Thursday, January 5, 2012 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Resolutions May Benefit Financial, Tech Segments
Financial services providers and consumer electronics manufacturers are among those that could benefit from probable New Year's Resolutions.
A study from local market consumer research firm Scarborough reveals some of the likely New Year's resolution topics for the over 235 million American adults age 18 and older.
Many marketers use New Year's resolution campaigns this time of year to motivate consumers, but it is definitely not too late for those who have not yet capitalized on the opportunity, says Deirdre McFarland, Scarborough vice president of marketing.
"According to our research, there is still plenty of room for improvement in the areas of fitness, finance and technology, so marketers can use the concept of the New Year's resolution to keep their customers motivated throughout the year," McFarland tells Marketing Daily. "Additionally, since the nature of social media is more of a dialogue relationship, social campaigns can be a much more sustainable marketing tool. By listening to customers' needs and concerns, marketers have the ability to shift the focus of their social campaigns based on immediate consumer feedback."
There are six major categories for New Year's resolutions as determined by Scarborough: voting, financial, technology, fitness, education and eco-friendliness. Scarborough defines the different generations as Gen Y (age 18-29), Gen X (30-44), Baby Boomers (45-64) and the Silent Generation (65+).
Financial resolutions are perennially popular, according to the New York-based research company. Only 22% of American adults say they live in a household that has a 401(K) plan and 20% have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). In addition, 67% have a savings account and 86% have a checking account.
There is ample opportunity for the 14% of American adults who have none of these financial services for their household to set a financial resolution. Some 57% of the Silent Generation say they have a savings account for their household, while Boomers ranked highest for having a checking account (84%) or an IRA (23%).
Becoming more technologically savvy is also a popular resolution. Thirteen percent of American adults live in a household that plans to purchase an eReader, HDTV or smartphone in the next 12 months. A technology resolution, with a focus on commitment to learning new platforms, would bring the two older generations up to speed with their younger counterparts, according to Scarborough Research.
Baby Boomers are 13% less likely than all American adults to plan to purchase an eReader, HDTV or smartphone in the next 12 months, and the Silent Generation is 61% less likely to do the same.
Fitness is an area that is revisited annually by resolution-makers. Despite this enthusiasm for fitness, only 20% of American adults belong to a gym. In the past 12 months, 77% of adults said they were not runners or joggers and 91% did not do yoga or Pilates.
2012 is not only a new year, it is also an election year. Since 19% of American adults assert that they never vote in presidential elections, 2012 is a prime year for Voting Resolutions to be made. Generationally speaking, Gen Y and Gen X represent the biggest opportunities for a change in voting behavior, as 34% and 21% respectively say they never vote in presidential elections. For comparison, 72% of all American adults say they always vote in presidential elections.
When it comes to education, 6% of American adults plan to return to school in the next 12 months and 26% hold a college degree or higher. Gen Y was the generation most interested in returning to school in the next 12 months (17%). In addition, Gen X had the highest percentage with a college degree or higher (34%).
Another area in which American adults may want to challenge themselves in 2012 is in eco-friendly activities. Thirty-four percent of American adults do not recycle glass, plastic or paper on a regular basis, and 83% do not buy organic food.
(Source: Marketing Daily, 12/27/11)
||Retailers Adjust Marketing as More Men Take Over Grocery Shopping
Danny Meyer began doing most of the household grocery shopping when his fiancee started graduate school.
Meyer goes to Whole Foods in Chicago for produce and specialty items, Jewel-Osco for staples and Trader Joe's when he needs to really stock up. He says he is not particularly brand-loyal and is susceptible to impulse buys.
"I walk in and go with the flow of the store, going aisle by aisle," he said. "I like to walk through all the aisles even if I don't think I need anything there, because sometimes something will catch my eye."
Meyer, 35, is part of a growing contingent of men taking over grocery duty. Experts say the trend has been building slowly for decades. But the recession hit men disproportionately with layoffs and left many of them home to manage the household.
The nation's biggest food and personal products manufacturers are taking notice, trying to market products and adjust store layouts to cater to men. It's a paradigm shift for the $560-billion retail food industry that has patently referred to the primary customer as "she," focusing marketing and advertising firepower on women, and mothers in particular -- sometimes making fun of dads in the process.
The female focus isn't lost on Meyer, who works as a brand manager for Bimbo Bakeries USA.
"It does kind of bother me that the focus seems to be toward moms and women in general," he said. "It seems obvious the target should represent more people."
Men ages 18 to 50, including Generation X and millennials, seem more than happy to do the shopping -- or at least tag along.
"I don't live with a girlfriend or anything," said Judson Eakin, a 25-year-old concert promoter. "But even if I did, I wouldn't just send her" to grocery shop.
Eakin eats at home every day and considers cooking "a big hobby," searching FoodNetwork.com for recipes with five-star reviews for inspiration.
According to consumer research firm GfK MRI and an ESPN report, 31% of men nationwide were the primary household grocery shoppers in 2011, up from 14% in 1985.
Some estimates are higher. A nationwide survey of 1,000 fathers conducted by Yahoo and market research firm DB5 released in 2011 said 51% were the primary grocery shoppers in their household. Of that group, 60% said they were the primary decision-makers regarding consumer package goods, which includes packaged food.
"We're seeing more men doing grocery shopping and more young dads cooking with their kids as a way to bond with them at home," said Phil Lempert, a supermarket consultant. "It's very different from the whole metrosexual phenomenon of six, seven, eight years ago, but a much more down-to-earth (approach), not trying to show off, but trying to be part of the family."
Brad Harrington, executive director of the Center for Work and Family at Boston College, said that "men on the home front are where women in the workplace were 30 years ago," in terms of how they are portrayed on television and even in advertisements -- namely, as disengaged or incompetent.
"If we portrayed women like that in the workplace, there would be an outcry," he said.
But change appears to be underway. Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. began testing "man aisles" in 2009 and is expanding the program into some Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens stores as well as other chains in the U.S. and Canada in 2012.
As a result of focus groups and shopping alongside men, the company found that "many men were terribly uncomfortable with the shopping experience," P&G spokesman Damon Jones said.
"Our intent in creating guy aisles was to give them an experience that was comfortable for them and made it easier to navigate the store," he said.
In many stores, men's personal care products were scattered across various aisles, often in subprime locations like a bottom shelf or the end of an aisle, Jones said. Men had little patience searching for lotion and body wash, especially when weaving through contingents of women and teenage girls.
The man aisle puts all men's products, including P&G competitors, in one place, with shelf displays and even small TV screens to guide men to the appropriate skin care items. Jones said the tests have gone well, with men spending more time in the aisles and, ultimately, more money.
On the food side, Barry Calpino, vice president of breakthrough innovation at Kraft Foods Inc., said the company selected several products to market to men in 2011, with solid results. The Northfield, Ill., company developed, packaged and marketed MiO, bottles of liquid flavor droplets to make water more enticing.
"Guys, when it comes to shopping and cooking, they love to customize and add their own personal touch," Calpino said, adding that the interest also extends to beverages.
The brand is on track to do more than $100 million in sales its first year, a key new-product benchmark. Much of that success, Calpino said, "is attributable to the fact that we didn't launch it in the traditional way, thinking that she buys it, takes it home and he drinks it."
Kraft also scored with men in 2011 by way of its Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Calpino said, which he attributed in part to displaying it near chicken.
"We had a lot of guys who impulsively bought that product, thinking, 'What can I mix with chicken? I want to try something different,'" he said. Kraft sees opportunity here with its sauces and dressings that are easy add-ons to give meals a twist.
Sales volumes of Philly Cooking Creme were 20% above expectations in 2011, the company said, after a $35-million investment in advertising, in-store promotions, coupons and product demonstrations.
Calpino said the success of MiO, Philly Cooking Creme and other brands are case studies Kraft is presenting to the entire company, looking for other products where male-themed marketing makes sense.
(Source: Los Angeles Times, 12/29/11)
||Refinancing Gets Even More Attractive
Homeowners who have resisted the urge to refinance their mortgages until now could be rewarded for their willpower. Mortgage rates have fallen to new lows -- and banks are rolling out incentives to win business.
Economic uncertainty in Europe and slow growth in the U.S. are prompting investors to pile into ultrasafe U.S. Treasurys. That, in turn, is pushing down mortgage rates, which are tied to Treasurys.
The average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.05% for the week ended Dec. 23, the lowest in 60 years, according to HSH Associates, a mortgage-data firm. And rates on jumbo mortgages -- private loans that in most parts of the country are larger than $417,000 -- also have hit new lows, averaging 4.61%.
"It's hard to argue rates will get much lower than they are today," says Stuart Gabriel, director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at the University of California, Los Angeles.
That's good news for homeowners. A person who refinanced a $400,000 30-year mortgage in February would pay an interest rate of 5.04% on average, according to HSH Associates, and fork over $2,157 a month; at the current rate of 4.05%, he'd save $236 per month, or $2,830 per year.
What's more, demand for refinancing is declining, since many homeowners already took advantage of lower mortgage rates. Applications for refinancing are 17% below this year's peak in September, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
That and other factors have prompted some lenders to offer incentives to win new business -- particularly regional and community banks, which are focusing more on jumbo mortgages, says Stu Feldstein, president at SMR Research, which tracks the mortgage market.
The discounts can be sizable. Regional bank Valley National Bank charges homeowners in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania a flat fee of $499 for closing costs on mortgages as large as $1 million. Since average closing costs on a refinance run about 2% of the total loan amount, a person with an $800,000 mortgage could save about $15,500.
A spokesman for the bank says it is aggressively marketing the discount in part to bring in more customers.
While many lenders don't refinance mortgages that are larger than about $2 million, Union Bank -- which has branches in California, Oregon and Washington -- refinances up to $4 million at no extra cost. (Many banks that refinance multimillion-dollar mortgages tack up to an extra quarter of a percentage point on the interest rate.)
Since November, Union Bank has also allowed borrowers to roll the costs of a refinance, like the appraisal fee and loan processing fee, into the mortgage. And borrowers whose original mortgage is from Union Bank don't have to provide all of the income documentation that other customers do in order to refinance.
In part, the bank's goal is to develop relationships with high-net-worth clients, says Stuart Bernstein, national production manager of residential lending at Union Bank.
Despite the incentives, many would-be applicants remain sidelined because they can't meet the long list of qualifications.
The home-equity requirement is one of the toughest hurdles, says Mr. Feldstein. Homeowners with at least 10% home equity make the cut, but people with less have a tougher time.
Borrowers with 10% to 19% equity in their home usually have to buy private mortgage insurance, whose cost varies based on many factors, including their credit score. A borrower with 15% equity and a FICO credit score above 720 could pay 0.44% of the total loan amount, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president at HSH Associates. On an $800,000 loan that would be $3,520 a year -- eating into the potential savings of a refinance.
In December, the federal government rolled out a revamped version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program with relaxed home-equity requirements, to allow more borrowers to refinance. To qualify, the current mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, and borrowers need to be mostly current on payments.
For regular refinancing, applicants need a FICO credit score of at least 740 to get the best rates, says Mr. Gumbinger. And they must provide copious documentation, including at least two years' worth of tax returns and proof of income as well as recent statements for assets such as retirement and brokerage accounts.
After clearing those hurdles, you might wait about 60 days for refinancing to be completed, says Mr. Gumbinger --longer than the typical 45 days. While some lenders are offering 60-day rate locks for free, others charge a quarter of a percentage point of the total loan amount for the service. On an $800,000 mortgage, that's $2,000.
Or you could opt to take your chances with a free 45-day lock and hope rates don't spike between day 46 and the date your loan closes. With the euro zone still in economic crisis and global investors rushing to the safety of U.S. Treasurys, housing-market analysts say it could be at least six months before rates rise significantly.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal, 12/31/11)
Daily Sales Tip: 5 Leadership Actions to Kick-Start the New Year
The beginning of the year is a typical time to read these types of suggestions. In many ways we ascribe a special significance to the beginning of the year as a time to proactively do things to improve our future. These actions are just as relevant whenever you may be reading (or re-reading) this -- at any time of the year.
As leaders we know that being proactive is one of our most important attributes -- for without a bias to act, we won't be leading anyone anywhere.
The five actions suggested below can set a proactive tone for you and your whole team or organization. In fact, they apply equally well for anyone, leader or not, regardless of role. When you take these actions you will gain a new perspective, a new focus, and will move forward more resolutely and with greater energy.
The Five Actions
Call ten customers.
Now is the perfect time to call ten customers and thank them for their business! This is NOT a sales call. It is a call to connect, thank people for the opportunity to serve them and to ask them for feedback. While this should be a regular task on your leadership list, now is a perfect time to pick up the phone, say thank you and ask for input.
If you're an internal leader and don't deal with external customers, this advice remains the same. Talk to those people you and your team support to thank them and ask for feedback.
No matter who your customers are you will gain credibility, learn a lot and perhaps set the stage for the next action.
Pick a relationship to improve.
As a leader you have many relationships to manage. You have relationships with customers, suppliers, your team, your peers and your boss(es). You have relationships across your network, and among your friends and family as well. Pick one. Pick one you feel needs some strengthening, or you believe needs some attention, or one you just want to improve for any other reason.
Pick one and make it your goal to do whatever you can to improve that relationship in the coming days, weeks and months. Even if the relationship is outside of work, you will gain benefits as a leader from these efforts. There is no better time to pick one than right now.
Find a focus.
You might think of this as a theme. Look at the months to come, the challenges you will face, the opportunities you see and the current state of your team and create a singular focused theme for the year.
Share this with your team (or have them help you craft the wording from your initial ideas). Then use that theme to focus and unify the team in the days and weeks ahead. Use it as a guidepost to help you prioritize and maintain a proactive focus.
Set goals with your team.
If you have an intact team or organizational goal-setting process, these goals may already be set. If so, review them collaboratively in light of your theme. If not, use your theme as one input in creating the goals for the team as a whole and individuals in particular.
As leaders, we must role-model goal-setting and goal achievement behaviors, and there is absolutely no time like the present to do just that.
Decide what you need to learn.
Each of the previous four actions will be inputs into this decision, but may not create a complete picture. As a leader who wants to improve and grow to help others create better results, you must be on a path of learning. More specifically, you must be intentional about your learning path.
Investing the time to determine what you need and/or want to learn is an important step. Once you have taken this important step of deciding, then you can build a plan to help you achieve those learning objectives.
You've read the list. My suggestion is to do all of them. Even if you aren't sold on or see yourself doing all five, before you leave this article and move onto your next task, commit to doing at least one of them. Of course, the more of them you do, the greater edge you will gain. But, one is better than none, and becoming a Remarkable Leader requires that you move forward proactively doing things to help you learn, grow and stretch.
All five of these actions will do that for you. Happy New Year! It's time to get started.
Source: Sales/organizational consultant Kevin Eikenberry