The Hub Cool News

The Why Side

Every brand lives within its own truth, be it authentic or illusory. That truth, real or imagined, is the stuff of marketing and, writ large, the brand experience in total. The source of brand truth can be elusive, which is why so many are so excited about the rise of Big Data and the mysteries it might reveal. The more data we have, the bigger the picture and the more insightful the insights, the more truthful the truth. It’s a powerful and appealing prospect, although not everyone is buying it just yet. It’s just that deep down we all know that the numbers alone rarely, if ever, tell the whole story.

Numbers tell us the what but not the why, and it’s the why that tells us the truth. With that in mind, we gave The Hub Top 20, The Hub Magazine’s annual survey of excellence in shopper marketing, its first major overhaul in its seven-year history. For the first time, the survey — the hard numbers — count for just 50% of our final results, which rank the best-of-the-best in shopper marketing. The other half is based on the why: 25% respondent comments and 25% Hub Prize awards for shopper-marketing campaigns.

This produced a tie on the brand-marketer side, with Kimberly-Clark and Unilever sharing the top spot. On the agency side, Catapult finished number-one for the second year running. We won’t get into how the results would have looked had we stuck with the numbers alone, but suffice it to say that they would not have been the same, or as meaningful. Our congratulations to all who made The Hub Top 20 this year, and our thanks to Dr. Dan Flint and his team at the University of Tennessee, as well as Chris Hoyt and Nancy Swift of Hoyt & Company, for making The Hub Top 20 the benchmark it has become. (link to the full report)

Tobacco Road

tobacco roadNo question but that CVS’s decision to end the sale of tobacco products is highly polarizing, with diametrically opposed opinions on various levels. It’s equally clear, based on a Hub Magazine survey of marketing professionals, that the move was a net positive for CVS. In short: A large (70%) majority take a favorable view of CVS’s decision to stop selling tobacco products, and a solid majority (62%) say they have a more favorable opinion of CVS as a result. However, where some see a good start with tobacco, others see hypocrisy. Still others think selling tobacco is not comparable to selling candy, sodapop, alcohol or ‘junk food.’

Perhaps the best news for CVS is that their tobacco decision does appear to have changed people’s view of the retailer’s place in the world. The percentage saying they view CVS as a ‘health-care provider’ jumped from 36% to 52% in light of the ban. A plurality of 40% think CVS will succeed in making a transition into a health-care provider. Some believe it has already made the transition, while others had a hard time imagining CVS as ‘a doctor’s office.’ Just 18 percent said they currently buy ‘health-care services’ at CVS, however 78 percent said they typically purchase health-and-beauty-care items and prescriptions at the retailer.

As for the most important thing CVS could change to serve needs better: lower prices, a better store environment, shorter checkout lines and improved customer-service topped the comments. A near majority of 49 percent said that other retailers should follow CVS’s lead and discontinue the sale of tobacco. It’s not often a major retailer discontinues an entire category, and certainly not one that is as profitable as tobacco. This raises the question of whether other retailers should re-visit the business they’re in. No more batteries at Radio Shack perhaps? No more staples at Staples? If CVS succeeds in nothing else, it certainly succeeded in getting our attention. (link to full report)

Shop Talk

shop talkShop Talk. Emotion permeates every aspect of the brand experience, but perhaps never as much as when consumers morph into shoppers, according to Shop Talk, a new Hub Magazine survey (May/Jun 2013). To get a sense of the shopper’s prevalent emotional state, The Hub asked readers to express how they feel while navigating their way through 24 top retailers. The choices were “excited,” “satisfied,” “bored” or “frustrated.” With just three exceptions, “excited” was not how most readers would describe how they feel about their typical shopping experience. The exceptions were their shopping experiences at Amazon, Ikea and Costco — and even then by only 46, 44 and 43 percent of respondents, respectively.

Just 50 percent or more of readers said they felt “satisfied” while shopping at seven of the 24 stores — Target, The Home Depot, Lowes, CVS, Walgreens, PetSmart, and Barnes & Noble. However, it must be noted that Williams-Sonoma and Nordstrom narrowly missed the 50 percent mark on “satisfied,” only because roughly 38 percent said they were “excited” by these two retailers. “Bored” is how most said they felt while shopping at Walmart and Gap, although “frustrated” was a close second among Walmart shoppers. Walmart also attracted just four percent of “excited” shoppers, trailed slightly by 7-Eleven with three percent.

The overall winner was Amazon, whose combined “excited” (46%) and “satisfied” (44%) ratings totaled a whopping 90 percent. Just four percent were “bored” with Amazon and another four percent “frustrated.” What does it say about the retail experience today that an e-commerce site wins handily over its brick-and-mortar competitors on every emotional level? Perhaps it suggests that Amazon is even more formidable than we realized. Amazon was widely praised for its wide selection, good prices, easy navigation, and convenience. “It’s like shopping the world,” a reader enthused. It was also one of few retailers that elicited the word “love” — not once but 21 times — sometimes in all caps. continue

Shopper Crossroads

chris hoytShopper marketing needs to get a grip on its reason for being. By Chris Hoyt. The results of The Hub Magazine’s 2012 Shopper Marketing survey highlight a serious bifurcation of the discipline. Shopper marketing as an industry practice clearly means very different things — and has very different standards — for different camps. From positioning to funding to measurement, the survey indicates a growing split.

For example, overall budgets for shopper marketing are inching up — we now have a plurality of respondents whose budgets are between 4-6 percent of total marketing budgets — up from an average of 1-3 percent in previous years (see table one). On the other hand, almost 30 percent of respondents report that they have no established shopper-marketing budget in place at all — that they operate entirely ad hoc or opportunistically. Unfortunately, this non-funded group is now growing exponentially — up 82 percent since 2009 … read >>

Instant Carma

hub surveyHow innovative are today’s cars? What innovations would we most like to see in our next car? With George Blankenship of Tesla Motors as the cover-story interview for our annual “innovation” edition, we thought that a survey about cars and innovation would be cool. So, we lined up every nameplate we could think of — 30 all told — and asked readers to indicate whether they evoked “surprise & delight,” “satisfaction” or “boredom.”

Of the 30 car brands, only Audi, Mini and Porsche topped 50 percent on the “surprise & delight” scale — and just barely. Volkswagen, Hyundai, BMW, Fiat and Tesla also scored relatively high on “surprise & delight.” Toyota and Honda were the only two that scored above 50 percent on “satisfaction,” while clear majorities branded Chevrolet and Lincoln with “boredom” (although Chrysler and Dodge came close, at 47%) … read >>

App-ocalypse Now!

surveyAre apps a life-changer, a black hole, or just pleasant diversion? According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple alone offers about 640,000 apps and consumers have so far downloaded some 30 billion apps. We thought it would be app-ropriate to ask our readers if they are app-oplectic or app-gnostic.

So, we created a survey about smartphones, tablets — app-friendly devices of every kind — and their life-changing (or not) app-lications. We even invited the opinions of those who don’t have an app-friendly device and have never downloaded an app. Most of our respondents were Gen Xers (44%), followed by Baby Boomers (38%), Millennials (12%) and Silent Generation (6%). Fifty-three percent were female and 47 percent were male.

Non-users were a very tiny minority — with 96 percent reporting that they use an app-friendly device of one kind or another. Of those, 97 percent said they had downloaded at least one app. Eighty-one percent said they used the Apple platform, with 20 percent on Android, 13% on BlackBerry and just two percent on Windows (some respondents use more than one platform). read >>

Your Own Beeswax

How much do you trust Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon with your personal information? Are they trustworthy or not?

Please take our survey:

Results will be published in the May/June issue of the Hub Magazine and posted online at We’ll also send a link to results if you complete the survey. Please include your email address so we know where to send the link — as always, we will never share your contact information with any third parties. Many thanks for your thoughtful consideration!

Ready At Retail

Shopper marketing has jelled as a brand-building discipline. By Chris Hoyt. What are the current trends in shopper marketing? What elements can be isolated to define best practice? As many readers know, The Hub Magazine has regularly surveyed the industry with the objective of answering these questions since 2006 and just completed the latest survey on shopper marketing at the end of April, creatively entitled “Shopper Marketing 2011.”

This year’s survey generated 243 responses — over 50 percent more than The Hub’s first survey on this subject in March, 2006. Respondents include representatives from 131 companies, 20 countries and six continents. While the majority is from packaged goods (65 percent), other verticals are retail, automotive, apparel, computers/software, healthcare/pharmaceutical and media and entertainment. … read >>

Digital Love?

Are shoppers as enamored with technology as we are? By Sarah Chow and Diana Boynton. It’s undeniable: The use of technology among consumers is growing. It’s something we must recognize, respect and, most of all, pursue. But we have to ask ourselves: What happens when consumers turn into shoppers? Are we blinded by the bright and shiny, double- and triple-digit increases in consumer digital adoption?

Let’s take a step back and remember the big picture. While the spending on and execution of digital vehicles are growing, what is the actual penetration and growth of engagement among shoppers? Those numbers may not be quite as bright or nearly as shiny … read>>

Keeping it Real

Will Minton, Integrated Marketing Services
Authenticity and relevance make the difference for the world’s strongest brands. By Will Minton. (more)


Compared to What?

Keith Richards
The Hub’s second annual survey on brand identity reveals big gaps between strong brands. (more)


Big Mac Attack

Chris Hoyt, Hoyt & Co.
Is McDonald’s better today than it was six years ago? An executive summary of a survey. (more)

Shopper Structure

Chris Hoyt, Hoyt & Company

Where you put shopper marketing will seal your success … or failure.   By Chris Hoyt. (more)

The Innovation Index

Peter Temes, ILO Institute

Corporate enthusiasm for innovation is rising but consumers don’t always care.  By Dr. Peter Temes. (more)

Innovation Paradox

Growth Engine Company

Putting creative thought to practical use — that’s how we define innovation. We like that definition because it’s so simple. Or is it?  An analysis of a survey by Gary Fraser and Bryan Mattimore. (more)

Shopping for Consumers

Chris Hoyt

New research from uncovers the key factors driving best practices in Shopper Marketing. By Chris Hoyt, president, Hoyt & Company. (more)

Co-Marketing: Who Cares?

P&G, Unilever and Clorox care about co-marketing. New Reveries research reveals why you should, too. By Chris Hoyt, president, Hoyt & Company. (more)

Survey Says

“According to Ikea, 11 percent of people are now having secks in their kitchens … Maybe people are having trouble putting their Ikea bedroom sets together.” Ikea says Jay Leno told that joke on the Tonight Show, but as reported by Deborah Baldwin in The New York Times, (3/2/06) the real joke was the survey itself: “Blame that journalistic chestnut known as the trend story, the one with the ‘more and more’ phrase up top,” she writes. “With journalists scrounging for statistics to shore up their latest anecdotal observations, publicists are helpfully flooding the zone with scientific-sounding findings.”

For instance, “precisely 82 percent of respondents in a recent survey said that shopping carts were ‘among the worst’ germ offenders” via a press release from BabeEase, makers of “shopping cart seat covers for germ-phobic parents of young children … A survey for Sears concluded that a woman’s best friend is her tool kit” and reports: “Three out of five women would rather receive an hour of advice from Bob Vila than Dr. Phil … A survey done for eBay and Country Home magazine found that for millions of women, collecting is ‘a way of life’” and “that eBay had made collecting ‘easier’ and ‘more fun’.”

eBay’s PR department really likes the survey thing, apparently: “Another eBay survey, also probing the secret lives of women, uncovered a shortcoming among those who remodel. Nearly half said the most difficult part of the process … is staying within budget.” eBay’s advice: “Many of today’s best bargains can be found on the internet.” Okay, we have time for just one more (and more): “A stunning 78 percent of Americans surveyed had never traveled to visit a patriotic home,” according to a press release from the Wood Promotion Network, issued on the Fourth of July. The release went on to observe that “if they were to visit a patriotic home — Mount Vernon, say — they would be interested to learn that these houses were built … of wood." ~ Tim Manners, editor

Where Is Wireless?

Wes Bray

While still developing, it is clear that we are reaching the "tipping point" for wireless marketing. An analysis by Wes Bray, president and coo of HipCricket. (more)

Are You Connecting?

Tim Dorgan, J Brown

You know there’s a problem when 90 percent of marketers think the ability to implement "total touchpoint" marketing is at least somewhat important, but only 52 percent think their companies are any good at it. Why is there such a huge disconnect between perfection and reality when it comes to "total touchpoint" marketing? … <more>