Letters to the editor 27/09/2012

While I strongly believe in the ‘simple power of benefits’ I would take issue with the idea that a cash reward has a similar effect.

Although the phrase ‘cash is king’ is often heard, it is widely recognised among motivation and reward specialists that simply adding £X to an employee’s salary where it will more often than not be swallowed up in the costs of everyday living greatly reduces its effectiveness as a reward.

A flexible benefits programme that gives employees the chance to choose their rewards and to make their salaries go further through retail savings is more memorable and helpful to them in the long term.

Kuljit Kaur
Head of business development
The Voucher Shop

Reading the marketplace report on Christmas rewards and incentives, I’m reminded that a reward or incentive should complement the employee’s lifestyle and be worthy of appreciation.

Companies should recognise the importance of integrating smaller rewards and incentives that cut the cost of leisure activities around the Christmas period.

The benefits of receiving an experiential reward such as a cinema voucher outweigh the prospects of spending some of a bonus on paying bills, which may happen with a monetary reward. It also creates the opportunity to spend an evening with family or friends doing something enjoyable that they may not otherwise do, and all thanks to the employer.

Companies should recognise the importance of integrating smaller rewards and incentives that cut the cost of leisure activities around the Christmas period.

David Pearson
Director of Filmology

Eleanor Ball is right in thinking that rewards that ‘staff can use with family and friends’ are perfect during the festive season.

Rewards such as dining, experiences and travel can all be shared with loved ones and give a high sense of achievement within the household, which is ideal for making an employee feel appreciated, and for motivating them for the New Year. This is particularly important during the current economic climate when many people are cutting down on non-essential expenditure as household budgets remain tight.

Simon White
Business development director

The feature on Christmas rewards and incentives makes valid points about the need for personalised rewards and ones that can be shared with the employees’ friends and family. However if businesses want to achieve real results with a reward, a gift that is long lasting will ultimately have greater impact.

A trip to the cinema, restaurant or favourite shop is a pleasant experience for many, but not one that is long term.

A reward that enables a member of staff to invest in and improve their home environment is not only a long lasting reminder of the company but also makes a powerful statement about them. It positions the business as one that is considerate towards an employee’s life at home, outside of work, and actively helps them to devote time to it.

It is advisable for employers to give their staff the choice of short or longer term enjoyment.

Martin Alden
B2B and partnership controller

The power of simplicity in the purchase decision journey

In an age where anything and everything is available online, it is no wonder that consumers are starting to feel ‘purchase anxiety’. A step on from the 90s ‘buyer’s remorse’, these days making the decision to buy is fraught enough without the guilt which often follows an expensive purchase.

The research from the CEB suggested that more choice means more research, which in turn means less confident consumers. However, surely, what it really means is that retailers need to be working harder to guide the purchase path they want their customers to take, and they need the right tools to help the customer navigate the minefield that ultimately leads to buying one brand over another?

Rather than trying to second guess how the consumer is going to reach a purchase decision, retailers need to have a clearer view of which marketing channels are influential in the customer’s purchase path and ensure that the right messages are reaching the right channels at the right time. Attribution modelling is not a new concept, but with IAB figures suggesting some 44% of marketers don’t use it, there is clearly an opportunity here for brands to have deeper insight into the purchase path and subsequently make it easier for themselves to achieve the elusive cut-through. Until they have this, we cannot expect to hear the end of ‘purchase anxiety’ as consumers will continue to rely on simple choices, however what this reflects is a failure of brands to communicate effectively with their customers.

Jill Brittlebank
Director of strategy and analytics
e-Dialog International

The principles here of ‘make buying simple’ are certainly good ones. The problem often comes with the interpretation of what ‘simplicity’ looks like for the customer. The potential danger with bringing the web in-store as a trend is that it will actually add to the confusion if applied incorrectly.

If the problem to solve is making purchasing decisions simpler through learning, then the way in which customers ‘learn’ in-store needs to be considered too. If we just create interactive tools to increase access to information for those users in-store then all we’re doing is moving the confusion from people’s phones and desktops straight into the in-store environment. Successful applications will add an extra layer of intelligence onto the in-store web, to not only deliver content, but to curate and enrich it.

Objective number one should be information flow and delivery – giving people content in digestible ways that allow them to navigate the volume and make a considered choice. Success lies in figuring out which bits of the wider web have relevance at point of purchase, and executing the delivery of that content to customers in meaningful ways. In-store, there is also a human layer that can augment the experience and this should be designed as a part of the service that the user has access to, not a replacement for it.

John Newbold
Creative director
383 Project

Mindi Chahal’s article highlights a key trend for brands. Elemental, essential and profitable, simplicity is an increasingly hot topic that is rapidly moving up the boardroom agenda.

When things are beautifully simple they are more powerful – they get into our heads faster and stay there for longer. Simplicity, when properly applied, serves a purpose as it helps us make choices, saves time and money and minimises debate. I strongly believe brands that employ simplicity succeed because they get out of their own way, and in doing so draw their customers closer.

Mastering complexity is the new brand challenge and the brands that get it right win. They win passion from their employees, loyalty from their customers and gain insights into their business that set the foundations for the future.

Philip Davies
President EMEA

Customisable catwalk is Topshop’s top job

It was great to read about the innovation in digital media from Topshop last week as they used London Fashion Week to host a customisable web and entertainment page with Facebook. The digital channel is fast becoming indispensable for fashion brands, as demonstrated by the two million people who tuned in to the Topshop Facebook catwalk to customise and buy outfits from the collection. Consumers love to see creative ideas from their favourite brands and it clearly stimulates engagement and purchase. It’s exciting that digital is playing a huge role in Fashion Week with 70% of the shows being livestreamed showing that this is where e-commerce is going. As shoppers increasingly look online to discover and share the latest trends, brands need to understand the digital channels and adapt their marketing strategy to engage with consumers.

Mark Haviland
Rakuten LinkShare UK

Charity donations on behalf Diane Digit-Cornes

I wanted to let the marketing community know that Diane Digit-Cornes – my wife – passed away on July 30 2012. Diane was vice president of marketing and communications for Disney International Television, as part of a career that took in many varied and interesting roles at media businesses.

Diane oversaw the press for all Disney TV activity outside the United States and supported all Disney TV distribution and production teams. She travelled extensively as she supervised teams in London, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong and directed the PR for the launch of Disney Channels in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Taiwan.

Diane chose to leave Disney in 2001 after an enormously successful career spanning a tremendous growth phase for the company. She later joined Beckett’s Bacon, my family business, working on marketing the company, where she made an enormous impact.

Diane managed to maintain a positive outlook throughout her illness. She never complained and always found something she could be grateful for. If anyone would like to get in touch or make donations to Penny Brohn Cancer Care, Chapel Pill Lane, Pill, Bristol, BS20 0HH on Diane’s behalf, I would love to hear from them.

Tim Cornes

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