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Dinah Adams

Marketing Lessons from the Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Fall is in the air! It’s time for cozy sweaters, football games and, of course, pumpkin spice everything. Although autumn doesn’t officially begin until September 23, Starbucks brought the season earlier than ever by releasing their signature pumpkin spice latte on August 27. 

The pumpkin spice latte (or PSL for short) has become a symbol for holiday creep and mainstream millennial culture. Some have praised its irresistible flavor, and others have embraced the “basic” white girl stereotype. You either love it or you hate it, but most importantly Starbucks got you talking about it. Their strategy has worked – we’ve bought over 350 million PSLs since they debuted in 2003.

So let’s take a moment to appreciate the industry know-how and savvy marketing behind the world’s most popular pumpkin beverage with 4 marketing lessons from the PSL. 

Create Demand. Although the PSL has arrived earlier year after year, the drink’s seasonality and perceived exclusivity drive demand. Starbucks also uses social media to create excitement organically. The hashtag #PSL has been used over 1.2 million times on Instagram alone. Considering this beverage has only been around for 16 years, the hype around release day is no small feat. 

Be a Trendsetter. Pumpkin spice isn’t just for lattes. The autumnal flavor has been adapted to just about every edible product under the sun, including protein powder, kale chips, and dog treats. Forbes estimates sales of pumpkin spice products exceeded $600 million in 2018, with only $110 million generated by Starbucks. Other coffee chains account for $10 million, and on-the-shelf coffee, creamer, and ready-to-drink coffee comprise nearly $96.3 million.This just goes to show that as far as coffee is concerned, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

Remember Where You Came From. Believe it or not, Starbucks executives were initially skeptical about how the pumpkin spice flavor would be received. Ultimately, they hoped audiences would connect the flavor with nostalgia for food, family, and fall. That gamble paid off. That connection to life’s meaningful moments has informed the PSL’s branding and content strategy and made marketing feel more personal. 

Stay Versatile. Starbucks’ sales of cold beverages accounted for over 50% of the company’s sales in 2018. This year, they introduced the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew to appeal to new audiences and tap into the cold brew market. But don’t worry about the PSL – for coffee fans, more pumpkin is always better. 

Want to learn how you can use these marketing strategies in your industry? Let’s get in touch! (Preferably over a pumpkin spice latte.)

Photo by Jayda Novak on Unsplash.

Dinah Adams Receives International Award for Communications Research

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At Futurety, we are honored to share a wide array of diverse experiences with our colleagues, including professional development, achievements, and passions outside of the office. When my colleague Elise approached me to write about my Master’s Thesis at The Ohio State University for May’s blog feature, I gladly accepted and am pleased to share a synopsis of this thesis.

This Master’s Thesis was chosen as a Finalist of the Amanda L. Kundrat Thesis Award awarded jointly by the National Communication Association and International Communication Association.

Title: Media Use and Willingness to Engage in Activism Against Sexual Harassment: An Application of the Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model

As a chronic environmental stressor, workplace sexual harassment adversely impacts public health in the U.S. and across the world. The recent #MeToo movement illustrates that social media are increasingly used as channels of risk information and platforms for activism. This study sought to examine how and why people engage in grassroots, online activism to address collective risks. An Amazon MTurk survey of 277 respondents was conducted to examine womens’ perceptions of, and activism in response to, the risk issue of workplace sexual harassment. This issue was examined through the lens of the Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model (or SRRM; Cho & Kuang, 2015), which suggests that the mass media influence our perceptions of societal risks. In turn, our emotional involvement with those issues and our sense that we can create positive change influence how we choose to address those risks.

This study found that Facebook and Twitter use predicted womens’ perceptions that sexual harassment was a significant societal risk issue, which then predicted their intention to engage in online activism (such as sharing #MeToo stories). This intention was strengthened by respondents’ empathy for those affected by workplace sexual harassment, their morals and values surrounding the issue of sexual harassment, and the emotional responses of anger and fear. Furthermore, womens’ intention to engage in online activism predicted their intention to engage in offline activism, which contradicts common assumptions about the negative effects of online “slacktivism” (Gladwell, 2010). Overall, this study expanded the theoretical boundaries of the SRRM by incorporating social media’s influences on societal risk perceptions and demonstrated that online activism is an influential way to address societal risk issues.

References

  1. Cho, H., & Kuang, K. (2015). The societal risk reduction motivation model. In Cho, H., Reimer, T., & McComas, K.A. (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Risk Communication, (pp. 117-132). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications
  2. Ltd.Gladwell, M. (2010, September 27). Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell

4 Strategies to Optimize Survey Design and Research

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Survey research is a quick and effective way to gain actionable business insights. Whether you want to learn more about your target audience, test new product or service concepts, or evaluate perceptions of your brand, a well-designed survey can deliver the answers you need.

While survey design seems simple, content and format choices can significantly impact your respondent’s answers to the survey. Here are four easy tips to improve the survey experience and ensure the reliability of your data.

1. Simplify survey wording

Did you know that most Americans read English at an 8th-grade level? Using clear and simple content helps respondents better understand the questions you are asking. Making survey content accessible to as many respondents as possible helps you gain insights without excluding valuable perspectives. The readability of survey text can easily be evaluated using Microsoft Word.

2. Avoid double-barreled questions

Double-barrelled questions have two separate questions in one statement. They are a common mistake in survey writing because we use them so often in our everyday conversations. Unfortunately, a question like “How often do you diet and exercise?” doesn’t translate very well to written surveys. If a respondent exercises frequently, but never diets, their response won’t accurately capture their behavior. Luckily, this is an easy fix! Separating these questions allows respondents to answer accurately. And it makes it easier for you, as the researcher, to analyze and interpret results.

3. Clarify the meaning of terms

Terms like “frequently”, “a lot”, or “most” can be interpreted differently depending on the question content or different respondents may interpret the meaning differently. Clarifying the meaning of questions (“most of the time”, “almost none”) can avoid confusion and help simplify respondents’ answers.

Scaled responses (like the one seen below) provides a logical context for your question.

  • How often do you exercise?
  • Very Frequently
  • Frequently
  • Somewhat Frequently
  • Neither Frequently Nor Infrequently
  • Somewhat Infrequently
  • Infrequently
  • Very Infrequently

This helps respondents to take the guesswork out of their answers and helps to avoid unreliable survey data.

4. Give your respondents an out!

Some respondents may skip questions if they are unsure of the answer. Even worse, they may choose an answer at random so they don’t leave questions blank. Providing options like “Not Sure”, “I don’t know”, or “Can’t Remember” gives survey takers the opportunity to respond honestly, without skewing your data. For multiple choice questions, you can also include options like “Other: Please specify” so respondents can offer their own answers.

Photo Credit: Small Fit Business

With Data Visualization, Anyone Can Have a Slice of the Pie (Graph)

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Do you want to know how to make your data more manageable, gain valuable business insights from the data you have or communicate your data in new ways?

At Futurety, we believe data is power. Deriving insights from data drives smarter marketing, product development, and business strategy. Data visualization allows you to see a crystal clear picture of what your customers are currently doing and how you can influence what they do next.

 

We’ve gathered a handful of definitions and thorough articles to empower and increase your understanding of data visualization.

What is Data Visualization?

Data visualization software simplifies complex data and translates it into a story that anyone can understand and share. Futurety uses a variety of tools to process data and convert it into easy-to-understand images.

How Do We Use It?

Once data visualizations are created, data-driven insights can then be shared with key decision makers to inform organizational, business, and marketing strategies.

How Does Data Visualization Fit Into My Industry?

Finally, data visualization can be used in a wide variety of contexts and industries from retail, finance, healthcare, and beyond.

At Futurety, we believe these processes and applications should be accessible to business leaders and industry innovators alike. Now, share your insights with new audiences!

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash