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Survey: Social media for brand conversations on the rise

BY Marianne Wilson

Cincinnati — Americans are increasing their use of social media for discussions about favorite brands, while slowing down on face-to-face and phone conversations about product likes and dislikes, according to a report by Colloquy, the research arm of LoyaltyOne, a global provider of loyalty and marketing programs.

Social media brand recommendations have grown 4% since Colloquy conducted survey research in 2011 on the word-of-mouth habits of U.S. consumers, while face-to-face recommendations have declined 4% in that time period.

In another key finding from Colloquy’s Hashtags, Tweets and Likes, nearly half of the general population believes social networks are an inappropriate way for brands to interact with customers. But that sentiment isn’t shared across the board. The research shows that 73% of the youth segment said it is appropriate.

Colloquy’s 2013 WOM study is based on a June 2013 survey conducted among a representative general population group and five other segments. The segments are affluent consumers, young adults, seniors, core women and Hispanics. Results are based on responses from 2980 U.S. survey participants.

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Rite Aid to pay fine for dumping

BY Staff Writer

Los Angeles — Rite Aid Corp. has been ordered to pay more than $12 million to settle a civil environmental protection lawsuit filed in California claiming about 600 of its stores illegally dumped pesticides, bleach and other toxics, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit was filed last month by the district attorneys of Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Riverside counties, with a total of 52 California district attorneys joining the civil action.

Authorities say inspectors found Rite Aid illegally trucked and dumped pesticides, bleach, paint, solvents and other toxics in landfills.

A permanent injunction prohibits the company from engaging in similar action again. Stores will be required to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers.

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PGA Tour Superstores improve ops efficiency with SAP

BY Dan Berthiaume

Roswell, Ga. – PGA Tour Superstores plans to improve operational efficiency and prepare for future growth using the SAP HANA business intelligence platform and the new SAP Customer Activity Repository application.

In an Oct. 8 session at the SAP Retail Forum 2013 in Dallas, Stephen McDonnold, CIO of PGA Tour Superstore, explained how his company and Cognizant Technology Solutions are working with SAP to create an IT environment supporting maximum operational efficiency.

“We had an antiquated data model,” said McDonnold. “There were different results from different tables. Probably not horribly wrong, but an end-to-end solution gives you one answer.”

PGA Tour Superstore runs SAP 2.3 and manages all operations with SAP technology except front-end e-commerce, which the retailer runs with a RedPrairie application. Its loyalty program is handled by a Cognizant solution integrated with SAP databases.

The retailer seeks to further improve operational efficiency by implementing a cloud-based HANA business intelligence platform that will officially launch in May 2014 as part of a two- to three-year venture. The platform will initially be hosted in Germany but eventually migrate to a North American hosting location. HANA will enable PGA Tour Superstore to adapt best practices across the organization and also prepare for a 25% store growth trajectory planned for the next few years.

The platform will also support a rollout of the Customer Activity Repository, which brings together customer, sales and inventory information from siloed applications, as well as SAP Planning for retail. Because golf manufacturers release entirely new product lines so frequently, the retailer plans to replace sales history data used for analysis every year.

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