Thursday, 19 October 2017

Saying goodbye to the 'round pound'

From 15th October, the traditional round £1 coin has been obsolete as legal tender, replaced by a 12-sided coin introduced in March, 2017. Some parking machines have yet to be changed over to the new coin, creating confusion in the early days after the round pound became obsolete.

Banks will continue to accept the old round pound for deposit. Yet consumers also want to be able to spend what they have. That's why Aldi, Poundland, Tesco and other retailers are continuing to accept the old pound coins for days or weeks after the official deadline.

In addition, the BBC Children in Need charity fund is promoting a Round Pound Countdown, urging consumers to donate their coins via the Post Office, Boots, Greggs, Cineworld or Welcome Break locations prior to Appeal Day on 17th November.

Even trolley token key rings have been redesigned with the new pound in grocery retailers scramble to modify their equipment so trolleys will accept the 12-sided pound.

So goodbye, round pound, hello new £1 coin.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Differentiation through sustainability

In this era of intense competition and easy consumer access to detailed information about products and brands, marketers are differentiating themselves through dedication to sustainability and social responsibility.

H&M, Marks & Spencer and IKEA are only 3 of the growing number of global marketers being recognised by the Better Cotton Initiative for their use of sustainable cotton. The ranking shows which retailers and manufacturers are actively seeking out ethical sources of cotton grown in earth-friendly ways.

World Wildlife Federation, with funding from IKEA, piloted the original initiative to grow cotton sustainably. Now that effort has grown into an international movement.

Brands such as Asos, Nike and M&S recently pledged that all of their cotton goods will be made from sustainably grown cotton by 2025. As part of their pledge, these brands will annually publish their performance in progressing towards this commitment.

In addition, marketers are also looking to increase sustainability by sourcing wool and other materials in ways that protect the environment and the workers. Stella McCartney, for example, has achieved Cradle to Cradle Gold certification for the wool used in its fashion products.

More brands are choosing this method of differentiation, knowing that many consumers pay close attention to sustainability factors when making a purchase decision.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Domino's digital initiatives pay off
Price-conscious pizza lovers are clicking to buy from Domino's . . . and it's paying off for the pizza delivery giant. Online orders now account for three-quarters of all Domino's sales.

After launching a new ad campaign focused on price promotions, the chain received an avalanche of orders--200,000 orders on the final Saturday of September alone.

Domino's is always looking at different ways to make ordering fast and easy. Tweeting a pizza emoji is one way to buy. Ordering by talking to Amazon's Alexa via the Echo speaker is another. In fact, Alexa-orders are coming in already, as Domino's prepares for a future in which voice commands play a larger role in consumer buying behaviour.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Global marketing and 'segments of one'

Unilever is continuing to expand its product portfolio with acquisitions in global markets. Yet it also sees its marketing future as 'segments of one'.

Two recent acquisitions:

  • In Brazil, Unilever acquired the organic/natural food company Mãe Terra. Not only is this company growing rapidly year after year, it gives Unilever added strength in natural and organic food products.
  • In South Korea, Unilever acquired the cosmetics firm Carver Korea. The goal is to accelerate growth in Asia and in a product category that experiences high demand.
Earlier in 2017, Unilever refused a takeover bid by Kraft Heinz. Now the marketing strategy focuses on five elements: consumers, connections (with consumers, in real time), content (beyond advertising), community (building relationships) and commerce (new ways to engage throughout the buying process). 

In particular, Unilever is moving toward 'segments of one' and the idea that its brands must be 'relevant, tailored and personal' rather than mass-marketed. This means making sure that mobile experiences and search experiences for consumers are as convenient and informative as possible.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Pricing and shrinkflation

From foods to paper goods, more than 2,500 products have 'shrunk' whilst their retail prices have not decreased during the past five years. This shrinkflation reflects increased costs facing manufacturers, changes in foreign exchange rates after the Brexit vote and consumer resistance to paying higher prices. As a result of these environmental and internal forces, brands are reducing the size of some products without changing the prices.

Yet, according to the UK Office of National Statistics, more than 600 items have actually increased in size during the past five years. This reflects the trend towards focusing consumers on value. 'More for the same price' sends a message to price-conscious shoppers that a product will deliver higher value than some competing items.

More shrinkflation is on the way as marketers cope with continued cost increases and ongoing currency swings that can affect what manufacturers pay for ingredients and what they receive in payment from wholesale buyers.

Shrinkflation is usually not publicised by the manufacturers...but government offices and media reporters take notice. Then consumers become aware, and have to decide whether to continue buying a favourite brand or product, or change behaviour and buy something else.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

20th annual Byte Night on 6 October 2017

Byte Night takes place on Friday, 6th October. This is the 20th year of fundraising to benefit Action for Children, a charity that helps homeless children.

In 2017, corporate participants will raise an expected £1.4 million for this charity, by sleeping rough in 10 locations: East Anglia, London, Midlands, Northern Ireland, North East, North West, Scotland, South West, Thames Valley and Wales. As many as 1,700 people will sleep rough on Byte Night.

Social media promotion is raising awareness of the event, the charity and the need. @ByteNight has nearly 3k Twitter followers and nearly 1k LinkedIn group members (this is a corporate-heavy event). Action for Children has more than 50k Facebook likes and 117k Twitter followers, plus 14k LinkedIn followers.

B2B marketing is key to the success of this event, with businesses registering teams of employees to participate--and marketing internally to increase involvement and raise money. Corporate partners include Royal Mail and House of Fraser, plus sponsors such as FedEx and the Amber Group. Watch for more publicity from media participants and for a deluge of social media messages as Byte Night approaches.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Competing technologies in the digital age
Sure, Video Killed the Radio Star. This isn't the only example of competition from new technologies, of course. Cassettes eclipsed reel-to-reel audio tape, then CDs eclipsed cassettes, then digital music eclipsed CDs, then vinyl returned in a wave of audiophile nostalgia, followed by cassettes. Streaming continues strong as many consumers enjoy music via multiple technologies.

Currently, vinyl sales in the UK market are 30% higher than at this time last year. Vinyl and other mature entertainment technologies have become popular enough in the digital age that eBay recently introduced a marketplace specifically for books, music, games and video.

Another product category affected by technology: postcards. Before the end of the 20th century, consumers were sending an estimated 20 million postcards every year. Now, however, competition from social media has resulted in barely 5 million postcards sent per year. Why pay for a postcard and postage, take time to write a message and pop it into the post for delivery days later--when you can post a photo or message immediately on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or another site? Postcard publisher J Salmon, founded in 1880, is therefore leaving the business.

Perhaps consumers will someday see postcards as unique communication vehicles and give them a go again, the way vinyl and cassettes have become newly popular. Meantime, marketers need to carefully monitor consumer behaviour trends and the impact on the business environment as competing technologies enter the marketplace.