Thursday, December 29, 2016

Marketing Exploding Kittens and Bears vs Babies

Quick, do you know what product category these belong to?
If you shouted out games, you win!

At left, Exploding Kittens, a card game that takes about 10 minutes to play. And that's due to the consumer behavior of the target market, players who don't want to spend hours on something like the traditional Monopoly board game or even days playing the even more complex Axis & Allies games. 

Notice the wry humor in the game description: "A card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats." Hint, hint, about the target market.

Exploding Kittens wasn't the original was tentatively titled "Bomb Squad" but then the developers were told to make it funny. And they did!

A Kickstarter campaign got the game off the ground with money and, just as important, word of mouth. To date, several million of these games have been sold. The goal is entertainment and interaction between players, not solitaire. Family and friends tell family and friends, and the next thing you know, the game has spread to more neighborhoods. (Sounds like the way Angry Birds got its start, right?)

As another clue to the target market: there's an Apple app version and an Android app version of Exploding Kittens. But the card version is reportedly outselling the app versions. It's a social thing.

Now, from the people behind Exploding Kittens, there's Bears vs. Babies, with more wry humor and the same target market. Target date for introduction is June, 2017, but of course the online fundraising and marketing have been in place for weeks now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stores That Thrive on Surprise

Not everyone is clicking or swiping to buy this year. Some shoppers are actually walking into bricks-and-mortar stores to see what's new and buy before someone else snaps up that unexpected treasure.

T.J. Maxx has a winning off-price formula: Put new merchandise out every day or two, offer name brands at low prices, and staff the cash registers to speed shoppers on their way. The stores have focused inventories that change all the time. So when shoppers walk in, they never know what they'll find. Yes, the retailer has an e-commerce operation, but the real appeal is the thrill of the hunt. Consumer behavior in action!

Same at Marshall's, where the slogan is "Your surprise is waiting." Also owned by TJX, Marshall's has a slightly wider variety of merchandise in each store, but the same merchandising philosophy--ship new merchandise regularly to bring shoppers back again and again. While T.J. Maxx does a bit of e-commerce, Marshall's only sells gift cards online. If you want to buy, you have to go to a store. The retailer's hashtag #MarshallsSurprise reinforces the treasure hunt aspect of the shopping experience.

Marshall's has 300,000 Twitter followers; T.J. Maxx has 385,000 Twitter followers. So the retail brands are social, adding word of mouth to the mix.

Sure, e-commerce is growing every a boost to the USPS, FedEx, UPS, and other carriers. But for some shoppers, the element of surprise is a real lure to real stores.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dozens of Marketing Links to Click

My list of marketing links, newly updated, is a great starting point for anyone writing a marketing plan. It's in the header above, just click to check it out.

Whether you're researching the marketing environment, looking for the latest ideas in mobile and digital marketing, researching competitive trends, or analyzing the global marketing situation, you'll find authoritative sources in this list.

One of the most recently-listed links is to Issuu, a site where you can browse magazines according to topic. My link here is to business magazines.

Also, at the top of the list are three links that are the most popular, year in and year out:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Marketing the Ugly Christmas Sweater Craze

The Ugly Christmas Sweater craze is far from over. It's gone from a grassroots movement to mainstream marketing, as shown above in an Instagram post by Madame Tussauds. Here, the aim was to promote a fundraiser, Save the Children's Christmas Jumper Day (the British "jumper" translates as "sweater" for Americans). Note the over-the-top couples sweater worn by the wax versions of Prince William and his beautiful bride Kate.

Now a holiday tradition, ugly Christmas sweaters are everywhere. Making waves in Vermont, serving as the theme for pub crawls and beer tastings in Chicago, making fundraising fun through celeb-designed sweaters (see sweater at right, by Shaquille O'Neal). 

One enterprising company invites customers to "design your own" ugly sweater. Click to Ugly Christmas Sweater and see for yourself.

There are a LOT of really interesting, really ugly sweaters out there. Pop culture influences customer behavior and gets woven into the fabric of marketing! Pun intended.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Shoppers Shopped on Cyber Weekend

From Slice Intelligence,
Mobile was all-important as consumers used smartphones and tablets to browse and, often, buy during the shopping frenzy that takes over the long weekend after Thanksgiving. Consumer behavior has evolved, with a growing number of shoppers at least browsing online retail sites to check for bargains--and many buying online rather than in a store.

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, shoppers shopped. And shopped. Consumers in many nations clicked or swiped to buy over the weekend--not just in US markets.

Amazon, once again, was a major destination on Cyber Weekend, accounting for an estimated 30% of cyber-shopping. An incredible statistic, to be sure. For an inside look at an Amazon fulfillment center during the holiday rush, click here.

On Cyber Weekend, Best Buy reportedly did very well as an online shopping destination, as did the cyber-shops of Target, Walmart, and Macy's (as Slice Intelligence's chart above shows). Not surprisingly, Cyber Monday was a top trending topic in social media that day.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sounds like Sonic Branding

Sound can be an integral element in a brand's identity. Think about the chord you hear when you start up your Mac computer (or the sound of a computer booting up with "Intel inside"). Or what you hear before an HBO feature.

Sound creates an emotional connection between the brand and the audience, amping up the experience. Some branded sounds have become part of pop culture, like Nokia's original ringtone. In fact, sonic branding is nothing new--long-established brands like NBC have been using sounds as brand identity for decades.

Nestea uses four notes in its sonic branding. Coca-Cola has used sonic branding (OK, jingles) for certain campaigns. P&G is reviving and updating some of its classic brand jingles for a new generation. Are jingles going to be the remixed sonic branding for the 21st century?