Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Morning? Marketing Fast-Food Breakfasts

Seems that without the breakfast business, the fast-food industry would barely be growing. NPD reports that breakfast sales accounted for 60% of fast-food's traffic growth.

McDonald's dollar breakfast menu and the popular McCafe coffees are helping to bring customers in during the morning rush. Word of mouth about low-priced senior coffees probably helps, too.

Burger King has dollar breakfasts and more; Jack in the Box and Taco Bell are beating the bushes for breakfast business; and Subway has breakfast sandwiches featuring cage-free eggs (from hens not crowded into cages).

But isn't high unemployment cutting into breakfast sales? The Washington Post says yes, and I think it has a point. Fewer people commuting + lower disposable income = recipe for lower breakfast sales in areas hard-hit by unemployment. How much profit can there be in dollar menu items?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Biking to the Danish 7-Eleven

Take a look at this photo of a 7-Eleven in central Copenhagen. Notice the bicycles? No wonder everyone inside had a water or juice in hand as they approached the register.

In fact, the store was stocked mainly with grab-and-go beverages and snacks. Only a tiny fraction of the store was devoted to other foods and household staples, although a few newspapers were for sale. The strategy is to limit inventory to the few hundred items that are in highest demand and turn over the stock quickly.

I noticed 7-Eleven stores on street corners all over Scandinavia, along with competing stores carrying derivative but descriptive names such as "8-22." Most had bike racks outside, and the locations made for quick, convenient shopping for commuters, students, businesspeople, and even tourists. No need for fancy atmospherics or extensive stock--the simpler, the better here. (I wonder how much weight customers give to the store's brand when location seems to be the most important determinant in the impulse buying process.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Marketing to Fill a Need

Marketing electric gadgets in areas where power is unavailable part of the day and consumers have little disposable income can be a real challenge. It requires a combination of entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge of local markets, understanding of local customer behavior, and--of course--adequate funding for the company and for its customers.

Nuru Energy markets LED lamps in Africa, which users recharge using pedal power. The new lights take the place of smoky kerosene lamps and also open business opportunities for entrepreneurs, who get microloans to purchase pedal-powered generators that can recharge the special LED lamps in just a few minutes.

D.light is a young company focused on marketing solar-powered products such as task lighting for home use. Active in India, Africa, and other nations, D.light has already met the needs of millions of consumers. It's now benefiting from the entrepreneurial attention of Stanford Business grads, media coverage, and much-needed venture capital.

These are two examples of marketing that satisfies personal and societal needs . . . opening the door to new innovations and unlocking human potential at the same time. Talk about a win-win.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Price War in E-readers

When Barnes & Noble cut the price of its Nook e-book reader just a few days ago, Amazon responded quickly by slashing the price of its Kindle (above) to $10 below the Nook's price. Suddenly e-readers are priced below $200 and the price war is attracting consumer attention.

Meanwhile, the iPad is being touted as an e-book reader (among other functions). And Toshiba is one of many manufacturers launching new e-readers with buyer-friendly features and pricing.

CNBC asks an intriguing question: Why doesn't Amazon just give Kindles away? Amazon, after all, makes most of its money from selling content. Razor manufacturers price new razors low to get consumers to buy their high-margin blades. This is what CNBC suggests for Amazon, especially given the intense competition from Apple's iPad, which some predict will crowd one-function e-readers out of the market in the very near future.

In my opinion, the shakeout in e-readers is leading to consolidation that only the strong will survive. That's good news for buyers, who will get better products at lower prices. And ultimately it's good news for marketers, who will concentrate their efforts on fewer but better e-readers. Only the strongest will survive.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Landon Donovan and the Soccer Marketing Stampede

Landon Donovan scored the winning goal for US vs. Algeria in the World Cup and now ESPN reports that Donovan's sports trading cards are selling for higher prices on eBay. The Christian Science Monitor asks: Is Donovan's achievement likely to encourage US fans to follow soccer even after the World Cup is history?

Well, World Cup fans of all ages (all over the planet) are glued to their web browsers, smartphones, TVs, and radios to get the latest scores and standings. While I was sailing on the Cunard's Queen Victoria 10 days ago, the crew set up several large-screen TVs in public areas so passengers could watch the early matches. It was standing room only as soccer fever gripped the ship. At least one fan I know skipped work today to watch the US-Algeria match live. And he phoned updates to his work colleagues, I found out when I heard cell phones ringing...

The big sneaker/sports equipment companies are pushing and shoving for worldwide share, with aggressive marketing campaigns linked to this most popular of all global sports. Country-by-country sponsors, including non-sports-related marketers, are also reaping the benefits. In South Korea, for instance, SK Telecom is leveraging its World Cup-related marketing to reach young audiences. Will the soccer marketing stampede fade after the Cup is over?

Monday, June 21, 2010

From Trash to Cash

Turning recycled plastic into desirable products has become, finally, big business with a green marketing message:

  • Nine World Cup teams are wearing Nike uniforms made from plastic bottles fished out of landfills worldwide, giving these apparel items a special appeal for soccer fans in particular.
  • Coca-Cola has been recycling used plastic bottles into Drink2Wear T-shirts since 2007, keeping more than 5 million used bottles out of landfills and promoting the idea of recycling.
  • TerraCycle is expanding its line of bags and other products made from recycled snack and drink wrappers. Although its revenues are only $40 million today, the firm is moving into other nations and introducing new products so it can make better use of the mountain of nearly-free raw materials (trash) it has on hand.
  • Other products created from recycled bottles include school uniforms, cell phones, and lamps, as shown in this photo gallery.
Younger consumers have grown up with the idea of recycling, and green products are not out of the ordinary for them. Over time, will their parents (and grandparents) develop a preference for products made from trash? Slapping a fashionable brand on something made from used bottles is certainly a great start.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Marketing McDonald's in Northern Europe

Visiting Northern Europe, I passed (and even entered) a number of busy McDonald's locations. Above is a removable frequent-buyer card that McDonald's Stockholm has on the back of each coffee cup. Buy 4 McD's coffees, get one free--a very generous rewards program, and easy to use.

Below you can see the international look of the coffee cup itself, which is in use all over Europe. It also has the "I'm lovin' it" slogan that I saw in or outside every McD unit.

Below is the McDonald's on a busy street corner in Tallinn, Estonia. Although the Golden Arches are visible, they don't dominate the look of the building, happily. Note the "I'm lovin' it" umbrellas for outside dining! No official McD's web site for Estonia, by the way.

The unit in downtown Helsinki had a Finnish "open/close" sign (at left in photo) and the red "I'm lovin' it" English-language banner (at right).

Although this unit wasn't making a big deal of it, the McDonald's Finland web site is currently featuring special edition Coca-Cola glasses. This promo was also going on in the Danish McD's units. Note the "I'm lovin' it" above the Copenhagen McD's, below.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Does Cunard Blog?

Cruising the Baltic on the Queen Victoria, I had a conversation about blogging and marketing with Alastair Greener, Entertainment Director for the iconic Cunard cruise line. Greener is the enthusiastic blogger responsible for the "We Are Cunard" blog, which attracts 20,000 readers every month.

The blog is an important marketing tool, reflecting Cunard's heritage, positioning, and points of differentiation that set it apart from other cruise lines, including other brands owned by parent company Carnival. As Cunard makes changes such as adding Hawaii as a port of call, it recognizes that its blog must be relevant to a broader audience, not just the traditional British audience that knows the brand so well.

Greener serves as the blog's host, creating a mix of content for Cunard fans who love to live the cruise life and keep up with the line's latest news. The blog gives Cunard fans an inside view of the company's ships, people, places, and plans.

He frequently hosts guest bloggers from Carnival as well as comments from special on-board lecturers, Cunard execs, and others who have something to say to Cunard's customers. Currently, many blog entries are about the milestones leading up to the launch of the new Queen Elizabeth.

Looking ahead, Greener wants to post more videos for added appeal and, for Cunard fans interested in behind-the-scenes activities, plans an online archive of information about the ships, the officers, and so on.

Another small but smart marketing touch: We Are Cunard is listed on "Best Blogs at Sea," an umbrella page of links to all Carnival blogs. Welcome aboard!