ADM logoADM Marketing & Research Consulting
News From The Top Floor
In This Issue
Quick Links
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
May 2008
ADM logoIt's Spring At Last 
Bet you thought it would never come, but at last, we are seeing flowers and green leaves and warmer temperatures here in New York. Before long, we'll be complaining about how hot it is! 
We are still busy, wrapping up several projects that were begun earlier this year, and looking forward to new work. On another front, this is the time of year for annual meetings of organizations, dinners, and fund raisers.
One thing is for sure--we're still not bored!
The Big Brand
UnbrandedAttachment To A Brand Can Be Risky 
We recently conducted focus groups that examined reactions to a brand name change. Not just any brand name change. One that goes from a 100-year old brand to a newly created one. Ironically, the old brand name has been licensed by these clients for over a decade; in other words, the old brand hasn't owned this business or operated it for more than ten years. We learned several important insights.
  • In a world of constant and rapid change in consumer products and brands, being forced to give up one that's been around for a century can be wrenching--at first.
  • Consumers rarely read information that is included with their bills or statements. Therefore, even if a company has informed its customers of corporate or management changes, it's a good bet they will be unaware, even 10 years out.
  • Inertia can be good business, especially with older consumers. When people really trust a brand, have known it for many years, and are satisfied with the product or service, they are not easily motivated to change.
  • However, when all is said and done, they will be fine, as long as the product or service being offered--albeit under a new name--does not change, and as long as the company is clear, honest and not condescending.

One interesting feature of this study--and one big benefit of qualitative research, in general--was the ability to modify communications materials from one group to the next, responding to input from each group. We were able to refine the communications materials being tested for each successive group in the study. After we completed the number of groups requested by the clients, they came back and asked for two more groups to have one last go at the communications materials that will be distributed later this year. We call this a "disaster check:" one last chance to refine the materials and confirm that they will be effective. We all left feeling more confident that the clients are on the right track to a smooth transition.

Online Advertising
Mouse on $$Is It On The Way Out? Already?
I was recently sent an article on the rise of online promotions (coupons, contests, etc.) at the expense of online advertising and paid search placements. Talk about a rapidly changing marketplace! Just when marketers have shifted budget dollars to interactive advertising, it seems the paradigm is changing again.
This really makes sense, when one considers the economic environment these days. Everyone is looking for value. Always--but especially now. Therefore, coupons and discounts will be more motivating to more people. Even contests, which require more of an effort than clipping a coupon, will attract more attention than the cleverest ad.
I believe there is more at work here than simply dollars and cents. Banner ads and pop-ups are so ubiquitous that most people now have the ability to block the latter and ignore the former. Just as there is advertising "clutter" on television, radio, and in print, we have massive clutter online, and people are doing the equivalent of pressing the "mute" button.
Fortunately, some marketers love nothing better than a challenge--finding something that will break through the ad-clutter to capture the attention of their intended target. And sometimes, what is old is new again. This may be such a case. Time will tell.
Customer Satisfaction II
A Transportation Company That Gets It RightEnterprise car 
How refreshing to find a company that offers a value-added service and actually fulfills the promise!
Last week I headed out to conduct focus groups at a location that is about 50 miles away--a drive of 60 to 80 minutes, depending on traffic. I turned the key in my very reliable car but it would not start. So I called my local Enterprise Car Rental, they picked me up, I filled out the paper work and in less than an hour, I was on my way. Although traffic was, as usual, half a nightmare, I arrived at the focus group facility in plenty of time to conduct the groups.
To the folks at Enterprise, it was just another day at the office, but to me, it was a major rescue operation. Kudos!
P.S.: The reason my car wouldn't start is that a squirrel had set up residence in my engine and eaten the wires to the ignition! I hope it got indigestion!
This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:

Ann Middleman