Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Red Nose Day 2017

24 March is Red Nose Day this year. Right, who's up for a laugh? Really, that's one of the headlines on the official website.

And what a social fundraising drive this is. More than 690,000 people 'like' the nonprofit organisation's Facebook page. Nearly 780,000 Twitter followers. More than 437,000 subscribers to the hilarious YouTube channel. Only a few thousand Pinterest followers, but 31,000 Instagram followers.

Very worthy of viral sharing: the much-anticipated brief followup to Love Actually made especially for this occasion and appropriately titled Red Nose Day Actually. Teasers released online and a lot of publicity combine to build anticipation and stimulate word of mouth (plus word of mouse).

New this year, and also worth of viral sharing: an app that listens for your swear words and makes you donate 20p for each curse you say. Of course there are celebrities involved and it's all about getting funny for money.

Right, who's up for a laugh and a good cause on Red Nose Day 2017?

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Poundland's multi-price strategy

Updating the 'Marketing in practice' box on p. 135 of my new Essential guide to marketing planning, Poundland has expanded its pricing and product mix beyond the traditional £ 1 unit price. Now owned by Steinhoff International, the discount retailer has a variety of price-oriented straplines, including: 'Big brands cost less'.

In stores and online, Poundland now sells many items for more than £1--with the vast majority of merchandise selling for less than £10. Above, the website shows branded items selling for 'only £2 each'.

The product mix includes more clothing than ever, thanks to a 'shop within a shop' arrangement with the Steinhoff-owned brand Pep & Co. Pep's managing director says: 'The combination of Pep&Co’s design and style credentials - with pricing that’s amazing - will help create a brand new option that helps mums on a budget'.

Having Pep stores within Poundland should increase footfall and bring shoppers back for fashions as well as everyday household goods like laundry detergent. How will Poundland's reputation for low prices be influenced by this multi-price strategy?

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Boaty McBoatface, brand ambassador

In 2016, the Natural Environment Research Council held a contest to name its next polar research vessel (shown in red, above). The top vote-getting name was Boaty McBoatface.

Yet authorities decided against Boaty, instead choosing RRS Sir David Attenborough. They bestowed the Boaty name not on a boat but on a new type of robotic submarine that will explore under ice packs and in the coldest ocean areas.

This week, the first Boaty sub will be launched from a polar research ship at the tip of Chile. A cartoon version of Boaty, above, will 'market' the idea of oceanic research to school children around the UK. You can see the full Boaty McBoatface website here.

With such a fun name, and an appealing smiley face, Boaty is a brilliant brand ambassador for NERC's oceanic research.

To read about Boaty's adventures, join the 27k followers who read posts by the NERC on Twitter @NERCscience.

Friday, 10 March 2017

The art and science of marketing

art or science?

Of course marketing is a bit of both. But how much art and how much science?
The CMO of an Australian software firm believes that marketing today is 70% science, 30% art. His point: Every business should be using science (sophisticated analyses, big data, etc) to support decisions about marketing. At the same time, the creativity of art is key to developing marketing that touches hearts and minds.
Science is vital for targeting, in particular. A Google marketing exec points to the quest for 'right place, right time, right message' and how science can inform decisions about place and time. Yet art is needed for marketing that creates 'brand magic', in his words.
The CMO of an auto insurance firm observes that many marketers 'are so proud of their art but they don't know their science'. This firm is serious about the science of marketing, doing media buying in-house for tight control over targeting and timing. Still, given the intense competition in the insurance business, this CMO looks to art for the edge: 'We're not going to out-pend anybody. We're going to out-create them'.
Creativity is necessary to achieve breakthrough marketing campaigns that are memorable and drive results. And sometimes, as one agency exec notes, marketers have to take a chance and use intuition even when 'we know measurement is thin'. 
The bottom line is, in reality, the bottom line--science (metrics and KPIs, for instance) can tell us how well the marketing is working. Creativity in marketing, the art, must have a purpose. Through science (planning, testing and evaluating) we can determine how well the art delivered on the marketing objectives. Art and science in marketing!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

See now, buy now meets consumer behaviour

Behind the scenes, 'see now, buy now' fashion requires major changes in everything from production to sourcing to distribution and channel decisions. Burberry pioneered the trend toward making fashions available 'from the runway', meaning selling new styles as the new collection is being introduced.

Instead of waiting months to be able to buy new styles, consumers can click or order in season, right now. It makes sense from a consumer behaviour perspective. Not surprisingly, this is the new marketing model for a growing number of fashion brands. Yet it's quite a challenge to support. 'A switch to this kind of operational model requires extremely intense collaboration between teams that would typically work in a relatively siloed approach', explains the chief brand officer for Tommy Hilfiger.

See now, buy now isn't just for high-end fashion marketing. Fast-fashion firms like H&M are also adopting this approach. H&M Studio recently introduced new styles for men and for women in a see now, buy now strategy. The intro took place in a pop-up space, livestreamed in virtual reality via the Swedish retailer's YouTube channel.

For retailers, see now, buy now is an opportunity to create and satisfy demand in a timely manner, rather than creating anticipation and potentially losing demand due to a long wait for product availability.

It's consumer-led and puts shopping into the same moment as fashion trends are being created. In other words, see now, buy now fits today's consumer behaviour, when paying with a swipe or a click is often the norm and brands ride the tide of social media for immediacy and buzz marketing.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Tesco's core purpose, over time

Tesco has published its core purpose (also known as the mission statement) on its corporate website for years. Over time, the core purpose has changed slightly to a tighter focus on what, specifically, Tesco aspires to do for its customers.

In 2010, Tesco's mission statement (shown above, retrieved from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine), was 'to create value for customers to earn their lifetime value'.

In 2014, Tesco's mission statement (shown above, again from the Wayback Machine), was to 'make what matters better, together'.

In 2017, Tesco's mission statement (shown above, from today's website), was 'serving Britain's shoppers a little better every day'.

In my opinion the 2017 mission statement is stronger than the earlier versions. Why?

Take a look at Checklist #1 in my Essential Guide to Marketing Planning for questions to use in evaluating any mission statement, including Tesco's. For example, one question is: 'Who will the organisation focus on?'

Tesco's 2014 core purpose was less specific on this point than its 2017 core purpose, which clearly states 'Britain's shoppers'. In other words, it defines a particular group of customers in a particular market. The statement also mentions that Tesco will be 'a little better every day'.

This provides clear strategic direction for decision-makers (and reflects Tesco's shift away from operating stores in other nations). The clarity helps the grocery retailer's turnaround efforts, which depend on careful pricing and on consistent customer service, to battle intense competition.

Friday, 24 February 2017

'Versus' marketing strengthens positioning

Marketing magazine has a thought-provoking opinion piece by Mark Ritson, about positioning for competitive advantage. Here's one quote:
The versus position is one in which we make it clear what we stand for to customers by highlighting the differences between ourselves and others.
Remember, positioning is in the mind of the customer--how the customer thinks or feels about your brand and competing brands. Your role is to put forth a 'versus' fitting for your product or brand, one that is compelling enough to influence thought and feeling, compelling enough to encourage a purchase.

It's not enough to say 'my brand is the best'. But if you position versus traditional brands--as one example--or versus a specific competitor, you help customers understand what your brand stands for and why it's the best choice.

Here are two examples of positioning versus traditional competitors:
  • Ben & Jerry's website and packaging showcase the brand's social responsibility. The company (owned by Unilever) knows that customers expect ice cream to taste good. Ben & Jerry's stands for more than just good-tasting ice cream. Its positioning relies on the brand being good for the planet, good for workers, good for social causes--not a claim that every competitor can make.
  • Innocent positions itself as 100% pure, no additives, no 'nasty' stuff, just healthy, fresh ingredients. This is in contrast to traditional soft drinks that are carbonated and sugary, or that use artificial sweeteners. Plus Innocent (owned by Coca-Cola) is 'sourced sustainably' and gives 10% of profits to charity. Again, not every competitor does what Innocent does.

One last thought: If you use advertising to highlight differences between your brand and another, be sure the comparisons are fair and not misleading.