Thursday, 28 July 2011

Green labels proliferate

The Carbon Trust's Carbon Reduction Label and the European Commission's Ecolabel are two 'green label' programmes designed to inform consumers about the environmental impact of the products they're considering. The original ecolabel is Germany's Blue Angel, started in 1978.

These days, individual nations as well as regions and retailers are bringing their own green labels into use. The world's largest retailer, Walmart, has been trying to get its scheme going for the past two years, but progress is slow.

Now, according to one database, there are more than 400 ecolabels in use worldwide, with additional labels on the way. More labels may only confuse consumers, especially since each label's rating methodology differs from those of other labels.

Still, despite the current sluggish economy, more consumers are buying green products, research shows that consumers are buying green products. No wonder more marketers want to show off their Earth-friendly initiatives.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Retail Trend: Smaller Stores

John Lewis plans to open smaller stores to keep costs low while expanding into new markets. The real benefit, however, is that shoppers in a hurry can rush in, find what they want and leave quickly--quite a convenience compared with the time needed to navigate floors in a traditional department store.

Some of these shoppers are multichannel shoppers, meaning they buy online as well as in a store, and simply seeing a local John Lewis will start the buying process and reinforce the retailer's brand.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is testing smaller stores in different markets. Its Express format fits into smaller stores and offers an edited range of frequently-purchased items. Lower costs for rent, fewer employees needed and more convenience for shoppers who want to buy a few products.

Meanwhile, with financial failures shutting down some well-known chains in Europe, US-based retailers are looking to open across the continent. They can land good store locations and build on their brand awareness to expand sales beyond current markets. Above, Abercrombie & Fitch new Paris branch attracted attention on its opening day.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Marketing Bentley wristwatches and Lamborghini laptops

'Cars are indicators of our lifestyle now and their design content is an expression of our times'.

This is what the chief exec of Cultwork told CNBC Business about the trend toward upmarket car brands partnering with other firms to extend their prestige to different products. Here are just a few examples: 
  • Bentley has teamed with Breitling on a range of cobranded wristwatches that combine 'British chic' and 'Swiss tradition'. 
  • Mercedes has its name on a designer wristwatch made by TagHeuer, inspired by the Mercedes SLR sports car. 
  • Lamborghini has its brand on a laptop made by Asus, emphasising both style and speed.
  • Jaguar fans can now have the famous V12 engine in their living rooms, in the form of a glass-topped coffee table.
What products are not suitable for cobranding with luxury car names? How far can upscale car brand extensions go?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Burger King Cooks Up Fast-Food Marketing

June, 2011 in Rostock, Germany
With more than 11,000 outlets worldwide, BK has a solid competitive position in the high-stakes world of fast food. I spotted this Burger King sign on a busy street in Rostock, Germany. Whether Hamburg was the original home of burgers or not, Burger King is quite popular in Germany and across Europe.

Its German Web site features local TV adverts, downloads, menu information, and e-cards for viral buzz, and much more. It also links to BK's German Facebook page and to BK's German YouTube channel.

Whoppers aren't the only menu item drawing attention for BK. The company has introduced a special upmarket burger made of Wagyu beef to attract UK customers who want a gourmet treat.

In the United Kingdom, smartphone users can download the "King of Apps" to locate and navigate to the nearest Burger King restaurant. The BK UK Facebook page has not only "likes" but "check-ins" to encourage participation. And the BK UK YouTube channel posts the latest adverts. What will BK do next to heat up its fast-food marketing?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Niche chocolates expand

Updating the sample marketing plan in my Essential Guide to Marketing Planning, here's a quick look at one of the European competitors that Lost Legends Luxury Chocolatier would have to face if it (hypothetically) expanded into the Baltic region.

Simply Chocolate, based in Copenhagen, is an all-natural, upmarket brand that emphasises quality ingredients rather than fancy packaging.

At left is one of its brown boxes with a quirky saying in English to attract attention. Another box (with the same assortment of 8 chocolates) was labeled "Forget Johnny Depp." Who could resist packaging with clever sayings like these?

Simply Chocolate's product range includes chocolate bars, choco-covered nuts and more. Currently, its chocolates are available at only two locations: In a boutique within Stockholm's Illum department store (see photo below), where I bought a few boxes last month, and in a storefront at Tivoli Gardens in the middle of Copenhagen. Limited distribution only reinforces the brand's exclusivity. Worth trying if you're ever in the area!

Friday, 8 July 2011

News of the World: Thank you and goodbye

News of the World, once the best-selling Sunday paper in the UK, is printing one final Sunday edition (seen here) and closing down. Allegations that News of the World has been involved in unethical phone hacking and payoffs to police prompted Virgin, Boots, Specsavers, O2, Sainsbury, Ford and many others to stop advertising. The loss of advertiser revenue, added to the many questions being asked about the tabloid's activities, hastened the paper's closure.

Advertisers want to be associated with companies and causes that their customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders like, trust and believe in. A scandal such as the one unfolding around News of the World was so big and so public that neither the paper nor its advertisers could afford to wait to make decisions about how to proceed. In fact, when Virgin found out its ad was already printed for the final News of the World Sunday edition, it tweeted to say there was nothing it could do to stop the ad from appearing.

Other media vehicles began courting advertisers even before the closure was announced. In an e-mail to advertisers who usually use News of the World, the Mail wrote (in part): 'In light of the public outcry with the News of the World and also hints that key advertisers such as yourselves may be pulling away - is there anything we can do to support you this coming weekend in terms of copy?' With the closure just two days away, both the Mail and the Mirror are preparing for a massive print run to capture News of the World readers this Sunday.

Now that News of the World is gone, management is scrambling for explanations and UK officials are planning to investigate. Few advertisers would have risked their reputations by remaining with the tabloid if it had tried to go on. Trust takes time to build but can be destroyed very quickly if there's no transparency.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

TK Maxx: Big labels, small prices

TK Maxx in Rostock, Germany
TK Maxx advertises its appeal as: "Big labels, small prices". Who could miss this strap line and the red signature colour on a TK Maxx storefront (like this one I visited in Rostock, Germany)?

TK Maxx is owned by the US-based off-price retailer TJX, a 13 billion-pound business with more than 2,800 stores in 6 countries. In the US, its apparel stores operate under the TJ Maxx name; across the pond, its apparel stores operate under the TK Maxx name.

The company explains its off-price concept on a special How we do it Web page. Loyal customers know that a fashion in the store today might not be there tomorrow, so they must make quick buying decisions.

Of course the company has a Facebook presence, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel featuring its latest adverts.

With clothing prices on the rise due to higher materials and transportation costs, TK Maxx's discount formula is even more attractive to shoppers during these uncertain economic times.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Social media marketing ROI

Can you measure the bottom-line results of social media marketing? In the early days of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, the focus was on setting up accounts, adding content and attracting an audience. The most commonly-used metric was (and still is) audience size. How many Facebook users "like" your page? How many Twitter followers do you have? How many YouTube views do your videos or adverts get?

However, building an audience is only the first step in applying metrics to determine the return on investment in social media marketing. To make social media marketing pay off, you'll need to actively engage the target audience in your marketing activities.

The third step, illustrated above in a diagram by Jamie Turner for Mashable, shows that social media marketing is a long-term activity. To earn a real return on social media marketing, you have to convert your followers/fans/viewers to actual customers and retain their loyalty.

Research suggests that consumers are more likely to buy from brands that they are followers or fans of. Over time, if you actively engage your audience via social media marketing and listen to their comments as much as you post your own, you'll be better positioned for higher revenue and a positive return on investment.