Posted on 04-04-13 at 8:35 a.m.
It turns out the road to hell really is paved with good intentions - and so is the road to product rollout fail.
Being new, or even progressive, are not qualities that, in and of themselves, will make your product a hit. The automobile industry is learning that as the introduction of the electric car stalls at the starting line.
It shouldn't be that way. Research indicates that consumers harbour a lot of goodwill for the electric car:
-71% of Canadians find electric cars interesting
-71% of Quebecers think the electric car will replace combustion technology
So... why isn't this goodwill translating into tangible purchases?
According to consumers, the first motivator for buying an electric car is environmental concern; the second, freedom from the tyranny of oil. Major purchase inhibitors? Sticker shock, and the limited travel range before having to charge the battery. Benefits are external (environmental concern) and downsides are associated with the product itself (price, limited usage). Bad recipe.
Let's talk cellphones to compare. At the dawn of the tech-communication revolution 20 short years ago, only early adopters had the clunky new devices, the antenna on their cars broadcasting to the world "I am on the cutting edge." Status was enough then - but not anymore. Now, with some 5 billion+ people using cells worldwide according to the United Nations telecom agency (ITU), consumers expect their handheld to do everything but teleport them. And it does. Design matters, as the firms chasing Apple have learned, but apps, operation, and capability matter more. It's no longer "See how cool I look with my phone" but "I love what my phone can do." Not so much external validation as internal motivation. It's a computer, a camera, a social media connector. It's wireless , and 4G, and sexy and powerful.
According to Panoramatm (CROP's proprietary sociocultural monitor), actual owners of electric cars are early adopters who seek social recognition by being the first to try out new products. They are in it for the novelty, more so than for the environment but they would never admit to it. In order to increase the market share of electric cars, manufacturers must target a greater number of mainstream consumers.
While they're helping save Mother Earth, automobile buyers want a car that they can, you know, drive. Yet instead of telling the showroom visitor about what a car can do, auto manufacturers are trapped into telling her about its limitations. That's the polar opposite of selling - it's pre-disastering the sale. What driver wants to go in knowing that his new car has a battery range of 400 kilometres?
Appealing to morality will only take you so far. Think, for instance, of recycling. Everyone you know has embraced it now, but the inherent ethical appeal would fade if you had to carry your trash to five separate bins four blocks from your house. There's only so much you can demand from your target citizen, and even less from your consumer.
Besides recycling, the only other truly "environmental" initiative we've participated in recently, involving a change in consumer behaviour, was the elimination of plastic bags at the supermarket. Beyond showing the world that they care about the environment, consumers adopted it for one good reason: You can carry stuff very effectively.
There's a consistent message here: you can't build a business model on buyers' goodwill - especially not at $40,000 a throw. Electric car manufacturers will have to perfect and then demonstrate the utility of the vehicle before it takes off. They can start by finding and using the voices of satisfied consumers, who can advocate for the tangible inherent benefits of owning and driving an electric car, such as:
-The car is a noiseless environment: I can listen to my favourite music without interference
-The engine has full power from ignition: on the start, I have more torque than a sports car
Because the key to making an electric car go in the marketplace is what it does for the driver, not the planet.
 Crop Panorama 2012
 Crop / LaPresse published in LaPresse November 21st 2011
Posted on 03-15-13 at 9 a.m.
During the last presidential debate on foreign politics, as U.S. President Barack Obama cited his accomplishments, the policy he was the proudest of - besides vaporizing Osama Bin Laden - was his position on shale gas and accelerating the exploration process.
Meanwhile, north of the border, Quebecers massively reject shale gas exploration. Likewise, a number of groups are fiercely opposed to the Northern Gateway, the pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, B.C.
Why do similar issues elicit such viscerally opposite reactions from just across our shared border? Sure, this could be about values - perhaps Americans and Canadians have different principles when it comes to energy or resources. However, we think the key factor here is not the answer but the question, and how it's structured. It's not about the picture - it's about the frame.
It's all about how you frame the issue - and the results are dramatically different. In the U.S., the administration and the energy industry frame shale gas as an "energy independence" issue. Shale gas exploration will make America energy self-sufficient - or even transform the country into a net exporter of oil and gas by 2020. Here, nationalism is cannily tied to oil and gas extraction. The question is: "Do you want to depend on Middle Eastern countries and their oil oligopoly for your energy supply... or are you a proud American?" Cue the fireworks and the flag-waving - the answer is never in doubt because the issue has been deftly framed to elicit the desired response.
In Quebec, a CROP poll conducted for the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec revealed that Quebecers are almost twice as opposed to shale gas as to the tar sands. Think about what that says when you consider how much negative media coverage the tar sands have received. Quebecers would prefer to buy their gas from other provinces or states rather than exploit their own. In Quebec, the discovery of a new resource is practically treated as bad news.
From the get-go, the energy industry here has been unable to frame the issue to its advantage. Meanwhile, its opponents did just that, pointing to possible contamination of the groundwater. In Quebec, the question is now: "Do you want to pollute your water?" And you know the answer to that one. Once that frame is snapped into place, it's very hard to remove. Not even a spokesman as credible as Lucien Bouchard (he almost made Quebec a country singlehandedly) can pull it off. In fact, rather than enhancing the image of shale gas, the issue is reducing his likeability.
Framing an issue starts with robust data about public opinion. You need to clearly understand the strengths and weaknesses of your project, as well as who are your allies, your opponents and the silent majority that you may be able to convince. Finally, it's important to understand the nature of the opposition, rational or emotional, in order to fine-tune the tone of communications.
Now the industry is stuck with an image problem, and has to find a way to reframe the issue. That won't be easy, but it's absolutely necessary to winning hearts and minds. Your mother was right: you seldom get a second chance to make that first impression.
Posted on 03-31-11 at 10:27 a.m.
Click here to view the ad on YouTube
Every year, the Super Bowl in the U.S. is as much a festival of advertising as it is a celebration of football. Advertisers and advertising agencies outdo each other in their creative efforts to show off their abilities. And the most recent of these events certainly holds its own when compared to previous years.
Although all the advertisements were entertaining and effective this year, one in particular attracted our attention because of its relevance to major trends in consumer psychology that we have been measuring over the past few years.
This ad seems to promote the city of Detroit as much as the car! While thoroughly valorising the “masstige” virtues of the new Chrysler 200, it also defends Detroit’s “DNA”. It puts forth a narrative that goes to the very heart of this city’s “brand”.
In addition, the brand is positioned in a manner that rallies some of the most important trends in consumer psychology today.
It presents a vision of the city’s founding myth, the very spirit that initiated it all, while underlining the dynamic impulse that continues to drive it and gives it resilience.
This ad marvellously exudes the trend “brand authenticity” that we measure in our Panorama (3SC) program and which is currently on the increase in Canada. This trend expresses great respect and sensitivity toward brands that have a soul, a narrative, a story to tell, all of which must be incontestably authentic.
Personal potential, the need to surpass (challenge) oneself and pride are also expressed wonderfully (all of which are trends that are currently on the rise in Canada). It unabashedly tells about the hard times that the city has been through and especially its reputation as a “devastated” city. However, it also extolls the city’s resilience, its ability to take charge and to bring out the very best in itself despite everything.
“Neo-localism”, a trend that we see progressing year after year, is expressed equally well by this ad. The narrative exudes a proud and deeply rooted local identity that nourishes the personal identities of those who connect with this story.
Furthermore, the beauty of this concept is that it can be “cloned” to any city that has its own founding myth. Based on the history of any city, the values of its citizens, as well as those who look toward it for inspiration, a narrative can be constructed in order to build the branding of these cities.
In today’s context where cities have to develop their brand in order to position themselves on an international chess board that is becoming increasingly competitive, this ad seems extraordinarily inspiring.
Posted on 01-13-11 at 3:23 p.m.
The foods on our plate are faithful mirrors of our personality. As far back as 1825, the French gastronome Brillat-Savarin was an ardent defender of this theory, which CROP’s Nutrio and Panorama programs have championed for more than 20 years, regardless of the product category being studied.
The world of cheese provides us with a good example via two products that are now well-integrated in the eating habits of Canadians, although they both come from Europe: Mozzarella and Feta cheeses.
So, are you more of a Mozzarella type or a Feta type of person? The answer might seem unimportant until we establish the profile of regular consumers of each of these products.
Of course, fans of both of these cheeses are generally hedonists and have a tendency to consider food more as a pleasure than as a simple fulfillment of a physiological need; however, the similarities end there and the rest paints a picture of two very distinct worlds.
The regular consumer of Mozzarella is of an impulsive nature, someone who seeks spontaneous pleasures and runs on strong emotions and sensations. He displays avidity for food: he enjoys the sensation of feeling stuffed and doesn’t hesitate to take a second helping of a dish that he enjoyed. He prefers spicy foods or at the very least, foods that have a strong taste – from this viewpoint, mozzarella plays the role of an ingredient that gives consistency to dishes that are otherwise spicy. His diet does not follow a particular routine; he eats when he is hungry and regularly nibbles between meals or even instead of meals. Spontaneity is the key word for him; he always has something with him or in his kitchen to alleviate the munchies or a sudden desire to eat. His voracious appetite does not prevent him from making some healthy choices: notably, he tries to limit his consumption of sugar, salt and fried foods. Finally, his values profile shows a certain taste for risk, which leads him to flirt with that which is forbidden and to be an early adopter of new products and services that appear on the market.
The regular consumer of Feta cheese has much more structured dietary habits. Meals are essential milestones throughout his day; they provide a regular rhythm to his daily life and are an opportunity to connect with the people around him. Impulsive snacking is not a usual part of his lifestyle. In fact, this consumer is the quintessential example of the Nutrio segment we call “Foodies” and the Panorama segment that we call “Explorers”, both of which have been on the rise in Canada over the past few years. We are looking at an individual who loves to discover new things when it comes to food, as well as in his daily life. He wants to broaden his horizons by exploring cuisine from other cultures, new ingredients that he sees in the supermarket or new ways of preparing food. He doesn’t hesitate to try complicated recipes or even make up his own recipes. He enjoys learning in general and is inclined to enrich his knowledge of food and cooking by perusing articles, recipes and websites as well as watching television programs on the subject. The Feta consumer is strongly preoccupied by the quality of the food he eats; he reads the list of ingredients in order to avoid foods that contain additives and preservatives. Endowed with a strong social and ecological conscience, he tends to prefer locally-produced foods and to reject genetically modified foods. Furthermore, he is often inclined toward sophisticated choices: to him, the elegance of a dish, its refinement in terms of taste and presentation are as important as its nutritional value.
While the Mozzarella aficionado is more of a strategic consumer who considers price a major factor in the quality vs. price equation, the Feta aficionado is much more centered on value added: he seeks “a little something extra” that gives him a different experience, which adds a touch of originality to his meal, even if it means spending a little more.
To accompany his meals, the Mozzarella consumer would probably choose a mainstream type of beer while the Feta consumer would be more likely to track down a relatively good quality wine.
Therefore, let us suggest that you don’t invite these two individuals to the same party, or if you have no choice, don’t seat them together because they probably won’t have much in common to talk about!
Similarly, if you are targeting both these types of consumers, your marketing strategies shouldn’t address them in the same manner. The Mozzarella consumer will be more receptive to an approach centered on the joy of eating substantial meals, on innovation and the accessibility of the product, in an environment that expresses intensity, with a touch of rebellion. On the other hand, the Feta consumer would be more seduced by an approach that satisfies his thirst for discovery, transforming a simple cheese into an experience that allows him to travel and is physically and culturally nourishing, encapsulated in a relatively sophisticated environment where the integrity (the naturalness) of the food is emphasized.
So, Feta, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Brie, Havarti, Gouda, Edam, Gorgonzola? If each type of cheese corresponds to a personality type, we can understand why the former French president, Charles de Gaulle, humorously wondered, “how can you govern a country which has 258 varieties of cheese?”
Of course, our tools are not limited to analyzing the cheese category as exemplified in this article. CROP’s Nutrio program allows us to draw up, in each food category, the profile of different types of consumers according to the specific product they favour or the brand they buy, thereby helping our clients ground their marketing strategies on the drives and desires of their consumers and potential consumers.
For further information on the values and/or food habits of consumers of your product category or brands, do not hesitate to contact us!
Posted on 01-13-11 at 2:58 p.m.
The call sounded from Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a well-planned speech, declared that multiculturalism in Germany was a total failure and had led to the ghettoization of immigrants.
This statement had a lot of power due to the size of Germany. However, it echoed the thinking of many nations like the Netherlands, who have embraced the path of multiculturalism and are now questioning that choice.
In England, which is to some extent the cradle of multiculturalism, this method of living together is also being questioned. The bombings of July 2005 shocked the English because they were committed by terrorists who were born in England, had studied in good schools and had benefitted from a favourable economic climate.
Other countries, such as France and Greece, have taken a different path. They promote integrating immigrants into a strong national culture. Similar events in these two countries have caused racial and social tensions. In Clichy-sous-Bois in 2005, two teenagers were killed after having been chased by police. This event triggered riots that broke out in many French suburbs. Despite these tensions, French politicians have not questioned their policies, although they face similar challenges such as exclusion and ghettoization. On the contrary, they seem to have hardened their attitude, which is supported by public opinion.
Globe and Mail editorial: Strike multiculturalism from the national vocabulary
In Canada, in a very thorough series of articles, The Globe and Mail recommended discarding the term multiculturalism. For the average Canadian reader, it was as if the National Post announced that Canada is not ″Socialist″ enough. Or if The Gazette printed an editorial stating that Quebec’s language laws should be reinforced. For the Canadian intelligentsia in general, and particularly for Torontonians, this charge against multiculturalism would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Moreover, the current mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, clearly differentiated himself from his opponents during the election campaign by making a statement against rising immigration levels.
For many countries, multiculturalism constitutes a policy of integrating immigrants. In Canada, it is at the very heart of its identity. This policy is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, article 27.
In Quebec, this famous article is far from unanimously accepted. It caused the crisis on reasonable accommodations. The Supreme Court judgement on the right to wear the kirpan in schools triggered discontent among many Quebecers who viewed it as a breach against Quebecois identity, contrary to Quebecois communal values. This crisis allowed a third party (the ADQ) to take power. To calm the storm, the Charest government announced the establishment of the Bouchard-Taylor commission to investigate the issue. Their answer was interculturalism, which Charles Taylor has admitted is very close to multiculturalism (″multiculturalism with a twist″ was his answer to a journalist who asked him the difference between multiculturalism and interculturalism). Daniel Weinstock, expert advisor on the commission declared that ″Therefore, I don’t think that interculturalism and multiculturalism are all that different (...) The difference lies more in nuances than in fundamental principles″. In fact, Jean Charest, who ordered the report, even admitted that the report is very complex and difficult to understand for those of us who do not earn a living examining such questions.
In fact, these questions lead to our relationship with another issue: that of religion (or secularism) and citizenship.
Beyond intellectual reflections and political agendas, what do Canadians think of these questions? Thanks to CROP’s Panorama (formerly known as 3SC), our unique tool to measure social values, we have been measuring these perceptions since 1983.
Of course these beliefs contain many nuances, but we wanted to reduce them to their most simple form for the purpose of this report. As a result, we have divided the possible attitudes regarding new immigrants into three positions.
The anti-immigrationists: you are not welcome here
These Canadians perceive immigration in a negative light, notably because it threatens the idea of purity. They agree with the statement, ″On the whole, there is too much immigration and it threatens the purity of the country″. With regard to values, they clearly believe that their country is superior to others. They are cynical, and they prefer social Darwinism and are allergic to progressiveness, social measures, the implication of government and the mixing of cultures. Consumption plays a very big role in the construction of their identities. There are more of this type of people in Quebec and Alberta and less in the coastal regions of Canada (the Maritimes and British Columbia). The majority of them have little education and live in small communities.
The multiculturalists: welcome to our country, do as in your country
At the other extreme of the spectrum, there are Canadians who believe that the host country should do everything possible to adapt to immigrants. They disagree with the statement ″Immigrants from other races and ethnic groups should put aside their culture and try to adapt to Canadian culture″. In the psychological sense, they are very flexible, very open to new types of families, to new gender roles, to others and to cultural mixing. They are not deeply rooted in the sense that they are not very concerned about their own history, customs and traditions. They experience life through their emotions and their relationships with others. Their relationship with the state is complex, because they want the state to implicate itself to an extent but at the same time they rather distrust it. They are concerned about the environment and they distrust large corporations. Finally, they feel in control of their lives and are neither fatalistic nor cynical. From a sociodemographic point of view, multiculturalists are more common among the well-educated, people under the age of 35 and women. They are proportionally more common in the Maritimes and less common in Quebec.
The pro-integrationists: welcome to our country, do as in our country
This group has a favourable opinion of immigration, as long as new immigrants integrate themselves within the host country. They agree with the affirmation that ″Immigrants from other races and ethnic groups should put aside their culture and try to adapt to Canadian culture″. They are pragmatic people, moderates who value certain ethics. They are Canadians who believe that citizenship brings rights but also responsibilities. They cultivate and value their own traditions.
In 1995, close to one out of two Canadians (45%) were against immigration. This proportion rapidly diminished by the end of the 1990s, stabilizing at around 35%.
Multiculturalist Canadians were at 29% in 1995 and their proportion rapidly increased around the turn of the millennium, reaching 40%. This period was a tipping point in public opinion. We witnessed a quick and drastic change from a state of tension regarding immigration to a completely open position.
Then the events of September 2001 changed the figures. While temporary, the 2002 rate revealed a return to a closed attitude toward immigrants. We must recall the climate of that era to truly comprehend this result.
However, from 2005 to today, we have observed an erosion of support of multiculturalism and an increase of people who advocate integrating immigrants into a strong culture. This position has been constantly increasing since 2005. Today, almost one in three Canadians place themselves in this category (32%) while it was only one in four (26%) in 1995.
In their 2010 annual report on immigration, the Canadian ministry of Citizenship and Immigration announced that Canada will receive about 250,000 new immigrants in 2011 (between 240,000 and 270,000 to be more precise). Therefore, over the course of the next five years, we will welcome more people than the population of Manitoba. In Quebec, the established immigration threshold is 55,000. For a country such as Canada, with an aging population and a low birth rate, immigrants constitute an increase to the active population and an economic boost as well. The major urban Canadian cities already have very high immigration rates. For example, in 2006, 52% of Toronto inhabitants were not born in Canada.
The success of immigration depends on the ability of immigrants to find a place for themselves within the host country and also for society to welcome the immigrants. From this point of view, the main danger would be if public opinion began to view immigration in a negative light. As we have shown, this is not the case; negative views regarding immigration have remained stable for the last decade or so.
However, Canadians increasingly want immigrants to adopt Canadian values. Is this in response to activism among certain religious groups? Is it because certain Canadians who were born here have the impression that they are minorities in their own communities? It is dangerous to abstract upon this sentiment as it might lead to an increasingly tense attitude toward immigration. If Canadians feel that they are only being offered a choice between multiculturalism and anti-immigration, many will choose the latter.