I’VE GOT THE POWER!

Isn’t the internet fantastic? Consumers have grasped this major contraption and suddenly we have immense power over companies. Gone are the days we rely solely upon their product descriptions and promises. After all, how can we truly trust what a company tells us? They’re just slapping on a big greasy smile, lulling us in, and BAM next thing you know your wallet’s empty. But now we have the capability to hear from other consumers, the good, the bad and the ugly about a company and its products. We have created an online community where we lean on one another, trust one another, and guide one another’s purchases. This is generally seen through online reviews. We have a vast array of blogs, general review websites as well as reviews on specific websites that help us to make our vital purchase decisions. However! Just how often can we trust these reviews?

5 star

Well there are some traps consumers need to be aware of when it comes to trusting these online advice sources.

Website Specific Reviews:

One problem with trusting reviews is that you never know whether the company who owns the site is moderating those reviews. I recently tried purchasing a dress for my 21st next year from Kiss Dresses (see http://www.kissdresses.com/wedding-dresses-ol/wedding-dresses.html). After much research I decided on this website, the reviews looked genuine and I was sucked in by the price. After waiting over 2 months for my dress to be dispatched I MAY have lost my cool and cancelled my order demanding my money back. One piece of research I SHOULD have conducted was for a website like TrustPilot or SiteJabber. These websites are run by independent parties for consumers to help let others know whether a website is trustworthy or not. This website was not!

site trust

Wow! Look at all the positive reviews!

Make sure you look at multiple websites, get opinions from a number of sites, and watch some video reviews on YouTube. You never know if a company has purchased bulk positive reviews. Generally these are purchased from offshore companies that will post review after review with fake alias and addresses (see http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/jan/26/fake-reviews-plague-consumer-websites). Some companies will do this to deceive their consumers and trick them into believing a product is fantastic. It’s much better to trust a website that has both positive AND negative reviews because then you know that these were not moderated by the company, and most likely were provided by real consumers.

fake

This Company Got Slammed!

Lots and lots of bad reviews? Maybe something fishy is going on. Either the company has done something severely wrong (let’s face it, you’d probably hear about in the news) or they’re the receiver for some kind of scam. I learned from Mike Golden at Adsmith China last year on the Monash Marketing China Program trip, that sometimes companies can be at the receiving end of threats from influential individuals. Kind of the polar opposite of bulk positive reviews, but instead you have lots of negative reviews. Mike described these as ‘zombie reviews’. Once again these are usually a single person posting multiple reviews from different aliases. Alternatively it could also be from competitors who want to discourage you from a purchase. When it comes to reading these reviews, perhaps it’s best to look for independent websites that will provide the pro’s, cons and even videos to demonstrate products. Often these independent sources will describe the type of people who would enjoy, or not enjoy a product. And once again; perhaps look at multiple independent sites to avoid bias.

zombies

So guys! Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way. Next time you want to research online, keep these little things in mind. All the information is out in the big wide web for the taking. Realise the consumer control you hold, and the power you wield!  Are there any other tips and tricks you can think of to give consumers the power in their purchases?? Post a comment below!

power

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ERG! 1475 Emails… Time For The Monthly Email Clear Out

Direct mail marketing. Everyone loves that giddy feeling you get when you open a piece of snail mail. It’s just so darn rare today with the significant reduction in costs and effort to send a mass number of emails on a daily basis; emails have taken over. So with emails becoming the new ‘direct-mail’ what gets you to subscribe to a company’s emailing list? It may be for an online purchase, to receive discounts, to keep up to date with a company’s happenings, or any number of other things. I have to ask, just how effective are these emails as promotional tools for a company?

snail-mail

I know personally, that I get driven up the wall when it comes to the number of emails I get on a weekly, daily, or even hourly bloody basis. I barely even read them anymore. I have actually gone off on a bit of a rant and decided to unsubscribe from a large number of the major culprits filling up my inbox with crap.

email

The second thing that has begun to annoy me with emails is that it’s the same information, over and over AND OVER! (Yes Bra’s n Things, I got your first 50 emails! I know you’re having a sale!). One of the biggest things to keep me hooked on email subscriptions is the hope that I’m going to get new and exciting news. Once a company sends me about 5 emails consecutively about the same topic, they break the trust and ultimately lose our friendship.

SALE

I don’t know about anyone else, but I LOVE junk-mail. I sit there, and order each catalogue from least interesting, to most interesting so I finish on a high. The beautiful thing about junk-mail is I only get one a week from each company. I sit down with my junk-mail in one hand, tea in the other and delve into the blissful world of things I wish I could afford.  What’s more, is I get a variety of products to look at and compare, I don’t have just a single email, containing the words ‘sale’ or a single new product that I honestly don’t care about.

junk junkmail

Emails are supposed to be quick, to the point and easy to read so perhaps they should offer weekly emails (maybe even less frequently to keep consumers hungry) with the top news in the actual email and an online catalogue link attached for those who want to spend the time in the rest of their products and promotions. This could be an easy medium between being an affordable and easy option to reach a large audience, but provide them with interesting information they actually care about. And most importantly is infrequent and makes consumers more likely to look forward to receiving it.

@2

So why do you sign up for an emailing list? Or more importantly what keeps you hooked to email subscriptions and/or what makes you unsubscribe? Is there anything you think company’s can do to improve their email messages or is the information in this mode of communication today just simply not effective anymore? Leave your comments below!

Let’s All Go To The Lobby! To Get Ourselves Some Snacks!

Isn’t it awesome that we can pretty much do whatever we want from home? If you have an internet connection that is! There’s nothing you can’t buy online and have delivered directly to your front door. With such convenience some companies are facing the issue of never seeing their consumers in store! Consider the way Coles and Woolworths now offer complete online services, imagine how much easier it is as a parent to not have to worry about kids asking for this and that, and the little tricks they use like placing the bread and milk at the back of the store to encourage impulse purchases won’t work anymore! Another big company that I believe has seen the brunt of it is the Cinema industry.

online

Now you may have read one of my previous blog “It’s Not Stealing, I’m Taking A Stand!” so you know I’m not a huge fan of Village Cinemas, but I’ve got to say they really have their thinking caps on! Online booking has become a revolutionary method for a lot of companies in their methods of business operations. So much so that my local cinema at Fountain Gate has actually completely gotten rid of the ticket purchase area and simply combined it with their candy bar because Online booking is so well used and they need to try and convince those few that still buy tickets AT the venue to purchase food as well. So with all of these individuals buying their tickets online, cinemas are losing a lot of income from the candy bar. Consumers prefer to pay the extra $2 booking fee to:

  1. Avoid lines
  2. Ensure they have seats, and the seats they want
  3. If they have kids, they avoid the nagging “mum! I want popcorn! Can I have chocolate?”

So! How can Village convince consumers to come to the candy bar?! I know! An offer of a FREE large popcorn when you order online!

free

Not only did Village get the bonus $2 for everyone booking online, but they had a line out the door for people lining up to redeem their free large popcorn! I must admit, I would have been one of those suckers if my boyfriend hadn’t grabbed my arm and said “there is no way in hell I’m waiting in that line”.

line

So once that hard part has been achieved (actually getting them to the candy bar) these consumers generally are super easy to sucker in further. When you think about it, it was quite an intelligent move; popcorn is one of the saltiest foods they offer encouraging consumers to then think “I’m going to need a drink to go with that… and I AM saving money on the popcorn, sooooo I may as well buy some lollies… and an ice-cream…”

lobby

Village have embraced the shift to online bookings and conducted a very smart yet simple campaign. These large boxes of popcorn probably cost them next to nothing. It’s amazing what consumers will fall for when they think they’re getting something for ‘free’.

Do you know a company that has conducted a smart but simple campaign online? Post a comment telling us what the company did and why you thought it was so awesome! Or if you have any comments on Villages little trick!

Stop Shooting Me Idiot! We’re On The Same Team!

I’m not saying I’m a professional video gamer, I’m probably not even a good video gamer, I’m actually quite pathetic, especially at first person shooter games, but I love them none the less.

penny

Now I don’t know about everyone else, but ever since I was a wee little wiper snapper, I’ve loved playing split screen games. It was awesome bonding time with my siblings or friends when you had them over. As I have gotten older, I do understand the appeal in a lot of games moving to the online platform; you don’t have to go over to your mates to play with them, you get an unlimited number of competitors, and you can do it all from the comfort of your own bedroom, but I hate playing like that! Well I don’t hate it, I just prefer the atmosphere of playing alongside someone in the same room split screen style. What I hate is the fact that gamers pretty much have no choice in the matter anymore. As consumers demanded more online compatible games, the split screen started to die out. I see it as a classic ‘be careful what you wish for’ scenario. We all wanted to cut out what little effort and exercise we got going over to a friend’s place to play games that now for a large majority of games (bar some sports and racing games) that’s now our only option.

split

 I do understand that from a companies perspective this encourages individuals who want to play multiplayer to subscribe usually on a yearly basis to do so. It means that instead of just making that single purchase for the game and never hearing from the player again, these organisations encourage their consumers to come back every year to renew the subscription. This results in more money being spent, and periodic contact between companies and their consumers. What I don’t think is fair is this lack of choice for the consumers. YES it’s getting the companies more money, but can’t they just let us have our bloody split screens back? Won’t it result in a loss of consumers who don’t WANT to use the online platform? Don’t you think we should have the choice!? Why does it have to be an either/or situation?? I think this chick below has got it right.

both

We recently went and bought the xBox One as a procrastination tactic in the last exam period, it said it came with 4 games. Awesome! One of which was Titanfall which looked pretty cool. It wasn’t until I actually read the description that I realised it’s ONLY available online, and ONLY one player! If I want to play it we have to spend $80 for a 12 month online subscriptions. What’s more, you have to wait for other people to join the game online; my boyfriend waited up to 30 minutes to play a single game online because it took that long to form teams! I think this picture below encompasses my mood.

pissed

 So what do you think? Are these companies risking losing consumers by limiting the options to the online platform? Is it downright ‘smart’ or ‘cruel’ to only have this option? If enough people start speaking up, do you think they’ll bring back the split screen option? Leave your comments below!

Sucker For Every Trick In The Book

I’ve got to admit, for a marketing student, I’m one hell of a sucker for the oldest tricks in the book. My most recent big purchase was a new  telly. I had found this Hisense 50” for $498 at The Good Guys, with a 3 year warranty and jumped in my car to check it out. When I got to the store I suddenly started to get cold feet, thinking to myself “do you really need this at the moment?! Shouldn’t you wait and see if there’s better deals around Christmas? Maybe wait until you move out next year?”

sand

It wasn’t until the salesman said the words “we’ve got a few left I think” that I instantly said “I’ll take it”. It was that one small sentence. We have a FEW left. Now I’ve worked a long time in both retail and hospitality, and I know the tricks of using scarcity of a product to try and push sales, if consumers think they are going to miss out, they’re usually more likely to jump at the opportunity to buy it, but I fell for it anyway!

cop

Now, for those of you in my Digi Marketing class, you may recall a few weeks ago, Kristel had one awesome t-shirt on with “the good, the bad and the ugly” written on it with the good/bad cop from the lego movie, for everyone else I’ve stuck a picture above. After the lecture I instantly messaged her with a very serious question as to where I could get one. She directed me to a very interesting website, TeeFury.com. However, that particular shirt was no longer available. These shirts are only available for a certain amount of time, and there’s a little timer on the side of the site telling you how long you have. However, I decided to stick around and look at what other shirts they had. I fell in love with the geeky designs, especially the Doctor Who ones and made two purchases very very quickly (image below). Now I’m no stranger to online purchases, but I generally only buy things like books, technology, or accessories that don’t necessarily require me to try it on, or check the quality, fabric etc. I hate buying clothes online; over and over I hesitate because I have bought stuff online and regretted it, it doesn’t fit properly, it’s of poor quality, it doesn’t look like it did online, so why did I purchase these shirts so quickly?

blink frozen

The reason was because of FOMO – Fear of missing out. I didn’t want to miss out on these awesome designs. It was probably one of the most successful methods of ‘time out’ purchases I’ve seen online, yeah you always get tempted by scoopon, but you know the product is shit so I usually don’t go on it often. What was strange was the way I immediately let go of all my previous online clothing purchase fears the second this deadline was implemented.

deal ends

What do you guys think? Do you fall for these types of techniques? Have you had a similar situation of FOMO?

What Are You Looking At Glasshole?!

Wearable technology. I’ve got to admit, I’ve been increasingly interested in the new wearable technologies that are making their way on to the market. I’ve investigated all the new watches that have come out but seriously think that I only want one for the sake of wanting one! I keep making excuses like “I’ll use it for monitoring my exercise!” but I know that the tiny screen would just be a pain in the ass and end up going straight back to my phone once the novelty wore off in about 2 weeks. However, one thing I have been eagerly awaiting is the release of the technological glasses. That’s right, I’m a Glasshole, or at least I wish I was. At first I was terribly skeptical about the purpose behind them; I saw it as just another attempt to squeeze money out of those that have it to spend, but after watching this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSnB06um5r4I suddenly thought how awesome it would be to be able to do everything just from voice activation, having a camera, phone, GPS as well as countless other devices on you at all times.

glasshole

I do however have certain reservations about these types of devices. One of which being that it would make others uncomfortable to feel that I basically have a computer on me at all times and they feel I’m invading their privacy (even though technically people don’t seem to care about their own privacy from all the crap they post online without a second thought). Now I know I sound paranoid saying this but another issue I have is that it seems like the type of device where the government, companies or any other number of individuals can basically watch your E-VER-Y MOVE! It could turn into some Total Recall shit where the phones are implanted in people’s hands and then you’re completely track-able (Whilst it is kind of cool, you’ll never lose your phone again, I also kind of get the feeling that it’s like when we stick tracking devices in our pets, we’ll all just suddenly become someone’s animal).

handphone

The biggest reservation is our reliance on this type of technology. Will it get to this stage where technology and human become one? Are we all just going to suddenly panic when there’s a major power surge and the technology fails? Are we going to become that heavily reliant on technology that we resemble the humans from the Wall-E Movie?

fat

I never learned to use things like a Melway, and never bothered to learn street names, why would I bother? I had a GPS! I’ll tell you why, because about 2 months ago my GPS crapped itself, and suddenly I had no idea how to go to a number of places I’d been a million times before. Basically, I was screwed.

panic

Whilst these types of technologies offer some fantastic opportunities, I think there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Especially if these technologies become the center of our universe. What do you guys think? Are you pro-wearable tech, or adamant against these contraptions? Let me know in a comment below!

SUGAR CRUSH!

My name is Bec, and I’m a Candy-Crush-Aholic. It’s been about 3 months since my last crush. Everyone jokes around about how addicted they are to Candy Crush, but I legitimately was. I knew that it was time to uninstall Candy Crush when I started closing my eyes, like when I tried to go to sleep, and all I could see was candy combinations. I would desperately wait that dreaded 20 minutes for a new life. So I asked myself “is this just happening to me?” and “why is Candy Crush so addictive?”

candy

The short answer is ‘no’ it wasn’t just happening to me, I had spoken to one other girl who admitted she also had to delete Candy Crush because she too would make combinations when she closed her eyes. In my casual Google searches I came across a report done by one Dana Smith (retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2014/apr/01/candy-crush-saga-app-brain)

addiction

I’ll give you abridged version. For those of you who haven’t heard of ‘Dopamine’, this is a neurotransmitter that is released in the brain to signal happiness, glee and especially pleasure. Generally this is associated with Gambling when you win, it acts as a reinforcement to encourage you to keep gambling. Candy Crush, along with all the other Saga Games (including Pet Rescue, Farm Hero and Bubble Witch, all of which I had to learn the hard way I’m addicted to) operate on this same system.

gambling

These Saga Games have a few easy level to start with, to help start releasing this Dopamine. Once things get a little more difficult this release is more difficult to achieve and more intermitted. Crushers will desperately attempt to achieve this feeling of bliss once more.

sweet

Candy crush also limits the amount of time you can spend playing. They provide you with 5 lives, and once they’re gone you need to wait 20 minutes per life. This means that players are always left wanting more, unsatisfied. To try and earn a little cash on the side, these Saga Masterminds have also made it so you can pay cash for the replacement of your lives for those real hardcore addicts (I swear, I have never payed… but may have considered it).

life

So fellow addicts, how do you feel about this? Are you outraged that this company is conditioning you into coming back, OR is this just smarter than most other harebrained scheme concocted by companies? Comment with your thoughts below, or story about your addiction!