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consumer behavior

Consumer Behavior Sparks Ideas For New Products, Expanding Markets

Marketing turns something old into something new: Consumer behavior sparks ideas for new products, expanding markets.


Introducing a new product to market can take years of research and expense. Or it can be as simple as taking something already in existence and marketing it for a different purpose. Creating or discovering a whole new use or new market for a product can be all you need to generate increased sales and growth. Observing consumer behavior is often the catalyst for new ideas.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal outlines Hidden Valley Foods’ plan to expand its market penetration for its premier product, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. By repositioning the ever-popular salad dressing as the “new ketchup,” the company believes it can expand its market share and increase revenue. Updating the recipe to make the dressing thicker and creamier in order to stay atop a burger and creating new packaging and labeling, the new version will be called Hidden Valley for Everything. The company will introduce the product to the restaurant industry and grocery sales as soon as they finalize the recipe, so it can safely remain on the table as a nonperishable item, like ketchup and mustard.

The idea for repositioning the top selling salad dressing came about when a company executive observed his daughter pouring it over her salmon dinner. While ranch dressing is said to be “the most often used salad dressing in the U.S.,” the executive saw his daughter’s behavior as an opportunity to expand to a new area. Research shows that 15 percent of ranch dressing consumers use it on something other than salad, which supports the company’s move to make a play for market share in the condiment category.

Similarly, when Google learned that its customers were enjoying Google Translate more for its musical attributes than to translate words and phrases, the company saw a demand for this service with a new purpose. Customers type in a string of consonants as English for the system to translate into German, and then the computer “speaks” the phrase in rhythmic beat. The result is music to the user’s ears.

Then there is Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, who was recently credited with reviving the business by introducing a variety of new products and services. One of those ideas is a light roast coffee — a first for the coffeehouse chain that built its business on rich, dark roast flavors. When the company’s market research uncovered that “40 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers prefer a lighter, milder roast,” the product development team went to work creating their new Blonde roast.

Business owners and managers at small companies can learn from these industry leaders. Watching and listening to your consumers can often uncover the potential for new sources of revenue. Conduct a review of current products and services and think about how you might promote them to a different target market or how they may be utilized differently. By repositioning or refocusing your marketing, the potential for growth can be accomplished by just looking at the situation from a new perspective.

For more information on observing consumer behavior, or marketingworx and its services, visit www.marketingworxpr.com.

social media marketing

Moving Forward: Social Media Marketing In 2012

Moving forward: Thoughts on social media marketing in 2012

With the holidays upon us, the realities of the year’s end have set in. It’s time to begin clearing out inboxes, archiving 2011 files and preparing for 2012. It’s time for reflection and anticipation.

When it comes to social media marketing in 2012, the first step is looking back at what worked during the past 12 months and then, based on those results and the business goals for 2012, developing a plan for the upcoming year. For many companies, 2011 was the year for implementing social media.

Those still questioning the point of social media, should consider the facts provided by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:

  • Facebook has more than 800 million active users.
  • Fifty percent of Facebook’s active users log on in any given day.
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.
  • More than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices.
  • Twitter currently has about 110 million users.
  • On Twitter, there are more than 600 million searches done every single day.
  • Twitter is accessed by more than 30 percent of users via their mobile phone.
  • Twitter is now serving a quarter billion tweets each day — more than one million tweets every six minutes.
  • LinkedIn’s members have reached 119 million, although this figure is an approximation provided by LinkedIn.
  • The standard user of LinkedIn is male (58.5 percent) and between the ages of 25 and 54 (70 percent).

Why followers and fans matter

With a majority of the population now visiting social media sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, creating a brand presence on these sites is becoming an essential part of doing business. Customers will turn to social media to learn more about products and services in real time.

Unlike any other marketing tool, social media allows companies to speak to customers in a more personal way, as if they are talking to a friend not a company, which helps build trust and rapport. It also assists in building online visibility to drive traffic to your website and ultimately through your doors, much like a word-of-mouth referral.

Social media can also help leverage public relations efforts by pushing press coverage out to a larger audience and pulling media people in, enticing them to learn more about your company and its brand.

Social media marketing in 2012: How to improve your pages

If your company already has established Facebook and Twitter pages, it is important to examine the content you are posting to make sure that you are providing value. For example, if you have a retail store or restaurant, post photos of products or dishes and utilize social media to let your customers know the specials of the day.

If you have a company that provides a service to other businesses, post helpful tips and educational articles related to your field. Remember, social media engagement is not one-sided.

As well as posting content, it is important to reach out and follow others and “Like” business-related Facebook pages. Then, they in turn may follow or like your page and interact by commenting on your posts. The other crucial factor in integrating social media into marketing is frequency and consistency.

Strategic planning and implementation

While it sounds simple in concept, before launching a social media campaign, companies need to remember, these pages are a voice for the company and represent the brand, it is not something that should be taken lightly. You should establish internal guidelines and a strategic plan specifying how your organization is going to manage the social media sites.

Figure out who is going to be responsible for the actual posting and what kind of information you want to share. In some cases, an in-house marketing or communications person is best. If there is no one in-house equipped to handle things, enlisting a public relations firm to manage an integrated public relations and social media campaign is the best approach. A public relations firm will know how to create online messaging and content that speaks to the public.

Mix it up

With the push to build a presence in social media clearly on the rise, it is tough to know where to focus your marketing efforts. The key to any marketing plan is developing a strong consistent message that reaches your target audience — social media is one tool to help make that happen.

Marketing plans must still incorporate a mix of more traditional sales and advertising efforts like targeted print, radio and online ads, along with public relations outreach to increase visibility and generate sales. While social media will continue to evolve and remain a powerful tool, an integrated campaign is optimal for any successful business.

For more information about social media marketing for your business in 2012 and how to implement a marketing plan, visit marketingworxpr.com.