Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Auto Industry Transformation: Dimensions of Change

Change is inevitable. In the auto industry, change is a continuous effort to foster improvements that align with consumer needs. We, as marketers, must first ask ourselves “who’s buying cars these days and why?” According to New Media and Marketing, baby boomers are still the driving force behind new car sales.

After determining the demographics of your market, the next logical question is “what do my consumers want?” As we all know, the recession fundamentally changed the way people viewed car-buying. Many consumers were holding onto their cars longer and opting to perform car repairs themselves. Ad Age reported a 6% rise in sales in 2009 for AutoZone, a commercial auto parts retailer, at a time when most companies were struggling to stay in business. Though the economy has and continues to improve, the “frugality” of the consumer holds strong. Many consumers are still driving their cars longer, but are also opting to purchase used cars when it’s time to trade up. Those who are looking for cars have particular needs. According to, “two thirds of car buyers expect their next model to provide much or somewhat better fuel economy.” Auto buyers are focusing not only on the initial purchase, but the long-term expenses.

Now, the next question is “who will be buying cars tomorrow?” This is where marketers and product developers fall off. Meeting today’s consumer needs will secure sales for today. One must meet the future needs of consumers to ensure enduring sustainability. With an 11% increase in auto sales this year, how do you capture your share of market? We say the source of volume will come from millennials, particularly minority millennials. There are 86 million millennials with $1.3 trillion in spending power. Why are we not aggressively pursuing a share of that spending? We must market for tomorrow to ensure long-term profits.

In short: give them what they want. Know which consumers are driving your innovation and focus product development around these consumers. Millennials are focused on product innovation in every aspect: fuel efficiency, electronic syncing capabilities, and modern vehicle designs will be the driving forces behind a car’s success or failure in the future automotive consumer market. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Healthier" Marketing | How Social Trends Changed the Beverage Industry

Locally sourced. Paleo-friendly. Clean eating. Marketers know how to make a niche health trend go viral. Branding your product as “delicious”, “tasty”, and “fast” is no longer enough for many consumers. Marketers are moving towards “healthier” options that fit into your current detox/all-natural/pesticide-free/low-carb lifestyle. This change in consumer preferences has lead to a fight for better nutrition labels, but what does that mean for cult favorites? Consumers not only want convenient products, they also want them to be nutritional, energy-boosting, and as natural as possible. This has caused the beverage industry to go through a culture shock.
According to, 79% of their readers see the usage rates of Stevia increasing in 2014 versus 2013, and 60% say the consumer interest in healthy ingredients drives growth more than price-point, GMO-free labeling, and expanded distribution. Companies are having to explain how their products are made and why, which has led to a multitude of new product developments. An increase in bottled water brands is a prime example. Dasani is attempting to make drinking water fun with Dasani Drops, and is using some old-fashioned freebie marketing, while its sister brand, GlacĂ©au, is giving the UK something to sip on with Smartwater. The Coca- Cola Company is expanding in the direction of the consumer market’s preference changes. They have recently released plans to launch Coca-Cola Life, a naturally sweetened version of Coca-Cola Classic.
An intense focus on product benefits in marketing is needed to speak to these customers’ needs. This aligns with the health overhaul that has been swaying the nation. More consumers can quote the calorie-count of an apple, a large fry from McDonalds, and the sodium count on a Lean Cuisine before they can tell you the 18th president of the United States. Consumers are obsessed with what they’re putting in their body, and that includes what they’re drinking.
Our President and CEO, Michael Steele, noticed these changes in consumer behavior years ago, and chose to make health his cornerstone when he opened his own agency, Advantage Communications, Inc.  Michael chose to sell a healthier lifestyle by partnering with companies and agencies whose goals align with his own. With campaigns like “Know Now” (a campaign encouraging the public to know their HIV status), and “Stamp Out Smoking”, Advantage Communications, Inc. has honed their skills on communicating the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.