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The Time is Now for Integral Marketing

Ever hear of Integral Theory or the Integral Movement? If not, you may have heard of one its founding leaders, American philosopher Ken Wilbur. In a nutshell, (which won’t do the theory justice, so consider this merely an introduction) Integral theory embodies “comprehensive (holistic) approaches to reality, a metatheory that attempts to explain how academic disciplines and every form of knowledge and experience fit together coherently.” Wikipedia

Applying Integral Theory to marketing would require businesses to consider individual subjective (values), the individual objective (behavior), the collective subjective (culture) and the collective objective (systems) as marketing strategies and programs are developed.

For example, Integral theorists have some interesting explanations for the rise of the Green Movement, why there is grid lock in Congress and where consumer buying trends are headed in the future. In the opinion of Integral theorists, it’s all an outgrowth of human and cultural psychological growth development, or the evolution of humankind. (www.Integrallife.com )

According to Scooter Davis of The Board Magazine, “Using these four elements in marketing helps determine strategy, follow through, methods of communication, and the other whys and wherefores of a quality advertising campaign.”

And Tiffany Brown, of Holistic Marketing Concepts for Business adds, “Because Ken’s Wilber’s Integral theory lies at the very heart of having a holistic marketing approach to business, this is an important framework for marketers (specifically: marketing managers) to understand because Integral theory offers a new way to recognize and reconcile the scope and complexities of marketing activities.”

Many Integral experts believe consumers are moving from a Post-Modern to an Integral value-based future. In “Consumer Shift” by Futurist Andy Hines, he presents evidence as to why he believes this evolution is taking place. Hines says consumer values are changing so significantly, they are reshaping the societal landscape. Based on what he is seeing, marketers will have to adjust and adapt to this shift in values, creating new strategies and tactics that engage consumers much differently than in the past.

No one can deny the world is changing at an accelerating rate. Integral theory offers a framework based on agility, flexibility and holistic best practices that marketers should consider as they strive to effectively manage this change. Integral marketing is the next evolution in your industry. Are you ready?

Terry Collins is a Houston-based Futures consultant and a lecturer at the University of Houston’s College of Technology.  She has published numerous articles on Integral Futures and scenarios, and presented  at the World Futures Society’s annual conference in 2008, 201o and 2012 on: “Wind Energy,” “Live Futures: Creating Sustainable Futures through Collaboration and Co-Creation,” “How Futuring is Changing Lives,” and “The Evolution of Integral Futures.” Terry has a B.A. in Philosophy, 35 years as a geophysicist, and a Master’s in Technology, Futures Studies, from the University of Houston. Contact her at IntegralFutures@aol.com.

SOCIAL STUDIES: A Saurage Research Special Series on Social Media

image of social media facebook logoTo launch our Saurage Research Social Studies series, we decided to start with the biggest social media platform – Facebook. It goes without saying Facebook dominates social media. With over 900+ million users Facebook could actually be the 3rd largest country in the world.  It is the club everyone wants to join. All you have to do is sign up and you are guaranteed entry. There are no fees, no approvals and no initiation. Socially speaking, being on Facebook is easier than trying to explain why you’re not.

One of the biggest concerns businesses claim about social media is that it is not measurable, so we decided to test it out ourselves. Saurage Research recently introduced a company Facebook page and we are pretty excited about it.

The question is: does Facebook make sense for businesses, especially B2B companies? We think so. Perhaps not as a stand-alone platform, but Facebook, combined with the more business-oriented LinkedIn, can definitely boost the social experience we have with our customers. According to Buzz Marketing, 93% of all business buyers believe that having a social media presence is important and 85% believe that interaction and engagement matter. Wow! Those are some pretty astounding numbers.

Facebook brings a more personal touch to our business and allows people to get to know us better. Facebook is all about engagement, and if we are smart, it is a place where we can gain valuable insight from customers. Let’s face it. Businesses are run by people, people make buying decisions, and Facebook engages people. A strong presence on Facebook allows us to engage with people who are interested in our business. We can thank customers for their business, respond to customer questions and communicate our business value to those who are most likely to benefit from our services. Considering that Facebook houses the largest group of potential customers, we can’t see any reason not to join in the fun.

Think Your Business Doesn’t Need Social Media? You May Want to Rethink That.

“My customers don’t use it.” “It doesn’t apply to our business.” “It’s not measurable.” These are just a few of the reasons some companies feel that social media is irrelevant to their business. Did you know that over 80% of companies use some form of social media in their marketing efforts? In fact 86% of B2B firms are using social media compared to 82% of B2C firms. While B2B marketers are increasingly using social media to connect with their customers, they aren’t always using it effectively, in fact only 32% engage on a daily basis as opposed to 52% of B2C firms. With so many platforms, social media can be overwhelming, and it requires dedication. But the beauty of social media is that it can all be connected and integrated into your email marketing and your website. The possibilities are truly unlimited. Join Reality Spikes as we delve deeper into the social circles and do what we do best – research. We’ll be sharing our thoughts so stay tuned. To start out take a look at this infographic about B2B and social media designed by Lisa Waananen on mashable.com.

B2B infographic


The Death of the Stethoscope

StethoscopeIn the current issue of Saurage Research Key Findings our healthcare article describes how medical technology will eventually replace 80% of what doctors do.  With everything from iPhone medicine to Nano Robotics, do doctors even need the infamous stethoscope so proudly worn  around their neck, or has it become a mere adornment to the white coat? From the time it was invented in 1816 the stethoscope was the most reliable and informative tool available for diagnosing cardiovascular disease. However, what doctors once did with their eyes, ears and hands is now being replaced by technology, thus changing the face of medicine by reducing errors, lowering costs, and allowing more interaction with patients. There is an ongoing debate as to whether medicine is an “art” or a “science” and while technology may suggest science wins, there is still something fundamentally human about the art of medicine. Diagnosing disease and choosing the best treatment certainly requires scientific knowledge and technically skilled health care professionals, but other factors such as concern, sympathy, compassion and assurance can only be offered by human interaction. How interesting that technology may be the thing that returns patient interaction to medical care.

Butler & Briggs designed this infographic look at medical technology.


Valentine’s Day: How “Tweet” It Is…

As the 2nd largest retailing event of the year, Valentine’s Day is certainly big business. It also happens to be one of Twitter’s busiest days. In fact, according to SDL, last year there were more than 600,000 twitter conversations about Valentine’s Day. Not only that, more than 3,400 couples got engaged on Twitter.

So, what are people saying? Are they happy because they are “in love” or depressed because they aren’t! Some will simply tweet about how it’s “just another day”, but if it’s just another day, then why all the chatter? Using their social media monitoring tools, SDL was able to scan 60 billion posts from 250 million sources and they came up with six different personalities of those sending these tweets – The Forever Aloner, The Anti-Consumerist, The Bragger, The Love Birds, The Optimist and The Purist.

Check out the six distinct personalities outlined in this infographic and see which one describes you.



What Futurists Are Talking About…2013, 2020 and Robots

The New Year always brings an abundance of prognostications, predictions and pontifications about what lies ahead. Those with futurist in their titles are in high demand as media outlets scramble for story sources who will venture into the fantastic and risky world of forecasting what the next 12 months — or the next decade — might bring.

Since 1985, the World Futures Society has published an annual report entitled Outlook, focusing on trends expected to shape the future. This year, a sampling of the popular report was posted across social media channels, entitled Top 10 Forecasts for 2013 and Beyond. The broad range of contributing futurists cited in Outlook tell us many recently lost jobs may never return, but others will fill the void; you and I may soon be harvesting energy from the air to power small devices; breathalyzers will help us detect disease or infectious microbes; neuroscientists have learned to predict what you’ll do before you do it; and “adventure capitalists” are likely to initiate the next space age by 2020.

Are you curious to see how accurately the World Future Society’s forecasts have been over the years? The organization boasts some 25,000 members in 80 countries, and recently made public the contents from Outlook 2006 through 2012, including more than 400 forecasts relating to 2013 and beyond.

In comparison, look to the Jan. 2013 issue of Wired, one of my personal go-to sources for all things futuristic, for an informative round-up cover story on how and when robots will take over your job and the planet. It may just be a good thing…

Pam (McConathy) Schied
MA Future Studies in Commerce
University of Houston
Principal, Foresight Communications Group

Retail Therapy: Is it the solution or the problem?

Shopping is without a doubt a favorite American pastime. We shop when we’re happy in order to celebrate, and we shop when we’re sad in order to feel better There’s nothing like a little “retail therapy” when we’re in a bad mood. What is the harm in it, really? Aren’t we helping a fragile economy if we’re spending money? Perhaps. But, what happens when shopping becomes a problem? The average American has $7,500 in debt (not including a mortgage) and three in five families can’t pay off their credit cards each month.

The average shopaholic, defined by Merriam-Webster as one who is extremely or excessively fond of shopping, has three times more debt than a normal (typical) consumer.

Shopping brings a sense of euphoria similar to a drug, and like a drug can soon become an overpowering problem. Like any other addiction, shopping can create a dysfunctional lifestyle. So how do you know if you’re a shopaholic, and if you are, what can you do about it? This infographic by OnlinePsychologyDegree.net defines a shopaholic and provides some tips to help if the shoe fits – you know, that new pair you just bought.

Shopaholics Infographic

*A tip of the hat to Allison Morris, who helped create this graphic and shared it with us

Native Advertising, What Is It?

The “Social Space” is crowded, but marketers have found a way to penetrate this seemingly black hole of advertising opportunity by making each user’s experience an intimate affair. Simply put, Native Advertising is a form of reaching customers in their indigenous environment. They’re already there, and interested in what they’re doing. What better way to reach them in a non-invasive manner than to integrate your message into their experience. And Native Advertising is on the rise, with ad spending expected to increase 12.6% in 2013. Howard Luck Gossage said, “Nobody reads advertising, they read what they want to read, and sometimes it’s an ad”. This great Infographic posted by Todd Wasserman helps to explain what Native Advertising is.

Poinsettias Are Not Poisonous

Despite the popular belief that Poinsettias are poisonous, the truth is they are not. In fact, according to the American Society of Florists, no other consumer plant has been tested more for toxicity. While a Poinsettia may taste bad and cause an upset stomach if eaten in excess, no deaths have been attributed to this holiday flower. Here are some more interesting facts about Poinsettias from an article written by Daven Hiskey and posted on Today I Found Out.

Poinsettias Are Not Poisonous

Daven Hiskey February 17, 2010 4


Today I found out that poinsettias are not poisonous, contrary to popular belief. The belief that they are poisonous originally seems to have started around 1919 when a two year old child of a U.S. Army officer died after supposedly eating poinsettia leaves. The poinsettia leaves were blamed for the death, even though there was never any actual evidence that the poinsettia leaves had anything to do with the child dying, according to The American Society of Florists, who looked into the matter at the time.

Since then there hasn’t been any other deaths related to ingesting poinsettia leaves. Indeed, according to the Madison Poison Control Center a 50 pounds child would need to eat 500-600 poinsettia leaves to suffer any sort of serious ill effects from the plant and even then it is likely that the child would only suffer possible cramps, upset stomach, vomiting and/or diarrhea, but would otherwise not need any medical attention.

Further research into this matter was done by the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Melon University, studying just under 23,000 poinsettia related reports to poison control centers across the United States. Not a single one of these reports showed evidence of any actual toxicity from exposure or ingestion of the plant.

Bonus Facts:

  • According to the American Society of Florists, no other consumer plant has been tested for toxicity more than the poinsettia.
  • The Aztecs used the poinsettia to produce antipyretic medication as well as red dye.
  • December 12th is National Poinsettia Day
  • The Poinsettia plant was named after Joel Robert Poinsett, who was an American ambassador to Mexico around 1829. Poinsett was an amateur botanist and liked the plant so much that he sent several back to his home in South Carolina where he grew them in his green house and introduced the United States to the plant.
  • In Central America, however, the poinsettia is known as “Flores de Noche Buena” which means “Flower of the Holy Night”.
  • The Ecke family of Encinitas, California has had a virtual monopoly on poinsettia sales since the early 1900s due to the fact that they had discovered a way to create compact, fuller poinsettias by grafting two varieties of poinsettia together. Other poinsettias sold tended to look more like the weeds they are. In the 1990s however, a University researcher discovered this method and published it. Since then, other poinsettia growers and distributors have popped up, but the Ecke family still sells about 70% of all poinsettias sold in the United States and about 50% of the world wide sales.
  • The poinsettia’s association with Christmas began sometime in the 16th or 17th century. Friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations with the star shaped leaf pattern symbolizing the star of Bethlehem and the red color representing the blood shed by Jesus through his crucifixion. This tradition of using poinsettias in the holidays was eventually popularized in the United States when Paul Ecke Jr, began sending free poinsettias to television stations for them to display on the air during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. He also appeared himself on various TV shows marketing the plants.
  • Thom David, marketing manager of the Paul Ecke Ranch, occasionally puts on demonstrations where he eats several leaves from poinsettia plants in front of groups of people who refuse to believe him when he says they are not poisonous. He does however say they are incredibly bitter and one of the most disgusting tasting things he’s ever eaten.
  • The red part of the poinsettia plant is often thought by people to be flower petals, but in fact they are leaves.
  • The American Veterinary Medicine Association does not include poinsettias on its list of plants that are dangerous to animal

See the full article here.

In advertising, funny varies for men and women

In the latest Saurage Key Findings, it’s clear that what people consider humorous can be a simple matter of the difference between girls and boys.

The research supports what we already think about each gender and the type of advertisements that appeals to their senses of humor: Men like funny, creative style and sexual imagery. Women favor “slice of life” stories and children.

Below are two ads for Dove Bodywash targeted to each gender:

Dove (women)

Dove (men)

The same company with essentially the same product, is advertising to each gender in very different ways. The ad for women features fewer visual techniques than the ad for men which featured quick flashes between images of work boots, a glove, and even raw hide. Another noticeable difference is the music: an upbeat tune for the women’s ad and a fast paced tune for the men’s ad that’s often heard during chase scenes in old westerns.

We’re exposed to this type of advertising each day. While laying it out isn’t ground-breaking, it is a great way to draw our focus into the techniques used to appeal to our natural biases.