As we prepare for a long, restful weekend with family and friends, we’re reflecting on what has made 2017 such a terrific year. Topping the list has to be the opportunity to continue partnering on important work with amazing brands and wonderful clients.
And all that great work has resulted in great growth for Fusion Hill:
We’re now 40 people strong and still hiring!
One of our newest members is our director of strategy, who, along with her growing team, is expanding the strategic offerings that fit between our creative and research disciplines.
We built out new studio space that overlooks the Mississippi, which you may have visited during our recent Fall Brewhaha. If not, stop on by and check out our shipping-container-turned-conference-room!
We found inspiration at conferences – SXSW, Transform, the Digital Summit, AIGA Eye on Design and Qual360.
We were named one of Minnesota Business Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For again this year!
As we enjoy the delights of our Thanksgiving meals, we’re confident our hearts will be every bit as full as our stomachs. And for that, we thank you – our closest partners and friends.
What does it mean to live in rural America today? After an election in which the polarization between rural and urban voters widened dramatically — on average, a 26-point gap — many are seeking to better understand the experiences of a population that is too often left out of the conversation.
A common refrain among rural Americans is that the nation’s economy is leaving them behind. It can also be said that these rural residents are being left behind as consumers — underserved by major brands and service providers. Thirty-nine percent of rural counties today lack access to broadband; 40 percent of them lack a bank branch. In urban America, there is an average of 39.8 patients for each primary care provider; in rural America, that number rises to 53.5.
However, rural America also presents a more complicated picture than stereotypes suggest. Eighty-three percent of rural growth between 2000 and 2010 was made up of Hispanic residents, who have helped slow a longstanding decline in the rural population. While traditional sources of income like manufacturing and mining have diminished, there are now new sources of rural employment — like renewable energy.
We’re working to better recognize the complexity of these communities and the reality of the challenges they face. Want to know more? Download the full report.
While the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, its health outcomes are less impressive. In fact, they’re well below those of other high-income nations. This is certainly no secret to anyone who has followed the news or political debates of the past few years. The solution, however, isn’t an easy one, as physicians, administrators and healthcare innovators from all corners of the country noted at Mayo Clinic’s Transform 2017 conference.
We joined these leaders and creative thinkers in September for a wide-ranging discussion of the industry’s most pressing issues — from value-based care to interoperability to the potential for disruption. The conversation boiled down to one daunting question: How do we restructure the system so that providers can fulfill the purpose that brought them to medicine in the first place and patients can actually get the care they need?
Here are some of our key takeaways.
Conversations matter — but there’s little time for them.
Today, a doctor gets paid far less to have a conversation with a patient than to perform a procedure — even though conversation may be the cheapest and most effective tool. Danielle Ofri of the NYU School of Medicine noted that cost pressures, regulatory requirements and administrative paperwork keep physicians feeling like “hamsters on a wheel,” spending far more time on administrative tasks than on patient care (in some studies, by a ratio of 2:1). Patients feel the imbalance too. Speaking with their physician for only a few minutes at a time and then being prescribed medication that doesn’t make them better creates an underwhelming experience at best – and a harmful one at worst.
We must redefine the value equation.
In a situation so dire, it may seem the only choice is between spending more to increase outcomes or cutting spending and worsening inequities. But there is another way: increasing healthcare value, and thus reducing costs and increasing quality of care.
Value = Health outcomes that matter to patients / Cost of full cycle of care
Determining value, however, depends on being able to define health outcomes. As they are traditionally measured, these rarely include what matters most to patients. Elizabeth Teisberg of Dell Medical School proposed three alternative measures of what patients value most:
Capability: The ability to get back to things one used to be able to do
Comfort: Relief from pain and suffering
Calm: The stability to continue participating in one’s individual and family life
Evolving the ways we measure outcomes is just one way to begin closing the gap between patients and providers.
Analyzing the right data is key.
Health care lags behind many U.S. industries when it comes to interoperability and the meaningful use of big data. Electronic health records (EHRs) may have been a leap forward, but their usefulness is limited by variation in provider adoption — leaving them to perform essentially the same role as medical records of the past, albeit digitally. Without integration, collaboration between systems, and “sift and serve” capabilities that help physicians find what they need, pooling data just means that the haystack surrounding the needle they are looking for gets larger.
The data we collect today can also be misleading. “Beware of surrogate end points,” warned Darshak Sanghavi of OptumLabs, noting that the data points we often measure and incentivize may reflect a short-term goal that does not correlate with the more meaningful long-term goal. It is essential that the right questions are being asked, and that the long-term goals that matter are established, before we celebrate the power of data to solve our healthcare challenges.
Innovation can help close gaps.
As technology evolves while systemic challenges remain, there is a growing possibility that disruptive solutions could come from the outside. Many of the speakers at Transform believe that these kinds of innovations are needed to force the transition to value-based care and to achieve a better return on our investment in health care as a nation.
However, it is also important to remember that true innovation goes beyond flashy technology. Americans’ health care needs today are not acute problems with a quick fix. Instead, they are often chronic conditions requiring sustained lifestyle change, and they revolve around the social determinants that shape patients’ lives outside of clinical spaces. As Andy Slavitt of the Bipartisan Policy Center put it, the patient we need to serve better is not just the healthy 60-year-old who wants a wearable that can upload his run times to his doctor; it’s the low-income woman who has to take two buses to get to dialysis and keeps missing her appointments. Right now, ZIP code is a better predictor of life expectancy in America than genetic code — and only when that inequity is addressed will health care truly be transformed.
Let’s keep the conversation going.
Connect with Fusion Hill to learn how we’re helping innovators in the healthcare space tell their story.
From Michael Jackson’s blockbuster Pepsi commercials to LeBron James’ rumored $500 million deal with Nike,1 we’ve all heard of celebrity endorsements. And based on the amount of money that brands throw at celebrities, these promotions have clearly been proven to work. Yet in a world of increasingly savvy consumers, many brands are taking another look at how they connect with their audiences.
Micro-influencers — born at the intersection of social media and grassroots marketing — are a smart and significantly more affordable answer for some of today’s hottest brands. Unlike celebrities who have widespread appeal, micro-influencers are YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and blog users with highly targeted, extremely attentive followers. Their follower count fluctuates within the 1,000–100,000 range. The majority of their followers have had some sort of authentic interaction with the account owner, which allows for the account to be perceived as an authority on a given topic.
Why are brands partnering with influencers?
For a much smaller investment of marketing dollars, brands can connect with micro-influencers to have them mention a product in a way that followers trust more than traditional advertising. In fact, 92% of consumers say they trust a micro-influencer more than they trust a celebrity or traditional advertisement.2 Micro-influencers can help establish trust with a company or product, getting your brand message out to a more targeted audience. Their closer-knit group of followers can lead to higher engagement rates, boosting conversation and generating excitement.
An untapped micro-influencer market: Health and wellness
While micro-influencer marketing has become common for fitness and beauty products, it’s not as well developed in health care. And while a vast opportunity exists, there are a few barriers to note. Health and wellness influencers have traditionally operated offline. Yet as consumers consistently look online for health information and as telehealth continues to grow, influencers in this space have great potential. Many fall right into the sweet spot in terms of follower size.3 Many health and wellness influencers have medical or other licenses, and this means they have stricter standards — and FDA regulations — to adhere to. Unlike a pop star who can easily pitch her “favorite” smoothie or lotion, this group has clear guidelines for ethical standards.3 That said, there is great potential within the health care space. As opposed to throwaway consumer products promoted by other brands, health care companies have truly life-changing messages to share on topics like back pain, heart health and diabetes.
How can your brand find micro-influencers?
Keep in mind that you want to find people who have a true and targeted interest in your brand’s focus area. To find them, start by looking at your social media followers. Then research relevant hashtags and search for top bloggers. You may also want to try tools like Markerly, Insightpool, Ninja Outreach, Followerwonk and BuzzSumo.
While it may be tempting to look at people with the largest followers list, in this case less is likely more. Consumers feel more connected to and most trusting of influencers with small online communities.
Let’s keep the conversation going
Connect with Fusion Hill to explore creative ways to incorporate micro-influencers in your social media strategy.
When communicating with clients, are you focused more on the how, the what or the who? At Fusion Hill, we spend a lot of time thinking about communication with our clients and in turn, how our clients communicate with their respective clients. And we’re not alone! At the 2017 Digital Summit in Minneapolis, the presentations focused primarily on how we communicate, who we communicate with and what we share. The Digital Summit was jam-packed with mini-sessions on topics from experiential marketing to mobile content creation. Here are the team’s four largest takeaways:
Use technology as a springboard – not a crutch
Be just as strategic about delivery and distribution as you are about the actual content you choose to send. Consider which medium would allow for the best experience and leverage that context. You’ll be able to deliver mind-blowing content at just the right moment, on the platform that makes the most sense for converting consumers. “Understand how, when and what customers want. Don’t just do it for technology’s sake.” – Scott Emmons, Neiman Marcus
Personalize and excite, digitally
If you constantly are marketing to the masses, how can you truly connect with anyone? Don’t be another promoter of average products for average people. Keep it pure, and push to find the smallest group of individuals that makes sense. It’s not about pleasing everyone, but about actually connecting with your audience. Once you’ve determined who exactly you’re talking to, don’t be safe — push boundaries. Extend your brand in ways that will excite and intrigue your specific audience.
“Vanilla is good, but to stand out – you need funfetti.” – Lorraine Goldberg, allrecipes.com
Be the best ‘you’
Taking calculated risks is one thing — but don’t try every gimmick out there. Instead of chasing marketing trends, focus on what you are truly selling — not just the product or service, but your signature experience. Home in and expand on the tiny details that will wow and delight the consumer. By building your brand from those smallest interactions and experiences, you’ll be able to find an emotional connection with your audience. You can’t outsource the reason you are doing what you’re doing. Technology will change, but your audience doesn’t. A great example from Seth Godin: “Harley-Davidson is not in the Segway business.”
Be empathetic (duh)
It’s customer service 101, but always try to see the problem from your customers’ point of view. Connect with your audience on an emotional level, talk to your customers directly and don’t make it hard for them to find you. That effort will not go unnoticed. Consumers are far more likely to be loyal when they feel an authentic connection to your company.
U.S. birth rates are falling fast, but spending is not slowing down. In fact, the baby market is bigger than ever before. Consumers are expected to spend more than $66 billion on baby products in 2017 — three times more than what was spent four years ago. So what’s causing this spending to skyrocket? You can blame that on Millennials.
Millennials are having children at an older age than previous generations — the ripe old age of 26. With the same gusto Millennials apply to any new journey, they are trading their independent lifestyles for a totally new experience — parenthood. Because they’re waiting until later in life to have children, more Millennial mothers are in the workforce with higher incomes and busier lives when they start their families. More money and less time means Millennials tend to be more willing to pay for premium and niche products and services that will make their lives easier.
Trends in Pregnancy
Health Tracking, Just to Be Safe
Millennial moms are using new tech products to keep an extra eye on their baby’s and their own health during and after their pregnancy. For example, Biobands and Bellabeat monitor a baby’s progress within the womb, and Lullabelly lets you sing songs to the baby and teach your baby lessons. Post-birth products such as tracking socks and tech-enhanced changing pads keep an extra eye on your baby’s heart rate, weight and overall health.
But Millennial pregnancy isn’t all “Inspector Gadget.” When it comes to the actual birth, more Millennial moms are opting for a more holistic experience, employing midwives and delivering at birthing centers for their home-like and comforting feel rather than going to a traditional hospital.
Changing Social Norms
Last January, #BeyTwins took the Internet by storm, but Beyoncé isn’t the only Millennial parent to tweet about her pregnancy in the 21st century. From hashtags to gender-reveal videos, sharing updates online with friends, family and even strangers is on #trend. As more families and friends live farther apart, Millennial parents use the internet to share their pregnancy experiences.
Trends in Parenting
Fewer Ashleys and Jacobs, and More Camerons and Dakotas
Millennial parents are taking a less gender-specific approach to parenthood by allowing their kids to dress however they’d like, choosing more unisex names and enrolling their children in co-ed sports. Oh, and kiss traditional gender roles goodbye — with more moms in the workforce, the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled since 1989.
Relaxed Parenting Approach
No helicopter parenting here — new parents are more hands off. Today’s parents tend to encourage their children to explore and discover organically rather than being told to behave a certain way. With “third-child style” parenting, Millennial parents aim for children to develop independence, creativity and responsibility by solving problems on their own, and asking parents only for guidance.
Millennial Consumer Trends Translate to the Baby Market
Consumer trends driven by Millennials are shaking up the baby market, including the emphasis on safe, eco-friendly products; nutritional organic food; functional design; and cross-brand, upscale products.
From diapers and mattresses to dishwasher soap, Millennial parents want natural, eco-friendly products that are non-toxic and chemical free. They also demand that products be easy to use, mess free and nutrient rich to better fit with modern families’ on-the-go lifestyles. Practicality and convertibility are also important. Products should save parents money, grow with each child’s life stage and lessen environmental impact. Millennial parents also want to use preferred brands for their children, influencing a trend in cross-brand outfits and furniture for children.
Implications for Brands and Marketing
So how do you captivate new parents in this sea of products? To appeal to the modern parent, brands need to connect digitally, stay relevant and promote value. Companies can cater to Millennial parents by developing high-tech, stylish, quality products and staying in touch with consumers through culturally relevant messaging.
Since SeaChange Print Innovation’s launch, we’ve had a blast using bold colors, playful headlines and eye-catching print techniques to tell its story. One of our creations recently earned a 2017 Summit Creative Award.
This international competition, which drew more than 5,000 submissions, highlights innovative and creative concepts, strong executions and user experience, and the ability to communicate and persuade.
The WBE Certification Campaign we created for SeaChange, which included brand identity, a unique mailer with asymmetric fold, a capabilities kit, a website and a trade show toolkit, was awarded Silver in the Integrated Campaign category.
We’re excited about the award and, even more so, thrilled to have such wonderful clients to work with.
“There was never a doubt that the Fusion Hill creative work would win! I am so thrilled to hear this and can’t wait to get share the big news. … Thank you for the AMAZING partnership and making us all look so good!”
— Wendi Breuer, CEO/President of SeaChange
What do the young adults in your life like to eat? Are they Chipotle fans? Starbucks addicts? Taco truck aficionados?
For the past three years, we’ve taken a close look at Generation Z’s eating habits in the context of their lives as newly independent consumers. It’s driven by a favorite client of ours that specializes in consumer packaged-goods and desires to better reach and delight this generation both on and off campus. And it includes our annual presentation to collegiate dining service representatives from across the country at the In Front of the Future conference.
Gone are the days of mystery meat, lifeless vegetables and cardboard-like pizza. Today’s college dining halls are vibrant representations of the students they feed. They reflect Generation Z’s desire for an authentic experience that leaves them feeling closer to the food they are eating, in an open and welcoming space.
So how are college dining halls redefining themselves in order to meet the needs of students? They’re sourcing locally, investing in sustainable ingredients and practices, and reaching out to the communities they serve to build a strong, authentic brand that resonates.
Sound different than what you remember? We sure think so. This generation’s ability to cultivate new trends and ideas keeps us on our toes, and we love helping our clients get to know the digitally native, always-connected group that will soon make up 40% of all consumers. Want to know more? Connect with us.
What do you picture when you envision the traditional American family? It’s probably different than the person sitting next to you, and the person sitting next to them. What the American family entails is a visual that continues to change, and brands across the country are taking note. Cheerios, Tylenol and Wells Fargo have all rolled out brand campaigns featuring new depictions of American families. From single-parent households, to both blended and interracial families, these campaigns reflect a major shift in the concept of “the American family.”
So – what’s behind the shift? We found that changing attitudes toward partnerships, different approaches to raising children, and gender roles, particularly among young adults, are all contributing factors.
Trends in Partnership
Which box do you check when filling out forms? The results are across the board, and a lot different than they ever used to be. Younger adults, specifically, have exhibited more ambivalence toward the concept of marriage. More and more Americans are postponing or forgoing the ceremony altogether. Many of these couples are choosing to cohabitate or possibly even raise children together, sans matrimony. Marriage isn’t completely out of the picture, however – many young adults want to get married but are waiting until they are older and more financially prepared.
And don’t rule out the d-word. While divorce is at its lowest rate in more than 35 years, it is still prevalent, and significantly contributes to this change in American family structures.
Trends in Raising Children
The Melting Pot
American families are more racially diverse than they ever have been, due to both increased immigration and increased visibility and acceptance of interracial marriages. Consequently, these trends are causing an uptick in the number of interracial births. There are also more children growing up in multigenerational households, a rise attributed to a more ethnically diverse population where multigenerational living is more common.
The New Normal
The makeup of American families is changing too. Since 2015, only 46% of children are living in a home with two married, heterosexual parents in their first marriage. Divorce has also shifted the family landscape. More and more divorced couples remarry, create “blended families” and raise children from previous marriages alongside step- or half-siblings.
Free to Be You and Me
With LGBTQ marriage and adoptions on the rise, today’s kids are now more likely to have two dads or two moms. This has significant economic implications – in 2015, LGBTQ consumers contributed $917 billion to the economy. As more LGBTQ partners become parents, this spending will likely increase.
Today, single households are the second-most-common type of household in the U.S. And, even though singles may bring in less income than their married counterparts, they still contribute a total of $1.9 trillion to the economy. In the modern world, singles are considered families – 26% of children are raised by a single parent.
Trends in Gender Roles
Every day more and more women are enrolling in and graduating from college, and the American economy is feeling the effects of this major swing. No longer does the era of the stay-at-home mom reign supreme, as more women are both raising families and pursuing careers. This new trend requires a balancing act to keep the household in order – for instance, men and women share household responsibilities more equally than in the past. And, with an increased household income, women remain economic powerhouses in the housing and automobile markets.
Implications for Brands and Marketing
As family types continue to diversify, their power as consumers is amplifying. The door is open for more segmented or targeted marketing that embraces and showcases the diversity of family types.
In the words of Chevrolet’s ad campaign, “The New Us: While what it means to be a family hasn’t changed, what a family looks like has.”
May is an especially favorite time of the year for Fusion Hill. Spring is in full bloom, the lilacs along Marshall Street fill the air with their sweetness and – last, but not nearly least – it’s when we celebrate National Bike to Work Day (BTWD).
Happening on May 19, BTWD is an annual celebration of active transportation. All around the Twin Cities (and the nation), events will be popping up that bicycle commuters can stop by to get complimentary breakfast and coffee, exchange high fives and even pick up a set of free bicycle lights.
This BTWD, Fusion Hill is celebrating by offering a full-service bicycle commuter concierge service to its employees. This exclusive experience includes:
An introduction to the brand-new Mississippi East Bank Trail (located literally feet behind our office)
Personalized route planning
Customized motivational playlists
“Pickup” at employee’s front door and escort to the office
Engaging conversations and terrible jokes
Our goal? To inspire others to get on their bikes any old day of the week and share what an amazing feeling it is to arrive at work via your own pedal power.
What do Kona Brewing, Avon and Vogue have in common? The answer: representation at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW), which our creative team attended in March. With session titles such as Origin-Based Marketing, Diversity Now, Courageous Creativity and Tech’s Lessons for Healthcare, SXSW truly offers an array of topics that reveal the intersection of creativity and technology.
The streets of Austin were transformed into a visual playground for two weeks, and we found everything from National Geographic taking over a bar with virtual reality displays, to Casper – the online-only mattress company – setting up a sleep trailer for 10-minute nap sessions.
Several trends emerged:
Advertising for Good
We’re seeing this trend appear more and more in advertising. Companies are not simply promoting their products but also promoting a way of life and a point of view – be it social justice or politics. From GE’s Mildred Dresselhaus-focused campaign committing to hire 20,000 women by 2020 in the tech industry, to Heineken’s recent campaign about appreciating and respecting our differences, this trend was clearly present at SXSW.
Four powerhouse speakers traveled all the way from Brazil to share Avon’s new campaign for BB Cream, featuring a diverse group of individuals including male, LGBT and plus-sized models. While promoting the face cream, the speakers – who included marketers, Avon employees and a Brazilian YouTube star – emphasized their motivation: to “make change.”
Data Visualization and Storytelling
Many speakers also focused on data visualization: turning raw data into interesting visuals. One particularly effective talk, Persuasive Presentations, led by Harvard Business Review authors Nancy Duarte and Scott Berinato, broke down the essentials into context (who), content (why), construct (how) and connect (lasting impressions). Duarte charted famous speeches through time, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Barack Obama, to determine patterns of speaking. This approach, when paired with visuals that increasingly build on one another to form a story, helps retain interest and leaves the audience engaged.
Amy Balliett of Killer Infographics shared a highly effective visual campaign done in partnership with We Count Seattle – a donation exchange website created for the homeless population – based on research showing that first impressions are 94% based on design.
“Visual IQ is on the rise,” Balliett said. “Today’s consumers are pickier than ever, and people want to see a myriad of visual content before making a decision.” By leveraging strategic ad placement across free papers, billboards and buses – along with short-form content (which 95% of people prefer) focused on real stories and real faces – the campaign received 800 registered website users in the first 90 days. Over 350 items were exchanged on the platform.
Health Care and Technology
It’s a dynamic time for the health care and technology industries, and that message was clear at SXSW. Both industries are experiencing new and always-changing regulations as well as strong motivation to constantly improve upon themselves, become more affordable and become more available to the masses.
Featuring leaders from HomeAway, RideAustin and the newly created Dell Medical School, one panel discussed how we could apply insights and successes from the tech world to attack health care challenges. According to the panel, the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) is the first major policy change in the last 60 years that allows the patient more choice than ever before and is at the center of this discussion. There are ways that health care and technology are integrated already, such as Yelp reviews driving patient referrals or the gamification of wellness via smartwatches and activity trackers (e.g., Fitbit). But further opportunities lie in the spaces of virtual reality or improved transportation and infrastructure.
Dr. Tom Caven discussed new research using virtual reality as distraction therapy to help with phobias and anxieties as well as for pain amelioration. “We’re not trying to take the place of opiate medication but see if people can get by on a few less pills a day,” he said.
Similarly, the panel discussed how applying ride sharing and a Meals-on-Wheels approach to health care could enable those who are without transportation to make their preventive care appointments and pick up their prescriptions – both actions that might prevent unnecessary hospitalizations. According to the panel, we are at the absolute beginning of health care’s maturation, and more cross-industry innovation will evolve.
How many times per day do you use digital tools such as apps, fitness devices or smartwatches? You probably can’t even count, right? We know from our own experiences that digital tools are expanding into nearly every aspect of our lives. And the consumers we’re speaking to in the field have certainly verified this as well – even elderly populations and consumers of low socioeconomic status.
Whether we are having conversations related to home energy, credit cards or health condition management, digital is becoming more and more a part of the conversation. So we decided to take a look at our recent research projects to understand exactly how and why consumers are using (or not using) digital tools.
We uncovered several drivers that consumers desire or even require in digital interactions, and if your company is playing in this space, we highly recommend you take a look.
Those insights got us thinking: What’s next? So our team did some online research to get a glimpse of the digital tools we all may be using within the next few years. Here’s a sneak peek:
Consumer personal health on demand (aka wearables) is still growing strong. If you don’t already have a fitness tracker, you might by the end of 2017 – and yours might be in the form of a ring rather than a watch.
Consumers are becoming more and more connected. From smart homes to ceiling tiles that wirelessly power our devices, tech will continue to infiltrate our homes and lives.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer something seen only in sci-fi movies. Machine learning is ever increasing. For example, it’s apparent in the form of autonomous vehicles and personalized digital concierges like Wiidii.
Technology is helping to level the playing field for consumers with disabilities, including apps that help the blind “see” and software that interprets and translates sign language.
There’s a big part of our team who, we’ll be honest, loves nerding out on this stuff. But we also know understanding consumer expectations related to tech could have a big impact on your business. Read how by requesting our full trend report here.