Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Links to resources about marketing and marketing plans

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Please click here to see an updated list of resources (such as marketing news, business news and industry news) you can use for background as you prepare a marketing plan.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Competitors as partners (and stakeholders)

Not only can competitors be key stakeholders (meaning your marketing performance may be influenced by rivals and influence the performance of rivals) - but in some cases, competitors can be key partners.

An entrepreneur recently explained when he considers it good business to partner with a competitor in strategic ways:

  • Partner to take advantage of opportunities for entering new markets - with co-developed products, for instance. Or to tap a new channel for distribution.
  • Partner to co-purchase raw materials used by both, at a lower price due to high-volume buying in combination.
  • Partner with complementary products or marketing, letting customers know about the complementary offerings and receiving customer referrals from the partner as well.
  • Partner to undertake activities that will achieve societal objectives.
Microsoft, the giant technology company, asked last year: 'Are we partners or competitors?' The answer: 'Yes, we are.'

Partners, whether competitors or non-competing vendors, are clearly stakeholders when it comes to each other's performance.

In this 2017 blog post, Microsoft wrote the following about working together with competitors as partners to provide customers with what they need and add value for all participants.
It’s not a we-win-you-lose sort of deal. In fact, it’s the opposite. Every time we come together with our partners for a solution, we open a new socket that creates value for everyone. We all need to work together and use transformative technology to help partners build successful ecosystems for customers.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Tracking trends via Google search results

What were some key UK trends in 2018?

Google recently published a list of the most frequently-used search terms amongst UK users. It's not a surprise that many people searched for Meghan Markle, given the hoopla over the royal wedding this year. I was surprised that her name was not at the TOP of the search list. It was #2, followed by the royal wedding.*

At #4 was searches for Black Panther, the blockbuster movie.

At the very top of the list, at #1, was the World Cup. Football fever!

To see the trends globally and country, by country, go to the page Google's Year in Search and select a place.

Globally, for example, Google says the #1 search was . . . World Cup.

Even in the United States, World Cup was the #1 search during 2018.

For historical comparison, you can also select a different year. No individual country results are available for 2001, but globally, the top search term was Nokia, followed by Sony, BMW, Palm (remember that brand? It was a personal digital assistant back in the day) and Adobe.

Fun and an interesting look back on trends from the past.

*Expect Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and the royal baby to trend very high in 2019 search results, right?

Friday, 7 December 2018

When brands include sounds

For many years, computer users have noticed a specific musical sound during bootup: Microsoft Windows has one sound, Apple Macintosh has another sound. These are examples of sonic branding. Similarly, brand jingles and musical straplines are part of sonic identity.

Now sonic branding is becoming increasingly important as brands seek to further differentiate themselves in this era of Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Echo and other virtual assistants and smart speakers.

In other words, the audio component of branding must support visual elements and other aspects of brand identity, because so many consumers rely on voice commands and audio response.

To be effective, the sound must be brief and memorable, consistent with other brand elements. It can be used in both audio and video brand experiences. And it should appeal to the target market, developing an emotional connection with the brand.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Marketing fashion products made from recycled materials

The world's oceans contain all kinds of rubbish, particularly plastic that pollutes and never decomposes--and fishing nets that have been thrown away. Now companies are turning ocean rubbish into 'green' clothing and accessories, stylish as well as a good path to sustainability. Consumers appreciate being able to make a difference through their purchases, the companies seek to accomplish societal objectives and the planet gets a little cleaner in the process.

Some brands are working with the nonprofit Parley for the Oceans to build awareness of the threats to ocean life and reuse discarded plastic in new products. Stella McCartney created a fashion collection based on recycled ocean plastics, for example, and also uses recycled nylon and polyester in fashion items. The sunglass brand Clean Waves markets products made from recycled ocean plastics, again in partnership with Parley for the Oceans.

The fast-fashion retailer H&M is buying nylon made from recycled fishing nets (from Aquafil) and turning it into stylish clothing. This partnership increases education about the challenges of ocean pollution and also showcases H&M as a firm actively working to improve sustainability.

Watch for more such partnerships as consumers increasingly seek out brands that are transparent about ethical sourcing and active in pursuing societal objectives.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Scooters and the sharing economy

The fast-growing 'sharing economy' includes firms like Airbnb (flats and homes) and Uber (car hires). Customers book what they need, when they need it, on demand, via app or the web. Convenient, easy, affordable and low-stress.

In America, electric scooters are already part of the sharing economy. Pioneering firms like Lime and Bird have put hundreds of lightweight, rechargeable scooters on the streets of major cities and on university campuses. Consumers unlock the scooters by logging into an app and paying about £1 to start. Operating fees depend on how long the ride continues, but the entire cost is usually much less than hiring a car or hailing a cab.

Scooters don't pollute, and they don't take up much space on streets or in car parks. Riding is fun and easy after a bit of trial and error. More scooters could mean less traffic and congestion in cities and on campuses. So why aren't UK cities encouraging scooters and the sharing economy?

Currently, UK law doesn't allow motorized scooters on paved streets/public roads. And based on the US experience, which has been both positive and negative, UK municipalities may be wary of consumers weaving in and out of traffic, riding on sidewalks and/or leaving scooters on the side of the street.

Now US-based Bird is among those seeking permission to operate in the UK. Its first test is a limited pilot programme on one private path near Bird's London offices. Will UK regulators change the rules to allow scooter-sharing services to operate?

Monday, 12 November 2018

Pop-up shops for holiday marketing

'Tis the season for holiday pop-up shoppes opening around the UK. More than ever, brands and businesses see pop-ups as a good way to offer a limited-time, in-person experience controlled by the brand.

This allows the companies to try new products or new displays, learn more about customers' interests and preferences, understand response to pricing and test response to communication messages featuring the pop-up. Once the pop-up closes, marketers can analyse the results and make decisions about future products, pricing, promotion and distribution possibilities--made possible by limited spending on a limited-time retail space in a targeted geographic area.

For instance:

  • Seedlip, which markets non-alcoholic drinks, is opening a Mayfair pop-up focused on its beverages as well as bar products.
  • Amazon, the pioneering online retailer, is opening a London fashion shop for one week to experiment with bricks-and-mortar store marketing.
  • Cards for Good Causes, a nonprofit, has a holiday pop-up inside a public library, selling greeting cards to benefit numerous charities.
  • One of the more unusual pop-ups is in Manchester, where Classic Football Shirts sells, well, classic football shirts like an original #7 Beckham ManU shirt, amongst others.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Holiday marketing begins early

How early? Well, UK retailer John Lewis actually plans two years ahead, analysing trends and preparing themes for holiday windows, displays and communications content. This is the only way to coordinate products, messages and in-store merchandising on schedule.

Selfridges was the earliest of all UK retailers to reveal its 2018 holiday window displays, on 18 October. The theme is rock 'n roll. Quoting the store: 'It’s about freedom, exuberance, living for today, and having a rocking time to the accompaniment of a great soundtrack'. See the full window displays from Oxford Street, London, here!

Hamley's Regent Street windows are all about holiday time in London, including markets and festivals. This year's focus is on plush toys, plush toys, plush toys in the windows and inside (plus other must-have toys).

Fenwick Newcastle's windows feature a jolly snowman come to life, from the children's book by Raymond Briggs, delighting the small boy who built the snowman.

Aldi's holiday advert again features Kevin the Carrot, returning from 2017 and 2016. The hashtag #SaveKevin engaged viewers to trend Aldi on social media following the advert on air.

Rival Lidl is airing three holiday adverts this year, themed 'upgrade your Christmas' with funny consequences. A Lidl exec says: 'Our classic humour and imagination runs through the series, providing Lidl laughs and mouth-watering products to marvel at'.

Nearly every day now, a retailer will be revealing windows or adverts and -- of course! -- special promotions to attract shoppers.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Top UK brands ranked by value


In the latest BrandZ listing of Top 75 UK brands, a brand's value depends on consumer perceptions of innovation, differentiation and communication. Strong brands not only innovate, they communicate their differentiation to remain top of mind amongst the target market of consumers.

According to Kantar Millward Brown, which conducts the BrandZ studies, the top five UK brands in terms of value are all well established with consumers and have a high public profile:

5. Sky (telecom)

4. BT (telecom)

3. Shell (energy)

2. HSBC (financial services)

1. Vodafone (telecom)

Kantar also notes the value growth of many relatively new brands such as Deliveroo (delivery of takeaway orders) and BrewDog (craft beer).

What do brands need to increase or maintain their value amongst consumers?

'To grow, they need to work on increasing consumer perceptions that they are different, innovative and relevant', says a Kantar UK exec. 'The disruptors entering the ranking, meanwhile, need to make their difference meaningful and salient to consumers – if they fail to do so they could have a short lifespan'.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

How retail marketers can use blockchain

Blockchain is best known as the secure technology driving crytocurrencies such as bitcoin. Because of its security and the speed/accuracy of exchanging data, blockchain is increasingly being considered by retail marketers worldwide.

One key function of blockchain is to identify the supply-chain provenance of a product and track its movement through the distribution network. This is extremely important as retailers source products from around the world.

Carrefour, the French hypermarket retailer, is planning to implement blockchain for fresh foods such as tomatoes and chickens. This will enable the retailer to trace back to the source any possible problems.

Consumers will be reassured that Carrefour can quickly and accurately identify where fresh foods come from--and have confidence about the source. With 33,000 stores in 12 nations, blockchain will be a plus for Carrefour's ability to manage its fresh foods supply chain.

'The key thing for us as Carrefour is to be able to say when there is a crisis that we have the blockchain technology, so we are able to trace products and tell the story of the products', says the retailer's Secretary General.