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by Nigel Hollis
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Monday, March 24, 2014

The brand iceberg: a tired and misleading metaphor

You are sitting in a pitch for using neuroscience techniques in market research. Up goes the PowerPoint slide with a cross-section of an iceberg showing that the majority of the ice is hidden below the water line. The image is accompanied by the claim that 95 percent of brain processing occurs below the level of consciousness. Obviously you need to dig below the surface to get to people’s true beliefs and motivations. 

There is just one small problem with this pitch. Both the image and the claim are hopelessly misleading and do the world of neuromarketing no favors at all. ...

posted in Research | 4 Comments


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Making the most of mobile

Mobile Marketer has named Millward Brown as Mobile Researcher of the Year because of our dedication to understanding mobile’s role in the path to purchase. 

Specifically the site noted that Millward Brown’s research stands out because of the greater focus on the mobile’s impact on branding, alongside all the other channels with which a marketer might interact with their customers and consumers.

It is always nice when the work we do gets recognized by an independent body.  We have done a lot of work to help marketers understand how best to use mobile, from testing individual mobiles ads to using ...

posted in Digital, Research | 0 Comments


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hands up if retargeting ever caused you to buy anything

Behavioral retargeting is the process of serving advertising to people because their previous behavior indicates an interest in a brand or product but they did not buy it immediately. This is the digital equivalent of the guy in the car showroom who bumps into you in the local bar and resumes his sales pitch irrespective of the fact that you are having a quiet drink with your friends. 

Maybe retargeting makes sense because most people have no short-term memory? I do not need to be reminded by Zappos that a pair of Scarpa Mojitos costs $139. I read that on ...

posted in Digital, Research | 12 Comments


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More likes win approval, but what gets a brand liked?

Aegis Media has conducted an interesting experiment to identify the value of the number of “likes” a brand has on Facebook. Its basic conclusion is that a high number of likes do help improve brand perceptions. But that raises a chicken and egg question. Where do the likes come from in the first place?

Aegis Media teamed up with Jon Jachimowicsz and Joe Gladstone, academic researchers from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, to conduct an experimental design project using a made-up brand called “Ashwood Furnishings.” They created a storyline about the company’s expansion from the UK to the ...

posted in Brands, Media, Digital, Research | 16 Comments


Monday, December 16, 2013

Is your new line extension a zombie?

I was presenting at the launch event for Millward Brown’s new office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when one of the people in the audience asked, “When should a brand launch new line extensions?” My answer was less to do with time in market and more to do with whether or not the extension would prove to be meaningfully different from the parent. 

In answering the question, I referenced research conducted by TNS in the UK, which found that companies launching new products rarely boosted their overall sales performance. The study analyzed 3600 UK launches using Worldpanel data, and looked to ...

posted in Brands, Research | 1 Comments


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Digital and media predictions for 2014 and beyond

Once again Millward Brown’s digital and media experts offer us their view of the coming year, with an emphasis on multi-screen marketing. They offer up a complex world in which consumer attention and content flit across multiple platforms, sites and apps, forcing marketers to think long and hard about how best to get people to attend to their content.

I fear the answer to that challenge is the same as it has always been. Create interesting, engaging or useful content and people will spend time with it. The trick in this new and complex media environment is to figure out ...

posted in Brands, Creative, Digital, Research | 5 Comments


Monday, December 09, 2013

Home Inn wins Chinese travelers' hearts and enters Chinese Brand Top 100

Last week saw the launch of the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands ranking and I was lucky enough to be in Beijing to witness the launch. It was an impressive show, providing some fascinating insights into how the brand and media scene is changing in China.

One of the more interesting findings is that while State Owned Enterprises (SOE) still dominate the ranking in terms of size, newer market-driven brands tend to be stronger brands and are growing quickly. Looking at the top 20 brands defined by Brand Contribution – the influence of brand alone on financial earnings ...

posted in Brands, Research | 0 Comments


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Differentiate (meaningfully) or die

John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation for Dunkin' Donuts, has not yet read my new book, The Meaningful Brand, but his comments at the Association of National Advertisers’ Masters of Marketing conference (ANA), as reported by Karl Greenberg in the Media Daily News, certainly makes it sound like he has.

The idea at the heart of The Meaningful Brand is that marketers must know what it is about the experience of their brand that makes it different from the alternatives in the eyes of its consumers, otherwise they risk seeing the brand commoditized. It does not ...

posted in Brands, Research | 4 Comments


Monday, August 26, 2013

Making sense of complex social media data

Before I left on vacation, I took part in a meeting to review an analysis comparing Twitter data with that from tracking studies. In some cases there was a relatively strong correlation between the two with social leading changes in the attitudinal data. In others, the relationship appeared to be reversed. Now Nielsen and Twitter report similar relationships between Twitter data and TV ratings.

In brief, the Nielsen study examined Twitter commentary and minute-by-minute Nielsen ratings for 221 episodes of prime-time shows on major networks. The key findings were as follows:

  1. A change in Twitter commentary was shown to cause ...

posted in Digital, Research | 5 Comments


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Has "big data" become the new "neuroscience"?

A while back, AdAge published an article by Kate Paye titled, “How Big Data Spawned the Geico Gecko.” 

On closer reading, it became apparent that the Geico Gecko had not been spawned by big data (the credit for that should go to The Martin Agency), but the Gecko’s efficacy had been validated by a bump in business volume. So in reality, the title is untrue because old-fashioned business data hardly qualifies as “big data.”

I think one of the essential problems about big data is the one raised by my colleague Bill Pink, Senior Partner, Creative Analytics at Millward ...

posted in Research | 5 Comments


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