Friday, October 25, 2013

Tis the Season for Pop-Up Shops: Blink and They're Gone

Pop-up shops exist to build brands and awareness for only a short time--blink, and they're gone.

Sometimes the goal is to test a new brand or product, or to reach a new market. And sometimes the goal is to encourage the usually dreaded showrooming, meaning customers will look in person but then buy online. With a pop-up, the company wants people to browse the website long after the shop has moved on.

Major downtowns, especially those with retail vacancies, are increasingly benefiting from the pop-up trend. On any given day, New York City may be host to some 200 pop-ups in high-traffic or high-fashion districts (or even in the subway). But pop-ups are popping up in suburbia as well, frequently in vacant mall spaces.

Here are a few trends in pop-ups this fall:
  • Musical groups are using pop-ups to promote new releases. Pearl Jam opened one inside a skate-board retailer and closed it after 24 hours--just enough time to get the buzz going as hundreds of fans lined up to buy the new music (the band wasn't even there).
  • InStyle Essentials has a cause-related connection (see photo), with a mobile pop-up in Boston donating one shirt to Dress for Success for every shirt purchased. It's in a busy location and getting a bit of publicity, too.
  • Ten Thousand Villages, the Fair Trade merchant, tried for years to open a holiday season pop-up around Greenville, N.C. This year it happened, building both awareness and sales in the all-important year-end gift-buying period.
  • In Oxfordshire, two online-only businesses have eight-week leases to show their products for the holiday season, hoping to build website business and of course sell some products in person. If all goes well, one or both may open a retail location in 2014.
  • Dockers is reinventing itself for a younger target market, with an introductory pop-up in New York City and a cross-country mobile pop-up tour.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Audible Ad Hits the Marketing Bull's Eye

IMHO, this magazine ad by Audible is so right for the target audience in so many ways. During the past week, I encountered this print ad in The New Yorker and in the New York Times Book Review.

How does it hit the bull's eye? Let me count the ways:
  • The creative cleverly conveys to the audience: hey, this ad is about something otherworldly that you can listen to via earbuds and your digital device. And of course, those earbuds are white--a subtle nod to those sophisticated Apple iPod ads from a few years ago (see above right).
  • The copy reinforces the message about sci-fi audiobooks and adds its own clever twist: "for when you're teleporting to work." Readers can't help but smile and appreciate the humor (or irony, depending on your viewpoint).
  • A free sample! And one that comes with a built-in tracking code so Audible can determine where you saw its ad. Great for metrics that help the company make informed choices about where to allocate its media budget.
  • Two choices for downloads--Apple App Store and Google Play, for Android. Plus in small print, a notation that membership is billed monthly but members can cancel anytime. Disclosure that's short and sweet.
  • Just in case you didn't know, the ad reminds readers that Audible is part of the Amazon empire. And that means Audible members who have Kindles can take advantage of some synching and bundling options for books with audio and electronic versions.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Best Global Brands vs Most Admired Companies

Pop quiz! Here's a top 10 listing. Is it of best global brands (as ranked by InterBrand) or of most admired companies (as ranked by Fortune)?

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Coca-Cola
  4. IBM
  5. Microsoft
  6. General Electric
  7. McDonald's
  8. Samsung
  9. Intel
  10. Toyota

Time's up. Here's the OTHER list. Now can you tell the difference?

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Amazon
  4. Coca-Cola
  5. Starbucks
  6. IBM
  7. Southwest Air
  8. Berkshire Hathaway
  9. Walt Disney
  10. FedEx
List #2 contains a key clue: Berkshire Hathaway is a brand name in only one case, for the Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies.

So the top list is from Interbrand's Best Global Brands 2013 and the second list is from Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies.

Notice the overlap: Four of the 10 companies are on the top-10 brand list (Apple, Google, Coke, and IBM). Doesn't this make sense?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mystery Shoppers Go Mobile

Mystery shoppers act as "eyes" and "ears" for management, visiting stores, restaurants, and other businesses to check on service, look at displays, and answer other questions without revealing their mission. I've been on both sides of mystery shopping--as a retail manager receiving feedback and as a mystery shopper myself, visiting stores to buy something, return it, report on the general condition of the store, and so on.

Today, mystery shopping has gone mobile. Mobee (app shown above) is a Boston-based mystery shopping service that has a Yelp-like role in providing instant feedback. Businesses can use it to see how their customers are being treated, how certain branded products are being sold in stores, or for competitive intelligence. "We collect data from customers at your stores, analyze it, and package it into insights that improve your business," says Mobee's web site. At any one time, about 500 "missions" (requests for mystery shopping) are active, many for fast-food franchised restaurants. Mobee's mobile users earn gift cards for answering questions as they visit the outlets being shopped.

Rewardable takes a similar approach in the Connecticut area. Customers open the app when they're near or at a store, see what "tasks" are available, and then click to answer a few questions as mystery shoppers. The company recently completed mystery shopping for a food company interested in checking that its promoted products were on an end cap and visible throughout the sale dates at Stop & Shop supermarket stores.

Mystery shopping is important all over the planet. In Asia, Shopbust is a mystery shopping app with consumers participating in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore. Participants receive payments via PayPal. Of course Shopbust is social, with both Twitter and Facebook activity.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Makes Design So Important?

Design isn't just for fashion--it's a vital marketing-mix element for any product these days. Here's what three marketers from three very different industries have to say about the importance of design:

  • The head designer for Russia's Lada cars (sedan at right) says: "Everyone knows what a Lada looks like, but there has never been a real emphasis on design. That will change in the future." His first step--"emotionalize" the car via design, following in the footsteps of automakers that use design to compete. Read more here and here.
  • Nike's CEO sums up the role of design this way: "Any business that wants to realize its potential has to realize good design." He also notes that the world doesn't need more mediocre design. Watch the 30-second video here.
  • Apple's Jonathan Ive says the best design is when "It almost appears like it wasn’t designed." In other words, when the product is so intuitive, so natural feeling, and so functional, that customers can't imagine it any other way. Read more here

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Texas Is Pickup and SUV Country

Bloomberg Businessweek just published this graphic showing where new car sales are strongest--and of course Texas is a hot spot. Yes, North Dakota and Alaska have more registrations, but there's no question that Texas is pickup and SUV country.

The Texas State Fair, which runs for another 12 days, features a dedicated auto show and larger-than-life displays to catch the eye. With 300,000 square feet of auto exhibits, there really is something for everyone. Check out the listings of exhibitors in these photos from the fair's site. Texas-sized marketing!

The state is such an important market that Ford chose it as the location for a media sneak peek of its 2015 F-Series Super-Duty King Ranch Truck. Ford sells a new F-series pickup in Texas every 42 seconds.

GM builds a number of SUVs in Texas, including Chevy Suburban and the Tahoe, among others. Having signed on as the state fair's official sponsor, Chevy gets top billing and some Texas-sized bragging rights.

Toyota is in Texas, too, announcing it produced its 1 millionth truck in its local plant. The new Toyota Tundra comes in a special 1794 edition named for the ranch where the plant is located. But Toyota still has a ways to go to catch up to Ford and GM in the Lone Star State.

Why are SUVs and trucks so important in the marketing scheme of things? They deliver big profits to automakers. So even though fuel-efficient vehicles are increasingly popular, SUVs and trucks boost revenues and profit margins, big-time.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quick! Who's Using Vine for Marketing?

Have you seen Vine? App-accessed via iPhone or Google Play, Vine is devoted to 6-second videos posted on Vine or on Twitter or Facebook.

Vine videos are bite-size, blink-and-you-miss it compared with YouTube videos, which now seem long-form because length is almost unlimited.

Of course marketers are already experimenting with Vine. General Electric is attracting attention with its #6secondscience Vine videos. Above, one of GE's Vines, mentioned by CNet as a "stellar example" of Vine medium. GE's chief marketing officer explains the reason for seeking buzz: "We are all emotional beings. We want context. We want relevance. We want connection." And Vine helps GE bring its brand to younger buyers.

Disney, which has 3 million Twitter followers and 45 million Facebook likes, recently jumped on the Vine bandwagon, with a contest asking visitors to post Vines of their Disney experiences (not just in the theme parks but also with the characters).

Other examples: Burberry edited a 15-minute fashion show down to 6-second highlights for Vine; Bacardi created 6-second "how to" videos about the making of a cocktail; Lowe's posted 6-second "how to" videos about home improvement projects.

Vine is attracting a cutting-edge community of faithful viewers. Before you join in, know your audience and know what you want to accomplish. Watch some popular Vines and look at the Vine accounts that have the highest number of followers. What can your brand do that would be relevant to the audience and true to your brand/marketing objectives?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Scarcity Marketing for Halloween

You know it's autumn when Starbucks puts pumpkin spice lattes back on the menu. The company has sold 200 million of these lattes in nine years on the market. This year, it's got lots of competition: Panera, McDonald's, and Dunkin' Donuts are in the pumpkin spiced coffee business, as well. A quick Google search of "pumpkin coffee" brings up many other competing products from retailers like Trader Joe's and Fairway.

Halloween is also a time for unusual limited-time food and beverage treats.

  • One bakery in New York is making Cheetos macarons (who could make this up?). 
  • Of course Oreos are out in their Halloween finery (at right). 
  • Jones Soda is bringing back its Halloween flavors. 
  • Cadbury Screme Eggs are back, from Hershey. 

Scarcity marketing generally adds to the excitement of limited-time and seasonal flavors and foods, encouraging people to buy now before it's too late.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cinnabon's Sweet and Social Marketing Success

Above, the well-known Cinnabon Classic bun next to the Minibon. Counting sales in its franchised stores and through other channels, including branded buns in Burger King, Cinnabon sells 100 million cinnamon-infused sweet rolls every year and rings up $1 billion in global sales.

The brand positioning is as a sweet indulgence, not an everyday experience. Still, the caloric Cinnabon Classic (880 calories) is hugely popular, compared to the Minibon (350 calories). Cinnabon is also partnering with Pillsbury and Kellogg, among other big companies, on cobranded food products for supermarket shelves.

More growth and profits are in sight as Cinnabon expands into new markets like Libya and adds new franchise locations in existing markets. After all, with only 1,100 retail locations worldwide, there's lots of room for new stores.

The company is a hit in social media, with nearly 1 million Facebook friends, 48,000 Twitter followers, a YouTube page, a Flickr page, and quick responses to brand references in all media.

Coming up next: Cinnabon K-cup coffee pods from Green Mountain Roasters. What other cobranded products will Cinnabon explore?