With National Sleep Awareness Week only a blink of an eye ago, magazines and newspapers were replete with a whole host of statistics about the sleep deprivation of the noughties and which newfangled sleep solutions combat our measly 6.9 hours of broken sleep. Just as we are conforming less and less to 3 discrete meals a day, so we are breaking away from the traditional 8 hour sleep model. Social observers have coined the trend ‘sleep hygiene’ or ‘nibble and nap’ driven by our increasing propensity to break eating and sleeping up into small, portable units.
Losing sleep is no real surprise to anyone in this day and age, as our speed of life is accelerating at an exponential rate and technology is growing in omnipotence, present in our every waking hour. The automotive industry is being largely affected as recent statistics have shown that 30% of all road accidents are being attributed to many more micro-sleeps rather than full fledged naps.
Eager to find the silver lining however, marketers have spun sleep as the latest status symbol, with people bragging more and more about how much they got last night. The supply and demand of sleep solutions is finding its niche in urban environments and hardworking cultures, becoming the latest feature of hotel marketing as “luxury rooms feature the ultimate in sleep hygiene appointments” and corporate wellness programmes “encourage all employees to practice proper sleep hygiene”. Sleep has sparked a luxury goods boom: with sales of expensive night-time products such as beds, mattresses and pillows escalating; Australian hotels repositioning themselves as ‘sleep retreats’ costing up to £10,000 just for a week’s sleep; and pills that create the sensation of 8 hours of quality slumber, with only 1 hour real time.
At the macro level, watch this space for many more weird and wonderful sleep solutions. And at a more micro level, recognizing and adapting marketing strategies around increasingly erratic sleeping patterns could pay dividends in every walk of life.
The £5,000 Logan was only intended for Romania but Renault was stunned when it was a French and German hit. Renault now has plans for Romanian Dacia to turn into a world-beater. The company stumbled on a new market of drivers who rarely bought a new car. There are no frills, but they do come with airbags and ABS. The key to the lower costs is simply lower wages. Staff are paid one-eighth of the salary of French Renault workers.
Buoyed by their success, three more new models are now being planned under high secrecy at the Romanian plant. Toyota are also said to be carrying out a detailed study into the potential of the budget car market. But looming in the distance are the motor manufacturers of China and India – they are gearing up for a big push into North America and Europe.
Now with all the essentials and safety features we’ve come to expect but priced at $2,500, the Indian Tata Nano will forever change the economics of cars. Given the current price crash on forecourts across the UK, how low can new car prices go before the allure of traditional European car brands start to fade?
Ocado has recently revealed it is launching a new service called Instant Order which generates a shopping list based on customers’ purchase history. Shoppers can now go online, tweak the recommended shopping order as required and have their shopping done in under 5 minutes.
Amazon and iTunes boast their own customer order memory features which suggest thematically related titles that may be of interest (“if you like this then you may like…”) however it seems unlikely that this benefit is as relevant to grocery items (“if you like broccoli then you may like…?”)
It seems that Ocado expects the key customer benefit to be a reduction in time spent shopping online, but does the online shopper perceive the current time taken to really be too long?
Perhaps Instant Order will work well as a ‘hand holder’ for customers overwhelmed by the amount of choice they face when buying groceries. If the feature will help in simplifying the process, then it may well be worth its salt. Where Instant Order will really add value is by remembering how frequently items are required, for instance less regular purchases such as tin foil will be included on a monthly basis as opposed to weekly purchases such as bread and milk.
Shoppers who haven’t previously used the online order service may be tempted to give it a go in light of the reduced time and complexity that Instant Order facilitates whilst doing their weekly shop. If the feature really does reduce time and make grocery shopping easier then it could very well raise the bar for the big four’s online shopping services. Perhaps analogous services will replicate the feature and trigger a trend of hyperquick online order experiences.
The actual time saved shopping online is likely to be less important to the consumer than the increased personalisation of the service. In a time where search engines and social networking sites display ads that target users’ interests, consumers are beginning to expect to be treated as individuals and to have their tastes and specifications recognised. Online services that do not endeavour to do this will soon be the exception and consumers may begin to vote with their clicks.
I, personally however, will reserve the same level of scepticism that I hold for all online grocery shopping and resist the urge to click my way down the aisles until I believe that they will select only the decent sized, unbruised fruit as I myself would do in store.
One of the most frequently cited examples used in the teaching of communication relates to the concept of stimulus and response. It is the story of the man who wants to be thought of as being funny.
He tries telling all his friends that he is funny, really he is very funny… and of course they don’t believe him.
Then he tries telling them a few jokes and he gets some laughs, so he tells some more and gets more smiles and laughs. Pretty soon all of his friends think he is a funny guy.
It is of course a great demonstration that the stimulus doesn’t have to be the same as the response. Watching the Dancing Eyebrows commercial for Cadbury’s, it dawned on me how the ad was a real demonstration of this principle. For a while Cadbury’s have been trying to tell me they are all about Happiness, now by making me smile they are starting to succeed.
This advert has also just been named the February winner of the Thinkbox creative awards!
He discusses how, in these tough times, the philosophers and thinkers people turn to are changing. How Sun Tzu (the Chinese military strategist, much quoted at the beginning of the Iraq war) seems to have fallen out of favour with the US Army and how we have seen a rehabilitation of John Maynard Keynes as governments use fiscal stimulus to boost national economies.
All of which made me think what shifts are we seeing in marketing thinking? The most obvious one, beyond a focus on price and value, that has struck me is a shift – a return? - to a more functional approach to marketing and branding. A resurgence of the Kotler, Reeves and the “P&G” approach focusing on the functional attributes and benefits of brand and the search for the marketing Holy Grail of a USP.
Given the tough conditions it makes sense too. Everyone is thinking about what they spend their money on and so wanting to make sure what they buy is worth it. They want to know what it does, how well it does it and why it’s better than the alternatives.
We’ve always believed that the essence of a great brand is a combination of both functional and emotional – what we call the Emo-Func and depicted it with a variation on the Yin-Yang symbol. If what I’m suggesting is true then it is not that brands can ignore the “Emo”, it’s just that the “Func” is becoming relatively more important.
Perhaps like women’s hemlines, which have traditionally been seen as an barometer of economic performance, the swing in the balance of Emo-Func can be an invaluable indicator for marketers.