Monday, 29 October 2012

The trend toward multibranding

The company formerly known as Kraft (now Mondelez) is aggressively pursuing multibranding among its billion-dollar brands, such as by creating a chocolate bar combining its Oreo brand and its Cadbury brand. A Mondelez marketing director states: "Combining these two extremely popular brands to create Cadbury Dairy Milk with Oreo seemed like a natural fit and offers an exciting opportunity for retailers to help boost sales and capitalise on the phenomenal reputation of each brand individually."

Multibranding is also common among brands that aren't owned by the same parent company. For instance, Hindustan Lever is working with Future Group to create a cobranded line of baked goods for certain Big Bazaar stores in Mumbai.

This multibranding trend helps the brand owners build on image, recognition and loyalty to launch new products in the increasingly crowded marketplace. The brands may also combine financial and marketing resources to develop and launch new products, adding to their potential strengths. Finally, multibranding can help a new product attract the attention and support of retailers or other channel members, giving it a boost during introduction and beyond.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

McDonald's markets to the world

Every continent has a McDonald's restaurant, and more are on the way. By 2013--that's just a few months away--McDonald's will have 2,000 locations in China and more than its current 3,300 in Japan. The company is also expanding in India, where it will soon open all-vegetarian restaurants to cater to local tastes. McDonald's has operated in India since 1996, always avoiding beef, but the addition of vegetarian-only locations is a new approach for the global fast-food giant.

One of McDonald's biggest growth areas, however, is France. By giving French customers what they like (such as smaller sandwiches, table service, specialty cheeses and so on), McDonald's has increased the size of the average transaction in France well above the level of the average transaction in its US restaurants.

Speaking of the world of McDonald's, the fast-food firm has been bringing the world to UK restaurants with the return of the "Tastes of the World" menu. Above, the Spanish Grande.

Friday, 19 October 2012

What's ahead for Carrefour?

One of the original hypermarket pioneers, Carrefour has been trying to find a profitable balance between large- and small-format stores, food and nonfood merchandise, traditional and digital retailing.

Like Tesco and other retailers, Carrefour has been testing virtual stores (see photo) set up in busy areas where shoppers can buy items using a proprietary store app, and arrange for convenient delivery.

But Carrefour is also rethinking its global store network. It recently sold its stores in Colombia (to refocus on core markets) and withdrew from Singapore (because it couldn't compete effectively with local retailers). Of the 9,000 Carrefour stores, 5,000 are convenience stores, many operated by franchisees.

The uncertain economic climate throughout Europe is slowing purchases of non-essential nonfood merchandise. To regain sales momentum, Carrefour wants to expand its product mix in foods and carefully edit its nonfood selection. It's also allowing store managers more control over merchandise assortments and other decisions.

What's ahead for this €91.5 billion retailer?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Ferrari train and social media

Earlier this year, the sleek, bright red, high-speed 'Ferrari train' (real brand name: Italo) began service in Italy. You can see its stylised running rabbit logo at left.

Owned and operated by Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori, a startup headed by Ferrari's chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Italo now connects 11 stations in 8 major Italian cities. Fares are very competitive with the price of intercity air travel, and the roomy seats and other amenities set Italo apart from ordinary train service.

This startup is a high-stakes project requiring a combination of careful engineering and careful marketing for long-term success. The Ferrari train captured a lot of media attention in its early months, with reporters and passengers commenting on its cinema car, its free Wi-Fi Internet access and all the other details that contribute to the overall experience. Now it has to capture sufficient market share to reach the breakeven point and become profitable.

Italo is reaching out to passengers in multiple social media: It has more than 225,000 Facebook likes, more than 19,000 Twitter followers and 368,000 video views on YouTube. It's also offering advertisers the opportunity to reach passengers with ads on the side of the train, in snack areas and on the Italo's website.

Italo's high-speed railway competitor is the state-owned ItaliaRail Alta Velocità (right), which has a long history of service and is busy upgrading to retain loyal passengers. Alta Velocità's newest bullet trains (by Bombardier) will begin running next year, adding more speedy and efficient alternatives for passengers who want to travel from city to city quickly and in comfort.

How will airlines in Italy react to all this railway competition?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Cadbury wins battle for purple

Cadbury has been fighting Nestlé for four years over which company has the legal right to use a particular colour of purple on product packaging. Cadbury filed a trademark on Pantone 2685C in 2008, touching off the legal battle with Nestlé, which was using the purple for its Wonka brand.

In December, 2011, Cadbury won a court ruling that gave it the legal right to trademark the purple. Then Nestlé appealed that ruling, saying a colour isn't trademarkable.

Two weeks ago, the High Court ruled that Cadbury is entitled to trademark the colour for use on milk chocolate bar packaging.

The judge noted: 'In my judgment it would not be right to say that the colour purple is distinctive of chocolate generally'.

In fact, Nestlé points out that the ruling actually 'protects our brands by further limiting the range of goods for which Cadbury’s application may be registered'.

Cadbury is already promoting 'our famous colour purple' and introducing new chocolate bars with its purple packaging.

Will the two food companies continue battling over colours in the future?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Same-day delivery sharpens retail competition

You see something on Argos or Karen Millen, click to buy it, and then . . . wait to receive the package a day or two or a week later? That's so twentieth-century.

These and other retailers are now speeding packages to customers on the same day, for an extra fee, adding to the competitive pressure while improving the value equation for customers who want their purchases right away.

If you're shopping on the Argos site, for example, you can click to reserve a particular product at the nearby store. Once you've entered your postal code, you'll have the option of clicking to have Shutl pick the item up and deliver it to your door in 90 minutes or less.

UK-based Shutl has been so successful at attracting customers that it's now planning to expand to a number of US cities, with investment from UPS. Shutl recently made it to the top of the Startups 2012 list (although it was founded in 2008).

Amazon UK offers evening delivery service for orders placed that day. In the US, Walmart is testing same-day delivery for the holiday season, and eBay has also tested same-day delivery.

More competition means more innovation and more choices for customers.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The World's Most Ethical Companies

Ethisphere has released its 2012 list of the world's most ethical companies, including 102 US-based and 43 non-US businesses.

Since 2007, 23 businesses have remained on the list every year. Among these six-time honorees are: Aflac (insurance), American Express (credit), Fluor (engineering and project management), General Electric (consumer and business goods and services), Milliken (chemicals, coatings, flooring), Patagonia (outdoor clothing), Rabobank (financial services) and Starbucks (coffee/cafes).

Starbucks is especially interested in sustainability as it designs the coffeehouses of the future (see one above). The idea is to try to source construction materials locally and make the store stand out from its surroundings. The signs say this is a Starbucks, but it looks very different without the usual decor and architecture!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Legoland has big plans for small bricks

This month, Merlin Entertainments Group celebrates the first anniversary of its Legoland theme park in Florida; last month, it held the grand opening of Legoland Malaysia.

The company (owner of the London Eye, Gardaland, the Blackpool Tower and other attractions) has been steadily expanding Legoland beyond the theme parks already open in Denmark, Britain, California and Germany.

'We’re really focused on our target group — families with children, ages from 2 to 12, so all our activities are specially designed for this group', explains the general manager of Legoland Malaysia.

In other words, Legoland differentiates itself from Disney and other competing theme parks by its targeting. The brand recognition that Lego has among youngsters and their parents worldwide reinforces the appeal of these family-friendly theme parks. Actually, Lego fans of all ages flock to the parks to enjoy the impressive mini-sculptures of famous buildings and other structures created out of Lego bricks.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

'Love Me Do' celebrates 50 years

Love Me Do just celebrated its 50th anniversary of arriving on the pop music charts. Five decades later, Beatles 'mania' continues.

Fans gathered in Liverpool this week to sing this first Beatles hit and break a world record, organised by the Beatles Story exhibition. Nostalgia marketing has brought Love Me Do back to make headlines all over the world.

Of course the list of Beatles merchandise goes on and on, not just LPs, posters, books and movies but also newly designed T-shirts sold at Disney World and Trivial Pursuit games to test your knowledge of the Fab Four's history and impact on pop culture.

Yes, I'm a Beatles fan (Paul was my fave, back in the day) and it's wonderful to see new fans among youngsters and everyone else.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Halloween: Spooky sales success!

From costumes and candy to party supplies and pumpkins, Halloween accounted for only £12 million in UK consumer purchases just a decade ago. This year, UK purchases of Halloween goods and services are expected to exceed £315 million.

Why this spooky sales success? One reason: Contemporary culture is filled with books and movies about zombies, vampires and other fun/frightening creatures--and Halloween simply continues this fascination. The global marketplace is another reason: Halloween celebrations are increasingly popular in the US and some other countries.

Finally, don't bonbons, bats, top hats and black cats seem more fun and less fearsome than the economic gloom of recent years?

A growing number of companies are creating limited-edition Halloween sweets, cakes and biscuits (see above). Winchester is one of many areas using Halloween-themed events to attract visitors. Supermarkets and other retailers are promoting Halloween merchandise, with window displays and online specials to catch the eye and the purse of shoppers. 'Tis the season to be scary, at least until October 31.