Monday, 16 October 2017

Marketing For The Start-Up

Everyone knows that innovation starts with an idea. Each year, Incubate brings together staff and students involved with ground breaking discoveries and transformative inventions to celebrate world-changing ideas. If you had a great idea, product or service, would you know what it takes to see it to fruition? 

The winners of the University of Sydney’s 2017 Student Challenge, Somnium Lab, stole the show at Innovation Week, with a perfectly customisable pillow and an autonomous UAV-based system that can detect airborne pathogens. The annual event gives student-led teams the opportunity to pitch their best ideas to a panel made up of entrepreneurs, industry, government, academics and fellow students.

MoM speaks with Miles Tycho Hugh to find out what the next steps are for the start-up and how they plan to market their revolutionary product.

Source: University of Sydney, Creator of Somnium Lab, Suri Susilo and Miles Tycho Hugh

More than just an idea. 

Somnium Lab will revolutionise the way we sleep by creating perfectly customisable pillows that align to the curves of the spine. Developed by biomedical engineering PhD candidate Suri Susilo and Miles Tycho Hugh studying a Bachelor of Commerce and Liberal Studies, the pillows are designed to relieve pain and optimise sleep.

They’ve created the world’s first filler-less height adjustable pillow, which will ensure everyone has the correct sleeping posture regardless of their height and size. It’s an invention that could disrupt a product that has remained largely unchanged for the past 100 years.

As the winners of the Richard Seymour Memorial Prize for best startup business pitch, Somnium Lab plans to release their first product on Kickstarter in January 2018, using their $10,000 in grant funding, mentoring and services from Genesis and INCUBATE, the University Student Union start-up accelerator and entrepreneur program.

MoM: How was the Somium Lab pillow conceived?

MUTU actually started 2 years ago, as a helmet. This helmet has spring-like air chambers sticking out all over it that you could set at certain heights. The adjustable air chambers could be inflated/deflated so that the spine was at a net neutral angle while sleeping, and the fact that they were on a helmet meant that if the person moved in their sleep, the cervical spine would always be kept at the same angle. 

However, no one wants to actually wear a helmet to bed - its hot, hard and a hassle. So, the helmet was cut in half, and that became the first prototype for the pillow Somnium Labs are bringing to market today. 

MoM: What have been the challenges thus far?

Tycho: So many challenges - but that’s why we’ve learnt so much. 


The marketing efforts behind trying to get somebody to get excited about and pay for a product that does not yet actually exist, is difficult. This was made even more difficult by the fact that we were marketing a pillow, which people often need to touch and feel before purchase. A pillow isn't the sexiest or attention-capturing product category either. 

Time management.

Needed to learn to be comfortable with ambiguity, and with things changing at the last minute. We have pivoted countless times over the past few months as new information emerges/we learn new things, and I remember saying that I felt like a leaf caught in the wind. We originally planned to solely target the physiotherapeutic community, but realising the regulatory hurdles, relatively small and slow moving market, we have now expanded our focus to everyday people who are just sick of saggy pillows which make them wake up feeling stiff and sluggish. Based on this, we’ve had to change our sales model from B2B to B2C, and have completely reframed the way we communicate our product offering. 

Dealing with uncertainty.

Start ups are very risky ventures, and as a co-founder, I am answerable to all successes and all failures. Almost all outcomes can be directly traced back to what me or Suri did or did not do. It’s quite daunting, comprehending the gravity of that accountability everyday, but it’s also a great driving force if you have learn to manage it. It’s really important to maintain a belief in yourself that you can actually do what you need to do everyday - “I can and I will.” 

Everyone is telling you what to do. While this is great – and for the most part, everyone is trying to help – managing those opinions and remembering that they’re just opinions, is key. 

MoM: What is the most rewarding aspect of starting your own business?

Tycho: Two things:
  1. Being able to make something that is your own. 
  2. Access to a great and eclectic network of interesting and inspiring people through the startup community. 

MoM: What advice could you give students wishing to get involved in a start-up?

  1. Build an MVP and get it out there. 
  2. Ideas are great but they need to be acted upon. 
  3. Don’t cry over spilt milk.   
  4. Don’t get too attached to any singular course of action. 
  5. Perfect is the enemy of the good.
  6. Remember what you want from your start-up and operate accordingly. 
  7. Don’t work yourself into oblivion; you are your start-up – it will break if you do. 

MoM: What is the most critical part of achieving success in a start-up?

Tycho: Execution. I always used to think that a start-up was basically just a cool idea. I thought that having a good idea was all I needed have a successful start-up. Very quickly I learnt that I was very wrong. Ideas do not operationalise themselves, nor do they sell themselves. It’s actually quite easy to come up with an idea. Bringing that idea into being is gruelling, and where you are the most liable for failure. The start-up world moves so quickly so you don't have the luxury for careful, methodical planning; you learn by doing and then iterate or pivot based on market feedback. This basically means that to be successful, you need to be able to very efficiently make things a reality (whether that be a Facebook campaign, prototype, etc.) in very little time with few resources. You can’t be afraid to get down and dirty in the mud. 

The most recent challenge we have experienced related to execution is manufacturing. So far, all prototypes have been 3D printed and assembled, slowly, by hand. In the manufacturing world, 3D printing is too expensive and difficult to access, so we'll need most things to be injection moulded. 

However, the first few factories we spoke to said that what we wanted moulded could not be done. So, having had enough of the 'no' word, Suri hopped on a plane to Thailand to source a manufacturer in person. Having asked a few friends for some names, and searching on the internet for suitable manufacturers, Suri compiled a list of who to see in country. Methodically, she tracked down a factory that could make what we needed. The trip was a success. Most start-up work, at least in the early days, is really all about the hustle and grind.

MoM: Why a pillow, of all things?

Tycho: The pillow as we know it, is merely an accessory to sleep. It is a soft thing to lie your head on. Almost all pillows follow a one size fits all model, and are filled with either feathers or foam. We have become accustomed to shitty pillows that sag over time, pillows that lump and clump, and pillows that are either too high or too low. The average pillow is almost certainly filled with bacteria, dust and dead skin, and coming into the summer months, will feel far too hot. Our pillow (MUTU) is a filler-less height adjustable pillow that never sags, and never clumps. The MUTU uses air-suspension technology that allows each pillow to be customised in height, creating a perfect contoured surface that makes your head feel weightless. MUTU's unique suspension system can be adjusted and locked to support you throughout the night without fail.

INCUBATE is the award-winning startup program at the University of Sydney. They provide funding for students, alumni and researchers to launch high-potential startups through their accelerator program. They have a community of over 3000 entrepreneurs, accelerated 70 startups, provided more than $19m in external funding, created over $50m revenue and 100+ Jobs. 

If you are a student who is serious about entrepreneurship, follow the link  to find out how to apply to the next Accelerator program.

Miles Tycho HughCurrent student awarded the Honours Canon Scholarship and joint winner with Suri Susilo of the 2017 Student Innovation Challenge at the University of Sydney Business School.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Marketing Challenge: Aligning Strategy with Behaviour Drivers

Source: Bain (2016)

The following blog post contains abstracts from an article, ‘The Technological Revolution: The Marketing Challenge’, written by Dr Peter Steidl, founder and Principal of Neurothinking. Dr Steidl is a strategic consultant with a particular interest in neuromarketing who has carried out assignments in 20 countries on five continents. His clients include Fortune Global 100 corporations, start-up companies, professional services firms, federal and state government agencies and not-for-profit organisations.

The Oxford Martin Institute in collaboration with Citi, McKinsey & Co, the World Bank and other credible parties has undertaken a detailed, in-depth assessment of today’s jobs, evaluating to what extent technologies that are already being deployed today or are in advanced stages of development are likely to make jobs redundant.

Technological disruption will eliminate a large number of jobs while creating relatively few new jobs. It is therefore no wonder that the focus is shifting to the question of how to deal with a very large number of people who can’t find work.

Source: Bain (2016)

This leaves two core strategies open to retailers and brand owners:

1. Become the price leader – an option that is not feasible for many retailers and brand owners.

2. Develop a strong emotional relationship with the consumer which will lead the consumer to shop rather than delegate the shopping task or, if delegating, to specify the retailer or brand that constitutes the preferred option.

Developing a strong emotional relationship
To achieve a lasting, strong, emotional relationship with a retailer or brand, there is a need to move the relationship above the actual offer by standing for something that is seen as more valuable by the consumer. This strategy elevates the relationship between the brand and consumer to a higher emotional level, creating a much deeper and long-lasting connection than a short-term campaign, product innovation or shopper marketing initiative could develop

An understanding of Deep Rooted Drivers of Behaviour will give you a head-start when you are attempting to develop a relationship with consumers at a higher emotional level. Deep Rooted Drivers of Behaviour are hard-wired brain circuits that drive behaviour over longer periods of time – sometimes a whole lifetime - and are widely shared.

Source: Bain (2016)

Aligning your strategy with Deep Rooted Drivers of Behaviour
I am sure this comes as no surprise, but we need to consider a wider range of Deep Rooted Drivers of Behaviour (DRDs) that may allow us to develop long-lasting, strong, emotional relationships between a retailer or brand and the consumer. To do this we only have to consider what might have helped humankind to survive in a natural hostile environment: these traits were typically hard-wired into the brain over some 4 to 5 million years as humans with those traits were more likely to survive and pass their traits on to the next generation.

Source: Bain (2016)

The first and obvious DRD is the BelongingDRD. We are hardwired to belong because anyone who lived in isolation in a hostile natural environment had a very short life expectancy. It is worth noting that Belonging is a stronger driver with women than with men. This is because women had to build informal networks with other women to fight off the physically stronger men who would have happily killed the infants who had other fathers, seeking to ensure their genes would be carried forward into the next generation instead.

Another important driver is the CompetitionDRD, which is a stronger driver with men. This means that men often become part of a group because it may help their own status or allow them to compete for status in the group, rather than to just simply belong. But the CompetitionDRD can also be activated by creating an opposition or enemy. For example, setting up Apple as being the opposite or enemy of PCs activates the ‘us and them’ feeling that is driven by the CompetitionDRD.

Common to all humans and of critical importance when it comes to marketing is the ShortcutDRD that drives us to, well, seek shortcuts. In all likelihood we are driven to seek shortcuts because our nonconscious, intuitive mind is much faster and more powerful than our conscious, rational mind. This means that the nonconscious mind can make an intuitive decision quickly using associations, familiarity or other shortcuts, leaving it to the conscious mind to rationalize the choice. The ShortcutDRD is the foundation of priming, which is an essential element of the majority of successful shopper marketing initiatives.

We also all share mirror neurons that represent the EmpathyDRD, and by feeling strong emotions others feel we are likely to connect with others. This DRD will boost the feelings we share with a group – say barracking for our team during a sporting match is much more emotionally involving when we do it together with like-minded people, as we can feel their emotions which lifts the intensity of our own.

Consider the ExplorationDRD. We are all hardwired to explore, although this is typically a stronger driver with males than females. This means that we need to offer consumers new challenges, new news, perspectives and content. We need to open the door to some new insights or achievements, allow them to break through barriers and generally to feel that progress is being made – in whatever form is appropriate.

Dopamine ensures that we all seek rewards. The RewardDRD is probably the most obvious but there are of course many different ways of rewarding consumers. The essential point is that we need to trigger a dopamine release that makes the consumer feel good – and to seek more and even stronger rewards once their dopamine levels decline.

Source: Bain (2016)

Refocusing the marketing effort
I believe there will be a need for marketing to be much more focused to be effective given the adverse market environment. More specifically, marketing will need to focus on the decisive point.

It follows that between today and when a significant number of consumers use digital personal assistants we have to develop experiences shoppers value and want to experience again and again.

This suggests that all marketing initiatives need to ultimately focus on the decisive point: they may use primes (in advertising, social media campaigns, etc.) that can be activated at the decisive point; they may build emotional connections that can be triggered at the decisive point; they may create dopamine hits that can be repeated at the decisive point; and so forth. Shopper marketing needs to become the starting point for the development of a marketing campaign, rather than being an afterthought as is often the case today.

Finally, there is a need for researchers to broaden their horizons. Many researchers – including those using neuroscience based methodologies – focus on assessing elements of execution, such as the likely impact of advertisements, product features or package designs; the impact of particular package sizes or the optimal price to charge. They test planograms and new products in virtual stores and observe how shoppers react to displays using facial analysis or in-store cameras.

In summary, to future-proof your business you need to:
  • Create a shopping experience that is rewarding and exciting, triggering dopamine hits and, by doing so, creating a desire to come back for more, again and again.
  • Create a strong emotional connection between your brand and the consumer to make sure your brand is selected when shopping and specified when using a digital personal assistant.
Finally, as I am sure you remember, it is very likely that a significant number of consumers will be under severe financial pressure and this will make it even more important for the emotional relationships that are being built between consumers on the one hand and retailers and brands on the other are strong enough to create a desire in the consumer to personally engage.

Source: Bain (2016)

What we are likely to see happen…
In coming years there will be some likely developments due to the less than favourable future we have to prepare for. Retailers and brand owners will increasingly collaborate to create exciting and rewarding shopping experiences. Retailers will complement run-of-the-mill on-line catalogue type stores with exciting and rewarding store concepts that engage shoppers and bring them back, again and again. Brands will shift more of their spending to shopper marketing, i.e., in-store initiatives. Consultants, communications and shopper marketing agencies will adopt a shared focus, resulting from an integrated approach and true collaboration.

Think back to the Global Financial Crisis. In some ways it is a long time in the past, but does it really feel like a full ten years have passed since the events in 2007 started the crisis? The time ahead of us always seems longer – ten years may seem like a lifetime. You may agree with (some of) my points, but feel that there is plenty of time to take action later. After all, you are extremely busy right now and have to focus on your quarterly results. But look back ten years and you realize how quickly time passes.

The events we are anticipating will take a few years to play out. Ten years may be an appropriate planning horizon, although the impact of the technological disruption will be felt much earlier. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this gives you plenty of time to get ready for this new and different operating environment. To succeed you really need to start today.

Dr Peter Steidl is the Principal of Neurothinking. He can be reached at or via Linkedin and would value any comments or input related to the topic of this contribution.

*To read the full version of this article, download a free PDF version here.
**To explore Bain’s interactive map of the 30 elements of a Value Pyramid click here.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Patent Battle Gets UGG-ly

Let’s play a game. One of these products is not like the others: Champagne, Greek ‘style’ yoghurt or fetta, ‘Port’, ’Sherry’ and ‘Ugg’ boots. Yes, they may have something in common- they are all regional products that are intrinsically linked to a country or culture. If you said that Ugg boots are not like the others, then you would be right.  But do you know why?

Ugg boots were born out of the emergence of Australian surf culture around the same time as Australian cottage industries like Quicksilver (1969), Billabong (1973), and Rip Curl (1969). It started when a couple of jackeroos from Victoria and Western Australia crafted a pair of sheepskin boots with linoleum soles that were used them to keep the feet warm on cold mornings. Ugg boots are about as Australian as French Champagne, yet it’s a Californian-based company, Deckers, who owns the rights to trade as UGG Australia.

The University of Sydney’s Master of Marketing students who have been exploring Australian Consumer Law this semester should understand why this is enough to get any Aussie livid. Especially as the boots were conceived down under and these thieving mongrels are prohibiting anyone else from distributing them.  

On their website, the ACCC signals that they have an ongoing interest in intellectual property issues and copyright. The policies are under constant review, with the latest revision Competition and Consumer Act 2010 from the original Copyright Act 1968. They state, ‘’While it is largely accepted that the individual grant of copyright or intellectual property rights will rarely cause competition concerns, the ACCC is aware that there may be instances where intellectual property rights may confer market power”. Does this qualify, I wonder?

UGG belongs to Australia, not Deckers.

For years now, the future of the ‘UGG’ trademark (formerly ‘UGG Australia’) has been up in the air. In 2016, Deckers, whose annual turnover is $2.4billion, instituted a legal battle against Australian manufacturers for the right to sell their shoes as ‘uggs’. The court action called for multi-million dollar punitive damages and for all of Australian Leather's ugg boot stock to be delivered to Deckers in the US for destruction.

Obviously, this didn’t sit right with the ACCC. Nor did it impress Eddie Oygur, the founder and owner of Australian Leather Pty Ltd, proud manufacturers of ugg boots since the early 1990s. Mr Oygur responded to the action by counter-suing Deckers, claiming that their trademark of ‘UGG’ was based on the falsehood. He alleged that Deckers made false and misleading representations by using the former brand name UGG Australia, when their products were made in China. Since Deckers has now rebranded from ‘UGG Australia’ to ‘UGG’, the ACCC has decided they have bigger fish to fry, leaving Australian Leather Pty Ltd out in the cold - so to say.

Source: SMH, photo by James Alcock. Australian Leather owner Eddie Oygur

Eddie Oygur argues that a thriving Ugg boot industry in Australia could employ 3000 people. "This is a company importing the name of "ugg" into Australia, undercutting all the manufacturers...we can't compete," said Mr Oygur, during his deposition for the hearing. "[In LA] they attempted to mediate and wanted me to commit to selling only in Australia and New Zealand, but I said that was unacceptable...I want to take this right to the end, even if it means selling my property, getting an overdraft, I'm willing to do that."

UGGs should simply buy uggs.

All Aussies, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, believe Uggs should simply be uggs. The New York Times reported that in an attempt to help protect Australian interests, a letter dated in July 2017, Mr. Turnbull said he had asked the Australian Embassy in Washington to get information from the United States government about the dispute and to “reiterate Australia’s view that ‘ugg’ is a generic term.”

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has previously compared the fight to protect the word "ugg" to "the French protecting champagne, the Portuguese protecting port, the Spanish protecting sherry and even the Greek protecting fetta".

Stop ripping off our culture, you corporate bullies!

While Deckers maintain that they bought the patent fair and square from Australian entrepreneur Brian Smith back in the 1990’s, most Aussies don’t really give much credence to that. It’s like patenting the name Bondi and stopping others from using it. Oh wait that also happened!

In July 2017, Abercombie & Fitch tried and failed to prohibit a Sydney cosmetics company, Bondi Wash, from acquiring a trademark in the US. You think that’s bad enough? It doesn’t stop there! Uluru, the sacred rock formation in central Australia, is trademarked in the United States by a California carpet company. Kakadu, the name of a national park, is claimed by a number of companies in the United States. 

Matthew Rimmer, an intellectual property and innovation professor at Queensland University of Technology’s law school reiterates that “Certain words really belong in the public domain. There’s a certain Australian pride in the ugg boot, and a belief that it is a common article of clothing in Australia and resentment over it being claimed by a United States trademark holder.”

Poor Deckers are whinging about the infringement of their rights. 

The more I read about this topic, the more it makes my blood boil. Turns out that Deckers have filed a number of multi-million-dollar patent infringement lawsuits against J.C. Penney, Target, Gina, and now, H&M. 

Deckers have stated that H&M is a competitor of the famed boot maker and is stocking boots that intentionally infringe their design patent-protected boots. Deckers reckon that it was done “intentionally, fraudulently, maliciously, wilfully, wantonly, and oppressively, with intent to injure Deckers in its business and with conscious disregard for Deckers' rights.” “In an effort to exploit [its] reputation in the market,” H&M has “deprived Deckers of the right to control the use of its intellectual property.” 

The individual lawsuit, Deckers Outdoor Corp. v. H&M Hennes and Maurtiz, L.P., 2:17-cv-00103, seeks upwards of $100 million in damages. 

End the monopoly. 

So what do you think? Do Deckers have grounds? Under any other circumstance, I believe that they would. But you can’t deny the fact that UGG was stolen from Australian footwear manufacturers in the first place.  The damages that they owe Australia for all the years they have prevented Australian manufacturers from selling their footwear would set a precedent, giving Australians a leg to stand on when reclaiming their rights, interests, culture and name from international corporations.

This case, among others, have raised concerns about foreign companies gaining exclusive ownership of high-profile Australian place names in their branding. International businesses should be wary of exploiting Australian imagery, because Aussies are sick of them tapping into the benefits of associating products with Australia. Using Australian images, generic terms for Australian places, or using the word ‘Aussie’ fools consumers into thinking they are buying products made in Australia.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 6 October 2017

Aston Martin Should Listen to Women

Master of Marketing student, Francesa Lai originally wrote this article in April of 2016. Since then she has has worked in the agency world in New York, and recently moved to Australia to study at the University of Sydney. These two experiences have lead her to re-examine an article she had previously written, and explore this topic through the lens of her increased knowledge and experience.

For a long time, the Aston Martin was one of the coolest cars one could want to buy. James Bond’s car of choice. But now the company is cash strapped and looking to grow their consumer base quickly by getting millennials to buy their cars.

Aston Martin holds the secret to what’s ‘most important’ to women drivers.

It is launching “it’s most important car” (the new DB11) to target young female drivers — specifically young rich millennial female drivers. Their new target customer is “Charlotte”. She’s a rich American female in her late 30s. When Aston Martin first began talking about the DB11 at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, CEO Andy Palmer noted that “She’s a cool lady, she’s an attractive lady”.

I’m skeptical. Obviously I understand the ‘rich’ part. These cars aren’t cheap to develop and produce. But what makes Aston Martin think it can attract millennials, specifically women, away from all the other options available?

In it’s 102 year history, Aston Martin has reportedly only sold 70,000 cars, and only 3,500 of them to women. That’s 0.5% in the entire history of the company. So they’ve got a mountain to climb when it comes to marketing cars to women, and that’s no easy task either, considering a lot of women aren’t attracted to cars the same way men are.

But, have no fear! DB11 is definitely going to catch the eye of the cool and attractive Charlotte! How? By talking about shape, space and sound. *Slaps face* Did they learn nothing from their 2011 ‘Aston Martin loves women’ campaign? If you haven’t seen that one, watch the ad below.

Do women love Aston Martin?

Shape, space and sound. How is this different to how they market sports cars to men? It’s not. A quick look at the website for the Mercedes S-Class shows that they’re essentially using the same three principles to market their car. Same story for the Porsche 911 Carrera S and the BMW M6.

It’s not that women don’t buy sports cars — Aston Martin themselves have had female customers — but they’re not a majority. So having a woman as a key target customer is risky. As I am learning through my lectures, doing due diligence before launching a new product or focusing your efforts on a specific customer segment can make or break the project. 

In trying to capture Charlotte’s attention by highlighting the DB11’s shape, space and sound, Aston Martin are being lazy, assuming that these attributes are enough to convince Charlotte to purchase a car because they’ve been so successful before. 

In revisiting this topic I’ve looked at the official DB11 page, and there are no depictions of women driving the car. In fact, the page is largely dominated by images and video of the car in action, and one photograph of Marek Reichman, the Chief Creative Officer of Aston Martin, gesturing to the front of the car. It seems the declaration that Aston Martin was going to focus on attracting millennial females was nothing more than a headline generator. In fact, instead of being a disaster, the Guardian reports that the DB11 has allowed Aston Martin to post soaring revenues in the first quarter as it attempts to recover from six years of losses.

The most important thing to women may actually be fuel consumption.

So it sounds like the company is doing just fine. However, there are cracks in this facade. Why? Aston Martin are selling flashy oil and diesel dino-cars in a market where everyone else is offering more innovative alternatives, and Aston’s competitors are focusing on more than how a car looks, sounds and feels.

The company is planning to develop hybrid versions of their cars, but they’re already way behind in the innovation game. Tesla’s electric cars are already on the market and selling like hotcakes. Aston Martin’s closest rivals on the lower end such as Mercedes and BMW have already integrated hybrid or other innovative environmentally friendly technologies into their range. 

On the supercar end, Porsche (with the 918), McLaren (with the P1) and Ferrari (with LaFerrari) are battling it out to see who has the fastest, most technologically advanced yet environmentally friendly cars. Outside of the “environmentally friendly innovation” camp, Volvo has pledged to ensure that by the year 2020 they will reduce “the number of people that die or are seriously injured in road traffic accidents to zero” in their range of cars. 

Shape, Space and Sound

Even in sensible family cars and hatchbacks from brands like Kia, Ford, and VW, one can easily find lots of utilitarian features (hands-free calling, touchscreen GPS, etc), as well as various gas mileage friendly solutions. It’s clear that these companies aren’t just looking to sell the sounds and looks of a car, they’re selling a tool that helps people get things done, and has turned the uncool hybrid or eco-friendly car into a must-have status symbol which projects an image of innovation and sophistication. They have responded to the fact that customers are looking for new and functional solutions in their cars. So, what can the DB11 do? Go 200 miles per hour, fit two golf bags and two child seats

When it comes to women in the automotive industry, there is still a long way to go. Aston Martin is being advised on engaging women by Belinda Parmar, CEO of Lady Geek, who pointed out that “the car industry needs to think about de-masculinising the industry, not feminising it”. 

At least Aston Martin has shied away from pink washing their efforts to attract women. Some might say that in marketing to women, the secret is to address them directly and  ask them what they actually want. Perhaps then manufacturers will design cars where the grab handle won’t chip nail varnish and make-up won’t stain leather interior. Women don’t always know what they want, but they do want to be listened to.

Francesa Lai

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Living In The Now: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

Money. To many millennials it really is just a means to an end. They have lived through the biggest creation of wealth in history and yet now that they hold their own purse strings, fate would have it that the affordability of, well, pretty much everything their parents dared to dream of is financially beyond their means.

Image source: CNN Money

Wasn’t it Gahndi that once said, ‘The earth provides for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed.’ So with that in mind, along with a generation of disenchantment and a disposition for living in the moment, it’s no wonder that millennials are thinking twice about home ownership and the accumulation of material possessions and opting instead for experiences and social responsibility.

Last Thursday, four Master of Marketing students attended the annual Millennial Marketing Conference, hosted by Growth Tank, Chris Wirasinha from Pedestrian TV asked us to look past the smashed avocados and stigma that usually surrounds millennials and their spending habits. The insights presented were based on a quantitative study of 1,067 respondents as well as a qualitative deep dive with 8 young Aussies on the eastern seaboard.

From that study, four key findings have emerged that can help marketers position their brands against the goalposts for millennials.
  1. The big picture: extended adultification
  2. Day-to-day purchases: the new grocery buyer
  3. Larger purchases: saving for the medium term
  4. Entertainment and hobbies: the search for freedom
The big picture: extended adultification

Image Source: Mashable

Millennials are moving through adulthood markers slower than previous generations, instead opting to enjoy life and explore their options. And why not? With parental security nets being stronger than ever, as well the ability to claim a youth allowance from the government, the world is their oyster. Besides, aren’t they supposed to be entitled. Adulting is hard, the cost of living is expensive and their parents got to reap the benefits of the housing, super and mining boom, post GFC bounceback and low interest rates. What did millennials get?

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

Working hard and getting a degree no longer equates to getting a stable job with a high income. And with their grandparents spending the inheritance, millennials can pretty much kiss goodbye any chance of owning our own homes. So you can really understand why they feel that they should take the time to figure out what their passions are in life. You only live once, so you might as well enjoy life to the fullest.

Day-to-day purchases: the new grocery buyer

For those millennials living out of home and running their own households, being financially independent is like a badge of honour. 86% are responsible for all or most of their household expenditure, while 81% are responsible for doing their groceries. One of the most interesting findings was the trend of ‘Sunday Adultday’. Due to their busy work and social calendars, millennials prefer to get their adulting done in one day and do one big shop on a Sunday (32%).

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

The love for anything ‘gourmet’ extends beyond Saturday brunches, it also translates into the kitchen too. Millennials are passionate about cooking, and do it for 65% of their meals.

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

They also love a good bargain, paying close attention to prices and quality. However, they are also prone to premium purchases as a treat. Aldi is a firm favourite among young adults, while premium purchases are more likely to be bought from boutique vendors and specialty stores.

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

Larger purchases: saving for the medium term

Turns out millennials learnt something from the GFC. Most of them are in credit rather than debt, with 45% actively saving, holding an average of 5-6.5K stashed away for a rainy day. Granted, what they are saving for, will probably be spent in the medium term, with 76% signalling that they intend to spend the money on traveling overseas. Traditionally, young adults save for larger purchases such as cars and homes. However, only 20% indicated that they were saving for a car, while 49% were saving for the long term in the hope they can one day afford to buy a house.

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

It’s interesting to point out that as early adopters of technology, millennials are using budgeting apps and services to help save, invest and manage their spending. While many steer clear of credit cards in favour of debit cards, micro-credit offerings like Afterpay and zipPay are becoming more popular for splurge purchases.

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

Entertainment and hobbies: the search for freedom

Anyone can understand that with alcohol being so expensive and Australian lock-out laws in place, there have been shifting trends in going out. That’s why share house entertainment is on the rise. Millennials are hosting dinner parties, house parties and dabbling in adultification while they side hustle their way through uni or work.

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

1 in 3 working millennials have a side business and a whopping 2 in 3 have entrepreneurial ambitions. Often seen a way of identifying themselves to others, these side hustles are more than just hobbies. They are often the result of drunken ideas thrown together with a group of friends and can range between anything from jewellery making to craft beer brewing. What’s more, these endeavours have given millennials financial freedom and the ability to turn on and off their cash flow at their will. This means there’s a huge opportunity for brands to facilitate opportunity, insight and information for would-be millennial entrepreneurs.

Source: Growth Tank. Pedestrian TV presentation: How Millennials Are Spending Their Cash

Millennial consumption patterns along with the rapid expansion of the food delivery market, and the consumption of beauty products, present opportunities for brands to provide further value for this important customer segment. But beyond the shifting trends in consumption patterns, what else does this mean for brands?

These are the questions you should be asking yourself:
  • How are you positioning against the new goalposts for millennials? E.g. travel, cars, tech, education & major purchases.
  • How are your brands helping them move closer to the goal of adulthood?
  • How do you position your brand into the ‘treat yo’ self’ category and away from home brand commodification? 
  • How can brands own SUPER SUNDAY across digital and mobile?
  • How can we tap into their love and passion for food and cooking and the massive amount of eating at home that they’re doing?
  • What are your brands offering for purchases in the medium term?
  • Side hustles are the third most likely income source beyond traditional full-time and part-time work. Entrepreneurs are the new role-models. How are you aligning against this?
**All insights provided by Pedestrian TV, and presented at the Millennial Marketing Conference 2017, presented by Growth Tank. For the full summary of the all the MMC17 speakers’ insights and slides, click the link below for a free download:

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 29 September 2017

60 Key Insights From the Millennial Marketing Conference

It may be mid-semester breaks for the University of Sydney’s Business School, but for four keen Master of Marketing students, yesterday was an opportunity to learn from some of the best Australian marketers in the industry at the Millennial Marketing Conference 2017. With speakers such as Stig Richards (Junkee Media), Adam Cadwallader (oHh!). Sam, Taunton (MTV), David Nemes (Buzzfeed), the day was an invaluable experience for all.

Lucky for those who missed out, MoM has got you covered. After eight hours of ‘actively listening’, sitting behind enemy lines in a UNSW auditorium, and developing a hand cramp from filling up half a notebook, I’m pretty sure my notes are solid. I learned A LOT and I hope these takeaways can help you too.

1. We live in a scrolling economy. #stopthethumb

2. The term ‘millennial’ covers a broad spectrum. From 20 y/o students to 37 y/o employees.

3. Millennials are getting older and so marketers must grow with them

4. We live in a world of post truth and biased reporting. Don’t lie to us because we already distrust you.

5. The world is going to hell but millennials remain positive. We care about climate change, social equality, refugees and foreign aid.

6. Marketing to mobile natives means mobile first. Who owns a laptop these days anyway? Isnt that for Netflix?

7. Facebook may not be cool but it is useful. We use is for getting the news and watching cute cat videos.

8. Visual messages are the strongest. Also they make it harder to lie.

9. Vertical videos for vertical devices. Urgh rotating is such a drag.

10. Younger millennial students are spending more time on campus. Urban hubs represent BIG marketing opportunities.

11. Campaigns launched on-campus are great local testing zones.

12. Students make great brand ambassadors (SBAs).

13. SBAs achieve access and identify trends that brands can’t. #coolhunting

14. SBAs can look to consumers of tomorrow, and capture loyalty early.

15. Millennials would rather save than be in debt. They have around 5-6.5K in savings, that will probs be spent travelling overseas.

16. Saving for the mid-term, means spending on travel, fashion, food and entertainment.

17. Millennials really like to connect socially over food. Then photograph it, whack on a filter and publish on Instagram.

18. Millennials are extending their adultification. Because adulting is hard and overrated. #YOLO

19. Millennials are a generation of side hustlers and entrepreneurs. 9-5 desk jobs hold absolutely no allure.

20. Credit is scary and so millennials would rather just save up.

21. Except for micro-credit options like Afterpay. #treatyoself

22. Grocery shops are done in bulk, with ready-to-eat and premium preferences. #SuperSunday is adult day. How can brands capitalise?

23. Video content should be ‘optimised’ or translated for a Gen Y audience with a short attention span. 40 seconds and you’ve lost me. #FUautoplay

24. The most liked videos are those that are simple, straightforward, contain stunts or keep the audience in suspense.

25. Content that has a utility or emotional function creates purpose in millennials lives. Scrolling should feel like time well spent. #timemanagement #wereNOTlazy

26. Most popular hits involve brands, especially FMCGs. Mmmm Tasty videos with Nutella. Yum!

27. ‘Dark social' or messaging apps are the future of customer experience.

28. Mastering messaging apps will pose a challenge, but bring about great rewards. You can’t track us, and that’s how we like it.

29. Brands MUST have a dark social strategy or eventually cede ground to new entrants who do.

30. Millennials live through the lens of music, making music videos the most watched.

31. Millennials are digital consumers through and through. Foxtel and FTA sucks. We are the ‘we want it now’ generation. TV has too many ads.

32. An average of 10 devices are connected per Gen Y household, making millennials the most connected humans in history.

33. Millennials are watching videos on PC for escaping, TV for relaxing and mobile for snacking. Make shorter videos.

34. Video creates an emotional connection, engages more and is more believable.

35. Quality matters most to millennials. Pop videos are fun, but only if image quality is good.

36. Millennials understand the reason for playing ads before videos, but like to skip them.

37. Musicians make the best influencers.

38. Content should be co-created and not prescribed to influencers.

39. Brands should be selective of their choice in ‘influencer’ and make sure they share the same brand values.

40. Influencers hate the word ‘influencer’ and prefer to be called ‘brand ambassadors’. #respect

41. Push selling never works. Millennials hate being sold to. We will block brands out if they scream at us.

42. Influencers don’t have to have a tonne of followers, they can be a voice of authority.

43. Snapchat is for private messaging between family and friends, so marketers should back off.

44. Branded content should ALWAYS be disclosed. #trust

45. Content should always be reflective of the brand values.

46. Boomerang and post-production overlays work better than professionally produced video.

47. Millennials trust real people, not brands. Truth, honesty and transparency build trust and brand advocacy.

48. Millennials expect more from brands, demanding new, useful, meaningful and interesting content delivered a the right time, through the right channel to the right audience.

49. PR stunts and experiential marketing creates mass awareness of a brand and a reason to talk about it.

50. PR stunts should be visually led activations, interactive (translatable online and offline), or newsjacking trends on social.

51. Brands should think like publishers and generate more and more content. Blogs are far from dead.

52. Saying that, we live in an age of user-generated content (UGC), so create an army of storytellers.

53. Connect content to things millennials care about to convert an already enagaged audience into loyal advocated.

54. Millennials are more likely to buy if that brand produces educational content.

55. They are 247% more likely to buy from an influencer blog.

56. Focus on the story and then think about the brand. #storyfirst

57. Speak a visual language. Develop a visual first strategy. A picture tells a thousand words.

58. Content should make your audience laugh, feel emotion and learn. #LEL

59. Keep it simple. 41% of Gen Y struggle with information overload.

60. Create content that people want to watch and share. That means always provide value.

**The MMC17 was presented by Growth Tank, a strategic marketing consultancy specialising in millennials. For more information on the points brought up in this blog, stay tuned for more detailed discussions and slides from the conference.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

5 Reasons Why Your Job Hunt Needs a Marketing Strategy

The job market these days is pretty ruthless. In the last decade the rules have changed, so for those of you switching careers or just entering the market, you should acquaint yourselves with how to play the game. If you want to compete with the fierce competition, it’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd. That’s why, when it comes to job hunting, you need a marketing strategy.

While getting a masters degree is one step in the right direction, there’s still a lot more that can be done to give yourself a competitive edge. According to, on average, employees with a postgraduate qualification earn 20% more than those with a bachelor degree. That comforting snippet of information is all well and good, but it won’t help you land a job. University of Sydney students may be the most employable in Australia, but what will really help you get a job is preparation, dedication and a genuine desire to bring value to the company you are looking to work for.

Master of Marketing students at the University of Sydney are well aware that marketing is essentially about providing value. We wouldn’t dream about competing in the marketplace without a marketing strategy. So why should looking for a marketing job be any different?

It may require a little more effort on your behalf, but the time and energy invested will give you a higher ROMI when you land the marketing job that you are really passionate about.

1. Know what kind of role you want

How is a hiring manager supposed to know if you are the right candidate for the job, if you aren’t even sure yourself. Knowing what type of role you want is the most important thing to do before applying for a job. This can be quite difficult for marketers in particular because we generally have diverse skills across disciplines and we enjoy many aspects of marketing.

But even if you aren’t yet sure where you want to specialise or focus, the first step is knowing where your strengths lie. Ask yourself, ‘What am I interested in and what am I good at?’ If you apply to every role that has marketing in the title, you may end up doing a job that you aren’t that passionate about. Or worse yet- you could end up doing something that isn’t aligned to your career goals.

Source: University of Sydney. Integrated Marketing Communication. Brad Amos

Do you want to work on the agency or client side of the business? Have you identified the industry you want to work in? What are you career goals for the next ten years? What areas do you need the most experience in if you want to be a CMO? These are all questions you need to be asked yourself sooner rather than later.

TIP: Get a sheet of paper and fold it in half. On one side, make a list of all the job responsibilities that you like and on the other side write those that you don’t like. Then only apply for the jobs that list a good number of the responsibilities that you enjoy.

2. Apply for jobs at your experience level

If you are fresh out of uni and have little experience outside of class, even if you did excel, there’s a pretty good chance that you still aren’t qualified for upper-management positions. While some may have the prior experience to qualify for Manager, Director and Vice President of Marketing level roles, if you don’t have at least 3-5 years experience working in a similar function, you probably should adjust your expectations.

These types of roles require leaders who are experienced in managing and motivating teams as well as a good understanding of office politics and the organisational hierarchy. But don’t worry! You will get there, and when you do you will have worked hard to learn the skills to successfully execute the role.

It’s one thing to have ideas, as many of us do, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to successfully launch and and market different products and services. Nothing compares with actual experience in a real work environment. We don’t automatically deserve to be a CMO just because we have a degree from the University of Sydney. We have to earn the role.

3. Start building the skills you need for the position

There are more ways to show how you can add value to a company other than the traditional route. By being proactive and demonstrating that you have drive and passion, you can increase the interest in your profile. Wouldn’t it be nice to pick and choose who you want to work with? Standing out from the crowd should be your objective when it comes to applying for jobs. Going that extra mile will give you both leverage and the differentiating factor to show that you are a candidate than can provide value to the company.

  • Start learning the skills necessary for the job you want- whether that be by interning, self-learning or getting involved in side projects.
  • Go to networking events and conferences where high profile players in the industry will likely be present.
  • Get your LinkedIn page up to date, write and request referrals, and hone your personal brand.
  • Follow the companies you want to work with, influencers, key players in the industry and join groups that reflect your interests.
  • Write blog posts related to the role, job function or company you want to work with and then cold email their CEOs or CMOs.
  • Create a growth strategy for the company you want to work at and then go one step further and email the results to the CEOs
  • Write a 90-day marketing plan for companies as it’s usually one of the steps in the interview process for higher level positions. 
  • Research a company’s long-term and short-term goals and cold email the CEO and Head of Marketing about how they can achieve their goals.
  • Contact the hiring manager or someone in the marketing department of a company you want to work for on LinkedIn and ask to chat about their experience. This helps to form a relationship so later you can ask them for a referral.

4. Stand out from the crowd with an amazing resume

Aah remember the days when we could just send in a resume and cover letter and hope that we would get a job. Well, that’s all changed now. These days there can be between 50-100+ applicants all vying for the same job. If you are applying for a creative marketing or advertising role, thanks to online tools like Canva, it’s easier than ever to market yourself in a way that catches the attention of your would-be employer.

Take for example these two examples of eye-catching creative resumes:

According to the Australian government’s ‘Job Outlook’ report (2014-2019), the Advertising and Marketing sector is expected to increase its demand for qualified professionals by over twenty percent. It may be a godsend for an already saturated industry, but with the influx of undergraduates to compete with, how do you justify to a hiring manager that YOU are the right candidate? You can write it in a CV or cover letter, you can dazzle them in the interview, but without the proof to back up your claims, you really have no leg to stand on.

Take for example, Nina Mufleh, whose dream was to work for Airbnb. After failing the traditional job seeker route, she decided to create a resume that displayed her knowledge of Airbnb and the travel industry, and that highlighted a business opportunity that Airbnb was missing out on. She then tweeted the CEO and CMO of Airbnb the resume, got a response, and landed an interview at the company along with interviews at Uber and LinkedIn. It really does pay to go the extra mile.

5. Don’t bluff your way through the interview

Finally, the last piece of advice I can give you is to be authentic during the interview process. If you’re asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, don’t lie or bluff your way through it. You will be respected more if you answer honestly.

According to Benji Hyam from Grow and Convert, ‘Hiring managers would rather hear that you don’t know how to do something and have you express your willingness to learn over listen to you fumble over an explanation from a blog post that you read the night before your interview.’

Instead , show them concrete examples of what you can do and what you have done. Come with printed examples of your work, or bring along an iPad to whip out and demonstrate your know-how. Show them case studies, blog posts you’ve written, figures to demonstrate your success on other projects. You can say things like ‘I increased leads by x%’. Or ‘I increased our conversion rates from x% to y% and it had z impact on the company’. Then show them the evidence to back it up.
If this seems like a lot of work to you, that’s because it is! But if you chip away a little at it each day or even week, come graduation, hopefully you will already have the job of your dreams lined up. Just remember that it all comes down to communicating the value you can offer to potential employers. Form a strategy to market yourself effectively, familiarise yourself with the market, identify your points of parody and differentiators, devise tactics to achieve your goals and then put into action.

Alyce Brierley 
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 22 September 2017

Neuromarketing: Where Science Meets Art

When we think of brands, if they are well positioned, the first thing that comes to mind is a logo or a unique message. Strong brands occupy a single place in our minds and their message is always consistent. Even more so, they evoke a feeling. Sounds pretty simple right? But in fact it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Without much effort, most people are able to identify a brand’s logo, idea or message. Things like design, colour, and communication all focus on the consciousness. If we look at brands in a deeper way, we can see than they are actually a collection of messy associations. The challenge for marketers is then to tap into the functional and emotional benefits of a product or brand and convey that to a target audience.

Source: Creative Bloq. How many of these logos do you recognise?

Have you heard of the brand seduction?
In Daryl Weber’s Brand Seduction, he speaks about how neuroscience techniques can be used to build stronger brands. This statement could be somewhat daunting for many marketers who believe that ‘brand building is an art and as science is its nemesis.’ But with a little understanding of how the mind works, it’s easy to get a grasp of the decision making process.

In Research and Decision Making, we learn that there are two types of thinking; low involvement (system 1) and high involvement (system 2). System 1 thinking operates below conscious awareness. Decisions in this mode are spontaneous, fast, effortless, and intuitive.

Conversely, System 2 thinking is conscious, calculated and highly rational.

The link between the unconscious mind and nature of brands is described in Weber’s words as the Brand Fantasy. He writes, ‘’The brand fantasy is the unconscious web of associations that together form a mental representation of a brand.’’ While they are interpreted differently by different people, these emotional connections are often messy, irrational and abstract. But whether intentional or unintentional, they form a unique ‘essence’ or ‘personality’ of a brand and should be something that people want to aspire towards. 

How does neuroscience in marketing work?

Market research that uses neuroscience methods can help marketers gain a deeper understanding of human motivations. Using a variety of data types, such as demographic and psychographic information, along with with behavioral economics and psychology principles, marketers are able to better understand, predict and even influence consumer decision-making behavior.

This type of research reveals the thoughts, emotions, and motives below our conscious awareness that affect judgment and decision-making. These insights are then used for a range of reasons like building better brands, positioning, identifying a target audience, designing better customer experiences and creating narratives that resonate with customers on an emotional level.

Source: Merchant Mechanics. How emotions influence behaviour. 

Brands that have a good understanding of these principles employ tactics to appeal to consumers’ subconscious. Neuromarketing principles can be used to:
  • Optimise product characteristics
  • Create brands with strong emotional connections
  • Stimulate senses with packaging and colour 
  • Leverage ambience in store
  • Align communications
  • Tailor solutions for a specific need 

Source: Merchant Mechanics

When does it become unethical?
At the mention of ethics, alarm bells start sounding for some people. And yes, while there are some minor ethical concerns concerning the application of neuroscience to marketing practices, most of these fears are irrational. That’s why rules and regulations are in place to ensure companies are following ethical practices to provide consumers with as much control as possible. 

Using neuromarketing techniques is not about deception, or even manipulation. It’s about creating a ‘hook’ or an appeal that is clearly articulated. And while most people might think they aren’t susceptible to manipulation, countless psychological studies prove that humans are in fact influenced by factors outside their awareness. 

That’s why it’s more important than ever to build a strong brand identity with rich ‘brand fantasies’. Every piece of the brand must be aligned to the same fantasy and ingrained into the core of the company culture as a whole. In this way, there is the opportunity to add real value for consumers. 

Just as we get get more enjoyment out of something that cost more money, like an expensive car or pair of shoes, brands with strong associations and equity are also more attractive and enjoyable. This mutually beneficial arrangement gives something to both sides. Consumers get to live their fantasy and connect more with a brand and brands can charge more for their product or service. Even if these are perceived differences, to the mind, perception is reality. And that is all that really counts.

Alyce Brierley 
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School