Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Diamond Jubilee marketing

Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebrations will take place in 2012. Already, marketing plans are in place for building on widespread interest in the royal festivities. A few previews:
  • Exhibitions featuring highlights of the Queen's reign will be on public display in the royal palaces, drawing even more visitors than usual.
  • Harrod's has a variety of commemorative items for sale, including a Jubilee mug, thimble, teddy bear and fridge magnet.
  • Bramley is inviting customers to submit their recipes for its Bramley Diamond Dishes contest.
  • The Royal Canadian Mint has struck a special medal in honour of the Jubilee.
  • Chinacraft's Aynsley Diamond Jubilee 2012 range includes the crown bell shown here, plus plates and tankards.
More activities and products will certainly be announced in the coming weeks, as the combination of the Jubilee and the London Olympics builds tourism to new highs.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Lego Friends for Little Ladies

Lego is introducing a new line of figurines and blocks targeting girls in the age range of 5 to 8.

With the brand's recognition level at all-time highs among parents who buy for boys in the 5-to-8 range, Lego now wants to capture more of parents' spending on children's toys. And why not?

Seems that Lego did a lot of marketing research and realized that girls like to project themselves into the story. These new figurines and block shapes expand the story lines beyond airports, Hogwarts and the Empire, into more familiar everyday surroundings such as a tree house and beauty salons located in Heartlake City, the new Lego "universe" for girls.

The UK launch is set for Boxing Day--yes, Lego is hoping that families clutching gift cards or holiday money will flood into toy stores after Christmas to pick up the new Lego Friends. Stores will also have more room to display the new Lego range after Christmas. (The US launch will occur on New Year's Day.)

The rollout will continue around the world month by month. Will Lego Friends enjoy the big success that boys' Lego sets have enjoyed?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Do Food Marketers Aim at UK Children Online?

Are Nestle and Cadbury--among others--marketing unhealthy [sugary, for example] foods to UK children online? The British Heart Foundation and Children's Food Campaign are complaining about this type of activity; the Advertising Standards Authority has strict guidelines for TV adverts targeting kids, but these don't apply in the same way to Internet activity. Here's a quote from the Children's Food Campaign:
Companies are shamelessly exploiting gaps in marketing regulations by targeting children online with promotions for junk foods that cannot be advertised during children's TV.

The companies say no, they're not targeting young children inappropriately. In fact, the Cadbury's Furry Tales site, mentioned by critics, will be closed very soon because it doesn't meet the guidelines of parent company Kraft. The site, which features cute cartoon characters on the main page (see below), requests a year of birth for entry from 'supervising grownups'.

Watch for more controversy and possibly more regulations addressing this issue.

Monday, 12 December 2011

'Tis the season to hand-craft

Making gifts by hand is more than a Christmas-season trend--it signals renewed interest in creativity and personal involvement in new and traditional crafts at any time of the year.

This has led to the rise of businesses such as London's Make Lounge, shown above, where experienced and want-to-be crafters can sign up for workshops to learn how to make jewelry, take up knitting, decorate cupcakes and many other activities. Make Lounge also offers kiddie parties and baby shower crafts.

The Ministry of Craft in Manchester is another business that provides a place for learning crafts in the company of other craft-minded people. From sewing to digital photography, lampshades to scrapbooking, this business helps bring out the creativity and inventiveness in its students.

Homemade London is, as its name suggests, a specialist in teaching crafts such as making chocolate truffles, sewing totes and creating a personal perfume.

The beauty of hand-made crafts is that the creators add their own personal touches to individualise every gift...and in the process, they learn a skill they can use to make different items for themselves or for others. It all makes for a happy holiday season for gifters and giftees!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mia's new look in electric vehicles

All-electric vehicles are starting to capture attention as eco-conscious buyers look for viable alternatives to petrol-powered cars.

The Mia electric micro bus updates a classic favourite, with new technology and distinctive styling that sets the brand apart from other electric vehicles.

Mia, based in France, buys its lithium-ion batteries from the British firm Evida Power. And although Evida's boss sees higher demand in the coming years, he also knows that all-electric vehicles won't become commonplace overnight. “You need some incentive from the authorities, a reduction in parking fees, dedicated lanes and dedicated parking and some authorities would want to see demand before taking the plunge,” he tells the Birmingham Post.

In other words, higher demand depends on infrastructure, which in turn depends on some indication of higher demand.

The Chevy Volt has been having lithium-ion battery problems lately, with a couple of batteries bursting into flames after a simulated crash. Lithium-battery vehicles clearly have different challenges for designers, consumers, and mechanics--sure to make buyers on either side of the Atlantic Ocean stop and think twice before they buy.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mulberry: Watch this brand grow!

Maybe the world economy is still struggling, but not Mulberry, the UK brand best known for its luxury Alexa and Bayswater handbags. Mulberry is growing and highly profitable, with a lucrative presence in the Chinese market and planned expansion to Europe and South Korea.
Above, as mentioned on the brand's blog, today Mulberry's flagship stores in New York City and London are giving away small treats (fashionably presented) to promote their featured items for holiday buyers. Twitter is part of Mulberry's social media outreach, as well. Watch this brand grow!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Chocolate wins in bad times and good times

“There are some categories in the world that people consume in good times and bad times, and chocolate is one of them.”
This recent quote from Kraft Foods' president for Southeast Asia and Indochina reflects the state of the global chocolate market: Sweet.

Financial analysts confirm that most chocolate marketers are doing well, because consumers like buying an affordable treat when the economy is down...and when the economy is up, they can afford even more luxurious chocolates.

Hotel Chocolat is thriving, with higher sales and profits. It's opening its first store in Scotland and its Caribbean resort/cocoa plantation is creating buzz that boosts the brand.
Godiva's marketing is intended to encourage more purchasing of chocolates more often, for three types of usage situations: to give as a gift, to share with a group and for the buyer to eat himself or herself. Godiva is especially strong in the gift-giving category, but now wants to encourage higher purchases for the other two categories.
However, Thornton's, now a century old, is struggling: Its profits are down and it is closing stores to improve margins. (Photo, above, is of Thornton's giant choco bar, made for its 100th anniversary celebration.) Will the holiday buying season give it a sweeter bottom line?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mega Monday

Depending on your calendar, either last Monday--the final Monday in November--(Cyber Monday in the US) or today--the first Monday in December--is Mega Monday, the heaviest online shopping day of the UK holiday season.

Amazon UK expects that buying will peak tonight at 9 pm. Shoppers using computers, tablets and mobiles will be busy ordering gifts all over the Internet all day today, for a total of 85 million online shopping visits.

To attract buyers, businesses are already featuring low, low and lower prices as discounts and vouchers take the spotlight. Shoppers are hunting for bargains and apparently holding onto their pounds or plastic until they see how deep the discounts will go.
The online auction site eBay is trying a five-day pop-up store in London's Soho district, reinforcing the focus on low prices. QR codes are the key to information and buying in this temporary store. 

Will Mega Monday 2011 have a positive effect on sales and profits?

Friday, 2 December 2011

What about Wi-Fi in stores?

Tesco just announced it will make free Wi-Fi available for all Clubcard members in all Tesco Extra stores, not long after John Lewis announced its free Wi-Fi service availability.

One benefit is that shoppers will be able to do online price comparisons before they buy in the store. Another is that they will be able to check for consumer reviews, look at accessories and complementary products, browse brand web sites, and then be in a position to make more informed decisions.

Will Wi-Fi be a major competitive advantage? IMHO, no. Still, it's another extra that boosts goodwill and serves as a point of differentiation in the crowded retail marketplace. And in today's economic environment, that might be enough to encourage shoppers to choose Tesco or John Lewis instead of competing stores.