Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hotel Chocolat's Very British Brand

Now that the UK-based Hotel Chocolat has gone public, it has additional resources to support an expansion strategy. The company began as an online retailer of luxury chocolate gifts, targeting UK consumers and businesses.

A decade after establishing itself on the web, it opened a physical store. Now the company has more than 80 shops across the UK plus an actual hotel adjacent to a cocoa plantation on Saint Lucia.

At one time, Hotel Chocolat had a handful of US stores but closed them a couple of years ago. It retains its online presence selling to US customers, however.

Eyeing another round of international retail expansion, Hotel Chocolat has a franchise presence on Gibraltar and is also opening company-owned chocolate boutiques in Copenhagen to assess the opportunities for this very British brand.

Hotel Chocolat has more than 100k likes on Facebook, 52k followers on Twitter, and more than 3k followers on Pinterest, among other social media activities.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Background on Brands

 B R A N D  R E S E A R C H

Researching a brand for your marketing plan? Search the Web for research about that brand and its main competitors.

As you click through the results of your search, pay attention to where/when/how each research study was conducted. Also look at research results over time--how has the brand's ranking changed? What issues affect the brand's standing year by year? These clues can help you better analyze the brand as you continue your marketing planning.

Here are just a few resources focusing on brands, branding, and public perceptions:
  • YouGov BrandIndex. "Tracking public perceptions of thousands of brands across the world every day." That's how YouGov describes this site, which covers many brands in many markets through ongoing interviews with millions of consumers.
  • InterBrand Best Brands. Interbrand ranks brands within and across countries, with both global and national lists of the best brands.
  • Fortune's rankings. In addition to the Fortune 500, the magazine presents rankings of "most admired" companies, fastest-growing companies, and other key lists to consult.
  • Gallup research on brand engagement. Research examines multiple aspects of brands and customer involvement, including reactions of Millennials.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Marketing With Pokemon Go

The Pokemon Go phenomenon might be a summertime spike or something more lasting, but while it's popular, marketers are jumping on the bandwagon.

Pokemon Go is a new smartphone game based on the old Pokemon characters, with the special twist that players wander in the real world looking to "capture" characters in various locations. Here's what the Pokemon website says about the game:
Get on your feet and step outside to find and catch wild Pokémon. Explore cities and towns around where you live and even around the globe to capture as many Pokémon as you can. As you move around, your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you're near a Pokémon. Once you've encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smartphone's touch screen and throw a Poké Ball to catch it. Be careful when you try to catch it, or it might run away! Also look for PokéStops located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments, where you can collect more Poké Balls and other items.
Local businesses are excited about the number of potential customers coming to their premises in search of wild Pokemon characters. Several restaurants and bars reported super increases in sales after investing about $10 for "lure" packages. Businesses can become "poke stops" to boost the user's stock of balls, attracting foot traffic in the process. It's a matter of harnessing high interest and engagement to shape customer behavior, at least increasing awareness of the brand or location and at best, gaining trial and purchasing.

Nonprofits are also part of this craze. From nature preserves to museums and beyond, organizations are taking the opportunity to invite visitors to catch Pokemon characters with them. Although not all places are happy about being involved without first being asked, some nonprofits are suggesting that advocates organize Pokemon Go walking tours to raise money for charity.

Go Pokemon Go!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Today Is the Second Annual Amazon Prime Day

Partial screen shot of Amazon Prime Day home page
Today is Amazon's second annual Prime Day--a shopping day designed to rival Black Friday with low prices and speedy shipping exclusively for members of the retailer's Prime program.

One goal is to attract new Prime members, who pay an annual fee for benefits such as free two-day shipping, access to audio and video entertainment, early notification of bargains, and more. As always, consumers are invited to enroll in Prime for free to try it for 30 days. The more people who try, the more who are likely to remain members after the free trial.

Another goal is to increase interest in and usage of other Amazon offerings such as Alexa, the virtual shopping assistant who's the voice of the Echo speaker. This year, the retailer is offering a number of Alexa-related specials.

Of course, Walmart is taking aim at Amazon by offering its own special deals today. Actually, some of the deals began yesterday and will continue for the week, with free shipping thrown in to combat Amazon's shipping deals for Prime members. Like Amazon, Walmart is relying on sale-priced electronics to catch the eye of shoppers, mixed in with other low-priced products.

How will Walmart do? Will Amazon Prime Day surpass the 2015 sales record? How many new Prime members will sign up--and how many will stay after the free period is over?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Millennials and Marketing

An online search for "Millennials and marketing" shows more than 22 million results. (If we could have searched online for "Boomers and marketing" 30+ years ago, there would have been a similar result.)

Millennials are the target market for many goods and services, with distinct needs, wants, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors. Stereotyping won't work--research is key. Brands that do their homework and get it right can win loyal customers. Brands that don't listen or respond will fall out of favor and have to run hard to catch up (if they can).

Here are some recent articles and analyses about marketing to Millennials:

Friday, July 1, 2016

Brands Ride Along with Disney's Theme Park Expansion Plans

Walt Disney has a new theme park, Shanghai Disneyland. PepsiCo was at the opening, with a limited-edition.

PepsiCo also partnered on a branded stage inside the Shanghai park. Four years ago, Pepsi opened a special R&D center to develop products that fit the taste buds of customers in China. Working with Disney furthers PepsiCo's expansion in China.

Starbucks is another brand that sees opportunity in working with Disney. In Shanghai at the Disney Resort, Starbucks just opened what will be its busiest coffee shop in the world, with 110 baristas to serve 25 million customers yearly. Starbucks already had a presence in each of the Disney parks in Orlando, and in Disneyland California.

These are only two of the global brands that are riding along with Disney's marketing magic in its global expansion. One more brand enjoying the ride is Hasbro, which won the lucrative doll license from Mattel and now produces princess dolls and other toys based on strong Disney brand franchises like Frozen.