In-store reality mining: quantifying and modelling the long-term behaviour of shoppers, measuring product interactions using sensors that capture the real buying experience
"For many businesses the brand is a fundamental point of reference in their relationship with consumers; a key component in the attraction and conjunction between what each can offer and others perceive and desire. Understanding companies’ brand policies (brand management) and the way the brand is used by the market (brand usage) is consequently a major issue for everyone involved in marketing and strategy. If it is true that the brand brings certain advantages, for example in terms of the relationship with consumers, it is equally true that brands require careful management. This book, the work of three Italian experts, provides an in-depth analysis of the subject, its current value and prospects and future developments."
"Discussions about brands, their relations, roles and future, are probably endless, as endless and essentially unpredictable as the developments of society, the needs of customers, the ways in which people choose and buy products, the evolution of distribution channels and new technologies. (...) We can not propose solutions, neither temporary nor definitive: the literature of marketing is already full of “ready to use” solutions, miraculous panaceas offered by self-styled gurus or new shysters. As we have tried to analyse in the development of the text, there appears to be a need for a cultural reflection on the raison d'être, the existence, the purpose of brands. A culture that subdues the brand to, possibly short term, financial results. A culture that acts without reflecting on the results that an action linked to the brand generate for the entire business, for customers, and more generally the stakeholders. The proliferation of an offer that seems oblivious to the real needs of individuals/customers, society, that is often redundant and unnecessarily exacerbates competition with the use of very short-term actions, the excessive use of pricing, rigid resistance, arrogance, self-referential companies, the existence of a management often unable to understand the demands of society (in which the brand operate), the processes of integration and training of new managerial tools, often divorced from the reality of markets, all these ten to weaken the brand, its credibility and the trust that it can generate for customers and, ultimately, the entire company. (...) In short, we do not apply standard recipes but explore the many directions that the current situation offers for a more permanent revival of the brand, something able to get it off the ground and recover from the leadership crisis that threatens to disable it. (...) So, great opportunities. Too bad that at the end of 2009, the first signals from the brand system, also from the consumer goods sectors that are starting to overcome the 2007-2009 crisis, seem to go in the opposite direction. 2010 trends for investment by companies seem to be draining resources from support for the brand and its value (communication, positioning, etc.) while increasing resources for promotions and price cutting, i.e. exactly the opposite of what we have tried to suggest in the previous pages. The brand risks losing its role; its relations with the customer is likely to be seriously affected by the massive use of promotions, offers and cut prices. Value, which as we well know is not equal to the price paid, is flattened by a price that forces the customer to migrate, to choose other offers, forgetting the connection with “his” brand. In this way the brand becomes a belle de jour, offered at a low price, used and forgotten, for which design, a lasting relationship and loyalty become a chimera. If this is how it goes, brands are destined for an increasingly wretched life, a synthesis of rarefied value. And eventually giving way to a simulacrum of the brand: the non-brand brand, with high visibility, but lacking in honour and loyalty. With the distance between branded and unbranded goods reduce to zero? It would mean the end of a more than 100-year cycle: 1886 Atlanta, Georgia, when Coca-Cola was born."
"Have we arrived at the end of the line? The shopping trolley appears full, not only of products, but also of needs met, of disappointed expectations (by manufacturers? Distributors? Both?), worn out meanings and out values. And, as often happens in long phases of change in society and consumer habits, episodes “disruptive” episodes, such as a rise in unemployment, the revolution in household spending power, the widespread fall in consumption and waste, in short everything that in the past five years we have simplistically called crisis, acts as a detonator of, more or less hidden, long waves in society.
But something has changed. Perhaps we have understood that desires, like everything else in the universe, cannot grow indefinitely. Markets can not constantly thrive, companies can not always grow, results may not always be outstanding, share prices may not run like a bull across endless green grasslands. The recession has taught us that the desires have to reckon with possibilities. And if the economic possibilities are reduced, then it is necessary to redefine our priorities.
But how should the manufacturing and distribution industries move in this scenario? Faced with the collapse of the certainties on which their fortunes were built? Many seem unable to understand, plan, act. They appear blocked by an inability to interpret reality, to analyse markets, to understand the needs, wants, desires, possibilities, of increasingly diverse customers, not only in terms of culture or origin, but also in terms of lifestyle and buying habits.
The book offers a reflection on the new logic of buying linked to an analysis of real cases and the opinions of professionals and experts, with supporting data and research results in different sectors. With an emphasis on a pragmatic approach, the focus will be on the subject that, creates value, i.e. the one who buys: the shopper. But considered not as a distant “consumer”, a theorem to be used and abused by marketing departments, but as a concrete individual who goes into a store, real or virtual, for information, recreation, fun, to socialise, encounter products, images, offers , stimuli, brands, and perhaps even to buy."