Marketers who want to build a relationship with their customers and keep it strong would do well to think about offering them access to this technology. Special populations to target I think are those who tend to lag in adopting technology due to cost or perceived difficulty.
Give people the tools to empower themselves, and they will reward you with continued loyalty - that is my hypothesis. You can do well by doing good.
A couple of years ago I told Starbucks to kill itself off and start again before the market slayed it (slew it?) dead. If you know me, you know that I am a huge Starbucks fan as well as a branding and social media strategist, and I said as someone who believes that the soul of a brand can live albeit in different packaging.
Today it looks like the ‘bux has made itself right and I’ thinking about another brand I like a lot, and how it might reinvent itself for a new era. And that brand is McDonald’s.
Though the food at McDonald's is not generally for me - even if I weren't kosher I don't eat much meat and avoid processed food for health reasons - I am a great admirer of the brand. Here is a company that really understands the seeming paradox that great brands know how to navigate like an elephant who can dance on the head of a pin: on the one hand extreme consistency, and on the other total customization.
They get this done by establishing the brand as a presence everywhere, then tweaking the menu to suit customers' tastes in broad ways (greasy/sugary and nutritionally harmless co-exist there) as well as to suit local tastes (like fish sandwiches for breakfast in Japan) or the "Kiwi Burger" in New Zealand some years ago: "100% pure beef patty, Farmer Brown egg, Wattie's Beetroot, tomato, lettuce, Mainland cheese, onions, tomato sauce, and mustard on a toasted bun. The packaging had 46 classic kiwi quotes, kiwiana, and kiwi sporting icons." (Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald's_products)
Yet I think McDonald's, by continuing to sell meat, may be missing the boat on a huge change taking place in consumers' collective consciousness today. As the human race grows more spiritually enlightened, corporate social responsibility becomes a bigger and bigger deal. CSR has been talked about for years but I think we are soon going to hit a "tipping point." Brands that are fully sustainable, that give back to the earth more than they took away from it, will have the advantage; those that represent cruelty of any kind, or wastefulness, will suffer.
Right now we haven't hit the tipping point yet, and McDonald's still sees its main competitor as Burger King. But as Deepak Chopra once said, the way out of a conflict is not to fight at the level of the war but to rise above it. This is all a long way of saying that I think McDonald's has a window of opportunity to become the first vegan big-name brand. No longer would Americans have to pay ridiculous markup prices for healthy food - for the first time the mass market would have equal access to healthier and socially conscious fare.
If they don't muck it up by hiding trans fat in the food, treating the workforce badly, or doing something else to contradict the message, think of all the possible win-win benefits here:
1. Help conquer obesity and diet-related disease by making it normal to eat healthy food rather than disgusting, greasy fast-food
2. Stop killing animals for food needlessly
3. Promote intelligent use of plentiful resources for healthy eating
4. Make healthy eating possible for even the most economically challenged among us
And most important of all -
5. Show that you can do well by doing good - paving the way for others to follow with different ideas that are equally as helpful.
1. Most employers consider it a requirement to know how to use social media—which is basically about chattering all the time about what you’re doing with your friends.
2. People with young children can still participate in the workplace thanks to wireless Internet connectivity and social media collaboration tools that make it possible to get an accredited degree, telecommute, work before the kids go to school and late into the night.
3. Now that this technology is widely available it is becoming “normal” for everyone to balance their work and their personal lives, not just mothers, which means that the work associated with parenting and care of the home is being distributed more equally between women and men.
4. The Internet lets you comparison shop easily and social media means that no vendor is safe from criticism. Thus consumers make decisions based on a variety of factors related to trust and relationships. This is a different kind of business model that gives women, who are traditionally the “communication and relationship experts,” an advantage. (I expect that the genders will increasingly level out in terms of their relationship skills as money is increasingly made in this way.)
5. Social media is a world where physical strength is irrelevant, an advantage for most women.
6. Social media is a world where people can’t be controlled (much) by traditional chains of command. Everybody’s ideas are equal and everybody has a chance to participate in the conversation.
7. Social media-reared kids expect supervisors to interact with them frequently and to mentor them so that they are not just working but growing in terms of their earning capacity. Meaning, they expect to be parented at work—a traditionally female occupation.
8. In the world of social media, you can be slaughtered by gossip. Men, who traditionally are expected to handle physical threats rather than verbal ones, are at a disadvantage compared with women, who are more attuned to aggression that is not physical in nature.
9. We are increasingly incorporating social media collaboration tools into the workplace to facilitate collaboration, because today’s complex knowledge economy requires every employee to be fully engaged intellectually. Traditionally, women as mothers have facilitated family interactions, and this translates neatly into roles that involve online community management.
10. To meet the demands of today’s environment, organizations must function in an integrated way as well as employee employees who are coming to work on all cylinders—physically and emotionally. Everything must be holistic; every part of the machine must work together. Thus everybody must collaborate to improve products and services for the customer. We also must focus on employee engagement and health because without intellectual and emotional capital, our organizations can’t thrive.
Looking at all of this, I wonder what the future will hold, as women and men adapt to this changed world. I foresee that we will adapt to the technology by becoming more balanced people who are better able to relate to one another and to contribute to not only our organizations, but also our world…solving the most difficult and painful problems that humanity faces.
Perhaps the feminist revolution will also bring the end of poverty, illness, warfare, and all the other ills that can be fixed if we just put our heads together and try.
4. Social media is pervasive, even addictive
* 1 in 3 Americans use social media regularly - 110 million people, or 36%
* 24% of employees use social media at work today, up from 19% in 2008
* Social media users are getting older – median age of Facebook users is 33; Twitter, 31; LinkedIn, 39
* Primary uses of social media include “fun” and connecting with “family and friends”; career networking is a distant second
5. Facebook is the most important social network in the country; MySpace and LinkedIn are underleveraged government communications tools
* 75% say Facebook is their most valuable network; 65% say MySpace; 30% LinkedIn; 12% Twitter
* 19% of Internet users now use Twitter, up from 11% a year ago (this from is a different study than the one above)
* 34% of women age 18-34 check Facebook first thing when they wake up in the morning - even before they brush their teeth
LINKS TO THIS RESEARCH
1. Social media use
2. Information-gathering habits
3. Facebook use
4. Blog use
5. Twitter use
6. News is social