Matt Gierhart: heavily influenced by packaging
Consumers identify with brands that help add to the story of their life. So there is the expression of who you are.
As Head of Social for OgilvyAction, the global brand activation network of The Ogilvy Group, Matt Gierhart‘s main task is exploring what impact social media has on purchase behavior. Matt explores how social media fits within customer activation. He believes that customer-lead understanding of brands and products results in smarter socially-driven marketing campaigns structured for activation.
Above all, Matt is a gifted speaker so we can expect to hear superb masterclass presentation during the BlogOpen conference.
BO: Do customers act differently comparing online and offline shopping?
Matt: Customers do behave in very different ways for online vs offline shopping. When a consumer is shopping online they expect reviews, experiences, suggested alternatives to come to them all at once. In the offline world the science of shopper marketing meets their expectations. Where it get’s interesting is that those consumers who do online and offline shopping for the same product or brand typically have twice the basket size per month. So the sweet spot is understanding how offline and online inform each other. We must remember, consumers don’t think offline or online, they just think about the decision they are about to make.
BO: I came across one conference footage where you talked about how one should not insist on confronting competition, but hear the pulse of customers’ behavior. How does one listen to the pulse?
Matt: We do a form of online listening and augment that with traditional research. This isn’t new to take a look at what people are saying online. What I do think is important that a lot of brands leave out of their online or social listening is understanding consumer behaviour in that category of products. Most brands want to know their reputation, what people are saying about them, but I think it’s much more valuable to know the behaviours that exist around buying a car than just what someone thinks of Ford.
BO: Can somebody’s profile be defined by his shopping habits? Tell me what or how you buy, I`ll tell you who you are?
Matt: There are two sides to this answer. One, we express who we are by the brands we buy. If you walk up to me with a Dior hand bag versus a GAP handbag I have a different perception of you. The same when I open your refrigerator and see organic orange juice versus the cheapest store brand. Consumers identify with brands that help add to the story of their life. So there is the expression of who you are.
The other side is algorithms. Ecommerce platforms are getting very smart at recommendations. Suggested products are moving from the space of competitor to complimentary and that is having a very powerful result on conversion rates.
BO: What kind of buyer are you? When you see an advertisement, do you pay attention as a buyer or as professional marketer?
Matt: I’m heavily influenced by packaging. I always have been. I love clean design and I often find myself mistrusting a brand when their packaging looks cheap. I also love stories. When I hear a story of a product or a brand, something that is worth repeating I’m much more likely to buy it. As for advertising, I’m a bit boring. Sometimes I chuckle but I find more like entertainment than having anything to do with which product I buy. That said, I do think I buy on emotions, not rational. I don’t do a lot of research, some but not a lot, before purchases
BO:Besides your professional orientation for marketing, you are very much involved in other fields as education or economical development. How much does education and economic growth effect buyers?
Matt: Well my time spent on both those subjects was from a social structural point of view. From that point of view, they are directly linked. There are times when education and economic growth or depression does affect consumer behavior. We work with quite a few value brands that play into that market. I also had a conversation with one of our employees in Greece about the need to build economic sensitivity into everything. The one trend that seems to be radically different over the past 5 years is that consumers are empowered, no matter which economic class. Alternative and cheaper products are always out there. My job is to make the consumer know their empowerment and make sure the brand is respecting it.
BO: In transitional country are buyers or sellers more needed?
Matt: Well, I think sellers. What the Internet has brought to transitional countries is the democratization of choice. Even if they don’t buy foreign brands (particularly Western) they are still competing with them. There is a great case study of a chocolate in Romania (ROM) that was seen as cheap and not as good as some from Western countries. They changed the packaging to an American flag. Romanians protested and when they changed it back (it was all planned) Romanians bought it and fell in love with it again. The chocolate needed to give itself a story to compete with these huge brands of the west. Sellers in transitional countries need to have their story.
BO: To whom would you recommend your lecture on BlogOpen?
Matt: Two main audiences, those attending who run marketing campaigns in regional markets (particularly in transitional or emerging markets) and global brands who have activities trickle down to local markets. I hope to offer a look at some of the trends that are unique to emerging markets in the social technology space. This should give regional offices a chance address the quirks and nuances of the social behaviour in their own culture.