Retail brands make the American economy hum.  The retail industry contributes about $4.0 trillion dollars to the US economy and is responsible for nearly 12% of all US employment [source]. According to an Interbrand 2010 study, Walmart, for the second consecutive year, is the most valuable American retail brand as measured by its financial strength and brand equity.  Target moved up from being the fourth most valuable retail brand in 2009 to being the second most valuable brand in 2010.  Best Buy (#3), Home Depot (#4), and Walgreen’s (#5) round out Interbrand’s top five most valuable American brands. The Keller Fay Group compiles a similar list of retail and apparel brands.  However, Keller Fay’s list is not based on being financially valuable but rather, being highly talkable.  Walmart tops Keller Fay’s list

Each week we all see trade press stories outlining the latest and greatest ways that marketers are using social networking technologies to connect better with consumers.  One story last week jumped out to me, both because of the headline, and also the source. “Razorfish: Facebook, Twitter Don’t Make Customers Feel Valued” wrote MediaPost, followed by this lead:  “While marketers have flocked to social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, consumers still don’t view them as important ways to engage with a brand, since they don’t meet their expectations.  Most people still prefer to connect with brands through more traditional methods, such as email, company Web sites or word-of-mouth.” To reach this conclusion, Razorfish surveyed consumers and asked them to prioritize what was important to them when engaging with a brand, and

The most active and passionate talkers about sports are men. That’s not necessarily a surprising statistic.  What is surprising is how active, passionate, and influential the most talkable men are about sports. Keller Fay keeps a close eye on the activity of people who disproportionately drive brand-related word of mouth (WOM) conversations.  These talkative Americans are called Conversation Catalysts™ by Keller Fay because, when compared to the total public, they spark more WOM conversations, have larger social circles, and possess more credibility when making recommendations. When it comes to the sports product category, Conversation Catalysts™ (Sports Catalysts™) have significant sway in impacting the conversations and actions of others.  The following Keller Fay chart details the sway Sports Catalysts™ have. When compared both to the Total Public and to men, word of

Members of Congress of both parties are talking again about health care.  The House of Representatives made a vote to repeal “Obamacare” its first legislative agenda item for the new Congress.  They said it was what they were elected to do. But are the American people talking about health care too?  Not particularly, according to the most recent word of mouth tracking by my firm. In the fourth quarter of 2010, a period that included the run up to the election as well as the Lame Duck Congress that followed, we were measuring daily the major issues about which the American people were talking, either offline or online.  “Health insurance and the health care system” ranked 10th out of 17 areas tracked during this period.  Economic issues dominated the list

Sports Word of Mouth

Monday, 24 January 2011 by

The NCAA recently crowned its national champion in football.  NFL playoffs are in full swing.  The NBA and NHL are in mid-season.  MLB teams will be reporting to spring training soon.  And, the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament is just around the corner.  We’re in the throes of sports, sports, and more sports.  Because we are in the throes of sports, Americans are talking about sports. A Harris Interactive poll from 2010 finds 35% of Americans say professional football (NFL) is their favorite sport.  Baseball (MLB) is the second most favorite sport with 16% of the vote.  College Football is next on the list at 12% and Auto Racing is fourth with 9% of Americans saying these sports are their favorite. Keller Fay’s ongoing TalkTrack® study measures the quantity and

A recent study by the consulting firm of A.T. Kearny stimulated a lot of commentary by people I follow on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Entitled “Socially Awkward Media,” the study finds that despite the growing presence of marketers on Facebook and other social networking sites, most are not yet engaging with consumers very well. “Traditional marketers are so bad at understanding social networks that many have all the confidence of awkward teenagers at their first school dance. They’re just not connecting.” One statistic that caught my attention is that, “only 5 percent of company-to-consumer posts engaged consumers in discussions, while 71 percent of posts were promotional – offering discount coupons, free prizes or other amenities.” Why should this be, and does it reflect short sightedness (or immaturity, as Kearny might say)

Last week we learned Americans (ages 18-69) will talk about home appliance brands in everyday conversations with others a staggering 22 BILLION times in a year.  That’s a significant word of mouth opportunity for marketers. Within this audience exists a group of people who disproportionately drive word of mouth conversations about brands in the Home products category.  Keller Fay refers to these talkative people as Conversation Catalysts™.  Through its ongoing TalkTrack® study into word of mouth conversations, Keller Fay is able to measure and track this important segment of consumers who comprise 9% of the American population, yet, they give twice as much advice about products and services than the ordinary American consumer. Conversation Catalysts™ in the Home products category (Home Catalysts) are an attractive demo for marketers.  They skew

WOM and the Home Products Category

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 by

Many of us spent lots of time the past two weeks in our homes with family and friends celebrating the holidays and the New Year. Others spent the past two weeks at home cocooned because of wintry weather. If wintry weather hasn’t forced you to spend more time in your home, it probably will. And when we spend time inside our homes, we end up talking to family and friends in person, by phone, or online. Which of course leads us to talking about word of mouth and home appliance brands. Keller Fay recently culled their data on WOM about the home products category. Usually this marketing data is reserved for Keller Fay clients, but as the TalkTrack Conversationalist I’ve been given special access (and permission) to share some of

Marketers know they need to play in the social media space.  A new survey offers insight into the nature and expectations of consumers using these channels – and how brands can glean information about what motivates their customers. Men and women use social media differently, according to Empathica, a customer interaction consultancy which specializes in retail clients.  Empathica’s survey found more men citing looking for information as a primary goal (36%) than women (28%) when interacting with a retail brand through social channels.  But the gender split among those looking to stretch their budgets was far greater:  47% of women say searching for coupons and promotions is their primary use, compared with 33% of men. Rough economic times have doubtless accelerated this propensity.  One third of female respondents have increased

Sales Happen Offline, as Does WOM

Monday, 20 December 2010 by

One of the more provocative Keller Fay statistics on word of mouth reveals less than 10% of conversations Americans have about products, services, and brands occur online (email, social media).  Which means, over 90% of marketing-related word of mouth conversations happen offline (person-to-person, voice-to-voice). For many social media marketers this 90/10 split is hard to believe given the increasing time people are spending online.  Ed Keller, CEO of Keller Fay, explains the seemingly implausible disparity this way, “At Keller Fay we are measuring word of mouth conversation, not readership of consumer-generated content.  Lots of people might read information on social networking sites, but contribute infrequently.  Especially when it comes to brands.” Let’s put this 90/10 split in a different context by asking and answering a question:  What percentage of retail

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