Friday, 22 June 2018

HSBC's marketing for growth

HSBC Facebook:
UK-based HSBC bank has a new CEO and a new growth strategy, supported by new marketing.

John Flint, the new CEO, aims to expand HSBC within the UK market and market mortgages more aggressively.

Technology investment is key to the bank's future growth strategy. Meanwhile, recently appointed group head of marketing Leanne Cutts is looking at HSBC's traditional roots for connections to the bank's marketing future.

As shown in the illustration from the bank's UK Facebook page, HSBC's traditional red-and-white logo is being reimagined for the digital age. 'Most of our transactions with customers are digital, so having something easily recognisable is incredibly powerful. It helps the customer to cut through the clutter', Cutts explains.

The same logo is shown on HSBC's YouTube channel at this time, as well as on its Twitter account. The bank uploads not only adverts to YouTube but also videos about how to use its mobile banking app and other topics of interest to bank customers.  The bank has thousands of followers on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. HSBC is now reviewing agencies for its social media activities, which means changes as the bank positions its marketing to support future growth.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Unilever improves transparency in influencer marketing

Unilever, which markets such famous brands as Magnum, Omo, Luxe and Lifebuoy, wants more transparency in the world of influencer marketing (marketing mentions by celebrities and social-media stars who have many followers and who serve as opinion leaders).

When a major marketing power like Unilever takes a stand, the advertising and social media ecosystems take notice.

Unilever's chief marketing officer says the company's brands will neither buy followers nor have a marketing relationship with influencers who buy followers. The company is also prioritising relationships with digital platforms that promote transparency.

The background: Unilever respects and appreciates the close, organic connection between influencers and their followers. After all, that's why these influencers have an influence on consumers. So Unilever wants brand fans to know it will not be associated with those who buy followers to boost their numbers on social media.

This is the next step in Unilever's initiative to increase trust and integrity in influencer marketing whilst also reducing 'toxic content' online. Read more about Unilever's pledge to improve transparency here.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Burberry leverages the power of social media
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter play a central marketing role for the UK fashion brand Burberry. Its marketing strategy actually relies on four distinct pillars: product, communication, distribution and digital. About communication, the company explains: 'We are evolving our communications to be led by product and made for social media'.

One study found that Burberry topped the list of 20 most valuable UK brands using social media in 2017. Fashion industry publication WWD says Burberry had the best-performing social media strategy during February's 2018 London Fashion Week. This is actually nothing new for the brand, which has long put special emphasis on social media and ecommerce: CampaignLive hailed Burberry's savvy social media strategy during London Fashion Week in 2014.

By cultivating tech-savvy consumers, Burberry has amassed an Instagram following of more than 11 million people. Its Twitter account is followed by 8.7 million people. More than 17 million people have clicked to like its Facebook page. In short, Burberry is leveraging the power of social media to reach and engage style-conscious brand fans who buy in stores or online or both.

This post updates the Burberry example in Chapter 8 of my Essential Guide to Marketing Planning.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Latest marketing strategy for Merlin
Families with small children are the target demographic for Merlin Entertainments and its Legoland theme parks. The company recently opened a Castle Hotel next to its Legoland in California, a hotel that looks built from Lego bricks and features theme decor. 'It’s like painting the story and making you feel like you’re living inside a medieval castle', says a Merlin executive.

Some rooms are decorated for knights, others for wizards...a fun, magical theme-park feeling for families that stay overnight. The hotel is differentiated and memorable, definitely not a bland, ordinary place to stay. This supports the brand image, as well.

Of course, Walt Disney is the market leader among theme park marketers. Given the intense competition within this industry, Merlin is pouring on the marketing magic to attract families during the all-important summer holiday period. In fact, Merlin drew a record 66m visitors globally in 2017.

Now Merlin is focusing on building hotels next to Legoland theme parks to capture more revenue and increase profits. It will not invest as heavily in its Madame Tussauds attractions. Nonetheless, in London and New York, Madame Tussauds recently installed wax figures of the new Duchess of Sussex, a good way to stay in the public eye after the royal wedding.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Tesco fine-tunes retailing strategy

UK retailing giant Tesco continues to fine-tune its retailing strategy, both on the store side and online.

As shown above, it recently announced the closing of Tesco Direct, the company's profitless e-commerce initiative for non-food products. ( is the company's grocery website.) Fulfilment is costly, maintaining an online shopping platform is costly and the company saw no way to profit from this venture. Most likely, competition was also a factor, with Amazon and others offering so many of the same brand-name products that were sold on Tesco Direct's site.

Yet Tesco continues to invest in physical stores. It opened a new supermarket in Dublin that features eco-friendly features such as energy conservation systems and recycling facilities.

The Tesco Clubcard is a major competitive strength, enabling the retailer to communicate with loyal customers and personalise offers. And Tesco will need this strength as it faces the soon-to-merge Sainsbury/Asda combination.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Bringing together well-known food and beverage brands
Thirty-two years ago, Pret a Manger opened its doors in London. Ten years ago, the fast-growing chain of coffee/food shoppes was sold to a private equity firm. And now, Pret a Manger has another new owner.

The new owner, JAB Holdings has acquired a number of well-known coffee and food brands. These include Krispy Kreme, Douwe Egberts, Tassimo, Panera Bread, Dr Pepper Snapple and Keurig Green Mountain.

With 530 shoppes in the UK, US, China, Hong Kong and France, Pret a Manger has a loyal customer following, in person and on social media. Will JAB, the new owner, co-brand shoppes or products, given the high profile of its pantry of products? Will the new owner use the shoppes (Panera Bread and Pret a Manger, for instance) as a distribution channel for other brands in the company's portfolio? Lots of possibilities for strategic synergy!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Is Ryanair's 'Always Getting Better' strategy working?

The low-price, no-frills airline Ryanair implemented a strategy for improvement, 'Always Getting Better,' in 2014. Is this strategy working?

In a word, yes. The airline recently announced record profitability. Despite glitches like last year's pilot roster problems, the airline is attracting passengers because of its cheap, cheap flights. In fact, most flights are nearly full, which means finding room for carry-on baggage can be a hassle.

But the 'Always Getting Better' strategy helps keep Ryanair competitive by focusing the company on affordability, punctuality, sustainability and expansion of connecting flights.

Recently, Ryanair announced a refund offer for customers who book early and then find a lower airfare elsewhere. Not only will Ryanair return the airfare paid, it will credit customers with €5 to their Ryanair accounts. In other words, it's telling customers to go ahead and buy tickets without worrying about overpaying.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Beverage marketing evolves

From Innocent's new dairy-free beverages to Pepsi J-Cola for Japanese taste preferences, marketers are expanding their product mixes to expand their customer base and appeal to variety-seeking loyal brand fans.

Another reason for the proliferation of product extensions and brand extensions is consumers' desire for healthy, nutritious beverages. At the same time, beverage marketers are responding to governmental efforts to encourage healthier lifestyles.

In the UK, there is now a levy on high-added-sugar drinks. Beverages that are made of 100% fruit or vegetables will not be subject to this levy. Ireland and South Africa are also taxing high-sugar beverage products. Individual US cities are similarly taxing high-sugar soft drinks, all part of the effort to encourage healthy eating.

In this UK marketing environment, Britvic has experienced strong demand for its no- and low-sugar soft drinks. Barr is also experiencing strong demand for its low-sugar and no-sugar soft drinks. Watch for more product introductions as beverage marketers compete for the attention of consumers during the high-demand summer months.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Barbie and Ken show market segmentation in action

The original Barbie doll, made by Mattel, had blonde hair, blue eyes and long legs. Today, Barbie dolls (and Ken dolls) come in so many sizes, shapes and colours that there is a Barbie or Ken for everybody--market segmentation in action!

Royal dreams? Mattel markets the Dreamtopia Barbie and Prince Ken. A fan of Jurassic World movies? Buy a Claire Barbie or an Owen Barbie. Got a pocket? Barbie on the Go is sized to go with you to school or play or anywhere (see photo above). Want to try on different hair colours? Try the Barbie Colour Surprise Doll, with hair that changes colour when sprayed with water. 

As these products demonstrate, segmentation is not just a matter of age and gender. Mattel segments the market for dolls according to factors such as lifestyle ("on the go" for instance), desire for variety or novelty (Barbie Colour Surprise), interest in a blockbuster movie (like Jurassic World) and royalty fantasy (both prince and princess).

Not that Barbie is alone in the doll world. Bratz, for instance, is a direct competitor. And Barbie also competes with other types of playthings, not just dolls--including videogames and other digital play possibilities. Barbie and Ken have had mixed sales results in recent years. Will further market segmentation have a positive effect on consumer behaviour?

Monday, 14 May 2018

Riding the Royal Wedding marketing wave

On Sunday, 19 May, Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle will be wed at St George's Chapel. Both traditional and social media reflect the global excitement about this Royal Wedding. Above, the Instagram post announcing that Queen Elizabeth officially signed the Instrument of Consent for this wedding to take place.

Even before the Royal Wedding, consumers fascinated by Harry and Meghan began buying products they favour. Meghan's dresses and coats? Sold out within hours of her appearances. When she arrives for the actual wedding, expect media frenzy over her choice of designer and her accessories, not just her wedding gown--as marketers frantically scramble to produce similar products for non-royal consumers.

Wedding-related marketing continues strong on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, one estimate suggests that tourism, product sales and all other marketing connected with Harry and Meghan could add an economic boost of up to £ 1 billion this year. From wedding souvenirs sold by John Lewis to white chocolate hearts with the bride and groom's faces, there are a variety of products to satisfy every budget and interest. One UK charity is already marketing wedding products to raise money for helping homeless people.

Across the pond, brands are finding different ways to ride the wedding marketing wave. A salad dressing looking to promote a royal connection? Yes. A New Orleans hotel showing off royal flair for the royal occasion? Yes. So many US media outlets are airing programmes about Harry and Meghan and the royal family, it's easy to lose count.

Congratulations to Prince Harry and his bride, Meghan!