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Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Movies: Marketing to Ethnic Audiences

You know the summer movie season has arrived when half the commercials on television feature costumed adventurers, speeding muscle cars, computer-enhanced animal characters that are voiced by celebrities, or a combination of all three.

As ubiquitous as these summer blockbuster motifs may be, the presence of on-screen advertisement and in-movie product placement have become equally prevalent. The marketing through movies tactic has gained traction during the past two decades, and, while controversial to some consumer advocates, it has proven to be a viable means of reaching various movie-going consumer segments.

For example, African American moviegoers are particularly receptive to these forms of marketing. According to an upcoming market research report by Packaged Facts, African Americans are more than twice as likely as the average consumer to strongly agree that:

  • Seeing a character using a branded product they've never tried in a movie is likely to persuade them to try it.
  • They pay attention to the commercials that play along with the movie previews.
  • Seeing a brand name product they've used before in a movie reassures them that the product is good.
  • They often notice the ads in the lobbies of movie theaters.

Great Purchasing Power

Market research firm Nielsen estimates the buying power of African Americans will be $1.1 trillion by 2015. As a consumer demographic, African Americans are regarded to have the spending habits and intense brand loyalty that is very attractive to marketers. Yet, advertising directly through demographic-oriented media has been lackluster at best. On-screen movie advertisements and product placement could be one viable answer to reach African Americans through a means that reaches other consumer segments as well.

For years, consumers have been bombarded with advertisements from the moment they enter the theater. It's common to see not just the standard previews for upcoming films, but also lengthy sneak peeks at upcoming network television series and commercials for familiar products such as Coca-Cola.

These marketing tactics have been much maligned by casual movie goers and movie industry experts alike, including concerns raised by influential voices such as the late Roger Ebert. However, there's just too much money to be made by theaters for this trend to wane anytime soon.

There's Money In On-screen Advertising

In December 2009, cited Patrick Corcoran, spokesperson for the National Association of Theatre Owners, who estimated that movie theater revenue from on-screen advertisements shown before the previews increased  10%-15% annually. It's likely that revenue gains stagnated or dropped a little during the height of the recession and the years since. However, the continued prevalence of on-screen advertisements suggest that they remain an essential source of income.

Popular chains such as Regal Cinemas and AMC Theatres encourage companies to filter their marketing dollars into on-screen commercials by touting advantages movie theaters have over television commercials and other forms of media. Advertising advantages listed by AMC Theatres on the company website include:

  1. Big screen ads capture consumers' attention better than other media.
  2. The fact that consumers do not have remote controls to change channels or DVRs to fast forward through commercials means advertisers' messages aren't lost on consumers.

When it comes to product placement directly in films, there is a delicate balance marketers must consider when teaming up with movie studios to mastermind this sometimes volatile advertising synergy.

Don't Press Your Luck

An overkill of product placement can lead to consumer backlash. For instance, Iron Man 2  positioned itself to be the blockbuster film that would kick off the summer movie season when it debuted in May 2010. It garnered the usual assortment of positive and negative reviews from film critics, but also faced unexpected attention over what some perceived as its egregious (or perhaps envelope pushing) use of product placement.

The film had an estimated 64 product placements, which is roughly one product placement every two minutes. Aside from the appearance of luxury brands such as Audi, what made these product placements appealing to audiences is that most were associated with brands considered relatively affordable. These brands included Dr. Pepper and Burger King (that's right, even you the average American can purchase the brands preferred by the world's foremost fictional billionaire cum superhero).

The third and latest blockbuster movie in the Iron Man franchise, which hit theaters in the U.S. on May 4, 2013, followed in the same vein of its predecessor to a slightly less ambitious degree.
Subway incorporated the movie's witty dialogue into an amusing TV commercial promoting its Smokehouse BBQ Chicken sub. Meanwhile in the actual film, Audi made a return appearance.

Celebrities DO Make A Difference

Brand name sunglasses such as Aviators by Randolph Engineering and London Calling by Initium Eyewear (the company's website even features a banner reading "As Seen in Iron Man 3") also made an appearance, as did products from the Fred Perry clothing label--namely a classic Fred Perry Twin Tipped shirt worn by African American actor Don Cheadle on screen.

It's worth noting that Packaged Facts' research reveals that African Americans tend to be very fashion forward and often set apparel trends picked up by other consumer segments. So pairing bankable African American movie stars like Cheadle with trendy apparel and other products could be the perfect inroad into this highly influential consumer segment for some marketers and manufacturers.

Don't believe me? Google what megastar Will Smith did for the popularity of Converse All-Stars after name-dropping the brand in his film I, Robot in 2004.

-- Daniel Granderson
   Market Research Analyst

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Whole Story About Dairy

Most Daily Dose of Dairy™ readers are involved in the development and marketing of one or two dairy product categories. Common combinations are cheese and whey, milk and ice cream, and yogurt and dips. But we all recognize the contributions each product category makes to the overall healthful halo that dairy products possess. It is important that we occasionally do a “check in” to make sure we have not lost focus of our purpose, which should be to offer consumers the best tasting, most nutritious, affordable and sustainable dairy products.

For long, dairy has been recognized for its nurturing and nourishing qualities. This video from the Global Dairy Platform (GDP) is less than 2.5 minutes and does a fabulous job-reaffirming dairy’s role in life.
View the video HERE.

“The image of wholesome nutrition for families has been, and remains, a key to its place at the world table,” says Donald Moore, GDP executive director. “Those attributes, however, are only part of the story. Dairy plays a much larger role--in our lives and our communities--than is commonly appreciated by consumers. This is why we developed this video…to tell dairy’s whole story.”

Established in 2006, GDP’s mission is to align and support the dairy industry to promote sustainable dairy nutrition. For more information, visit HERE.

“Our members are leading dairy corporations, cooperatives and associations who have united to resolve issues affecting the future viability of the global dairy sector,” explains Moore. “The GDP and its members work to promote the nutrient richness of dairy products, bring balance and research to the role of milkfat in the diet and provide clarity on how dairy is managing its relationship with the environment. Now more than ever, as the world’s population increases by 75 million people per year, the time is right to tell the story of dairy’s power as a sustaining life force, as well as the dairy goodness we bring to billions of people every day.”


Research Highlights 

DAIRY PROTEIN: THE GOLD STANDARD. With a groundbreaking report by an Expert Consultation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) recommending a new, advanced method for assessing the quality of dietary proteins, GDP hosted a Protein Marketing Workshop for its members to prepare and position the dairy industry to benefit from this new information. The new method—the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS)--enables researchers to differentiate protein sources by their ability to supply amino acids for use by the body. The new method demonstrates the higher bioavailability of dairy proteins when compared to plant-based protein sources.

Data in the FAO report shows whole milk powder to have a DIAAS score of 1.22, far superior to the DIAAS score of 0.64 for peas and 0.40 for wheat. When compared to the highest refined soy isolate, dairy protein DIAAS scores were 10% to 30% higher. GDP is working in collaboration with its members to develop a strategy to communicate dairy protein’s superiority.

For more information on the FAO report, view 

CHANGING THE CHEESE PARADIGM. GDP initiated a Wageningen University (Netherlands) meta-analysis of completed human clinical studies to evaluate the effects of cheese consumption on blood cholesterol levels from published clinical trials. Additionally, work on a series of animal studies and human clinical trials on the effects of cheese fat content and maturation continues to progress at the University of Copenhagen. The outcome from this research is poised to show that moderate cheese consumption does not have a negative impact on heart health.

Building on that effort, GDP serves as the secretariat to the Dairy Research Consortium (DRC), an alliance among six leading dairy industry associations that collaborates on pre-competitive research into the nutritional and health benefits of dairy. In April 2013, the DRC agreed to investigate the beneficial health outcomes related to the consumption of full-fat (whole milk) dairy products.

This is just a “skimmed” part of the “whole” story. There is so much more we are learning every day about this great food known as milk.

According to GDP, the key for dairy at this moment in its history is not to invent a new story about ourselves, but to understand where our story has taken us, how it might further unfold, and what threads unify the tale.

-- Donna Berry
    Food Scientist, Consultant

To get a full dose of Dairy, go to to learn about new featured dairy products every day. Read about our new Blog contributor, Donna Berry and see samples of her featured dairy products here

Friday, May 10, 2013

Are Your Kids the Food Deciders in Your Home?

In recent years, growing numbers of Americans have expressed a desire to practice healthy eating habits, according to news and market research reports. Yet somewhat paradoxically, more households are also turning over at least some of the food purchase decisions to a population demographic not known historically for exercising great judgment: Children and teenagers.

A recent report by the NPD Group indicates that parents let their children make breakfast-related food choices about a third of the time, and lunch selections about a quarter of the time. Parents still hold the control over dinner choices, though, ceding to children only three percent of the time, according to the report.

In addition -- and somewhat less surprisingly -- kids and teens are the main deciders when it comes to fast food choices, according to a poll last year from Viacom's youth channel, Nickelodeon: fully 85 percent of fast food choices within households are dictated by children or teens.

The Nickelodeon market research report also found that parents in general were more "inclusive" in terms of making purchasing choices with input from their children across the board, according to Time Magazine:

"This effect is more pronounced when dollars are at stake — 71% of parents say they solicit opinions from their kids regarding purchases. Nearly all let the kids weigh in when what’s being bought is mainly for the kids themselves, but more than two-thirds of parents take their kids’ views into consideration when making family purchases."

And the Nickelodeon study also found that more than a quarter of parents say they ask for their kids' input before buying items for themselves.

These parallel trends may help explain why analysts at Packaged Facts report a marked increase in consumers' health and wellness related purchases (including more vegetables and fruits and fewer high-sodium, high-carb items annually), yet also note that breakfast-food items, in general, are fast becoming Americans' favorites.

-- Amy Alexander

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Baby Boomers Beware: Millennials Are Coming

Take a look at how each group uses technology and it is evident that Baby Boomers and Millennials operate differently. From using iPads for notetaking during meetings rather than legal pads (Millennials), to preferring BlackBerry smartphones over iPhones (Boomers), it is clear that a generation gap exists. When you get into personal interactions....well.  I don't have enough fingers (or toes for that matter) to count how many times my parents have prefaced a personal anecdote with "Back in my day...."

Where the  workplace and consumer markets are concerned, generational translations define how we interact.  I've held numerous training workshops for my parents to show them how to competently operate their smartphones. Conversely, they taught me the intrinsic value of face-to-face communication over social communication via mobile apps.  For Millennials (those born in the period 1981-2000), this symbiosis is essential to the evolution of the global society and workforce.

This relationship is illustrated in the global spending market.  Business intelligence indicates that the global leaders in spending will shift from Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964)  to millennials in the coming years. Boomers control 50% of overall assets in the United States.  Additionally, 70% of disposable income in the U.S. is possessed by their demographic.

Baby Boomers have the influence to set trends in the market, as well as the resources to power the market through difficult economic circumstances.  With high salaries and diverse investment portfolios, they are comfortably the leaders in the global spending market in the present.

Meanwhile, Millennials are taking an indirect route to wealth. For the past several years,  high youth unemployment rates and an over-saturated job market are restricting career opportunities for them. Conventional paths to high-salaried jobs have been blocked or truncated.  One detour that some Millennials are using to wait out or go around the soft job market is higher education.  This global student market is establishing itself as a viable sub-segment in the Millennial demographic.

Higher education represents an opportunity to acquire skills and certification that appeals to prospective employers.  College degrees are becoming the standard for jobs that require minimal skill.  The corporate demand for candidates with advanced degrees is increasing by the minute.  Millennials are adapting to these trends and acting accordingly.

The rising costs of higher education in the U.S. has also led students to seek opportunities abroad.  This will expand the student base and increase diversity in new entrants in the international job market.  This confluence of student diversity and the desire to increase earning potential is creating a robust atmosphere of talent and drive.  Whether furthering an existing career or changing career paths, higher education is the gatekeeper to the goals of the Millennial generation.  

Education lending will also thrive because of the younger generation.  The increased importance of obtaining a college degree paired with a higher cost of living will force people to borrow money in order to maintain their lifestyle and accomplish their goals.  The number of people enrolled in higher education increased by 26% in the period of 2007-2012 which amounts to about 193 million people.  And the student market will continue to borrow while balancing major risks accompanying the accumulation of debt. Recent data shows that the salaries earned by graduates aren't enough to pay off their debt. And this is limiting economic recovery and the ability to keep students above the poverty level. 

Millennials are tech savvy, socially and politcally progressive, and not conservative when it comes to spending money.  They are acquiring the qualifications and credentials to earn the money to support their lifestyle in the face of the risks identified earlier.  There's a perfect storm brewing and marketers are stacking up the sandbags to divert the flood into their funnels.  When storm is over, Millenials will emerge as new leader of the global spending market.

-- Richard Washington