Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Multichannel Marketing for Joe Fresh

Joe Fresh, the Canadian fashion brand owned by Loblaw's, began a promising distribution deal with US-based J.C. Penney in 2011.

Unfortunately, Penney has had difficulties in this challenging retail environment.

At its height, Joe Fresh was featured in nearly 700 Penney stores across the shopping centers of America. Today, the fashion brand is being sold in only 200 Penney stores.

Still, Joe Fresh has number of proprietary stores in the US, and it's expanding 50 Joe Fresh stores in Canada, where the brand is well-known and popular. It's also bringing its brand directly to US consumers via a new app, shown above, available for iPhones and iPads and promoted on the brand's Facebook page (224,000 likes). Multichannel marketing is a must to reach Millennials, as Joe Fresh is well aware.

Joe Fresh is highly social, with 10,000 followers for its Pinterest page, 49,000 Instagram followers, and 76,000 Twitter followers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stakeholder Analysis for Your Marketing Plan

Earlier this month, I summarized my discussions on competitors as stakeholders. Now I want to continue this look at analyzing the groups that are stakeholders in a particular buiness. This is a vital element in preparing a marketing plan.

Johnson & Johnson, known for its health-care products, has a separate section on its website devoted to relations with stakeholders, within the business's strategic framework. It says, in part:
We foster and maintain ties with the suppliers and external manufacturers who help us make our products; the customers who purchase our products; the doctors, nurses, patients and consumers who use them, and our own employees and shareholders. We routinely engage with civic society leaders in our efforts to ensure access to health care for all.
J&J includes a detailed matrix (excerpt at left) of how it engages each major stakeholder group and the topics of interest to each group. It also has separate pages looking at relations with specific stakeholder groups, such as suppliers.

This level of analysis indicates how important stakeholder relations are to the success of the company--and how important the company is to these internal and external stakeholders.

Your marketing plan should include similar analyses to be sure you understand the concerns and actions of groups that can affect or be affected by your business's performance.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What do "Are Competitors Stakeholders?" and "Target Canada" have in common?

Audience research: What do readers want to know about when they arrive on my blog? The three all-time most popular search terms that land people here are:
  1. Are competitors stakeholders (see my blog entries on this topic, listed below)
  2. Target Canada (mentioned in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, January 2015)
  3. Competitors as stakeholders (see below)
I've addressed the question of competitors of stakeholders several times over the years, including these posts--and the answer is always yes:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marketing to Millennials


NPR's recent segment on marketing to Millennials featured an informal "focus group" of people in their late teens, 20s, and 30s, with a message to marketers: Entertain us, be authentic, and don't push too hard.

An online search for "marketing to Millennials" yields more than 8 million results, and this NPR coverage is one of the more recent hits. Late last year, Inc. posted a guide to Millennials that reminds marketers of this group's global, tech-savvy perspective and behavior.

What an Adweek infographic points out is that Millennials don't want hard sell, they want a friendly approach--and they enjoy advocating for brands they like and admire.

The Guardian (UK) also reminds companies that Millennials are willing and able to cocreate content for brands they like and admire.

Finally, Media Post recommends that marketers dig deep to see individual differences among Millennials, recognize the vital role of shopper marketing in influencing decisions made in the store, and understand when digital marketing can and can't make a difference.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Toy Fair Time: First Look at 2015's Newest Toys

Want to know what you'll see on store shelves come November? The wholesale Toy Fair (which just completed its NYC run) offers an early look at what 13,000 toy retailers from around the globe are buying for the holiday season.

Lots and lots of dinosaurs, for a start, thanks to the upcoming release of the new Jurassic World movie, one of the sequels to the wildly popular classic film Jurassic Park. And, as Fortune notes, generic dinosaur toys can be produced without being licensed from Jurassic Park's owner, Universal Studios. At the same time, LEGO licensed dinos for its new Jurassic World brick set, introduced at the Toy Fair.

All the usual suspects had exhibits at the fair, including Mattel and Hasbro, plus many up-and-coming firms. In addition to new Barbies and Furbys, watch for new Marvel comics superhero toys, drone-type playthings, Star Wars tie-ins, even fake snow. Really.

For more news, follow Toy Fair on Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Mattel's Marketing Strategy for Digital Natives

Today's youngsters are digital natives, which is why Mattel is retooling its marketing to fit their behavior and interests.

Iconic toys like Barbie have nostalgic appeal, to be sure, especially among parents who played with Barbie and Ken as children. Still, Barbie has lots of company (meaning competition) on toy store shelves, including the incredibly popular Frozen sisters from Disney.

In addition, the target market for Barbie and similar fashion dolls is becoming narrower because girls are moving onto more grownup toys earlier than in the past.

Now, with Barbie's sales down for the third consecutive year, and company profits drooping, Mattel is using updated technology for Barbie's 21st century makeover.

The latest Barbie models have ToyTalk technology, allowing them to "converse" with girls. "The most requested thing that kids have wanted to do with Barbie, and Mattel's done unbelievable amounts of research over the course of decades, is to talk to Barbie," says ToyTalk's CEO. Supported by an aggressive product development schedule, Hello Barbie will be on toy shelves late this year, if all goes well.

Another classic Mattel toy, the View-Master (see photo above), is also getting a 21st century make-over. It will be introduced with virtual reality apps (a Mattel proprietary app and others available on Google Play) for more compelling images. The original View-Master was introduced in 1939. This new, affordable VR version will repurpose some of the existing images. Will digital natives go for it?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Goodbye, Radio Shack

It didn't have to end this way, but Radio Shack has filed for bankruptcy. This is a national retailer with 3 million Facebook likes and a decades-old legacy. A retailer that rode the wave of trendy tech during the CB (citizen's band) radio days and the early PC it marketed, the TRS-80. A retailer with a store seemingly in every shopping center and high brand recognition.

But the world changed and Radio Shack didn't change as quickly as needed. For one thing, the tinkerers who were once a major target market (buying electronics parts and gizmos and gadgets to solder or wire together) now had little time or had other interests. The maker movement is bringing this kind of tinkering back but Radio Shack won't be around to cater to this customer's needs.

Then there was the rise of the big-box store like Best Buy, a veritable tech supermarket that Radio Shack's tiny locations couldn't match in any way. Not to mention the e-commerce tidal wave that Radio Shack simply couldn't latch onto.

Sure, Radio Shack was in on the cell phone craze. But the kinds of deals that helped saturate that market aren't needed now. In fact Sprint will take over space in some of the chain's stores and Sprint employees will sell from there.

So thousands of Radio Shack stores will close . . . but the brand may live on in a new incarnation. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl 49: Only a Few Super Ads

The Patriots pulled off a stunning final-seconds victory over the Seahawks. But what about the commercials?

Well, very few were as exciting or as engaging as the sports battle on the field.

USA Today's Ad Meter indicates that the most popular ad was (no surprise) Budweiser's heartwarming story of the puppy saved by the Clydesdales. The ad has already attracted tens of millions of YouTube views, in addition to its gigantic TV audience.

Among the ads not so lauded: Toenail fungus fighter.

Speaking of puppies, the pregame counterprogramming show Puppy Bowl has become a favorite on Animal Planet. The original version had a measly $80,000 budget but lots of heart, not to mention lots of adorable puppies from shelters, awaiting adoption. This year's version had a much bigger budget and lots of different animals--all adorable, of course, drawing an audience across demographic groups.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Competitors ARE Stakeholders: The View in 2015

Imagine you're a retailer in Canada--and you suddenly find that Target, a feared competitor, is leaving the market. How does that affect your customers and your marketing strategy?

Remember that the definition of stakeholders is: "people and groups that can directly or indirectly affect a company's performance OR that are directly or indirectly affected by a company's performance."

I'm not saying a company should make marketing decisions that would benefit its competitors OR coordinate its decisions with any competitor. No, I'm saying a business must consider what competitors are doing or plan to do, as they prepare their marketing plans and set goals and objectives. Especially big competitors can make a big difference in how consumers act and the health of the overall industry, which in turn affects any one firm's performance,

Target's decision to withdraw from Canada must be a big relief to retailers of all sizes in the area. It stumbled badly in Canada (from a merchandising and a pricing perspective) and is cutting its losses because profitability is too far in the future. Of course, Target's not the only US store to run into difficulties in Canada: Sears is another biggie, among others.

With Target out of Canada, other retailers won't have to worry about its pricing power, its online presence and social media power, its weekly sale flyers, or its diverse, shabby chic product assortment. So if a marketing plan was designed to blunt the effect of Target's shopper attraction, the retailer can go back to the drawing board and revisit tactics and investments. And take Target off the list of groups that can directly its performance.

Yet competitors that are aggressive and savvy--which Target usually is--can bring out the best in what other businesses do to compete. Its withdrawal may result in some stores becoming complacent because they don't see any immediate threat as compelling as Target. And that's a mistake.

Interestingly, Sony will be shuttering its stores in Canada. This move will save money. But it will also mean Sony must depend even more heavily on its retail network to sell in Canada. Sony is a stakeholder for those retailers, and although no brand stores means less image-building for the brand, it could lead to more sales transactions for other retailers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Playbook for Marketing to Superbowl Fans

Superbowl Sunday (February 1) is approaching, and that means a stadium-full of marketing. A brief selection of what's happening:
  • It's an ad, ad, ad, ad world. Think with Google has a page of suggestions about how marketers can make the most of Superbowl-related marketing and advertising. One quote that is jaw-dropping: "In 2014, fans spent a staggering 14 million hours watching the top 10 Super Bowl and World Cup ads featured in our annual Ads Rewind. Seventy-five percent of those hours were earned before or after the day of the Super Bowl or the month of the World Cup." In other words, brands that post ads in advance can earn a lot of viewership and social media buzz before, during, and after the game. For instance, Snickers is using a teaser to whet fans' appetites for its Super Bowl commercial.
  • Engaging customers. Doritos is mounting its 9th annual "Crash the Super Bowl" crowdsourced ad contest. Finalists are up right now for voting and this builds anticipation for watching for the ads during the game (not just the game itself).
  • Money matters:
  • Don't just advertise--strategize. Simply airing a well-regarded ad during the big game isn't enough. The business has to get all the fundamentals right. Radio Shack, which had a hit Bowl commercial last year, continues to struggle.
  • What about after the game? For a look at the best Super Bowl ads ever (according to the Ad Meter), check out the USA Today site here. A good ad isn't the be-all and end-all (see Radio Shack comment above) but it can reinforce brand recognition for weeks and months after the Seahawks and Patriots battle for the NFL title.