Article Synopsis: A Unique Value Proposition “Designed with You in Mind”

Quirk’s November 2014

“Designed with you in mind”

By Scott Garrison and Jet Kruithof

Swiffer® had a problem. Although its cleaning tools were well loved in America, the brand’s Italian market was doing poorly. What was the problem? After a bit of digging, Swiffer’s researchers found that the unique value proposition (UVP) of fast and easy cleaning which made the brand so popular in the States was rejected in Italy. There, when it comes to cleaning, easy means lazy. Only when Swiffer advertising focused on the ability to clean deeply, did Italians start buying.

In their article, authors Scott Garrison and Jet Kruithof discuss the global truth that product success depends on a compelling UVP. Yet, as we saw above, a UVP that succeeds in America may fail in another culture. So can we craft marketing messages which resonate with all sectors of our global market? Or must they always be localized?

In the end, the authors suggest that certain components of a unique value proposition may hold true around the world, but may still need local adjustment. Based on a meta-analysis by research firm SKIM, here are the authors’ four principal cross-cultural factors for an effective UVP:

  1. Tie value propositions to regionally specific needs. The promise of value is the key to any successful marketing message across the globe. However, like Swiffer discovered, this may need different messaging in different markets.
  2. Emphasize key benefits first. In this age of micro attention spans, marketers must begin messages with the top benefit their product can offer. This seems to hold true across the world.
  3. Be very precise. “2X faster” is more compelling than “faster.” Messages should incorporate words, numbers and descriptive adjectives (but not too many!) for maximum effect.
  4. Create differentiation. Not surprisingly, differentiation is key, but the best method of doing so varies by region. In the US, Europe and Latin America, consumers tend to prefer comparative marketing messages (e.g. “…compared to Tide, Cheer detergent is…”). Conversely, in Asia, using a competitor’s product as a benchmark is seen as rude.

What about the tone of marketing messages: does this vary from culture to culture? The researchers found that positive message framing (e.g. keeps clothes shining bright) was preferred in the USA as opposed to Latin America and Asia, where avoidance of negative situations (e.g. cleans 99% of dirt and stains) was more persuasive.

Inclusion of reasons to believe into marketing messages also differs among cultures. Use of technical terms is more appreciated by Asian consumers, whereas it tends to be viewed as jargon by Americans. In Latin America & Asia, expert opinions are respected—if they are affiliated with pertinent organizations.

While the importance of regional and cultural factors when crafting marketing messages is a well-known consideration, the authors do a persuasive job of showing that marketers can mitigate risks by using the structured guidance of their four factors. As for market researchers, these four factors can also be used to test variations of messaging options in different geographic markets.

This article was written by Research Rockstar intern Sarah Stites. Sarah is a student at Grove City College, and is a member of the Research Rockstar Scholarship program for college students.


[Interested in more market research tips? Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email, or subscribe to our newsletter to get all the latest news delivered straight to your RSS feed or inbox.]



Article Synopsis: Seasonal marketing in a social age.

How consumer feedback can change what you know about seasonal buying patterns

Originally published in Quirk’s Marketing Research Review

July 2014 • Vol. XXVIII No. 7

By Amy Hayes, Vice President of Global Brand at Bazaarvoice, Austin, Texas.

“Seasonality” is a powerful word in the retail universe. In this article, Amy Hayes shares key points revealed from the latest results of Bazaarvoice’s semi-annual research of online customer conversations. Specifically, Amy discusses patterns revealed in mobile shopping behaviors.

Analysis of actual shopping behavior conducted from mobile devices suggests that conventional definitions of seasonal shopping behaviors are being disrupted by mobile shopping.  Beyond the powerful implications for marketers in general, this also has implications for market researchers who may be timing research on purchase plans and branding around seasonal shopping assumptions.

November and December have historically been the busiest shopping period for retailers, but new research reveals that product site traffic from mobile users continues to trend upwardly for the remainder of the year.  This suggests that mobile shoppers may actually form new mobile shopping habits during the holiday season. Many people try mobile shopping for the first time during the holiday season, and then become loyal mobile shoppers.

Another key shopping period is the back-to-school crowd, second only to the holiday season. Although school may start in the fall season, research uncovers that mobile shoppers actually begin back-to-school research/shopping in mid-June and peak in July.  Retailers and researchers heeding this research would benefit by considering this “pre” season period.

Based on Hayes’  review of the data,  researching actual mobile shopping behaviors (as opposed to say, sending surveys to mobile phones) shows strong value to market researchers as well as retailers focused on seasonal marketing, as it challenges conventional thinking about when seasons actually start.

This synopsis was written by Lynn Croft, independent marketing and market research consultant. With 15 years of experience at companies such as Genzyme, Bayer Corporation, Shire, and Eli Lilly, Lynn has expertise in market research, market analysis regarding product launches, pricing and lifecycle management. 


[Want to learn more about how to obtain market & customer insights from social media websites? Check out Research Rockstar’s Social Media Meets Market Research live online class. Register soon – classes fill up fast!]



What If?

Man With Head In SandAs the ancient proverb I just invented says, “Person with head buried in sand may well get kicked in butt.” So I’ve come up with a few scenarios that could result if online surveys with non-customer populations became impossible tomorrow. Imagine: you can still reach your customers for research, but what about the rest of the world? What if you could no longer reach qualified, non-customer groups in a quantitative way? If the lists and panels were no longer available or the response rates dropped to .0005 percent, what would the impact be on your market research needs and investments?


Your quantitative research may simply be restricted to current customers. For non-customer populations, you’ll use observational or listening techniques like social media monitoring and ethnography, or qualitative techniques like focus groups and interviews. Recruiting for those qualitative methods will be hard, but finding 50 or 60 non-customers is easier than finding hundreds or more.


In-person surveys resurge. Intercept customers, at stores if you sell that way, through online shopping sites if not. If you’re in the B2B space, find non-customers at trade shows, conferences and other brand-neutral territories. Yes, it takes serious manpower, and there are limitations, but it works.


Collecting feedback from your salespeople, outbound call center staff, and sales channels will become more critical than ever before. They may be your only conduit for reaching non-customer populations. Training these folks in how to ask questions (yes, really) and how to record feedback will be key.


You can try to force online surveys by using ad-based recruiting (survey ads posted to social media groups, banner ads on trade association sites, or ads in relevant online or print magazines). This is an expensive option, because response rates will be dismal….but better than nothing, you hope.


There are plenty of lists available for postal mail—and if online surveys flounder, why not test it? We just may see a resurgence in paper-based surveys. The twist is that we may not have to mail actual surveys, just survey invitations.


This will vary greatly by application. Here are two examples:

  • For product concept testing, it may mean putting actual mock products on your web site with different configurations and price levels to test market response.
  • For brand perception and awareness research, it could be posting one-question polls on social networking sites (like Facebook). Of course, such sites don’t gather perfect information about demographics. And how do we interpret poll results that lack precise geographic information? Still, it’s an option.

I’d love your feedback. What do you think? If online surveys with non-customers became logistically impossible, what would your best option be? The future will belong to those with an arsenal of creative ideas ready to roll out.

[Have you seen the Research Rockstar paper on Market Research industry predictions? Get it here.]


When Market Research Budgets are Cut, Leverage Your Customer Advisory Council


Q: Our market research budget has been slashed. The greatest impact is on our Customer Satisfaction tracker, which we had to reduce from once a quarter, to once a year. So we are thinking about revitalizing our Customer Advisory Council, maybe re-purposing it a bit  towards market research. Any suggestions for how we can use our Customer Advisory Council?

A: First, I love this idea. In fact, just last week I had lunch with a longtime business pal, and he too commented that many customer advisory councils seem to get stale and become neglected. But with so many companies facing market research budget cuts, it’s a great time to get creative and leverage these councils for market insights. Cutting back on Customer Sat tracker frequency is unfortunate, but if it’s the reality, options do exist.

I have 2 suggestions to get you started:

Conduct a Mock Survey Exercise at your next Customer Advisory Council Meeting: This is a great, fun way to get people to share their insights.  First, create a very short (5 question max) Satisfaction Survey. Be sure to leverage content from your tracker.  For example, one question might be, “How likely are you to recommend our service to your friends?” But instead of asking them to fill in the responses for themselves, have them estimate the results, as if an actual survey project had been completed.  So say Jack is on your Council. Jack might write, “Definitely will: 10%, Probably will 60%, Neutral 10%, Somewhat unlikely 20%, Would not 0%.”  Have each participant fill out their estimates individually. Then, as the facilitator, have each person share their answers. Write the High and Low responses to each value on a white board or flip chart.  Then you can moderate a fantastic conversation on the responses.  Were all of the responses consistent? Were they different? Why?  “Hmmm…Mary, I see that you expected only 5% of all customers would definitely recommend our service to others. Can you help me understand your thinking here?” You will hear some great stuff from this exercise! (BTW, if you can, I do recommend hiring an outside facilitator. That way you and your colleagues can focus on observing, and the council members will perhaps feel more inclined to be brutally candid).

Start/Stop/Continue: This is a classic exercise used in various types of meetings and workshops. And it works. Also, this is so simple you can even facilitate it by email if you don’t have quarterly in-person Customer Advisory Council meetings. First introduce the exercise: “We are eager for your candid feedback on how we are doing.  In this exercise, we are asking you to write down 3 things our company should START doing, 3 things we should STOP doing, and 3 things we should CONTINUE doing. There are no wrong answers, we welcome all feedback.”  This exercise is great because it is short (you are not asking for an onerous amount of time) and open-ended (you will hear things you never would have captured in a traditional questionnaire).

Do the above 2 exercises replace a Customer Satisfaction tracker? Of course not. But they will help you identify ways to improve customer satisfaction, and perhaps even identify new sources of satisfaction or dissatisfaction that have not yet hit your radar. And all while being respectful of the Council members’ time.

The whole issue of lower-cost Customer Sat tracking is a great topic; I’ll address that in my next post!