Got a Premium Brand? Here’s How to Win Over Consumers in China.

National Geographic’s 2014 Greendex found that consumer attitudes about sustainability and the urgency of climate change are shifting, although rather slowly. The 2014 study finds half of consumers surveyed are anxious about climate change’s negative impact. Chinese consumers were among a group (along with Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and India) that displayed greater willingness to modify habits that affect the environment – while those from more affluent countries didn’t appear to feel as threatened by the impact of a changing climate.

It might sound strange, but could this yearning to do better in terms of sustainability and the environment represent a marketing opportunity for brands in China? We think so.

Interestingly, in our recent, unrelated global study on Premium positioning, we discovered some unique associations that Chinese consumers had with the Premium theme. Using our creative verbalization and visualization techniques, Chinese consumers were the only ones who associated environmentally-friendly, natural and healthy with Premium.

DOWNLOAD NOW!   'Wooing The Premium Consumer' White Paper

What comes to mind when Chinese consumers think about Premium? Unlike obvious associations such as ‘special reward’ or ‘VIP treatment’ in the other markets, in China we saw strong visual associations around  natural, simple, health, good for them, and environmentally friendly. Using our engaging eCollageTM technique to express their Premium associations pictorially, Chinese consumers more frequently chose images that represented nature. And while gold and silk were among the top materials that signal premium across all markets, the Chinese were more likely to associate other materials found in nature like wood, cotton and diamonds.

Top words that are similar to Premium according to Chinese consumers include environmentally-friendly, natural, safe and dependable. Safe and dependable were notable word choices, considering recent food and product safety stories in the news.

To learn more about how Premium played out in China, and across the other markets in our study, or to learn about specific brands associated with Premium by category, download our Wooing The Premium Consumer white paper now.

More Delight. Less Disappointment.

Zappos. Warby Parker. Lumoid. Casper Mattresses. What do these companies have in common? A celebrated try-before-you-buy policy. These brands are pretty confident their products and services will be winners with consumers. After all, Casper claims to be “one perfect mattress.” That’s quite a high bar. Or a costly brag if they have to send a truck out to reclaim a mattress from an unsatisfied buyer.

This strategy is timely given increasingly sophisticated consumers who demand brands deliver on expectations. But it’s one that could be riddled with risk for companies that don’t test product positioning and even packaging.  Because consumers are more empowered, informed, and connected than ever, it’s critical for companies to clearly communicate the brand promise and have a firm grasp of the actual user experience with their product. Whether a $1 candy bar or an $800 mattress, customers don’t want unhappy surprises with their purchase – just delight.

How can brands ensure that the experience that they’re promising is fulfilling expectations? Usage testing is a wonderfully effective way to make sure what a company thinks they’re selling is in fact what the consumer is experiencing.

One shelf-stable food brand asked us to learn whether the positioning and messaging that they had developed matched what consumers were experiencing at home. We set out to determine which messaging elements worked and why – how well the product delivered on the promise being made. What communication facets needed to change? Our visual and verbal techniques – online projectives – are ideal for helping consumers articulate the experience and benefits of the product (including sensorial and tactile). Through in home product usage, we revealed the phrases and words that could be adopted or incorporated into copy. This helped craft an authentic message that was faithful to the experience.

This approach can be included further upstream when developing product concepts, and even later when testing packaging – all in effort to ensure each part of the consumer journey meets and exceeds expectations. This was the case with a beverage company who needed consumers to evaluate packaging. While consumers had previously raved about the product, they hated the proposed packaging – a delightful product could have been torpedoed by a disastrous container. We were able to identify specific packaging requirements that would be equally appealing as the product inside.

So, is your brand promising perfection? Fun? Luxury? Whatever the essence you believe it telegraphs – make sure it’s one grounded in the reality of the consumer usage experience.

Wooing The Premium Consumer White Paper

Request a copy of our global study on what Premium means to consumers. Stake out your Premium brand territory by telegraphing the most evocative visual, verbal and emotional consumer signals:

  • Functional and emotional consumer associations with Premium
  • Attributes that differentiate premium products
  • The lexicon, imagery, color palette, and sensory stimuli that convey Premium to consumers
  • Specific brands associated with Premium across various product categories

Get in touch with us below to request a copy of BuzzBack’s Premium white paper now.

Food, Friends, Fun: Courting the Millennial Diner

Have you heard? Endless Appetizers are better and back at TGIFridays. Not on your radar? Maybe because chances are you aren’t part of the most coveted consumer group today, Millennials.

The casual dining chain is just the latest using behavioral lures to fill seats with GenY spenders.  Endless  Apps were a very successful gimmick last year, especially with Millennial diners. This time around, the chain is removing limits on choices – a rule that Millennials found unappealing.

TGIFridays strategy aligns with our recent findings around Millennials and food. Our study shows that food Gen Yers are particularly interested in experimenting with food, creating experiences around dining, and sharing the occasion with others.  By allowing Millennials to customize their meal with friends around small plates is a home run for the chain. 

Is your food, beverage or dining brand clicking with Millennials? Hear the latest insights that could help your positioning and product development efforts in our upcoming webinar, Understanding How Millennials View Food & Nutrition.  We’ll be covering behavior, emotions, influences, and more. Click to register for Tuesday, March 10th or Wednesday, March 11th.

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

Let The Consumer In

I recently read an article that resonated with me.  It covered the idea of including the consumer in the brand storytelling process so that the resulting brand message is not only compelling, but also meaningfully aligned with the consumer’s values.  I felt that the article actually sets the bar for anyone involved in the business of engaging consumers, including those of us in Market Research.

In our increasingly connected, digitally-disrupted world, authenticity is the order of the day.  Consumers are seeking transparent and more meaningful relationships with brands.  One way of achieving that relationship is through insight development.   The techniques brands use to dialogue with consumers,should be engaging, approachable and easy to understand, ones that welcome consumers into an authentic co-creation process.   Traditional marketing approaches that position marketers as all-knowing are out of step in an open environment where empowered consumers, who given the right tools and inspiring techniques, will thoughtfully and profoundly express both their obvious and latent thoughts, feelings, behaviors and attitudes.  Get out of the way, and allow them to tell you about the product or brand that they will loyally support.

This article reminded me of a recent study we conducted in which we utilized our online social forum, Hive. By allowing respondents access to our unique and engaging tools like eCollage within the confines of Hive, we were able to get twice as much verbal playback as standard open-ends alone. Our Exploring Pet Ownership study revealed non-verbal thoughts and emotions by completing ‘a day in the life’ exercise through their online collages. Respondents also participated in photo sharing, blogs, product name ideation and generating ideas for the next development in pet products. The insights collected provided marketers with directions for product positioning and potential white space for new products or line extensions.

As I reflect on my first year with BuzzBack, I think about what an exciting time it is to be in Consumer Insights.  It’s rewarding to see the breakthroughs we make by providing creative, image-based and engaging tools to consumers who are increasingly willing to return the authenticity favor, by openly sharing and collaborating.

For more information on our Exploring Pet Ownership study or our other Hive studies, click here.

Positioning Powdered Alcohol

In case you missed it, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau catapulted powdered alcohol into the news when it approved Palcohol‘s powdered vodka, rum and other powdered cocktail versions to be marketed in the United States. Afterwards, the bureau reversed their decision and said it was in error. Whether powdered alcohol will be hitting store shelves anytime soon is unclear, however Palcohol’s website claims they hope for it to be available in the fall of 2014.

But just who would purchase powdered alcohol? Mark Phillips, the man behind Palcohol has stated that he created powdered alcohol because he leads such an active lifestyle hiking, camping, biking, kayaking and he wanted to enjoy a cocktail afterwards without having to lug a bottle of alcohol and mixers around with him.

It’s been reported that a cached version of the Palcohol website had previously contained provocative language while they tried to figure out how to market their new product. And, if you visit their website now, they’ve definitely toned down all the edgy ways Palcohol could be used and instead are focusing on ways other industries could use their product. Clearly they are still trying to figure everything out, but maybe marketing towards a younger, more active lifestyle is the way to go? We recently conducted an Alcoholic Beverage study and found that 51% of Millennials try a new alcoholic beverage 6 times a year or more (compared to only 15%-20% among older generations). We also found that at least half of Millennials pay particular attention to whether drinks are a good value, have moderate alcohol content, is sweet and light-tasting, is sophisticated and would not cause hangovers/headaches.

I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see if powdered alcohol will be making it to market in the near future and how Palcohol decides to move forward with their positioning.

For more information on our Alcoholic Beverage study, click here.

What’s Going On? The Strongest Weakling in the Marketing Mix…

I recently had a client tell me they only had around 2,000 GBP for a naming study. In my mind I wondered, “Why such a pittance towards such an enormously important strategic decision?” So I said, “You’ve changed your advertising 3 times in the past 5 years, the brand team has changed twice, the packaging once, yet how many times will you change your product name? The answer was probably never?” A name change or introduction is not something that should be taken lightly; it is, after all, going to stick around for (hopefully) a very long time.

We’ve worked with brands who have underestimated the equity of their name. It’s more than a label. It says so much about your product – how it sounds, what it tastes like, the experience it promises. And yet so many companies do not spend adequately on naming research. This is despite the fact that in a study of brand managers 60% say the brand name (on its own, without advertising support) can influence product sales. Further, choice of appropriate brand name is considered significantly more important than attractiveness of packaging and more important than incentive for trial. So what’s going on?

Companies considering a name change or the introduction of a new name would do well to explore the unique imagery and emotions that consumers associate with the name. We do not believe in just using direct questions – whether they will buy a product with that name, but ALSO the imagery and positioning the name conveys – how it makes them feel about the product. Often clients, who were convinced that a name change was in order, instead “pivot” and walk away with a clearer roadmap of how to better leverage the existing name.

Exploring Healthy Snacking: What are words worth?

Exploring Healthy Snacking is the 5th installment of our white papers that investigate consumer language. Our innovative online research techniques gain insight into consumer associations with the word Healthy –expressed in pictures, thoughts, feelings – as well as attributes and other descriptors. We interviewed more than 2,400 consumers in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Russia and Germany.


In this paper, you will learn how to leverage consumer language and imagery in relation to your core brand positioning and development. To explore consumer associations with the word Healthy & Healthy Snacking –expressed in pictures, thoughts, feelings – as well as attributes and other descriptors, we interviewed more than 2,400 consumers in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Russia and Germany.
For more information, please get in touch with us using the form below.

Exploring Healthy Skin: What are words worth?

Exploring Healthy Skin is the 6th installment of our white papers that investigate consumer language. Our innovative online research techniques gain insight into consumer associations with the word Healthy –expressed in pictures, thoughts, feelings – as well as attributes and other descriptors. We interviewed more than 2,400 consumers in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Russia and Germany.


In this paper, you will learn how to leverage consumer language and imagery in relation to your core brand positioning and development. To explore consumer associations with the word Healthy & Healthy Skin –expressed in pictures, thoughts, feelings – as well as attributes and other descriptors, we interviewed more than 2,400 consumers in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Russia and Germany.
For more information, please get in touch with us using the form below.