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Demographics and buying behavior are critical for any company to understand consumer preferences and demand. But consumer purchasing data can also help nonprofit organizations looking to better understand, serve and reach their populations of interest.

Special Olympics International (SOI), the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities*, is one such organization, and it recently turned to Nielsen to gain insights that it hopes will help heighten awareness and understanding of people with intellectual disabilities.

SOI serves 4.5 million athletes every day across 170 countries through sports competitions and programming including public health and youth activation programs. According to the organization, about 6.5 million people in the U.S. and as many 200 million people worldwide have an intellectual disability, and little data currently exists on them, including their consumer preferences and habits.

In October 2014, Nielsen entered into a strategic alliance with SOI, through which SOI named Nielsen as its preferred market research and insights provider. As part of this alliance, Nielsen is helping SOI gain a deeper understanding of its athletes and the attitudes of the general population using data, measurement and analytics capabilities through a joint collaboration between three areas within Nielsen: Nielsen Cares, Public Development and Sustainability and the ADEPT Employee Resource Group.

To provide SOI with insight into the purchases of U.S. households with intellectual disabilities, Nielsen used its Homescan consumer panel. To build the group of consumers, Nielsen added questions about the Special Olympics and intellectual disabilities to the March and April 2015 Panel Views Online Omnibus Survey. The survey is fielded to rotating halves of the Homescan panel at the beginning of each month; each “half” is demographically and geographically representative of the total panel in the U.S. Almost 50,000 households responded to the Special Olympics questions during these two months.

The Nielsen Consumer and Shopper Analytics team found that 5.5% of U.S. households have a member with intellectual disabilities, representing $31 billion in buying power annually. The team also found that 7.1% additional households have an immediate family member (parent or child) with intellectual disabilities who lives outside the household, and they have $35 billion in buying power. Combined, this group has $66 billion in collective annual buying power, indicating that it’s a robust and important group in the U.S. consumer market.

Looking closer at the 5.5% of households with a member with intellectual disabilities, Nielsen found that they are particularly valuable shoppers—spending more and making more shopping trips annually than the U.S. average of all shoppers. They also spend less on products they perceive to be on deal or promotion. In the 52 weeks ending May 2, 2015, households with intellectual disabilities spent an average of $4,566 across all shopping outlets on UPC-coded items—$645 more than the average of all households. Households with intellectual disabilities also made 126 shopping trips during the year, spending $36 on UPC-coded items per occasion, and both of these figures are larger than those of the total household average.

Monday, 03 August 2015 00:00

A new look for IBN7 evening prime time

With an aim to enhance the channel’s prime time experience, IBN7 is all set to give its evening prime time programming a makeover starting tonight. Redesigned to provide a refreshed look, the prime time band – 8PM-10PM will see a new show - ‘HUM TOH POOCHENGE’ and three shows with a fresh look and packaging – India 9 Baje, Danaadan and Criminal.

‘HUM TOH POOCHENGE’, will be the channel’s flagship show and will be hosted by IBN7’s Deputy Managing Editor, Sumit Awasthi. It will provide viewers with an incomparable insight on the latest happenings from around the country. The show will focus on the two biggest “Topics of the Day” – it will feature an intense debate for half-an-hour on each topic with those at the centre of the news that is being showcased. The channel will be inviting viewers to give their views/questions using various touch points like Twitter, Facebook, SMS and the channel’s website – IBNKhabar to ensure that the show is truly interactive.

India 9 Baje, Danaadan and Criminal are the other tent poles of the channel’s prime time programming line up and will be seen in a complete new avatar – fresh graphics, de-cluttered packaging and high levels of energy that will make for engaging and compelling viewing. The crime based show at 10 pm will be rechristened and will be called- Criminal – the show will bring to the viewers the most distinctive crime news from around the country.

The channel believes that these revamped shows with increased interactivity and engaging packaging will resonate tremendously with the audiences.

Don’t forget to watch ‘HUM TOH POOCHENGE’, ‘INDIA 9 BAJE’, ‘DANAADAN’ AND ‘CRIMINAL’ every day at 8PM-10PM exclusively on IBN7, starting August 3rd.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 00:00

Why to nurture the multicultural consumers?

Touted as the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, multicultural consumers have another advantage in the marketplace: They’re young and living longer. With a growing youthful and receptive audience, marketers can cultivate and build relationships early—establishing trust and brand loyalty, according to Nielsen’s The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers.

In 2014, U.S. multicultural consumers collectively represented more than half of the population under age 9, versus 35% of those 45-50 and only 17% of those 80 or older, illustrating how each successive generation is showing a more multicultural skew. In a global economy, the youth of America’s population driven by a vibrant multicultural population will increasingly become an advantage for the long-term growth of many consumer goods and services for years to come. The median age in this country is 37.4, according to U.S. Census data, which is younger than the average adult in Russia (38.2), U.K. (40.1), France (40.4), Germany (45.1) and Japan (45.6). The substantial age difference between the median age of U.S. multiculturals (30.5) and non-Hispanic whites (42) shows how multicultural populations are driving the vitality of the nation’s economy.

Youthfulness isn’t the only driver of marketing opportunity. Coupled with longer life expectancy, multicultural consumers can be reached in a more cost-efficient manner over time as their effective years of buying power are substantially greater than non-Hispanic whites. The U.S. life expectancy for multicultural consumers is at its highest level ever, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The effective years of buying power for African-Americans (42.3 years), Asian-Americans (52.3 years) and Hispanics (56.5 years) all exceed that of non-Hispanic whites (36.7 years). Spending smart marketing dollars on multicultural consumers today will result in many more years of consumption and consumer loyalty throughout their lifetime, and it can increase the return on investment of those dollars spent.

L&K Saatchi & Saatchi today announced the appointment of Vivek Rao as Chief Creative Officer – North. Vivek comes with a 15 year testimony of working with global marketing communications companies and successfully driving growth and thought leadership for iconic global and local brands.

Commenting on the appointment, Anil S Nair- CEO and Managing Partner, L & K Saatchi & Saatchi said, “Vivek is not just a fantastic creative talent but an inspiring leader who carries his team along with him to glory. He is an absolute team player and therefore a fantastic fit with our culture. We are very excited to have him on board and are looking forward to his positive contribution towards our creative profile and ambition.”

On his new awaiting challenge, Vivek Rao- Chief Creative Officer- North, L & K Saatchi & Saatchi said, “Having worked with stalwarts like Prasoon Joshi, Pops, Agnello Dias, Nitesh Tiwari, Ashish Khazanchi, Prasanna Sankhe & Satbir Singh over the years, I was keen to apply & use all that I’ve learnt in a place that’s growing at a furious pace. Praveen Kenneth, Anil Nair &the core team have done a magnificent job in creating L&K into an incredible force, add Saatchi & Saatchi’s global might to that and you can see why it’s a place that’s hitting top gear right now.”

Vivek further added, “The dynamics of communication has changed and yet, the basics still remain the same. Solid Ideas, simplicity of storytelling will always be the way for brands to connect with consumers. The good part is that clients are extremely keen to reach out to consumers in ways that aren’t necessarily from expected quarters. Praveen & Anil have a clear picture about the way ahead & my role will be to ensure that from a creative perspective we hit the right notes for our clients. The canvas is much wider now and the ride is bound to be fast & enjoyable.”

Over the years Vivek has worked with eminent agency networks like McCann Erickson, Leo Burnett, Contract Advertising, Publicis Ambience & Havas Worldwide, where he has worked on brands like Sony SIX, Tide Detergent, Pears, Band-Aid, Vicks, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Citibank, BPCL, Strepsils, HDFC Life Insurance, Balsara, Bajaj Electricals, Reliance Communications, Vaseline and many others. Vivek’s work has been recognised and awarded both internationally and domestically at ABBYs, Mirchi Kaan and AAAI.

Monday, 27 July 2015 00:00

The Power of Gratitude

Money may make the world go around but when it comes to engaging hearts and minds a simple ‘thank you’ can be a great motivator.

The corporate culture at Sudabank (not its real name) was toxic, some even described it as “Darwinian”. The working environment was survival of the fittest; everyone seemed to be out for themselves and teamwork was nonexistent. Greed, bullying, and illegal behaviour were rampant. Focused on profits and bonuses, the senior leadership team whittled away at their employees’ self-confidence, health and sanity. Productivity was decreasing, morale was low, there was serious absenteeism and a disturbingly high employee turnover. For many, working at the bank, had become an emotionally draining experience.

Senior management perpetuated the cold, calculating and impersonal atmosphere. It never dawned on them that a culture of positive regard, cooperation and genuine caring would foster creativity and new ideas; that gratitude for work well done could be a great motivating force. As a result, most employees felt undervalued and taken for granted. Given the bank’s noxious work conditions, it was no surprise when a number of its traders were implicated in the Libor scandal of fixing interest rates. The legal actions that followed led to serious fines, although none of the top executives seemed to have been affected.

As this example illustrates, a toxic culture can trigger actions that ultimately lead to business failure. When money is viewed as the singular motivator, leaders will not be able to engage the hearts and minds and to get the best out of their people.

The benefits of gratitude

For most people what really counts (apart from fair compensation) is respect, recognition, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of purpose.

When people are exposed to everyday acts of kindness, a simple “thank you” for work well done can be a great motivator and contribute to a more positive work environment.

The words grateful and gratitude derive from the archaic adjective “grate” meaning pleasing to the mind, being full of gratitude, or being disposed to repay favours bestowed. “Grate” originates from the Latin “gratus”, meaning the readiness to show appreciation for, and to return, kindness. Grateful people count their blessings, have the ability to appreciate the simple pleasures of life, and are always prepared to acknowledge whenever good things happen to them. They are also the kinds of people willing to give something back.

Philosophers throughout the ages have looked at gratitude as an important contributor to harmonious relationships. As the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius noted: “Take full account of the excellencies which you possess and, in gratitude, remember how you would hanker after them if you had them not.” Psychoanalysts too have shown a considerable interest in the subject. They view gratitude as the more mature antithesis to the early envy that characterises infant behaviour. As gratitude develops, so does our capacity for expressing appreciation in our future relationships. Gratitude is the glue that enables reciprocity.

Building optimism and resilience

Much about gratitude also has to do with our perspective - the framework we use to look at the world and at ourselves. Grateful people are very talented in building optimism into their everyday lives. They see things in perspective. They know how to redraw their unconscious frames of comparison in a positive and valuable light. They are more likely to let go of their past, accept the present, and look forward to the future.

Having the capacity to express gratitude also improves both physical and mental health. It releases serotonin in our brain (the hormone that controls our mood), which makes us feels better. When faced with adversity, taking a grateful stance converts negative stress into the positive energy and provides the optimism needed to overcome life’s challenges. We can even say that gratitude is a natural form of an anti-depressant.

Changing a toxic work environment

The question becomes how to practice gratitude? How to create an environment where people are recognised for their work and, in return, strive to give their best? How do we avoid the ‘Sudabanks’ and their toxicity?

The first and most basic thing is to respect people who work in the organisation. As gratitude evokes cooperative responses, so too it creates mutually supportive relationships, helps neutralise conflict, generates positive energy and fosters a collective “we’re in this together” mentality. It gives people due recognition, fair treatment, a sense of belonging, and a voice.

Senior management who recognise these important dynamics can produce astounding results in employee satisfaction and work performance.

Gratitude is a quality that can be developed later in life. Although it might be difficult at times, we need to learn to stop ourselves from whining as complaining yields little but hot, ineffectual air. One concrete course of action is to get into the habit each morning of making a conscious decision on our day’s outlook. Will it be one full of gratitude for what we have, or of negativity. We should keep in mind that it’s our outlook to life and subsequent actions that can make a difference.

Another action is to devote some time each day to reflecting on the various things we should be grateful for. This should also include the people we should be grateful to - people who have influenced (and are influencing) our lives in a positive way. The act of expressing gratitude increases a sense of gratefulness both in oneself and in the other.

Dealing with negativity

While it is unrealistic to think we won’t have times of doubt or negativity, it is important to remember that even life's greatest challenges can be reframed as opportunities for significant personal growth and development. Ruminating on negative thoughts, however, only drains us of energy and motivation.

Perhaps, it is good to remember that in dealing with life’s vicissitudes we are like painters who have to decide how to structure a painting and what colours to choose; whether to choose dull or lively hues? Pictures have more life when the colours are bright. The same can be said about the colours of gratitude. In our life’s journey, by painting gratitude we choose to have a more positive, fulfilling and vibrant life.


Written by Manfred Kets de Vries, INSEAD Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development & Organisational Change


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