Thursday, December 26, 2013

Strolling Down the Starbucks Signature Aisle

Now that Starbucks stores are everywhere, the company that brought coffee culture to America is seeking growth through branded packaged products sold in other stores.

The biggest battleground is in supermarkets. Above, a Starbucks Signature Aisle located inside a Safeway supermarket, showing the special holiday blend and the loyalty program Starbucks is offering to reward frequent buyers, an extension of its highly successful cafe rewards program. Don't forget Evolution Fresh juices (acquired in 2011) and the new yogurt to be cobranded with Danone.

To prepare for this latest growth strategy, Starbucks ended its long-time deal with Kraft, which was its original partner for packaged-coffee sold in supermarkets. Even though the divorce cost Starbucks more than $2.7 billion, the company viewed it as a necessary step toward further expansion.

Knowing what customers buy in a cafe and in a store will help Starbucks do a better job of targeting and promoting all of its foods and beverages.

Meanwhile, watch for more Starbucks cafes with localized decor as 2014 arrives. And if you're the one of the one in 10 Americans who (according to company estimates) receives a Starbucks gift card this holiday season, enjoy!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Tis the Season to Pin: Retailers and Pinterest

'Tis the season to pin! Retailers are increasingly pinning their hopes on Pinterest, with marketing campaigns geared to the visual and viral. Here's a quick overview--Pin numbers are as of December 19:
  • Macy's is a Pinterest heavyweight, with more than 10,000 pins, including "Star Gifts," a seasonal board featuring holiday gift ideas.
  • Topshop, the UK-based apparel retailer, partnered with Pinterest on "Dear Topshop," a gifting campaign (see screen shot at left) that lends itself to sharing. Pinterest users can pin their gift wish-lists, exchange ideas about holiday outfits, and more. 5,300 pins and counting.
  • Neiman Marcus continues its Pinterest series of pins under boards with titles like "The Art of Celebration!" and "The Art of Giving." More than 7,300 pins.
  • Walmart has 3,000+ pins, including seasonal gifts, crafts, and entertaining ideas/products. 
  • Target (which today announced a security breach involving as many as 40 million credit/debit cards) has 6,000+ pins, from party goods and gifts to holiday food ideas. 
  • Home Depot has 5,000 pins, covering the usual DIY products plus gifts for him, gifts for her, gifts for kids.
  • Lowe's has 2,275 pins, including gifts for him and gifts for her, and holiday home ideas.
  • Amazon has, surprisingly, only 524 pins. Topping the list: holiday gifts, electronics gifts, toys, and lifestyle.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Social Media Marketing Down Under

A social media agency in Australia has just published its report showing the Facebook Australian brand accounts with the most fans and the Facebook Australian brand accounts with the most engagement.

Counting fans, the winners are shown above. In terms of engagement (shares, comments, etc.), the winners are shown below, a mixture of tourism, products, media, and shared-interest pages:
  1. Australia 242,380
  2. Babyology 79,543
  3. Fifi and Jules 71,163
  4. B105 67,660
  5. 9 News 66,847
  6. Sunrise 65,301
  7. 2Day FM 55,378
  8. Fox FM 49,142
  9. Black Milk Clothing 45,750
  10. Hungry Jack’s 40,082
According to Nielsen, Australians are adopting social media quite enthusiastically, with 70% of all Australians using some form of social media (mainly Facebook). According to Galaxy Research, the top two apps used by Australians traveling abroad are Google Maps and -- Facebook.

At the same time, the majority of people surveyed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner said they were concerned about online tracking by marketers. Many had chosen to stop doing business with marketers due to privacy concerns.

Given the popularity of social media, what's a marketer to do? First, clearly and prominently explain what information is being collected and how it will be used. Also emphasize security. But don't lose the fun and sociability of social media along the way, which is why people are flocking to Facebook and other sites in the first place.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where Cobranding Is on the Menu

If you've been to a casual-dining restaurant recently, you've probably seen cobranding on the menu. For example, Doritos Locos Taco is an exclusive Doritos-branded offering at Taco Bell and Strawberry Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich is a dessert available only at Carl's Jr. (see photo).
Ad Age has a brief list of other cobranding deals that include a well-known grocery brand with a well-known casual-dining brand. 

And now, Pepsi has a deal with Buffalo Wild Wings to supply its soft drinks (in place of Coke-branded beverages) and talk about cobranded menu items featuring Frito-Lay snacks.

Cobranding isn't new, but it's being used creatively in the restaurant industry to sharpen the differentiation between competing chains. Cobranding often attracts a lot of media attention, which in turn means curious customers flock in for a taste. Plus, loyal brand fans of the grocery brand may become loyal fans of the new menu item.

Thanks to cobranding, the Doritos Locos Taco became a $1 billion menu item in less than two years, by far the most successful new product launch in Taco Bell's history. 

What new cobranded menu items will we see in 2014?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sports Teams Embrace Dynamic Pricing

The St. Louis Cardinals*, like a growing number of Major League Baseball teams, uses dynamic pricing to "adjust [single game] ticket prices upward or downward on a daily basis based on changing factors such as team performance, pitching matchups, weather and ticket demand."

The team's website notes that 77% of games in 2012 had tickets available for $10 or less, and 37% of games in 2012 had tickets available for only $5. Given the Cardinals' performance in 2013, I'm sure that single-game ticket prices were significantly higher--increasing both revenue and profits for the team.

The Baltimore Orioles have just instituted dynamic pricing for 2014. The Cleveland Indians also use it, which has resulted in raising the traditionally low upper-reserved ticket price from a flat $8 to a higher average price. Season passes aren't affected, only single-game tickets.

Other sports teams use dynamic pricing, as well. In the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers are going to adjust prices every week, based on a variety of factors. Other NBA teams applying dynamic pricing are the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic. The NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs also uses a version of dynamic pricing.

Emory University's analysis of dynamic pricing in sports ticketing notes that the relationship between teams and their fans is a little closer than the relationship between most brands and their customers. In the view of Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, "a reliance on strict demand based pricing will tend to reduce the fan-team relationship to a series of cold economic exchanges."

Dynamic pricing may not be a fan favorite, but it looks like the wave of the future for sports teams.

*2013 National League Champions (they lost to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wisk's Time to Shine

Remember Wisk?

The laundry detergent's ad campaigns during the late 1960s and early 1970s focused on how to get rid of "ring around the collar." (Hint: Use Wisk!)

Now Wisk is back in the spotlight. Why? Because Consumer Reports gave Wisk its top rating in June.

Like thousands of other readers, I went to the store in search of Wisk . . . and came home empty-handed because the fragrance-free HE version wasn't available.

Fast-forward to this morning, when I found this hang-tag on all Wisk liquid laundry detergents in the local supermarket.

What you don't see in the above photo is the $1-off coupon that I detached and used at the checkout.

Lacking the multimillion-dollar budget of Tide and other multinational brands, and lacking prime shelf facings in many places (Wisk was on the bottom shelf, facing my toes), it's using hang-tags and coupons to attract attention and encourage trial.

Wisk's latest campaigns are digital, and the brand is very social, with more than 300,000 Facebook likes and some clever posts (see left). Wisk's Twitter account has fewer than 10,000 followers as of today. Owned by Sun Products, which has only existed since 2008, Wisk is making the most of its marketing opportunities.