Monday, July 31, 2017

Back-to-School Shoppers Are in the Stores

My search for "back-to-school shopping" returned 324 million results. Here are the top 4 from the list--all ads. Zappos, Walmart, Retailmenot (coupon site), and Staples. Zappos is promoting its "fast and free shipping," and its "huge selection." The others are promoting "save, save, save."

The LA Times notes that BTS is an $84 billion market (research by the National Retail Federation). And other research indicates that lots of shoppers are looking at price promotions carefully.

Most important, many BTS shoppers prefer to buy in person, to see, touch, and evaluate merchandise rather than click to buy. And when children are part of the process, they want a say in what gets purchased (which in some cases, results in a higher transaction amount). Legacy retailing is the beneficiary of this consumer behavior pattern.

Despite supply lists provided by schools, BTS shopping still needs organization. And that's where physical stores are doing their part to group merchandise needed by students for easy access. Nearly every store has a college dorm section, and a separate school supplies section. School days begin in a matter of days. Stores are ready to outfit students in advance, attracting shoppers to malls and big-box retail locations alike.

Monday, July 24, 2017

CMO Issues: Accountability and Metrics

Accountability still counts!
Chief marketing officers are under pressure as never before to be accountable for results. This is nothing new, really, but with more marketing tools at their disposal and the constraint of carefully-controlled budgets, accountability is a priority.

This means that metrics have to be chosen and applied to enable CMOs to track, measure, and evaluate marketing campaigns in great detail. No wonder CMOs are examining media and social media metrics to be sure that these reflect the reality of how campaigns are performing and avoid misleading, fraudulent, and imprecise measures.

Meanwhile, social media platforms are introducing better metrics and analysis tools to enable measurement and performance assessment. This is crucial, because CMOs must be able to trust the numbers. However, despite closer scrutiny of marketing tactics and results, a few CMOs are either choosing inappropriate/old-fashioned metrics or not selecting metrics at all.

Another way to look at accountability is through the lens of big-picture marketing goals. Some businesses use the Net Promoter Score to see how marketing affects the customer experience and willingness to recommend the brand or organization. No matter which metrics you apply, be sure you are measuring what matters--and include interim benchmarks in your marketing, so you can adjust campaigns if preliminary results aren't close to present targets.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Celebrity Face of Tourism Australia

Celebrities bring star power when they serve as the face of tourism for a destination, in traditional media and in social media.

For example, the actor who plays Thor in Marvel movies, Chris Hemsworth, is the high-profile celebrity face of Tourism Australia. Interviewed by the New York Times, he gave his top reason for tourists to visit Australia: "Besides the sights, the people are also a draw. They are so welcoming."

Aussies are pleased and proud to have this actor represent them in tourism marketing, through ads, interviews, and other tools. In fact, Hemsworth has generated widespread media interest in Australia tourism around the world.

Hemsworth has nearly 11 million Instagram followers and frequently posts with the tag @Australia to promote the country to tourists and fans. He and his wife both mention Australia on social media, leading to hundreds of millions of impressions and positive associations for the destination. Some percentage of the many people reached by the ads or social media mentions will be influenced and then book a trip or extend a trip, resulting in a boost for Australia's tourism businesses.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

US Auto Market Share Brawl

If Toyota is correct and the US auto market has peaked, meaning that total sales by all industry participants combined will barely budge in 2017, then market share is the name of the game. The only way for one company or brand to show growth is by taking share away from a different company or brand (including cannibalizing a brand in the parent's portfolio).

This situation will have a major influence on automaker's US marketing plans for the coming 18-24 months. So far, the signs point to a plateau.

For starters, consumers will likely benefit from increased financial incentives (rebates, for instance) as dealers and brands court switchers or try to hold onto usually brand-loyal customers. Dealers are also benefiting from manufacturers' financial incentives, which they may or may not pass along to consumers in the form of reduced effective pricing.

A table on the Wall Street Journal site shows that sales of light trucks are picking up speed vs sales of passenger cars. Gas prices are low, so even though SUVs and pickups don't deliver fuel efficiency equivalent to cars, buyers are returning to their truck-buying habits.

As a result, the market share brawl is not just a matter of, say, GM vs Toyota, but also cars vs SUVs and pickups, plus gas vs hybrids vs electric. How to stand out? For example, for differentiation and to appeal to targeted segments, Volvo is going all electric by 2019. What complicates this brawl is the aggressive entry of Tesla and its popularly-priced electric car (image at top). The market share brawl is underway!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Big Beer Brands, Craft Beers, and Consumer Behavior

Craft beers are trendy and popular, as well as locally-known--which is why beer giants like Anheuser-Busch InBev are swallowing up many smaller brands. Above, logo of A-B InBev's Blue Point Brewing Co, founded in 1998 and serving the Long Island, NY area.

Fortune magazine has a map and video showing the extent of the "drink local, buy global" trend, including the news that A-B InBev recently purchased its 10th craft brand (Wicked Weed Brewing, based in North Carolina).

A-B InBev seeks two ingredients in craft beer acquisitions: (1) variety, so the parent's product portfolio isn't too heavily weighted toward one type or another; and (2) owners who are interested in working with a deep-pocketed, marketing-savvy parent for growth.

Craft beers aren't the huge growth niche they were a few years ago, but they're still growing. As the extent of involvement by beer giants becomes more widely known, will craft beer lovers be put off or will they be able to judge each brand and brew on its own merits? Marketers will be watching for clues to consumer behavior, attitudes, and actions as competition becomes even more intense between beer brands.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Yogurt Marketing Battle Goes On

Chobani FB image
A decade ago, Chobani upended the US yogurt market with its innovative, tangy Greek yogurt products. Today, the yogurt market representing nearly $8 billion in annual purchases. However, Greek yogurt growth is plateauing.

All you have to do is check the yogurt display in any grocery store and you'll see how the industry's top competitors are reacting by segmenting the market and adding products/lines for target audiences with different tastes.

General Mills image
General Mills just announced a new line of French yogurts from Yoplait, branded Oui. The idea is to encourage yogurt lovers to try this artisanal yogurt (packaged in glass jars) and, once they acquire the taste, make them loyal customers.

Chobani is expanding into smooth yogurts these days, appealing to a broader audience beyond its loyal fans of Greek yogurt. Danone is expanding its Dannon yogurt production facilities even after selling Stonyfield yogurt to complete the acquisition of White Wave plant-based milks.

The marketing battle includes social media. Chobani has more than 100k Twitter followers and 1.4 million Facebook likes. Yoplait has more than 72k Twitter followers and 2 million Facebook likes. Dannon has more than 25k Twitter followers. Watch for more marketing activities as yogurt marketers try to build market share in this intensely competitive industry.