to Sell Ham at $500/kg ($225/lb). Twenty Seven Times More Expensive than Loblaws

Easy. The same way you would any other grocery product: list three or four functional benefits and put it on sale.

So, here’s a sign from Pusateri’s in Yorkville. Notice that the ham promises that it is rich in Proteans  (oops, sorry, Proteins), Calcium, Phospherous, Iron and Vitamins B1 and B12.  Considering that Loblaws was offering (March 27 flyer) San Daniele prosciutto silver, deli sliced for  $1.79/100g or $17.90/kg, the Pusetteri’s ham should contain around 27 times as much Protein, iron, calcium, vitamins, etc. Or no rational person would pay the equivalent of $50 per gram for something that cannot be snorted no matter how hard and fast you chopped it.

But, of course, no rational person would pay this, so Pusateris has DISCOUNTED the stuff. For a limited time (presumably limited to this life-time) you can buy the ham not for $500/kg, but for $440/kg a savings of $60/kg.

Pusateris Super Discount on Prosciuto

Managed to fight the crowds to get a clear shot of this in-store merchandising device. Note that there is no mention of better taste, cleaner pigs, or any unrational reason to pay a premium of 2700% for prosciutto.

Who says the stupid rich aren’t suckers for a good deal. But, as any retailer knows, they should have included this in the weekly flyer.

Filed under: Are they stupid or just mean: design idiocy in action, Behavioral Economics, , , , , , , ,

Study: Only 1% of Facebook ‘Fans’ Engage With Brands

This is really long URL, but worth it — for those of us who have questioned the blind faith in the power of social media to “build relationships” with brands that (presumably, although never explicitly stated) result in increased sales, true-loyalty, brand ambassadorships and so on, this piece of research is enlightening.

However, just because only 1 out of every 200 people who “like” the brand actually create any content about it, does not mean that the whole facebook exercise is pointless. But, the point of the Facebook exposure is, ultimately the same as any other exposure: exposure!

And, as I have written here before, exposure and frequency of exposure is key to building brands. Engagement, though nice, does not actually build brands (it may deepen relationships, although some may also question the point of this as well). But the idea that thousands of people see the brand, maybe feel something about the brand, is certainly worthwhile.

So, keep up the good work on Facebook!

http://www.linkedin.com/news?viewArticle=&articleID=5568699569434271756&gid=31804&type=member&item=91677100&articleURL=http%3A%2F%2Fadage%2Ecom%2Farticle%2Fdigital%2Fstudy-1-facebook-fans-engage-brands%2F232351%2F&urlhash=x6GC&goback=%2Egde_31804_member_91677100

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Sex and advertising: Retail therapy | The Economist

This little gem published in the Economist is worth reading. In fact, it’s must reading as it highlights the everything-new-is-old and what-comes-around-goes-around theories of the world.

Sex and advertising: Retail therapy | The Economist.

Going back some years, Ernest Dechter invented the world of “soft-side” qualitative research: getting beyond the rational response and learning about non-rational responses. Or, triggering non-rational responses.

Not to boast, but we have been doing this for the past fifteen years: we have understood that behaviour toward brands and products is determined to a large (but not total) extent by unconscious motivations. We, that is Bruce Barnes and I, have focused on typology, specifically typology as defined by Carl Jung and referred to as archetypes. But, as we have said over and over again, identifying archetypes is only part of the process: the real power, form a marketer point of view, comes from understanding how the archetypal energies respond to stimuli from the world around them.

Most recently, Daniel Kahneman (qv) has studied this phenomenon and explains it in practical terms: the brain functions via 2 systems. We respond to everything immediately via our System 1 brain, which is entirely unconscious and we have no direct control (or awareness) of it or its machinations. Our response is moderated by our conscious, thinking brains: System 2. Depending on a number of factors, our system 2 brain can and will override our system 1 response, or it will let it go. Which results in spontaneous, sometimes illogical, sometimes bang-on behaviors.

So, from Freud (Superego, ego) to Dichter (emotions and unconscious whims) to Kahnemann (system 1 and system 2) to Bernstein and Barnes (unconscious typologies) the one theme is constant: we are hardly in control of what we do, BUT, with the right approach, marketers can develop a general understanding of why we do it.

Both Dichter and Kahneman come from the idea that what goes on in our subconscious can be influenced by factors of which we are not and never were consciously aware — that we absorb information that we are not aware of. For instance, we can be exposed to something (let’s say, for instance, the word “sex”) for a very short period of time — so short that we do not consciously notice it — and our sub-conscience will pick up on it and store it away. If it is repeated often enough (Kahneman) or relates to some base motive or need, we will associate it with other stimuli (for instance a brand name), and this will influence how we respond to the brand name.

Yes! Vance Packard may have been right all along. What did Dichter really insert into the ads for Chrysler for which he became famous, or, more obviously, Esso:

 

Are we, modern advertising people, in our eagerness to be smarter and more in control, doing a disservice to our brand clients by denying the power of subliminal advertising.?

O,r are we in fact NOT using subliminal advertising? Does anybody really know what lurks in the folds of Apples famous iPod ad?

I wonder.

Filed under: Behavioral Economics, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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