If you want to really understand your customers, you need to tap into the mind of Michael Solomon.
Michael “wrote the book” on understanding consumers. Literally. Hundreds of thousands of business students have learned about marketing from his books including Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being — the most widely used book on the subject in the world.
Michael often is asked to provide briefings to global executive teams who want significant increases in their bottom line and who understand that’s accomplished by a deeper connection with their customers.
Michael’s mantra: We don’t buy products because of what they do. We buy them because of what they mean. He advises global clients in leading industries such as apparel and footwear (Calvin Klein, Levi Strauss, Under Armour, Timberland), financial services and e-commerce (eBay, Progressive), CPG (Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s), retailing (H&M), sports (Philadelphia Eagles), manufacturing (DuPont, PP&G) and transportation (BMW, United Airlines) on marketing strategies to make them more consumer-centric. He regularly appears on television shows including The Today Show, Good Morning America and CNN to comment on consumer issues, and he is frequently quoted in major media outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today, Adweek and Time. He is a regular Contributor at Forbes.com, where he writes about current issues related to retailing, consumer behavior and marketing.
As a Professor of Marketing (in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia) and an industry consultant, Michael combines cutting-edge academic theory with actionable real-world strategies. He helps managers get inside the heads of their customers so they can anticipate and satisfy their deepest and most pressing needs – today and tomorrow. An executive at Subaru said it best: “The man is a scholar who is current and street-wise.”
Michael is passionate about the extraordinary world of the ordinary consumer. He brings humor and arresting visuals to his keynotes to show how everyday behaviors are much more meaningful than you thought – and an essential pathway to grabbing the attention and loyalty of your customers. The marketing guru Philip Kotler summed it up when he stated, “Solomon has the mind of a scientist and the writing flair of a journalist.”
Earthshaking Trends: What You Need to Know Now About Keeping Your Top Consumers
For years, marketers put customers into tidy little boxes, such as age, income or gender groups. Consumers don’t like boxes! Fundamental categories that form the bedrock of marketing strategy and customer insights simply no longer exist. You need to understand the new landscape of consumer behavior before the earth shifts on its axis again. The top earthshaking trends that will dramatically change how you think about your customers:
How consumers plug into a “hive mind” that tells them what to buy
Why “offline” versus “online” marketing strategies are useless
How our bodies are product delivery platforms
Why yesterday’s customer is today’s subcontractor
How we play at work and work at play
Why your customers want to rent what you sell rather than own it
The Many Faces of AI: What (Or Whom) Will Consumers Trust – Obey?
Everyone is buzzing about AI these days, as well as they should. Machines that “think” for us already are transforming how we work, play – and shop. McKinsey tells us that some 29 million U.S. homes used some form of smart technology last year, and that number grows by over 30 percent a year. Many organizations now deploy robots, avatars and chatbots to perform tasks we used to ask flesh-and-blood people to do. This suddenly makes the age-old question of what makes us human much less theoretical. Self-driving cars threaten to replace truck drivers. IBM’s Watson beats chess masters and veteran Jeopardy game show contestants. Movies and TV shows like Blade Runner, Westworld, and Humans that focus on the civil rights of synths, replicants and androids are center stage in popular culture. Alexa and Siri are our new guardian angels.
Where does the person stop and the machine start? Marketers need to grapple with this question, and soon. As customers increasingly interact with machines instead of people, there are huge ramifications for the way we think about sales interactions, communications strategies, product design and marketing channels. Will consumers more readily accept a product recommendation from an AI agent if an attractive avatar delivers the message? Will customers become loyal to an intelligent agent, much as some do with their favorite salespeople now? Will shoppers prefer to see computer-generated models in advertising rather than real people? Very soon, the rise of the machines will become the race of the machines. Don’t be left at the starting line. In this thought-provoking presentation we will ask:
- How does the physical appearance of a robot or avatar sales advisor affect the likelihood that customers will trust and follow its’ recommendations about what to buy?
- How will chatbots and affective computing (where software detects a consumer’s emotional state) impact sales interactions?
- As advertisers use machine learning to generate artificial images for their messages, how will AI influence ideals of beauty and the fashion industry?
- What will be the impact of dating apps, sexbots and other smart devices on interpersonal relationships?
- How will facial recognition and wearable computer technologies meld with AI to create “markets of one?
The Young and the Restless: Capture the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Millennials
U.S. Millennials spend $600 billion per year, but their choices change faster than Lady Gaga changes her outfits. How can you adapt to connect with these “always on” but always changing shoppers? We’ll dive in to key ways that Millennials think about products and stores, and we’ll identify emerging tech solutions that sync with young consumers’ lifestyles. Discover best practices to develop brand loyalty with a notoriously fickle group. After this session you will understand:
- How Millennials think
- Why brands matter to them – and don’t
- What you can learn from “World of Warcraft” and other online videogames
- Why “haul videos” and other consumer-generated content will transform the way you think about customer insights
- How cutting edge technologies like virtual reality will revolutionize the shopping experience
A Moving Target
When we try to figure out consumers, there’s only one thing we can count on: We can’t count on anything. Consumer behavior is a moving target, but understanding how “deep meanings” influence customers worldwide will improve your aim. In this session you will learn how to connect with the most diverse consumer base ever – Millennials, Third Genders, Omniculturals, Creatives, Mass Class and others worldwide. You will understand that:
- Advertising is a mirror that reflects a culture’s hidden tensions and desires
- Marketers succeed only when they seize the moment and sync their brands with the path of popular culture
- A “global consumer culture” sways your customers no matter where in the world you sell
- The forces of fashion rule all products (not just haute couture)
- Colors, shapes and symbols send very different signals around the globe
- “Fortress brands” succeed because they help us to perform primal rituals
- Brands play a starring role in a culture’s myths that surface in movie and TV plots, holidays and even fairy tales.
WE Really Are What We Wear: How the Psychology of Fashion Influences Consumer Behavior
We buy products because of what they mean, not because of what they do.
That insight is crucial for any consumer-facing industry. Customers literally choose from thousands of options – and most of them have very little to do with functionality.
However, that doesn’t make these decisions unimportant by any means. The selection of a watch, a bracelet, a pair of glasses or many other items reflects deep-seated values and beliefs about appearance and the consumer’s identity.
We can think of the body as a canvas, where the shopper chooses from a “palette” of accessory items, apparel, footwear, cosmetics and other products to paint a picture s/he wants the world to see at a fixed moment in time. Fashion marketers need to dig deeper if they want to sync their offerings with what their customers seek.
In this presentation, we’ll look at some of the powerful cultural forces that drive fashion statements. Then we’ll focus on the individual consumer and her motivations to buy. We’ll examine some of the important factors that influence what that “self-portrait” looks like, including feelings about the body, peer pressure, celebrity endorsements and the messages our culture sends about what men and women need to look like.
We’ll also consider how new technologies such as social media communities, wearable computing and augmented reality will color this picture in the near future.