Thursday, 18 May 2017

Luxury brands move toward omnichannel marketing

Luxury brands were, in many cases, late in adopting ecommerce strategies because of concerns about top-notch customer service, price competition and other issues. Now leading luxe brands are moving into cross-platform marketing to accommodate changes in consumer behaviour and buying preferences.

Consider LVMH, the €37.6 billion French-based group marketing top-quality, upmarket brands like Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Tag Heuer and more than 65 other brands (soon to include Christian Dior Couture).

LVMH had a previous ecommerce venture, eLuxury, but eight years ago, during the great recession, the company closed the retail function and transformed the site into a digital fashion magazine.

Now LVMH is launching a new ecommerce venture. This new business (both online and app version) is 24 Sèvres, named for the firm's Paris street address. The business will go live in mid-June.

'Increasingly consumers want pictures over words', says LVMH's chief digital officer, Ian Rogers, mentioning the rapid rise of Instagram and Snapchat. Therefore, he says, 'if you look at our site, we lean far further toward visually-led merchandising than the more editorial skew of our competitors'.

Instead of brand-specific sites and apps, this new online retail platform will feature multiple LVMH brands--and some non-LVMH brands as well, with a visually innovative customer experience. Rogers says: 'There is . . . currently a major focus on omnichannel and experience, and we are moving from a mass culture to a mass of niches'.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Plan for brand power on social media

Drum reports that on social media, a NetBase study found the above five brands are the most loved by UK consumers, based on sentiment analysis of comments.

Notice how international this brand ranking is? All of these brands operate across national borders. Tesco has business operations in Central Europe and Asia, not just the UK.

But the important point about this most-loved brand ranking is how these brands are perceived among UK consumers. And clearly, they have favourable perceptions. Brand love enhances the brand power of these firms and may reinforce brand loyalty. The marketing plans of these five 'most loved' firms surely include detailed initiatives for social media interactions with customers.

Of course, many brands are increasingly savvy about social media. A brand can be smaller and more local and still be clever and engaging on social media.

For instance, take a look at the brands Hubspot says are 14 of the 'best brands on Instagram'. Brands that understand consumer behaviour can maintain customer interest and loyalty by planning to interact with their fans via all types of social media.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Who likes self-serve checkouts?

Not consumers, judging by the reactions received by many grocery chains. Sainsbury's recently introduced card-only self-serve checkouts, to streamline the process of paying and leaving the store in this age of often cashless transactions.

Instead, the new self-serve checkouts frustrated some of Sainsbury's shoppers, because the staffless tills don't allow for weighing of fresh merchandise or for shoppers who bring reusable sacks.

Lidl's staffless self-serve checkouts in Maldon aren't pleasing customers, either.

Of course shoppers want to complete transactions quickly and conveniently. One study found that customers dislike waiting, and will tolerate a queue time of only 6 minutes. Understanding consumer behaviour is important if retailers are to compete effectively and provide what shoppers want, in the way shoppers prefer to be served.

For retailers, however, self-serve checkouts mean lower costs. No doubt that's behind the trend toward more self service. Australia's Woolworths recently announced the installation of more self-serve checkouts at a number of its downtown locations.

Rival Coles is testing new limits to speed up self-serve transactions for the convenience of all. 'Coles is trialling a 12-item limit on self-scanning checkouts in a small number of stores as part of our ongoing commitment to improve customer service', the Australian retailer has announced. This may also be a way to combat shopper theft at self-serve checkouts.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Nike marathon results

2:00:25

This morning, Nike held a marathon with three elite runners, hoping to break the two hour barrier that has eluded athletes.

The results: Eliud Kipchoge completed the marathon distance in 2:00:25.

This unofficial marathon put the spotlight on individual performance and, of course, Nike's association with sports excellence. The company invested millions to develop shoes and plan the marathon with the goal of breaking the two hour mark.

Nike's social media posts helped fans follow the race every step of the way. Here is the tape and the Twitter post celebrating this accomplishment. 'The barrier just got that much closer' and #JustDoIt.

Meanwhile, Adidas has its own 'sub 2' marathon initiative, linked to its own shoe technology. Athletes will be the sports winners--and both Nike and Adidas are marketing winners in the never-ending race for revenues and profits.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Nike's marketing marathon

On Saturday, world-class athletes wearing special Nike shoes will attempt to do what has never been done--run a marathon in less than two hours. Nike has been promoting this effort for many months, identifying just the right elite athletes and selecting a track that is suited to setting this record.

The brand's lightweight shoes are a big part of this project, featuring technology that reduces effort, a salient functional benefit that even weekend athletes will appreciate. Even if none of the runners achieves the goal of 'breaking 2', Nike will be a winner for supporting the goal and celebrating sports performance (a key association for its brand, of course). In short, this marathon is also a marketing marathon.

Despite intense competition from Adidas, amongst other major brands, Nike enjoys strong brand loyalty and image. Yet Adidas has strengths that help it attract customers, including retro styled shoes favoured by many.

Nike UK has more than 400k followers on Twitter, where posts include promotions, 'where to buy', new product introductions and influencer images (think athletes). Nearly 200k followers watch the NikeWomen Pinterest account, and 450k followers check out Nike London's Instagram page. Nike UK has 28 million Facebook followers, many of whom also follow individual Nike sports accounts. Clearly, this is a brand with social media savvy, smart segmentation strategies and a good connection with its target markets.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Which is the future of banking?

What is the future of banking? One bank marketing exec points out: 'if banks want to stay relevant, financial marketers need to stop selling and start problem-solving'.

So is the future of banking personalised customer service, a problem for many? Convenient service in neighborhood branches ('stores') has been fueling Metro Bank's UK growth since 2010. Metro Bank is poised for full-year profitability and has attracted 1 million customers with 48 branches.

As a 'challenger bank', Metro Bank is targeting individuals and businesses who aren't satisfied with the established banks. To induce switching, Metro Bank keeps its branches open 7 days, with extended hours for evening transactions. The branches look more like cheerful retail stores than stuffy banks. And it's connecting with customers on social media: Metro Bank has 13k Twitter followers and 24k LinkedIn followers.

Or is the future of banking in technology, speeding transactions without face-to-face service? Between more sophisticated cash machines and smartphone banking functionality, do customers want or need to visit a branch these days? Customer behaviour is shifting as more people adopt on-the-go banking using apps. Pockit is a startup financial services firm that offers app-based transactions such as remittances.

Sometimes cash is needed for everyday transactions. NCR, which makes video-capable ATMs, notes that such automation is 'a bank in a box', ideal for locations where a bank wants to serve its local customers, with or without a branch.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Legacy retailers trying to adapt

Legacy retailers like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams continue to announce store closings and changes to merchandise mix strategies. They need to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour and in the economic environment (meaning both the UK and the global marketplace).

Non-food purchases in UK stores are down, and in addition, competition from store-based and online retailers is putting pressure on the entire industry.

Now M&S is closing some stores, reducing the focus on apparel products (which typically have good profit margins) in favour of food products (not always as profitable, but purchased much more frequently).

M&S recognises that consumer behaviour is changing: 'Picking up food for now or tonight rather than doing one big shop or browsing and shopping online and collecting in store are great examples of this, and we are committed to adapting our business so that we stay in tune with our customers,' says chief executive Steve Rowe. At the same time, M&S is opening new stores in areas that hold market promise. Otherwise, the retailer may have difficulty achieving growth.

Debenhams is also closing stores amidst its ongoing turnaround effort. The retailer has a plan for targeting younger shoppers, with three main pillars: destination, digital,and different.

The retailer plans a sharper focus on in-store 'experiences' like cafes and more digital/social/mobile purchasing: 'We will be a destination for social shopping, with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers', explains chief executive Sergio Bucher.

Adapting is a challenge, yet with consumer behaviour evolving, Debenhams and M&S must find distinctive and appropriate strategies for meeting needs in a profitable way.