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    • 11/16/17
    • Global
    • English

    Improving country reputation: Better to be great in many areas, or the best in one?

    This blog was cowritten by Vadim Volos and Kristin Pondel of Social and Strategic Research at GfK.

    How the global public views a country strongly influences the success of its business, investment, and tourism efforts – as well as its diplomatic and cultural relations with other nations – and inattention to public perception risks diminished international “market share” for countries.

    With a new set of leading nations emerging in the 2017 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index that includes an overhaul in the rankings within the top-10 nations, it begs the question: which quality better secures a leading nation’s standing in the global public’s eyes – deepening appreciation for a signature strength or maintaining a well-rounded image?

    This year’s top-ranked nation, Germany, and Japan, ranked joint 4th overall this year, demonstrate each of these qualities.

    Case of Germany: Showing strength on multiple dimensions

    Germany earns the top-spot among the nations overall this year. Facilitating the country’s rise in the rankings is the well-rounded nature of its reputation. Germany’s reputation derives its strength from multiple dimensions. In fact, Germany boasts top-five finishes on five out of six dimensions underpinning overall country reputation (Germany is 3rd on Exports, 4th on Governance, 4th on Culture, 4th on People, and joint 2nd on Immigration and Investment). This is most top-five finishes of any nation, making Germany’s reputation the most-balanced of all nations.

    As a result, Germany depends on its strong finishes on each of these dimensions to elevate it to the top of the leaderboard, rather than resting on a 1st-place finish on any single dimension.

    Case of Japan: Owning a single, signature strength

    Unlike other top-ranked nations, Japan draws its reputational strength from a single source. The global public believes that Japan’s Exports are without parallel, awarding the country with a 1st-place ranking this year. Japan’s climb in the rankings (from 7th to 4th) includes broadening appreciation for its Exports since 2016, when it ranked 2nd behind the U.S. This year marks the first time Japan finds itself within the top-five nations since 2011.

    Exports clearly stand out as Japan’s reputational anchor. In the last five years, Japan has never earned a top-five spot on any of the other Nation Brand Index (NBI) dimensions. Nor has Japan managed to place among the top-five nations overall without being anything less than the global best on the Exports dimension. But, when a country’s image is not stanchioned by other strengths, even marginal changes in perception of its strongest category can have an impact on its overall standing. If Japan were to develop a greater global appreciation for the other dimensions of reputation, it would help insulate the country’s reputation against small changes on a single dimension.


    A robust, well-rounded reputation is the key to safeguarding or improving a nation’s overall reputation. More often than not, leading nations lead on multiple dimensions. Consistency in its image is crucial – seldom does a signature strength lift a nation’s reputation into the top overall. Furthermore, relying on a single strength can create volatility in a nation’s reputation year after year.

    Vadim Volos is the Global Director of Social and Strategic Research at GfK. He can be reached at vadim.volos@gfk.com. Kristin Pondel is a Research Director of Social and Strategic Research at GfK. She can be reached at kristin.pondel@gfk.com.

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  • Germany reclaims top “nation brand” ranking, with USA dropping to sixth place
    • 11/16/17
    • Public Services
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Public Communications and Social Science
    • Global
    • English

    Germany reclaims top “nation brand” ranking, with USA dropping to sixth place

    France leaps to second place for first time, since 2009, while UK regains ground to remain third and Japan enters top five for first time since 2011. USA is only country showing overall decline in 2017. Germany shows major gains in Governance, People, and Culture.

    • 11/14/17
    • Retail
    • Shopper
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    What’s in store for the holidays?

    It’s again the time of the year when retailers are eager for the attention and wallet share of holiday shoppers. And the stakes are high: With rebounding household incomes and strong consumer confidence, consumers are projected to churn out a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion this year on holiday shopping*, up from $655.8 billion last year.

    It’s no secret that e-commerce is expected to account for a bigger share of the pie compared to last year, bolstered largely by the continued rise of shopping on mobile devices. And consumers will embrace omni-channel strategies, be it shopping online and picking up by the curbside or researching products on their smartphones while browsing in stores. What else should marketers be aware of this holiday season?


    • Increasingly, quality beats quantity and price: Apple’s iPhone X, the company’s priciest handset ever, may have just arrived at the optimal time. Americans’ price sensitivity, which peaked during the recession, has waned with the economic recovery: According to the latest findings from GfK Consumer Life, the amount of Americans declaring that price is the most critical factor in their purchase decisions dropped to 36%, down from 41% in 2011 and 39% in 2016. On the other hand, a growing number (35%, up 3 pts from 2011) prefer to own fewer but higher quality products. Also on the rebound is enthusiasm towards new products: 38% admit that they like to buy the newest or latest version of a product, up 6 pts since 2011.
    • Deals still matter: A willingness to pay for quality, however, does not mean that bargain hunting is going out of style. In fact, over three quarters of American consumers feel really satisfied with themselves, even excited, when they get a really good deal – and this is fairly consistent across income brackets. Our persistent deal-seeking mentality is reflected in the continued success of off-price retailers such as T.J. Maxx, Ross and Nordstrom Rack, whose combined sales surged by $14 billion since 2011 and is poised to grow further, as department store sales plummeted by $25 billion.

      To woo bargain hunters, retailers are kicking off the holiday season well ahead of Black Friday by offering steep discounts now. Amazon, for example, touts best ever deals on electronics, hot toys, home goods and more when it opened its Black Friday Store on Nov. 1st. Kohl’s also started November with an aggressive one-day deal of $15 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent. The company will begin to offer its actual Black Friday deals on Monday, November 20 online.
    • Think beyond products: Not all gifts that Americans will purchase this season can be wrapped up in a nice little bow. According to the Deloitte’s 2017 Holiday Survey, over a quarter (27%) plan to gift experiences, such as concert tickets, vacations and dining out. Behind this is a broader trend that demands attention.

      GfK Consumer Life data reveals that nearly three quarters of American consumers today consider experiences more important than possessions. Vacation destinations and the food they eat now represent the fastest growing forms of self-expression in the nation, as enticing vacation and ‘food porn’ photos flood social media. At the same time, cars and clothes/jewelry saw declines as personal statements. This shift in priority is reflected in consumption. According to HSBC, America’s expenditure on recreation, travel and eating out as a percentage of total spending has been trending up over the past 15 years, whereas spending on durable goods and clothing has decreased.

      But stores can also tap into consumers’ growing zest for experiences. Shopping itself is often seen as a leisure pursuit well beyond finding and buying the right product. Brick-and-mortar stores have long been drawing holiday shoppers in with picture-perfect decorations and Santa interactions for kids. With the inroad of e-commerce, stepping up the ‘experience’ element is ever more crucial for physical stores to maintain relevance. Walmart is doing just that– the world’s largest retailer is to host 20,000 holiday parties this holiday season, allowing customers to take pictures with Santa, see product demonstrations, and get gift ideas.


    • Look beyond the holiday season: While the holiday season still contributes to a large share of the retail sales, its role has dwindled: Since 1992, the contribution of the fourth quarter to annual sales has been on the decline, shifting from 32.8% of total sales back then to 28.9% in 2016. Consumers’ growing accessibility to deals throughout the year, thanks in part to the proliferation of deal sites and apps, may be partly to blame – the same way that the role of Black Friday has weakened as retailers increasingly spread out blowout deals throughout the season.

      As retailers prepare for the final stretch of the holiday race, it’s also important to have a long-term strategy to connect with the ever more experience-driven, smartphone equipped, savvy omni-channel shopper, who is still motivated by deals but willing to pay for the products that matter.

    Veronica Chen is Vice President at GfK Consumer Life. To share your thoughts, please email veronica.chen@gfk.com or leave a comment below.

    *Spending excludes automobiles, gasoline and restaurants

  • Map of the month: GfK Purchasing Power Europe 2017
    • 11/14/17
    • Geomarketing
    • RegioGraph
    • Geodata
    • Picture of the month
    • Global
    • English

    Map of the month: GfK Purchasing Power Europe 2017

    Europeans have an average of €13,937 available for spending and saving in 2017, according to the latest GfK study. But this purchasing power is very unevenly distributed. First-ranked Liechtenstein has €63,267 per person, while the Ukraine has just €949 per person. Widely varying conditions also await retailers and manufacturers within individual countries. For example, the top-ranked Polish district of Warszawa has €12,473 per person, while last-ranked district Przysuski has just €4,152 per person. These and other insights from the study give retailers and manufacturers the ability to pinpoint the best regions to sell and market their products.

    • 11/10/17
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    Re-evaluate, Optimize, Innovate: Rethinking ROI for your media mix

    Over the last 10 years, the media landscape has been hit by a full-blown digital revolution. The backdrop is more complex, not just because it has changed, but because it never stops changing. These days, consumers are increasingly difficult to reach, the media diet is more fragmented every day and the touchpoints have multiplied.

    One of the most visible effects of this change? The difficulty in knowing how effective advertising has or hasn’t been, how the pieces of the puzzle need to be arranged.

    Without properly quantifying the results based on the “right” information, the investment in your marketing budget will lack the elements to support the optimal choice of the media mix from the possible levers.

    This matter was discussed at the GfK@ROI Conference: Re-evaluate, Optimize, Innovate. Creators of the conference for GfK Italy were Enzo Frasio (Commercial Director), Roberto Borghini (Product Head) and Sabrina Melinu (Account Manager, Value Added Services).

    However, our role was different from usual, the experts steered the audience towards the event’s ambitious goal: to provide retailers and manufacturers with the tools to be able to make 360° measurements of the ROI of their business activities.

    All based on some key questions to assess their marketing mix: Have they led to a sales uplift? Have they been able to drive traffic on their digital platforms? Have they influenced the brand’s KPIs positively? And the intention to buy?

    3  key ways to rethink your marketing strategies


    • Re-evaluate: Move away from subjective “perception” of campaign success towards precise measurement, that identifies actions put into place for your brand that bring a real return on investment from the results to be connected to external factors.
    • Optimize: Define the optimal marketing mix, ensuring the maximization of sales in both the short term and the long term, taking all touchpoints (below the line and above the line) and demographic profiles into account.
    • Innovate: Testing fresh ways to exploit new synergies between media and touchpoints is often the key to identifying the most powerful mix.

    Some particularly innovative case studies were presented at the event by three exceptional guests: Samsung, Google and Facebook.

    How much of my sales come from in-store initiatives and how much from the media mix?

    The collaboration between Google and Samsung that has come about from the meeting of two needs: to measure the impact of digital platforms (YouTube, Google Search) on off-line sales and to identify the optimal mix between above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL) initiatives for the Samsung TV market.

    Using the Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM) model combined with different data sources, it was possible to measure the uplift and ROI of each marketing lever.

    Baptiste Tougeron, Head of Marketing Mix Models SE at Google EMEA, explained in his speech that the success of this project also depended on the use of granular data:


    • Clicks and Impressions of the campaigns for over 1000 Italian cities from Google
    • Sales per POS analytics data from GfK

    Commenting on the results of the study, Claudia Guardamagna (Consumer Insight Manager at Samsung Italy), emphasized how beneficial the results were to the company in establishing the key points of its strategies and the importance of embarking on structured research to optimize the media mix in the long term.

    Measure reach, frequency, and effects on the demographics with MME

    An innovative example of ROI measurement of digital campaigns was provided by Stefano Cirillo (Head of Marketing Science at Facebook Italy). A meta-analysis carried out with the aim of measuring reach, frequency and effect on the targets of six campaigns for brands of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.

    Using our Media Mix Efficiency (MME) model, the study demonstrated the positive impact on the sales of Facebook campaigns analyzed, with a comparison with TV commercials run at the same time. The analysis also allowed for measurement of the extra-reach generated by the digital campaigns, including for older age groups.

    Conclusions: the virtuous circle of effectiveness

    The measurement of the effectiveness of a campaign requires a series of steps: the starting point is to measure past campaigns, then optimize the new marketing activities (demographic analysis, strategic planning) and finally, re-measure the results of the campaign defined on the basis of the previous analysis.

    We’ve developed innovative solutions (MMA, MME, POS Analytics, Consumer Insights) to help our customers in all steps of the virtuous circle of effectiveness.

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  • MMS and GfK launch Total Video Ad Ratings in Sweden
    • 11/10/17
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    MMS and GfK launch Total Video Ad Ratings in Sweden

    MMS and GfK have extended their digital ad ratings in Sweden into a Total Video service, enabling the market to measure return-on-investment of video advertisement cross-platform on linear TV, Smart TV, PC, Smartphone and Tablet devices. 

  • SKO and GfK renew TV Audience Measurement contract in the Netherlands
    • 11/09/17
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    SKO and GfK renew TV Audience Measurement contract in the Netherlands

    SKO has announced it is renewing its contract for Television Audience Measurement (TAM) with GfK for 2018. 

  • What will media currencies look like in 5 years’ time?
    • 11/08/17
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    What will media currencies look like in 5 years’ time?

    GfK held a roundtable discussion with leaders from across the media industry to debate this hot topic. Download our free white paper.to explore the findings. 

    • 11/08/17
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    Welcome to the wild-west: Is this the future of media measurement?

    The future of media measurement is a very hot topic right now. So, in association with IAB Europe, we invited industry representatives from a wide range of companies to a Round Table discussion on how media measurement might look in five years’ time. Participants included: digital platforms Google, Facebook and Oath; global ad agencies Publicis and Dentsu; media owners from broadcast TV and digital; a programmatic audience platform; a national advertising association and a large national JIC (Joint Industry Committee).

    Media currencies form the cornerstone of media trading, they provide a value to the media inventory that is bought and sold across TV, digital and a plethora of other platforms.

    However, are traditional currency systems being replaced by automated bidding? Is the media planner being replaced by an algorithm? And in the process will target groups become “identity graphs” of attributes, sometimes down to the individual level?

    In the future will there still be a requirement for Joint Industry Committees (JICs) to provide trusted, standardized measurement for the advertising trade? Or will tech and data providers create a new world with scalable, cost efficient technologies which are faster, more flexible and more tightly targeted?

    Issues facing the media measurement industry

    Despite rapid advances in tech, the industry has been dogged by issues of trust, transparency, fraud and a high reliance on a few digital platform players with a lot of power. There have been calls for higher transparency and better orchestration in the data world, most notably by the P&G CMO Mark Pritchard. And more recently Martin Cass at Advertising Week.

    It is high time to pause for a moment and reflect. Is neutral arbitration in the media industry not needed any more due to disruptive technology and the rise of data? Will chaos, ruled by smart, quick but unregulated systems replace order? That’s the discussion we are having. As a leading media measurement company, our future is linked to the industry, so this goes to the core of what we and the industry are about.

    We created a white paper to summarize our roundtable discussion. You can read more here to discover more about three scenarios outlined for the future:


    1. The rise of the “Super JIC” as reinvigorated, neutral data arbiters
    2. Chaos replaces order, with data being controlled by different competing entities large and small
    3. Technological self-regulation of data, likely in the form of an adaptation of Blockchain technology

    We also discuss the role of media planner in these scenarios and ultimately what this will mean for consumers, who are likely to have more control and will expect to be paid for their data.

    The future of media currencies is still very much open, but one thing that is clear: the proliferation of many types of data means that media planning as we know it today will be enhanced and replaced. The question as to what will fill that void is answered by our group’s three possible future scenarios.

    “The way people are paying for consumption will change radically, be that by blockchain, or usage of a brand and delivery of content.”

    -Simon Halstead, Oath

    “In five years’ time, we need to look at why we are using Reach currencies. In essence, they are a compromise. Reach planning won’t exist, either, because Effect planning is already rising sharply, or it will be used less and less. Planning can certainly be done on Effect currencies.”

    -Walter Flaat, Dentsu

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  • European purchasing power climbs by a nominal 1.9 percent
    • 11/07/17
    • Press
    • Geomarketing
    • Geodata
    • Global
    • English

    European purchasing power climbs by a nominal 1.9 percent

    Europeans have an average of €13,937 per person available for spending and saving in 2017. This is one of the many results of GfK's newly released study, "GfK Purchasing Power Europe 2017". The available net income among the researched 42 countries varies enormously: Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland have the highest average purchasing power, while Belarus, Moldova and the Ukraine have the lowest.

    • 11/07/17
    • Retail
    • Consumer Goods
    • Global
    • English

    Beware the star player: Why category management is the ultimate team game

    Category management is the ultimate team sport. Smart retailers, just like good football club managers, know that it takes a range of skills to create a winning team. The secret to category growth and success lies in picking the best combination of SKUs to achieve the highest category penetration. So why do so many categories look like a jumble of products all individually vying for the shopper’s attention?

    Manufacturers need to face up to shrinking shelf space. Four key trends are converging to create a perfect storm, and the result is that some SKUs will be relegated to the bench. Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl are redefining the notion of convenience and enabling shoppers to save on their two most precious resources, time and money. Meanwhile “ambient categories” which don’t need to be hand selected are increasingly transitioning online. Barriers to new entrants have fallen meaning that existing brands are at risk of being squeezed out. And to cap it all, private label brands are growing both in volume and prominence.

    Teamwork is the key to success

    Against this backdrop, the need to create a winning team on the shelf is paramount. Every SKU needs to earn its place on the shelf– and to make a match-winning contribution. Tesco is currently playing an excellent game on their whiskey shelf with a hero area. The bottles displayed behind the wooden and glass cabinet are super-premium, and with a price tag to match. Old Pulteney, at an eye-watering £100 per bottle, is priced well beyond the average Tesco shopper. So what game is the retailer playing? Including Old Pulteney in the assortment achieves two important objectives. The listing is intended to attract a different shopper who probably wouldn’t visit the store otherwise. They are likely to be affluent with a higher spend per visit. Secondly, Tesco wants to frame the value of other products on the shelf. Having a price tier with an attractive product which is unaffordable to most often has the effect of making the other (still relatively high ticket) items appear more palatable. So, brands at opposite ends of the spectrum become teammates.

    Train for success

    But how can we test what is happening at the shelf? How can retailers and manufacturers be sure that they are fielding the right team? The answer lies in observing shopper behavior. Fundamentally, category managers need to understand which SKUs are substitutable (i.e. easily interchangeable), and which are incremental (unique to that buying occasion). The difference is crucial, and it is vital to understand the interplay between the two.

    Using a virtual store platform, we can identify shopper repertoires and establish which products they consider. We then ask shoppers to make product selections based on various versions of the shelf to establish which products consistently end up in the shopping basket.

    Creating a winning team

    Using this data, we can identify which combination of SKUs create the highest total penetration. As well as establishing the point of diminishing returns, we can identify the niche products that will deliver incremental sales. Armed with these insights, category managers can optimize their assortment, and create effective team sheets which can be adapted according to the channel to deliver a winning team every time.

    James LLewellyn is the UK Head of Shopper. Please email James.Llewellyn@gfk.com or leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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    • 11/02/17
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    In a crossmedia world, why are we still measuring audiences in silos?

    Think about the consumer! Now picture her or him. You see a woman or man with a smartphone in their hand, a cappuccino in the other hand, walking through a sunny city wearing a white top and a denim jacket. The cappuccino the consumer bought in a local coffee store, the denim jacket was bought in a brick and mortar shop in the city, while the smartphone he bought a while ago on the internet. The consumer has a credit card, health insurance, he participates in the apparel store’s cashback program, he has a data plan with his smartphone carrier and he has the coffee shop’s loyalty card. Every single interaction that the consumer does leaves traces in the digital world for us to analyze.

    A single customer view

    Today the industry operates in isolated marketing ecosystems where audiences are defined by the departments where they belong. The consumer is observed from different angles and perspectives in separation. E.g. he can be a store visitor, he can be a website visitor, he can be part of a media planning target group, he can be a prospect that needs to be converted into a shopper, he can be the member of a loyalty program, etc. But the consumers don’t care about channels or touchpoints or digital KPIs. They are humans who only care about their experience – i.e. their experience with the brands: The denim jacket brand, the coffee house brand, the smartphone brand and if we want to provide a seamless experience across all touchpoints, we have to move away from these silos.

    The siloed ecosystem is the most significant obstacle on the way to getting to a single customer view. Therefore, to get to a single consumer view, we need to integrate data from different data sources to harness its combined power and to develop profitable strategies. By saying “silos”, we don’t only mean data silos in terms of media channels, such as digital vs. traditional media. We also mean organizational silos – the integration of departments within companies who take care of different things for the same consumer.


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    Breaking down silos with a “scaled one-to-one impact”

    Even if we are not able to predict the consumer’s behavior, we can try to understand it. To do so, we need data and we need science. We need to analyze the data traces that the consumers leave behind with a single consumer view and we need to innovate the metrics that we use to do that.

    In the past media measurement was about reach and incremental reach across media channels. It was important to prove that the advertising had the desired reach within the desired target group with a certain frequency. Further, it was important to understand how different media channels complemented each other with regard to the campaign delivery and what the most efficient combination is.

    Then the industry moved to measuring the impact of advertising – i.e. how it changed attitudes toward brands and how it drove product sales and thereby proving the return on investment of advertising.

    Today we are moving into the next stage, which we call “Scaled one-to-one impact”.

    Visualizing crossmedia consumer behaviour

    Think 10 or 15 years back, when you had your local store where you would go several times per week. The shop owner knew about your product preferences, your socio-demographics, your wealth, your health problems, your relationship problems, your mortgage and many other things, based on conversations and observations. He had this information about you and about everyone else in the neighborhood, which gave him the opportunity to adjust his offering and assortment accordingly to yield the best profits. Today we are back to having the possibility of one-to-one impact based on the data traces that consumers leave in the digital world. Rather than planning advertising campaigns, we are orchestrating consumer journeys and the advertising delivery becomes consumer centric. We can again target each and every consumer to reach one-to-one impact, but this time at scale – “Scaled one-to-one impact”. The challenge is however to think crossmedia first and to break up silos with digital as the connector, as the data traces that the consumer leaves behind exist in the digital world.


    Integrating data from all sources in one platform, such as our Crossmedia Visualizer, allows us to connect the dots, to open up silos and support media planning, media buying and the post-hoc evaluation with metrics that matter. With these insights, you can identify your target audiences, determine the most relevant touchpoints to use to reach them and understand their media consumption and usage of digital devices to optimize your marketing strategy and media mix.

    If everyone is convinced about taking a crossmedia perspective, why are we still measuring audiences in silos? Well, we don’t. And you shouldn’t.

    Pawel Gershkovich is a Global Senior Product Manager at GfK. To share your thoughts, please email pawel.gershkovich@gfk.com or leave a comment below.

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