Monday, March 28, 2016

Competitors as Stakeholders: Top Topic in 10 Years of Blogging

Soon I will be starting my 11th year of blogging about marketing. Looking back on my first decade, I wanted to find out which topics were the most popular.

Above, the statistics show that the most visited posts (more than 6% of the total) are about whether competitors are stakeholders.

As I say in my posts, over and over, YES. Just a few months ago, I used the airline industry as an example of why competitors are stakeholders. A year ago, I used the retail industry as an example. Competitors are stakeholders.

Other popular posts are about strategy and about Nespresso, which I called "the Apple Store of Coffee."

Thank you for reading and look for more posts on these popular topics in 2016 and beyond.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Panera at Home Meets Consumers in Grocery Stores

Starbucks did it. Dunkin' Donuts did it. Now Panera Bread is putting branded consumer packaged products on supermarket shelves.

Panera has high brand recognition and positive associations with tasty, wholesome foods. Known in particular for fresh-baked breads and imaginative soups, Panera has adapted and packaged some of those products for retail grocery distribution, marketed through its Panera at Home division. Above, one of the packaged breads that Panera is selling through major grocery chains such as Stop & Shop.

The idea is to leverage "brand credibility" and expand beyond the restaurants into packaged goods, catering, and delivery. In today's highly competitive fast-casual restaurant industry, additional product/distribution plans are a plus for reaching more consumers and increasing revenues for the long term.

Panera also has been polishing its reputation for healthy foods by removing artificial colors and other "no nos" from its soups, including the packaged soups sold in grocery stores. This process will be complete by the end of 2016.

The firm developed a special video to explain Panera 2.0 (digital initiatives and more) to its employees and other stakeholders. You can view it here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Coca-Cola's Distribution Network Gets Fairlife to Local Stores

In its quest to broaden the product mix beyond carbonated soft drinks, Coca-Cola has either purchased or created popular non-soda brands like Minute Maid and Simply juices. Now it's the distribution partner of Fairlife, which produces "ultra-filtered" milk that's lactose-free and filled with protein and calcium.

Fairlife products take aim at the fast-growing niche for nutritious beverages that are convenient, tasty, and familiar. These aren't disruptive in the sense that they don't require new consumer behavior. However, they are premium and therefore the brands need to explain their benefits. Consumers won't pay the higher price unless they understand why Fairlife believes its products are competitively superior to traditional milk (and non-milk) products.

Fairlife needs more than a good product and persuasive, informative marketing. As one of the founders observes: "We had everything except the structure to get it to consumers in every corner of the country." The partnership with Coca-Cola gives Fairlife access to the beverage giant's well-developed distribution network, so consumers will find the product in their local stores.

Consumption of traditional milk products has been slowing, but specialty milk products are on the rise. Fairlife's widespread distribution gives it a fighting chance to capture a goodly portion of the ever-larger consumer appetite for specialty milks that deliver both more (better nutrition, for instance) and less (no lactose, little fat, etc).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Marketing with Segment Personas

Walmart Canada's marketers know they're not trying to attract everybody, but targeting specific segments whose needs, wants, and preferences they can profitably satisfy.

A segment persona is a realistic yet fictitious profile representing how a buyer in the targeted segment would typically behave, think, feel, and react to marketing activities. Creating a persona helps marketing personnel to look beyond stereotypes and understand what drives the targeted segment--insights that are so valuable when planning marketing outreach to specific segments rather than a more anonymous "mass market."

Walmart recently decided to target women with young families. As part of the targeting process, it developed a segment persona to represent this consumer--someone who, research shows, perceives costs in the value equation in terms of money, time, and effort, not just purchase price.

Naturally, Walmart's marketers quickly realized they needed to update the persona to account for major life events. When women in this segment have a baby, for example, they tend to be even more careful about how they spend their time, money, and effort. Walmart may be known for low prices, but it's also trying to position itself as helpful to this segment by making shopping less time-consuming and effortful.

Above, an image from Walmart's Live Better e-mail newsletter, which offers advice and ideas for the target audience. The main Walmart message of low prices is making headway in Canada, where its sales are up amidst economic uncertainty. Even the average revenue from a single shopping cart is up. With an eye toward shoppers who prefer organic foods, Walmart Canada is now carrying own-brand organic products.

Segment personas work in B2B marketing, as well. Dun & Bradstreet sees chief marketing officers as a key customer segment, and it creates personas to help it understand what this segment wants in the way of content marketing.

I wrote about Lululemon's use of segment personas here. For more about segment personas, see this MarketingLand article and this ClickZ article.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Marketing Earth Hour, March 19

The first Earth Hour was observed in Sydney in 2007. Then, as now, the objective is to focus attention on environmental protection of our planet's precious natural resources.

This year's Earth Hour will be 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on March 19th. The World Wildlife Fund is marketing Earth Hour through traditional media (such as print magazine ads and YouTube-ready commercials), combined with integrated social media marketing for earned media.

Social media activities include:
  • Tumblr posts with striking images and hashtags ready for sharing, such as #ChangeClimateChange.
  • Facebook posts (1 million likes) with hashtags like #WorldWildlife
  • Instagram images (30k followers) of flora and fauna and people participating in activities to protect the planet.
  • Twitter posts (145k followers) with hashtags like #EarthHour 
  • Pinterest pins with many of the same colorful images that celebrate natural beauty and inspire participation in Earth Hour

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mickey or Harry @ Peak Time = Surge Pricing

If it's good enough for Uber and Major League Baseball, not to mention the world's airlines, it's good enough for Disney and Universal Studios: Surge pricing comes to theme parks.

Disney announced via blog that its parks are raising one-day prices by as much as 20% during seasonal periods of peak demand. An excerpt from the blog post: "Each month is divided into value, regular and peak days with an 8-11 month calendar available for viewing online. Here’s an example, if guests plan their visit for September, they’ll have a variety of options, including many days in the value period, which will give them the opportunity to pay less for a 1-Day ticket."  

The idea of using pricing to manage demand is a basic economic principle. Movie theaters have done it for years, charging low prices for daytime movies and higher prices for evening movies. Some customer segments are willing to switch from peak to non-peak visits to save money, which frees up availability for peak visitors who can't come at other times. And that's why visiting Mickey Mouse will cost more during, say, periods when schools are on vacation and families have a few days to visit a Disney theme park. At Disney, days when demand is lowest are non-weekends, so many one-day passes for Monday-Thursday visits are "value price." Weekends are generally "regular price" and holidays are often "peak price."

Universal Studios in Orlando previously announced its use of surge pricing to manage demand this year. Its Harry Potter attractions are expected to draw crowds, and the new peak-period pricing is one way to spread out demand.

Sure, airlines have used demand-based pricing to set prices for years. That's why one passenger might pay $120 while a second passenger might pay $140 (or more) for a seat on the same plane. It's a matter of supply and demand. If there's no way to increase supply, marketers have to manage demand--and pricing is an effective way of doing just that.