Why two Michigan breweries are joining forces to boost our local beer scene.

Michigan breweries

Michigan's always been known for our freshwater lakes, our auto industry, our expansive shoreline. But in recent years, Michigan's brewed up a new reputation that's gained national recognition: one for our hoppin' beer scene.

In a recent study, Michigan ranked fifth in the nation for the most breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs across the state. From metro Detroit to Grand Rapids, down state to the UP, it's difficult to travel anywhere these days without stumbling upon a local craft brewery.

It's a happy problem to have, don't get us wrong. Not only are Michiganders kicking back to enjoy the craze with friends after work, but our state as a whole is raking in the benefits. A 2017 report revealed Michigan's beer industry was worth a whopping $10.5 billion and accounted for nearly 35,000 Michigan jobs last year.

But with over 300 craft breweries across the state, surely small, mid-size and even large breweries will run into difficulty competing for customers and shelf space...  Right?


Too many breweries, too good to be true?

According to a Brewers Association report, a record number of breweries nationwide opened their doors in 2017. Cheers to that? Not so fast. Last year, our country also saw a 70 percent increase in the number of breweries that shut their doors (165 closings total).

To combat this problem, two Michigan breweries are taking a bold strategic step to ensure our state remains a leader in the beer scene. In a deal that could mark the first of its kind, they're teaming up to propel their growth rather than competing for market share.

Pour out the details.

Within the next few months, Royal Oak-based Roak Brewing Co. plans to acquire Traverse City's Right Brain Brewery. The two may be located in different corners of the state, but both breweries have experienced substantial growth in the past few years and were in the top 25 Michigan breweries for production in 2017.

Upon acquisition, Roak and Right Brain's separate brands will remain intact, but each will start offering the other's products in their taprooms. This move will not only let Roak and Right Brain pool resources and gain financial security, it will also help them build upon and share clientele.

When talking to the Detroit Free Press, Right Brain owner and founder Russell Springsteen called this an "opportunity for both of us to be stronger!"

Roak owner Leone also touched on the benefits of the deal, saying, "We all know what's going on: The big breweries are buying up local breweries. And my thoughts were, 'How could I create a program that allows Michigan breweries to get together and survive together on our own?' Still remain independent, still remain local. And this is what I'm trying to put together."

It's a unique, but well-thought-out, strategy. It could expand Roak's distribution by three or four states and ignite Right Brain's out-of-state distribution.

"As competitive pressure surges, I'm sure we'll see more of this," remarks Leone.

Since the beer scene is all about bringing people together, it only makes sense Michigan breweries are adopting that mindset–opting to work together to thrive and supporting Michigan all the while.

So, here's to Roak, Right Brain and the 300+ breweries that support our state's economy… one IPA at a time.

Catch more industry insights and trends in our Weekly Recap.

Weekly Recap - September 7, 2018

Weekly Recap, September 2018

Don't Just Make Money, Brand. Make Me Proud.

Shoppers are more loyal to purpose-driven brands. Recent research shows that many Americans have an affinity for purpose-driven brands. It goes deeper than mere attraction. Think loyalty, advocacy, even pride. Most consumers (79 percent) say they're more loyal to brands' built on principle versus traditional ones), and 73 percent are more willing to defend purpose-driven brands. They feel a strong emotional connection to purpose-driven brands (77 percent), are proud to be associated with them (70 percent) and are more willing to forgive the brands' mistakes (67 percent). Most consumers (78 percent) expect companies to make a positive impact on society and believe it's not acceptable for them to simply make money.

+ If you give your brand purpose, consumers will want to give you more business. Americans' preference for purpose-driven brands plays out in various practical ways. Eighty-eight percent of consumers say they'd buy products from such companies, 85 percent would support those companies within their community and 68 percent. So much winning.

I Stream, You Stream, We All Stream for TV

Consumers are increasingly likely to stream TV from the internet rather than watch programming on a conventional (non-internet-connected) TV. Streamed TV viewing hours grew 115 percent between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018 (TechCrunch.com, 2 August 2018). The Conviva report also found an "impressive increase … in peak concurrent plays, as 7.9 million people tuned in during the World Cup, which amounted to 118 percent growth in peak concurrency" for Q2, year over year. Even without the World Cup viewership, "peak concurrency in Q2 2018 was up by 45 percent year over year, spiking to 5.3 million concurrent plays during the winner-take-all 7th game of the NBA Western Conference Finals."

+ Consumers use a variety of devices for streaming—mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, internet connected TVs. Mobile is the device of choice for short-form content, while long-form content(think movies and episodic shows) is more typically consumed on connected TVs. TV streaming has been moving toward mobile and away from computers. Mobile had the largest share of plays in Q2 2018 (49 percent), followed by TVs (27 percent) and computers (24 percent). The digital media spend follows.

What Consumers Use Smart Speakers for May Not Impress Brands Much

Smart-speaker owners tend not to use them for shopping. Music is the most popular request smart speaker owners make, according to a recent Voicebot.ai survey of 1,200 U.S. adults. News is the second most common command, with distant topics including "how to" instructions, retail store information, history, movies, sports, among others.

What people ask smart speakers most.

What people ask smart speakers most.

I was enjoying dinner with friends a couple years back when the hostess asked Alexa to play 80s music. There were only eight of us seated around the table and nobody was called Alexa. So I wasn't surprised when the room didn't suddenly fill with dance music or new wave.

But the hostess invoked the mystery guest again, this time a little louder and with a slight edge. "Alexa, play 80s music!" Tears for Fears obliged, "Shout. Shout. Let it all out…"

Roland Orzabal had only started the first verse when the hostess rebuked: "Alexa, not so loud."

"Nice party trick," I thought, as other guests answered my questions before I'd uttered a word. "We use ours mostly to connect with Nest," someone commented. "I got one for Christmas," chimed another. "Haven't even taken it out of the box yet. Where am I going to put that thing?"

Nearly four years later, the voice-activated tech is still playing the hits more than most anything else.

Music is the most popular request smart speaker owners make, according to a recent Voicebot.ai survey of 1,200 U.S. adults. News is the second most common command, with distant topics including "how to" instructions, retail store information, history, movies, sports, among others.

Information Topics Most Requested on Smart Speakers 2018

Consumers also use their smart speakers to control other smart-home devices, like thermostats, lights and locks; and ask for information, like weather forecasts or news updates. The ways in which consumers can use Alexa continue to proliferate as third-party developers create additional Alexa skills—apps that give Alexa even more abilities, connecting her to more devices and even websites. Currently, 45,000 Alexa skills are available.

But for the most part, consumers with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home don't use the devices for shopping. Per the Voicebot.ai research, 26.1 percent of consumers who own such devices have used them to make a purchase, and 16 percent of owners do monthly "voice shopping" using their smart speakers.

Sources who have seen Amazon's market intelligence say that the percentage of voice shoppers is significantly lower, with only about 2 percent of consumers with Alexa-powered devices (mainly Amazon Echo speakers) using them for shopping in the first seven months of 2018, according to Gartner Iconoculture research.

Their intelligence also suggests that most consumers who have tried Alexa for shopping didn't do it a second time (TheInformation.com, 6 August 2018). Still, 20 percent of Amazon Echo owners have used Alexa for shopping-related information, like finding deals or tracking purchases (that were probably made on another device)—just not purchases.

While voice-activated search may be off to a relatively sluggish start, brands are nonetheless optimistic. More than 1,200 brands have built apps and products that rely on Amazon Echo and Google Home (Gartners.com, 23 June 2017).

Regardless of whether consumers use smart speakers for little more than play lists, it's impossible to deny their popularity. Amazon is expected to have sold 128 million Echo speakers by 2020 (RBC Capital Markets, 9 March 2017); by 2022, 55 percent of U.S. households will own always-listening voice speakers (Jupiter Research, 11 August 2017).

Before taking your brand boldly into the smart speaker space, consider the nuances between typed search and audible search. Claiming organic territory is always worth the effort and will inform Alexa Skills or other advertising applications.

Like to stay in the loop? Get the Brogan Weekly Recap.

Gen Z gets real about marketing.

Gen Z gets real about marketing.

The post Millennial generation Gen Z (aka Gen We), born between 1995 and 2016, makes up over 20 percent of the current U.S. population. So while Gen Z may not be your prime target now, they soon will be. By 2020 Gen Z is set to be the largest generation of consumers, and their spending power already equates to over $140 billion.

I can help. I'm an 18-year-old Gen Zer about to start my first year of college. I reached out to my peers to gather insights to help marketers like you get a better handle on how to connect with Gen Z. I asked about shopping habits, money and preferred social and media channels. I also consulted articles by the Huffington Post and Salesforce for third-party research and trends that influence Gen Z.

Gen Z is not be confused with Millennials

Though older Gen Zers are close in age with young Millennials, there are important key differences to note in the way Gen Z behaves as compared to Millennials. For starters, here are four ways Gen Z differs from Millennials:

Shopping. Though we may be in a digital age, Gen Z actually prefers to shop in store as opposed to Millennials who prefer the simplicity of shopping online. 68 percent of Gen Z surveyed said that they would rather shop in store. That means retail marketers should optimize the in-store experience, providing offers to excite and engage Gen Z.

Money. Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession. They watched the economy crash and many likely watched their parents struggle during this time. This has led Gen Z to be money savvy and conscious of what they spend and where they're spending it. In contrast Millennials tend to care more about the experience of buying the product and less concerned about the cost of it, according to an article by the Huffington Post. So, grab the attention of Gen Z by highlighting deals and steals.

Authenticity. Of course Millennials want brands to be authentic, but Gen Z requires it. The brands that do the best with Gen Z are those that are transparent about their products. How can you be authentic in the eyes of Gen Z?  Show real people using real products. Forget the photo shoots and ditch Photoshop. Capture the raw beauty of life through natural photos. Make Gen Z feel as if they can achieve what's in the photo.

Independence. Whereas Millennials will rage over the hottest brands, Gen Z will not be defined by any one brand. They want a variety of brands and items that allow them to capture their own personality.

Survey says...

Gen Z is always connected. Whether through smartphone, laptop, or even gaming device, we live in a digital age and Gen Z is all about it. When 25 teens (ages 12-18) were asked, 100 percent said that they regularly use their smartphone, and 48 percent reported that they use their phones for 4+ hours a day.

Gen Z

Gen Z

Connectivity is key. Gen Z has major FOMO (fear of missing out) and social media has become there way of always being present.

Gen Z has no time to waste. Long ads and slow load time are not worth the wait.

Gen Z

The best social platform to market to Gen Z


Fifty-two percent of Gen Zers say that the social media platform that they spend the most time on is Instagram.

Gen Z

On top of that 84 percent of Gen Z follows a brand or company on Instagram.

Gen Z

For more on Gen Z/Gen We, read Gen We expects more from brands on social media.

Weekly Recap - August 10, 2018

Step up your social media game with polls to get your audience involved. Then take a micro-break to test out a mobile game before you buy—without even leaving Facebook. And in case you ever wondered, this is your brain on ads.


How to use social polls to boost audience engagement and brand awareness. Getting your audience to engage with your social content can be tricky, with even well-written content and eye-catching videos sometimes falling flat. But words and images aren't the only tools at your disposal—social media polls are one of the most overlooked options for boosting interaction, and increasing brand awareness through participation and shares.

Facebook's new 'Playable Ads' let you try mobile game demos right in your newsfeed. Thursday, Facebook introduced a new ad solution with mobile game developers in mind. Dubbed "playable ads," the feature lets video game marketers serve ads that give users the chance to try before buying.

This is your brain on ads: How media companies hijack your attention. After you read this sentence, pause for a moment to think back on advertisements you first heard when you were a child. Perhaps you recall a favorite jingle or the catchphrase of a cereal mascot. You probably can remember more than just one.

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

What your healthcare journey map is missing. Your healthcare system is poised for marketing greatness—Press Ganey, HEDIS, CAHPS and Medicare 5 Star quality greatness. And yet it all could be undone by a couple pieces of paper delivered by a mailman.


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What your healthcare journey map is missing.

Image of a patient and physician discussing treatment.

Your healthcare system is a marketing marvel. Your team is working every relevant consumer channel to connect, engage and convert patient prospects. Leadership has entrusted you with more than the push and pull of advertising mechanics, recognizing marketing as integral to the consumer experience.

Your marketing team now sits elbow to elbow with the overseers of quality, service and cost—directors of service line clinical excellence and integration, regional clinic and market operations, provider services, continuum of care, clinical pharmacy, clinical review, health plan operations, quality improvement, among others.

Together you carefully shepherd patients from ailment to diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Your website is a magnet for search inquiries. Your CTAs have been strategically mapped and pixels placed. Your email automation program is set to distribute just the right amount of content at just the right time. Your digital retargeting campaign is gently reminding prospects to consider your hospital, your medical staff, your plan, your value.

Your system is poised for greatness—Press Ganey, HEDIS, CAHPS and Medicare 5 Star quality greatness.

And yet it all could be undone by a couple pieces of paper delivered by a mailman.

How a bill can undermine even the most rigorous health consumer journey map.

Earlier this year, Kaiser Health News and NPR launched a crowd-sourced investigation into healthcare bills. Since that time, the news organizations have received hundreds of reader submissions—rate crushing, brand diminishing, reputation devastating submissions.

Called "Bill of the Month Club," editors choose one entry to prove assorted healthcare injustices. Like inefficiency and inflated costs. A recent entry from an Oklahoma patient featured a $15,076 price tag for a few implanted screws, and sparked a social media frenzy (NPR.org, 19 July 2018).

The patient, 57-year-old Sherry Young, a retired mother of two on disability had undergone two operations on the same day to treat a shoulder injury and a debilitating foot problem. The second procedure involved removing a part of bone from the center of two toes and reconnecting them with four surgical screws. The total cost of both procedures and a three-day hospital stay was $115,527.

Two weeks after she was released, Young received word from her insurance company that her hospital stay had not been approved. The patient panicked, fretting that she would be responsible for the cost. She requested an itemized bill which, among other surprises, included $15,076 for four screws that measure 2.8 millimeters wider and 14 millimeters long.

Young dug deeper, requesting the part number for the screws so she could contact the manufacturer and learn the list price. Reporters for NPR and Kaiser Health News also dug in, publishing this.

At last count, the story had been shared nearly 7,000 times, with many Canadian commenters weighing in, too. In one thread, Richard Bott of British Columbia suggested, "When health is considered a for-profit commodity, this is exactly what will happen in an unregulated system."

Consumers and providers are responding to the concrete example with critiques and calls to action. "It's so important to ask healthcare entities for itemized receipts!" tweeted someone from the Kansas City Direct Primary Care Twitter account.

No one is asking how Young has fared after her surgeries. Is she walking better? Has her quality of life improved? How was her clinical experience? Did she have to wait long to see a specialist? Did the medical staff treat her like a person and not a condition? Were the rooms nicely appointed? How was the food? How long did it take for her to recover? Would she recommend the surgeon? The hospital?

Healthcare costs are making consumers more anxious than ever.

The cost of healthcare is now the biggest driver of consumer financial uncertainty—bigger than covering the monthly bills, paying a mortgage or being able to afford retirement, according to CEB Iconoculture research. And the threat is far reaching, impacting the young, healthy, fully employed and fully insured.

According to CEB Iconoculture research, consumers are increasingly stressed out about healthcare costs.

For marketers within the healthcare industry, prioritizing consumers' understanding of coverage and options, providing care throughout the patient journey—especially billing—and creating tools that help consumers better plan are critical next steps.

Of course the implications extend well beyond healthcare. A majority of consumers (67 percent) worry that their lifestyles could be significantly impacted by just one job loss, market crash or health problem (CEB Iconoculture State of America Survey, September 2017.) Healthcare worries are especially troubling, with 64 percent of consumers citing concerns that unexpected medical issues could jeopardize their financial security.

Increased healthcare costs have already impacted consumer spending. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (February, 2016), household healthcare spending increased between 2010 and 2016, while spending on housing, food, transportation, entertainment and clothing all decreased. Consumers are bracing for further household budget cutbacks if healthcare costs continue to climb.

Consumers are preparing to cut household spending if healthcare costs continue to climb.

Consumers aren't optimistic about healthcare costs. Nor should they be.

Since the early 2000s, employees have been increasingly shouldering more and more of the cost of healthcare coverage—copays, higher premiums and deductibles. Most expect costs to increase annually come benefits renewal. In fact, premiums for family coverage have increased 55 percent since 2007 and the average deductible for insured workers has climbed 67 percent from 2017 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2017).

It's not surprising consumers are stressed out about the cost of healthcare. But what can healthcare marketers do about it?

Marketing does not control healthcare costs. Marketing can control the message.

Billing is an integral part of the consumer journey—especially when it comes to healthcare. Unlike most expenses, consumers are unusually vulnerable when they become patients. They have little or no control over their circumstances. They may be faced with a life altering or life threatening condition. Cost may be on their mind, but it's dwarfed by emotions and concerns about aspirations, livelihood, family, future.

This is a job for marketing. You know better than anyone else how to communicate with this audience. They are the same prospects you carefully profiled, attracted and converted to prefer your healthcare system. You know where they live, work and play; what they value and most desire. You mapped their journey but neglected to include a primary human need—financial security.

Completing the patient experience cycle begins with the end. For starters, review your system's billing process and assets. The bill may be their last and most lasting impression. The goal here is to empathize with the patient throughout their journey. It's not only the right thing to do; it's the best thing for your brand. Advocate for patients and they'll reward you with loyalty and referrals.

Four ways to optimize the healthcare consumer journey.

  1. Invite the Billing Department to the Customer Experience Team. Invite them to present the process and bring sample bills. Accounts Receivable should align with your brand promise, from the design of assets to messaging and customer service. Consider random audits, an internal version of Bill of the Month Club.
  2. Help patients plan and save. Patients are often overwhelmed with the emotional aspects of healthcare. In advance of procedures and treatment, reach out and have a frank discussion about cost. People often feel as though they're getting the runaround as they're handed back and forth between providers, specialists and insurers. Geisinger has introduced ProvenExperience, which offers refunds to patients based on their interactions with doctors, staff and the clinic overall.
  3. Use layman's terms, not legalese. Patients struggle enough with the medical terminology used to describe their conditions, treatments and recovery. Using simple language will go a long way in improving the patient experience and helping care-avoidant consumers feel more confident. ClearHealthCosts is a journalism project working to shrink the gap in consumer understanding by shedding light on the hidden costs of healthcare.
  4. Invite patient reviews. Develop a succinct, but thorough script to follow up with patients after the bill has been sent. The script should include opportunity for patients to ask questions about the details of the bill and conclude with an overall evaluation of their system experience. Conclude by asking patients to rate their experience using an automatic text- or email-based program that triggers an immediate response.

Get monthly insights and trends curated just for healthcare marketing professionals. Sign up for the Brogan Healthcare Checkup.

How consumers really shop for clothing and shoes.

How consumers really shop for clothing and shoes

Most brick-and-mortar clothing and footwear retailers appreciate the importance of having a solid online game—one that complements the in-store experience. They strive to create an omnichannel path for consumers to marry store visits with online interactions.

Lose the friction. Nurture the process. Make it convenient.

But there is one channel that rules them all, according to an Oliver Wyman study published in the Harvard Business Review ("Five Surprising Findings About How People Actually Buy Clothes and Shoes, June, 6, 2018"). And it's not digital.

Most shoppers (68 percent) who participated in the survey recalled an experience where their purchase journey began and ended at a brick-and-mortar store. Forty-three percent recalled a similar one-stop process online.

The survey of 1,500 U.S. apparel and shoe shoppers considered the totality of the process, from consideration and purchase to post-purchase. Researchers were focused on which channels influence the consumer most.

When it comes to sales volume, online has the edge. The shopping cart totals for online are 25 percent greater on average than in-store. When shoppers combine channels, beginning with brick-and-mortar store and buying online, the average cart size is 64 percent greater.

Instant gratification is often credited for online sales popularity. Researchers found evidence to suggest otherwise. Online shopping trips are more time-intensive than IRL-only shopping. This may because online shoppers visit multiple websites and/or brick-and-mortar stores on the way to checkout.

How retailers should approach omnichannel marketing.

The study is more evidence that brick-and-mortar retailers can't afford to skimp on IRL in favor of digital prowess. The name of the game is customer experience, from consideration to purchase to post-purchase. To deliver and delight, retailers need to be on task in-store and online. Aspire to an omnichannel experience that anticipates consumer questions, concerns and an IRL experience that elevates the digital process. Other thoughts:

Grab your consumer's attention: Bring your consumer into the store. Offer them in store only deals, consisting of special discounts and limited time offers.

Get them online: When consumers come into the store, remind them that more styles, colors, and sizes can be found on the website. Offer a free shipping code for the online store just for shopping in store.

Stick to single brands: Do not try and add more brands and overwhelm your customers.

Get your omnichannel marketing trends and news updates by subscribing to Brogan Weekly Recap.

Blog Category: 

The new fundamentals of brand loyalty.

The new fundamentals of brand loyalty.

At one time, brands could gain consumer loyalty based on the quality and price of their product. But increased skepticism and competition are making it increasingly harder for brands to win faithful fans, according to CEB Iconoculture research.

Consumers say they're loyal. In a recent CEB Iconoculture survey, more than half of consumers cited preference for brands in personal care products, food and non-alcoholic beverages and clothing, shoes and accessories. But preference doesn't necessarily mean repeat purchase—which is how brands measure loyalty.

Blame it on choice. Today's consumers are awash with options that cover the bases—quality, reliability, reputation, price and convenience. So they are digging deeper to find ways to differentiate and decide. They want an emotional affinity—an affordable, high-quality shampoo that's easy to purchase and trustworthy. Ideally, consumers want a love connection.

Defining brand loyalty today.

Brand loyalty is made up of the fundamental, emotional, and transactional according to CEB Iconoculture research. The fundamentals are table stakes, representing quality, reliability, reputation, price and convenience. Once a brand has cleared this step, it moves to emotional consideration—do I trust it, love it, recommend it and feel good about buying it. Assuming a brand has these first two attributes locked down, it elevates to the coveted transactional phase of loyalty—considered first and purchased more frequently than others.

Defining brand loyalty today.

How to build brand loyalty.

For brands struggling to gain consumer loyalty, consider working to build trust and loyalty will follow. According to CEB Iconoculture research, brands earn trust when they stay true to themselves, listen to customer feedback and make changes, and produce products that are unique.

Increased trust will make consumers more inclined to return to that brand to make repeat purchases.

How to build brand loyalty.

Three tips to gain loyalty and keep it.

  1. Don't assume that a customer who is loyal today will be loyal tomorrow. Keep customers coming back with rewards programs, new products, and exclusive events.
  2. Know your consumer. What one person wants to see is not what another wants. Target consumers with what they are interested in and make it personal.
  3. Be authentic. Trust your brand and consumers will too. Don't change your style to mimic another company. Stay true to the ideals that your company follows and be unique.

Enjoy a regular diet of marketing tips and trends. Get the Brogan Weekly Recap.

Weekly Recap - July 6, 2018

Ditching doctors and relying on Facebook. Millennials are skipping out of traditional practices and turning to social media to diagnose and treat their illness. Out with the old and in with the new. Billie earns r e s p e c t with its new campaign that dares to show that natural women have body hair (gasp!). How brands can appreciate all cultures and avoid cultural appropriation.


Can social media have a positive impact on global healthcare? While Millennials are highly focused on healthy living, 93 percent of them aren't scheduling appointments with doctors for preventative healthcare. Instead, they are making use of urgent care when they become ill.

Start a new (good) habit, kill an old (bad) one. Habits – actions performed with little conscious thought and often unwittingly triggered by external cues – are powerful influences on behavior and can be our greatest allies for positive change. But because they are so difficult to break, habits are also frequent saboteurs of personal progress.

Razor company earns praise for showing women with body hair. Razor company, Billie, is showing women with body hair as part of their Project Body Hair campaign – and people on social media are loving it. The brand claims they are the first women's razor company to show women's body hair in an ad for "more than 100 years.""

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

When cultural appreciation becomes cultural appropriation. By its simplest definition, cultural appropriation is using pieces of other cultures without having or showing a respect or understanding for that culture. There are many ways in which popular culture and advertisers can avoid this mistake.

THE Topic of conversation

Authenticity. Discover which brands are getting real and how to market authenticity across genders, generations and ethnic groups. Download our free whitepaper "3 Rules to Creating an Authentic Brand."


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When cultural appreciation becomes cultural appropriation.

When cultural appreciation becomes cultural appropriation.

Borrowing bits and pieces from other cultures for marketing purposes can be hazardous to a brand's health.

Companies such as Victoria Secret have been under fire of late for cultural appropriation for their fashion show outfits that clearly display a misrepresentation of aspects of other cultures. The brand displayed an Indian headdress as an accessory for one of their outfits as well as a Chinese dragon in another. Designer Marc Jacobs received backlash for its use of dreadlocks on white models.

Pepsi was criticized for exploiting the Black Lives Matter movement in an ad that featured Kendall Jenner joining a protest and offering up a Pepsi to a police officer guarding the crowd. This ad caused uproars on social media with people feeling angered about the message that they felt was demeaning. The media felt that Pepsi tried to use their brand to exploit the suffering of the black minority. As stated by Eric Thomas, senior partner and brand specialist at Saga MKTG, "this is what happens when you don't have enough people in leadership that reflects the cultures that you represent."

How can brands respect and honor diverse cultures without insulting consumers?

By its simplest definition, cultural appropriation is using pieces of other cultures without having or showing a respect or understanding for that culture. There are many ways in which popular culture and advertisers can avoid this mistake.

  1. Give credit. There is nothing wrong with pulling inspiration from other cultures, but when you do, give proper credit. In doing so, it shows that there is a level of respect for the culture and people of that culture. The British clothing line Superdry gives credit to the Japanese culture that inspires their designs.
  2. Do your research. By creating a diverse environment within your staff, the chances for misunderstanding and producing what may be thought of as an offensive message decrease. If hiring people is not an option, reach out. Make sure that the culture that is featured is represented accurately and positively. Cultural appreciation is about focusing on the unique characteristics of a group of people that others admire and wish to celebrate.

Cultural appreciation is the right thing to do, and it's the right thing for your brand's bottom line. Growing your brand by connecting to more cultures starts with growing your understanding and finding relevance.

For more on understanding your audience read "The first rule of brand authenticity: Know your audience."

Weekly Recap - June 1, 2018

Internet security is an important issue for all of us. It's easy to be complacent and assume that it'll never happen to you — you're too sensible and secure with your data after all, right? You can finally sit back and relax for real, thanks to Uber's newest feature. Why you need a YouTube channel and what to do first. Marketers assume that users will trade their data in exchange for ads that are highly specific to their interests. Users beg to differ.


6 of the best security software solutions for 2018. Keeping your computer secure from various threats online is no longer just about avoiding clicking on the "wrong" link, and utilizing common sense. Nor is it just about protecting yourself from viruses.

Uber adds a panic button to its app in the U.S. Uber has experienced its fair share of bad press over the last couple years from workplace discrimination to unsafe drivers. The company is looking to score some points today and make riders feel more secure.

7 reasons to start a YouTube channel now (and first steps to take). Generation Z, millennials, gen Xers and baby boomers are all in on the YouTube action. There are many possible motivations to start a YouTube channel, but here are seven of the most important to consider.

Users are souring on ad tracking. People are fed up with cavalier approaches to data security. Companies that rely on unfettered access to user data would be wise to listen to people's complaints.

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

Healthcare Checkup – May 2018. Get our key takeaways from three healthcare and marketing conferences we attended this month, and highlights from the AHA Annual Meeting.

THE Topic of conversation

Millennials. Discover who Millennials are, why it's important to market to them, and how you can increase brand loyalty and engagement. Download our free whitepaper "8 Rules of Marketing to Millennials."


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Weekly Recap - May 11, 2018

Microsoft is testing tech to bring offices the ultimate meeting assistant. Need a volunteer to take minutes? Fuhgetaboutit. Now if developers could only teach AI to keep meetings on task. Retailers are trimming sales staff to win more sales. I know, right? Meanwhile, plucky online merchants are innovating all the way to your door.


Microsoft's vision for the future of meetings is slightly terrifying. During a demo onstage at its Build developers' conference, the company showed off a prototype device that combines computer vision and AI tools to become a kind of ultimate meeting assistant that can track literally everything you say.

Retailers must invest in their workers – their survival depends on it. Brick and mortar are struggling to keep pace with online competitors. But instead of leaning into their key differentiator, they're laying them off—in droves.

How innovating the post-purchase experience can keep consumers coming back. Whether it's copying and pasting a dreadfully long tracking code or being prompted to log in using an often faulty link, the experience following the shipment of a purchase can be tedious. See how you can improve this process.

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

4 key takeaways from the MSHPM conference. Aka (/mish pim/) or Michigan Society for Healthcare Planning and Marketing, which is of course, the Michigan counterpart to SHSMD, aka (/shish med/), or Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. It's taken me a couple decades to get that right!

6 insights marketers should know from Iconosphere 2018. "Be brave in this new world," proposed Kate Muhl, CEB Iconoculture's Principal Advisor to a room full of brand strategists and advertisers. This quickly became the theme for the Iconosphere 2018 conference that dove deep into consumer and generational insights as well as trends spanning across different verticals.

THE Topic of conversation

Authenticity. Discover which brands are getting real and how to market authenticity across genders, generations and ethnic groups. Download our free whitepaper "3 Rules to Creating an Authentic Brand."


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