Monday, December 18, 2017

Marketing the Experience of the Brand

It's not enough to market a good product or a brand. Today, more firms are marketing the experience of the brand. This is a positive way to make the brand tangible and memorable through a specific experience. It's also a way to generate word of mouth and social media mentions as visitors post selfies or comments about their experience of the brand.

Hershey, known for its Kisses and other chocolate treats, already operates the Hershey's Chocolate World theme park in Pennsylvania, offering the "sweetest feeling of pure happiness." It also has a new store, Hershey's Chocolate World, just opening in New York City's touristy Times Square. The company planned three distinct candy aromas for those who step inside. According to an executive, "we wanted it to be highly experiential so it becomes part of the family's narrative and storytelling when they talk about their adventure in New York."

At the retail level, brands are upping their game by adding to the atmospherics and offering unique experiences to encourage engagement and, well, sales. Brands that do this particularly well in retailing are LEGO and Disney, among others.

LEGO House recently opened in the company's HQ city of Billund, Denmark, attracting fans of the iconic plastic building block. Some exhibits in this sprawling building require paid admission, other areas are free. "All activities in the house are related to our LEGO philosophy that learning through play promotes innovation and creativity," states LEGO House's CEO. It's a unique way to enhance the experience of the brand beyond a typical retail environment.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Unboxing Craze Puts Packaging in the Spotlight

Unboxing is a big deal on social media. By one estimate, videos of kids and adults unwrapping all kinds of products attract as many as 10 billion views every month. That's a lot of eyeballs and a lot of marketing impressions for the products and brands coming out of boxes--brands as diverse as Disney, L'Oreal, and Apple, to name only three.

In fact, unboxing videos have been on a sharp upward trend since 2006, reflecting consumer appetite for an inside peek at something new. What's really inside the box when you buy that new product? What accessories are included? And what does that new product actually look like?

Even before unboxing begins, the spotlight is on product packaging. And that's why brands are paying even closer attention to this key marketing element. Sure, packaging is meant to protect the contents and keep the product intact during shipping. But in today's marketing environment, packaging highlights a brand's image and reflects personality as much as functionality.

Toys are being designed to specifically incorporate the element of surprising during unboxing. At left, one of the LOL Surprise Pets, marketed as having 7 unboxing layers to hint at which pet is inside.

Increasingly, toy unboxing is big business as manufacturers court social media stars (AKA opinion leaders) to unwrap their products. Kids like watching the hot "must have" toy of the season being unboxed...and marketers want their toy to be inside that coveted box, attracting millions of eyeballs.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

McDonald's Serves Up Value (Again)

Did you know McDonald's rings up $25 billion in annual sales? That's "billions and billions" of burgers, fries, soft drinks, Egg McMuffins, and other popular menu items sold every year.

In fact, its "all day breakfast" initiative has helped turn around the fast-food giant's sales momentum.

But value remains a key element in the consumer's perception of fast-casual food. And that's why McDonald's is planning to rev up its value menu--again. This time, only a few items are priced at $1, with other special deals at $2, $3, and $5. Not to mention the "Extra Value Meal Deals" that bundle a sandwich and a beverage and a side for customers morning, noon, and night.

The idea is to attract price-conscious fast-food fans and preserve some of the profit margin. And have more weapons in the price war with competing fast-food chains.

What's more, McDonald's is putting coffee front and center with hot and cold, tall and short offerings, targeting coffee-lovers of all ages and all value perceptions. A recent Snap "disappearing coffee" bitmoji is an example of engaging content created especially for a younger targeted segment, for instance.

With more than 75 million Facebook likes, 3.5 million Twitter followers, and 2.8 million Instagram followers, plus a presence on Tumblr and YouTube, McDonald's has a gigantic social media audience. The fast-food giant is leveraging this reach to encourage more visits, stimulate product trial, and reinforce brand loyalty.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Brands and Authenticity

A recent survey by Cohen & Wolfe asked a sample of U.S. consumers to name the country's most authentic brands. Authenticity is not just about the brand's heritage--it's also about the brand's commitment to innovation.

At right, the logo of the #1 brand on this list of most authentic.

Recognize it?

Hint: You'll see it on boxes shipped by this retailer.

Answer: Amazon.

After Amazon, the most authentic U.S. brands as ranked in this survey were:

2. PayPal (financial payment services)

3. Burt's Bees (skin care and more)

4. Crayola (crayons, markers, and more)

5. M&M's (chocolate candies)

An interesting mix of tangible goods and intangible services, don't you think? And an interesting mix of legacy brands (Crayola, M&M's) and tech-fueled brands (Amazon, PayPal).