Sunday, December 27, 2015

Chipotle's Challenge: Crisis Management

Chipotle has had months of negative headlines over the contamination crises at some of its restaurants.

Search for "Chipotle AND crisis" and you'll find more than 2 million links. Some of these links relate to the E. coli outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, some relate to a norovirus problem in Boston. Many look at the company's management of this crisis.

Food safety is at the core of the crisis. When consumers eat out, they expect their food will not make them sick. And since Chipotle has made its reputation on the basis of natural food prepared fresh, this crisis is especially challenging.

The restaurant chain's reputation has definitely suffered. Rebuilding trust and reassuring customers that they can safely enjoy Chipotle's food will be a top priority in 2016, once the source(s) of the outbreaks have been identified and dealt with.

Chipotle's CEO has publicly apologized and outlined a number of steps to strengthen food safety. Yet until the outbreaks are out of the headlines, Chipotle's marketing activities can't get back into high gear.

Maybe one way to reassure the public and start to resture trust is for Chipotle's management to be seen (with their families) eating at local Chipotle's all around the country, every day, especially in restaurants affected by these outbreaks. That would go a long way toward reassuring consumers IMHO.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars and Trans-Generational Emotional Resonance

The president of Hasbro's brand division coined a term for what happens when parents (well, primarily fathers) who grew up loving Star Wars or Marvel comics characters and shared that brand fandom with their children. The term is "trans-generational emotional resonance." Hasbro makes Star Wars toys under license from Disney, and it's a particularly lucrative partnership this year. Force Friday showed the power of the brand, and it's only the beginning.

The immense opening weekend box office success of Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens demonstrates the power of trans-generational emotional resonance. Disney says the new movie took in $248 million in North America alone. Worldwide, the movie generated ticket sales of $529 million. Both are records for opening weekend ticket sales. News coverage often showed parents and children attending the movie together, some dressed as Star Wars characters, some chanting dialogue from older movies in the series.

This latest movie is tweaking the brand marketing to appeal to females, by casting Daisy Ridley in the leading role of Rey. Will Star Wars: The Force Awakens, supported by star power and many millions of dollars in marketing, make Rey as popular a character as Hunger Games's Katniss Everdeen? Will it tap into trans-generational emotional resonance so that, 20 years in the future, mothers buy Rey merchandise for their daughters? Hasbro is in good position to benefit, because it has the Star Wars toy license until 2020.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Why Use Age for Market Segmentation?

In this age of behavioral, attitudinal, and lifestyle segmentation, how important is age as a segmentation variable to identify consumer groups within a market?

Pew Research Center has an excellent analysis, titled "The Whys and Hows of Generations Research," that explains how members of generational cohorts (think "Millennials" and "Baby Boomers") are influenced by the same world events, music, technology, media, product fads, and other elements.

Clearly, the attitudes, actions, needs, and priorities of one generation are typically not the same as members of another generation. Even when multiple generations adopt a particular technology (smart phones or activity trackers), their reasoning and usage will vary by age. So age continues to be a key variable for market segmentation.

Interestingly, Pew found that Millennials don't like to call themselves by that generational name. What Millennials do say about themselves is that they are idealistic. For more on Pew's studies of Millennials, check here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Toys to Life" Brand Franchises Beckon in Toy Stores

Toy stores everywhere have themed aisles to attract children and parents who are interested in specific brand franchises

The brand franchise method of categorizing toys neatly sidesteps the hoopla over not categorizing toys by gender, to avoid stereotyping.

At left, a portion of the LEGO Dimensions aisle at a nearby Toys 'R' Us. Dimensions is one of the growing number of high-tech toys that combine a game base with WiFi- or Bluetooth-enabled character add-ons that bring "toys to life" and let users take game-playing to new levels.

Skylanders, launched in 2011, has been a huge success. To date, it has sold 250 million units that interact with its video components, and generated $3 billion in revenue for Activision. Skylanders has its own aisle in Toys 'R' Us to make holiday gift-giving simple for parents and grandparents.

Disney Infinity is also popular, with well-known characters from Star Wars, among other top movie franchises. Newly-launched Disney Infinity for Apple TV offers figures from many of Disney's movies, including Inside Out.

Of course, the "toys to life" trend isn't entirely taking over toy stores in 2015. Traditional brand franchises such as Barbie have their own aisles, as do old-fashioned board games (remember Monopoly?) and crafts (even the adult coloring fad).

Friday, December 4, 2015

Marketing Around the World

Whether you're writing a marketing plan or looking for fresh takes on marketing themes, check out these selected sites featuring marketing ideas and information from around the world.
  • Creative - From Think with Google, a gallery with graphics and coverage of the latest in the marriage of marketing and technology. 
  • Asahi Shimbun business pages - See what Japanese businesses are doing with new products and new marketing.
  • The Guardian UK business - Coverage, by the UK newspaper, of business and news in the UK and beyond.
  • Canadian Business - Just what the publication title says: news about marketing, entrepreneurship, and finance in the world of Canadian business. 
  • Business Day - from the Sydney Morning Herald, business and marketing in Australia and the region.
  • Advertising Around the World - As shown above, Pinterest board with ads from everywhere.
You can use key words like "global marketing" or "advertising around the world" to search out other sites on your own. Try different searches (and click on "web" results or "news" results to look at different lists of results).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Post-It's Millennial Target Marketing

3M's Post-It Notes have been around for decades. Now 3M Canada has chosen the target market of Millennials on campus for special promotional attention.

This fall, six campuses around Ontario hosted the Post-It Brand Tweet Machine, a vending machine that dispenses--what else?--Post-It samples to students in exchange for tweets featuring the promotional code. Along with free samples, students received a discount coupon for Post-It purchases at the campus book store. (Brand ambassadors gave away samples to students who don't use Twitter.) See Canada Post-It's Twitter account here.

The non-digital portion of the promotion invited students to use real Post-Its to leave notes for fellow students, reinforcing one of the key benefits of the product.

3M has been using social media to reach brand fans in both consumer and industrial segments, as this story about the firm's recent video illustrates.