Tag Archives: targeting

Marketing Mary Jane: Innovating in a White Space Consumer Category

Read the original post on the Sklar Wilton & Association website

In 2001, medical marijuana became legal in Canada. People dealing with cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, hepatitis, arthritis, anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and many more serious, long-term ailments had the choice of one more treatment option.

Now more than 18 years later, medical, social, and government personnel have gained a wealth of experience creating regulations and generating in-market data about the health benefits and drawbacks of cannabis.

With that information in his back pocket, Justin Trudeau ran his 2015 campaign for Prime Minister of Canada on a platform that included legal personal use of cannabis. The Trudeau government prepared the Cannabis Act in early 2017 which was well received by 63% of Canadians. And, on October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized for personal use in Canada to huge acclaim as you can see in the Google Trends chart. Cannabis instantly became the definition of marketing white space in Canada.

A blank canvas rarely happens in marketing. Typically, marketing white space refers to gaps in the marketplace where:

  • the needs of one segment of consumers are not being met. Though many products may exist, compete for share of wallet, and serve the needs of various target groups, they might not serve the needs of THAT target group. Perhaps there isn’t a sandwich for vegans or the new homes aren’t accessible for people who have mobility issues.
  • there are gaps in a product line. For example, even if there are many flavours of tea, an orange flavored option might be missing.
  • there is little to no competition. Perhaps one brand of grass seed perfected the production and logistical requirements, weeding out all the competitive brands.

However, in the case of cannabis, the white space was the result of legislation that required that corner of the marketplace to be left completely bare. Suddenly, the white space was available for the taking to whomever could innovate and market most effectively.

In most cases of white space innovation, there is some precedent for the marketing team to work with. In the first three scenarios, marketers could learn which marketing tactics and strategies had failed or succeeded from other brands, SKUs, companies, and similar categories and selectively choose the ones that would be more likely to succeed for them.

However, cannabis had no competitive brands, SKUs, other companies, or even similar categories to learn from in Canada. When it comes to white space, we must be blunt. Cannabis took the cake. Or the brownie.

So how can brands effectively market white space products when there are few to no precedents for comparison? Let’s hash it out.

  1. Ignore your existing business model. Most companies have templated processes for every aspect of their business including product development, marketing, manufacturing, logistics, customer relations, and more. When working towards white space innovation, cast aside your preconceived notions of things ought to work and how they’ve always worked. These pre-existing templates often hinder innovative ideas and prevent the creation of positive solutions.
  2. Know what you’re selling: Marketing cannabis isn’t as simple as proclaiming to people in Canada that you finally have a long-awaited product for sale. Just as Four Seasons and Lexus sell status and luxury, cannabis companies must identify whether they are selling marijuana, socializing with friends, life enhancers, relaxation, experimentation, or something else. Once their brand mission has been identified, they will be able to unlock the difference the brand will make in consumers’ lives, align their culture among cross-functional teams, and have clarity and alignment to a view of the future.
  3. Know your audience: The fact that recreational cannabis is now legal for every adult in Canada does not mean that the target audience is every adult in Canada. Some adults are against the product for personal moral reasons. Others don’t want to risk potential side effects. Some are curious to try it just for fun, and still others are desperate to use it in their attempts to ease the pain of debilitating ailments. Good marketers will recognize there could be many, very different segments within the population, and that they need to identify and understand the unique attributes of the segments they intend to target.
  4. Know what you do well: As with any product or service, being successful comes back to knowing what you do well and focusing your energy there. Four Seasons focuses on and excels with luxury hospitality, not budget overnight stays. Golf Town focuses on and excels with products for golfers, not athletes. And Adidas focuses on and excels with athletic shoes, clothing and accessories, not hockey skates. Identify what you do well and focus there.

Converting white space to successful innovation is a dope process. When you’re ready to find our white space, we’d love to help.

 

Ready to learn more? Download the Sklar Wilton Plan on a Page for a template that will help you bring together all elements of the marketing plan on one page – from who to win with all the way through to measuring success. Or, learn how we helped Molson Coors better understand consumer segments and develop a winning portfolio strategy with sustainable growth.

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How the best research panel in the world accurately predicts every election result #polling #MRX 

Forget for a moment the debate about whether the MBTI is a valid and reliable personality measurement tool. (I did my Bachelors thesis on it, and I studied psychometric theory as part of my PhD in experimental psychology so I can debate forever too.) Let’s focus instead on the MBTI because tests similar to it can be answered online and you can find out your result in a few minutes. It kind of makes sense and people understand the idea of using it to understand themselves and their reactions to our world. If you’re not so familiar with it, the MBTI divides people into groups based on four continuous personality characteristics: introversion/extroversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, judging/perception . (I’m an ISTJ for what it’s worth.)

Now, in the market and social research world, we also like to divide people into groups. We focus mainly on objective and easy to measure demographic characters like gender, age, and region though sometimes we also include household size, age of children, education, income, religion, and language. We do our best to collect samples of people who look like a census based on these demographic targets and oftentimes, our measurements are quite good.  Sometimes, we try to improve our measurements by incorporating a different set of variables like political affiliation, type of home, pets, charitable behaviours, and so forth. 

All of these variables get us closer to building samples that look like census but they never get us all the way there. We get so close and yet we are always missing the one thing that properly describes each human being. That, of course, is personality. And if you think about it, in many cases, we’re only using demographic characteristics because we don’t have personality data. Personality is really hard to measure and target. We use age and gender and religion and the rest to help inform about personality characteristics. Hence why I bring up the MBTI. The perfect set of research sample targets. 

The MBTI may not be the right test, but there are many thoroughly tested and normed personality measurement scales that are easily available to registered, certified psychologists. They include tests like the 16PF, the Big 5, or the NEO, all of which measure constructs such as social desirability, authoritarianism, extraversion, reasoning, stability, dominance, or perfectionism. These tests take decades to create and are held in veritable locked boxes so as to maintain their integrity. They can take an hour or more for someone to complete and they cost a bundle to use. (Make it YOUR entire life’s work to build one test and see if you give it away for free.) Which means these tests will not and can not ever be used for the purpose I describe here. 

However, it is absolutely possible for a Psychologist or psychological researcher to build a new, proprietary personality scale which mirrors standardized tests albeit in a shorter format, and performs the same function. The process is simple. Every person who joins a panel answers ten or twenty personality questions. When they answer a client questionnaire, they get ten more personality questions, and so on, and so on, until every person on a panel has taken the entire test and been assigned to a personality group. We all know how profiling and reprofiling works and this is no different. And now we know which people are more or less susceptible to social desirability. And which people like authoritarianism. And which people are rule bound. Sound interesting given the US federal election? I thought so. 

So, which company does this? Which company targets people based on personality characteristics? Which company fills quotas based on personality? Actually, I don’t know. I’ve never heard of one that does. But the first panel company to successfully implement this method will be vastly ahead of every other sample provider. I’d love help you do it. It would be really fun. 🙂

Brand Building in a Digital, Social and Mobile Age Joel Rubinson, Rubinson Partners Inc. #NetGain2015 #MRX

Netgain 2015Live blogging from the Net Gain 2015 conference in Toronto, Canada. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

Brand Building in a Digital, Social and Mobile Age

Joel Rubinson, President and Founder of Rubinson Partners Inc.

  • Picture of brand success has to change
  • We are no longer in a push word, consumers pull information at their leisure
  • We engage in shopping behaviours even when we aren’t really shopping, we are always IN the path to purchase
  • Brands must become media
  • Starbucks is the best example of a marketer that gets it. 40 million fans on facebook. millions of website visits. millions have downloaded their app. Every interaction generates data they can use, can be used for personalization, to amplify brand communications. They no longer have to pay for every message.
  • The rise of math experts in advertising  – lift from using math to place advertising is a repeatable success
  • Programmatic messaging is key. Think about impressions that are served up one user at a time. marketers goal is serve the most relevant ad at the right price. And this needs to scale.
  • Research is missing in action when it comes to math – we lack digital metrics, still rely on survey based tracking, we have a post-mortem mind set, we are failing to change how marketing works
  • We must get serious about integrating digital – why isn’t this happening, why are we locked in a survey world
  • Our comfort zone is surveys. We know how to construct 20 minute surveys. Our learning zone is the mobile area where we unpack our surveys into smaller pieces.
  • The panic zone is digital, we don’t understand it. We must move digital into the comfort zone.
  • lets start by just looking at the data, look at page views, look at themes in social media, how big is your brand audience, how many likes on facebook, how many twitter followers, how many newsletter signups. These are unambiguous measures. Look at clicking and sharing and conversions.
  • Stop treating social media as a hobby, not specialty projects, not ancillary thing to look at. You must find ways to increase positive word of mouth.
  • Do we really need feedback from consumers every single day on attributes they never consider? Can’t social media which is much more organic do this?
  • Bring in data that you can’t get from a survey that has action value. Some online panel companies already use a social login called OAuth.  Append all the Facebook data to your survey and use it for targeting.
  • Data aggregators have lots of profiling information for targeting ads throughout the web which means different people get different ads based on cookies from their browser
  • You can also link in frequent shopper data to your survey data.
  • You don’t have to guess whether an ad is working. You can run an experiment and serve the ad to one group of people and see the change in group behaviour.
  • MR needs to know that brand meaning is done completely different now. People seek out knowledge, digital delivers information in real time. But marketing research hasn’t changed.
  • Think digital and do something big. Shift some money into datascience or integration. Conduct in the moment research with smartphones.
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