Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap Day Promotions

Once every four years--that's how often February 29th rolls around, and some marketers are using Leap Day as a leaping-off point for promotions. Here are a few:
  • Zappos says that anything purchased on Leap Day can be returned at any time during the next four years (see top image).
  • Staples has 29 special deals for the 29 days of February (see purple-background image, above).
  • Disneyland will be open 24 hours on Leap Day, the culmination of a two-month sweepstakes promotion called "One More Disney Day" (see blue-background image, above).
Happy Leap Day. And that's it for four more years!

Friday, February 24, 2012

World Water Week, March 19-25

"A glass of tap water has the power to change the world." That's what the Unicef Tap Project says about World Water Week, when people pay $1 for a glass of tap water at a local restaurant--and the money is donated to Unicef to provide clean water to children worldwide. Tap water is usually free, but for this week in March, restaurant customers can donate and feel good about helping others get access to safe drinking water.

In addition to online web ads such as this, the Tap Project is being promoted through PSAs in magazines such as Time, through Twitter messages, with YouTube videos, and more.
Here's another of the print ads by Droga5, New York.

The project can't work without behind-the-scenes recruitment to sign up restaurants. Unicef has already begun training nearly 2,000 volunteers to visit U.S. restaurants nationwide. Watch for the Tap Project in your local restaurant during March.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snail Mail Stamps, Your Way

Snail mail may not be as popular as before e-mail and social media, but people still mail letters and cards--and that's an opportunity for marketing.

Planning a wedding? Many engaged couples look at every detail, including the stamps on their invitations, as the New York Times points out. The USPS has its own standard love or wedding stamps (top) but authorized marketers such as Zazzle also offer personalized stamps (just above).

India Post is not only offering personalized stamps, the Mumbai General Post Office provides a photographer to take the photo of you and your sweetheart (or anyone else whose likeness will be on the stamp). Wedding stamps are popular but so are "new baby" stamps.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beauty by Mail

Time took a look at the new trend toward "makeup-of-the-month" clubs that have popped up online. These businesses edit collections of cosmetics samples and deliver them to your mailbox for a small monthly fee (usually $10-12), with the hope that you'll like some of what you find and become a loyal customer of that beauty brand.

These clubs are matchmakers, serving as go-between for consumers seeking novelty (new products) and beauty businesses seeking new customers. For consumers who like trying new things, subscribing to a sampler box is a more cost-effective way to acquire trial sizes than walking through malls or department stores. For the beauty brands, subscribers represent consumers who are open to new products, actively involved in beauty behavior, and (often) enthusiastic about sharing their ideas with others. Hearing your friend praise a new product on the basis of experience can be a powerful influence on your attitude and action toward that brand and product!

Because this industry is young and growing so rapidly, some of the businesses will inevitably morph into other businesses or leave the industry as competition intensifies. Meantime, here's a trio of beauty-by-mail sampling businesses as of February, 2012:
  • Birchbox, which sends upscale cosmetics samples to 100,000+ U.S. customers, features brands such as Carol's Daughter, Kiehl's, Stila, and LaRocca. Founded by two Harvard Business School grads, Birchbox is growing very rapidly, with more than 80,000 Facebook "likes" plus an active Twitter account, a behind-the-scenes blog, and a beauty tips magazine online.
  • Glossybox says it specializes in "the latest beauty trends and cosmetics delivered to you in a beauty box." The company encourages refer-a-friend by offering reward points and offers tips and promotions via Twitter.
  • Beauty Army (shown here) offers deluxe makeup samples and supports Beauty Bus, a nonprofit that brings beauty how-to to chronically ill people and their care-givers.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thinking, Fast and Slow

One of the most important consumer behavior books on the market today is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.

The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The New York Times are among the publications that named this a top pick in 2011. Why? Because Kahneman explains how we think about the world, often in irrational fashion, which in turn affects how we make decisions, why we rely on intuition, how we often fail to balance emotions with logic, and finally--why we sometimes disregard or discount vital data.

In other words, we need to learn how to get our "slow thinking" mind working alongside our "fast thinking" mind.

For example:

  • How do consumers judge whether a price is too high or too low? Anchoring (see p. 119).
  • Why do so many marketing plans fail to achieve some of their market-share objectives--and what can marketers do to anticipate problems? Competition neglect (see p. 259) and premortem (see p. 264).
  • How do consumers prioritize uses for their money? Mental accounts (see p. 342).
  • Which is more compelling: Preventing a loss or pursuing a possible gain? Frames (see p. 363).
Kahneman's insights are important for marketers and consumers alike. Highly recommended!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mattel's Apptivity: iPad as Toy Launching Pad

It's no secret that youngsters are attracted to the touch-screen ease of iPads. They're playing games (not just Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja), and visiting brand Web sites, at the very least.

Mattel has a new and intriguing idea for marrying the world of branded toys with the world of touch-screen tablets: Apptivity toys. The combo of a physical toy (a car or branded character) paired with an iPad app is intended to engage kids and build on their fascination with the toys and the iPad.
For example, kids can use the special Apptivity Hot Wheels car (shown above) to race on an iPad "race track," winning points and becoming a hot-shot driver. The electronic touchpoints on the car communicate with the iPad screen, so the app (free from iTunes) knows what you're doing with the car as you steer it left or right, avoiding obstacles and picking up speed. (See the news video from this week's Toy Fair, where new toys are introduced, for hands-on demos.)

If you're a Fruit Ninja fan, use the Apptivity ninja character to go after your opponent on the iPad screen. Same with Angry Birds. And on and on. The possibilities for pairing a branded toy with an iPad app open new opportunities for extending play to the digital realm. But will parents buy the toys and lend their iPads to their youngsters?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Change Is Brewing in Single-Serve Coffee Market

Single-serve coffeemakers from Nespresso, Senseo, Keurig, and other manufacturers are convenient for brewing up a good cup of espresso or coffee (or tea), in your choice of flavor, very quickly.

But, as the New York Times points out, convenience comes at a cost. When you buy a K-cup or pod (or any other proprietary premeasured coffee serving), you're paying the equivalent of about $50 per pound for your coffee serving. 

Yet change is brewing: Competition is increasing and that is likely to bring the price per cup or pod down.

For one thing, K-cup patent protection expires this year. With that in mind, Keurig (owned by Green Mountain Coffee) has a new machine on the way, targeting upscale consumers while repositioning the old Keurig machines for consumers a bit lower on the affluence scale.

Meanwhile, Walmart is about to introduce popularly-priced single-serve coffeemakers by Esio, which will turn up the competitive heat and increase demand for replacement coffee pods/cups.

And competitively-priced compatible K-cups are already emerging, from Rogers Family Company and others. So the days of spending $50 per pound of coffee for single-serve convenience may be numbered.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Target vs Walmart: The Grocery Wars

Target is turning up the heat in the grocery wars, adding refrigerated and frozen food sections and expanding its pantry aisles in many stores. In Bangor, Maine, for example, a remodeling project means added space for produce, meat, and other groceries (see photo below). “Our primary market is the young married mother with children,” says the store manager.

If the Bangor store is remodeled like my local Target, the enlarged grocery section will be in the back, forcing shoppers to walk through aisles of toys, cookware, and health and beauty aids in order to find the soup and salad. The selection in my local Target is surprisingly broad and the prices for packaged foods are excellent, especially compared with local supermarkets.

In the large Walmart stores, groceries are up front where convenience-minded shoppers can grab, pay, and go. Adding food helped Walmart maintain market share during the recession, while some competitors faltered.

Interestingly, Walmart is introducing an online "Walmart to go" food delivery service in selected markets, competing with Peapod and other established online grocery delivery programs. The home page of the delivery service offers comparative savings as evidence that Walmart delivers value as well as convenience.

Watch for the grocery wars to continue, store by store, market by market.