THE CROP TOUCHPOINTS STUDY - MASTERING THE COMMUNICATION MIX

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1 THE CROP TOUCHPOINTS STUDY - MASTERING THE COMMUNICATION MIX 550, RUE SHERBROOKE OUEST MONTRÉAL (QUÉBEC) H3A 1B9 BUREAU 900 TOUR EST T , POSTE 3064

2 Mastering the Communication mix This article informs the reer on how consumers are interacting with brands today and how those interactions are impacting their decisions. We dress the concern of marketers and vertisers today and that is how to effectively connect their brands with key consumers who are literally bombarded from every angle with ever increasing and evolving touchpoints. The question that we hear all of the time is, what is the best communication mix to both reach my target consumer segment and then engage with them (facilitate their research, educate them, build their trust, foster relationships and ultimately close more sales). Yes, that s quite a mouthful but we quite literally see this string of requirements in many of the requests for proposal that we receive. Most of the people we work with understand that their resources are finite and careful choices need to be me in allocating time, personnel and capital to a strategy. As a general rule, we enjoy helping our clients with these types of questions, so we set out to understand the role of different consumer touchpoints in pursuit of the optimal mix. We conducted a North American consumer study on the subject, which serves as the foundation for this article. Before we get into the details of the study, we would like to comment on a few trends that we have been following. Anyone who has been tracking the growing prominence of the Internet in Marketing is fully aware that the scales have finally tipped heavily toward the digital form; to the point where most of us have alrey forgotten that there was once a debate over the future of new media. Marketing budgets have me significant shifts and the topic of the Internet itself has me a clear migration from the backroom to the boardroom. There has, in actuality, been a stey progression over the past five to ten years; however a pronounced undercurrent has surfaced this year that is getting enough airplay to drown out the key players responsible for the digital wave in the first place. The key players have been websites (and related online media) and the undercurrent to which we re referring is social media. Social media networks and content sharing technology have captured the undeniable attention of marketers and vertisers everywhere. We have also noticed that resources (money, but also time and focus) have been diverted from the creation and commercialization of brand websites to strategies that aim at infiltrating and harnessing networks like, Twitter and YouTube. Marketers are presumably and understandably enamored with the idea that they can tap into the earned media generated by vocates of their brands that propagate word of mouth via usergenerated-content. Then there s the obvious attractiveness of the low perceived cost to set up shop on a social media network. There are essentially two major shifts in attention: the shift from tritional to digital and now within digital, from websites to social. We chose not to look uniquely at the newest trend of social marketing (like most of the articles we are reing recently), but rather to CROP TOUCHPOINT 1

3 take a step back to have a wider perspective of the touchpoints that consumers are actively interacting with today. The first step in our investigation was to compile a reasonable list of touchpoints covering both tritional and new medias, but also the notion of paid, owned and earned media. We arrived at the following list: TV Brand s Videos Ads Internet Ads Celebrity Endorsement Ads Brand s Advice Rio Ads Blogs Friend / Advice s In Store Flyers / Brochures Ads Twitter In Store Displays / s The second decision that we quickly confronted is in which context will we speak to consumers about these touchpoints? Our hypothesis was that people would interact with different touchpoints by category. So we upped the ante and structured our investigation to include a range of categories covering a reasonable number of durable and non-durable goods and services. Automotive Luxury Goods Financial Services Home Improvement Electronics Household Appliances Apparel Household Cleaning Women s Men s Food Pharmacy Our third decision was crucial. How should we measure the relative impact of these touchpoints? We didn t settle for just one measurement, but rather evaluated them on the following three dimensions: Purchase Influence Trustworthiness Pre-Purchase Research More specifically we asked a representative cross-section of North Americans (2,000 Americans, 2,000 Canians) to rank a randomized list of the aforementioned touchpoints within a randomized selection of categories; all according to the following dimensions. 1. Most influential touchpoints when making a purchase decision. 2. Most trustworthy source of brand/product information. 3. Most valued resource for pre-purchase research. CROP-TOUCHPOINT 2

4 On it s own, the resulting matrix of information is a must re for any marketer contemplating today s optimal communication mix; however, we didn t stop there. As a research network with access to extensive social values monitoring, we were compelled to understand deeper motivations driving category and touchpoint choices. We were very gl that we did, as the findings are highly compelling. We have extracted the following general insights; however we are continuously mining the study results and welcome you to contact us with your queries and ideas. Media channels are not as category dependent as we thought! Our hypothesis (and source of considerable ditional expense designing our study) was that touchpoints influencing purchase decisions would be fundamentally different by category. I mean, shouldn t people buying cars feel that they are influenced by different touchpoints than those influencing their grocery buying decisions? In fact, we learned that consumers believe that they approach different categories in a relatively similar fashion and herein exists a powerful insight about the state of affairs in marketing today. The table below summarizes the ranking of influence over purchase decisions and highlights the top 6 most common touchpoints across all twelve categories. You can trace these top influencers across the various categories by following the colour coding. Each of the top 6 most common touchpoints has its own distinct colour. CROP-TOUCHPOINT 3

5 Figure 1: Ranking of Touchpoints Identified as Purchase Influencers* TOTAL CANADA Auto Flyer 68% 5 site 30% Luxury % 4 Flyer 48% % 38% 6 6 Home Improve Flyer 35% Flyer 3 Flyer 2 Financial Services 40% 65% 5 Apparel 48% % Flyer 35% Flyer 3 TV 2 TV 2 TV TV 2 TV 2 TV TV % Pharma TV 2 Flyer 2 Female Male 38% Flyer 3 6 Food Cleaning Products 3 Flyer 4 30% 3 TV 2 TV Flyer Flyer TV TV Rio 15% Blogs Rio 1 Rio 1 Rio Rio 1 Rio 1 Rio 1 Rio 15% Rio 1 Rio 15% Rio 15% Celeb Rio Blogs Blogs Celeb 8% 5% Celeb Blogs Celeb 8% Blogs 8% Celeb 8% Blogs Celeb Blogs 8% Celeb Celeb 5% 1 Celeb Blogs Blogs Blogs Celeb Twitter Blogs Blogs Celeb Twitter Twitter Twitter 5% Twitter 5% Twitter 5% Twitter Twitter 5% Twitter 5% Twitter Celeb Twitter Twitter *Touchpoints that are considered within the top 3 most influential when making a purchase decision **Flyer refers to all collateral (brochures, pamphlets, etc.) Electronics Appliances 8% What first caught our attention was the level of consistency of the top six touchpoints. Across the board, friends/family, professionals and the in-store experience (displays/demos, flyers, brochures) clearly have the most declared influence over consumers when making a purchase decision. What this means is that the most potent forms of influence over purchase decisions and brand selections reside in earned and owned media. We were curious if this ranking was also consistent across different marketplaces so the next table compares an average across all categories studied against the United States as well as providing a comparison between Quebec and the Rest of Cana. CROP-TOUCHPOINT 4

6 Figure 2: Ranking of Touchpoints Identified as Purchase Influencers* COUNTRY COMPARISON Total Cana Quebec Only Rest of Cana USA 60% 55% 6 5 / Specialist 4 / Specialist 4 40% 4 4 TV 38% / Specialist Flyer/Brochure 38% Flyer/Brochure 38% Flyer/Brochure 38% 4 / Specialist TV 30% TV 3 TV 2 Flyer/Brochure % 18% 15% 1 Rio Rio 5% 5% 8% 5% Rio Rio 5% Blogs Blogs Blogs Celebrity Blogs Celebrity Celebrity Celebrity Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter *Touchpoints that are considered within the top 3 most influential when making a purchase decision Think that all of this consistency is a fluke? Well, first we should remind you that all we employed every possible rotation pattern imaginable for the touchpoints and the categories, but let s move onto our next measure, which instructed consumers to identify the single touchpoint that they consider as the most trustworthy source of information. CROP-TOUCHPOINT 5

7 Figure 3: Ranking of Touchpoints Identified as Sources of Trust* TOTAL CANADA Auto Flyer 68% 5 site 30% Luxury % 4 Flyer 48% % 38% 6 6 Home Improve Flyer 35% Flyer 3 Flyer 2 Financial Services 40% 65% 5 Apparel 48% % Flyer 35% Flyer 3 TV 2 TV 2 TV TV 2 TV 2 TV TV % Pharma TV 2 Flyer 2 Female Male 38% Flyer 3 6 Food Cleaning Products 3 Flyer 4 30% 3 TV 2 TV Flyer Flyer TV TV Rio 15% Blogs Rio 1 Rio 1 Rio Rio 1 Rio 1 Rio 1 Rio 15% Rio 1 Rio 15% Rio 15% Celeb Rio Blogs Blogs Celeb 8% 5% Celeb Blogs Celeb 8% Blogs 8% Celeb 8% Blogs Celeb Blogs 8% Celeb Celeb 5% 1 Celeb Blogs Blogs Blogs Celeb Twitter Blogs Blogs Celeb Twitter Twitter Twitter 5% Twitter 5% Twitter 5% Twitter Twitter 5% Twitter 5% Twitter Celeb Twitter Twitter *Single touchpoint considered the most trustworthy source of information. Again, we observe the same type of consistency across categories. Now, this should be good news if your company is obsessive about training its staffed professionals and has breakthrough displays and demos (in auto, that means showrooms and in financial services that means the branch, etc.), but what about friends & family that makes it into the top spot three quarters of the time on average on both dimensions? What does this mean? Well first it means that: Electronics Appliances 8% CROP-TOUCHPOINT 6

8 Word of mouth is the top media of the 21 st century Our interpretation of this key insight is that the products, services and experiences associated with your brand must be able to sell themselves and inspire vocacy among their audiences. This speaks to a level of quality that impresses a consumer enough that they fulfill their position as your most important media channel. Why is this more important today vs. a dece ago? Quite simply because of the speed and transparency with which news travels within a person s personal network. Of particular note here is how consumers attribute influence not to the network itself (i.e. notice the low ranking of and Twitter) but rather the people with whom they may be communicating within these networks (and other networks - yes people still do get together and speak face to face). Now, this does not mean that social media networks are insignificant within the communication mix. We know that they are moving with impressive momentum, however our study reveals that their imprint on the minds of consumers today simply doesn t warrant unilateral attention, especially if it comes at the expense of other top-of-mind touchpoints like the brand website. What we are curious to see is how these social media touchpoints will rise the ranks over the next few years. Looking at the next three touchpoints in the ranking, we learn that although TV has taken a back seat to word of mouth, it is not yet de in the eyes of consumers. Furthermore, it les the charge among tritional media touchpoints in terms of purchase influence. We learn that in-store collateral (brochures, pamphlets, flyers, etc.) is particularly influential and we learn that brand websites play an important role in influencing a sale. Scanning down the remaining touchpoints, print vertising follows closely and is consistent across categories. Going back to our hypothesis that the mix of consumer touchpoints influencing consumer decisions would be fundamentally different according to the category of product or service of interest. Well, we are not too proud to mit that our own research proved us wrong. We were astonished to discover all of the consistency in ranking, but also the consistency in the actual percentages behind these rankings. So our first big insight comes together like this: Media channels are people driven not category driven We are obliged to report that you must acknowledge that your audience is in the driver s seat, and that you must respect the amount of clout that resides in your owned and earned media (word of mouth, professionals, displays, demonstrators, collateral). We can also report that you can still count on the reach of TV within your media plan, but we must also remind you to ensure that your products, services and experiences live up to whatever promises you choose to make with your vertising. Furthermore, don t under-estimate the support of your brand website. Social media networks themselves are not top of mind for a consumer, which doesn t mean that they should be neglected; CROP-TOUCHPOINT 7

9 however these newest tools need to be implemented within broer, more holistic, marketing strategies. Different consumer touchpoints require different strategies! Now that we are aware of the relative clout of different consumer touchpoints and if we agree that media channels are people driven, we have the opportunity to unlock further insights by focusing in on the people themselves. What we are able to do is create a profile of personal values and consumption motivations according to different touchpoint preferences. To accomplish this, we first must provide you with a brief understanding of the tools that allow us to organize and understand deeper consumer profiles 1. To set up the consumer values map below, imagine that every consumer in the population has a distinct position on this map depending on their personal values. Those who are more mass consumption oriented (conformist) in their values will be found higher up on the map and those who are more focused on customized consumption (individualistic) will be found lower down on the map. Those who are more focused on ded value (outer-directed) are found on the left and those who are more commodity focused (inner-directed) are found on the right. These dimensions create a simple segmentation of our marketplace and society. People who are found in the top left segment labeled SOCIAL STATUS seek recognition for their achievements and status in society. They are driven by materialistic pursuits as they seek to validate their accomplishments. The lower left segment labeled PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, is composed of people who are driven by their own personal creativity and yearning to improve themselves as individuals. People who do not reily accept the popular opinion or authority figures occupy the lower right segment, AUTONOMY & WELL-BEING. They need to feel that they are making up their own minds. Finally, the top right segment is composed of people who do not feel a strong connection with what is going on in society. They may hold conservative values and feel that their destinies are in the hands of others. The following map shows the relative position of the consumers who are influenced by the various different touchpoints. The size of the circle itself relates to the clout of the touchpoint itself according to the number of times it was selected as a purchase influencer and the top six touchpoints are coded with the same colour as in Figure 1 of this article. 1 CROP specializes in social values profiling. For further information refer to the PANORAMA (3SC) study at CROP.CA CROP-TOUCHPOINT 8

10 Figure 4: Mapping of Consumer Values according to Touchpoint Selections* TOTAL CANADA *Touchpoint selection based on purchase influence (clout) selected as top 3 purchase influencers. * The size of the circle relates to the relative clout of each touchpoint (i.e. Friends/ is the largest and has the most clout) For all intent s and purposes, this consumer values mapping illustrates first of all that not all touchpoints reach the same types of consumers. For the most part, each touchpoint has a following that has its own distinct set of values. Those who are influenced to make a purchase decision based on their interactions on or Twitter validate their social status via their informal peer-to-peer networks. These networks represent a means to reinforce a need to belong and conform to societal norms or to be somehow involved in a celebrity s virtual inner circle. By contrast, people who are influenced by communications like newspapers, rio or branded s are people who value the endorsement of authority figures or the opinions of leers/elites. They don t necessarily trust their own judgment and are happy to have their information packaged for them. People motivated by magazines place a high value on self-expression and believe that they are highly creative and have CROP-TOUCHPOINT 9

11 very unique personalities and identities. s dress the needs of these people perfectly as they are the only non-digital media to provide seemingly infinite choice. The act of making a selection from a well stocked newsstand or magazine store leaves someone feeling that they have me a highly customized and personal choice reflecting their own personal interests, hobbies, fetishes, etc. Focusing on our top influencers (friends, professionals and displays/demos) we discover that these consumer types are highly autonomous and empowered when it comes to consumption. They want to make up their own minds and seek out neutral third party reviews to help inform their decisions. They are less trusting of authoritative sources of information. What we discovered about the position of TV was that it proximity to the center or the map hints to a certain universality among consumer types, however it does reside quite firmly with the segment of social status. The best way we could describe this touchpoint is one of mainstream status experience. I am certain that we are not the first to report to you that television vertising is very effective at making us feel great about purchases we have alrey me (just notice how much you notice s about a brand shortly after you ve purchased that brand). We can continue on with the remaining touchpoints, but this insight should alrey be coming into focus. The relative distances between the touchpoints demonstrate the distinct values of the underlying consumers influenced by them. For example, for some consumers newspapers will be the most influential touchpoint and for fundamental values-based reasons, you won t relate to them with Twitter or and vice versa. We are particularly excited by how this level of understanding informs a media and communication mix strategy. Coupled with our first insight, you now know the relative clout of each touchpoint, you understand that there is relative homogeny across categories (because the consumer is in control), plus you are informed on the underlying values of the consumers who are influenced by different touchpoints. You are well on your way to being able to create a highly efficient and strategic plan. We discovered universal touchpoints! You ll notice that in our previous insight, we did not use the example of in-store collateral or brand websites. This is not because we don t think they are important enough to reference (remember, these are within the top six influential touchpoints when it comes to making a purchase decision). In fact, we felt that they deserved their own key insight. When we look at the consumer values profile of people influenced by either one of these three touchpoints, we discovered that these medias have the most universal reach. The underlying values of these consumers do not pull the position of these touchpoints deep into any one particular segment. This is of particular strategic importance because of their universality. Certain touchpoints may resonate best for certain consumer groups but there is CROP-TOUCHPOINT 10

12 no assurance that you ll catch everyone at the right time with the right message format. In-store collateral (brochures, flyers) and brand websites have this type of universal coverage. The brand website in particular is a marketing hub that can either send or receive consumers to or from a wide range of other touchpoints and fill gaps of information or experience impossible in other channels. As the following table reveals, brand websites are perceived unequivocally as the number one source for pre-purchase research. Figure 5: Ranking of Touchpoints Identified as Sources of Pre-Purchase Research* TOTAL CANADA Auto Luxury Electronics Appliances Home Improve. Financial Services Apparel Pharma Female Male Food Cleaning Products 4 5 Websitsitsitsitsitsitsitsitsitsite % % site Flyers 4 Flyers 4 Flyers 48% Flyers 50% 45% Flyers 4 4 Newspapepapezine 48% Flyers % % Flyers 4 45% Flyers 4 45% 4 TV zine zine zine TV 4 TV 45% Magazinpapezine 4 45% % 4 4 Flyers 4 TV 45% paper paper zine Newspapezinpapepapezine TV 4 4 TV 4 TV 45% TV 4 45% 4 4 Flyers 4 paper Magazinzinpapezine 4 Rio 38% TV 4 4 TV TV Profes- 4 4 TV 4 4 sional paper 38% 38% 40% Profes Profes- 3 40% 4 40% 4 3 sional sional 40% 3 38% 38% 38% Flyers 40% 3 38% 3 38% Rio 35% Newspapesional Profes- 3 38% Profes- 3 3 Info- 40% 38% Flyers 38% Profes- 3 sional mercial sional 35% 35% 38% 3 Info- Profes- 35% 3 Profes- 38% 3 Info- 35% 3 mercial sional sional mercial 3 3 Rio 3 35% Rio 3 Rio % Rio 3 Rio 3 35% Info- 35% mercial 3 30% 35% % Rio 35% Info- 3 35% Rio 35% Rio 3 mercial Professionoomercioomercioor Rio 3 Info Rio % Info door 30% Blogs 2 Blogs 3 Blogs 30% Blogs 28% Outdoodoomercioodoosionoor 3 3 Info- 3 3 Profes Blogs Professionoodoodoor 28% 2 30% 30% 28% Blogs 28% Blogs 2 Blogs 3 Blogs 2 Blogs 30% Blogs 30% Blogs 28% Faceboobooboobooboobooboobooboobook 1 Twitter Twitter 2 2 Celeb 2 Twitter 18% Twitter 2 2 Twitter Twitter Twitter Celeb 2 Twitter 2 Celeb Twitter 2 Twitter 2 Celeb 1 Celeb Celeb 2 Celeb 2 Celeb 2 Celeb Celeb 2 Twitter 2 Celeb 2 Twitter 2 Celeb 2 *Single touchpoint considered the most trustworthy source of information. Considering their influence over purchases, trustworthiness, universal coverage and remarkable reputation for providing prepurchase research, our belief is that CROP-TOUCHPOINT 11

13 Brand websites are the Grand Central Stations for all communication efforts Within the communication mix, we now understand the clout and reputation of each touchpoint, we have a highly actionable consumer-values based profile of the users of these touchpoints and we are enlightened on which touchpoints can be used as universal platforms on which to build rock solid strategies. In conclusions we are very pleased and excited the share with you these insights and hope to hear back from you on how you are tailoring this information to your own communication mix decisions. Here is a recap of our key points: Word of mouth is the media of the 21 st century Never before have consumer been better equipped and conditioned to spre the word about your brand. Media channels are not category driven, they are people driven This speaks to the consumer-centricity of our current state of marketing affairs. People are dictating how they shop a category and not the other way around. Different touchpoints require different strategies Based on our understanding of consumer values, different touchpoints will resonate with different consumer segments. This knowledge will help you to nuance your brand story with the right mix of touchpoints. In-store collateral and brand websites are universal consumer touchpoints While there may be touchpoints that best communicate to distinct consumer targets, these universal channels can be relied upon for universal coverage across a wide base of consumers. The brand website is a marketing hub and a media hub This channel is top of mind for consumers across all dimensions and can deliver on the bottom line. It also has the potential to dispatch consumers coming from a variety of touchpoints to the most relevant content and experience for their own personal needs, desires and values. CROP-TOUCHPOINT 12

14 Appendix 1: Ranking of Touchpoints Identified as Purchase Influencers* TOTAL QUEBEC Auto Flyer 6 55% 48% % Flyer 3 TV 4 Flyer TV site 8% Rio Home Improve. 68% Financial Services 5 Apparel 48% Flyer 5 4 Flyer % Flyer 3 TV 35% TV 3 TV 2 TV 2 2 Rio Blogs Blogs 2 Rio 1 1 5% % Rio Rio Pharma 6 5 Female 5 5 Male 4 TV 3 Flyer 4 TV % TV 2 1 Flyer 1 8% Rio Rio 5% 5% 2 15% 5% Rio Blogs 5% 5% Blogs Blogs Celeb Twitter Celeb Twitter Twitter Blogs Food 75% 58% Clean 7 Flyer % TV 2 Flyer 38% 2 8% 8% Flyer 8% 2 TV % Rio 8% 15% 5% Rio Celeb 5% Celeb 5% Blogs Blogs Celeb Celeb 5% Rio 5% Blogs 5% 5% Blogs Blogs Twitter Celeb Celeb Twitter Celeb Celeb Twitter 0% Twitter 0% Twitter 0% Celeb Twitter 0% Twitter 0% Twitter Note: Luxury goods not asked in Quebec Electronics Appliances CROP-TOUCHPOINT 13

15 Appendix 1: Ranking of Touchpoints Identified as Purchase Influencers* TOTAL REST OF CANADA (EXCLUDING QUEBEC) Auto Flyer 60% Luxury % Flyer 40% % Home Improve. 4 7 TV 3 TV 38% Flyer 35% Flyer 3 Flyer TV 2 TV TV Rio Rio 5% 5% 1 5% Rio 5% Rio 5% 5% 5% Financial Services 58% Apparel 5 6 Flyer 48% Flyer 5 38% TV 3 Rio 5% 4 5 Pharma TV % 6 5 Female % Male 3 Flyer 38% Food 7 Flyer % TV 3 TV 2 TV Flyer 1 Rio Rio Rio 5% Blogs 5% 5% Rio 5% Blogs Blogs 5% Blogs Blogs Celeb Celeb Blogs Celeb Celeb Blogs Celeb Blogs Twitter Twitter Celeb Twitter 0% 0% Twitter 5% Blogs Celeb 28% 5 Clean 60% 4 5 Flyer 4 2 TV 2 18% Flyer 8% 40% TV % Celeb Rio 8% Rio 5% Blogs Celeb 5% Celeb 5% 5% Rio Celeb Blogs Blogs Celeb Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Electronics Appliances CROP-TOUCHPOINT 14

16 Appendix 1: Ranking of Touchpoints Identified as Purchase Influencers* TOTAL USA Auto TV Flyer Luxury 60% 60% 48% TV 58% 40% % 2 Flyer TV 3 TV 2 Flyer % Rio Rio 15% Flyer % 8% 5% Twitter Blogs 5% Home Improve. 70% Financial Services 3 TV 3 5 Apparel 6 6 TV 4 TV Pharma Female 60% 4 58% 5 5 Male Food Clean Electronics Appliances 6 45% 3 TV 4 TV 38% 28% Flyer 3 Flyer 3 TV 3 TV 2 TV 3 Flyer 2 Flyer 1 8% 15% 30% 1 5% % Rio 5% Rio Rio 5% Rio Blogs Celeb Blogs Twitter Rio Celeb Blogs Blogs 5% Celeb Blogs Twitter 5% Twitter 5% Twitter Celeb Celeb Blogs Twitter Celeb 0% 30% Flyer 15% 1 Rio 18% 1 Rio Rio Flyer Blogs 5% 5% Blogs 5% 5% Celeb Flyer 3 1 Flyer Rio 8% 1 2 8% Celeb 5% Celeb Blogs 5% 5% Blogs Twitter Celeb 0% Twitter Celeb Twitter Celeb Twitter Blogs Twitter Rio Twitter CROP-TOUCHPOINT 15

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