Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beyond Turkey: Retailers and Consumers Face Choices

It's November. And that means consumers and retailers have some interesting choices to make.

Walmart is one of a handful of stores that will be open all day on Thanksgiving Day. Other retailers, like Best Buy and Macy's, will open later on Thanksgiving to attract shoppers who want to start their gift buying after enjoying a holiday meal.

Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) is, of course, traditionally a big shopping day for many consumers who seek bargains. But outdoor retailer REI is promoting an alternative for the third consecutive year. As shown above, it uses the hashtag #OptOutside to encourage consumers (and employees) to enjoy nature rather than crowd into stores and plunk down money. This unusual campaign has differentiated REI from every other retailer and endeared it to brand fans and employees alike.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is now known as Small Business Saturday. Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is a day for encouraging consumers to choose to support small and local businesses. There are nearly 3.5 million Facebook likes for Small Business Saturday's page, featuring #ShopSmall as the hashtag.

Then comes CyberMonday, a day when online retailers promote deals to attract buyers galore. This has become a major tradition as online buying grows in popularity. Especially given the big push into ecommerce by Walmart and other store-based retailers, CyberMonday will continue to be an important day for dueling discounts (and the consumer wins).

Finally, Giving Tuesday is the youngest of these "holidays," a day that encourages charitable donations, volunteerism, and support of good causes. Founded in 2012, #GivingTuesday is a good reminder of the many ways consumers and groups can make a difference by giving of their time, talents, and money.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Black Friday Expands to Black November

Not so long ago, retailers would plan "door buster" deep discounts for the Friday after Thanksgiving, aiming to entice shoppers who wanted to get a jump on their holiday gift purchases.

These days, Black Friday isn't just a single day--or even a single week. Nope, it's several weeks long. Above, Amazon posts new discounts every day on its "countdown to Black Friday" page. Best Buy already has Black Friday specials.

So does Walmart, which is also planning to open many of its stores on Thanksgiving and feature deep-discount Black Friday deals at 6 pm on Thursday evening. For online shoppers, Walmart will kick off Black Friday all day on Turkey Day, as shown here on its website.

Walmart is trying something new this year: in-store parties to demonstrate products and create a special experience for shoppers who choose to buy in person. The plan is to throw some 20,000 parties nationwide, inviting shoppers to come on in and try new products, taste new foods, or watch new demonstrations--get in a festive mood and buy!

Monday, November 6, 2017

What's New at Legoland

Legoland theme parks in Florida and California attract millions of visitors every year. Now Merlin Entertainments, which operates the parks, is planning a Legoland in Goshen, New York, within an easy drive of big cities like the Big Apple and Boston. Merlin anticipates this Legoland will welcome more than 2 million visitors annually when it opens in 2020 or so.

Already, the company has a FB page for Legoland New York. It maintains separate social media accounts for each theme park. Legoland Florida's Twitter account, for instance, has 23k followers, while the California Legoland Twitter account has more than 60k followers.

Legoland parks target families with children between the ages of 2 and 12. To boost profits, Merlin is planning more hotel and resort rooms, as a way of capturing more vacation dollars from Legoland visitors. This could be a good marketing opportunity now that theme park visits have been affected by external concerns in the marketing environment such as extreme weather and terror threats.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Marketing the 2018 Winter Olympics

Although the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are still a few months away, marketing has been in full swing for some time. Already, the list of global marketing sponsors for the PyeongChang Games is posted on the official website.
  • Official Olympic partners include Coca-Cola, Alibaba, Atos, Bridgestone, Dow, GE, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, Toyota, and Visa.
  • Official Winter Games partners include McDonald's, KT (Korea Telecomm), The North Face, Korean Air, Samsung, Hyundai/Kia, SK, LG, Lotte, and Posco.
The official Twitter page has 200k followers; official FB page has nearly 500k followers; official Instagram account has 33k followers; plus there's a Weibo account for the many hundreds of thousands of Asian fans.

NBC is selling advertising for the televised games...and sales are quite strong. The advertising world has changed a bit since the Sochi Winter Games, so viewers are likely to be exposed to many more 6-second commercials than last time.

NBC is also segmenting the market for coverage: "We are getting deeper into the mindset and motivations of Olympic viewers … we are not looking at demographics, but leaning more toward psychographics," says the CMO of NBC Sports Group. With content tailored for each segment, NBC expects better viewer numbers (which helps advertisers reach the people they're trying to reach).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Shopper Marketing Coordinated with Social Media Marketing

With Halloween approaching, store displays and social media accounts are promoting the season with limited-edition pumpkin-spiced products and Halloween treats galore.

Above, packages of a limited-edition Hostess baked treat displayed on a supermarket endcap. These Glo Balls are a seasonal variation on the brand's Sno Balls products. Interstate Bakeries acquired the Hostess brands in 1995 and changed its corporate name to Hostess in 2009. More than 1.2 million brand fans have clicked to like the Hostess Facebook page.

Another familiar technique for shopper marketing is to use a seasonal point-of-purchase display. This Hershey Halloween cardboard display, at the front of a supermarket, has plenty of room for family-sized bags of Hershey-branded candies, for home or for trick-or-treat give-aways. The company also promotes recipes and crafts featuring its branded chocolates on the web and social media. Nearly 10 million people have liked Hershey's Facebook page, by the way.

Finally, an unusual pumpkin-spiced product: Gouda cheese, found in the supermarket's cheese refrigerated case. Only for a limited time. Not the usual autumn flavor combo, to say the least.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Shopper Marketing: In-store Displays Cue Consumers to Buy

Marketers are increasingly interested in targeted shopper marketing (marketing to shoppers at the point of purchase). For example, now that the cold and flu season is approaching, marketers are reminding consumers about appropriate products.

At top, a shelf display in the paper-goods aisle, where Puffs tissues are stocked. Attached to the shelf is a small display tray holding a handful of Vicks NyQuil cold/cough products. Complementary marketing, wouldn't you say? Once you notice that both NyQuil and Puffs are made by Procter & Gamble, it makes even more sense to stock these products next to each other during this season. Sell from the shelf!
Another example of shopper marketing is this stand-alone display of BodyArmor sports drinks, positioned near other sports drinks and fruit beverages. The target audience is clearly "switchers" who might be interested in trying a different sports drink (other than Gatorade or PowerAde or other competitors). Not only does BodyArmor attract attention in the aisle where shoppers look for sports drinks, it explicitly invites consumers to "switch" to its brand.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Marketing to Pet Owners

Pet owners spend an estimated $66 billion+ spent every year on foods, treats, toys, and other goods and services for their pampered pets. Most of that money goes toward pet food, with pet supplies and vet services the next-biggest category of spending within the industry.

It's a ginormous marketing opportunity: More than 60 million US households have a dog, nearly 50 million households have a cat, and 15 million households have fish. Nestle Purina, one of the market leaders, is expanding production and distribution of products like Friskies and Dog Chow, to keep up with higher demand by the growing ranks of pet owners.
Now, as Millennials become a driving force in buying for pets, marketing is more critical than ever. Given this target market's focus on healthy eating, it makes sense that pet-food marketers are emphasizing healthy ingredients like quinoa--yes, quinoa, the grain.

No wonder celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray have their own pet food brands now. And Olympic star Michael Phelps is appearing in ads for Nulo pet food, which promotes its low-carb nutritional benefits.

Nulo, by the way, has more than 141k likes on Facebook, compared with 1.1m likes for Purina Dog Chow on FB. Everyone's going social to connect with this major market.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Inside the Non-Cola Wars

Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are finding that colas aren't in as high demand as they once were. So the "cola wars" that raged for decades are actually becoming the "non-cola wars" between these two industry giants. Not to mention the "water wars" as Coke's Dasani brand battles Pepsi's Aquafina brand for sales and market share.

In fact, Coke recently acquired the Topo Chico mineral water brand, adding to its strength in bottled waters. Coca-Cola is also refreshing non-cola brands, like Schweppes, to rebuild awareness and encourage preference among adults. A UK marketing exec with Coca-Cola says the goal with Schweppes is to "re-establish the brand in the hearts and minds of consumers."

Pepsi's water portfolio is also receiving marketing attention, as the company shifts away from sugary/fizzy drinks. "We're on a multiyear journey to move people to healthier products, to lower-calorie options," says Pepsi's finance chief. But moving marketing attention away from traditional flagship brands like Pepsi and Mountain Dew is hurting soft-drink results.

Interestingly, Pepsi has decided to move aggressively into e-commerce activities as it sees the shifting landscape in grocery retailing. And, not surprisingly, Coca-Cola is also involved in e-commerce, seeing that consumer behavior is changing and therefore the brands that make the shopping list/restock list will be the ones ordered and delivered. In other words, understanding the evolution of the consumer buying process is vital for marketers waging the non-cola wars.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Marketing for Plus Size Fashions

Some sponsors of CurvyCon 2017
At CurvyCon, a recent fashion-week event featuring plus-size women's fashions, the CEO of plus-size fashion subscription firm Dia & Co observed: "We are so far away from true size inclusivity when it comes to fashion." In the words of entrepreneur CeCe Olisa, "if every brand carried every size, then we wouldn’t have to specify plus-size or not." CurvyCon attracted a lot of sponsors eager to reach this target market, estimated at $21 billion--and growing quickly.

It's a new marketing era for "plus size" amid rebranding to avoid negative connotations and signal a better understanding of consumer behavior in this target market. For example, after listening to customer feedback, women's clothing in larger sizes at Kmart will now be marketed as "fabulously sized."

More fashions for this market are on the way. PVH, which counts Calvin Klein among its brands, has recognized the profit potential in plus, and is marketing a new line of plus-sized lingerie. PVH recently acquired True & Co, which is established in the plus lingerie business.

A growing number of online marketers are targeting plus women, from ModCloth to EShakti and Eloquii. ModCloth's CEO notes: "There’s this belief that plus-size customers simply don’t spend as much — but that is only because of a lack of choice." His firm's research found that this target market would spend more if fashions in their sizes were available. And they tend to shop more frequently, another plus for plus size marketing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Food Trucks Roll into the Future

Food trucks have been a major fad since 2008, when the L.A. area saw the birth of the soon wildly popular Korean tacos served by Kogi BBQ trucks. Almost immediately, food trucks began popping up in streetscapes from coast to coast, offering both niche foods and mainstream foods.

Now food trucks represent an estimated $2.7 billion in revenues and a consumer behavior shift toward eating food on the move. Entrepreneurs, in particular, find food trucks a great way to test new products and new dining concepts without investing in high-overhead brick-and-mortar restaurants. Even restaurants are testing food trucks to reach customers interested in easy, casual food at easy, casual prices--competing with fast-food and fast-casual dining, in particular.

The most popular food trucks in 2017 are offering favorites like gourmet grilled cheese, burgers, and tacos (of course). Above, Mac Mart, which is both a food truck and a mac 'n cheese restaurant. Consumers are also flocking to food truck festivals around the country, enjoying different cuisines in one park or parking lot.

In some areas, the fad for food trucks is starting to fade a bit, partly due to overexposure and partly because of cities resisting the trucks to allow traditional restaurants some space to regain customers. Yet food trucks also represent a major opportunity for B2B marketers, including insurance firms that want to offer just the right coverage for food trucks.

The food truck fad is likely to evolve as the marketing environment develops and consumer behavior shifts, but for now, food on the move remains popular in many locations.