On my radar this week

Alain Giguère

CROP in the news

Our public studies

Our contents

Our Blog

Welcome to our blog, a creative space for free thinking, ideas and inspiration!

CROP poll on the political climate in Quebec

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 10-25-10 at 4:19 p.m.

CROP has unveiled the results of a survey on Quebec politics and has found a large appetite for change in Quebec.

Click here to continue reading


The CROP Touchpoints Study - Mastering the communication mix

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 3:58 p.m.

Image for The CROP Touchpoints Study - Mastering the communication mix

The question that we hear all of the time is, "what is the best communication mix to reach my target consumer segment and then engage with them?" To help provide answers, we surveyed Canadians on how much influence 18 different consumer touchpoints have on their brand selection decisions in 12 major categories (automobiles, luxury goods, home appliances, home improvement, financial services, apparel, pharmaceuticals, women's health & beauty care, men's care, food and home cleaning products). This is what we learned:

Word of mouth is the media channel for the 21st century

Friends and family have the most claimed influence over a person's purchase decisions.  The next biggest phenomenon is what is being referred to today as "earned and owned media". Professionals and specialists (note, not necessarily celebrities - scan down) endorsing brands are very powerful influencers as well as in-store experiences such as displays, demos, brochures etc.

Across all 12 categories we observed a surprising consistency in touchpoint selections. With a few distinctions, the averages to the left are representative of each individual category leading us to conclude that...

Media channels are people-driven and not category-driven

As was expected going into this study (for details, please consult our full article and appendix). Consumers are in the driver's seat and if they want to consult the same media to buy groceries as they do to buy a car, they have that prerogative and more importantly, they have the means.

Among traditional media, television is still a strong performer in 5th position followed by newspapers and magazines in 7th, 8th and 9th positions.

Brand websites are the incontestable online influencers when it comes to a consumer's top of mind recall. One in five consumers claim that they have a very strong influence over their decisions.

Social media and content sharing sites are not yet perceived as having much clout when it comes to influencing decisions. This shows that these new tools need to be integrated within more holistic strategies.

Consumer values and Touchpoints Influence

Beyond the information gathered on the touchpoints themselves, we asked consumers an abbreviated battery of questions from our consumer values study, our PANORAMA program (3SC), to further investigate consumer motivations and needs. Based on our discovery that media channels today are undeniably "people-driven", we were very happy that we had these deeper "people insights" to dive into. The graphic below re-arranges the touchpoints explained above according to a consumer values map and provides an interpretation of how users of these different touchpoints are distinct in their personal values and "hot-buttons".

Looking at the above map of consumer values, we learn how various touchpoints resound with different consumer types. For example, those who place high value on social status recognition will be more receptive to social media networks and new media, but also to television. People receptive to "packaged" communications like newspaper, radio and email communications are seeking authorities on a subject and are more likely to be looking to be told what to do. By contrast, autonomous consumers are most reliant on word of mouth, specialists and the in-store experience. Magazines have a unique position as they cater to people who feel that they are creative and live customized lifestyles.

Finally, our analysis reveals the most universal of consumer touchpoints at the center of the map: brand websites. Content available on brand websites is not only influential, trustworthy and a great resource for pre-purchase research, but it has the potential to have something for every type of consumer and as such we conclude that ...

Websites are the "Grand Central Stations" for all communication efforts

Armed with this multi-dimensional view of consumer touchpoints, you are well on your way to mastering the communication mix. We welcome your comments and ideas and will be happy to discuss ways in which to incorporate these insights within your communication strategies.

*The Touchpoint study is a North American study.  CROP handled the Canadian portion of the study while our New York-based partner CRM Metrix handled the US portion of the study.

Click here to read the full article



The Shower Curtain Goes Design

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 3:33 p.m.

Image for The Shower Curtain Goes Design

Socio-Cultural Observations reflecting the zeitgeist

In times gone by, our intrepid consumer had three color choices when shopping for a shower curtain - beige, light beige and dark beige. Times have changed. Today, the shower curtain has become much more: an expression of mood, of one’s aesthetic inclinations. And yes, it still keeps the water from splattering all over your floor.

Here at CROP, we’re interested in how this mirrors two deeper socio-cultural trends that characterize young urban consumers (Importance of Aesthetics* and Prosumerism**).

The degree to which your target group is characterized by such sensitivities should affect the way you position and market products (such as shower curtains and much more).  If Group A is rational, pragmatic and risk-averse, then marketing aspects of convenience, value and ease of use (i.e. functional features) may serve you best.  Conversely, if Group B is Neo-Romantic, i.e. drawn towards sensorial payoffs, then design, aesthetics and uniqueness become frontline selling points.

A simple shower curtain? Not anymore.  To learn more about consumer values and marketing opportunities, don’t hesitate to contact us.

*Importance of Aesthetics

Tendency to base purchase decisions on aesthetic rather than utilitarian considerations.  Measures the attention given to the beauty of objects and products purchased.  People strong on this trend often buy products purely for their appearance.  Aesthetics, in this case, is a form of personal expression.  (Inverse of Utilitarian Consumerism)


This trend identifies people for whom personalization is so important that they want to communicate their specific needs directly to the producer. People strong on this trend are well-versed in the best communication channels to use to establish a dialogue to make their specific product demands known.


Prêt à manger - Branding & the zeitgeist

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 3:24 p.m.

Image for Prêt à manger - Branding & the zeitgeist

Every so often, as a marketer and consumer, I run into a brand and can’t help but feel that they just get it.  I’m talking here about something that transcends the 4 Ps. Something more profound. The feeling that certain brands are just cosmically aligned with the root values of a marketplace, at the right time and in the right place. Such things can only be half planned, the other half is pretty much serendipity.

One such brand is PRET. Undeniably, when one walks into a PRET venue the machinations of a well-oiled, large-scale marketing conglomerate are there for all to see. Despite this, the overriding spirit of the place and the experience it provides are altogether different. It brilliantly taps into a cohesive set of values that speak to authenticity, transparency, local pride, health and good taste.
When I look at PRET through my ethnographic/socio-cultural tinted glasses, I see a brand that has marvellously identified and delivers on core “counter-tendency” values developed in response to hectic urban living. In our trend parlance, I am referring to needs & values such as:

- Scepticism towards big business
- Community Spirit/Local
- Effort for Health
- Control & Autonomy
- Brand Authenticity

These brand values permeate every aspect of PRET’s retail experience, from the mission/philosophy statements posted on the walls, to the blurbs on the napkins (“Just Made”) and coffee sleeves (“Just Roasted”).
In my humble opinion, this brand is more wholesome than McDonalds, more progressive and witty than Starbucks and simply nailing the right socio-cultural hot buttons.

Investigate the socio-cultural meaning of your brand.


GARDENING: the road to self-actualization

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 3:07 p.m.

Image for GARDENING: the road to self-actualization

Socio-cultural observations reflecting the zeitgeist

Growing up as the son of honest, hardworking Italian immigrants, the vegetable garden was a ubiquitous presence in my life. A symbol of their rural past, a source of fresh ingredients, a smart way to save a few bucks, the fulfillment of basic level Maslowian instincts (you know: food, shelter…) - they’re all logical and valid motives driving this seemingly innocent activity.
Let’s fast-forward a few years.  Next, let’s change setting - say, some of the hippest neighbourhoods in Montreal (Mile End, Le Plateau). In this context, gardening has been imbued with far more weight and meaning than the humble yet noble immigrant pursuit, prompted by economic necessities or Old World values.

Today, gardening has taken on a spiritual and political gravitas. It has become the symbol of the urbanite’s quest for authenticity, the impulse to reconnect with nature, a desire for deceleration. On a grander scale, the act of gardening has become a noble gesture, a nod to Mother Earth, an expression of ecological sensitivity.

As such, the very image of a garden is loaded with new socio-cultural meanings and values. It can still be linked to notions of sustenance and subsistence, but interestingly, it has also come to symbolize higher order and aspirational values such as autonomy, new social responsibility, ecological awareness, spiritual questing and the like.
The rise of locavores, open air food markets, farmer’s markets, community gardens and the 20 mile diet all point to a fundamental shift in mores.

In this age of go go go, you would think that our time-strapped consumers would balk at the idea of going out of their way to purchase fresh, local produce, much less grow it themselves. Something deeper is at play here, possibly indicating a malaise with the accelerated pace of progress and consumption, possibly a quest for meaning, a need for roots.

Certainly, the trends we track point to those phenomena fuelling the behavior.
To learn more about consumer values and their implications for your marketing opportunities, don’t hesitate to contact us.