Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Girl Scout Cookies for Breakfast

Who doesn't love Girl Scout cookies? Now General Mills is building on the brand equity and product preferences of Girl Scout cookie lovers as it introduces two new breakfast cereals, shown above.

The new cereals will be launched in January, 2017, as limited-edition products. Not surprising, given that Girl Scout cookies are also sold during limited periods. Thin Mints are the top-selling cookies, one reason why it's one of the two initial cereal flavors.

Another advantage is the association with the well-known Girl Scouts organization, which will get some money every time the cereals sell. That has to count for something when parents pass the cereal aisle in search of a breakfast cereal for the whole family.

Will the cereals become popular enough to be relaunched every year?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Regaining the Customer's Trust

Imagine being a marketer for Wells Fargo Bank right now, following high-profile revelations that for some time, employees opened accounts to achieve internal goals for cross-selling, not because customers wanted them.

The scandal has had a real impact on the bank's reputation and its business: It recently announced that new checking account openings are down by 25% compared with last year and new credit card applications are down by 20%, all since the news broke.

During mid-October, Wells Fargo placed full-page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers, and posted on part of its website with the headline: "Moving forward to make things right." The message ends with these words:
The trust you place in us means everything and we will work hard every day to earn it back.
Trust can take a long time to earn and be lost in a moment. Before this, Wells Fargo's scores among banks in the American Customer Satisfaction Index had been on the upswing, far better than the scores it had in the ACSI surveys of 1996 and 1997.

Now Wells Fargo faces the challenge of earning back customers' trust and convincing them that it will, as its ads say, put their interests first. How will customers respond?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Marketing the Mystique of Cuba

Coffee lovers can now try "the first Cuban coffee in the U.S. in over 50 years" (quoting a Nespresso ad). In limited supply at Nespresso stores, and priced higher than other Nespresso capsules, Cafecito de Cuba offers a "taste" of the island nation, given very recent changes in trade relations.

Cuba has a mystique: It captivated the American imagination during the mid-20th century--the vibrant night life, the music, the celebrities, the food, the heritage. By now, Cuba has been off limits for so many years that it is somewhat mysterious, and its island location has considerable vacation appeal.

Currently, trade restrictions are slowly being eased (significant barriers remain), and Cuban rum and cigars are being allowed into the US.

More and more businesses are using the mystique of Cuba to market goods and services.
  • American Airlines has an ambitious schedule of flights to various cities in Cuba, seeing future profit potential as tourism expands little by little. Jet Blue and Silver are also flying to Cuba.
  • Starwood has three hotels under its umbrella, again awaiting the influx of tourists.
  • Chanel brought a fashion show to Cuba, taking advantage of the mystique and novelty.
  • Carnival has cruises to Cuba and New Orleans is trying to establish its port as another point of departure for Cuban tourism.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Retailers Choose: Open or Closed on Thanksgiving?

Retailers are again navigating the pros and cons of whether to open or close on Thanksgiving. From a consumer behavior standpoint, some shoppers like to get an early jump on holiday shopping and Black Friday bargains. Others want an activity in addition to or instead of a big Thanksgiving meal. That's why the Los Angeles Auto Show is open on Thanksgiving, and it usually draws a good crowd.

Mall of America has already announced it will be closed on Thanksgiving, although individual stores may choose to open for all or part of the day. Costco is traditionally closed on Thanksgiving, Nordstrom will be closed, and Staples has announced it will be closed. Some major retailers will reportedly be open, as the list here shows.

On Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday 2015, the outdoor retailer REI famously chose to be closed and urged everybody to enjoy the outdoors instead of shopping. Its marketing campaign #OptOutside won awards and lots of publicity. Will REI repeat its decision in 2016? Expect an announcement soon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Target Opens Targeted Stores

Target has long targeted college students and their parents with special events, social media content and products specifically for dorm life. Above, the retailer invited YouTube personalities to live in custom-designed dorm rooms featuring Target's home goods. Target has also sponsored buses to bring students to Target stores for shopping and social events. This year, it tested a chat-bot initiative with Kik, the messaging app.

Now the retailer has begun opening smaller Target stores near college campuses, stocked with the goods that students need and buy. It opened one such store two years ago near the University of Minnesota campus at Dinkytown, an experiment that has encouraged the retailer to open more units like it.

'A lot of college campuses have underdeveloped retail, so the students as well as the people who live around campus don’t have a lot of options to shop for a quick trip', explains a Target exec. Target's marketing strategy envisions hundreds of these small-format stores near campuses, a way to appeal to younger buyers and encourage brand loyalty after they graduate. Will these college-targeted Targets hit the bulls' eye?