Sunday, 31 May 2009

Recession Testing Tesco

Tesco, feeling the effects of recession, is growing more slowly than anticipated. One reason is competition. Many UK bargain hunters are filling their trolleys at Asda and other deep-discount stores, while US bargain hunters who might have shopped at Tesco's Fresh & Easy local food marts are buying foods from Wal-Mart (updating Tesco case in Chapter 1 of my book). In response, Fresh & Easy's 120 stores are sharpening their focus on "value" (meaning carefully-selected items with especially attractive prices).

Now Tesco is giving London shoppers a green reason to go to its stores, by planning an electric car recharging station. Shoppers can plug in a car before they start to shop and then drive away two hours later with a fully-charged battery and, Tesco hopes, a car full of groceries. Going green is a long-term strategy for Tesco, not just a recession-era gimmick. CEO Sir Terry Leahy is fully committed to eco-friendly operations and to educating shoppers about doing their part. He tells the Times: "Businesses have to show how the consumer can make a difference."

Friday, 29 May 2009

Viewing What's Viral

Have you seen the Viral Video Chart of top 20 ads and commercials, as ranked by Unruly Media? The main part of the page shows the most-watched ads, like the T-Mobile Dance commercial, which has been on the list for months but continues to gain viewers. I also like the section with news about the latest viral campaigns, an increasingly important element in marketing communications.

But how long do we remember today's viral hits? Test yourself: Here's a Times Online listing of the top 10 viral campaigns from mid-2007, which includes Nike's ad for football boots, featuring Ronaldinho.

And here's Campaign's listing of top 10 viral ads of 2008. Do you remember the Pot Noodle "Tipping Pot" ad (pictured above)? Did it change your mind about the brand, encourage you to try it for the first time, remind you how much you like (or don't like the brand) or motivate you to make a repeat purchase? The real test of viral advertising's power is its ability to influence how we think, feel or act toward a brand or product.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Update on Sustainability Marketing

What's happening in sustainability marketing? Tesco remains a leader in adding carbon labels to more products as it demonstrates commitment to sustainability, a goal that has become increasingly important to the segment of "green" shoppers (see my Chapter 4 for more about market segmentation). Quaker is adding labels to show the amount of carbon used by different ways of cooking porridge and other foods it markets. Walkers crisps qualify to display Carbon Reduction labels because the company has been reducing its carbon footprint year after year.

For the latest in sustainability marketing, click to:

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Just Giving for a Decade

Have you heard of Justgiving? It's an online fundraising site that has helped thousands of charities get the cash they need to do good works. The company is not a nonprofit--it makes money through a complicated process that includes Gift Aid from the UK government. What makes the business possible at all is technology (a key factor in the external environment, as discussed in Chapter 2 of my book).

Since launching in 1999, Justgiving has helped more than 7,000 charities raise hundreds of millions of pounds on the Web. Recently Procter & Gamble's Pampers brand used Justgiving's Internet capabilities to raise money for UNICEF to use in vaccinating babies against tetanus (see above). Now Justgiving is reaching out to more companies, charities, and contributors through social media such as Facebook and blogs. As technology evolves, watch for Justgiving to evolve as well.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Vodafone Redials Distribution

Vodafone is rethinking its exclusive UK distribution deal with Phones4U and trying to get its offerings back into Carphone Warehouse (updating Chapter 8 of my book, which examines channels and logistics).

Why? Because sales are slow and Vodafone would like wider distribution. Consolidation among UK mobile carriers is another possible solution to the intense competition, according to Vodafone's CEO.

For now, mobile bargains are everywhere as prepaid services compete against subscription services in a slow-growing market. Although Vodafone is cutting costs aggressively, its latest financial results were below targets. Will wider distribution be the answer?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Hello Tube Riders and Beyond

London Tube riders are a target audience for marketers who need to reach 3 million consumers and business buyers every day (more about advertising in Chapter 9 of my book).

The ad network includes posters and electronic displays in stations, on specific platforms, along escalators, and in lifts. Marketers can also become the sole advertiser on a single station stop or a particular tube line.

Many of the campaigns are creative and eye-catching, as you can see if you do an image search for "tube London advertising" on Google. Here are the results of one recent search. Subway adverts are all over the world. For instance, at top are posters from the Paris Metro; the middle photo shows imaginative advertising on a Tokyo subway train.

Does transit advertising work? A London Metropolitan Business School MA Marketing student concludes that it's especially effective when the advertiser needs to cut through clutter to reach commuters during rush hour.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

"Liquid" Advertising

According to experts participating in a Harvard Business School business summit late last year, global advertising must be "liquid" not "linear," which means more flexibility and fluidity (updating the Chapter 9 content on marketing communications).


  • More than ever, customers can choose which ad messages they want to receive, pay attention to, respond to. They can delete an e-mail ad with one click or turn off a radio commercial in an instant. The way consumers use media is more fluid, so advertising has to change with this trend.
  • More than ever, customers want to be involved with the brands and products they admire or use or want to have. Liquid advertising invites participation through user-generated content (think YouTube) or contests such as this Barclaycard contest, or other approaches.
  • Media are increasingly global, as are brands, so advertising must be flexible enough to be adapted to different markets and cultures.
What will liquid advertising mean for marketing planning and customer response?

Friday, 8 May 2009

London 2012

The official home page of the London 2012 Olympic Games is bursting with news and activities to engage the public and build excitement for this highly-anticipated event. From today, only 1175 days until the opening ceremonies and the marketing race is on, with multiple marketing plans for getting people involved very early (as in Chapter 1 of my book).

On today's London 2012 home page is a contest inviting students to submit designs for the Games' education logo (that's where the green logo at left comes from). Webcam photos show the progress of construction at Olympic Park. Blog and Twitter entries bring us behind the scenes with minute-by-minute updates. Lots of links to other Olympics sites (like the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics) and to specific plans for London events. The home page changes every day and that's smart marketing, as well, to encourage frequent visits. Let the games begin!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Grameen Danone Succeeds

Danone and Grameen Bank have a joint-venture social business called Grameen Danone, a for-profit enterprise making and marketing yoghurt in Bangladesh. Danone, the French food giant, and Grameen, known for microfinance, saw an opportunity to create jobs and improve nutrition by creating a business that would pay for itself. Danone has the manufacturing and product strength; Grameen has the local market knowledge and connections (see SWOT analysis in Chapter 2 of my book).

The yoghurt was developed to be especially nutritious and affordable; local women who sell the yoghurt make a tiny profit on each cup; and the manufacturing facility creates jobs for people in the area. Grameen Danone has been so successful that it will soon open a second facility in Bangladesh to take advantage of increasing demand.

Grameen and Danone are now working together to bring microfinance to areas of China that were devastated by earthquakes, a great example of leveraging strengths to bring social and financial benefits to local communities.