Monthly Archives

August 2012

The Modern Man Has Old-Fashioned Values

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A study by Men’s Health magazine found that 72% of men believe the role of a man has changed from a generation ago, but not to the point where the genders have “reversed” their roles. Among those in relationships, 44% say they do more work around the house than their fathers did—but only 22% say they do more work than their mothers did.


Men may feel their roles have changed but their overall values and goals seem highly traditional. Almost 90% agree that protecting one’s family is a vital characteristic of being a man today, but half also agree they “give up some masculinity” to be loving and nurturing fathers. Men’s top three life goals also appear quite old-fashioned:

  1. Provide for my family;
  2. Find a career that makes me happy;
  3. Find someone to spend the rest of my life with.

Taste Setters—Makers and Heartbreakers

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SPA Future Thinking examined the habits of 1,000 grocery shoppers to find out what kind of people are ‘taste setters’—those who ultimately determine the success or failure of new products.  Taste setters account for 20% of shoppers and are 2.6 times more likely to buy new products than other grocery shoppers. This compares to 51% of shoppers classified as ‘taste adopters’—people who are happy to try new things, but not first.


Taste setters are not differentiated by gender or income level, but typically are 25 to 34 years old, often in full-time employment and primarily responsible for the household’s grocery shopping. They are more likely than regular grocery shoppers to be health conscious and exercise regularly – and 42% are often trying to lose weight (compared to 30% of average shoppers).


For brands looking to reach taste setters, advertising is a particularly effective influence. While only 31% of average shoppers use advertising to help them choose what to buy, this rises significantly to 61% of taste setters. Additionally, a strong majority (86%) of taste setters notice products they have seen advertised, compared to 62% of average grocery shoppers.


What’s interesting is an early adopter is not necessarily a Taste Setter – in fact, only 46% of early adopters also qualify as taste setters. This is an important differentiation for companies targeting the early adopters, since they risk overlooking an additional 54% of potential taste setters who could be championing their brand.

Millennials are More Than Social Media

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According to AdAge, many brands think if they’ve got a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram or Pinterest feed, they’re doing all they can to reach Millennials. But this demographic cohort trusts strangers over friends – so if a brand’s Millennial marketing strategy is limited to social networks, it’s missing a large swath of these consumers.


Millennials are the first generation to wring 26 hours out of a 24-hour day by multitasking on multiple devices at once; 80% of Millennials report using two or more Internet devices while watching TV. However doesn’t mean they’re listening; getting their attention is difficult, but worth the effort because Millennials form fierce brand loyalty with 70% saying they always come back to brands they love.


Though Millennials are seen as putting friends above all else, they actually trust strangers with relevant information and experiences the most when it comes to making purchase decisions. Some 84% of Millennials say social opinions influence their purchase decisions, and 51% said they trust “strangers” more than friends.


That means the only way to really connect with Millennials is to encourage everyone who uses your brand to share their opinions. Make it easy for Millennials to consume and share content about your brand no matter where they are: in a dressing room sharing outfit ideas via your mobile app, in-store pulling up product reviews on their phones, or at home posting photos of their newest purchases to Facebook.


Millennials want to be “heard,” and marketers that make it easy for them to interact with their brands, each other, and the wider web community will be the first in line to capture some of Millennials’ $10 trillion in spending.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Gun

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Researchers at the University of California found people perceive men to be bigger and stronger when holding weapons than when they hold non-threatening objects, such as toys or tools. The researchers say the findings cannot be readily explained by participants’ personal history with gun owners, because gun owners aren’t taller than non-owners.
In one study, participants were asked to determine height from looking at men’s hands holding tools or a gun. All the hands were about the same size with a similar amount of hair. In other iterations, people were asked to rate the muscularity of men after looking at hands holding weapons, tools or toys.

Don’t Tread on My Masculinity

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Researchers at the University of Illinois say the male response to depictions of ideal masculinity in advertising is typically negative, which has implications for advertisers and marketers targeting this demographic. They find that men who compare themselves to the hyper-masculine or over-exaggerated male stereotypes in advertising and popular culture experience a range of emotions, including feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability.


Six themes emerged in terms of how men respond to ad depictions of ideal masculinity. Half of the themes — skepticism, avoidance and indifference — are negative, while the others — enhancement, striving and chasing — skew positive, with men seeing advertising as more of a motivational tool to enhance a certain aspect of themselves.


“People build up certain offensive and defensive strategies when they look at ads,” says the lead researcher. “If they feel threatened by an ad, it may actually bleed over into the way they feel about that product. So if a man is turned off by how males are portrayed in an advertisement, he’ll say, ‘I don’t want to be that guy’ “and that’s the end of his relationship with that brand.”


Many ads directed at males are dominated by depictions of ‘The Player,’ ‘The Beer Drinker’ or ‘The Buddy,’ but those stereotypes don’t actually fit the vast majority of males. Advertisers and marketers need to broaden the spectrum, and create campaigns centered on more of the actual roles that men play — ‘The Dad,’ ‘The Husband’ and ‘The Handyman.’

Men Prefer Content Sites to Social Media

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Burst Media surveyed 1,453 adults to learn how they interact with brands and “content sites” via social networks, blogs, and socially enabled advertising.  They found 62% of social media users “like” or follow their favorite content sites on social media, but only 49% like or follow brands on social media. Blogs were influential, with 66% of readers saying a brand mention influences their purchasing decisions. Social media display advertising had a much lower impact, with only 25% saying they are likely to follow a brand if it is promoted in an ad.


Some differences emerged in how men and women behave in this context. Not news-the finding that women are more active social media users than men, with 49% of women visiting social media sites at least a few times per day versus 34% of men. While women spend most of their time or equal time on social media, men spend most of their time on content sites:


  • Most of time on content sites = 43%
  • Split time equally between social media and content sites = 18%
  • Most of time on social media = 15%
  • Most of time on neither social media and content sites = 14%


While both men and women say social media “is a good way for me to keep up with the latest content” men are much less inclined to follow content sites on social media for this reason (44% of women and 31% of men). So be sure to include social media in your marketing strategy for men, but know the majority of them will use other means to learn about your new content.

Phones Gain Foothold for Online Access

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The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 88% of U.S. adults now own a cell phone and 55% of these people (i.e. 49% of the total population) use it to go online at least occasionally. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 31% of cell phone internet users say they mostly go online using their cell phone and 60% mostly go online using a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.


Cell phone owners who use their phones to go online vary widely by age, race and income levels:


  • 80% of cell owners 25-34 years old use their phones to go online; young adults ages 18-24 are the next largest group at 75% followed by age 35-44 at 68%.


  • Half (51%) of African-American cell internet users and 42% of Latino cell internet users do most of their online browsing on their phones; this compares to only 24% for whites.


  • Those with annual household incomes of less than $50,000 per year or without college degrees are also more likely to use their phones for most of their online browsing.


Marketers should keep this in mind for online marketing that targets these subgroups; otherwise they may miss a wide swath of their audiences.


The Shorts of It

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Shorts as proper menswear are experiencing a revival according to the New York Times. In dapper pockets of New York City like the Lower East Side, well-dressed men can be spotted at brunch, running errands and going to the flea market in dress shorts. Designers say guys sporting shorts are conscious about the fit, fabric and design and wear them with a dress shirt, a suit jacket and pair of brogues or desert boots.


In pre-Victorian times, breeches—tight pants that ended just below the knee—were customary. They eventually fell out of favor and in the 19th century shorts became part of boys’ boarding school uniforms. After World War I, a rise in resorts allowed men to wear shorts in more casual settings but not in the city. The social upheaval of the 1960s and influence of California surf culture brought us full circle to the point where showing the leg can become respectable again for men.


But some think the bias against shorts may come down to something much more basic and vain: some men simply don’t like how their legs look, and assume it will turn off potential mates. So the trend may be limited to those with high confidence and/or muscular legs.

Axe’s Scientific Selling of Lust

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Unilever’s Axe brand of men’s body sprays and hair care products may seem frivolous, a brand defined by ads showing women lusting over the men who wear it. If this were just a case of “sex sells,” Axe’s siren call would be easily replicated, but it isn’t. Its success is largely the result of marketing research that constantly monitors youth culture’s subtle shifts so as to stay hot on the hormone trail. It currently owns a 72% share of the body-spray category, 58 points higher than its nearest competitor.


“The key to the brand,” says 44-year-old Matthew McCarthy, U.S. brand development director for deodorants and fragrances, “is we have an essence that remains constant. We don’t spend any time trying to reinvent the brand, but we watch how guys and girls interact. That part evolves [over time].” The Axe guy will spend about five years with the brand and Axe’s success rests on studying that ever-changing group, rather than chasing guys as they age.


If you rewind the Axe ad reel, you can see how culturally in tune it is–and how important it is for Axe to stay vigilant. Axe ads from the early ’90s showed a grown man dropping his sunglasses, a woman picking them up and–helloooo—she catches a lusty whiff of his chest. Now the pitch has been reformulated to a magic potion (wink, wink) that totally transforms (nudge, nudge) the moment. And that laid the groundwork for today’s metamorphosis, with ads so cartoonish that guys and girls are expected to enjoy them together. “Axe is deliberately not telling the truth, so they’re being truthful about being untruthful…an honesty there that this generation really relates to.”

Dads: The Real Social Media Mavens

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Performics has found that Dads are a media friendly audience topping the lists for most tech-savvy, most engaged on social media, and most willing to view online video advertising.


Dads are a tech-forward bunch with significantly higher likelihood to own a smartphone compared to Moms, non-dads (men without children), and women without children. They also have the highest ownership rate for tablets (60% for Dads vs. 47% for Moms, 43% non-dads, and 31% non-moms).


Dads are most likely to have YouTube and Twitter accounts, and 71% of Dads who use Pinterest visit the site daily-a significantly higher rate than non-dads and non-moms. Of the four groups, Dads are the most active posters on social media preferring to post jokes, links and videos (as do non-dads; women are more likely to post status updates). Men overall are more likely to follow brands on social media that are sports, electronics, auto or finance related—and the best way for brands to engage them on social media is via videos (vs. pictures for women).


Dads are quite open-minded about online advertising, too. They are the most willing “to allow streaming video sources to use my social networking to provide relevant ads” (43% of Dads vs. 31% Moms, 27% non-dads, and 23% non-moms). They also are most likely to say “When video ads are shown, I usually view the entire ad even if I have the ability to close it” (38% of Dads vs. 28% Moms, 26% non-dads, and 20% non-moms).