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What Does Facebook Really Know about your Personality?

It’s not very often that marketing research techniques gain extensive coverage in the popular press. However, one story concerning a study, which appeared to show that Facebook ‘Likes’ could effectively reveal users’ personalities, has received extended and substantial exposure in the popular, business and scientific press. The story first broke in 2015 when a research team led by, Wu Youyou, of Cambridge University published their findings in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The story was soon covered by major media outlets, including: The Independent (UK); The Telegraph (UK); Time Magazine (US); Fortune (US); New Scientist (UK); NBC News (US-TV) and Australia’s SBS News as well as Business Insider. The issue, was far from a one-hit wonder. It resurfaced late last year when a research team, led by Sandra Matz of the Columbia Business School and which included some of the original team members, published a follow-up study in a 2017 volume of PNAS. Media coverage of the second study appears as strong, if not stronger, than that given to the initial study.[1] So, what is it all about? And why, of all the thousands of studies published in academic journals annually, did this particular study grab the attention of the mainstream media? More...
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‘Functional beverages’: a new sub-segment in an already crowded category

The non-alcoholic beverage category is undergoing major change as consumers’ preferences are shifting. Sales of carbonated beverages are in long-term decline. This trend is not only evident in Australia; it appears to be global. Research from Ibis World shows that global per capita consumption of sugary, fizzy drinks has been in decline for more almost a decade, and predicts that over the next 10 years, the carbonated drink industry will experience a difficult operating environment. In the Australian market, carbonated soft drinks have been losing "share of throat" to bottled water for the past eight years- falling from 57.5 per cent of the market in 2008 to 50.5 per cent in 2015, while bottled water has risen from 10.4 per cent to 20.4 per cent. More...
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Big changes ahead in the grocery category

For decades, the two big supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths dominated the grocery category. Between them, the two supermarkets control about 70 percent of total grocery spending, while a few smaller players, including Foodland, Foodworks, IGA, Aldi and the independent operators, control the remaining 30 percent. Both supermarket brands exhibit similar market positioning with very few signals of differentiation. Both offered a similar product mix, similar service level, similar prices and targeted the same segment of the market. In recent years, however, the grocery sector has undergone substantial change, with implications for strategy development and market positioning. More...
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Ancestry DNA and the integrated promotional campaign

It has become an article of faith in marketing that the elements in the promotional mix must planned, blended and carefully integrated into the overall marketing communications program. But, what exactly does integration mean in the context of a promotional campaign? More...
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Amazon’s Australian adventure

Global giant, Amazon plans to enter Australia’s retail sector have been widely discussed in the media, and have the major retail incumbents more than a little nervous. Although no firm announcement has been made about Amazon’s plans in relation to its product offerings, mode of operation or start date, Amazon has been treating local media to a ‘drip-feed’ of interviews and press releases, allowing the local media to construct a coherent narrative about what consumers can realistically expect. Amazon has said that it will offer a vast array of services; including take-away food, groceries, clothing and electronics. As part of its commitment to consumers, Amazon promises “low prices, vast selection, and fast delivery.” Amazon will come into direct competition with Australian grocery retailers and department stores, most of which already operate both bricks and mortar outlets and online delivery models. More...
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Electric Cars: Speeding or Crawling into the Future?

Adoption rates for new products are influenced by a complex mix of environmental and customer-related factors. Five factors that are often cited as being very influential in an innovation’s rate of adoption. Consumers’ willingness to change their existing behaviours and adopt new technologies is an area of uncertainty for car manufacturers. If socially and environmentally desirable technologies are to achieve widespread market penetration, a concerted effort involving all stakeholders – manufacturers, dealers, governments and media agencies can be most useful. Electric vehicles (EVs) represent an innovative product. EVs use a rechargeable battery as its only power source. They must be charged at home, at work or at dedicated public charging stations. More...
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Product, Services & Brands: Offering Customer Value

Tangible products typically have an outer package with a brand, logo and a label containing instructions on how to use the product. Packaging and labelling is not just concerned with providing basic information about function, quality and usage, but may also help to promote the product or brand. But, what about intangible services? How do they ‘’package’’ themselves? How do they make themselves appear more tangible and more concrete in the eyes of consumers? More...
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Behavioural Battle Ground: Demographic vs Behavioural Data?

Two years ago, Mark Ritson, a columnist for the trade magazine, Marketing Week, posed the question, “Is behavioural data killing off demographics?” The author argued that with access to behavioural data sourced from online search activity, website browsing or social media interactions, marketers are now in a position to buy consumer’s “eyeballs based on what [people] have previously looked at, rather than the age or gender of the skull that they happen to reside within.” In spite of the prediction implied in Ritson’s question, the jury is still out and the relevance of behavioural/ demographic data continues to be debated. More...
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Understanding Customers: Is it Child‘s Play?

LEGO has developed a reputation for its deep understanding of customers. A family-owned company founded in Denmark in 1932, LEGO is the world’s largest toymaker manufacturing products pitched at the premium end of the market. The company was almost forced into bankruptcy in the early 2000s. Since then has done more than simply survive, it has prospered with the help of a strong survival plan, and some interesting brand extensions that show a rich and deep understanding of the LEGO consumer. More...
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‘Data Analytics’ is Watching You!

Have you ever completed a Facebook Quiz? You know the ones – they range from the inane (If you were an animal, what would you be?) to knowledge of popular culture (How much do you know about rock music?) and may even include more personal topics (How Irish are you?). Every time you complete one of these quizzes, you are effectively providing Facebook with information about yourself, your personality, your values, beliefs and more. More...
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Department Stores’ Strategies Put to the Test amid Massive Changes to the Retail Environment

Australia’s two big department stores’ strategies have been fully tested as the retail environment undergoes significant changes. The challenges confronting both Myer and David Jones are enormous as they try to maintain market share and brand image in the face of stiff competition and weak consumer sentiment. The four big department stores; Myer, David-Jones, Target and K-Mart control 93 percent of all department store retail sales. Of that, the two top-tier department stores, Myer and David-Jones, control 30 percent of total department store sales. However, indications are that all four department stores are beginning to lose their grip and their future is uncertain as they struggle to cope with the new retail environment. More...
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A Media Landscape in Transition

Australia’s media landscape is in transition. The way that consumers use media is changing rapidly. Of all the changes in media usage that are evident, arguably changes to the way we consume TV and online have been the most profound. These changes will have a major impact not only on how marketers spend their advertising budgets, but also on the types of creative messages designed to reach and engage audiences. More...
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Music to Their Ears: Trends in the Distribution of Music

With the advent of music streaming in the late 1990s, commentators thought that the sales of physical formats would soon become obsolete. But close analysis of music sales by format reveals some surprising consumer preferences. Older formats, such as vinyl records, appear to be making a comeback. Streaming gave the music industry a much-needed boost following the bleak period of the late 1990s when peer-to-peer file sharing websites such as Napster eroded sales causing significant damage across the entire sector. More...
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Psychological Pricing: The Demise of the Terminal Digit ‘9’?

Psychological pricing is a term that refers to a broad range of pricing tactics designed to achieve a psychological effect. In other words, sellers price goods based on the psychology of prices rather than on economic factors. Prices can be used to signal both value and quality. Of all the psychological pricing tactics, the use of the terminal digit ‘9’, as in $9.99 or $29.99, is arguably the most well-known. The use of the terminal digit nine, is also known as the ‘nine-fixation.’[1] However, some indications suggest that retailers are finally set to abandon their love affair with price tags ending in the number ‘9’. More..
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Wearable Devices: The Next Generation

Wearable devices have been touted as one of the major innovations for the 21st century. Many of us will have already become familiar with simple wearables such as smart watches and fitness tracking bracelets which perform many similar functions to that of a smart phone. However, newer technologies will soon outstrip these simpler technologies and provide many new marketing opportunities. More...
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Coca-Cola: A Consumer-Centric Brand Portfolio Strategy

Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most iconic brands. The company’s portfolio features more than 500 brands, of which a total of 21 are said to be billion-dollar brands. Globally, Coca-Cola dominates the market for carbonated beverages with 48.6 percent share of market. However, in some geographic markets, Coca-Cola holds up to 72 percent of market share. The company operates the world’s largest distribution system with bottlers and franchises in more than 200 countries. More...
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Millennials: The new target for high-ticket items

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, make up Australia’s largest generational group. They were the first generation to have grown up in a digital environment and their access to digital technologies has shaped their worldview. The ubiquity of digital information and the ease with which millennials access digital information, has changed the way they search for information generally and product-related information in particular. It has also changed the way that this generation makes purchases. More...
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The Power of Consumer Behaviour: ‘Fair’ Milk Prices

When we think about consumer behaviour, we tend to think of individuals making decisions about purchases for their own use or making decisions on behalf of a small group of closely related family or friends. From time to time, however, we witness consumers making decisions that can force changes in market behaviour. And, that is exactly what happened in Australia in 2016; consumers used their collective buying power to force milk processors and retailers to reconsider a pricing strategy that the community generally considered to be unfair. More...
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‘Big’ data, ‘thick’ data and customer insights

“Big” data was the marketer’s buzz word in the mid- 2010s. And, while big data is probably here to stay, marketing researchers have moved on. According to the American Marketing Association, the new buzz words in marketing research are “thick” data and consumer insights. So, what are these concepts and what can they tell us about the future of marketing research? More...
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