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How agile data and persuasion will help brands lead us to recovery

20 Jul 2020  |  Jennie Roper 
How agile data and persuasion will help brands lead us to recovery

In the current uncharted territory we find ourselves in, historic trend data is less than helpful, writes Kinetic's Jennie Roper. The opportunity is for brands to now use messaging to shape future consumer purchasing behaviours.

In 2009, Tricia Wang, an ethnographer for Nokia in Asia, discovered a key insight - even the poorest in China wanted a smartphone and they would do almost anything to get their hands on one.

At that time, Nokia had over 70% market share. However its millions of data points gave no indicators that people wanted to buy a smart phone and the company ignored Wang’s advice. By 2012, Nokia’s market share in China was less than 10% and Apple’s was over 70%. In making its business decision, Nokia had relied heavily on big historical data.

This is now a critical lesson for brands and media planners as we emerge from lockdown.

In the early weeks of lockdown Kinetic’s Journeys platform, which ingests mobile SDK data and combines it with Route (OOH JIC) data, showed us that OOH audience impacts rapidly declined.

While it is valuable to use this data to compare gradual increases in audience impacts across different environments, in the current uncharted territory we find ourselves in, historic trend data is less than helpful. For example, it could not give any indication of the huge spike in audience impacts that happened in the week commencing 15th June when the high-street re-opened.

So how can we plan effectively for audience behaviours as people adjust to life in the coming months?

The wisdom of crowds: Ask people what others would do, not what they would do

When used correctly, market research is a great tool to predict what people will do in the future. But it doesn’t always get it right.

In June 2016, few polls correctly predicted that the UK would vote to leave the EU. Of 168 polls carried out, only 55 predicted that the UK would vote to leave the EU. Just 16 of 168 surveys predicted a 52:48 split in favour of leave.

The reason many of these surveys failed to predict the correct outcome is because they asked people how they intended to vote. A better predictor of election results is to ask “How will people in your area vote in the next election?”, rather than “How will you vote in the next election?”.

This is known as a vote expectation model. Using monthly survey data from 1950 to 2017, Murr, Stegmaier and Lewis-Beck demonstrated the reliability of the vote expectation model. In the context of elections with constant constituency boundaries, voter expectations correctly predicted the winner in 100% cases and had a 2.6% absolute error in seat share.

This technique will prove to be invaluable to brand and agency planners in the coming months.

Kinetic is using this technique in our Alfresco Life surveys to help us predict future developments in UK travel and consumption habits. What will happen when people can send their children back to school? What will people do when their offices re-open? And of course, what will you do now that the high-street has re-opened?

Data from these questions not only gives us a foothold into the future, it can also help us to understand who the audience is. Big data is great but it only tells you audience impacts.

By blending survey data with big data we know that audience weekly reach is back to 100% for many out-of-home environments. It’s just that people are going less frequently.

Our survey data shows that 18-34s are the most eager to visit businesses as they reopen, especially those relating to socialising and experiences. These consumers are keen to make up for lost time and agree that in the future they are likely to socialise and shop more.

I’ll have what she’s having: social proof can make OOH marketing more effective

Why the voter intention model works can be understood through social proof. The godfather of social proof is Robert Cialdini, who coined the term in 1984 in a study which proved we are more motivated to do things when we think other people are doing it.

If you've ever stayed at a hotel, you've probably seen those little cards in your room asking you to reuse your towels to help save planet. This is an environmental message.

Cialdini compared placing an environmental message with what is known as a descriptive norm message, stating most guests in the hotel re-used their towel. The descriptive norm message was more effective than the environmental message. We’ll re-use a towel not to save the planet, but because we know everyone else is doing it.

Cialdini’s study tried messages to say either ‘most guests of your gender’, ‘guests in your hotel’, ‘guests previously staying in your room’ reused their towel. The highest rate of compliance came from those who had been told simply most guests previously staying in their room had re-used their towels.

Clearly it is not just about how much we identify with someone, but whether they have been in a similar situation, that matters.

This is very poignant in the current climate. Utilising social proof in advertising is not about demographics, but societal tribes.

Think like Waze: use agile advertising for good

When planning for future OOH campaigns in particular, I would encourage brands to think like Waze. It uses adaptive data sets and ultimately makes people’s OOH journeys easier.

It is worth remembering that for many 18-34 year olds, as restrictions ease they are acting as if they are no longer grounded. I agree with Les Binet that COVID-19 has induced a supply, rather than demand-side recession. People are planning to treat themselves as more restrictions are lifted.

The Centre For Retail Research predicts that during the recovery period, retail sales will increase by 9% (vs the same period last year). This equates to an additional £8.3billion.

According to behavioural science expert Richard Shotton, people are 2.5 times more likely to change brands after a life event. Now is an opportunity for brands to use messaging to shape future consumer purchasing behaviours that will last way beyond the threat of COVID-19.

Our Alfresco Life research suggests around a third of consumers are ready to go out and spend and do more than before the crisis, but that approaching half of us are still concerned about social distancing and crowded places.

Thoughtful and agile OOH messaging can provide reassurance and instil confidence by highlighting less busy times or normalising the behaviour of those who have returned.

We found 47% of our Alfresco Life panel agreed that if they knew when environments were least busy, they would feel more comfortable visiting.

Brands are already taking notice of the need to align with consumer sensitivities. For example, Visa raised awareness of the increase in contactless payment facilities in shops as they reopened in France.

Back in the UK, Costa Coffee has used this to promote the hygiene in its stores. Sainsbury’s promoted its social distance shopping.

As a society, if we want to beat COVID-19 and not cripple the economy then we can’t all do things at the same time. The right kind of information that helps us understand future sentiment and behaviour, as well as techniques that enable brands to maximise positive influence behaviour, has never been as important.

 

Jennie Roper is head of insight at Kinetic Worldwide

On July 23 Mediatel Events will be hosting The Future of OOH, a half-day digital stream dedicated to exploring the challenges and opportunities within the outdoor advertising industry. Click here to view the agenda and register for FREE here.

Mediatel operate two essential services for the OOH industry. SPACE is a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart and is the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of inventory in the UK. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution that enables easy integration of Route audience data into client's systems. See mediatel.co.uk for more information.

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