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Let's Talk...Trends

One of the most exciting parts of the advertising agency business is following consumer trends and then taking them to our clients so they might create a product or service ahead of consumer demand.  Fun stuff if you're watching what is going on and you get it right.  Here's a trend we started watching five or six years ago and it continues to build...against the odds.

Natural/Organic FoodBuy_fresh_buy_local

We do lots of work in the "farm to table" world and while the natural/organic food trend isn't new to the coasts it's still emerging here in the Midwest.  We believe the drivers are: choice, health, cause and age.  People, for too long, have had little choice in their food decisions.  We simply purchased what was on the shelf at the local grocery store.  People wanted "something different" and, because of the information now available through technology, we heard about natural/organic and the proposed health benefits for people and the planet.  That becomes the "cause" portion of the trend.

The "age aspect" is something very different.  The coveted age demographic has always been 18 - 24 with 25 - 34 coming in a close second.  In this trend the drivers seem to be folks that are 45+ who have the money and interest in health decisions.  In fact, much of the action is coming from men and women that are considered "baby-boomers" at 55+.


But, don't take my word for it here are several solid, local examples of the natural/organic trend that is raging in the Midwest:

  • Farmers Markets- In the Des Moines Metro there are at least six with the largest being the Saturday Downtown Farmers Market which draws 25,000+ each week.  That has been so successful they have now started a Mid-Week Farmers Market during the noon hour....
  • Grocery Stores- Regional grocery stores have increased competition from not only farmers markets but places like, Campbell's NutritionWhole Foods and now brick and mortar grocery co-ops like Tallgrass which will open soon in Historic Valley Junction.
  • Community Supported Agriculture- They are called CSA's and they are growing at a steady rate.  This is when individuals agree to buy specific items form local farmers each month.  Buy Fresh, Buy Local is something only the hippies did...ten years ago.
  • Organic/Natural Farms - Farming in the Midwest, ten years ago, was all row-crop with eggs, hogs and cattle on the side.  When Senator Tom Harkin suggested in the 1980's that producers should consider growing more sustainable local crops such as "endive" he was laughed out of the room.  Today the number of small, independent, family owned farms continues to grow.  In fact, the 2010 USDA Farm Census showed the first increase in the number of farms in the United States since 1940.  And, it was these small farms that made the difference.
  • Farm Tours & Events - Would you think over 1,300 people would travel to rural Iowa to tour seven small organic/natural farms to buy and or sample their products?  They do at Farm Crawl which will hold their fifth annual event this fall.  Here's a video from last year.  And this is happening all over the country.

Bottom Line

At the start I suggested this trend is growing "against all odds".  What are those "odds"?  Money.  Not everybody in the nation is convinced the sky is falling and they have money to spend on natural/organic items.  Cause is powerful.  

Following trends isn't hard...but you need to be "tuned in" and listening.  With this trend there is still room for your business...even outside of food.  Think of the drivers, "Cause", "Health", "Age" and "Choice".  What can you develop that meets those consumer demands?  And will you market it? 

Thanks for reading...if you want to see several examples of this trend have a look at this piece we wrote for Insight on Business...complete with some video.

If you want to connect and leave a comment here...feel free.  Or we can connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal and business) or @InsightADV (all business) and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page where folks get these posts...first.   Thanks again and have a great day! - Michael


Cut Employees or Marketing? Wrong Question...

Time for a quick video blog.  This is Kert Henning from family owned Henning's Cheese based in Wisconsin.  Henning's Cheese has 25 employees...up from several years ago.  In 2009 they made a decision to "not join the recession" and increased their R&D and Marketing budgets.  The result has been increased sales, increased product offerings and a much larger market share.  Oh...and did we mention they sell a premium product?  Remember "Trust & Value"?


If you would like to learn more about Henning's Cheese, how it's made, where they are and see how excited this man is about his craft...  Here is a longer video we made at the Urbandale Hy-Vee where we found Kert...selling.

Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend! - Michael




Social Media ROI

One of the biggest perplexing questions most business people have isMan Question  the ROI of social media.  Our answer to the concern is that the return for not using social media correctly to engage consumers is a huge mistake.  We also have said the real ROI of social media is in...sales

Sure branding is important, so is consumer loyalty and so is all the information you can gather about consumer trends.  But, at the end of the day, most business people want...sales.  So, here is a sales story tied directly to social media.

Last week one of our clients attended a major sales event for a distributing company.  It was held in a motel conference room where buyers  listened to pitch after pitch from sellers...for twelve hours.  By the time our client got in front of the group of "middle-aged men" it was afternoon and the room was a little...."tired".  Our client made the pitch, showed off the product and talked about retail support the company is willing to give.  The buyers listened, said some nice things and dismissed them.

QR Code Video Then...just as they were leaving the room, they heard our spokesperson's voice from a "how-to" video.  The video can only be accessed through the use of a QR Code which is part of the point of purchase display we built for them.  Someone in the room said, "Wow, this is neat!".  Other buyers then started accessing the additional videos by activating the QR Codes on their smart phones.  They waved our client back into the room and wanted to know more about the technology, products and retail support.

In the end they placed a number of orders.

What might have happened if they had not used this social media component?  If sales are the real ROI of social media...are you there yet?



Marketing By Committee

Last week we all witnessed a textbook case of "marketing byCyhawk trophy new  committee" when the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Learfield Sports and the Iowa Corn Growers unveiled the new Cy-Hawk traveling trophy.  The reaction was not what Mindy Williamson of the Corn Growers was expecting.  People from all sides...hated it.  I know that's a strong word...but true.  And when, the ever mindful of polls, Govenor Branstad weighs in and says, "I think they can do better."  You know the new trophy will have a very short life.

This fiasco does allow us a "teachable moment" and something we've warned about in the past.  Don't dabble in something you know nothing about especially when it's a committee with competing interests.  The corn folks know corn...and Learfield, based in Plano, Texas knows...uhm, let me get back to you on that.  That's how we ended up with a trophy that has nothing to do with football...or reality.  (There hasn't been a "farm family look" like that for forty years.  Well, maybe in Texas.)

New Coke Use "Hold on their Libbie!  In my company we all have our product/service at the top of our minds.  There is no competition here."   Sure there is.  When the new head of marketing comes in, talks with the folks in accounting and they talk with the sales department we get mistakes like...New Coke.  To name one.

Let's say you have an idea for a product or service that you've developed.  It might be wise to ask the advice of an expert before you dive head-long Edsel.  No?

The good news...later today there is going to be a press conference among some of the folks involved in this.  The spin will be...amazing.  And that leads us to another "teachable moment":  Rather than dance around the issue and talk about corn and families and whatever they should simply say"We made a huge mistake and we've heard from the people of Iowa.  We're going back into design and come out with a new, new Cy-Hawk Trophy." professional advice:  Maybe a likeness of Nile Kinnick on one side and Jack Trice on the other?  And, no...not running through a corn field. 


Sunday Morning Coffee - Moved

Sunday Morning Coffee, news, opinion, and the stuff that makes us...crazy.  It's been quite a week with Gov. Rick Parry, the Cy-Hawk Corn Trophy, The Iowa State Fair, Dowling Football and much more.  Don't let the day go by without your cup!  Here is the link to those stories...and more.


Iowa Corn and...Football?

Creating marketing and advertising material from print to video is what we do...for a living.  We don't make another blasted thing.  But, if aCyhawk trophy new  company is really interested in selling what they make...they often hire an advertising agency.  So, why am I starting out with this shameless self plug?

Because we know advertising and marketing and we know when something just ain't right but nobody is going to say anything because of the money involved.

Enter Iowa Corn Growers and Football

This week at the Iowa State Fair the folks from the Corn Board (for those of you living outside of Iowa...hang in there with us...we honestly have a corn board.) gave the public a look at the new Cy-Hawk Trophy.  The trophy which is given to the winning team following the renewed Iowa State vs. University of Iowa football contest.

Trouble is...folks hate it.

Cy-hawk_trophy old As ESPN suggested, "Frankly, it looks like something grandma might pick up at a flea market."  (Here's a photo of the OLD Cy-Hawk Trophy...with a football and a player holding

We agree that the old trophy needed some updating.  But those of you that hate the new "trophy" just don't get it.  This isn't about football, silly.  This is about promoting Iowa's cash crop...corn.  And it's about naming rights and money to schools and...everything other

So settle down and save it until the Floyd of Rosedale trophy is recreated with money from the Pork Board (yes...we have one of those too) into a huge hog confinement building.  Or the Soybean Board (yep) gets into the act and buys rights to have all our basket balls  Or was that John Deere?

Weary...just weary.


Cowboy Chic & QR Codes Part II

Last week I posted a video about using QR Codes.  If you missed it, just follow this link or activate the QR Code to the right.  Today I thought youQR Code Video  might be interested in WHO is clicking through to QR Codes, WHERE they are picking them up and WHAT they are looking at.

Studies We Love Studies...

Our friends at comScore did a survey this past June and looked at thousands of QR Code users.  They found that 14 million people activated Bar or QR Codes during the month.  The users tend to be male (60.5%) between the ages of 18 - 34 (53.4%) and have a household income of $100,000+.  Not a bad group to connect with.

Where they found their codes was equally interesting.  The most scanned locations were magazines and newspapers (49%), product packaging (35%) and websites via a PC (27%).  Most users scan the codes from home (58%), retail centers (39%) and grocery stores (25%).

The Future

It's true that 14 million people isn't a large number and we were a bit surprised that grocery stores came in so low.  However, given the gender and age demographics we get it.  Look for these numbers to climb as more and more products/services better understand how to properly use QR or Bar Codes and consumers become more savvy.  Two words:  Mobile Website...critical factor.

State Fair Boots Cowboy Chic - Consumer Trend?

Maybe it's the Iowa State Fair or maybe it's a trend.  While at the fair last week, and this, we've seen an abundance of women of all ages sporting boots with...dresses and shorts.  What's surprising about this is it's been across all demographics.  Rural vs. Urban, Young vs. Older, Tribal Prints vs. Plaids...  Just thought we'd bring your attention to something we think might be coming back.  Oh...and to add to this.  Business is up at fair based cowboy clothing and boot companies.  We think something to watch.  And, I'm thinking we'll have to do much more...research.

If you would like to connect you can leave a comment here, find us on Twitter @InsightADV or @MichaelLibbie and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for coming by. - Michael


QR Codes - Part Two

There has been a discussion over on LinkedIn about QR Codes, "Fad or Here to Stay?".  Last week I shared this video (you can click on the link or activate the QR Code) about how some folks areQR Code Video  using the technology...and offered up a several tips to improve usage.

This morning I read the results of a new survey from comScore that tells us 14 million consumers scanned QR Codes or Bar Codes, using a smart-phone, this past June.  That's roughly 6.2% of the total mobile phone population in the United States. 

The report also says these "code scanners" tend to be male (60.5%) and ages 18 - 34 (53.4%) with a household income of $100,000+ (36.1%).  Look for all of these stats to adjust as more consumers and and manufacturers/products up their use of QR.

What Are They Scanning?

This is interesting:  Leading the pack is magazines and newspapers with about 49% of the scanned images coming from them.  Next is product packaging at 35% and websites on PC's at 27%..  Most are scanned from home (58%) from a retail store 39% or a grocery store (25%).

I wonder if it would be cool for a restaurant to put a "table-tent" out with a QR Code and have the chef show you the special of the day?   Could be done with video in less than sixty seconds...hmmm. 

Thanks for coming by.  If you want to leave a comment here feel free or let's connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal and business) or @InsightADV (business...90% of the time) and our ad agency Facebook Page is right here. Have a great week! - Michael 

Sunday Morning Coffee - August 14, 2011

If you're looking for a nice HOT cup of Sunday Morning Coffee you'll find it right hereSunday Morning Coffee is News, Opinion, Politics, Religion, Gossip.  All the stuff that makes you...crazy(er).  One more thing:  Be prepared...this is an Original Content Warning.  It's all my stuff...with extras.  Grab a cup...


QR Codes and Business

They are...everywhere and all of a sudden.  Talking about QR (Quick Response) Codes and how folks are putting them on everything from business cards to signs.  Here's a quick video about two QR Code stories and a tip on how you might use them...better?


When you think of it, QR Codes have been around since 1994 but only now making it to the mainstream consumer community.  Who says everything that is new...takes off right away.QR Code Video

Thanks for reading and watching...if you would like to leave a comment here, feel free or we can connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal and business) or @InsightADV (business..all business) and here is our agency Facebook Page.  Have a great weekend! - Michael