insight

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Who is more dangerous an inciter or someone who is operational (a doer, in other words)?  According to American anti-terrorism law, operational is more dangerous. In marketing it’s the opposite. Of course marketers aren’t really dangerous.  No one gets hurt. 

People who create strategies to alter consumer demand are inciters. Those who develop the strategies through which consumers prefer one product over another are inciters. Inciting is what strategists do. Retail channel people — people at the point of sale — are operational. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important – they can be.  Creative people — the ones who write the copy, create the pictures and edit together the selling story–  they, too, are operational. Influential at the point of communication yes, but operational nonetheless.

Good inciters touch consumers and operational people. Great creative product typically has powerful inciter behind it.  In brand planning, we often talk about insight. We should be talking about incite. Puh-zeace!

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Toyota got caught up in the American car debacle at the same time as it was doing some amazing things with the Prius. I was down in TX last year and promotion for the Toyota Tundra was everywhere. The gas-guzzling truck, positioned for the good ol’ boys, sucked lots of money out of the Toyota coffers and contributed to a worldwide loss of $4.4B (sounds very GM-like). Since its inception, the Prius, now in its third generation, has sold only 1.2 million vehicles. That number could have been multiplied by 10 had Toyota not gone all pick-up truck on us.

 

That said, the latest Prius has one thing that sets it apart form the new Honda Insight, a competing hybrid priced to move: solar cells on the roof.  This cool differentiating technology will help power an advanced new ventilation system that is pure marketing genius. Marketing and branding are all about “claim” and “proof.” And whether the solar thingies works or not – and I’m sure they will – it is yet more proof that Prius is a technological leader in fuel efficient cars.  Toyota needs to follow the example of Ichiro and keep its eye on the ball. Peace!

 

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Stuart Elliott, The New York Times advertising writer, did a nice piece today on the Honda Insight hybrid automobile. The Insight will be available in late March, starting at just under $20,000. For all the ad campaign talk about “democracy” and “a hybrid for everyone,” this advertising campaign is about price.  It’s a mistake and a missed opportunity. The campaign is from RPA in Los Angeles.   

 

The allure the hybrid is not the $1,000 above or below the $20,000 price point, it’s in saving fuel, creating less emissions, being forward thinking, and feeling good about it. Hybrid penetration isn’t about the initial car cost – though, if they cost $12,000 they’d be much more common – it’s about making the “late majority” of car buyers believe that driving a hybrid is a normal thing, not an advocacy thing. The late majority wonders if the cars will break down, if their friends will “out” them for being closet liberals, if the cars are peppy enough. These are the big market-moving issues, not price.

 

In a few years the combustion engine automobile will be the cultural equivalent of the turntable. Why would anyone today buy a non-hybrid car? The campaign should focus on the barriers. Peace!

 

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