Much in demand as a keynote speaker, 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.
As a Professor of Marketing, Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University 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’s most requested keynote, “Earth Shaking Trends: What You Need To Know Now About Keeping Your Top Consumers,” will help you to reach – and engage – fickle customers. He will show you how to harness the power of collaborative consumption. He will inspire you to turn customers from pawns into partners as you develop new products and communications strategies. Michael also shares his insights about current issues and challenges in consumer behavior in his other speeches.
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.”
- Step on the G.A.S. (Gratification, Agency & Stability): Consumer Behavior in The New Normal
The Pandemic will change our world for years after the virus disappears. We’ll have to rethink and modify our purchase decisions, large and small. Some disruptions in consumer/marketer relationships that already were looming will come faster and more decisively. How do we define brand value? How should companies talk to customers? How do people function in an emerging gig economy where every encounter might be fatal? How do we redefine what it means to go to work or to socialize?
The virus poked the bear, and now marketers need to respond to life in The New Normal.
The changes that started well before the Pandemic reflect the transition in our society from a modernist to a postmodern culture. Postmodern consumers don’t always follow the rules that marketers decree. That’s because we don’t buy products because of what they do… we buy them because of what they mean. Today’s consumers define themselves by the brands they choose. Their idiosyncratic choices create a pastiche of meaning that gets updated 24/7. Marketers no longer drive the train, even though they can still ride it.
This means that the firm categories we love to use to understand our world – and our customers – are no longer valid. In particular, the traditional labels we use to segment consumers have stopped working. Today’s consumers are like chameleons, who change color constantly. They no longer sit passively in the tidy cages we put them in. The convenient dichotomies we rely upon, such as Male vs. Female, Young vs. Old, I vs. We, Consumer vs. Producer, Offline vs. Online, and many others, no longer mean very much.
In the New Normal, we’ll see these cages open even faster as people are exposed both to new possibilities and to new constraints on their daily lives. Many of us for example will rediscover the value of community, and others will rethink the value of commuting to work everyday. In this presentation, we’ll explore some of these comfortable cages, and show why marketers need to ignore them in order to prosper.
You’ll learn why you need to step on the GAS to modify your offerings in light of the new drivers of consumer behavior.
- The New Chameleons: Unlock Marketing’s Old Cages to Profit from Disruption
Fundamental categories that form the bedrock of marketing strategy and customer insights simply no longer exist. Today’s consumer is like a chameleon that changes its identity constantly, often with the help of the brands you (and your competitors) market. You need to understand “the new chameleons,” so you don’t get left in the dust. Unlock the cages that marketers try to keep their customers in, and let those chameleons run free!
In this program you will learn:
• How you can reach today’s consumers, who plug into a “hive mind” that tells them what to buy.
• Why the debate about “offline versus online” marketing strategies is useless.
• How to market with rather than market to your customers.
• Why the boundary between our bodies and machines no longer exists.
• Why your customers rely upon your brands to tell them who they are.
• How to develop new killer products and services by unlocking your industry’s cages.
- The Many Faces of AI: Persuasive Salesbots and Tomorrow’s Customer Experience
Everyone is buzzing about Artificial Intelligence 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?”
- Be the First Choice!
Everything is a choice!
• Making someone a leader of an organization or team
• Deciding which company to work for
• Preparing for change management in an organization
• Buying one brand over another
• Even responding on a dating site
A choice is a problem to be solved. Some economists tell us that we’re like robots – calm, cool, collected decision-making machines that carefully weigh all the evidence and make the best objective choice.
The real world doesn’t work that way!
Have you ever asked yourself:
• How do I convince my team that the choice I made is best for us?
• Why in the world did I pick this toxic place to work?
• What genius responded to a downturn in the market by selecting this really lame strategic option for us?
• On what planet is this the best brand?
• What was I thinking when I decided to go out with him?
• Our choices and other behaviors often seem “irrational” after the fact, but there’s often a method to our madness — even if we don’t know what it is.
So, what drives our choices? To answer that question, we need to understand the hidden forces that bias our decisions.
Don’t be #2! I can help you to identify the hidden triggers that drive our choices.
- Walk a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes
The customer is king (or queen). Yet the best product or service will fail if consumers don’t have a positive encounter when they consume it. That’s because what you sell is NOT a product – it’s an experience that consists of the core offering plus everything that goes with it. This includes the physical or digital environment where shoppers find it, the people who sell it, and even how others react to the purchase. This experience is what attracts – or repels – the customer. With so many options available, he or she will quickly walk away from a negative encounter. But he or she also will reward organizations that provide satisfying experiences with long-term loyalty.
At the end of the day, it’s vital for marketers to become more consumer-centric – to understand the experience from the customer’s perspective rather than just the manager’s perspective. And, that challenge is even more daunting when we understand that today’s consumer is changing dramatically as he or she finds new ways to interact with companies.
This fundamental insight is what is drives increased interest in customer experience management (CEM or CXM). A growing number of organizations now recognize the importance of tracking every interaction with customers as if it is their last – because it could be. You’ll get a through overview of today’s consumer, and the major issues we need to understand in order to create and maintain a positive customer experience over the long-term.
At the end of this presentation, you will understand:
• Today’s consumer experience and how it is changing due to technological and cultural disruptions.
• What determines a shopper’s level of satisfaction with a consumer experience and how to increase engagement with the organization.
• How an organization can gather insights about its customers’ experiences in order to improve them.
• How to design an outstanding customer experience and emerging techniques that will help you to bond with your customers for the long-term.
- 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 industry that touches consumers. 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. 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 influence how consumers use a range of products to make “statements” about themselves. 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.
- 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?