Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Power of the Right Branding

We commonly come in contact with companies that are frustrated with their new business development. They blame the lack of budget for their woes and wish they could increase brand awareness to attract prospects. They all make the similar comment, "If prospects only knew what we offer and how good of job we do for our customers -- we would have great sales growth!"

For some, it is not a matter of marketing budget but the lack of proper branding. Without the proper brand positioning, your product and superior performance could be your best kept secret.

Your brand provides you with the most impact and visibility regardless of the size of your advertising budget. From the sign on your office door, the front lobby receptionist to every customer contact, your brand gives you the opportunity to tell the world who you are and what you are all about. If your brand does not do that in a differentating way with conviction, it's time for you to revisit your brand platform.

Powerful brands do not need to be that complexed. Take for example the law firm Levenfeld Pearlstein. With its website as an important marketing channel, this law firm expresses its "reason for being" as simply "Unusually Good". The positioning promotes a tone and personality not normally associated with lawyers. It offers a promise as well as it sets the bar for performance for each and every employee.

The Avant Brand Development Process provides enterprises with the ability to define the correct Brand Platform that perfectly tells your story to the world. Not only does the process maximize your brand impact and communications, but it truly becomes the "rallying cry" that promotes high performance within your organization.

Be looking for the new brand identities for two clients in one of our favorite categories -- municipalities. The new brand identities for Salinas, California and University City, Missouri are scheduled for launch in early in 2012. Both brands are focused on increasing city affinity with residents while attracting prospects in both the residential and business categories.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Is the Penn State Brand Too Tainted for Bowl Selection?

We all feel the disgrace caused by the scandal at Penn State. For many, Saturday College Football is a few hours of sanctuary from real life issues. When that sanctuary is invaded, it affects us all.
With its winning season, Penn State is bowl eligible. But from a branding standpoint, would it be good judgment for any bowl committee to invite a school that is under such scrutiny? Would any major bowl inherit the negativity that currently surrounds the school and athletic program?
This will be a hard decision for any bowl committee. From a financial standpoint, Penn State is a good choice. It is one of the largest schools in the Big Ten and its fan base travels well -- a bowl invitation would ensure a solid revenue and income base for the bowl venue.
Yet, with the ongoing investigation and potential cover-up, how can any bowl committee invite a school that will not only put it on the sports page but also on the front page with further scandal exposure?
Bowl committees should keep in mind that the players did nothing wrong. They deserve to be rewarded for a winning season – particularly making it through the turmoil that they faced this year. Second, the moral and ethical standards of an institution are not fully destroyed by the actions of a few. There is no group of people more disgraced than Penn State Alumni. The shameful actions of a few are shared by many – that is a basic law of brand affinity – you share in both the good and the bad attributes when you establish that affinity. But an institution’s standards and ethics do remain and must be reinforced by all who call Penn State home.
The current scandal should not negate Penn State from bowl play. It can provide the school the opportunity to reinforce its high standards and moral substance and declare to everyone that the institution is stronger than the actions of a few. It would also provide Penn State the opportunity to donate its bowl revenues to a deserving child abuse organization or charity.

There is a need for quality institutions to believe in. A quality Penn State brand is needed for its students, its alumni and by all of us who may not share in the value of the Penn State institution, but in the institution of collegiate academics and athletics.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Avant to Assist Veterans with Market Planning Assistance

St. Louis – Nov. 11, 2011 – The Avant Marketing Group, a market planning firm in St. Louis, has established an assistance program for veterans returning from military service who are interested in establishing their own entrepreneurial businesses.
“Returning veterans are finding the job market tough,” states Avant partner, Mark Buckley.
“U.S. troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are faced with an alarmingly high jobless rate of 13.3 percent. While the economy is showing signs of improvement, finding a job is still difficult for many veterans. Many may elect to investigate the opportunities in starting their own business or expanding a family business and we want to help,” commented Buckley.
While there has been additional emphasis in the hiring of veterans with tax incentives for businesses, there is little assistance for a veteran who wants to plan his own business after returning to civilian life.
The Avant Marketing Group will offer market and business planning advice to those veterans. Through consultation with the firm, a veteran can receive business and marketing advice including market analysis, brand positioning and initial strategic plans to assist business development efforts.
Returning veterans can contact the Avant Marketing Group through its web site:
The Avant Marketing Group was founded in 2004 and serves both domestic and international clients with brand development, market planning and research. The firm recently relocated offices to 6 The Pines Court, Suite E in St. Louis, Missouri.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Avant Moves Offices

To better serve the growing demands of our customers, Avant Marketing Group has relocated its offices in the St. Louis area. The new facility now offers more capacity for both qualitative and quantitative research personnel.

Both our address and telephone numbers have changed:

New Address: 6 The Pines Court, Suite E, St. Louis, Missouri 63141

New Telephone: 314.576.7700 Fax: 314.576.7707

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rebranding Project Underway; How Will Salinas' Image Change?


SALINAS, Calif. - For more than a year, we've been telling you about Salinas' push to change the city's image. In January, the city council hired a company based in St. Louis Missouri to start the process. In June, the company sent out survey questions to find out what local people think of the city's image, but since then, silence, at least publicly. Now, a KIONquestion about the efforts to rebrand Salinas… "What exactly is the Avant Marketing Group doing to change the image of Salinas? We found out a new brand for the city could roll out for the start of 2012.

"For being a St. Louis ad firm, they really, really nailed Salinas well," said Salinas Councilwoman Kimbley Craig.

And you may wonder... how so? Salinas Councilwoman Kimbley Craig said the Avant Marketing Group came to Salinas last week with results from June's survey, focus groups, and one on one interviews to get a better understanding of what Salinas is about. On the live line, Avant Marketing said it received great response from the community.

"Very consistent response from Salinas citizens and residents and it really showed us that a lot of people have great pride in your community," said Mark Vogel, Avant Marketing.

As for the results of what Avant found, Councilwoman Craig said she couldn't release those details yet because it's still in the working phase, "We have a couple of tweaks that we've asked them to go back to the drawing board with to make sure that they capture the full essence of Salinas before we roll it out in full. But ultimately, we're really excited about the project and they've done great work thus far."

For more information, including video story go to:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


University City, MO (June 28, 2011) University City has selected the Avant Marketing Group, a St. Louis-based market planning firm, as the consultant for various aspects of public communications, media relations and marketing for the City.

Avant will focus on enhancing the City’s stance on issues, programs and initiatives while fostering a climate of civic involvement and excitement throughout the community.

Specifically, Avant will develop a new brand identity for University City that will be an integral part of an overall communications plan targeted to both residents as well as outside audiences.

“We conducted a competitive review of professional firms interested in providing services to the City,” stated Lehman Walker, City Manager. “We were strongly impressed with Avant’s brand management capabilities that are supported by their professional communications and marketing experience.”

Part of the initial process involves interviewing city residents in regard to their perceptions of the community. Residents who are interested in participating in this portion of the project should contact the Avant Marketing Group directly via email at:

The City of University City, Missouri, is a 100 year-old inner ring suburb abutting the City of St. Louis with a population of 35,000 and is surrounded by established municipalities.

The Avant Marketing Group conducts market planning, market research and marketing communications for a variety of clients including municipalities, associations, corporations and product brands. Its brand development process has been employed with organizations in the United States, Asia, South American and Europe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"What Do You Want To Sell More Of?"

Most industries and businesses are seeing an uptick in sales, but are certainly not at a "robust" point in business growth. Business management is seeking ways to maintain the current momentum and many focus on customer acquisition to keep the sales going.

Though customer acquisition should always be part of the marketing mix, businesses need to be reminded that the largest sales growth is always accomplished through existing customers.

The Pareto Principle -- also known as the 80-20 Rule states that, for many events, including sales increases, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto first made this observation in connection with population and wealth of Italy's land where 80% was owned by 20% of the population. He then conducted surveys on a variety of other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied.

With few exceptions, the 80-20 Rule applies to business in the following manner:
-- 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers
-- 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers
-- 80% of your profits come from 20% of the time you spend
-- 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products
-- 80% of your sales are made by 20% of your sales staff

In a slow-growth economy, it may be more important to focus on your existing customer base versus investing heavily in customer acquisition. "Share of Customer" is vital according to the 80-20 Rule, and truly defines the difference between a sales plan and a marketing plan. Basic market plan components including brand development, product and price position, and efficient distribution strategies all should point to the satisfaction and increased business of your current customers.

Finally, there is a little known effect that the 80-20 Rule creates in you increase "Share of Customer" and current customer satisfaction the "20 percent" obviously grows in terms of sales. But in addition, you will find the remaining "80 percent" of your sales mix increasing proportionally. This is due to brand position and direct or indirect endorsement of your products or services from existing customers.

In short -- focus on the "20" and the "80" will follow -- a great strategy in a slow-growth economy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The Avant Marketing Group and ProWolfe Partners, both St. Louis, Missouri firms, have been selected by Tiryaki Agro, Istanbul, Turkey, to develop a new corporate brand identity.

Avant will provide its strategic market research and brand development process to develop a new brand platform. ProWolfe will create all brand design and identity materials.

Tiryaki Agro is ranked 90th on Fortune Turkey’s “500 Largest Companies” survey based on net sales. It is the 40th fastest growing company in Turkey, based on export figures, and ranks 22nd among companies with the highest increase in sales volume.

Tiryaki focuses on the production, processing and delivery of food products and ingredients including grains, pulse, nuts, oil seeds and feed in over 80 countries with five separate production facilities and offices in six cities. The company has 25 warehouses and utilizes a logistics system comprised of more than 200 vessels, 30,000 containers and 10,000 trucks. Tiryaki’s operational capacity for 2010 was 2 million tons.

The Avant Marketing Group is a market planning firm with a focus on brand development for both enterprises and product management. ProWolfe Partners is a design communications firm with extensive experience in corporate brand communications.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Avant Wins Top Honors at IABC Awards

The 2010 Mahindra "Tough As Texas" marketing campaign received the "Award of Excellence" at the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Bronze Quill Awards held in St. Louis.

The campaign, developed and implemented in collaboration with Cambium Creative, featured an integrated advertising campaign for Mahindra Texas Dealers.  The communication strategy was focused on promoting the durability and superior performance of Mahindra Tractors.  The entire campaign was capped off with a 1,000-mile tractor drive across Texas with proceeds benefiting The Children's Miracle Network and the Houston Children's Hospital.

The successful planning and implementation of the program with Mahindra Texas Dealers resulted in significant market share gains across the state.

Avant continues to assist Mahindra USA in its marketing efforts with regional programs in the Southern States as well as in the Northeast.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Avant Assists Mahindra In Initiating Recovery Relief Program For Tornado Stricken Areas

Avant Marketing Group assisted Mahindra USA in the development and deployment of the Mahindra Recovery Relief Program.  With this program, dealers in tornado-stricken areas have the ability to release Mahindra Tractors from inventory to assist in damage cleanup.

Tractors have been deployed in the Southern States as well as in Southwest Missouri where tornadoes have ravaged communities.

"It is extremely gratifying to be associated with a client that is truly committed to the welfare of its dealers and their communities", stated Avant Senior Partner Mark Vogel.  "Within hours after the first major destruction in the South, we assisted Mahindra in developing the program components and communications to initiate this program."

The program offers key Mahindra Tractor models with front-end loaders and grapple hooks that are ideal for damage clean-up.  Tractors are deployed to local community disaster assistance organizations to assist in the efforts. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Avant to Co-Present at May St. Louis BMA Luncheon

Senior Partner Mark Vogel and Solutia's Director, Planning & Coordination Emily Bealke Parenteau will co-present "What's Branding Got to Do With It -- Solutia's Case Study and the Importance of Branding with B-to-B Enterprises" at the upcoming St. Louis BMA May Luncheon.


Date:       Thursday, May 12
Times:     11:30               Registration and Networking
               12:00 -- 1:00     Program followed by Q&A
Place:      Spazio Westport, 12031 Lackland Rd.


The presentation will provide the details of the comprehensive market research, brand platform development, brand identity transformation and Avant's Living the Brand Training that was employed by Solutia in developing its new global brand identity.  With over 3,000 world-wide employees, Solutia utilized the Avant process and completed a successful brand launch late last year.  Emily Bealke Parenteau will provide an overview of Solutia's previous brand and identity issues as well as review the components of the successful brand launch.  Mark Vogel will detail the step-by-step process used by Solutia to develop a new Solutia brand platform and identity that is truly reflective of the corporation's brand values and position for future growth.

Emily Bealke Parenteau, Solutia 
Director, Planning & Coordination
In 2010, Emily managed the re-branding of Corporate Solutia from brand research, new logo development, to global launch. She is a senior marketing communications and branding professional with experience working in global, fast-paced, dynamic organizations. Her background includes international B2B marketing and branding campaign management with particular focus on China, Western Europe and the US Consumer Marketing programs, including the St. Louis Rock 'n' Roll Marathon & Half Marathon title sponsorship.

Mark Vogel, Avant Marketing Group
Senior Partner
Mark Vogel is Senior Partner of the Avant Marketing Group and was Project Leader on the Solutia branding effort.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Avant Begins Work For Salinas California

Avant has kicked off its brand development project for the City of Salinas, California.  Mark Vogel and Kate Lammert attended this week's Council Meeting and Press Conference and met with business and community leaders.

To see press coverage of this week's events, go to the following links:



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bracing For Higher Costs Of Living

Over the last 12 months, the food index has risen 1.8 percent with the food at home index up 2.1 percent.  Both 12-month changes are the highest since 2009.  This is no surprise to anyone that has shopped at the grocery store in the past two weeks.

Typically, manufacturers and retailers tend to hold the line on price increases during an economic downturn, but now, because of the increased cost of cotton, wheat, corn and soybeans, price increases are inevitable on almost everything we use.

On top of food prices, the political unrest in the oil-rich Middle East will nearly ensure that we’ll see gasoline prices in the $4 to $5 range by mid-summer.

From an agricultural marketing perspective, these events are both good and bad.  Crop farmers are finally realizing good profits but are faced with a very volatile market and increased energy costs.  Livestock producers are reducing stocks, based on high input costs, and will attempt to maintain margins and profits on market prices but with reduced herds.  In terms of productive agricultural land values, a record-high $9,000/acre was just paid for corn/soybean land in Central Illinois.

For consumers, everything from food to underwear will inevitably increase in price.  Hanes has informed its retailers that they want to reserve the option to employ price increases every 90 days if necessary.  Kraft which makes Oreo Cookies, Wheat Thins and Oscar Mayer wieners, has raised prices on more than half its North American products and plans on more increases.  The Coalition Against Hunger is predicting that rising prices will drive more families to food pantries and soup kitchens.

This situation is not just limited to the United States.  Higher food and fiber costs are being felt world-wide. (Note that the initial unrest and uprising in Egypt was based on the cost and accessibility of food in that country.)

How will consumers change their purchasing behavior when faced with a higher cost of living?  We suggest two dynamics will occur:  1) Less expensive and less nutritional processed food products will increase in demand; 2) Consumers will become even more discretionary in their premium food selections.

From a marketing perspective, several changes will also occur:
  • Brands will offer products in smaller packages – from half-loaves of bread, 12 oz. packages of cereal to 4 oz. packages of cured bacon
  • Brands may have to reduce the number of SKUs (a historical first) to focus on the manufacturing efficiencies of their baseline products
  • Retailers will look to alternative sources for fresh products – including growing their own leafy produce in greenhouses or on the rooftops of their own stores
  • Premium brands will need to further justify their price and differentiate themselves from the competition

Regardless of what the future holds, it is even now more critical for food brands to stay in touch with their consumers with frequent market research that will lead to successful market planning.

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Super Bowl Advertising: Winners & Losers

Now that the “Title” has returned to “Town” for the Green Bay Packers, how did the Super Bowl commercials score in television’s premier event?

As mentioned in our previous Blog, we evaluate Super Bowl commercial investment from a brand perspective with the following criteria:
  • Message – have something to say
  • Right Audience – make sure that the event delivers the right prospects for your product, and in-hand, you are equipped to maximize the increased interest in your brand or product
  • Right Budget – can you maximize the increased brand awareness and extend it through the marketing year?
  • Strong Creative – it must compete creatively with other advertisers, entertain as well as getting a strong message across
  • Has Legs – must have the ability to become a major positioning for your brand beyond Sunday’s broadcast

Here are our top picks from Sunday’s big event:

1.  CHRYSLER (Wieden & Kennedy, Portland OR).  Though this 2-minute spot won’t win the popularity contest polls, it was the strongest branding spot of the entire event.  The “Imported from Detroit” tagline, the use of Eminem and his 8-Mile soundtrack provided messaging that is right for America at the right time.  As we come out of the bad economy, most Americans are more inclined to identify with Detroit than any other city.  Chrysler is mapping out a brand territory based on the basic values of Motor City that can be a tremendous platform for product advertising – including the Chrysler 200 – “A car that you don’t have to own to be proud of.”

2.  BEST BUY (CPB, Boulder, CO).  This commercial is good not because everyone is either an Ozzy or Justin Bieber fan, but because it had a strong message – the introduction of the Best Buy’s Buy Back Program.  Even Ozzy Osbourne now has the assurance that his investment in current technology won’t be wasted as technology itself moves forward.  4G, 5G, 6G…10G – Best Buy has you covered.

3.  MOTOROLA (Anomaly, New York, NY).  Pointing out that Apple has now become “The Establishment”, this spot for the Xoom tablet took the brand equity of the “1984” Apple spot and truly contemporized it.  The ad not only gets it competitive statement across, but shows off the product benefits through the story line.

4.  BRIDGESTONE (Richards Group, Dallas, TX).  Unfortunately this spot aired too late in the game, but could be the best of the bunch from the Dallas Ad Agency.  “Carma” featured a life-saving gesture that is later returned by a beaver.  We’ll see more of this spot in sports programming throughout the year.

5.  DORITOS (Consumer-Generated).  The consumer creative competition for Doritos advertising continues to work.  Best of the bunch – “The Best Part” where the creepy coworker goes after the Doritos cheese seasoning on his fellow employee’s fingers – those chips have to be good!

Honorable Mentions
GROUPON – As a late entry into the Super Bowl, Groupon assisted their brand awareness through Timothy Hutton setting us up to promote Thai food discount coupons.  The spot got everyone’s attention.

VOLKSWAGON – The Mini-Darth Vader was cute and memorable, but will anyone remember that the spot is advertising the VW Passat?

CAREERBUILDER – Maintaining the “I Work With Apes” theme, the spot did a good job of targeting those viewers that are frustrated with their current job – a proven theme.

PEPSI MAX – Though the consumer-generated format seemed to work better for Doritos, it did produce a stable of good commercials that will continue to get exposure for Pepsi Max in the next few months – a good creative launch for the brand’s national campaign.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Super Bowl Advertising Worth It?

Every year we are asked our opinion in regard to the value of Super Bowl advertising.  This year, though the mainstay CPG companies are maintaining advertising on the big event, at least seven advertisers from 2010’s game aren’t returning – including Papa John’s, Intel, Monster, Dr. Pepper, Denny’s, Universal Orlando and KGB.  The published cost of a 30-second spot on Fox’s telecast is $3 million.

Companies have always justified the expense for many different reasons – some logical and some merely to feed the ego of a CEO or CMO by participating in one of television’s biggest televised sporting events.

For this year, the non-advertisers have publicly mentioned several reasons for not advertising.  Papa John’s strategy is to increase the number of consumers registered on their website by enticing them with free pizza if the game goes into overtime.  (Note:  Super Bowl Sunday represents the highest sales day for delivered pizza in the United States.)  KGB stated that they are shifting to a “social media strategy”, Intel is going in “new directions”, Denny’s has new leadership and a new agency, and is “moving beyond building awareness” (looks like they aren’t concerned about maintaining awareness).

The biggest reason why we aren’t seeing any new advertisers is that many marketers have nothing new to say.  Nearly all companies have had to downsize their investments in product development and innovation and simply aren’t prepared to launch new ideas into the consumer market.

For the remaining advertisers, Super Bowl advertising can simply be justified on the basis of traditional media analysis that is looking for delivery in both reach and frequency against a general consumer audience.  The Super Bowl delivers outstanding viewership only second to the World Cup – global marketers grab these opportunities whenever they can.  (Note:  Fox sold out the Super Bowl in October – advertisers negotiated a much lower per spot cost or negotiated tremendous value-added making the investment extremely worthwhile.)

With all that said, can the tremendous investment be justified by any marketer beyond a mainstay consumer brand?

Here are our criteria for any marketer thinking about advertising on the Super Bowl:

1.  Have something to say.  Unfortunately, many marketers make the investment hoping that the advertising creative gains the attention of the audience versus the actual message.  The main objective is not to entertain the audience, but to distinctly get your brand, product or service message across supported by good creative.  Many advertisers forget this critical point of all successful marketing campaigns.

2.   Make sure it’s the right audience.  If increased brand awareness with the general audience does not give you an advantage, don’t advertise.  Keep in mind that the Super Bowl telecast is a global audience – if you are not investing in your international markets, it may not be a wise choice to advertise.  Noting this advice, there are certain considerations that can make a significant impact with niche or trade targets using expensive sports media as a communications tool.

Here’s an example:

Several years ago, we had a client that had produced an impressive television spot and was interested in gaining as much exposure to the spot as possible.  Unfortunately, their core target audience was residential builders – not consumers.  We developed a unique strategy where we placed one commercial spot on the NCAA Final Four.  Before the telecast weekend, we sent a direct mail promotion to the client’s list of 70,000 builders.   The call-to-action asked builders to watch the Final Four telecast and when they saw the client’s single commercial, right down the names of the competing teams and the actual score of the game at the time of the commercial on a return reply card.  The builder’s card that was randomly selected with the correct teams and score won a free trip to the following year’s Final Four Championship.  We received nearly 17,000 entries or a 24 percent participation return.  More importantly, a large number of builders were informed that the client had a new advertising campaign to support their marketing efforts.  Finally, the increased consumer brand awareness helped launch a successful annual advertising campaign.

3.  Make sure it’s the right budget.  If a Super Bowl investment accelerates your reach and frequency goals while you still have a budget to maintain frequency after the big game – go for it.  Depleting your entire advertising budget on one telecast will not give you the return in terms of brand awareness increases or maintenance.

4.  Make sure you can creatively compete.  Super Bowl Commercials are now viewed more for the entertainment value than the marketing message.  It is a very competitive arena where the majority of viewing consumers automatically become advertising critics.  If you are not capable of delivering your brand or product message in a way that stands out from the competition – don’t advertise.

5.  Ensure your investment has legs.  Since it is a major advertising investment, make sure you also budget for integrated support in terms of channel events, sales promotion, public relations and employee communications.  In short, make the most out of your investment and ensure that critical audiences have the opportunity to engage and participate in not just the Super Bowl, but in Your Super Bowl Event.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mark Buckley Joins Avant Marketing Group

The Avant Marketing Group announces the addition of Mark Buckley as partner in the market planning and research firm.  Buckley has extensive marketing and brand communications experience across a wide spectrum of industries including agriculture and food production, animal health and nutrition, energy, hospitality, financial, manufacturing, technology and government categories.
Buckley complements Avant’s expertise in marketing, creative strategies and business development.  Previously, he was founder of Swing Shift Creative, his own marketing communications creative consultancy.  He has also held key leadership positions for advertising agencies, design firms and marketing companies including Fiserv, ProWolfe Partners and Osborn & Barr Communications.
Buckley earned his B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Commercial Art from Drake University.  He currently sits on the boards of the AIGA/St. Louis Chapter, the Lupus Foundation of America/Heartland Chapter and The Center for Women in Transition.
“We are extremely pleased to add Mark to our expert staff,” commented Mark Vogel, Avant senior partner.  “He brings with him a wealth of strategic marketing experience and out-of-box creative thinking that will further assist us in solving client marketing problems.”
Mark Buckley can be contacted at or by visiting the firm’s website at

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Has Your Market Changed?

There are definitely strong signs that the economy is on a comeback.  Marketers, who previously reduced planning and implementation budgets, are now initiating marketing investments focused on growth strategies.

But has your customer or consumer changed their buyer values as a result of the recession?

Research shows that consumers, and even b-to-b purchasers, have redefined their core values.  They are making a distinction between wants and needs and are more discriminating in product and brand choice.

Today’s consumers are seeking long-term relationships with their brands that share in those common values.  

As Philip Kotler puts it, “The post-crisis consumer, already highly marketing-savvy and armed with the leveling powers of social connection and critique, is now an even more potent and unpredictable force in the marketplace.  People are looking for value and values.”

Through this evolution, brands are even more important.  Technology now allows us to make purchase decisions not only based on product attributes, but company attributes and values.  The marketing firewall between a product’s image and company image has virtually been dismantled.

Marketers can find new forms of competitive advantage by understanding and sharing in the values that have become more important to consumers.  With the proper market research and planning, marketers can claim newly defined competitive advantages that meet the economic, functional, economic and social needs of today’s marketplace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Avant Marketing Group Named Branding Agency for City of Salinas, California

Salinas City (California) Council on Tuesday named the Avant Marketing Group to lead a unique campaign set to help the city improve its image.
Citing its strength in experience and more significant track record, city staff and an ad-hoc branding committee recommended Avant Marketing Group over Salinas-based TMD Creative Marketing by Design company.
“They were both good proposals,” said Jeff Weir, economic development director.  "But (Avant) had a much stronger proposal.”
Stemming from an idea brought to the council in April, the city sent out a request for proposals to find branding consultants – local and national – willing to lead the effort in marketing the city’s strengths and positive attributes.
According to the scope of project, the initiative will include:  conducting research, hosting informational meetings, identifying markets to target, tradeshow development and creating a logo, and addressing negative perceptions, including crime and the perceived “lack of things to do” in Salinas.
Several key advantages for Avant were cited in the evaluation of proposals including the agency’s extensive market research, brand platform components and proprietary “Living the Brand” training which will be implemented with Salinas community leaders.