Friday, 27 January 2012

What's happening to high street shops?

The Economist points out that some high street shops are going to administration, some are struggling and some are already shuttered, victim of recession or high taxes or changing shopping habits.

In fact, the retailers that fared best during the recent holiday buying season were those with robust e-commerce operations. According to estimates, online shopping surged during the month of December in 2011, to near £8bn--much higher than in December 2010. Now online shopping accounts for approximately 17% of overall UK retail purchases during the year.

Don't forget m-commerce, which was the shopping method of choice for as many as 25% of online shoppers during December, 2011.

High street shops aren't going away, but they are in the process of reinventing themselves for the new multichannel buying experiences that customers increasingly demand. 

Two success stories are John Lewis and Next. Both offer fast and easy delivery of orders for buyers who buy online. One option these stores feature is "Click & collect" for next-day delivery of orders to nearby stores. Next offers next-day home delivery within most UK areas for a standard delivery charge of £3.99. John Lewis offers free standard home delivery (within approximately 5 business days) for all online orders over £30. Next-day deliveries are available for a fee.

Click & collect is not only convenient, it brings shoppers into a store and presents the possibility of additional impulse purchases. This is a smart option for multichannel shoppers and high street stores alike.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Google's controversial privacy changes

From March 1, Google will be putting all its data about users of Gmail, Google search, Blogger, YouTube, and other services together in one database, analysing it . . . and based on the results, serve up a simpler, better user experience. Read all about the changes here.

In the past, Google had separate privacy policies for each service. Now, by applying a single, uniform policy across services, and merging all it knows about you into one database, the company says it can personalize your Google experiences to make them more relevant to your needs.

Critics are unhappy because it's not possible for anyone to opt out. If you sign in, you're identified across all the Google services, and your data will be collected, whether you like it or not. Gmail may be convenient, but it will be less private because Google will use what it finds in your messages plus what it sees you watching on YouTube or writing on Blogger to present you with targeted ads.

You may, as Google points out, get more precise information when you search, because Google knows so much about you. And there are likely to be other benefits that will emerge as people learn to use the new system. Still, the privacy aspect is quite controversial.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Valentine's Day marketing themes

According to the Greeting Card Association, the average UK spend for a Valentine's Day card is higher than the average for any other type of card. Last year, a research firm estimated that UK shoppers spend, in total, £334.3 million on Valentine's Day gifts. That includes flowers, chocolates and jewellery.

So what themes are UK retailers using to attract Valentine's Day shoppers this year? Here's a brief look:
  • John Lewis presents 'Gifts of Love' for him and her (and both), including clothing, jewellery, fragrances, accessories, fine foods and wine.
  • The Harrods site offers cards, hampers, chocolates and more--under the simple heading of 'Valentines Day'.
  • Selfridges features chocolates, flowers, lingerie and fragrances in its 'Letters of Love' campaign.
  • M&S presents the top 10 gifts for him and her, plus bouquets, perfume, cards and other merchandise: 'Spoil the special someone in your life'.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Samsung Expands Apps

South Korea's Samsung is investing 27 billion pounds to upgrade factories and develop new technologies that will lead to new products. One intriguing idea is to expand the concept of apps to many more appliances, not just mobiles, computers and tablets.

In particular, Samsung Electronics is moving toward apps that connect different gadgets, such as mobiles and TVs. "Over time, it'll be a must to have apps on multiple devices," says a senior exec. Currently, its Samsung Apps site features mobile and smartphone apps, but more will be available over time.

Samsung UK's Facebook page has 125,000 "likes" and lists some of the newest products, including the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Chronos. Its Twitter account has 26,000 followers and is very active with tweets.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Fujifilm thrives, Kodak struggles


The Economist recently contrasted the financial woes of Kodak with the better performance of its traditional rival, Fujifilm. Kodak's yellow-and-red boxes were, at one time, stacked up in every photo shop and tourist kiosk throughout the US, Canada, and many European countries. Despite Kodak's strength, Fujifilm's green boxes--always a fixture in Asian stores--were slowly but steadily gaining ground worldwide, in part because the film was less expensive than Kodak's film.

Then digital imaging changed everything. Although Kodak developed some of the earliest digital cameras, it stuck to its highly profitable film business too long. It also moved too slowly to eliminate its profit dependence on traditional film products through diversification.

Now, even as its financial difficulties put it on the brink of bankruptcy, Kodak has sued Fujifilm for patent infringement (Fujifilm had sued Kodak a few months earlier). Kodak is also suing Apple and HTC for patent infringement.

Fujifilm, meanwhile, moved more quickly to address the inevitable ascent of digital photography. Not only is it introducing more sophisticated digital cameras for the replacement market, it has added many low-end models for first-time camera buyers. In India and other nations with growing economies, Fujifilm has increased its marketing budget and set aggressive goals for increasing market share.

Will Kodak survive? The picture is far from clear.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Fresh & Easy closes more stores to lower losses

Tesco continues to struggle with its money-losing U.S. stores under the Fresh & Easy brand. The company is 'temporarily' closing another dozen stores, even as it opens additional outlets in more upmarket areas.

A Tesco spokesperson told The Guardian:

'At this time, there is simply not enough growth in sales and customers at these stores to keep them open.

'We will close these stores over the coming weeks and we will reopen them when economic and business conditions warrant...For every store we're closing temporarily, we are opening two'.

To move from losses to profits, the Fresh & Easy chain needs an estimated 300 U.S. stores. It is currently opening smaller shops. Tesco has said it wants this chain to achieve profitability during 2013. What's next for Fresh & Easy?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

"Most advocated" brands

Like a brand a lot? Like to tell the world? Your views on a brand are likely to influence your friends and relatives, especially if you're an expert on a particular type of product.

According to Bain & Company, the top 10 "most advocated" brands in the UK are:

Kerastase (haircare products)
Mercedes (cars)
Apple iPhone (mobiles)
Redken (haircare products)
Hotel Chocolat (chocolates)
Cohiba (cigars)
Apple iPod (digital entertainment device)
HTC (mobiles)
Audi (cars)
Rolex (watches)

These brands not only have high recognition, they're highly recommended by customers, which gives them an extra boost.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Creativity + Strategy = Results

Marketing Week just published an insightful piece about the importance of encouraging a culture of creativity. Some of the examples of creativity include Cadbury's drumming gorilla, Persil's "dirt is good" campaign and Johnnie Walker's "Keep Walking" campaign.

The point is that sometimes creativity can provide an edge that data simply won't give you.

Marketing (an Australian magazine) offers another good example: Tesco's clever transit advertising campaign in South Korea, featuring posters lined with shelves and products just like a real Tesco market (see photo above). Commuters use their mobiles to scan and order products from the ads.

What these successful examples have in common is their ability to combine creativity with marketing strategy. The Cadbury gorilla was all about attracting attention and creating a mood; the Persil campaign connected with parents' feelings about children enjoying playtime; the Johnnie Walker campaign reinforced the product's status; and the Tesco campaign added both novelty and convenience.

Creativity + strategy = results.