Friday, July 24, 2015

Read About Marketing Around the World

Interested in the latest news of marketing from around the world? Here are a few selected publications you can check with a click:
  • Marketing Magazine (Canada) - covers the range of marketing throughout Canada, including goods and services . . . retailing . . . advertising . . . mobile marketing and payments . . . and more. Always new content posted, so check back often.
  • Asahi Shimbun Business (Japan) - English-language site with top business news of Japan and the region, including the latest on brand marketing and management by Sony, Brother, Panasonic, and other leading companies. 
  • BBC Business News (global) - International coverage and analysis of marketing and business trends, brand news, opportunities and challenges in the worldwide economy.
  • Sydney Herald (Australia) - Reports on business and marketing in Australia and the Pacific, with spotlights on retailing, economic influences, branding, and more.
  • London Evening Standard (England) - News updates on businesses, brands, marketing, economic conditions, regulatory changes, retail trends, and other key news affecting marketers in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Aftermath of Amazon Prime Day

Seems that reaction to Amazon Prime Day was mixed: There were some big bargains, but not as big as on Black Friday. Naturally, Amazon put its own products front and center, and the limited quantities of promo-priced Kindles and other items sold out quickly.

Although social media lit up with Prime Day mentions, the number was far lower than Black Friday mentions on the day after Thanksgiving. Just as bad, sentiment was mixed--with a lot of posts expressing disappointment at the "garage sale" nature of many products featured for sale. Some social media mentions used the hashtag #PrimeDayFail to describe their disappointment.

Yet sales were definitely higher for Amazon, and the full-day promotion sparked higher awareness of Prime. One analysis shows that nearly half of Amazon's customers are Prime members--an estimated 44 million people who can click for the special deals, the free video streaming, the free Kindle library, and more.

So all in all, no matter what the critics say, Prime Day turns out to be a win for the now 20-year-old pioneer of online retailing. And you can be sure Amazon will learn from this year's experience and boost its bargains to a higher level next year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amazon vs Walmart on Prime Day

Amazon is running an exceedingly clever promotion for its 20th anniversary: For its Prime members only, special deep discounts will be offered throughout the day on July 15th. Think how many consumer behavior hot buttons this marketing tactic pushes:
  • "I'm a member of an elite group" entitled to special privileges not accorded to outsiders--which reinforces the positive associations of paid-up Prime membership.
  • "Limited time only, act now" call to action increases the urgency to click and buy--on Prime Day. And some research indicates that many Prime members will do just that.
  • "Like Black Friday only more bargains" has little competition in the middle of July, when others are running summer clearance sales or back-to-school deals--so Prime Day gets a lot of attention and differentiation.
  • "Members have privileges" as long as they continue to be members--so loyalty increases.
Walmart is going head-to-head with Amazon by aggressively promoting its own special deals on July 15th, intensifying the message that the day is for bargain hunting. "Dare to compare: Top products, lower prices" is Walmart's theme, encouraging consumers to confirm that Walmart's price on featured products is lower than Amazon's price on those same products. Walmart's deals are open to all, whereas Amazon's deals are for Prime members only (Prime membership can be sampled for free for a limited time, of course).

If Prime Day catches on, other retailers may follow (by promoting their own "members only" day or by hitching their wagons to Amazon's day, the way Walmart is doing). Consumers will be the big winners, no matter which retail giant they buy from.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What's Happening in Marketing at P&G

P&G cites five core strengths as its key to marketing success in consumer products. Shown above, from its website, the core strengths include understanding consumers, innovating based on consumer desires, building brands, building on go-to-market capabilities, and leveraging scale for efficiency.

The company continues to pare its brand portfolio so it can concentrate on its most powerful products and categories--the two dozen, in particular, that generate annual revenue over $1 billion. A deal is in the works to sell beauty brands including Cover Girl to Coty, for example. 

Yet in the quest to innovate, P&G may make changes that freshen up the product within P&G's product line but don't necessarily resonate with the target market. The result: product proliferation that confuses the customer without adding to the top or bottom lines. In fact, the CEO recently said: "New isn’t the best product in the store, the best product in the store is the one she or he wants, purchase more often, uses more often and comes back to," he said.

In addition, the company is streamlining marketing communications and pushing deeper into digital. As a result, P&G is looking to shrink its roster of marketing agencies and save money in the process.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Polaroid Swinger and Other Game-Changers of Yesterday

Today's New York Times has an article about the popularity of the Polaroid Swinger "instant" camera, which debuted 50 years ago--and became a game-changer in the mass-market for cameras.

Before the Swinger, instant photography was expensive and geared to relatively affluent adults. The Swinger was designed and priced specifically for baby-boomers who were, at the time, in their teens and early twenties and eager to conveniently snap photos of daily life.

Remember the Flip digital video camera? It, too, was a game-changer, pocket-sized and affordable and easy to use without having to insert tapes or other media. Point, shoot, and upload. Once Cisco Systems bought it, however, its life was limited because the new parent really didn't understand the consumer product world. The product was discontinued in 2011 and support was discontinued in 2013.

Not fads, the Swinger nor the Flip, just handy, timely, and innovative products for the mass market. Both achieved rapid adoption after they were launched and both were successful in their day, if short-lived. Now they're only memories because of advances in technology and changes in consumer behavior.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ikea's Marketing Research Leads to Wireless Recharging Products

Sweden's Ikea is known for marketing research, studying thousands of consumers in each target country so it can design stylish, affordable, assemble-at-home furniture to meet their needs (stated and unstated).

The company recognizes that people want to be able to conveniently recharge all kinds of digital devices without tangled wires snaking around furniture. So now it's launched a line of wireless charging furniture, including the lamp shown above. Here's Ikea's description of this new product line:

Charge where you are

With our range of wireless chargers, keeping your phone charged has never been easier. They blend in beautifully with your home, and can easily be placed where you need them the most. All without having to chase after outlets or hide messy cables.

So far, product reviews are mostly positive. The iPhone doesn't fit the Qi recharging standard that Ikea's using, but the retailer sells some iPhone cases that are workarounds.

And given the DIY nature of Ikea's assemble-at-home products, it's not surprising that customers can also buy the recharging "spots" and a tool for drilling just the right hole to install a "spot" in existing furniture.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Product Life Cycle of Fitness Bands

Fitbit Flex
Fitness bands that track the wearer's physical activities (like Fitbit) burst onto the scene less than a decade ago, with the marketing power of brands like Nike behind them.

Now the product category is entering the maturity stage of the product life cycle, as competition intensifies, prices drop, brands consolidate, and some brands (like Nike) drop out while others rush in to take advantage of customer interest.

Fitbit, which went public just recently, holds nearly 70% of the US market for activity-tracking wristbands. Meanwhile, some early adopters are reportedly switching to newer brands/bands to take advantage of new features and new fashion . . . even as companies think about ways to keep customers using the bands once the initial rush of interest wears off. One major avenue to revenue growth is targeting employers that want to keep employees fit.

Yet convergence and tech evolution is also taking its toll. Will the Apple Watch's tracking capabilities speed the movement of fitness bands into late maturity? How quickly will fitness bands enter the decline stage of the product life cycle? Given the rapid life cycles of tech products, fitness bands will probably have a relatively condensed life cycle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fortune 500 Issue Shows Economy Higher Again

It's time for the annual Fortune 500 magazine issue page count, which I use as an informal measure of economic strength in the business environment. This year, the page count is again higher than the previous year--in fact, it's the best page count in a decade for this important annual issue of the magazine. So more advertisers are buying pages to reach business readers, a good sign. 

2015: 392
2014: 390
2013: 352
2012: 312
2011: 316
2010: 308
2009: 276
2008: 356
2007: 386
2006: 384
2005: 410
2004: 478
2003: 410
2002: 402
2001: 474
2000: 630 - Peak of dot-com boom!
1999: 510
1998: 506

The top 5 largest U.S. corporations, according to Fortune's list, are:

5. Apple (electronics)
4. Berkshire Hathaway (conglomerate)
3. Chevron (energy)
2. Exxon Mobil (energy)
1. Walmart (retailing) - nearly half a trillion dollars in annual revenues!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dino-Sized Marketing Deals for Jurassic World

Jurassic World, the latest summer blockbuster movie sequel to Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novel, has some dino-sized marketing deals with brand partners. Just click to the store on the Jurassic World site, for instance, and you'll see Hasbro's tie-in toys, LEGO's new tie-in sets, and a closet-full of T-shirts for sale.

Critics aren't just talking about the plot--they're also talking about the product placement. For instance, the movie's website displays authorized Mike and Ike candies, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant on the island, and of course a 5-star Hilton hotel plug. Triumph motorcycles are prominently featured in the movie, as are Mercedes cars. Oh, and in-park shopping shown on the big screen? Lots of familiar logos there (Columbia Sportswear, Brookstone, and Oakley, to name just a few).

By the way, the official FB page has, on the movie's opening day, more than 400,000 likes (it's classified as "travel/leisure") and some fun comments that are very much in keeping with the idea of the sudden disaster that befalls the park. The Jurassic World Twitter account was opened 3 years before the movie's debut. The Instagram page has 90,000+ followers.

Whether or not movie critics love it, this movie sounds like a dino-sized marketing bonanza for all the brands involved.

UPDATE: Jurassic World broke box-office records, becoming the first movie to exceed $500 million in opening weekend receipts!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Brands Step Up for MiLB Sponsorship and Merchandise

Dunkin' Donuts is the latest big-league sponsor to step up to a marketing deal with a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team. This week, it agreed to buy naming rights to a new 9,000-seat MiLB stadium being built in Hartford, CT for the Hartford Yard Goats. 

The VP of field marketing for Dunkin' Donuts says: "We didn't need sabermetrics to evaluate this opportunity. Simply put, baseball is known as America's greatest pastime ... now we're ready to say, 'Play ball, Hartford.'"

Sponsorships with MiLB can build brand awareness and image, strengthen associations with sports and family activities, enhance community relations, and open new cross-promotion opportunities. All kinds of businesses are doing business with MiLB, from banks and stores to toy companies and--yes, wine.

MiLB doesn't just attract big brands. Local businesses are also involved, for the exposure, the build-up of trust, and the positive associations. The Reading (PA) Fightin Phils have a hot dog vendor who's so popular that he gets his own bobblehead. When a Phil is walked, the scoreboard calls it a WaWa Walk (WaWa is a sponsor, get it?). The Indianapolis Indians have set out to consciously develop such a close integration with the game, to attract and retain solid sponsorships.

Anyone who has attended a MiLB game knows that the sale of hats and other merchandise is part of the experience, as well. Annual sales of MiLB merchandise throughout the US and Canada hit a new record high of $60.3 million in 2014. And the Indianapolis Indians are among the teams hitting a home run in merchandise sales.