6 Trends for Retail in 2015

Posted on November 21, 2014 by Arvind & India

Be the first to comment!

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, shopping’s front of mind for brands and consumers alike.

Following the global launch of the Truth about Shopping at McCann Truth Central conferences in New York, London and Shanghai, we are delighted to present our 6 Trends for 2015 video! Based on insights from retail experts who spoke at our conferences, these trends look set to change the face of retail next year, and serve as an essential guide to brands looking to win in the retail arena.

A Day in Review: Truth Central at Media Post’s Marketing Sports: Soccer in America Conference

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Arvind

Be the first to comment!

On Monday November 17th, soccer league administrators, adland, brand marketers, and plain old soccer enthusiasts gathered for Media Post’s Marketing Sports: Soccer in America conference. After a day of sharing insights and best practices on marketing to fans (interspersed with not a few friendly scuffles between fans of rival clubs!) Truth Central walked away with some learnings about soccer that are enriched what we already know about soccer fans from our recently released Truth About Fans study.

How Soccer Mastered Digital

One recurring theme in the conference was the very savvy way in which soccer has leveraged digital technology to grow in the US. While football was born through TV, soccer was born through digital. This fact has tremendous implication for the spread of the sport in the country. It references a shift in fan behavior that the Truth About Fans calls ‘From Neighborhood Expert to Global Guru’: while once upon a time, a fan’s community might have been his high school or neighborhood, the Internet has opened him up to a truly global community. With globalization, and the increasing sway of (particularly Hispanic) immigrants in the US, many Americans have woken up to the popularity of the sport elsewhere in the world, and want to be part of this global community. This is unsurprising, given the innate ability of sports to create community: ‘global sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympics’ have the greatest ability to make humans around the world feel most connected to one another, according to Truth Central research, ahead of major religious holidays or global crises such as climate change. Indeed social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have proved invaluable tools to connecting soccer fans in the US to their foreign counterparts, and building a core group of fans in the country.

From Sport to Cultural Phenomenon

But in order to grow beyond this core group, soccer leagues/marketers recognized early on that they were going to have to do more than popularize the sport, they were going to have to transform it into a cultural phenomenon. Conference attendees heard from David Pekush of EA Sports, who spoke about the strategic decision to hire Snoop Lion and Drake as the spokespersons for their FIFA 2012 and FIFA 2013 video games, in order to embed soccer in a larger cultural landscape of music, fashion and entertainment. The Truth About Fans talks about the New Language of Fandom, driven by memes and GIFS, that is a mash-up of sports with every aspect of pop culture from TV shows to politics to advertising (just Google FIFA World Cup memes to see what we mean). As a result, according to Pekush, 1/3 of people who bought the FIFA game became pro-soccer sports fans (rather than buying the game because they were already pro-soccer fans). In other words, people bought the video game because established cultural tastemakers said it was cool to do so, and subsequently developed an appreciation for the sport.

Fandom in America

The success of this strategy of integrating soccer into a larger cultural landscape reveals a deeper truth about Americans: particularly in this country, fandom is a way of communicating personality, declaring allegiances and marking one’s interests. Indeed 64% of Americans would describe themselves as a fan of something, with 12% of those people calling themselves die-hard fans (as opposed to a 39% global average for self-described fans, and a 5% global average for die-hard fans). The strong vein of individualism in American society vindicates these findings. The more soccer marketers can communicate with fans in general (rather than just sports fans) and the more they talk about the beauty of fandom (community, belonging, identity) rather than solely the beauty of soccer, the greater their chances of growing the sport in the US.

The Future is Bright

As things stand, there’s definitely cause for optimism. The US men’s and women’s teams have been receiving attention for their spirited performance in international tournaments, creating more and more excitement domestically and drawing new fans to Major League Soccer games across the country. Even the Brits and French in the room grudgingly acknowledged that the men’s national team might very well find itself in the semi-finals in the 2018 World Cup! Brands interested in sports marketing should keep an eye on soccer; this could very well be America’s next big national pastime.

Truth About Fans launch

Posted on October 22, 2014 by Arvind

Be the first to comment!

October 21 saw the launch of our latest study, the Truth About Fans. Early this year, we found that 70% of people globally were looking forward to the games in Brazil, and we at McCann Truth Central were no exception, especially since it presented us with a prime opportunity to study sports fans. We all know that with the advent of technology and social media, fan behavior has changed drastically in the last few years, but we wanted to delve deeper into these changes, and reach the heart of what it means for brands.

The launch event took the form of a joint presentation between Truth Central and Octagon, the sports marketing agency within the IPG family. Truth Central presented some of the broader cultural shifts that we’re seeing among fans including:

The New Language of Fandom – In keeping with the movement of the Internet towards a visual web, fans have invented a new spontaneous, witty and highly visual language of fandom in the form of memes and GIFs. These bit-sized pieces of content are mash-ups of sports with virtually every other aspect of pop-culture, from TV to religion, and they serve the function on online repartee among a global network of fans. Whether to jeer rival fans or congratulate favorite players, this is fans’ new lingua franca. Brands need to learn to speak this language in order to best engage with fans.

Social media backlash – However, all this content creation is not necessarily welcome among all fans. Some fans say that social media is detracting from the experience of watching the game. In the words of one fan from Colombia “Social media has made the experience of watching football worse, in the sense that many people don’t pay attention to the match because they are checking their social networks.” For brands, this means that content creation is not the only way to get involved in the conversation. As the quantity and pace of social media content creation increases, there will be a greater need for a more curated sports web. Brands have an opportunity to help fans centralize and curate all their online activity for a more fulfilling sports-viewing experience.

Goodbye to Animal Psychics – With initiatives like the NFL’s Next Generation Statistics and the NBA’s STATS, Big Data is finally coming to sports. This could herald a new democratic era, enabling fans to play manager and coach to their favorite team, as they use hard stats to lobby for all sorts of decisions heretofore left to ‘insider’ experts and gurus. However, it could also lead to a sports dystopia as every match becomes infinitely dissectible, even predictable, and as fans argue over obscure statistics instead of focusing on the moments of sporting heroism and unexpected brilliance that are so crucial to making sports the magical and deeply human activity it is.

Following the Truth Central presentation, Octagon presented a fascinating segmentation of fan behavior based on fan interactivity. While traditional segmentations have relied on self-reported avidity, Octagon’s research found that in fact, real interactivity was a much better predictor of brand love than avidity. So a fan who might describe himself as die-hard, but is less active on social media, is less likely to engage with a brand as a result of sports sponsorship than a less avid fan who is more plugged in to social media. This is a key learning for any brand interested in targeting modern sports fans.

The event ended with a conversation between Steve Zaroff, CSO of McCann New York, and Mike McCarthy, who as columnist at ESPN, Sports Illustrated and a number of other distinguished publications provided a true insider perspective on the world of sports. They elaborated on the theme of empowered sports fans by mentioning how some fans operate very much in the mindset of manager and coach thanks to fantasy football. These bespoke teams are sometimes more important to fans than their real-life teams. Mike amused the audience with an anecdote about how the sports stars he speaks with have begun to complain about fans approaching them in the street and chastising them for ruining their fantasy football scores!

According to Mike, as fans develop this intimate relationship with players, either online (through social media) or virtual reality (through video games and fantasy football), it’s real-life access to their favorite sports starts that they’re seeking. While once upon a time, the dream for fans was to be in the luxury box and enjoy the view from the best seats in the stadium, they now want to be out on the pitch and in the locker rooms.

As fans gain this insider status, they’re also beginning to question traditional experts. Mike joked about how he has to be more careful than ever about what he’s saying as the Internet has proved so called experts are only right in their predictions half of the time, at best. Fans are quick to eviscerate you for the slightest misstep, he joked.

For brands, talking to these new fans may sound daunting, but one thing about them hasn’t changed: fans are the most likely to vocalize their passion, evangelize it to others and ultimately, spend more than non-fans. Once brands adjust to the more complex environment in which fans operate, and understand the rules of engagement, they stand to reap the rich rewards of their advocacy and loyal custom.

Methodology: The Truth About Fans is based on qualitative interviews with people watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup in 24 markets globally. Quantitative data was supplied by the Truth About Globalization study, which was fielded in 29 markets early in 2014. Lastly, a focus group was conducted with American teenage soccer fans to understand young fans’ evolving attitudes and behaviors.

Truth about Shopping Asian Launch

Posted on August 20, 2014 by India

Be the first to comment!

Earlier in the summer, we hosted our Asian launch of The Truth about Shopping (麦肯解读中国购物真相) at the Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai. As to be expected in one of the most advanced mobile markets in the world, there was much buzz surrounding the conference as suited and booted businessmen jostled with some of Asia’s brightest, young entrepreneurial minds. The much anticipated keynote from Xiaomi, the hotly tipped first Chinese brand to go truly global, reinforced that China is truly leading the way when it comes to mobile innovation. Mobile technologies are seamlessly integrated into every aspect of consumer’s lives and nowhere is this more evident than in the retail category. With this in mind, I’ve outlined the Five Things You Need To Know About The Chinese Shopper and the impact that technology is having in the shopping landscape:

1. Shopping has been defined anew by Chinese consumers

Our research first set out to understand what consumers associate with the actual word shopping. Globally, 80% of consumers think of ‘in store’ when they hear the word shopping whereas this figure dramatically decreases in China to 55%. Indeed, for 45% of Chinese consumers, the primary association is ‘online’ shopping and this figure is only set to rise. Furthermore, while globally the number one category associated with shopping is food and groceries, for Chinese consumers it is clothes and shoes. In this context, it is hardly surprising that the Chinese are far more likely to view shopping as ‘a leisure activity’ and ‘their time to relax’.

2. The Chinese consumer approaches shopping in a more positive mindset

From our quantitative data, we were able to identify five distinct mindsets in which consumers approach shopping. While it is true that which category you are shopping in has a huge influence in how you positively view shopping, where you live also makes you more pre-disposed to certain mindsets. Chinese consumers are far more likely to exhibit the more positive and engaged mindsets of the ‘Adventurer’ (a spirited shopper who wants to be surprised) and the ‘Lover’ (a loyal shopper who wants to be pampered). In comparison, we see a wearier shopper in developed markets marked by a significant over-index in the ‘Zombie’ mindset (a switched-off shopper who does not want to be interrupted). Chinese consumers are looking to be delighted and are actively willing brands to engage them in new and surprising ways.

3. Mobile is king

Chinese consumers have rapidly adopted mobile technology and are fast assimilating it into every aspect of their lives. When we look to the future of shopping, they are incredibly optimistic about the potential of the mobile with 87% wishing their phone held all of their shopping information (e.g. clothes size, family preferences) vs. 66% of consumers globally. This also extends to the future of payments with 83% of Chinese consumers wanting their phone to be intelligent enough to select the correct card to pay with (vs. 59% globally). Furthermore, with popular messaging services like WeChat enabling people to pay for everyday services, like taxis, via a simple text, consumers are rampantly adopting such innovations. The consumer reticence to adopt new mobile technology that we see in the West simply does not exist in China. Chinese consumers see technology as being intrinsic to the future of shopping and mobiles are the key to ensuring a totally seamless shopping experience.

4. Chinese consumers are far more trusting of brands

Chinese consumers are far more likely to trust brands with their data and information. For example, when given the choice of entrusting their friends/children or online stores with their card details, 63% of Chinese consumers would choose online stores. In comparison, only 37% of consumers globally agree with this statement. Notwithstanding, their more relaxed attitudes to privacy overall, many Chinese consumers would welcome brands and retailers into their most private online spaces. Indeed, 60% would let a brand post on their social network wall (such as Renren or Facebook) for a discount on goods and services. The opportunity for brands to connect with consumers in a more personal arena is plain to see; however, just because you can doesn’t mean you necessarily should unless you can offer genuine relevancy, usefulness or entertainment.

5. Social commerce is becoming a natural extension for shopping

Almost a quarter of Chinese consumers (23%) have bought something they’ve seen on a social platform. This figure is significantly higher than the global average of 16% and is even more notable when you compare it to attitudes in the more developed markets like the US where only 8% of consumers have engaged with social commerce. Chinese consumers see shopping as a natural extension of their lives and are happy for the lines of commerce, entertainment and connection to be blurred, so it is only natural that we are seeing this replicated in social media. Almost half use social networks to discover more about a product and 4/10 are actively looking to discover new brands. Again, we see a ripe opportunity for brands but one that should be used in a measured way.

The Truth About Fans: A World Cup Special

Posted on July 11, 2014 by Arvind

Be the first to comment!

What makes a football fan? What motivates them? What are their unique behaviors? These are some of the fascinating questions we’ve been trying to answer over the last month of action-packed football matches! McCann Truth Central’s global network of truth hunters has been taking to the streets in 26 markets around the world to talk to football fans about their passion for the game, and the highs and lows that come with being a fan. The results of these interviews will be featured in our upcoming study, the Truth About Fans.

But as the FIFA World Cup draws to a nail-biting conclusion, we’d like to share some of our most intriguing findings: the different good luck rituals fans around the world will be performing this weekend to will their team to victory in the finals. A lot’s been written about the quirky football rituals of the players (both past and present). However, there’s been relatively little coverage of some of fans’ weirder rituals. Here are some of our favorites.

For more insights on fans, keep a look out for the Truth About Fans, coming soon!

Humanizing Technology event with Microsoft

Posted on June 6, 2014 by Nadia

Be the first to comment!

What happens when you bring together a dozen of the most interesting minds in art, technology and science to discuss how to infuse humanity into technology?

This is what a curious team from Microsoft sought to uncover over dinner and conversation in the Sky Room at the New Museum recently.

Gathered around a table were a mix of people as diverse as ever: Neil Harbisson – the bionic man who hears colors; Giorgia and Gabriele – data visualization designers behind Milan-based Accurat; a neuroscientist who chucked an academic career in favor of helping develop technologies for blind people to learn how to paint; an MIT professor who studies human emotion and technology; Joe Ducet – the furniture designer behind the most covetable marble table… and yours truly.

Over an elegant dinner of farro salad, chicken under a brick (“where’s the brick?!” one invitee challenged the waitress), and chocolate tart, the crowd covered such topics as ‘what does it mean to be human?,’ ‘what does the intersection of technology and people look like?,’ and ‘what role do companies and institutions have in humanizing technology?’

The table buzzed with conversation, with people switching seats, speaking over each other, and sparking new ideas by the minute. At the end of the evening, the group reconvened to share the most interesting themes uncovered and debated.

Themes:

- Technology is humanity: technology is not electronics, nor hardware, nor software. Technology is ancient – it’s in nature, in human conversation, in play and in work. When we begin to think about technology as life, then we can better think about how to humanize it ever more.

- Technology to what end?: It’s important to think about the goal of developing new technology. It’s not enough to create technology for technology’s sake; to “beat” the next person or rival company. Creating new innovations should be driven by whether the end product will be useful, necessary, and delightful to the end user.

- Humans change change change: Culture evolves at an incredible pace, and people metabolize the role of technology at lightning speed. What was once considered very frightening (such as submitting credit card information online) is now a trusted fact of life. A funny story about Neil – the man who hears colors. In 2004, when he had the device implanted into his head, people thought it was a flashlight. In 2007, they thought it was a video recording device, and today, they believe it’s something related to Google Glass. People change how they view technology, and so the role of technology companies is to keep pace with that culture and ideally stay one step ahead of it.

- Human technology: Similarly, what is considered “human” and “natural” is also evolving, perhaps at more of a generational pace. Once, telephones were feared to make people hermits, and microwaves would give people cancer. True innovations are almost always feared at altering our “human-ness.” However, this is metabolized quickly, and wearing a Google Glass today doesn’t seem as artificial as it might have in the past.

- Innovation born of survival: American companies have the luxury of creating technology with abundant resources, but other countries face different challenges. Some have oppressive governments that censor their citizens, while others have a lack of infrastructure. Technology born of these difficulties are often incredibly useful and innovative, and America should remember that we are not the only ones with good ideas. Furthermore, what we create must address the needs of cultures outside of our own.

- Extreme is good and necessary: High fashion and high art as analogy. While not immediately relevant to the masses, the crazy and wild tend to push thinking forward. There needs to be extreme and fringe creations with no goals tied to profit. While not everything coming of this may be immediately relevant or usable, we need extremes in order to pull from them and create solutions for the real world.

- Creation must be interdisciplinary: No more siloes! The technological innovation process must evolve beyond engineers. Include artists, designers, intellectuals and others together can create better solutions

- The “smile test”: Ultimately, technology should make people smile. It’s a very small act, but in the end, it’s the most important benefit to humanity.

Presenting the Global Launch of the Truth About Shopping Study

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Arvind

Be the first to comment!

On April 2nd, Truth Central had the distinct pleasure of launching our latest study, the Truth About Shopping, at The Big Shopping Shakeup conference, a private, invitation-only conference hosted in partnership with the New York Times. Held in the beautiful New York Times building in Midtown Manhattan, attendees to the conference had sweeping views of the city that shoppers globally rate as the #1 retail destination in the world.

The conference was inspired by our desire to shake brands out of the current retail conversation, dominated as it is by big data, algorithms and personalization, and remind them about the importance of the real, raw, emotional side of shopping. Our keynote speaker Andy Murray, SVP of Creative at Walmart, summed this up perfectly when he said “it’s really important to keep a balance between hi-tech and hi-touch.” Our approach to investigating this dichotomy was mashing shopping together with ideas such as the human condition, pop culture, space and machines to see what we can learn from these other fields.

We discussed the Art of Shopping, which relates to the different ways in which brands are building inspiration and entertainment into the shopping experience. In the Truth About Shopping, we found that the majority of consumers are inspired while shopping, rather than go shopping because they’re inspired. A number of brands talked about how they are catering to this hunger for discovery. For instance, Rachel Shechtman from STORY spoke about how her store changes its theme (and its entire inventory) every 6-8 weeks, to keep shoppers coming back for more. Rachel Kraus from Westfield Malls talked about how they’re starting to build “man caves” in their malls, where men can watch TV, play pool or have a drink, freeing up their female companions to spend more time (and money), happy in the knowledge that the men were being entertained. In Jess Greenwood’s panel, experts discussed how we’re moving to a more visual web, which is impacting how items are displayed in store to mimic layouts familiar from Pinterest, Tumblr and other highly visual digital platforms.

However, we cannot underestimate the power of science and tech in this space. One key theme was around the Persistent Shopper, which relates to the constant state of shopping in which we will exist in the future. The experts were agreed that wearable technology is moving us towards a world where everything we see around us in the world will be shoppable, and all of the experiences we have will have the potential to be branded experiences. These technologies open up a world of new possibilities for the ways in which brands engage their fans.

The conference, dedicated as it was to bringing humanity back to the forefront of shopping, ended in a gallery filled with photographs commissioned by Truth Central for the Truth About Shopping study. The work of street photographers in New York, London, Mexico City, Shanghai and Dubai, they depicted the delight, guilt, frustration, joy and other emotions that are so much a part of the shopping experience. Ultimately, the look of joy on the face of a lady who just found the perfect dress, or the excitement of the faces of young boys as they play a new video game in store, perfectly illustrated what makes shopping so magical, and what brands should always remember to strive for. 

Today’s Teens: Pragmatic Idealists Smashing through Stereotypes

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Nadia

Be the first to comment!

Here’s a recipe for today’s teen: Take a generous serving of cynical, somewhat misanthropic Gen Xers, and sift together well. Add a heavy dollop of economic instability, and slowly add in a mistrust of institutions. Bring to a rolling boil. Once mixture is well combined, add a heaping cup of idealistic youth and let simmer. Then, add a tablespoon each of the Internet and mobile phones, and sprinkle in a large handful of social media platforms. Serve immediately.

As our recipe shows, today’s teenagers are as much a product of the fast-moving online information age as they are descendants of a generation inherently skeptical of “the man.” Gone are the days of the stereotypical lackadaisical teen, granted time to be awkward and indecisive; that luxury is no longer theirs to have. These are not the entitled, trophy-craving Millennials, but a new type of teenager, breaking down long-held conventions of youth in every respect to become Pragmatic Idealists.

#selfie from a teen participant

In our last conversation with teens, we discussed Privacy and Sharing – and found that today’s teens possess a thoughtfulness that firmly rebukes the going perception amongst adults that they’re a reckless lot. Instead, we found a wholly responsible and deliberate set of behaviors from our teens, expressed in a way that can only be described as upbeat and positive. (see also: How to be cool on Instagram according to a 16 year old).

Having come of age in a time of economic instability and powerful social connectivity, today’s teens have built a considerable amount of self-reliance. This has empowered them to be flexible as they forge a path into the future. While the traditional route involving higher education is certainly a popular choice, there is a collective knowledge among teens that it’s not the only way to achieve their goals. Teens today also explore alternative options, such as apprenticeships, entrepreneurial endeavors, and the armed services.

However, the potentially rocky road ahead has not dampened the strong idealism that is inherent in today’s teen. That idealism was never more apparent than in discussing life goals. In the age of Mark Zuckerbergs and overnight millionaire entrepreneurs, we wanted to understand what teens held as their fundamental goal in life. Most agreed that living a “wealthy” life is ultimately what they strive for. However, the teens’ definition of wealth transcended money. To them, “wealth” means doing meaningful work, enjoying a family and staying true to one’s roots. They want to come home at night feeling that they contributed something meaningful to the world.

Our teens were tasked to create memes that symbolized their views on school and career. Their cheerful brand of cynicism was certainly not lost on us…

Meme about #career from a teen participant

The stereotype of teens obsessed with social media, fame and reality television, and thus and unable to connect with people in a face-to-face situation, is certainly true in some cases. However, in our group discussion, a few of the most interesting teens were conscious of contradicting that notion. In order for these teens to reach their goals, they can’t have distractions. In fact, teens are opting to create a stronger self of self by rising above the chatter on social media. One teen we spoke to had even deleted all of her social media accounts to she could better focus on her goals.
In every generation, it is too easy to make generalizations regarding youth. But if we want to tell the true story of teens, we mustn’t let these hopeful and exciting realities get lost.

Check back with truthcentral.mccann.com every month for the latest installment of our on-going “Truth About Teens” research, as we discuss a different topic shaping the world today (for both consumers and brands) as seen through the lens of a teenager

Brands’ Social Media Strategies: Fewer Eggshells, More Springboards

Posted on February 27, 2014 by Amos

Be the first to comment!

One thing that brands have learned when it comes to their social media strategy is that learning never stops.

This past Friday, February 21, 2014, McCann Truth Central and McCann Always On took the stage at Social Media Week NYC to present The Truth About Privacy and Sharing: From Selfies To #Hashtags. The event was held at the Highline Stages in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district.

The first half of the event featured a spirited presentation of the Truth about Privacy 2013 study findings – presented by Laura and Nadia. They told us about the pitfalls of social media sharing, which include bullying, boasting, begging, and being boring.

The second half of the event featured a compelling panel discussion, with participants including Graydon Gordian (Community Manager, Percolate), Kelly Jones (Head of Thought Leadership, Microsoft), Kandace Hudspeth (Global Director, McCann Always On) and Sharon Panelo (Strategy Director, McCann Always On). Kevin Nelson, the Global Strategy Director and head of the Telecom business at McCann, expertly moderated the panel.

Kelly kicked off the conversation with her thoughts on the value exchange between consumers and brands, especially as it related to the issue of data sharing and privacy. She mentioned how Microsoft has, “learned that consumers are more aware that they are sharing data than they’ve ever been before, and now they want something back for it.” In light of this information, engineers at Microsoft are shifting their philosophies and using consumer insights as part of the development process, something relatively new in the tech space.

Kandace and Sharon – from McCann Always On – tackled the issue of how consumers and brands cope with the uncertainty of sharing. What is the line between being smart and calculated, and reacting quickly in a landscape that moves at warp speed? Kandace’s belief is that consumers have been quicker to create coping mechanisms than brands. For the individual, she said, “The privacy issue has pushed or compelled them to find other ways to share. They’re really smart and systematic about what apps they use for certain tasks, the type of content, and with whom they share.”

On the flipside she’s found herself urging clients to gain an understanding of the right platforms on which to engage consumers. She works with them by diversifying their strategy – directing them to both ephemeral social networks like Snapchat (where experimentation is safer) and to invest in social R&D.

Sharon challenged the notion that brands need to walk on egg shells when it comes to social media strategies, stating that they need to be less scared and more empowered. She talked about how, “Culture today around privacy and data is so rooted in fear – it’s ‘Big Brother is watching you’. But there is a total positive side that most brands aren’t getting at.” Ultimately, for brands the aim should be to “not own the consumers’ data, but to present it in a way that helps them.”

Finally, Graydon shared advice that Percolate provides for their clients in the quest for meaningful social media interaction with consumers. He advised that, “The best way to appear genuine is to be genuine.” He said Percolate likes to remind clients that there are, “Still people behind the brand’s communications and that if they let their community manager get excited, their content will be excitable.”

Empowered with the results of our study and the keen advice from our informed panel members, Truth Central showed little shyness in broadcasting our Social Media Week event.

Introducing: The Truth About Teens

Posted on February 26, 2014 by Amos

Be the first to comment!

We here at Truth Central like to think we’re pretty tapped in.

But it took just two hours one evening for us to realize that we may be less cool than we like to think – certainly according to teenagers. As part of the research for our recently launched 2013 Truth About Privacy study, we spoke with a group of 16 and 17 year-olds, resulting in an illuminating discussion centering on issues of privacy and sharing. By the end of the evening, the gap between researcher and subject was rather apparent.

Though Nadia, who moderated the focus group, was able to almost effortlessly hang with the crowd for about 30 minutes, it was ultimately one small question that fell her. When a teen said that she typically doesn’t text that much, Nadia asked what “not that much” meant, guessing it was around ten texts per day. The teen laughed, “10? No, more like 300”. If this was one of those Hollywood films where an adult goes back to high school and tries to fit in, this was that scene in the cafeteria where the imposter is outed.

Then another teen helpfully added, “I wake up to thousands of texts every morning.” There it was, the gratuitous spitball that serves as an exclamation point for many high school humiliation scenes.

While the session yielded other simply humorous learnings of the cultural phenomena of today’s teens, including nuggeting, we were also able to extract a multitude of insights that proved even more central to our research objectives. We learned about the intimidating metrics of curating an interesting and authentic presence on social media. People of all ages have a loose set of rules for proper online behavior, but teenagers have clear-cut instructions for each and every social media platform.

We took some of their rules and created a guide for How to Be Cool on Instagram (according to 16 year olds). These 8 easy-to-follow instructions made us realize just how uncool we are, as we consistently break at least two of them.

There were three important takeaways from the focus group session. First, the fact that we over-use the word ‘cool’ makes us uncool. Second, that today’s teens are incredibly self-aware of how they share data online and what it says about them. And third, that we need to conduct focus groups with teenagers on a monthly basis.

Check back with truthcentral.mccann.com every month for the latest installment of our on-going “Truth About Teens” research, as we discuss a different topic shaping the world today (for both consumers and brands) as seen through the lens of a teenager