Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Time to Un-Bullshit Marketing?

Author Douglas Rushkoff unleashes a thought provoking speech about Twitter, consultants helping other consultants on how to consult, Paris Hilton and a lot of other subjects that gets in his way...well worth watching.


Instore Scent Marketing


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Schock Says More Consumers Using Mobile Search to Shop


Saturday, November 27, 2010

2011 in Social Media


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Worldwide spreading of economic crisis

As the eurozone continues to wobble, new analysis of countries’ economic interconnectedness finds that some of the countries with the greatest potential to cause a global crash have surprisingly small gross domestic production.
Using data from Bureau Van Dijk - the company information and business intelligence provider - to assess the reach and size of different countries’ economies, and applying the Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) model, physicists from universities in Greece, Switzerland and Israel have identified the twelve countries with greatest power to spread a crisis globally.
The research published today, Thursday 25 November 2010, in New Journal of Physics (co-owned by the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society), groups Belgium and Luxembourg alongside more obviously impactful economies such as the USA in the top twelve.
Using a statistical physics approach, the researchers from the Universities of Thessaloniki, Lausanne and Bar-Ilan used two different databases to model the effect of hypothetical economic crashes in different countries.  The use of two different databases aided the avoidance of bias but threw up very similar results.
The data used allowed the physicists to identify links between the different countries, by mapping the global economy to a complex network, and gauge the likelihood of one failed economy having an effect on another.
One network was created using data on the 4000 world corporations with highest turnover and a second using data on import and export relations between 82 countries.
The SIR model, successfully used previously to model the spreading of disease epidemics, is applied to these two networks taking into consideration the strength of links between countries, the size of the crash, and the economic strength of the country in potential danger.
When put to the test with the corporate data, the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg were part of an inner core of countries that would individually cause the most economic damage globally if their economies were to fail.
Using the import/export data, China, Russia, Japan, Spain, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, USA, and France formed the inner core, with the researchers explaining that the difference – particularly the addition of China to this second list – is due to a large fraction of Chinese trade volume coming from subsidiaries of western corporations based in China.
The researchers write, “Surprisingly, not all 12 countries have the largest total weights or the largest GDP.  Nevertheless, our results suggest that they do play an important role in the global economic network.  This is explained by the fact that these smaller countries do not support only their local economy, but they are a haven for foreign investments.”
The researchers’ paper can be downloaded for free from Thursday 25 November 2010 here:

Social Media Benchmarks

Read about the Social Media Study conducted by FedEx/Ketchum here.o

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Solving the Most Complex Problems


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We All Want to Be Young

Being young isn´t what it used to be. What is Gen Y experiences of youth compared to Gen X and the Boomers? BOX1824, a Brazilian research company specializing in behavioral science and consumer trends, produced a short film to showcase the results of several studies it conducted about the ‘Gen Y’ or Millennial generation over the past 5 years. 

We All Want to Be Young from box1824 on Vimeo.o

Upper-Class People Have Trouble Recognizing Others’ Emotions

Upper-class people have more educational opportunities, greater financial security, and better job prospects than people from lower social classes, but that doesn’t mean they’re more skilled at everything. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds surprisingly, that lower-class people are better at reading the emotions of others. 
The researchers were inspired by observing that, for lower-class people, success depends more on how much they can rely on other individuals. For example, if you can’t afford to buy support services, such as daycare service for your children, you have to rely on your neighbors or relatives to watch the kids while you attend classes or run errands, says Michael W. Kraus of the University of California-San Francisco. He cowrote the study with Stéphane Côté of the University of Toronto and Dacher Keltner of the University of California-Berkeley. 
One experiment used volunteers who worked at a university. Some had graduated from college and others had not; researchers used educational level as a proxy for social class. The volunteers did a test of emotion perception, in which they were instructed to look at pictures of faces and indicate which emotions each face was displaying. People with more education performed worse on the task than people with less education. In another study, university students who were of higher social standing (determined from each student’s self-reported perceptions of his or her family’s socioeconomic status) had a more difficult time accurately reading the emotions of a stranger during a group job interview. 
These results suggest that people of upper-class status aren’t very good at recognizing the emotions other people are feeling. The researchers speculate that this is because they can solve their problems, like the daycare example, without relying on others—they aren’t as dependent on the people around them. 
A final experiment found that, when people were made to feel that they were at a lower social class than they actually were, they got better at reading emotions. This shows that “it’s not something ingrained in the individual,” Kraus says. “It’s the cultural context leading to these differences.” He says this work helps show that stereotypes about the classes are wrong. “It’s not that a lower-class person, no matter what, is going to be less intelligent than an upper-class person. It’s all about the social context the person lives in, and the specific challenges the person faces. If you can shift the context even temporarily, social class differences in any number of behaviors can be eliminated.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Global Business Map

From Google - Read it by clicking here.o

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Boom or Bust Ahead?


Friday, November 19, 2010

100 Inspirational Ideas

One hundred inspirational ideas
View more presentations from Helge Tennø.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Certain consumer preferences may be inborn

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Genes that might lead to the purchase of designer jeans? Or DNA that helps to create chocoholics? People’s consumer preferences are often influenced by their genetic inheritance, according to a study by aUniversity of Florida researcher.
“Whether we like science fiction, hybrid cars, jazz, mustard, opera and dark chocolate all seem to have a genetic component,” said Aner Sela, an assistant professor of marketing whose study of twins is forthcoming in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. “On the other hand, we didn’t find such an effect for abstract art, body piercing and cilantro, which people seem to either love or hate.”
While previous research has shown a heritable effect for intelligence, personality and even for divorce, drug addiction and voting patterns, this is the first study to show genetics play a role in consumer choices, Sela said.
“It’s interesting to know that a lot of what we want and what we do is determined by our ancestors,” he said.
Sela and Itamar Simonson, a Stanford University marketing professor, surveyed 110 identical twins and 70 same-sex fraternal twins about their product preferences and buying patterns, such as whether they would spend $100 on necessary groceries or a pampering massage. Similar choices were more common in identical twins, whose genetic coding is identical, than among fraternal twins, who share the same household environment but only half of their DNA, the study found.
The finding that consumer preferences are often determined by inherent factors could suggest that companies might sometimes be better advised to let consumers take the lead in expressive preferences and then react with certain products, rather than relying on marketing tactics to sway customers’ buying behavior, Sela said.
“Consumer researchers have often demonstrated that consumers behave irrationally and choose inconsistently,” he said. “While this is sometimes true, we show that people are not just sheep in terms of being subject to manipulative influences, but actually bring with them to the decision-making process their personalities, inherent tendencies and innate preferences.”
Most interestingly, the findings suggest that even certain “irrational” choice tendencies may be inherent. Beyond specific product likes and dislikes, the study found a genetic basis for selecting a compromise or middle option, choosing between a sure gain and a risky gamble and favoring “vice” over “virtue” in the form of a utilitarian or hedonistic option.
These different styles of decision-making reveal themselves in a various ways when making consumer choices, Sela said. The tendency to select “vice” over “virtue,” for example, might show up in using a $4 gift card for Godiva chocolates instead of a package of batteries, he said.
“While these preliminary results can be interpreted in more than one way, we hypothesize that a predisposition for prudent behavior might be at the heart of these kinds of behavioral patterns, Sela said.
“The inclination to choose a compromise option – selecting the middle option, going for the safe as opposed to the extreme choice, being risk-averse, preferring virtue over vice – seem to relate to an underlying tendency to be prudent,” he said.
Prudence can encompass cautiousness, discretion, moderation, being mindful and getting prepared, Sela said. “In some respects, it might be represented by the distinction between ‘living on the edge’ versus ‘living in the mainstream,’” he said.
A genetic component had not been established before in identifying a pattern for these individual differences that affect consumer behavior, Sela said.
The research was done by Simonson and Sela while he has been at UF and previously as a graduate student at Stanford.
“Our research is groundbreaking with choice tendencies in general – do I tend to be risk seeking, do I tend to be compromising, do I tend to be variety seeking – making us really the first to show that those behaviors have a genetic basis,” he said.
Shane Frederick, a marketing professor at Yale University, praised the research. “Simonson and Sela’s exploratory research with identical twins represents a small, but important, first attempt to identify the types of preferences or intellectual dispositions that have a genetic basis,” he said. “Their research should foster interest in this fascinating topic and motivate further exploration among those who study judgment and decision making.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Susie Sells Seashells by the Seashore: Implicit Egotism and Major Life Decisions

Because most people possess positive associations about themselves, most people prefer things that are connected to the self (e.g., the letters in one’s name). The authors refer to such preferences as implicit egotism. Ten studies assessed the role of implicit egotism in 2 major life decisions: where people choose to live and what people choose to do for a living. Studies 1–5 showed that people are disproportionately likely to live in places whose names resemble their own first or last names (e.g., people named Louis are disproportionately likely to live in St. Louis). Study 6 extended this finding to birthday number preferences. People were disproportionately likely to live in cities whose names began with their birthday numbers (e.g., Two Harbors, MN). Studies 7–10 suggested that people disproportionately choose careers whose labels resemble their names (e.g., people named Dennis or Denise are overrepresented among dentists). Implicit egotism appears to influence major life decisions. This idea stands in sharp contrast to many models of rational choice and attests to the importance of understanding implicit beliefs.

Read the full research report by clicking here.

Your View of Personal Goals Can Affect Your Relationships

How you think about your goals—whether it’s to improve yourself or to do better than others—can affect whether you reach those goals. Different kinds of goals can also have distinct effects on your relationships with people around you, according to the authors of a paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. 
People with “mastery goals” want to improve themselves. Maybe they want to get better grades, make more sales, or land that triple toe loop. On the other hand, people with what psychologists call “performance goals” are trying to outperform others—to get a better grade than a friend or be Employee of the Year. Both kinds of goals can be useful in different contexts. But P. Marijn Poortvliet, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and Céline Darnon, of France’s Clermont University, are interested in the social context of these goals—what they do to your relationships. 
Poortvliet’s work focuses on information exchange—whether people are open and honest when they are working together. “People with performance goals are more deceitful” and less likely to share information with coworkers, both in the laboratory and in real-world offices he has studied, Poortvliet says. “The reason is fairly obvious—when you want to outperform others, it doesn’t make sense to be honest about information.” 
On the other hand, people who are trying to improve themselves are quite open, he says. “If the ultimate goal is to improve yourself, one way to do it is to be very cooperative with other people.” This can help improve the work environment, even though the people with these goals aren’t necessarily thinking about social relations. “They’re not really altruists, per se. They see the social exchange as a means toward the ends of self improvement.” Other research has found that people with these self-improvement goals are more open to hearing different perspectives, while people with a performance goal “would rather just say, ‘I’m just right and you are wrong.’” 
It’s not always bad to be competitive, Poortvliet says. “For example, if you want to be the Olympic champion, of course it’s nice to have mastery goals and you should probably have mastery goals, but you definitely need performance goals because you want to be the winner and not the runner-up.” 
But it’s important to think about how goals affect the social environment. “If you really want to establish constructive and long-lasting working relationships, then you should really balance the different levels of goals,” Poortvliet says—thinking not only about each person’s achievement, but also about the team as a whole. 
Some people are naturally more competitive than others. But it’s also possible for managers to shift the kinds of goals people have by, for example, giving a bonus for the best employee. That might encourage people to set performance goals and compete against each other. On the other hand, it would also be possible to structure a bonus program to give people rewards based on their individual improvement over time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Indulgence or Self-Control: A Dual Process Model of the Effect of Incidental Pride on Indulgent Choice.

You aced that test; now it’s time for a treat. Sometimes pride in an achievement can lead people to indulge in unhealthy
choices, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“Across four studies in the food consumptions and spending domains, we show that pride is associated with two opposing forces; it promotes a sense of achievement, which increases indulgence, and it promotes self-awareness, which facilitates self control,” write authors Keith Wilcox (Babson College), Thomas Kramer (University of South Carolina), and Sankar Sen (Baruch College).
The authors set out to examine the effect of pride on consumer self-control decisions, and discovered that pride has different varieties. One variant—pride in a sense of achievement—leads to people wanting to reward themselves with indulgences. Another kind of pride features increased self-awareness; this type of pride leads to less indulgence.

In their first study, the researchers asked students to write about a proud moment and then make a choice that involved self-control. Participants were able to choose between two gift certificates: a less-indulgent one that could be used for school supplies or one that could be used for entertainment. “As we predicted, when the sense of achievement factored more heavily into the decision, students that wrote about a proud moment were more likely to select the entertainment gift certificate,” the authors write.
In subsequent studies, the authors found that consumers who experienced pride in a sense of achievement were more likely to choose French fries over a salad with their lunch entrée. The authors also found that happiness, another positive emotion, did not have the same effect on consumer choice as pride.

“Because a number of key societal issues, such as the credit and obesity crises, have been attributed to poor self-control in money and health decisions, this research has important implications for improving consumer welfare,” the authors conclude.

The Bitter Breakup: What Happens when Consumers Dump their Brands?

It’s just like a bad breakup: People get emotional when they end a relationship with a brand. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examines what happens when people turn their backs on the brands they once loved.

“Customers who were once enthusiastic about a brand may represent a headache for the associated firm beyond the lost revenue of foregone sales because they sometimes become committed to harming the firm,” write authors Allison R. Johnson (University of Western Ontario), Maggie Matear (Queens University, Kingston, Ontario), and Matthew Thomson (University of Western Ontario).
Online forums are overloaded with customer complaints from people who once loved or were loyal to particular brands but now strongly oppose them. “I used to love (name of store), let me tell you all why I plan to never go back there again; I hate them with a passion now,” writes one unhappy former customer, for example.

Why do these people feel so strongly about brands they once favored? According to the authors, some people identify so strongly with brands that they become relevant to their identity and self-concept. Thus, when people feel betrayed by brands, they experience shame and insecurity. “As in human relationships, this loss of identity can manifest itself in negative feelings, and subsequent actions may (by design) be unconstructive, malicious, and expressly aimed at hurting the former relationship partner,” the authors write.
What’s a company to do to prevent such heightened emotions? “Rather than trying simply to win customers back, which may only exacerbate the situation, companies may want to explore responses that promote forgiveness, indifference, or effective disengagement,” the authors suggest.

Sometimes a company may want to help embarrassed customers move on—even if it means directing them to a competitor. “The sooner the customers are happily involved with a new brand, the faster one might expect damage to their self- concept to be repaired and the faster the motive to harm the offending firm might dissipate,” the authors conclude.
Allison R. Johnson, Maggie Matear, and Matthew Thomson. “A Coal in the Heart: Self-Relevance as a Post-Exit Predictor of Consumer Anti-Brand Actions.”

Oxytocin Increases Advertising’s Influence

The hormone oxytocin makes people more susceptible to advertising, according to new research presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. The findings suggest that advertisements may exploit the biological system for trust and empathy.
The researchers, directed by Paul Zak, PhD, at Claremont Graduate University in California, found that people treated with oxytocin donated 56 percent more money to causes presented in public service announcements. Study participants who received oxytocin also reported that the advertisements made them feel more empathetic.

After sniffing a spray of oxytocin or a placebo, participants viewed short public service announcements that had aired on television in the United States and the United Kingdom. The advertisements presented the dangers of smoking, alcohol, reckless driving, and global warming. Participants then reported how they felt about the people and issues presented in the advertisements. They were also given an opportunity to donate a portion of the money they had earned from participating in the experiment.

“Our results show why puppies and babies are in toilet paper commercials,” Zak said. “This research suggests that advertisers use images that cause our brains to release oxytocin to build trust in a product or brand, and hence increase sales,” he said.
Research was supported by Claremont Graduate University

Does the Wisdom of Crowds Prevail When Betting on Football?

Point spreads—the number of points by which a strong team can be expected to defeat a weaker team—are supposed to reflect the “wisdom of crowds.” But a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that crowds don’t have a clue.

“Point spread betting markets seem to offer an important example of crowd wisdom, because point spreads are very accurate and are widely believed to reflect the ‘crowd’s’ prediction of upcoming sporting events,” write authors Joseph P. Simmons (Yale University), Leif D. Nelson (University of California at Berkeley), Jeff Galak (Carnegie Mellon University), and Shane Frederick (Yale University). But previous research shows that bettors are biased in their predictions; their intuitions tend to favor “favorites” over “underdogs.”
The authors conducted a season-long investigation of the betting habits of enthusiastic NFL football fans from diverse regions of the United States. Participants wagered more than $20,000 on football games against point spreads that were manipulated to favor the underdog.
The authors first tested a hypothesis that crowds will wisely choose underdogs against spreads that disadvantage favorites. The bettors failed this test, predicting vastly more favorites (89 percent) than underdogs. Next, they found that even when bettors were warned that the spreads had been increased they still predicted favorites only slightly less often (83 percent).
“In this context, the temptation to rely on one’s intuition is so strong as to lead people to rely on what they intuitively feel to be true (this favorite will prevail against the spread) rather than on what they generally know to be true (the favorite will usually lose against the spread)” the authors write. And it seems people have trouble learning from their mistakes: the crowd’s predictions worsened over time, rather than getting better.

Finally, the researchers hit upon a method of eliciting better choices. “Asking people to predict point differentials rather than make choices against point spreads decreased reliance on faulty intuitions and produced vastly different, and vastly wiser, predictions against the spread,” the authors conclude.

Do Consumers Prefer 1% interest over 0% Interest or is Zero Simply Confusing?

Why would someone choose a credit card with a one percent interest rate over another with a zero percent rate? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that consumers are often flummoxed when it comes to zero.

“A reasonable assumption is that a product will be more attractive when it offers more of a good thing, such as free pictures (with a digital camera purchase), or less of a bad thing, like interest rates on a credit card,” writes author Mauricio Palmeira (Monash University, Australia). But Palmeira’s research found that consumer comparison methods tend to get confused when one of the comparison terms has a zero value.
For example, a consumer interested in a new credit card may need to choose between one with a $45 annual fee and a one percent interest rate and another with a $15 fee and a 20 percent interest rate. “One could view this decision as a choice between an extra $30 annually for a 19 percent reduction in interest rate. Alternately, it can be viewed in relative terms. In this sense, a $30 difference between $15 and $45 appears much bigger than the same difference between $115 and $145,” writes Palmeira. Consumers tend to be more sensitive to relative rather than absolute differences, which is why a one percent interest rate looks good, since its interest rate is 20 times less than 20 percent.
But what if consumers compare a 20 percent interest rate to a zero percent one? “I argue that whereas a 20 percent interest rate may look very large compared to one percent (it is 20 times larger!), it may not look as large compared to zero percent. Zero eliminates the reference point we use to assess the size of things,” Palmeira explains.

“This leads to a counterintuitive situation, in which a credit card can increase its likelihood of being selected when it has a small but non-zero interest rate,” writes Palmeira. The same is true of other attributes that consumers want to minimize, like interest rates and fat content.
The inverse is true when consumers desire an attribute. For example, if a digital camera offers a promotion that adds 200 free pictures to a purchase, a competitor may be better off offering nothing rather than just a few free pictures. “This is because 200 will look larger compared to 10 or 20 than compared to zero,” Palmeira writes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Enterprise 2.0


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Retail Atmospherics

Download this interesting article from Mindlab International by clicking here.o

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shopping reinvented and more


World Growth to Pick Up Speed

Despite the global recession, the world economy will grow faster in the second decade of the 21st century than it did in the first, The Conference Board reported this week.
The global economy will grow at 4.4 percent from 2010-2020, about 0.7 percentage point faster than 2000-2010 and 0.3 percentage point faster than 2000-2008, according to the second edition of The Conference Board Global Economic Outlook, providing projections of output growth for 2011, 2011-2015, and 2015-2020 for the global economy, the economies of 11 major regions, aggregated advanced economies, and aggregated emerging and developing economies. Advanced economies will account for less than 1 percentage point of global growth from 2010-2020, while 3.4 percentage points will come from emerging economies. Growth in emerging and developing economies in 2010-2020 will be more than three times faster than growth in advanced economies.
“The emerging world’s catch-up potential is unlikely to slacken before the end of the decade,” said Bart van Ark, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of The Conference Board. “Yet while emerging economies are clearly driving global growth, they also host its biggest downside risk. For example, the emergence of uncontrolled inflation or a mishandling of corrections to overvalued assets in China or India could reduce global growth for 2010-2020 by as much as 2 percentage points.”
Among other key findings:
  • China may have a larger GDP (PPP-converted) than the United States by 2012.
  • India will double its share of global output between 2000 and 2020, but its overall impact on global growth remains much smaller than China’s.
  • Western Europe (the original 15 EU member states) will stay at modest 1.5 percent growth in 2011. Germany, the Nordic countries and Benelux will perform at the higher end (above 2 percent); the United Kingdom and France will be in the middle range (1.5-2 percent); most of Southern Europe and Ireland will see growth of less than 1 percent or may even contract.
  • Growth in China will moderate only slightly going into 2011. India will add almost a full percentage point to its growth rate.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Earned Media Planning


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Study Links a Couple's Higher Numeracy Skills with Greater Family Wealth

Couples who score well on a simple test of numeracy ability accumulate more wealth by middle age than couples who score poorly on such a test, according to a new study of married couples in the United States.
Researchers found that when both spouses answered three numeracy-related questions correctly, family wealth averaged $1.7 million, while among couples where neither spouse answered any questions correctly the average household wealth was $200,000. Numeracy is the ability to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts, and are skills typically learned during school.
"We examined several cognitive skills and found that a simple test that checks a person's numeracy skills was a good predictor of who would be a better family financial decision maker," said James P. Smith, a co-author of the study and Distinguished Chair in Labor Markets and Demographic Studies at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. The other two authors of the study are John McArdle of the University of Southern California and Robert Willis of the University of Michigan.
Researchers found that choosing the wrong person as a family's primary financial decision maker can have consequences. While families choose the less-numerate spouse less than 20 percent of the time, when this does happen total household wealth is lower.
The findings are published in the November edition of The Economic Journal.
The study relied on a sample of married couples from the Health and Retirement Survey, a nationally representative survey of Americans at least 50 years old that includes high-quality measurement of family wealth and tests of cognitive ability of both husbands and wives. The Health and Retirement Survey is funded by the National Institute on Aging.
Researchers say the skills needed to make successful investment choices are among the most cognitively demanding that a family has to make, especially as they get older and assume greater control of decisions about their wealth, pensions and health care.
The new study is one of the first to examine who makes these financial decisions for a household, how that selection is influenced by couple's personal attributes and the relative cognitive abilities of both wives and husbands.
In addition to studying numeracy skills, the study also examined the impact that other cognitive skills, including memory retrieval and intact mental status, may have on financial outcomes. Researchers found the other cognitive functions studied had far less influence on a household's wealth.
Other findings from the study include:
  • As the numeracy score of each spouse rose, the percent of a family's portfolio held in stocks increased.
  • A man was the financial decision maker in 62 percent of the households studied. This male preference was particularly pronounced when the husband was older and more educated than his wife.
  • Selection of the husband as the financial decision maker was more sensitive to a husband's numeracy ability than it was to the numeracy skills of the wife. Even when a husband scored zero in his numeracy test, there was essentially a 50-50 chance that he would still be selected as the financial decision maker. This male bias in choosing the financial decision maker has been declining over time so that it is smaller among younger couples in this age range.
The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging to RAND, the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan.

Alpha males take greater risks: Study links finger length to behavior

Montreal November 9, 2010 – Potential investors might wish to examine the fingers of their financial advisor prior to signing over any savings. A new study from Concordia University has found the length between the second and fourth finger is an indicator of high levels of prenatal testosterone, risk-taking and potential financial success in men. The findings, published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences, suggest that alpha males may take greater risks in relationships, on the squash court and in the financial market.
"Previous studies have linked high testosterone levels with risky behaviour and financial success," says senior researcher Gad Saad, Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption as well as a marketing professor at the John Molson School of Business. "We investigated the relationship between prenatal testosterone and various risk proclivities. Our findings show an association between high testosterone and risk-taking among males in three domains: recreational, social and financial."
"Since women tend to be attracted to men who are fit, assertive and rich, men are apt to take risks with sports, people and money to be attractive to potential mates. What's interesting is that this tendency is influenced by testosterone exposure – more testosterone in the womb can lead to more risks in the rink, the bar and the trading floor in later in life," says first author and Concordia doctoral student, Eric Stenstrom.

Link only observed in men

Saad and his team analyzed risk-taking among 413 male and female students using a survey. "Prenatal testosterone exposure not only influences fetal brain development," adds study co-author and graduate student, Zack Mendenhall, "but it also slows the growth of the index finger relative to the sum of the four fingers excluding the thumb."
The change in finger length produced by testosterone provides a handy measure of prenatal testosterone exposure. The study compared the length of the index finger with all four digits (known as the rel2 ratio) and found that those with lower ratios were more likely to engage in risk-taking. These findings were further confirmed by the additional measurement of the ratio between the index and ring finger. These correlations were only observed in men.
"A possible explanation for the null effects in women is that they do not engage in risky behaviour as a mating signal, whereas men do," says Professor Saad.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Wilson Brothers on Innovation in Retail


Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Future of Media

Two short clips on how to make media relevant by delivering more than information. The first one concentrates on train travel, while the second one shows how to integrate media and information into the home and everyday environment.

Media surfaces: The Journey from Dentsu London on Vimeo.

Media surfaces: Incidental Media from Dentsu London on Vimeo.o

Mintel reveals consumer packaged goods trends for 2011

Mintel, the global leader in market and consumer intelligence, has predicted the worldwide consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends set to make an impact in 2011.
“These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing,” notes Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. “Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products.”
Mintel has predicted 12 CPG trends that will impact product development in 2011 spanning across categories from health and wellness, the environment, demographics, marketing and media, convenience and indulgence. Below are six of these core trends.
1) Quiet Reduction: Sodium, sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are three well known ingredients that appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations. While sodium reduction has long been the focus of “quiet reduction,” sugar and HFCS are jumping on board. As the media continue to demonise HFCS, what may start as covert reduction is likely to end up as a key labeling issue, in the same way transfat-free has become the norm in some parts of the world. The European region still awaits approval of stevia, but we should expect to see sugar and stevia used in conjunction to achieve an overall lower sugar content in new products. However, “stevia” will not always be part of the overt communication. Instead we’ll see messaging like “naturally sweetened” or “reduced sugar.”
2) Redefining Natural: Get ready for a “natural shakedown”. While all types of natural claims have grown in importance in all regions, and across all product categories, the term “natural” is still ill-defined. Terms that are vague or not well understood will come under fire and we are due to see an intervention of regulatory bodies. Also, expect to see a new focus on accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasising what is not in it.
3) Professionalisation of the Amateur: Mainstream brands are getting into a more serious “professional” arena, by bringing into the home what used to require a specialist service. This trend arguably has its origins in personal care markets, with “salon-style” hair treatments for home use, but continues to expand to include household (“professional strength” cleaning products) and food (chef-endorsed, restaurant-style meals).
4) Sustainability stays focused on the basics: Sustainability is not slipping down the priority list, but instead of seeing new developments, expect to see a continuation of what we have seen, with a few twists. There will be a greater focus on reduced packaging that promotes environmental responsibility in combination with uniqueness, such as boxless cereal bars or more cereals without the inner bag. Also, expect water usage to become a hot, consumer-facing issue in 2011. Companies will be looking for ways to conserve water and change their consumption habits so that there is enough world supply.
5) Blurring Categories: How much more innovation can you get out of a category? Manufacturers’ response to consumer needs is the driver to developing hybrid products. Consumers don’t necessarily view products as being in one category or another, rather they look for solutions that meet their needs, and that may be something that straddles multiple categories. Sparkling beverages are appearing more and being positioned as a source of refreshment, as well as sophistication. Beyond hybrid forms, we also see a blurring of how consumers use products – with beverages consumed as snacks, snacks as meals, and personal care and home care products that do more than one thing, as well.
6) New Retro: Over the last year, we have seen more big brands that revitalise old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia. We anticipate more of these in 2011. Companies are returning to a time when life seemed somehow easier, whether that’s the 1980s for consumers in their 20s, or the 1970s or 1960s for older consumers. You’ll see this with brands using old formulations, old package designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel.