Tuesday, March 27, 2012

P & G & I (for Innovation)

Next year, Procter & Gamble will celebrate its 175th birthday. The company has 24 billion-dollar brands--Febreze being the most recent to join that elite list--and its lucrative licensing deals alone are worth about $3 billion annually.

Melanie Healey, who heads P&G North America, says the company focuses on four types of innovation for revenue growth:
  • sustaining innovation (making an existing product better, little by little, year after year)
  • transformational innovation (making big changes to an existing brand to grab the market's attention and get a sales boost)
  • disruptive innovation (making a radical change that affects all competitors in the market)
  • commercial innovation (using marketing to creatively increase sales for existing products)
P&G continues to invite outside ideas through its P&G Connect & Develop portal. Check out the site's Twitter account for bite-size glimpses of what's going on.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Olympics Marketing Sprints Ahead

The London 2012 Summer Olympics will begin on July 27, but the sponsors are already starting their marketing to make the most of their involvement. (If you visit the official London 2012 site, be sure to make your own cutesy cyclops mascot here.)

Three examples:

  • Duracell's "Rely on copper to go for the gold" campaign (commercial above) shows how Olympic and backyard athletes trust Duracell batteries when they train. Duracell is one of the P&G brands sponsoring the games.
  • Coca-Cola is pouring on the marketing, with an official song (below), high-profile involvement in the U.K. torch rally, and much more (including a focus on sustainability).
  • McDonald's has pledged to use only U.K.-sourced chickens at the 4 restaurants it will operate at the Olympics, a local sourcing decision that is getting a lot of positive attention.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Starbucks and Evolution Fresh

Is the coffee culture giving way to the juice culture? Starbucks opened its first Evolution Fresh juice bar yesterday, in Bellevue, Washington. "Mixologists" blend--well, hand-craft--different fresh fruit juices (cold pressed, of course, never heated) and whip up healthy smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Starbucks acquired Evolution Fresh as the cornerstone of a new healthy-brand empire. CEO Howard Schultz says that successful juice bars ring up $1 million + per unit. Evolution Fresh is known for super-premium juices, and Starbucks is building on that brand's image and reputation to create an entirely new restaurant brand for this fast-growing "healthy" segment.

Juice bars aren't new, especially in Europe. Marrying the marketing might of Starbucks with the cachet of a differentiated juice brand could open new product and profit opportunities.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Hunger Games: Latest Pop Culture Phenom

The first book in the wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy is about to make its cinema debut. I enjoyed the series, especially book #1, and I'm looking forward to seeing Katniss Everdeen and her allies/antagonists on the big screen.

My Google "everything" search for Hunger Games yielded the highest number of hits I've ever seen for one phrase: 1.19 billion. In addition to the official movie site, I found countless news stories about the book, cast, rating, etc, as well as the author's official site.

A Google "video" search turned up 48 million hits, fan-contributed videos and parodies, not just official and news-related videos. And a Google "books" search resulted in 72,000 hits. 

Inevitably, a search for "Hunger Games marketing" found a high number of hits, from the Forbes site's "5 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from The Hunger Games" (general brand advice) to the Wall Street Journal's "Why The Hunger Games Is Also the Gender Games" (about targeting all YA audiences, not just girls).

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Monday, March 12, 2012

For Airlines, Costs Counted in Pennies Add Up

A penny difference in cost can add up--in quantity for the world's airlines. Consider Delta Airlines's purchases of pretzels and peanuts. Every year, the airline gives away 61 million bags of peanuts and another 61 million bags of pretzels. So when Delta has to pay 1 penny more for a bag of peanuts, its costs rise by $610,000. Add another penny to what it pays for pretzels, and the airline's costs go up by another $610,000. Delta was able to save $210,000 by taking away one strawberry from salads served to passengers in first class on domestic routes. One strawberry!

Now think about the cost of jet fuel, which has tripled during the past decade. Fuel accounts for 35 percent of an airline's operating costs. Airlines can manage many costs in various ways, but an increase is an increase, and jet fuel's price spike has been measured in nickels, dimes, and quarters rather than pennies. Delta says that every penny increase in the cost of a gallon of jet fuel raises its yearly costs by another $40,000,000.

No wonder Delta and other airlines have added fuel surcharges to the fares they set for long-haul destinations such as Asia and Europe. Even if fuel prices ease off, the airlines may be slow to ease off the surcharges. Every penny counts when the numbers get this big.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nestle's "Not Kit Kat" Super-Premium Chocolates

Nestle has a new line of customized luxury chocolates--and these are not your everyday, average Kit Kat bars (one of Nestle's top global brands).

Instead, Swiss-made Maison Cailler chocolates serve as a journey into your Chocolate Personality. The process begins when you read about the Maison Cailler chocolates, look at all the luscious photos on the Web site or the Facebook page, and order a sampler to taste.

Now comes the personalization part: You go to the Maison Cailler site and rate each chocolate in the sampler box, also noting whether you like to discover "exciting flavors" such as spices in your chocolate. With a click, you'll know your choco personality and you can then order boxes of premium chocolate specially selected for your preferences.

Not at all like Kit Kat, which has just introduced a new chunky peanut butter flavor, below (based on the results of a public vote).

Friday, March 2, 2012

JCP, the New and Improved JCPenney

JCP, the Texas-based department store formerly known as JCPenney, has a new attitude and look. Its new logo, left, suggests more style, as does its new monthly catalog. The debut issue is titled "March is Madness without JCPenney." (And yes, there's a basketball story in the catalog, along with college hoops team T-shirts.)

The look reminds me a bit of Target, emphasizing personal style without going overboard on fads, and spotlighting a few select items rather than crowding each page with lots of photos and text.

New pricing strategy: Instead of a new sale every week (or more frequently), JCP is promoting "everyday prices" and "month-long values." And it will have "best prices" markdown days twice a month, with blue price tags--hey, remember those old K mart Blue Light Specials? Blue is the new color of savings, apparently.

JCP needs this strategy to succeed: It's expensive to implement, and retailing is more intensely competitive than ever.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pinterest and Marketing

Pinterest is the social media sharing site du jour, a cornucopia of images "pinned" to online walls, loosely organized by interest. Pinterest supports hashtags (like Twitter's #) and encourages "repinning" to spread the word, two important elements for building buzz.

Less than two years old, the site's audience is largely female, says Mashable, and that's attracting the interest of marketers who target women.

For example:

  • Whole Foods Markets "pin" photos of food products, grouped by category or occasion, to its Pinterest wall. It has more than 18,000 Pinterest followers!
  • Walker's Shortbread. The Scottish company "pins" photos of its food products to Pinterest, along with "pins" of its favorite bloggers (sharing!) and items of interest such as "all things Scotland."
  • Nordstrom. Want to see the latest fashions in full-color, large-scale photos? Nordstrom "pins" its collections on Pinterest.
  • Real Simple, Weddings, and other lifestyle mags are reaching their audiences through Pinterest.
Will Pinterest become a staple of social media marketing? Or will another new site emerge as the next new thing?