How Do Consumers Choose in a World of Automated Ordering?

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The term “frictionless commerce” is widely used to describe how digital technologies are blending product purchases seamlessly into consumers’ daily lives. In the ultimate manifestation of frictionless commerce, purchases will be automatically initiated on behalf of consumers (with their advance consent) using real-time, integrated data from known preferences, past behaviors, sensors, and other sources. Envision, for example, a “smart fridge” automatically ordering food items it senses are running low. That is not common yet, but ever since consumers were offered the option to shop online from home, rather than having to go to a store, technology has been rapidly removing friction from commerce.

As frictionless commerce accelerates, so will a momentous shift in the node of commerce. In the era of department stores and supermarkets, consumers selected brands from store aisles and shelves. Over the past several decades, the in-store experience has been increasingly displaced by online shopping,

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Technology Is Changing What a Premium Automotive Brand Looks Like

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Many mature industries are experiencing significant technological disruption. The automotive industry is being disrupted by electric vehicles and self-driving cars, just as home appliances is being disrupted by the Internet of Things and smart appliances, home entertainment by on-demand content providers, and apparel by online personal stylists such as Stitch Fix and Trunk Club.

Leaders in every industry are no doubt keeping a vigilant eye on such developments, yet one very important aspect of this disruption has been largely overlooked: technology fundamentally changes what makes your brand premium.

The traditional drivers of brand premium are being joined (and to varying degrees supplanted) by newer, tech-enabled variables: software, interactive products, digital interactions, immersive experiences, and predictive services, to name a few.



Here’s how technology is changing the game in the automotive industry:

Product: hardware vs. software. While hardware currently accounts for 90% of the perceived value of a car,

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How GDPR Will Transform Digital Marketing

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This month will see the enforcement of a sweeping new set of regulations that could change the face of digital marketing: the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. To protect consumers’ privacy and give them greater control over how their data is collected and used, GDPR requires marketers to secure explicit permission for data-use activities within the EU. With new and substantial constraints on what had been largely unregulated data-collection practices, marketers will have to find ways to target digital ads, depending less (or not at all) on hoovering up quantities of behavioral data.

Consumers have already seen a range of developments resulting from the forthcoming enforcement of GDPR. Among these are the dozens of messages from web-based companies from TaskRabbit to Twitter about privacy policy updates, as well as the recent reports about how major internet companies like Facebook and LinkedIn are moving the personal data

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How to Fix MoviePass

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MoviePass, an upstart movie theater subscription service, has been a controversial topic lately. One Wall Street analyst called MoviePass a joke that would be out of business in 18 months. It lost nearly $100 million in its most recent quarter, its parent company’s stock has plummeted, and its auditor recently voiced skepticism over its ability to stay in business.

The company suffers from three fundamental problems. The first is a flawed business model. Its average subscriber sees three movies a month; for every ticket a subscriber uses, MoviePass pays the full retail price to the theater. The problem is that MoviePass collects only $9.95 per month per subscriber, and three movie tickets costs nearly $30, on average, meaning it’s losing nearly $20 per month per subscriber on a variable cost basis. This is a problem that scale (meaning more subscribers) cannot solve.

The second problem: Movie theater operators don’t

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How Companies Can Use the Data They Collect to Further the Public Good

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By the end of 2017, Yelp had amassed more than 140 million reviews of local businesses. While the company’s mission focuses on helping people find local businesses more easily, this wealth of data has the potential to serve other purposes. For instance, Yelp data might help restaurants understand which markets they should consider entering, or whether to add a bar. It can help real estate investors understand where gentrification might occur. And it might help private equity firms with an interest in coffee decide whether to invest in Philz or Blue Bottle.

The potential value of the large data sets being amassed by private companies raises new opportunities and challenges for managers making strategic data decisions. While there are plenty of well-publicized examples of data repurposing gone wrong, we think it would be a shame for companies to decide the only option is to hoard their data. Before you

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What Blockchain Could Mean for Marketing

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Companies are collecting more data than ever before, and are making significant business decisions based on it. Of the 4 Vs of Big Data (Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity), we have now seen ample evidence of the impact and importance of the first three. A higher “Volume” of data has led to more efficient decision-making in numerous instances, such as in programmatic marketing and in banking. Research has shown how leveraging high “Velocity” data — such as data from mobile devices — has unearthed knowledge that has helped firms better understand their customers. The significant potential of high “Variety” data — data that is unstructured in the form of text, images, videos, and so on — to make better predictions has been documented in numerous academic studies. But what about issues related to the accuracy, reliability, and transparency of the data itself, which basically comprises the fourth V, “Veracity”? In the

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Trust, Transparency and Value — How Google Is Working to Improve Online Advertising for Everyone – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM GOOGLE

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Digital advertising has played an important role in making the internet the free, open, vital place it is today. Many of the things we all enjoy — websites, blogs, social networks, apps and videos — are funded by ads. Advertising helps reduce the digital divide, empowers creative voices and spurs global economic opportunity.

Yet, it’s no revelation that the ads ecosystem has had its share of challenges over the past few years. We’ve all seen the signs: consumers who are frustrated with slow experiences

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How Leading Marketers Get Ahead in Today’s Data-Driven World – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM GOOGLE


With so much information and technology at their fingertips, today’s consumers expect to get things done quickly and have their questions answered in an instant. The same could be said for modern marketers — expectations for their technology stack are on the rise too.

Bain & Company, in partnership with Google, surveyed nearly 1,700 global marketing and media decision makers to learn more about the value they’re gaining from investments in digital information and technology.

Google VP of Media Platforms Sean Downey sat down with Laura Beaudin, Bain partner and lead for the firm’s global marketing excellence work, to talk about what leading marketers do differently.

Downey: You surveyed marketers in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan. Was there any single trend that stood out?

Beaudin: The one thing that was consistent around the world was that the top priority for marketers was gaining a better understanding of their

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Is Your Marketing in the Right Place but at the Wrong Time? – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM GOOGLE

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Time is running out on personalized marketing as a means of continually raising the return on investment of campaigns. The use of advanced data analytics to identify the right customers, while still valuable, is reaching a plateau. Proliferation of digital channels and options for customers raises the importance of another, still underappreciated, variable: message timing.

By communicating at the most opportune times based on insights into consumer behavior, companies can generate more business with fewer or more efficient ads, or expand their audience to find unexpected wins.

Timing comes into play through signals, sequence and speed. And the technology now exists for marketers to test with high confidence when to communicate and in what order — and to do so in near real time. How exactly are they doing that, and thereby realizing further gains in ROI? Bain & Company recently

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What Marketers Should Know About Personality-Based Marketing

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Communicators and marketers can now adopt a personalized approach to their work, ideally one based on behavioral science. But the execution lags behind the science while the claims of some marketers as to what personality marketing can do far exceed it. Moreover, public controversies like the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica story threaten personality marketing’s potential before it has really matured.

It’s important not to judge a field by its worst actors. Marketers, communicators, and the public alike deserve a better understanding of personality marketing — what it is, how it works, and why it matters.

The personality targeting controversy

Beyond the allegations of misuse of personal information gleaned from unwitting participants in social media, the Cambridge Analytica controversy raised an aspect of marketing that few people knew much about: the targeting of people based on not only on their past behaviors and explicitly stated preferences, but

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Inside the Invisible but Influential World of Scent Branding

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Scented environments have been shown to reduce typos made by office workers; improve the perception of product quality; increase purchase intent, average unit sales, and duration of a retail visit or stay among consumers; and boost the willingness of consumers to pay more for a product.

But from offices and trade show booths to retail environments and the products themselves, the true power of olfactory branding (also known as scent branding) is in its unique ability to form immediate, powerful, and differentiated emotional connections with customers, particularly within a category of functionally similar offerings. That’s because a unique scent can spark the memory of the associated products or events, even for an incident dating back to one’s childhood. And olfactory recall can extend to 10,000 different odors, if not more.

The employment of scent branding is a strategy that Hyatt Place has been

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How Organic Wine Finally Caught On

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If you cannot remember the last time you had a glass of organic wine, you are hardly alone. Overall, less than 5% of the world’s vineyards are organic. In the United States, the world’s largest consumer of wine, only 1% of wine sold by volume was organic. The paltry market for organic wine around the world belies the fact that over the past half century, countless organic winegrowers and vintners have dedicated great effort to creating a larger market for the category, without much success. Meanwhile, plenty of other organic products, including vegetables, milk, and tea, have become widely consumed, at least by affluent, health-conscious city dwellers. Why the difference?

We set out to understand how and why the category of organic wine failed to emerge, even as demand for other organic goods soared. Through historical research and many interviews, we found several ways in which early stumbles

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How to Sell Embarrassing Products

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In the modern retail environment, it is becoming increasingly difficult to use packaging to stand out. The shelves of stores are packed with fantastic fonts, strategically designed color combinations, and unique product forms all competing to draw the attention of consumers.

But is it possible that attempting to stand out in a crowd is actually hurting your business? Our research shows that for products consumers find embarrassing to buy — for example, condoms, acne cream, hemorrhoid cream, and lice shampoo — having packaging that stands out may reduce consumers’ purchase intentions. While this may seem obvious, a quick trip to your local pharmacy aisle shows how often embarrassing products are packaged in ways designed to grab your attention, with loud fonts or bright colors. This is particularly pertinent given the decline of in-store sales for these items. Consumers are moving toward purchasing their embarrassing — and non-embarrassing — products

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Customers Won’t Pay as Much for Digital Goods — and Research Explains Why

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Every day, we interact with two kinds of goods. The first kind is acquired and shared instantly, is weightless, impervious to damage, easy to customize, and impossible to lose. Even a child can carry thousands of it at a time. The second kind requires travel to acquire or share, is difficult to alter, cumbersome, easily lost, and can be damaged in a myriad of ways. Only a few of its kind can be crammed into a single bag. Despite the many advantages of the first kind –– digital goods — companies find again and again that people value and are willing to pay considerably more for the latter –– their physical counterparts. Our research aims to explain this puzzling behavior.

Modern life has been transformed by the widespread digitization of many consumer goods, from books, to magazines, newspapers, music, movies, airplane tickets, and calculators. Digital photographs, first

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Knowing when to scale (and how to prove that you can do it)

When you’re talking to investors about a Series B, Series C or later round, one of the questions that will inevitably come up is “What are your CACs?”. It sounds like a simple question, but from the question of what costs to include and the right way to account for organic traffic to the pandora box of multi-touch attribution, there are lots of devils in the details.

What's more, the real question is not "What are your CACs?" but "What will your CACs be if you invest $10-20 million in sales & marketing?". It’s hard enough to calculate historic CACs for different acquisition channels with a high degree of accuracy. It’s much harder to predict future CACs at bigger scale.

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Clara Labs nabs $7M Series A as it positions its AI assistant to meet the needs of enterprise teams

 Clara Labs, creator of the Clara AI assistant, is announcing a $7 million Series A this morning led by Basis Set Ventures. Slack Fund also joined in the round alongside existing investors Sequoia and First Round. The startup will be looking to further differentiate within the crowded field of email-centric personal assistants by building in features and integrations to address the needs of… Read More

Reach Robotics closes $7.5M Series A for its augmented reality bots

 After years of research and development, Reach Robotics has closed a $7.5 million Series A, co-led by Korea Investment Partners (KiP) and IGlobe, to bring its augmented reality bots to market in a big way. The Bristol-based startup is looking to expand into the U.S. and the team is exploring opportunities for growth into other European and Asian markets. Reach Robotics first product,… Read More

ZenIQ lands $4.6 million to help marketers escape ‘dashboard hell’ using AI

ZenIQ, a company that applies AI to help companies with their account-based marketing practices, just raised $4.6 million in seed funding in a round led by Costanoa Ventures. Salesforce Ventures also participated in the round — which is interesting, considering that the company just started offering a similar service. The company’s product is supposed to help by taking in signals about potential customers and providing marketers with the best next action to take in order to land business from a particular account. ZenIQ uses machine learning to help figure out what that action is by integrating data from multiple systems. “Marketers [are in] dashboard hell right now,” ZenIQ CEO Srihari Kumar said. “They have to interpret the data from so many different [services] and try to figure out what to do next.” Overall, the product is supposed to help businesses get the most out of account-based Continue reading "ZenIQ lands $4.6 million to help marketers escape ‘dashboard hell’ using AI"