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.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Multinationals Seek Growth, Niche by Niche

Pukka Herbs specializes in herbal organic teas
Nestle is buying a small California firm known for vegan and vegetarian foods; Unilever is buying a company that makes herbal organic teas. Both of these multinationals are seeking growth by acquiring businesses and products in niches that are attractive because of increasing consumer appeal and the ability to be noticed through distinctive brands/products.

Mainstream brands/products continue to sell--but certain niches are growing more rapidly and delivering customer acquisition (and profits) through specialization. Unilever, for example, pursued Pukka Herbs because it is unusually fast-growing in its niche. Unilever's top tea executive explains: "In the morning a lot of people still drink black tea as it picks you up, but in the afternoon or evening herbal tea is wonderful with different benefits." In other words, Pukka Herbs complements Unilever's existing tea brands and products.

Nestle bought Sweet Earth, a vegan/vegetarian food marketer, to get firmly established in the plant-based protein market. Nestle USA's CEO comments: "One of NestlĂ©’s strategic priorities is to build out our portfolio of vegetarian and flexitarian choices in line with modern health trends."

Watch for more multinationals to exploit niche opportunities by buying firms that have a following and a strong brand image.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Once Again, It's Pumpkin Everything in the Food World

Pumpkin everything season now begins in late summer. Starbucks showed imagination in launching its Pumpkin Spice Latte via live-streaming, building on anticipation from fans. Dunkin' Donuts is doubling down on pumpkin coffees and muffins: "We’ve seen our fans ask for pumpkin earlier and earlier each year," the company explains.

In general, pumpkin everything is turning everything orange in the food aisles and in cafes well before autumn arrives. Some marketers, like Krispy Kreme, really limit the limited-time pumpkin trend: It will offer a pumpkin-spice doughnut for one day only.

Other marketers are riding the pumpkin wave for weeks or months. How about a Kit Kat Pumpkin Pie bar? Or pumpkin spice breakfast cereals like Cheerios? Pumpkin everything reigns in food marketing for autumn.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Browse Marketing History via the Wayback Machine

What did some major marketing brands look like on the web 5, 10, or even 20 years ago? You can find out by checking the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

Not only is this a good way to see the evolution of web design, you can also follow along as logos change, brand ownership changes, and offerings change.

At top, how the Wayback Machine shows the number and timing of Sears.com web pages captured and saved since January, 1997 to today.

At right, the Sears "about us" page in 1997. This is obviously before the acquisition by Kmart was announced in 2004 and completed in 2005. The brand's logo is prominent along the header and navigation is along the bottom as well as via links embedded in the body copy.

At left, the "overview" page from the corporate page of Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart today.  Navigation is along the side and along the bottom (not shown in this capture).

There is a link to the Sears Archives, where the distinctive blue-and-white logo is prominent at top left of web page. Check this page for the history of the venerable Sears, Roeback & Company, a true pioneer of legacy retailing.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

World's Most Valuable Brands

10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . and 1

Brandz is known for ranking the world's brands in terms of their global value. This year's ranking has a surprise in the #8 position.

Here they are, the world's most valuable brands:

10. McDonald's (US-based) - All-day breakfast and healthy menu items have helped keep this brand on the list.

9. IBM (US-based) - Venerable tech brand is leveraging cloud computing and its Watson brand for growth.

8. Tencent (China-based) - Wildly popular WeChat messaging platform has moved this company into the global eye.

7. Visa (US-based) - Plastic is big again...and Costco's switch from Amex to Visa was a boost for growth.

6. AT&T (US-based) - Telecom giant that's trying to get even bigger by acquiring Time Warner. Will the deal go through?

5. Facebook (US-based) - Of course FB is on the top 10 list. Advertising revenue is growing every day, and Facebook Live is increasing its reach.

4. Amazon (US-based) - Surprised that this brand is only #4? I was. This is the home of Alexa, Prime, and Amazon Web Services. Not to mention Amazon Prime Day.

3. Microsoft (US-based) - A mainstay of top 10 brand lists. Tech has been prominent for more than a decade, and Microsoft remains a leader in software and game tech.

2. Apple (US-based) - Often topping brand lists, this year it's #2 despite solid product sales and high brand preferability ratings.

1. Google (US-based) - Often trades places with Apple on brand rankings, this year Google tops the list because of its innovative image and lifestyle tech (AI and more).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Geolocation and Target Marketing

Geolocation is a fascinating tool to consider for your marketing plan. Remember Pokemon Go, and all the marketing hoopla associated with firms that leveraged it? That brief craze brought geolocation into the public eye. Even though the fad has faded, there are many marketing possibilities for geolocation, as smartphone-toting customers go to work, go to school, go on vacation, go shopping, or are simply on the go.

Privacy concerns need to be addressed, of course. Still, by defining the audience, the offer, and the objective, marketers can test and refine their use of geolocation to attract new customers and encourage repeat purchasing.
  • Target customers in or near your location. Through geofencing, you can define an area within which you will communicate incentives to visit your venue or buy a particular offering. Coca-Cola sends messages to shoppers' phones while customers are inside Albertsons supermarkets, for instance, directing them to promotional deals in the soft-drink aisle. 
  • Have something to say. This is sales promotion territory--meaning the marketing should convey a sense of urgency, such as a limited-time offer. American Eagle Outfitters identifies shoppers entering the mall parking lot and communicates about new products and other news, boosting foot traffic.
  • Make location count. Starbucks uses geolocation to transmit the customer's mobile order to the nearest convenient location via the ordering app. Customers like the speed and convenience. Starbucks likes the efficiency. Win-win all the way around.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Marketing Electric Cars to Green Buyers

Tesla has had considerable success targeting green car buyers as it markets its initial two models of luxury all-electric cars, priced about $70k and up.

Now its biggest challenge is to meet the expected tsunami of demand for the popularly-priced all-electric Tesla 3. Starting at about $35,000, this stylish sedan is priced at half of what the other Teslas cost, yet it also carries the cachet of the Tesla brand, no small consideration. So Tesla has been active in the bond market to raise funds for the steep production increase needed to keep up with Tesla 3 demand.

Meanwhile, Tesla is booking way more than 1,000 reservations for the Tesla 3 every day. Delivery won't be for at least a year. This gives competitors like the Nissan Leaf time to appeal to buyers who want to drive green cars. Nissan is leaking bits and pieces of its new 2018 Leaf design to build anticipation and interest.

California is doing its part to encourage green buyers--it's looking at big rebates for all-electic and plug-in hybrids. This would bring the price of electric vehicles down to a level where mainstream buyers would do the math and see the financial benefit as well as the environmental benefit. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Wristwatches Tick Along on Social Media Marketing

Wristwatches are decidedly old-fashioned--yet their fashion appeal lives on into the 21st century, despite the many substitutes (like the mobile devices everyone totes around, or the smartwatches made by Apple and others).

Retro, antique, and high fashion watches are ticking along on social media marketing. Just days ago, a New York Times article reported on how upscale vintage wristwatches, posted on Instagram, are drawing the interest of collectors and beyond. In fact, expensive vintage watches are selling well despite the many digital substitutes. 

As shown at top, Gucci is using Instagram for an artistic approach to marketing its stylish watches. And it's not the only brand leveraging social media. Swatch has nearly 5 million Facebook fans, for instance, and 771k Instagram followers.

Swatch--which revolutionized the watch market decades ago--is actually doing very well with its fashion watches, even in this digital era. Swatch's CEO says: "In July, our factories are at maximum capacity because the demand coming from our own brands is so strong." Swatch maintains handsome stores in airports and through carefully-selected retail stores.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Back-to-School Shoppers Are in the Stores

My search for "back-to-school shopping" returned 324 million results. Here are the top 4 from the list--all ads. Zappos, Walmart, Retailmenot (coupon site), and Staples. Zappos is promoting its "fast and free shipping," and its "huge selection." The others are promoting "save, save, save."

The LA Times notes that BTS is an $84 billion market (research by the National Retail Federation). And other research indicates that lots of shoppers are looking at price promotions carefully.

Most important, many BTS shoppers prefer to buy in person, to see, touch, and evaluate merchandise rather than click to buy. And when children are part of the process, they want a say in what gets purchased (which in some cases, results in a higher transaction amount). Legacy retailing is the beneficiary of this consumer behavior pattern.

Despite supply lists provided by schools, BTS shopping still needs organization. And that's where physical stores are doing their part to group merchandise needed by students for easy access. Nearly every store has a college dorm section, and a separate school supplies section. School days begin in a matter of days. Stores are ready to outfit students in advance, attracting shoppers to malls and big-box retail locations alike.