A great example of this is outlined in the latest Trendwatching Brief. They call it the Random Acts of Kindness Trend. The briefing brings up a couple of interesting morsels for your thinkng:
- Brands that are literally giving away products and services for seemingly NO REASON -- why would they do that? How can any company make money doing that?
- Technology voyeurism - - Brands using consumers' status updates to identify who they are going to be randomly kind to. WHAT ABOUT PRIVACY?!
- Research, Listening or Both -- So what is this? Is it market research? Is it listening? Is it selling -- WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
I'm being dramatic to make a point.
Nice brands don't finish last: You bet your bottom dollar that these companies and brands are well aware of their profit calculation and are using their marketing dollars wisely. There must be some kind of human greed trigger that says "NO - don't give anything away! Mine! Mine! Mine!" Actually, nothing can be further from the truth. I believe that there is an old Buddhist saying that says something like - whatever you want for yourself, give it to someone else first. And that's exactly what these brands are doing. It's really just a choice about where to invest your money. And these companies choose to invest where they actually CONTROL the cause and the effect.
Say you had $10,000. You can take that $10,000 and invest it in a series of full page ads that run in a popular magazine. You write the check, develop the ad and it runs. From the time you've placed that ad - you've lost all control of the impact that money makes on your business.
You can take your $10,000 and invest it in literally purchasing some loyal customers and raving fans by doing what these companies did -- giving products and services away to people for whom it means SOMETHING BIG at that very moment.
If you take the example of the "poor"KLM traveler who was going to miss a football (soccer) game while he was in NYC and received a guidebook of NYC with all the football bars highlighted so he could watch on TV --- awww - isn't that sweet? How many people do you think this guy is going to tell to fly KLM? And what did that cost them? A few minutes online and the cost of a guide book.
Research is Going Real Time
The point I'm trying to make is that traditional research is very time intensive and we're living in a very here and now economy. I'm willing to bet that these companies and brands weren't looking at their Random Acts of Kindness as being research -- but I think that a lot of research skill went into making that happen.
I'm excited about the prospect of research expanding its reach into so many marketing opportunities that make a difference and provide immediate gratification .