Monday, December 5, 2016

Shoppers Shopped on Cyber Weekend

From Slice Intelligence,
Mobile was all-important as consumers used smartphones and tablets to browse and, often, buy during the shopping frenzy that takes over the long weekend after Thanksgiving. Consumer behavior has evolved, with a growing number of shoppers at least browsing online retail sites to check for bargains--and many buying online rather than in a store.

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, shoppers shopped. And shopped. Consumers in many nations clicked or swiped to buy over the weekend--not just in US markets.

Amazon, once again, was a major destination on Cyber Weekend, accounting for an estimated 30% of cyber-shopping. An incredible statistic, to be sure. For an inside look at an Amazon fulfillment center during the holiday rush, click here.

On Cyber Weekend, Best Buy reportedly did very well as an online shopping destination, as did the cyber-shops of Target, Walmart, and Macy's (as Slice Intelligence's chart above shows). Not surprisingly, Cyber Monday was a top trending topic in social media that day.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sounds like Sonic Branding

Sound can be an integral element in a brand's identity. Think about the chord you hear when you start up your Mac computer (or the sound of a computer booting up with "Intel inside"). Or what you hear before an HBO feature.

Sound creates an emotional connection between the brand and the audience, amping up the experience. Some branded sounds have become part of pop culture, like Nokia's original ringtone. In fact, sonic branding is nothing new--long-established brands like NBC have been using sounds as brand identity for decades.

Nestea uses four notes in its sonic branding. Coca-Cola has used sonic branding (OK, jingles) for certain campaigns. P&G is reviving and updating some of its classic brand jingles for a new generation. Are jingles going to be the remixed sonic branding for the 21st century?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shoppers Boost the Local Economy on Small Business Saturday


American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage holiday shoppers to patronize local/small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

This is the seventh year and every year, merchant participation and public response have been bigger and better than the previous year. In 2015, 95 million US consumers purchased something as part of Small Business Saturday, for a total estimated financial impact of $16 billion.

This year, the official FB page has 3.5 million likes...the Twitter account has 56.5k followers...the Instagram account has 22.5k followers.

Not only does Amex provide downloadable marketing materials for small businesses, it also has a lookup function to find participating businesses in the local area, wherever you are.

A Google search for "Small Business Saturday" returned 45 million+ results today. The majority are local media outlets publicizing participants (this year and previous years). So if you have gifts to buy or want to enjoy a meal out, Small Business Saturday is a good opportunity to vote with your wallet and make a difference to the local economy.

Friday, November 18, 2016

SUV Sales Are Revving Up

Now that gas prices have been low for a long time, and consumers feel confident enough to buy new cars, more are choosing SUVs. In fact, nearly three-quarters of owners who traded in an SUV bought another SUV (compared with the 62% of people who trade in a regular car and buy yet another regular car rather than switching to an SUV or other vehicle type).

Yet a significant number of owners who trade in green vehicles (hybrids and electrics) are switching back to gas-powered SUVs because gas is so affordable these days.

Meanwhile, automakers are continuing to try to entice buyers with green SUVs. Hyundai has an all-electric SUV with a range of about 200 miles per charge, for example.

Luxury automakers are also eyeing the intersection of green and SUV. Mercedes is working on an SUV under the EQ brand, for introduction around 2020.

Jaguar has a new concept SUV that could challenge Tesla as the deluxe crossover vehicle of choice for high-income buyers, with 400 hp and an all-electric range of more than 200 miles per charge. Production is expected in 2018.

And more women are buying SUVs, a recent trend that's fueled [pun intended] by the need for more cargo space and better mileage being offered by newer models.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Plan Holiday Marketing with Consumer Behavior in Mind

Here are three tips from experts about how to shape a holiday marketing plan with contemporary consumer behavior in mind:
  • Consumers can and do change their decisions after an online search prior to making a purchase. This makes online ads/content marketing/testimonials/product reviews especially important during the holiday season, when many customers are buying, buying, buying. 
  • Personalize your marketing to engage customers and prompt viral sharing. The popular "elf yourself" campaign for Office Max/Office Depot (shown above) is entertaining app users once again this holiday season, encouraging positive brand attitudes.
  • Promote promotions early to gain awareness and an edge over competitors. Remember when Black Friday was just a single day? Now it's virtually taken over the month of November. Retailers and brand marketers alike are counting down with daily deals and early buying opportunities.
What do you know about your customers that will help you plan for engaging, effective holiday marketing?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Shinola as Brand Umbrella

How many product categories can fit under the Shinola brand umbrella? The Detroit-based company that owns Shinola, which has been marketing products for 5 years, continues expanding into new categories as it taps into demand for made-in-America products*. (Above, one of the facilities in Detroit where Shinola products are made.)

Shinola's website currently features:
  • Watches 
  • Pocket knives
  • Turntables (for vinyl fans)
  • Leather goods (for men and women)
  • Journals (for writing)
  • Bicycles (of course)
  • Ping-pong paddles and other assorted "supply" items
  • Coming soon: A Shinola-branded hotel in Detroit (2018)
Chief marketing officer Bridget Russo explains the appeal of Shinola: "Provenance is important to the consumer, not just where a product is coming from, but the story behind it."

Shinola has a lot of brand fans and is all over social media. Its Facebook page has nearly 100k likes, and it has a very active Pinterest account, plus nearly 140k Instagram followers and nearly 41k Twitter followers.

The brand is well known and has a positive image. But how many different categories can fit under its brand umbrella? Is a hotel, for example, a category too far?

*FTC concern about the requirements for a "made in America" designation has caused Shinola to change its marketing and clarify more explicitly that products like its watches are "built in Detroit" from "Swiss and imported parts."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post-Election: Update That Marketing Plan

Political, legal, and regulatory forces are major influences in the marketing environment. Just ask U.K. marketers, who have been rethinking their strategies after the Brexit vote, which is expected to result in a split with the European Union. For some brands, the updated plan is to emphasize their British roots. For others, the updated plan is to carefully research and respond to customers' demand for more control. For all brands, Brexit's uncertainty will mean continually tweaking their marketing until the timetable for E.U. exit (if it happens) is more definite.

Major U.S. marketers probably had a contingency plan for determining how to tweak their activities, regardless of who won the U.S. election. Given how wrong most polls were about the presidency, the top priority for every marketer targeting U.S. consumers is to dig deeper and really understand what customers want, especially their unstated needs and desires. This goes for U.S.-based and internationally-based marketers alike.

Just as important, the election outcome will surely have an effect on U.S. laws and regulations, as well as on the Supreme Court (not to mention individual states and municipalities). Therefore, it's time to develop detailed scenarios for operating under this new normal.

What about products? The White House Gift Shop will undoubtedly be stocking new presidential mugs within weeks. Does your product mix need updating now that the election results are in?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mobile Advertising Skyrockets

in first half of 2016
New research from the Internet Advertising Bureau and PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows digital ad revenue way up from this time last year. In the lead: mobile, which reportedly accounts for nearly half of all Internet ad revenue.

Mobile video and mobile search have seen dramatic increases. In another report, Zenith says mobile will be 75% of US Internet use by end of 2017. Not surprisingly, media buying firm Zenith projects that mobile advertising will capture 60% of Internet ad dollars worldwide by the end of 2018. To put that into hard numbers: In 2018, mobile advertising spend alone will reach $134 billion worldwide, "more than will be spent on newspaper, magazine, cinema and outdoor advertising put together," says Zenith.

Facebook captures a lot of that digital ad revenue, even as it plans to cut back on some ads on news feeds. In fact, Facebook figured out a way around AdBlocker Plus software, reasoning that ads allow FB content to remain free and therefore users should have to see ads (as long as the ads aren't terribly intrusive). Google and YouTube are also strong in digital ad revenue as parent company Alphabet continues moving deeper into mobile marketing.

What are the implications for traditional media? For newspapers in particular, the trend is not good. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Girl Scout Cookies for Breakfast

Who doesn't love Girl Scout cookies? Now General Mills is building on the brand equity and product preferences of Girl Scout cookie lovers as it introduces two new breakfast cereals, shown above.

The new cereals will be launched in January, 2017, as limited-edition products. Not surprising, given that Girl Scout cookies are also sold during limited periods. Thin Mints are the top-selling cookies, one reason why it's one of the two initial cereal flavors.

Another advantage is the association with the well-known Girl Scouts organization, which will get some money every time the cereals sell. That has to count for something when parents pass the cereal aisle in search of a breakfast cereal for the whole family.

Will the cereals become popular enough to be relaunched every year?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Regaining the Customer's Trust

Imagine being a marketer for Wells Fargo Bank right now, following high-profile revelations that for some time, employees opened accounts to achieve internal goals for cross-selling, not because customers wanted them.

The scandal has had a real impact on the bank's reputation and its business: It recently announced that new checking account openings are down by 25% compared with last year and new credit card applications are down by 20%, all since the news broke.

During mid-October, Wells Fargo placed full-page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers, and posted on part of its website with the headline: "Moving forward to make things right." The message ends with these words:
The trust you place in us means everything and we will work hard every day to earn it back.
Trust can take a long time to earn and be lost in a moment. Before this, Wells Fargo's scores among banks in the American Customer Satisfaction Index had been on the upswing, far better than the scores it had in the ACSI surveys of 1996 and 1997.

Now Wells Fargo faces the challenge of earning back customers' trust and convincing them that it will, as its ads say, put their interests first. How will customers respond?