It must be research season. The latest report to hit the streets down under is the annual Grey’s Eye on Australia report, conducted by Sweeney Research. Whilst some of this makes for interesting reading, I think it also states the obvious. Not surprisingly, it focuses on consumer attitudes about the recession and how people are feeling.
Reassuringly, despite the gloom, almost two-thirds of Aussies are “extremely” or “very” satisfied with life, despite rising unemployment and a greater focus on personal finances. Perhaps the Rudd Government’s decision in February to hand out wads of cash to a large proportion of the Australian population had something to do with that!
Grey director of planning, Simon Rich, said in the company’s press release: “For most Australians, life is still OK. Interest rates are low, the cost of petrol is declining and unemployment has not yet reached crisis levels. So, we’re positive about today but concerned about what the future may hold and as a result we’re cutting back expenses and holding off on big ticket purchases.”
I don’t know what is happening in other parts of the world; do you all share Simon’s views?
In an effort to save cash, the purchase of luxury items is waning and consumers have returned to home brand goods. This report showed only 9% of consumers do not purchase house brands, and 41% are buying more than they did 12 months ago. Call me a snob, but home brands still lack quality and with three children to feed, there is in my opinion less waste in sticking with what you know, rather than downgrading to products you may not have tried before.
The changing role of women and how they have adapted to the financial downturn is also highlighted in the report, with Grey managing director Jane Emery saying that it shows women are still the backbone of the Australian household. The report says most major household decisions are undertaken solely by women, with 59% in charge of household expenses and 74% take charge of supermarket shopping - compared to 34% of men. Come on fellas, clearly we should be pulling our weight more!!
Other key findings (and my comments):
- 41% Australians feel they live in prosperous times - down from 70% in 2008 (no surprise);
- Unemployment and job security (29%) is seen as the number one issue facing Australians over the next five years (no surprise);
- 28% people know someone who has lost their job as the result of the global financial crisis (no surprise);
- 86% Australians are actively trying to reduce debt (no surprise and don’t we do this anyway recession or not?);
- Only 16% of women feel job opportunities are consistent for both sexes, compared to 49% of men (that is a concern);
- 39% consumers are prepared to pay more for eco-friendly products or services , which is down from 49% last year (so, does this mean we don’t care about the environment, or has the recession led many of us to abandon the priority of being green to save money?).
- 51% rate as the number one concern drought and water issues, which is a major issue in Australia.
- Most respondents (76%) think most companies are still not environmentally conscious and 83% agree companies should tell people what they are doing about the environment.
- Only 31% of consumers are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned about the effect of the environment on them personally or their household, compared to 37% in 2008 and 49% in 2007.
Finally, on Internet used (and my comments):
- Browsing the internet is Australians’ number one source of ‘unwinding’ (64%); - Contrary to belief, even 68% of Baby Boomers rate surfing the internet as their primary tactic for unwinding (are we that boring?);
- 74% of respondents subscribe to e-newsletters (boring…!);
- Only 45% of Australians have watched an advertisement online in the past two months (that did surprise me);
- or in an email someone sent to them (49%) - gotta be too much spam;
- 90% of respondents search for information on products or services online before buying (no surprise)
Overall, no real surprises, but some interesting differences. What do think? Are Australian consumers just an optimistic bunch, or is the recession hurting more in other markets? Clearly, the sun and surf may help keep us happy, but I suspect if Gray was to conduct this research again, today, many would not be so positive, with the bottom of the recession forecast to hit in October.
This morning I woke up to a full inbox of messages congratulating me for my new job.
Apparently, while I was sleeping, PRWeek UK published a brief article, which addressed the global LG communications account. It reports that “Penati shifts from a previous role heading Ogilvy PR’s global technology practice.” Not so!
I will continue to serve in my current role as Managing Director of Ogilvy PR’s Global Technology Practice.
In this role, I will serve as global strategist on LG One, a multiagency team created just for LG. I will continue to be based out of Ogilvy PR’s San Francisco office and serve as senior global advisor for my beloved technology and consumer technology clients around the world.
Last week I spoke at Santa Clara University about the changes in the media industry and the impact these have on PR. It was my opportunity to speak about Tech PR, Social Media, “Socialized Media”, Visual Storytelling and of course about Content, and the key role it plays – has always played – in everything we do.
Here is a link to a great blog post on the event.
Just like everyone else, I am following with interest and a smidgen of anxiety the swine flu epidemic (my in-laws live in Mexico City).
As a tech guy, I started to look at some of the technologies that can be used or have been used to help contain the flu and solve this global threat.
This is what I have found so far.
First of all, Internet technologies have been tapped to track the spreading of Swine Flu. Here an article on this topic from IHealthBeat. This is a Google map. And this is the CDC Twitter feed so you can follow the updates real time.
As Ogilvy PR we have developed a simple aggregator where you can follow the latest news as well as some interesting information.
But what about technologies that prevent or that can help cure the flu?
I found a press release of a company, Qualsec, that says to have a technology that can screen individuals for Swine Flu and provide instant results.
So apparently not much from the tech community to help solve this potential pandemic . Much faster and more creative is the professional spanner. Read this blog post on the LA Times on how spammers are using celebrities such as Salma Hayek to get the attention of recipients. Maybe Diego Luna and Santana are the next ones? And according to McAfee computer viruses may be the next part of the swine flu outbreak. Virtual world and reality coming together?
You have to give the Texans credit. They do some things incredibly well. Take economic development. Texas has the most Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States (at 58 HQs). These guys and gals understand how to build financial structures that attract industry.
And now we see that those savvy Texans are making a land grab (photon grab) for solar manufacturing business in Texas. The state is expected to soon approve a $500M bill aimed at subsidizing small scale solar users.
Texas has executed so much better than some states (like mine, Colorado) at attracting headquarters and fostering development of market segment ecosystems that fuel the local business economy. If they crack the solar grail, I’ll have to say they’re brilliant. And I’m a New Englanda.
The business of solar is fascinating to me. How Germany has leveraged a feed-in tariff system to lead the world. And how, unlike the semi industry, solar manufacturing jobs are likely to be based where the projects are to be built and customer installed due to the sensitivities of glass and the cost of shipping it. So what does that mean? States need to get moving in their legislatures and get attracting those jobs, which means building the financing systems that will incubate the projects and ecosystems.
I’m told that citizens in Germany don’t scoff at the annual fee on their electric bill that underwrites their system as they see it as a direct investment towards clean energy and local clean tech jobs.
Could Texas be at the top of a future list of States With The Largest Share of the U.S. Renewable Energy Industry? They surely know how to attract businesses.
Crazy like foxes, they are.
This week wrapped up San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Expo with its conversations about openness and transparency (including NPR talking about its API), innovation (presented by the “accidental entrepreneurs” of Threadless.com), and marketing (which took the form of everyone talking ad nauseum about Twitter, including the upcoming cruise on which you can learn tweeting best practices).
Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media and the person who coined the phrase “Web 2.0” to describe the phenomenon of increased social and consumer-created interactions online, spoke about the changes in the media industry with a group of 15 bloggers at one morning roundtable. O’Reilly, whose company publishes the DIY magazine Make and its sister web publication Craft, wore a Maker Faire t-shirt while answering questions about the types on content that stand to survive the much-discussed “death of print.” Craft has been distributed as a somewhat substantial print magazine but is soon to become an online only publication. The switch is a bittersweet one: while I’ll miss dog-earing and saving the physical volumes, I’m intrigued by the multimedia and mobile content possibilities it presents for clever creators.
O’Reilly described some of the variables that have become key considerations for media organizations looking for sustainable long-term publishing models:
Because each of these factors has so many additional variables (form factors and timeliness of delivery not the least among them), the issue of the quality of the news product that the reader is getting can be overlooked. While print publications are inherently limited in the amount of sensory information they can deliver (video, real-time observations from the community, and photo slideshows win here), I’m concerned that the demise of print gives us an easy excuse not to create something well-made in its place but to sink to the level of what O’Reilly described as the most minimal form of publishing–the dreaded retweet.
Yes, I do get excited about SNW. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend nine of the last 12 ‘SNWs and it has grown to be a part of my annual plan.
Almost without saying, it has been interesting to be a part of this conference as it has evolved over the last six years. Not long ago press conferences were the daily norm, vendor news was flying across the wires, on- and off-site parties, dinners and comedy shows (it was only about 4 years ago that Sinbad was the evening entertainment – yes, that Sinbad) were all just ‘the norm’ for SNW.
This Spring the shift I’m starting to hear and feel is that social media is starting to take hold at the conference. This feels a bit overdue, and rightfully so, as social media has been engrained in almost every large event for the last two years or longer. Truth be told, there is so much great information created and shared at this conference, it will be interesting to see how much of it will be shared outside of the confines of the Rosen Shingle Creek.
Here are some interesting developments and new additions to this years’ SNW conference that may help you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening at the conference this spring:
So, cheers to another SNW and lets hope the social media buzz around the event avoids “Storage Smackdown” status from Byte & Switch.
Feel free to follow me around during the show as I’ll be posting live updates whenever something interesting comes my way…@dlarusso15.
On Wednesday, I attended the Sustainable Opportunities Conference here in Denver. I see the clean energy industry and sustainability sector as bright spots in the tough economy at the moment.
There certainly was a lot of positivity at the conference relating to the future of this market, particularly in the metropolitan Denver area as more clean energy companies like RES Americas move here. Colorado continues to be a leader in attracting these companies and President Obama reinforced the State’s leadership by signing the Stimulus package here last month at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Without giving a full wrap up of the conference, I wanted to give you a few snippets of some interesting comments I heard in the panel sessions and in my conversations over the last few days. Here are some controversial comments that stand out:
- The challenge with plug-in cars is that our grid is 30-40 years old and it’s already overtaxed…Plug-in cars sound great but we should be investing resources in updating our grid instead. If we have wind power in East Kansas, we can’t get it to Chicago or Denver…that’s the crux of the problem. - Michael Peck, MAPA Group
- The US manufacturing system is in bad shape. The expertise has skipped a generation. Most of our wind turbines have to be manufactured overseas, because there is no expertise in the US. We need to get back to teaching people how to go from welding to material science. - Chris Mone, Vestas Wind
- Oh Happy Day! - Denver Mayor John Hickelooper when commenting on the dedication of the 300KW solar system atop the Colorado Convention Center, where the conference was held.
- We need to eat our main meal of energy efficiency before we eat our dessert of renewable energy. - Mark McLanahan, MMA Renewable Ventures
See you at the Denver Green Festival!
At a recent PRSA Tech Talk panel, New York Times technology writers Brad Stone, Claire Cain Miller and editor Damon Darlin had a chance to put on their psychic hats and discuss key technology trends for 2009. If anyone should know, (they do get >150 PR technology pitches per day!) it’s them.
Technology Trends in 2009
1. Proliferation of light-weight applications on social networks and smart phones has created a new wave of creativity from the developers community
2. Migration to cheaper or free substitutes in technology due to the current economic climate, e.g. the popularity of inexpensive netbooks and cloud services
3. New delivery mechanisms of movies to classic (cable) and new technology devices (digital)
4. Overlap of technology into health care and education - especially given the Obama administration’s strong focus on open access
5. Green technology will continue to gain exposure in 2009
6. The news appetite for new Web sites is down unless they are real-world revenue-generating Web sites
What do you think about these trends? Are they obvious? Ground-breaking? Let’s get your thoughts.
It’s a pretty dark out there.
The economy has tanked, people aren’t buying and employees are treading on eggshells fearing they’ll be next on the dole line.
Time to dig the foxhole deeper and wait for the economic shrapnel to whizz by, right?
Fact is other smaller companies are eying your market share and thinking that you’ve gone into hibernation waiting for the new economic spring.
I work in Asia-Pacific and it’s here that the next breed of up-and-coming companies will come from to steal market share from today’s incumbents. Many of these companies are extremely successful in their home markets, where they have honed manufacturing and supply chain management into sharp, competitive weapons.
Their weakness is in marketing and understanding cultural, societal & business nuances outside of their core market.
I remember one large Asian IT company trying to engage in channel development and marketing in Australia — unsuccessfully (with similar results and experiences replicated in the US and Europe). Their experience in engaging with third parties and stimulating demand through that channel was rudimentary to say the least. It took a while for them to understand that the the channel itself did not generate demand for itself and that it was the task of the vendor to aggressively brand its products and services for end-user awareness, consideration and hopefully purchase.
They also failed to connect the dots when it came to understanding that because they were foreign, they had no brand equity and their local positioning and messaging was highly undifferentiated in a more highly competitive, open market.
So the company defaulted to winning business on price. After a few years, it realized that it could not sustain its offshore business profitably and that domestic sales were propping up overseas expansion efforts that could not pay for themselves.
No HBR study needed here: the company was on a fast track to a major crash and burn.
So it changed tack: it decided to outsource marketing and communications to Western companies that could help it overcome these challenges and it started to re-engineer its business operations as well as marketing.
It’s now starting to expand more aggressively as a result — despite the economic downturn. And guess what, it’s expanding in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America and then the US last of all. But it’s taking share from US and EU companies in those other geographies, taking significant bites.
With the global credit crunch, US and EU companies have dug their foxholes deeper, but in the meantime they are being surrounded by smaller, more agile, higher efficiency Asian companies.
If you want to take a look at the planet’s next IT powerhouses, a quick scan through the Deloitte Asian Fast 500 is an illuminating read (http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/article/0,1002,cid%253D239357,00.html).
So the message here is that now is not the time to shut up shop, now is the time to reinvigorate your brand, your products, messages and positioning because you’ll be ready to take on all challengers when the market swings back into the black.
Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility