Monthly Archives: April 2016

Anatomy of An Insight: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese It´s Changed But It Hasn´t


“This is like the largest blind tasting ever”

Insight: Brand is all about perception. When you are changing the recipe of an iconic food item, you have to be careful. Expectations play important role on what we taste and how we experience it. Taste is shaped by our past experiences, our current mood, our expectations, and any number of incidental details.

“What we think is going into our mouth actually changes what we taste, down to the level of the taste buds themselves.”

Michael Norton, assistant professor of business administration in the marketing department of the Harvard Business School

So instead of doing big bang like New Coke and failing miserably, Mac & Cheese starts sneakily by just testing it out. Not surprisingly people didn´t notice any difference and generally having no artificial ingredients should be good thing. macandcheese2

I also recommend watching this longer story about the project and to visit the website.

Powerful, simple, big and real (not scam or some crappy innovation) campaigns are not that common nowadays, so this definitely deserves some praise.

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Real Omni-Channel Customer Experience

We consumers are living in truly omni-channel environment. We live in app economy. We don´t just want things fast, we want them now. This a real user journey from this new brave world:

  1. I realize that I don´t have any food in the fridge. This might pose a problem to my survival. I am too lazy to walk to smaller store so I decide to buy online.
  2. Because I am also a cheapskate, my online store of choice is Giant Online.
  3. The experience starts by not remembering your password. After resetting your password, you are finally into system.
  4. Giant Online has a great system called Shopping list. It enables you to put items you buy frequently to “shopping list” so it would be faster to buy your items. Expect when it is not.
  5. You cannot just import your shopping list to the cart, but you have to check every single item one-by-one.
  6. After you have put those products in the really innovative product feature kicks in. The products that are not currently available will disappear. So you have to start checking what items are actually missing from your shopping list.
  7. Because I buy lots of fruits and vegetables, Giant recognizes those as individual items. So if I put Avocado from US to shopping list and they do not have those exact fruits they will disappear from my shopping cart. The system is not smart enough to recommend avocadoes from New Zealand (or vice versa). The system does not also learn in any way of my purchase history. So then again I need to spend another 10 minutes by putting the missing items manually.
  8. Because I have used this store for long I have also realized certain quirks of it (like the one above). Sometimes you don´t find products with search and you have to go to specific category to go them through. Sometimes you can find certain products only through search. The time it has took me to master this online shopping platform could have been used to learn a new language.
  9. Finally you seem to have everything on your cart so it is time to check out.
  10. Expect the system tries to sell me something totally unnecessary. This time they offer me a funky green saucepan. Great deal, expect I don´t have any need for that product. Naturally these upselling offers are totally random and not connected to what I am normally purchasing.giantpromotion
  11. I select the option that if I miss any items they would be replaced automatically if there is a substitute item and they would not call me. Usually these calls are only about that the item is missing and there is no replacement. No idea to call if there are no solutions to missing items.
  12. I check out from the store. Great, it only took 20 minutes. My nearest store is five minutes walk so I probably would have already done this faster in there. But at least I didn´t need to stand up from my computer. Wait a minute; I did it on my stand-up desk at work. So at least I burned some calories.
  13. Ok of I go or so I think.
  14. Because I selected to pay with credit card, I have to do some extra security confirmation through SMS. So I have to check a code from my phone and type it into the system.
  15. Ok, not that hard, the card is valid. I will get e-mail confirmation of my order. By this point I have already utilized desktop, mobile and received e-mail during this shopping journey. And this for the quite mundane order of cabbage and yoghurt.
  16. My earliest time slot I could get the order was two days away. So eventually I had to go to nearby store to get some emergency stuff because otherwise I would have died of hunger meanwhile. So already this process has took an hour. Smooth…
  17. Day before the shipment, they call me (although I explicitly forbid them of calling). Well they call me anyway and say that certain items are missing and there are no replacements. Thank you for the information.
  18. The big day is here; I finally get my food delivery. Expect the delivery time frame is four hours from 9AM to 1PM, so I have to stay home and wait for that delivery. Luckily NBA playoffs are on so these four hours are not total waste of time. Way to go Boston!
  19. Little bit before 1PM the delivery is there. I check the order list and naturally some additional items are missing. I call Giant and they promise to reimburse (which they always do, just an additional phone call to do)
  20. I put the stuff into fridge taking around 10 minutes.
  21. Mission accomplished. I can´t wait to do this again in couple of days.

So to conclude, making things easier and digital meant the following:

  • Over 20 steps for a very simple process: select your food, buy your food, store your food
  • 5 hours total for making, managing and waiting the order
  • Using laptop for the order, doing two phone calls, receiving one SMS and one e-mail. So truly omni-channel experience!

So why do I still subject myself to this torture?

Answer: laziness.

I cannot be bothered to walk to the store because I am lazy bastard. I cannot be bothered to change to Redmart, because I am not convinced it would be any better. I have already registered to one service and cannot be bothered with my passwords. Laziness trumps loyalty.

Quite often companies do not actually need to make things easier or cheaper, they just need to give you the illusion that they provide easier and cheaper solution.

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Advertising At The Right Place but At The Wrong Time

The main rule in contextual advertising is simple:

Ensure that your contextual advertising is done on right context.

Sounds redundant but it isn´t. Let me show an example of advertising aimed at particular time-of-the-day:

Hmm, it is 11AM on Monday morning. I have barely woken up. I don´t necessarily want to be up, but generally if you work at the office you don´t have choice. Or are you referring to my stand-up desk?

I don´t even know what I will do tomorrow, not to mention knowing will I oversleep or not. I was planning to go sleep early, but do you know more about my Netflix addiction?

I have already eaten breakfast and I am already dreaming about my lunch. Would you have any lunch deals? Or will you be targeting those ads at my dinner time?

This ad was definitely at the right place because I noticed it. Probably in the media report it will also be really effective because I replayed it zillion times to get proper screenshots. So probably we will get more of this kind of lazy targeting in the future.

In many ways the opportunities in digital media are really interesting right now: ability to target people at the right place, right time and to retarget based on their behavior is fascinating. Unfortunately media and the media agencies are too often just too damn lazy to really utilize these opportunities, or just plain creepy.

This experience was not without silver lining, it reminded me to listen this awesome song by Dr. John to cheer up my Monday:

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Anatomy of An Insight: Letgo Commercializer

Sometimes your biggest challenge for growth is not that people are not using your platform, but they are just using it wrong:

Insight: The challenge is not that people don´t have stuff to sell, but they don´t know how to sell that. The pictures look bad, there is not that much story behind the stuff and everything lacks enthusiasm. If you are marketplace where people can sell their old stuff this is naturally a problem. You want to make people better sellers so their stuff moves faster and they can sell even more stuff. More stuff equals more money to everyone.

Would you notice a used product ad featuring Dolph Lundgren?

I know that I would.

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Bots and The Rise of Conversational Commerce

Messaging is the new browser and bots are the websites.
Mike Roberts, Kik Head of Messaging and Bot Experience

Bots have been all the rage last weeks. Whether it has been the NSFW Microsoft bot (not only racist, but also encouraging pot smoking in front of cops) or the ability to build chatbots on top of FB messengers.

Why sudden interest in bots?

They are not really a new phenomenon. Eliza was already created in 60s (test it here) and Siri has also been around for a while (test it in your phone). The main reason for the chatbots to gain importance especially now is because of the changed digital landscape. For majority of users, messenger is their digital starting point. Users don´t want to use messaging over Internet, they want to access their Internet to from their messenger. Therefore ability to help, serve and sell to users within messenger is paramount. Short text message (or emoji) is the default way of communicating, should it be also the way to communicate with the brands?

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.” 
Chris Messina

We are still having long way for the bot economy and below are the core things to fix before chatbots will evolve from novelty to actual user behavior:

1. The bots need to understand normal talk
“They aren’t taking natural language; they are taking menu names,”
Bruce Wilcox,the author of Rose, the winner of the most recent Loebner annual chatbot competition.

Many of the recent Facebook bots are still quite clunky in terms of discussion. People are more casual when they are thinking that they are conversing with real person. The challenge is for the robot to be casual but at the same time providing the transactional value. Current examples have not been particularly promising as they are either pushing you products in unnatural way or trying to be funny but not providing any value:

2. The bots need to become more predictive and fast
Going back and forth with your bot to order a pizza is tedious process. Getting weather details in an hour is just ridiculous. They need to become way more intuitive to use to really rival Google for getting your fast answers. The novelty factor will wear off quickly. If bots are not able to give you solutions fast, they will not be used.

3. Bots are not a destination but a way to enhance the existing discussion
E.g. instead of going to separate weather bot, you should get the weather details when you are chatting with your friend and need that info. Mark Zuckerberg raved about bots as replacements for apps, but with the current experience, it is actually just easier to go to that weather app and get your answer. Ideal situation would be that your messenger would recognize opportunities for commercial interaction from your discussions, but how to build that experience so that it is not creepy?

We are living in the early days of conversational commerce. Using messenger for repeated purchases (like pizza delivery) seems like a no-brainer, but will people actually start browsing products within messenger and asking help from the chatbot?

That depends on the user experience. If AI behind the chatbot actually would know your taste and it would be effective and enjoyable to chat with, messenger economy could become true game changer. Opportunity and potential demand is there, but building a good recommendation engine alone is difficult not to mention that you have to add enjoyable interaction with a robot on top of that. And the core question is, will people want to interact with bots?

Time will tell.

One thing is for certain. Bots will not kill the web, but they will permanently alter it.

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