Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Cashier or No Cashier? That's Amazon's Question

After a year of testing, Amazon has finally officially opened its Amazon Go convenience store in Seattle. Highly touted: No cashiers--customers simply "grab and go" and their purchases are automatically billed to their online accounts as they leave the store.

This is supposed to save time (and saves Amazon a bit of payroll money). How much time? And do customers care about that extra minute or two? Or are they just happy not to stand in line as they do at traditional stores?

Employees are in the store, restocking shelves and answering questions. But how do customers feel about the setup? One told a reporter that "you feel like you're stealing when you go out the door" because there's no checkout.

Of course, the lanes set up to capture purchases electronically do suggest a checkout kind of feeling when customers walk out. You can see them just behind the customer in the photo above, as he enters the store in Seattle (photo from Amazon's website). These lanes resemble traditional security scanners in certain department stores.

Is this more comfortable or convenient for shoppers than walking up to a cashier when completing a purchase transaction? That's what Amazon will be finding out if it expands Amazon Go beyond its own hometown.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nestlé and Ferrero Shape Up US Product Portfolios

Nestlé USA, whose parent company is based in Switzerland, just announced the sale of its U.S. candy products to Ferrero. Included are the familiar brands shown above.

Not included are the iconic Toll House products and even more iconic KitKat chocolate products. Interestingly, Nestlé doesn't make or market the KitKat bars you buy in U.S. markets--those are made and marketed by Hershey.

This acquisition puts Ferrero into the number-three slot among US candy marketers, behind Mars and Hershey. Ferrero has actually been on a buying spree, picking up Ferrara Candy and Fannie May in 2017. Ferrero already owns well-known brands like Nutella and TicTac, marketed for decades and popular with loyal customers. 

Both Nestlé and Ferrero view their product portfolios from a global perspective. What sells well and where? Where and why are products not just popular but profitable? And what are the long-term prospects for growth? Nestlé is reshaping its portfolio as it sets profit goals and examines consumption and buying trends. Ferrero is looking ahead to production expansion and technological innovation being drivers of sustainable growth. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Marketing the Film-and-Food Experience

Alamo Drafthouse is one of a growing number of movie theaters marketing an eat-in menu along with the film.

Alamo is known for offering meals and snacks (and beverages, it is a drafthouse) keyed to the theme of the movies it shows. The idea is to make the movie-going experience about more than the film.

Alamo famously bans phones and texting during the movie to prevent distractions. And, unlike most movie chains, Alamo doesn't make the audience sit through previews and ads before the feature. The film and the food are the focus.

Now Alamo is trying something new, bringing back the old idea of a video store. It will even rent VCR equipment to people who want to watch VHS tapes rather than DVDs or Blu-Ray DVDs.

Movie Tavern is another food-and-film chain, marketed with the tag line "Movies never tasted so good." The company's svp of culinary and guest experience notes that Movie Tavern's menu has to be "bold in flavor and approachable in design, due to the fact our guests are eating in the dark."

When Movie Tavern changes its menu, it gives thought to the eating experience as well as the latest flavors and new food trends. From craft beer to shakes to mixed drinks, beverages add a special touch to the in-cinema experience.

Another marketer of food-and-films is iPic Entertainment, which actually makes more money from food and beverage sales than it does from ticket sales. The motto is "Your Ultimate Night Out" as iPic serves seasonal foods and beverages.

The biggest theater chains have taken notice and are testing food offerings to attract movie lovers to pay for the big-screen experience again and again. It's all about the customer experience.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Influential 2018 Marketing Trends

A Look Ahead: 2018
Here are some of the marketing trends expected to be among the most influential in the coming year:
  • Video is still one of the top ways to engage customers and prospects. Facebook and Instagram are vital here . . . and for longer-form video, YouTube and branded microsites rule. Think cross-platform as consumers switch among devices.
  • Influencer marketing will be even more important in 2018, with marketers working with multiple influencers to extend reach, reinforce messages, gain better targeting, create new associations.
  • Apps are in the spotlight--both branded apps and in-app advertising. Retailers in particular are using apps to help consumers make better buying decisions.
  • Content marketing for B2B (and B2C) will be more targeted, more integrated with other marketing activities, and held accountable for achieving results. Again, think cross-platform and multimedia, as consumers access content via multiple devices and media.
  • Mobile marketing (such as geofencing) will increase in importance, given the maturity of the smartphone market and the popularity of mobile devices.
  • More transparency than ever before will be demanded by consumers and by marketers. This means better information about supply chains, about audience characteristics, about products, about privacy policies, and about results.