Make Someone Happy

Screen shot 2012-12-21 at 8.31.39 AMFRESH FACTS:  So as I was driving home yesterday night, I was thinking that I need to close up shop on the nuggets, post a cute snowman or something festive, wish everyone well, and pack it in the for the new year.  But oh no…this morning I read a nugget that I wanted to share and get in before I flip the sign around to “Closed…Be back soon.”  It’s about coupons.  I agree and I disagree with this study.  Walk with  me — in a winter wonderland of crunchy goodness (keeping a little holiday’ish mood here)…

Coupons Make People Happy — According to a study conducted by, Dr. Paul J. Zak, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, and shared in this morning’s Center for Media Research (*phew* that’s a lot of credit to give), coupons make people happy physically and emotionally.  Physically:  respiration rates fall, heart rates drop, and oxytocin levels increase (that’s a hormone associated with happiness) when people are given a coupon.  And the oxytocin levels were found in some of the consumers to be higher than kissing, cuddling, and other social interactions that make people physically react and become happy.  Emotionally: 11% of people who received the coupon said they were happier than those who did not.  The study concluded that getting a coupon makes people feel better than getting a gift.  Huh!  Interesting, no?!  Makes you wanna rethink your holiday strategy, right?!  But I have my theories, of course…

Duh, we see this in social — For anyone who works on a Consumer Packaged Good, one of the observations we always see in monitoring social chatter — meaning, looking at what real people share in social spaces like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, etc — is that offers typically cause spikes in social conversations.  People like to post and share offers.    It makes the post-er feel good in giving and doing good. But as we see in the coupon research, it also makes recipients feel good.  Which leads me to my next point…

Coupons shmoopons, it’s about surprise and delight — Here’s where I poke holes in this research.  The study didn’t really give a “coupon” — they gave more of a gift:  a $10 “coupon” during their grocery shopping trip.  That’s a really high value.  Sure, call it a “coupon,” but to make general, sweeping statements in the world of “save $1 on two,” and “50 cents off”?!  Not exactly apples to apples, I think.  Rather, what I think made those people happy was the surprise and delight in the right time, right place context.  So personally, I don’t believe that a coupon is better than a gift, sorry.  I think any offer that is delivered with the elements of surprise and delight would do the same.  It’s why people LOVE free samples.  It’s why people grab free gift bags at an event.  It’s why a great offer in-store is worth talking about (“I got the iPhone4 for only 99 cents!”).  These things feel good, they feel right.  And again, my opinion, it’s why I think the results were as they came up in this study. Something to always consider for my marketing and promotions and brand peeps.  Now…onto the well wishes…

Hoping your holiday also brings you lots of wonderful surprises and delights!  Thanks for reading and see you in the new year!  TASTY TREND:  Here and Now; Feel Good Marketing

The Gif that Gives

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FRESH IDEA: Just recently, I was in a brainstorm where a woman was mentioning that she and her Husband like to pass around gifs (they’re both cool, tech savvy types).  Gif, I should mention, is short for “graphics interchange format.” According to Mashable (article here with lots of examples:, gifs have been around since the late 80’s — providing a little flash and fun on websites before the days of videos that didn’t require tons of time to buffer and download.  They’ve since taken on a humor bent, delivering quick, funny situations with animation that are easily passed around and posted.  And now they’ve landed as a promotional piece as delivered by retailer Uniqlo.

Gif Box Promotion — I saw this on Facebook, but I also received it in an email, and it lives on their home page.  Clothing retailer Uniqlo is offering you the chance to win one of seven, fun holiday gifs that you can share/post/embed as you wish, as well as savings offers up to “100% off” to be awarded as a $500 gift card (that’s gift, not gif card).  (Note, for my promotion purists: savings are not really prizes, FYI, because it requires purchase.  So the gifs are really the prizes, and the up to $500 helps, too).  Simply go to their site, enter your email and up pops your prize.  For me, it was a gif that I could share immediately of an igloo.  They also followed-up with a coupon and the gif again, in case I needed it.  What I like about this program is that it’s taking what is already being shared — gifs — giving it a holiday spin — gif box — and turning it into promotional currency, i.e., something you want to win and share — while also collecting data for a retailer that’s hip and trendy. Pretty cool stuff.  Find it here:

Kudos to Jess for coming up with this idea even before seeing it.  And for Uniqlo for actually executing it!  TASTY TREND:  Here and Now; Socially Acceptable

Good Gaming

CRUNCHY NUGGETS:  235 million.  That’s how many people play games on Facebook each month.  So it seems like a natural place to house a game.  Particularly coming from a brand.  And that’s exactly what Home Depot is doing with their Zombie Mulch game.  Certainly, it looks an awful lot like Plants vs. Zombies…but is that such a bad thing?!  A banner invited me to play, just recently, bringing me to a Facebook app.  Accept the app and drive an orange Home Depot truck to avoid zombies and other obstacles in order to earn “mulch.”  The more mulch earned, the higher a coupon you can receive from Home Depot’s Garden Club.  Sign-up for the club and you’ll double your score as you play.

From a user experience, the game is fun and easy — drive like a crazy person on the sidewalk, hit zombies by accident.  But from the “um, what did I earn?” and “what do I do” keeping it simple perspective, I must say that it isn’t terribly clear.  You have to click your way around to figure out what’s what.  And a leader board?  Really?  I’m not sure if this crowd really cares about a score versus scoring a coupon!  But anyway…that’s just my two cents.  I will give Home Depot credit, however, for: Using banners to push to the app — otherwise who would see but fans?  Linking game play to couponing and a drive to store.  And lastly, providing a means to build their database.  Lots of freebie bloggers mention this game, by the way.

You can find the game here:  TASTY TREND: Go Game; Socially Acceptable: Retailers Rule

Moms, UX, Pups & Pumpkin

CRUNCHY NUGGETS:  A little bitta this…a little bitta that.  Throughout my week I typically hold aside interesting tid bits for the nuggets.  This week I have a bunch to share, so hang in there as today’s post swerves from topic to topic.  Let’s start with moms and mobile….

Moms are SoMo: So huh?!  SoMo = social and mobile  According to a new study released by eMarketer, Moms are among the fastest adopting groups to access social networks on smartphones.  According to their data: 40%, and as high as 60%, of all Moms in the US will be accessing social networks through mobile devices by the end of this year.  What this means for brand-types and marketing folks is this:  cross-platform development.  If you put it on Facebook, you gotta make sure a Mom can access it on her mobile or a tablet.  I just saw a great example of this level of execution in a Facebook post for Boden USA Clothing.  They have a sweeps that calls out how to enter right on FB (in an app) or through a mobile alternative.  OK, so that’s that…onto what I posted in the image…

Social shopping share:  While browsing potential dresses for an upcoming wedding I am attending, I was on Macy’s website.  As I was poking around a piece popped-up for me, offering to share my pictures in a poll that I could post onto Facebook.  So if I wished to, I could share my picks with friends and let them vote on which dress they like best.  Now, what I like about this feature is that it organically shares a retailer’s offerings.  My inner brand person was excited by the thought of passing along great brands, interesting styles, and the net takeaway of “Macy’s is a good place to shop for what I need…”  Particularly for retailers who need to widen their circle of shoppers.  Really good user experience piece, in my opinion.  OK, next…woof.

Pup-Up: Seriously, the concept of experiential pop-up shops for brands has been around for what…ten, fifteen years easily?!  But kudos to Rachel Ray and her new line of premium dog food Nutrish to bring a little fresh twist to it.  As a brand, Nutrish experiences 50% conversion post-sampling efforts, so getting nibbles to dogs and their owners is an important strategy.  RR has taken the idea of a food truck and has dog-ized it for her sampling efforts, with an initial in-market execution in Manhattan.  What caught my marketing eye was: 1. The cleverness of “pup-up.” Cute!  Really great way of using a food truck/mobile effort. 2. The smarts of taking sampling out and about to find lots of pet owners who are also out and about walking their dogs.  And 3. The “well duh”-ness about it.  Simple. Makes sense to point of almost being a “duh” idea.  But in a good way.  Here’s the NY Times article about this effort:  And lastly, who put pumpkin in my….

Pumpkin Flavah Crave: Do feel like you’re seeing pumpkin-flavored-this and pumpkin-flavored-that a lot lately?!  Well as someone who actually likes pumpkin flavored goodies, I certainly have and there’s good reason.  NY Magazine stated this past week: “Pumpkin is the New Bacon.”  And noting that not only is this year “one of the most active years for seasonal pumpkin menuing,” but also that sales of pumpkin drinks specifically has risen 400% in the past five years.  The list of pumpkin-touched foods and drinks is extensive.  Almost shrimp-ala-Bubba-Gump-like.  But here’s a few: Pop-Tarts, Pringles (yes, the chips in a can have gone pumpkin), ale, martinis, margaritas, bagels, English Muffins, Eggo Waffles, Dairy Queen Blizzard, Jet-Puffed marshmallows, lasagna noodles, and of course…Starbucks lattes.  *Phew!*

I have other nibbles to share, but will keep this nice and nuggety.  Hey, no matter what your plans for the weekend — a little bitta this, little bitta that, hope it’s a good one, enjoy!  TASTY TREND: Here and Now, Go Mobile, Mobile Moms

Lovin’ It

CRUNCHY NUGGETS:  It’s Monday. It’s a holiday, but not for our office.  It’s cloudy and gray out.  The AC is on in our building and it’s freezing.  Ah yes.  So many things to frown about today.  But alas…Instead, I’ve decided to post a few things that are making me smile from the marketing world.  Good and crunchy nuggets that I’m loving.  And of course, I need to share the love…

On Target: Have you read about Target’s holiday toy initiative this year?  Target is taking parental insights, specifically: sometimes “santa” can’t shop without the gift recipients present at store; and sometimes when “santa” gets around to fulfilling lists, toys are sold out.  So starting October 14th, Target is putting QR codes by each of their top 20 toys.  Scan the code using your smart phone and it gets ordered, purchased, and shipped to your home.  No worries if the gift recipient is with you as you’re not “buying it” at the register.  And no worries if the shelf has been cleared.  The mobile transaction will find it online (at the North Pole?!).  QR code naysayers state: “but will parents actually do this?”  Well…perhaps the pressures of santa (and other gift purchasing types — my apologies for focusing only on Christmas) will drive the tech behavior.  Think about the crazy stories you’ve heard before of parents going to all lengths to get toys.  This simply requires a little forward tech behavior, easy peasy.  Next up…

I want candy: And I want this in my office:  a JellyBelly jelly bean vending machine. Choose your flavors and your sizes: 2.5-oz. for $2; 5-oz. for $4; and 7-oz. for $6 portions.  Get your cup ready.  And enjoy!  They’ve offered packages before sure.  But this is the mix and match kind of tasty goodness.  And, the machine holds up to 300 pounds of JellyBelly jelly beans, yum!

Infographics are sweet, too: And lastly…you know that I love my infograhics (and if you don’t, now you do).  Here is a link to a nice, juicy piece about mobile and social and how it impacts shopping habits.  Quickie nibble example: Did you know that 60% of active Facebook users said that they’d discuss a product or a service if a discount or deal was offered?  Here’s the rest found on Mashable:

Ah yes.  It’s the little things that warm my heart and my brain.  Now, if only the heat would get cranking in our office, that would be great.  TASTY TREND:  Here and now; Retailer Tech; Go Mobile

Mobile My Groceries

CRUNCHY NUGGETS:  About three years ago (my time flies), I started using the hand scanner at my local Stop & Shop to do my own organizing/bagging/scanning for groceries.  A hand-held wand lets me scan products’ bar codes throughout the store; and then after adding them to my “cart,” I literally add them to my cart in bags.  So by the time I get to check out, I have my grand total, everything bagged as I wish, and all I need to do is redeem any coupons and pay.  Love it.  Well…this past weekend I found myself in a quandary.  ALL of the handscans were charging and none were ready for shopping.  “Could be two minutes…could be a half hour” is what Customer Service advised *ugh!*  But alas…I noticed a big QR code and a sign that said that I could use a mobile app to do the very same thing!  It’s called ScanIt!  and it first launched in a handful of stores back in 2011, eventually going into full roll-out this year.  I found it on my iPhone’s app store and downloaded it immediately.  Now…in the meantime, a kind soul returned his working-fully-charged handscanner, leaving me with no need to go mobile.  But wow!  The app linked to my frequent shopper card and would have let me “scan” (photograph, really) barcodes to do exactly what the handscan device does during my trip.  It would have also shown me offers.  I must admit that I am a little bit hesitant to do a full-0n shop with this app — with the nightmare of having to go to a manned-line if anything goes wrong, noooOOOOOooo!  I’m so used to the scanner.  But I do intend on giving it a whirl for a mini, fill-in shop soon, it’s seems terribly easy. I won’t I just look like a cool tech geek at the grocery store!  Here’s a video on how it works:

What’s next?  I’d guess use your smart phone to pay, too.  And also send in your Deli order (no need to go to a kisok).  Maybe even your Starbucks order with a pick up time, hey now that’s  good idea!!  What about a social extension:  “I just saved at Stop & Shop!!”  So what do you think?  Too much “big brother” for you are more old school?  Or is this the way to go?  TASTY TREND:  Go Mobile; Here and Now

Brush, Rinse, Recycle

FRESH IDEA:  I am a huge fan of Trader Joe’s.  I shop there partly out of destination (“I need this…”), partly out of treasure hunting (“I never knew that I needed this…but wow, I’ve gotta try it!”).  Yesterday’s find was part need, part  treasure.  It was certainly something I had never seen before in an everyday item, as it was a toothbrush (for my child, a need).  But this one has been made out of recycled yogurt cups.  And if that wasn’t enough…the package doubles as a mailer.  After three months, when you’re done and ready to replace, pop the brush into the pre-paid mailer so it can be recycled again!  The toothbrush was made by Preserve.  Their tagline is “Nothing wasted. Everything gained” as ALL of their products are made from recycled plastics, including plastic tableware, kitchen tools, and other personal care items such as razors.  If you forget to save the mailer/package, you can also take it to a “Gimme 5” bin at a Whole Foods store. The #5 refers to the type of plastic — think yogurt and hummus tubs, as well as this toothbrush — that often cannot be recycled by your typical curbside, local process.  You can find more about their company and products here:  For me, it was a really cool packaging concept — the “made from” call out alone had caught my attention; but then the mailer made it super crunchy and I just had to share!  Could you imagine EVERY package with its own self-contained, recycle option?!   Hey I hope your weekend is like a new toothbrush: fresh and healthy, enjoy.  TASTY TREND:  Gone Green