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Nielsen global survey finds views of economy improving, but gloom remains

BY Alaric Dearment

New York — Bad feelings about the global economy persist, with more than half of consumers around the world say the world is in an economic recession, according to a new study by Nielsen.

According to the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, 71% of North Americans said they were in a recession in the fourth-quarter of 2012, but this represented a drop in 15 percentage points from the fourth quarter 2011, representing the largest drop in negative sentiments about the economy of any area.

"North America is slowly, but steadily heading in the right direction," said Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at Nielsen’s Cambridge Group division. "Compared with a year ago, North America showed progress toward recovery with a six-point year-on-year consumer confidence increase, driven mainly by a three-point increase in a positive job outlook, up from 37% in [fourth quarter] 2011 to 40% in [fourth quarter] 2012. With continued weakness in Europe and uneven growth in Asia, it may well be that with a brighter job market, the U.S. serves as the critical engine of improved global economic activity in 2013."

Nevertheless, while sentiments in North America had seen significant improvement, bad feelings about the economy were still lower in Asia and Latin America, with 48% and 50% of respondents in those respective areas saying the economy was in recession; those figures represented declines of four and three percentage points compared with third quarter 2012, respectively. But Europeans’ view was still dimmer than North Americans’, with 75% saying they were in recession, unchanged since the third-quarter, while 73% of people in the Middle East and Africa said they were in recession, an increase of one percentage point over third quarter 2012.

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UPS improves reverse logistics with Jabil

BY CSA STAFF

ATLANTA–UPS has formed a strategic collaboration with Jabil Circuit. UPS’s logistics and distribution business unit and Jabil Aftermarket Services will provide optimized reverse logistics solutions for return and repair programs to high-tech original equipment manufacturers, service providers and enterprises on a global scale.

By combining UPS’s warehousing, transportation, returns management and trade compliance capabilities with Jabil’s reverse logistics planning, repair and call center support, the UPS/Jabil collaboration provides a turn-key supply chain model that can drive efficiencies, reduce vendor complexity and enhance customer service.

“Jabil is excited to collaborate with UPS,” said Hartmut Liebel, chief executive officer, Jabil Aftermarket Services. “By leveraging Jabil’s and UPS’s complementary aftermarket services and logistics expertise, customers now have access to a comprehensive suite of services from one source that meets all of their unique reverse logistics needs.”

The collaboration, supported by Jabil’s and UPS’s integrated systems and capabilities, provides flexible service models that accommodate customer return and repair demands that includes providing high-tech companies with access to strategically-located repair and distribution facilities near their customer base. Specifically, the joint UPS/Jabil reverse logistics portfolio includes: order fulfillment, next and same day transportation, returns processing, whole unit and component repair, assembly, procurement and vendor management, planning and inventory funding, call center and tech support, trade compliance and the use of The UPS Store® locations for product pick-up or drop-off.

“Our customers’ supply chains are becoming increasingly complex,” said Brad Mitchell, president of UPS global logistics and distribution.

UPS and Jabil are uniquely positioned to provide customized local services globally, with 1.8 million UPS pick-up and drop-off locations in 147 countries and 55 Jabil service centers in 21 countries.

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Study: Strategy key to social media success

BY CSA STAFF

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Using social media to drive brand awareness and sales has to be a carefully thought out process, a new study by J.D. Power and Associates has found.

The inaugural study is based on responses from more than 23,200 U.S. online consumers who have interacted with a company via the companies’ social media channel. Fielded from November to December 2012, the study measures the overall consumer experience in engaging with companies through their social platforms for both marketing and servicing needs across more than 100 U.S. brands in six industries: airline, auto, banking, credit card, telecom and utility. The study establishes performance benchmarks and industry best practices that provide insights to companies to help them maximize their social media efforts.

"This is a unique, comprehensive consumer study that defines consumer expectations in the ever-changing social space and measures companies’ performances against those benchmarks," said Jacqueline Anderson, director of social media and text analytics at J.D. Power and Associates. "This study provides companies with the framework they need to begin effectively integrating social media into their business strategies. It also illustrates the relationship between a positive social media experience and consumer purchase intent."

The study finds that social marketing engagements vary by age group. Nearly one-third (39%) of consumers 30-49 years old and 38 percent of those 50 years and older interact with a company in a social marketing engagement context, while only 23 percent of consumers who are 18-29 years old interact with companies. In contrast, 43 percent of consumers who are 18-29 years old use social media for servicing interactions, while 39 percent of consumers who are 30-49 years old use social for servicing needs. Only 18 percent of consumers who are 50 years and older interact with a company via social for a service-related need.

"While there are vast differences among age groups in the frequency of servicing and marketing engagements, there is a consistency in the impact on brand perception and purchase intent through both types of engagement," said Anderson. "Companies that are focused only on promoting their brand and deals, or only servicing existing customers, are excluding major groups of their online community, negatively impacting their satisfaction and influencing their future purchasing decision. A one-pronged approach to social is no longer an option."

The study finds a correlation between overall satisfaction with a company’s social marketing efforts and consumers’ likelihood to purchase and their overall perception of the company. Among highly-satisfied consumers (satisfaction scores of 951 and higher on a 1,000-point scale), 87 percent indicate that the online social interaction with the company "positively impacted" their likelihood to purchase from that company. Conversely, among consumers who are less satisfied (scores less than 500), one in 10 consumers indicate that the interaction "negatively impacted" their likelihood to purchase from the company.

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