U.S. consumers are pushing their shopping carts past many of America’s national brands and feel little regret in doing so, according to Deloitte’s recent American Pantry Study. In fact, 88% of consumers now swear by store brands, and say they have found many private-label products are just as good (or even better) than their former favorites. And 71% believe they are spending less on their grocery bills, without sacrificing much.

Still, nearly a third (31%) say brands can be a “must-have,” something they’d buy whether it was on sale or not. So what seems to make the difference between the must-haves and the rest of the brands? The must-have brands are winning the loyalty game primarily based on trust, price positioning and product positioning.

Of the 85% of consumers who have gone with a higher-priced, must-have brand in the past year, 58% did so because it was a brand they trust, a healthier option (35%), a company they trust (35%) or skipped a lower-cost alternative for one that was easy to prepare or use (29%). Additionally, the majority (68%) of the top 10% of must-have brands have a more focused price positioning and outperform those that are relatively scattered.


Source: The 2014 American Pantry Study. (May 5, 2014). Deloitte.



Move over millennials – Marketers have moved on, trying to solve the puzzle of what even younger consumers want to eat. The cohort stretching from newborns to those age 23, dubbed Gen Z, makes up about 32% of the U.S. population, and marketers are finding these young foodies want things fresh.

A report by NPD suggests that the rising generation is eager to make meals using fresh ingredients without too much trouble – fancy sandwiches, for example – and is not averse to using the stove. This is similar to trends among millennials, only to a greater degree. NPD predicts salad consumption, in particular, will increase with Gen Z, followed by quick-assembly meals (meal kits and sandwiches), and more involved breakfast foods such as eggs, pancakes and French toast. Savory snack foods, everything from crackers to salsa, are also expected to become more popular.



Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages. Yet, just because you have 140 characters, doesn’t mean you should use them all – in fact, tweets shorter than 100 characters garner a 17% higher engagement rate. Additionally, a recent study of 100 well-known, popular brands on Twitter revealed a spike in retweets among those in the 71 – 100 character range – or so-called “medium” length tweets. These medium tweets have enough characters for the original poster to say something of value and for the person retweeting to add commentary as well.

In addition to keeping it short, to maximize tweets for engagement, visual content is king. Brands should include photos and videos with tweets as often as possible. The more brands invest in visual content, the more retweets, favorites and click-throughs they will see. In fact, a recent study by Buffer found that tweets with images get 150% more interaction. And according to Twitter, tweets with photos average a 35% boost in retweets and tweets with videos, garner a 28% boost. While these visuals use up to about 26 of your recommended 100 or less characters, they are well worth the investment.

Sources: De Beule, Sofie. “6 Tips to Boost Your Twitter Conversations.” Social Media Examiner. May 7, 2014.

Lee, Kevan. “The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research.” Social Media Today. May 16, 2014.



In terms of search engine results and marketing, there is no comparison to the Google juggernaut. That is perhaps, until now. Pinterest, which has struggled to find a way to successfully monetize the site, is introducing promoted pins with integrated keywords that advertisers can customize and purchase.

When consumers search keywords on Google, they have a general idea of the results they are seeking. The ads appear when users are viewing main categories and conduct searches, but the true beauty and ultimate value of Pinterest is its visual nature, which lends itself to browsing.

Promoted pins in Pinterest could be a game changer, because consumers are drawn to the framework of myriad pictorial results that are related to their original search word in ways they may not have thought of originally. Pinterest is an incredibly useful marketing tool because consumers are pinning items they desire to create an aspirational lifestyle – they are literally pinning with intent to purchase down the road.

Source: Pinterest Ads Are Invading Google’s Search Turf (May 6, 2014). Ad Week. 



Decades-old research, still valid today, confirms that humor, when in sync with ad objectives, enhances recall and purchase intention. On a purely human basis, when we make someone laugh, or even smile, we form a connection. Think how much more powerful your marketing message will be following that kind of rapport with your consumer.

Humor must be strategic.  Know your brand and even more important, know your consumer.  Remember, humor is a means to an end, not the end itself.  The brand joke should reflect the brand identity and work toward a better consumer connection. When the lights went out briefly during last year’s Super Bowl, Mondelēz’s Oreo brand sent a tweet featuring a shadowy image of the iconic cookie with the headline “You can still dunk in the dark.”  Playful and cute, the tweet was a wink at the devoted Oreo fan and a nod to the nostalgic fun of eating an Oreo.

For the successful use of humor to build rapport, you must also customize your humor to your audience.  Not all humor is funny to all people.  The Geico Caveman is probably funnier to their target audience of young men than to, say, elderly women.

Done right, humor can be a powerful tool. Consumers like brands with a sense of humor and a funny brand is a confident brand.

Source: Paula Brown “Brands with Humor.” CMIOnline. April 30, 2014.



Looking at the small cultural shifts that beckon change and the emerging behaviors that are just reaching the mainstream, The Cultural Insight team at Added Value recently conducted research to determine the top six trends that will shape consumer behavior in 2014.

1. Multiplicity. We are increasingly expecting things to do more – interacting with all of our senses, offering us a range of touch points to play with and involving us entirely in new experiences.

2. Hyper Efficiency. We are seeking and discovering ever smarter and more efficient ways to solve age-old issues – such as keeping fit, lack of space and limited resources. The results are sleeker, quicker and use things that have previously been discounted.

3. The New Industrial Revolution. Digital and technological advances are enabling us to create in new ways – leading to new creative forms and helping us see a new appreciation of digital as a thing of beauty.

4. Escape. In a world of rigor and grown-up responsibility, we are seeing the increasing desire to let go, to let loose and indulge in childlike freedom or sheer hedonistic joy.

5. Mindfulness. In a world full of buzz and surface interactions, people are seeking out more depth and meaning. They are craving time away from the stimulus of the Internet, making their leisure time more about self-development and taking their own ethical responsibilities seriously.

6. Super-personalized. Personalization has been taken out of the hands of consumers. Advances in technology mean that products are able to read consumers and give them what they want – sometimes without even being asked.

Source: Six Trends That Will Shape Consumer Behavior This Year. (February 4, 2014). Forbes.



The rise of the “always on consumer,” the exploding omnipresence of technology and instant gratification overload has led to a counter trend for 2014: drawing the digital line. In reaction to concerns resulting from hyper-connectivity, consumers now more than ever will become exceedingly cognizant of the need to unplug, to simplify and to reconnect with the world around them.

As digitalization becomes even more pervasive, it will foster a growing culture of impatience, oversharing and of privacy concerns – leading to a demand for more of a balance between living online and having “real world” experiences. With this pervasive connectedness, a full 69% of consumers in a recent Mintel survey said they need to set time aside to disconnect from being online, which some refer to as JOMO, or the joy of missing out. This movement creates a need for products, places and people that force consumers to disconnect, such as establishments that ban the use of cell phones or offer an incentive for voluntarily putting them away.

Overall, as consumers in 2014 seek to disconnect from the Internet, protect their privacy and become more in tune with the world around them, they will inherently want to enjoy the moment as well – creating opportunities for brands to facilitate pleasurable, non-digital “here and now” experiences.

Source: Mintel Reveals US Consumer Trends for 2014. (January 2014). Mintel Oxygen.



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Hispanic consumers are more social, influential and impressionable online than non-Hispanic consumers, according to a new study commissioned by Unilever, Mindshare and ShareThis. The study, found that Hispanic consumers are twice as likely to either share content or click on shared content than Americans in general.

The research also showed that Hispanic consumers share via social media five times more often than non-Hispanic users, and content shared by Hispanic consumers is 35% more likely to be clicked on than content shared by the non-Hispanic population. And Hispanic consumers are twice as likely to purchase the kinds of products they share about compared to non-Hispanic consumers who are only 1.3 times as likely to make a purchase compared to what they share online.

Finally, the data suggest that Hispanic consumers are also more influential on social media: content they share garners more “click-backs” (the act of clicking shared links to view the shared content) than content shared by non-Hispanic consumers.

Source: Greenberg, Karl. “Hispanic Consumers Are Social Media Catalysts” MediaPost. Feb. 20, 2014.


UntitledAccording to a new study from The International Journal of Research in Marketing, the shift away from snarky or downbeat campaigns is a smart move. Ads that evoke pleasant feelings consistently resonate with consumers more than negative, neutral or information-based commercials do. After people watch a positive TV spot, their attitude toward the advertised brand improves – regardless of the product category or its relevance in a consumer’s day-to-day life.
Interestingly, the benefit of taking a positive approach in advertising persisted across industries and endured regardless of the product’s value to a consumer. Whether the commercial advertised a durable item, a short-term product, a service or merchandise, the findings were consistent. They showed that ads that elicit more pleasant feelings trigger more positive beliefs and thoughts about the brand, which result in more favorable brand attitudes.
During this year’s Super Bowl, distinctly positive themes – like puppies, heartwarming families and nostalgia for cherished celebrities – dominated the commercials that struck a chord with consumers. Some think it’s an uptick in the economy, but one thing is for sure, a lot of the ads played to a less cynical mindset this year. In fact, commercials that exploited a cynical twist or resorted to well-worn clichés fell flat with viewers.
The bottom line is that commercials that appeal to people’s optimism make consumers far more likely to fall in love with the brand, regardless of the type of product being advertised.

Source: The Power of Positive Advertising. (February 6, 2014). Strategy + Business.

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