Building Brand Love With Feeling

This month in New York, SheKnows Media presented the first annual Femvertising Awards at the BlogHer social media conference. According to SheKnows, the awards are intended to acknowledge brands that are “challenging gender norms by building stereotype-busting, pro-female messages and images into ads that target women.” A CNN article covering the event said that the ads are “selling good ideas… good values….”  I would add selling good feelings to that list.

The inaugural award winners were brands/campaigns Hello Flo (First Moon Party), Dove (Speak Beautiful), Ram Trucks (Courage Inside) and Always (Like a Girl). What these campaigns have done is connect with deep emotions, memories, and experiences – whether positive, hurtful, embarrassing, maybe ones that need reconciling, righting, acknowledging and celebrating. Each is an ideal example of how mining emotions can spark, ignite and foster brand love into a warm, ongoing fire. These brands got brand love right:



As important as the Femvertising movement is, giving someone “the feels” isn’t just in the realm of women. Brands are tapping emotions to get through the hunky crusts of men to inspire brand love. Often, fatherhood is the easiest and more obvious door to emotional connection. Over Father’s Day, there was the highly-effective First Fatherhood Moments campaign by Dove. And before that Toyota scored big during the Super Bowl with the My Bold Dad campaign. I know, I know – just listening to the music on that one gets me going.

But before embarking on memorable campaign creation, there’s serious work to be done first to get at authentic emotions, then to get at other cues that telegraph your brand. Brands that leverage insights techniques that capture visceral, irrational, nonverbal, visual along with contextual language are in a better position to create the optimal positioning and messaging foundation that will inspire enduring –and viral – brand love. At BuzzBack, we are grounded in the belief that because emotions are the common bond of humanity, the brands that weave emotional insights into their narrative will stand the test of time.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to better connect consumers to your brand on a profound level, we’ve got a webinar on the subject of brand love. Click here to learn more.

Marketing to the Millennial Food Shopper

There’s been a lot of talk about Millennials lately, and with good reason. Millennials currently make up the country’s largest living generation, and by extension, the country’s largest consumer group with $200 billion in annual buying power. This has not gone unnoticed, especially among big name brands. These days it seems that everyone is changing their marketing strategy to appeal to the Millennial consumer – a few months ago, we talked about TGIFridays removing the appetizer choice limits on their Endless Appetizer deal. Now, within the last month, we’ve heard about changes even more companies are making specifically focused on winning over Millennials.

First, marketers noticed the trend that Millennials have been moving away from beer, and choosing wine and spirits as their drink of choice. Frantically, beer companies have tried other tactics in order to win back the Millennial consumer with Anheuser-Busch releasing a spoof on classic cocktails including Bud Light Mixxtails and Bud Light Ritas. So far the canned cocktails have been a hit among Millennials, but only time will tell whether or not Millennials continue this trend or move on to drinking actual cocktails.

Then came the news that Target would be shifting its shelf marketing towards products that Millennials are more likely to buy. Consumers in general are starting to become more health-conscious and focused on buying natural or organic products. So in hopes of appealing to the “urban Millennial” Target is shifting the focus on their processed shelf staples to other items like Greek yogurt and granola. While this doesn’t mean that canned soup and boxed cereal will be completely removed from shelves, Target will be placing the spotlight on these products that today’s Millennial is more likely to buy.

However, the most surprising news was that Whole Foods (or as it’s more commonly called, Whole Paycheck) plans on launching a chain of lower-cost stores geared towards Millennials. While Whole Foods rose in popularity due to its early entrance into the organic grocery store scene, today healthy products can be found at almost any grocery store and at a much cheaper price. So while the demand for natural and organic products has increased, Millennials are still cash-strapped and price-conscious shoppers. The high cost of food at Whole Foods stores has generally been a turn-off for Millennials, but Whole Foods is hoping to gain their market share while at the same time being careful to not break the brand they have built up of “premium prices and premium products.” The stores, which will feature “a modern streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection,” are expected to start opening next year. And if prices are actually as reasonable as they are expected to be, you can be sure that this Millennial will definitely be shopping there.

The issue of Millennials being a younger generation and generally being less wealthy than the Boomer Generation is one that should be of particular interest to marketers. Affordability might just be the key to winning over the Millennial food shopper. Not every company can afford to just up and make a whole new chain of stores dedicated to winning over Millennials, however that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to lower the cost of food shopping. In our recent study on Millennials + Food & Nutrition, we briefly discussed how Millennials use a variety of sources for discounts and how over 90% of Millennial shopper use coupons (see clip below). This is something that not only applies to grocery stores, but also restaurants and product companies who also have the ability to control coupon deals. So, while Millennials do keep an eye out on the quality and freshness of goods they are buying, they are also aware of the limits placed on their food budget, and it’s up to marketers to find that balanced sweet spot.

For more information on our Millennials & Nutrition study, get in touch with us below.

There’s a Bug in My Soup…On Purpose

When the U.N. declared back in 2013 that we humans should eat more bugs, it was an idea that many couldn’t stomach. This suggestion was made as part of the UN’s larger and quite serious focus on global environmental issues and potential food shortages. And no matter how queasy the notion might make someone, edible insects are rich in protein and sourcing them has low environmental impact. In many parts of the world, bug eating is not some foodie trend, but a way of life. Deep friend insects can be bought from Thai street vendors as easily as a hot dog from a food cart in Manhattan.

National Public Radio recently profiled a Thai entrepreneur looking to bring this favorite street food to the grocery and minimart snack aisle. To woo the uninitiated bug eater, he is relying on familiar chip and crisps flavors like barbecue and cheese, while on-pack messaging promotes the health benefits of the treat inside. Are bug products on their way to becoming the subject of MR explorations of the future? Will BuzzBack soon be leading eCollage studies to determine the best positioning for mealworm larva puffs or cricket breakfast flakes (Try them with milk!). And how would we tackle the concept generation sessions on potential flavors?

It makes one wonder – is the ick factor culturally ingrained? Earlier this year we released a report that explored global attitudes around the idea of Healthy – which included snacking. No one in Russia, Brazil or the U.S. named a single insect to their list of sought after healthy snacks.

That would suggest that Americans probably aren’t quite ready to view bugs tossed in their salad as a welcome addition – this still ranks up there as a legitimate reason to complain to the waiter.  However, American consumers have been enjoying a bug-based additive already – and most are probably not even aware that they are. Chochineal, carmine or carminic acid is a colorant made from crushed South American insects that give many processed foods their red color.

But bugs by choice? It’s going to take some marketing brilliance and powerful positioning to make that idea palatable. And maybe it will be the Millennials who will lead the way on insect cuisine. Our most recent study of their attitudes and behavior when it comes to food & nutrition found them to be more adventurous and willing to try new things. But to be fair, we didn’t specifically ask them if those new things had antennae or ectoskeletons.

To learn more about our Healthy Report or get more information about Millennials & Nutrition, click here.

Read My Lips! And Eyes! And…

Affectiva, a pioneer in emotional recognition software, seems to be everywhere lately – from discussions in my office about new MR techniques, to a recent article in Wired. Their Affdex technology views a respondent’s face and can read what emotions are being expressed. The technology itself is impressive, but it leads me to the question: which of my devices will read my emotions, and what will they give me in return?

Affectiva recently offered a 45-day free trial to developers who want to experiment with their API – which got me thinking… what are some apps or devices I would want to read my face/emotions? I’m not a developer (just a dreamer) so here is my short list:


  1. Apple TV / Roku – Could the device please pause my show when I inevitably doze off while catching up with my shows on Sunday evening?
  2. eCommerce sites (Amazon, Gilt, etc.) – While I shop, can you tell which items I react positively to, and tailor my experience like a virtual personal shopper?
  3. Dating sites – maybe Tinder can tell exactly how you feel about a potential match, so you don’t have to keep swiping left/right? Perhaps you would find different matches based on your initial emotional response, which you may not even be aware of.


What about the rest of you – any other ideas for places you do (or maybe don’t!) want to have your face/emotions read?

Read the full post here on The Market Research Event blog.

We’re Focused on Millennials

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve visited more than a dozen clients on two continents. Just when I think I’m done hearing about Millennials, inevitably the client says, ‘We’re focused on Millennials.’ I should know better. This is a demographic still on the rise if a recent report by eMarketer is any indication. It predicts that Millennials’ spending power will reach over $1.4 trillion by 2020.

With so much spend potential, every brand we work with is eager to nail what makes this demographic tick. How are they similar and different to other generations, such as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers? How do we talk to them? Develop products for them? Which brand name will appeal to them? What ideals drive them to purchase?

We cover some of the similarities and differences in attitudes and behaviors among Millennials and other age segments in our recent Sustainability webinar. This study explores consumer emotions, imagery, attitudes and even the types of language each group uses to talk about Sustainability. The Millennial findings from the study carry forward to other factors that make this critical cohort more mindful of their actions – all with implications on brands looking to win over their hearts and wallets. Click here to view the webinar or request a summary of the findings.

The Coca-Cola Self-Brand Connection

A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to come across my name on a bottle of coke next to the name of a friend’s (both part of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign). Of course I then had to purchase the Coke with my name on it, but only after texting a picture of the bottles in the vending machine to my friend. As I looked at my name written in the iconic Coke font, I felt a strong emotional connection between myself and a brand I’ve been familiar with most of my life. Talk about breaking through the clutter and convincing me to reach for another Coke the next time I’m craving a soda.

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign has truly proven successful in helping Coke develop their brand loyalty. The 2014 marketing initiative was adapted from the 2011 Australian campaign of the same name, specifically targeting the millennial generation, and has gained a lot of positive attention throughout the summer, increasing traction on social media platforms in the US. According to Networked Insights, 95% of consumers had positive/neutral reactions to ‘Share a Coke’ and Coke reported over 125,000 posts across all digital channels at the start of August. Now as the campaign comes to an end, here’s a closer look at why Coke’s campaign stood out this summer…

One probable psychological explanation as to why the campaign was received so positively by consumers is the Name-Letter Effect. Unsurprisingly, research by social psychologists suggests we associate positive emotions with our names, and generally prefer our initials over other letters in the alphabet. Furthermore, studies show that the Name-Letter Effect causes us to select products and services that share our initials (not to mention our full names). Applying the Name-Letter Effect to my experience, it becomes obvious why I strongly identified and connected with the brand when I saw my name on the bottle in the vending machine.

It is important to note the positive influence high levels of personal identification within consumers can have on brand loyalty when viewing a campaign. I think it is safe to say that all companies want their brands to not only be purchased, but loved and valued above all others in their category amongst consumers. In an ideal world, companies want consumers to connect with their brands on such an individual level that they conceptualize the branded products as an extension of them as a person. Any brand an individual deeply associates with then becomes a means of self-definition, as well as a way to outwardly express themselves to others. This is commonly known as Self-Brand Connection, and describes the ultimate ideation of brand-loyalty.

The key takeaway here is that companies should strive to develop clever marketing strategies that cause consumers to view brands as an important facet of their life, and not just a simple, impersonal product. Reflecting on this as it relates to the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, I don’t think there is a better way to build Self-Brand Connection than replacing the name of a product with those of its’ consumers.

The Next Big Player in the Health Care Industry

Just the other day, I saw an intriguing teaser about pet insurance on AMA TV. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), this year pet owners are expected to spend $58.5 Billion on their pets and of that, $15.25 billion will go towards veterinary care. Due to the increase in people who treat their pets as part of the family and an upsurge in procedures and cost, pet insurance is positioned to be the next big player in the health care industry. It’s already starting to be offered as an employee benefit at many companies.

However, with the rise in popularity comes new regulations. Proposed California legislation which will regulate pet insurance is currently making headlines. The bill is up for a vote in the Senate. It will be the first of its kind. No other state has imposed regulations for pet insurance.

All of this reminded me of a study we conducted early last year with Hive, our online forum. We brought together a community of pet owners to explore all aspects of the relationships between pets and their human caretakers.  We discussed everything from the types of relationships they have, sleep habits, new product wish lists, holiday shopping behaviors, and even pet insurance. What we found is that there was a lot of hesitancy around acquiring pet insurance, largely driven by costs. Due to the economic climate, some pet owners made mention of barely being able to afford their own health insurance, much less being able to afford insurance for their pets.


We found that with pet insurance being widely seen as a luxury vs. a necessity, those who offer insurance should first and foremost focus on value communications. Breaking costs down in easy to understand increments (i.e. for only $15 dollars a month, for only $100 dollars a year) might increase value perceptions. Offering tiered and/or customizable levels of coverage may broaden appeal.

Additionally, insurance communications should play-up the emotional bond that exists between a pet owner and their pet. In doing so, the takeaway is not ‘I can’t afford it’, it becomes ‘how can I NOT afford it?’

I must admit I used to be one of the naysayers when it came to pet insurance, but not long after we conducted this study I joined the ranks of those insuring their pets; after all, my pets are just two, very loved, extensions of my family.  So, for all you animal lovers out there, how do you feel about pet insurance?

To request a copy of the findings from our Exploring Pet Ownership Study, click here.

Viral Marketing At The World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is upon us and of course, from a research point of view, the way brands capitalise on such a huge global event to increase their penetration and improve their image is a fascinating component of the tournament. Of course we expect to see huge companies like Nike and Adidas featuring football stars in advertising to further their association with the sport, but there are plenty of examples of how this can work in far less obvious ways.

This World Cup has been commonly referred to as a genuinely second-screen phenomenon, with Twitter especially creating functions that help to facilitate discussion and sharing on matches as they are played. Brands should seek to capitalise on this and many do so.  The bookmaker Paddy Power have a particularly effective social media team who keep their posts relevant and humorous, such as this guide on how to spend the first evening with no game:


The marketing of gambling is a particularly interesting area, given that differentiation between bookmakers really boils down to little other than offering superior odds to competitors. However through effective positioning that resonates with the target consumer (i.e. sports fans), they can carve out a role for themselves and Paddy Power play this game better than most.

Since the World Cup is an event that seems to transcend general sporting interest though, jumping on the World Cup social media bandwagon is not only the jurisdiction of brands that one might commonly link to sport. Following Luis Suarez’ bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, opticians Specsavers posted an image on their Facebook page which has been widely shared due to the high profile nature of the incident and the amount of discussion around it:

ben wc 2So with this in mind, here is my star five-a-side team of brands who have caught my eye (in no particular order):

1)      Nike: The Last Game (great animated mini-movie capturing what so many love about football –

2)      Panini (sticker collection promoted by the hashtag #gotgotneed which taps effectively into the social aspect of collecting and swapping stickers with friends)

3)      Specsavers (Chiellini vs. Cannelloni)

4)      Paddy Power (their entire Twitter feed

5)      MasterCard (image below – not directly from them but a strong enough tagline that this poor England fan has appropriated it to show his despair!)

ben wc 3

Cloudscreen or Sunscreen?

With the official start of summer just around the corner, it seems like the importance of wearing sunscreen is being mentioned more and more. We previously talked about the new June bracelet that measures your sun exposure a few months ago, but now Neutrogena is introducing a “new” product, or as some have pointed out, a product they’ve been selling for years but with a new name – Cloudscreen, complete with a picture of a cloud on the bottle. Steve Hall of Ad Rants claims that this is just the “repackaging of sunscreen for idiots”, but I think it’s actually an ingenious marketing idea. Everyone knows that clouds don’t block UV rays, but most won’t bother to put on sunscreen, let alone even on sunny days. I learned my lesson this past week…I went to the beach on a partly cloudy day, didn’t put on any sunscreen and ended up with the worst sunburn I’ve ever had.

So why do we ignore these warnings? Do we really need a literal symbol on a bottle of sunscreen to convince us that we need to put it on every day, including the cloudy ones? Clearly, we do.

Being the visually-driven consumer that I am, I know that seeing a bottle of Cloudscreen would definitely pique my interest. The cloud acts as a great visual reminder that yes, sunscreen is necessary even on those cloudy beach days, especially for those like me who have a bad habit of forgetting to put it on.

Last year, we conducted a global Healthy Skin Exploratory in which we found that US and UK respondents seemingly understood the importance of protecting their skin from the sun, but many also stated that they had age spots which are blemishes on parts of the body that are commonly exposed to the sun. This goes to show that even though we know that the sun’s rays are harmful, we may not be fully aware of how much damage they are capable of on a day-to-day basis. We have a long way to go before regular sun protection becomes a daily habit for the majority of the population, but hopefully more products like the June bracelet and Neutrogena’s Cloudscreen will help us get there.

Minimalism is the New Luxury

There’s a new saying sweeping the nation, “Not Owning Stuff is the New Owning Stuff”. Sounds ironic, doesn’t it? But yes, apparently it’s true; minimalism is now considered the new luxury. Minimalism has always been an idea touted by anti-consumerists, but more recently your average person has joined in as well. From people selling most of their belongings and moving into tiny homes to people not buying homes at all, the idea of ownership is becoming something less and less desirable. In particular, among Millennials, the pay-as-you-live lifestyle is gaining a lot of traction which is seen by the popping up of companies like Netflix, Zipcar and Rent the Runway which allow you to rent movies, cars and even dresses whenever the need arises. People are realizing that we really don’t need all the stuff we want, and it’s actually more enjoyable to live a lighter lifestyle. Especially after the Great Recession when many people had to give up their homes, cars, and some, their entire lifestyles, the advantage of having “less to lose” is obvious.

It’s still funny though to hear minimalism being referred to as a type of luxury. But it immediately brought to mind a study we did in which we explored the different dimensions of “Luxury”. When we first prompted respondents with the word, the first thing that came to mind was the idea of money. On the surface, luxury is defined as richness, opulence, and owning plenty of material things. However, after using eCollage, it became clear that there was another, deeper dimension of the word. One strong emergent theme was that of opportunity, showing that luxury can also be defined as the freedom to do what you want, when you want. In reality, something that is considered luxurious does not have to be insanely expensive, rather it can be something free. What does matter though is that it is not something that can be easily obtained.

With this new understanding of the word, it suddenly becomes clear how minimalism can be considered a luxury. Most would admit that it was very hard to give up their material possessions at first. However, once they dove into the lifestyle, many experienced a freeing feeling of not being tied down to “stuff” which goes hand-in-hand with the deeper definition of luxury we found. So, how about you? Are you ready to try out this new lifestyle trend of minimalism?

For more information on our Exploring Luxury study, click here.