Monday, 29 July 2013

France's regional cola wars

Which is more authentic for Parisians to drink:

                                       Parisgo Cola


Paris Cola?

Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola are finding French store shelves very crowded these days. Consumers have dozens of other cola choices beyond the two big global brands--each with its own distinctive market area, brand personality, taste and story.

All of these regional colas have a strong connection to a specific area of France, appealing to heritage as much as taste buds. Their marketing budgets are a tiny fraction of the money spent by the global giants, but their customers are loyal and happy to be supporting a local business. Here's a sampling of the brands participating in France's regional cola wars:

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bracelets offer entry-level Cruciani cachet

Once known for lace tablecloths, knitwear and other products, Cruciani is now a brand sought out by fashionistas worldwide.

The company's fortunes have been radically changed by lace bracelets--trendy, affordable  accessories that sell for less than the price of a big pizza pie.

With the brand's popularity comes a halo effect--meaning status-conscious bracelet buyers are willing to buy other Cruciani products, as well.

Brand buzz is being built through social media marketing: 15,000 Facebook likes and 6,000 Twitter followers, not to mention Pinterest pins and some YouTube videos. There are also any number of unofficial 'how to wear your Cruciani' videos circulating, as well.

Style is driven by word of mouth, and every time a celeb is seen with a Cruciani bracelet, people notice and spread the word--and queue up to buy the latest design.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Will two wheels accelerate the Smart brand?

Marketing Smart has been a challenge for Daimler since its launch as an automotive brand 15 years ago. Originally a joint venture with the Swatch Group--known for fashionable, affordable watches--Smart has been Daimler's alone since Swatch sold its share back to Daimler in 1998.

Targeting hip urban drivers, Smart offers small, fun-to-drive cars that can navigate narrow city streets and fit into tight parking spaces. Daimler tried an upmarket stretch by adding larger and sportier Smart models over the years, but tepid sales forced the firm to refocus on its core two-seater vehicles.

Now Smart is about to introduce an electric scooter and an electric bike under the Smart brand, reinforcing the 'urban' brand image and adding associations with sustainability and affordability. With two-wheeled vehicles, Damiler may be able to reignite buzz and expand the target market to younger drivers who don't yet own cars.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sponsors leverage 2014 FIFA World Cup partnerships

During next year's FIFA World Cup in Brazil, companies will be using a wide variety of traditional, mobile and digital marketing techniques to reach local and worldwide audiences. Global sponsorships sold out years ago.

With millions of fans planning to attend or watch (or check online for updates), marketers are implementing detailed plans for connecting with audiences before and during this much-anticipated sports event.

For example:
  • Coca-Cola, an official FIFA marketing partner, also sponsors the Mexican National Team (above) and is already using adverts featuring that sponsorship to reach targeted audiences in North America.
  • Want to communicate with the global audience that checks Twitter for second-by-second updates? Twitter is auctioning rights to a 'top of the trends' promoted brand message visible to Twitter users in 50 countries each day during the World Cup. 
  • Adidas--naturally a global FIFA sponsor--has been running World Cup-related promotions for many months, such as the 'name the World Cup ball' promo from last year. It sponsors numerous pro football teams, giving the brand high visibility before and after the World Cup.
  • Castrol Football is the oil company's yearround page for football rankings. As an official FIFA marketing partner, Castrol maintains a Facebook and Twitter account specifically for football-related posts. 
  • Continental tyres, another official FIFA sponsor, has its own web site, ContiSoccerWorld, for fans (with an option to view in English, Dutch or German).
Given the hefty investment made by official sponsors, FIFA works hard to prevent ambush marketing, unofficial promotions that try to link a brand with the World Cup without paying for sponsorship rights. During the 2010 World Cup, FIFA took legal action against a beer brand for ambush marketing--the same beer brand had used ambush marketing in 2006, as well, according to FIFA.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Michelin rolls out more marketing

This post updates the Michelin case study in Chapter 3 of my newly published Essential Guide to Marketing Planning.

Michelin targets both consumers and businesses with products (tyres) and services (training truck and trailer drivers). Its 2014-5 marketing plan for growth aims to increase volumes by 4 to 4.5% through the use of innovation and technology 'to differentiate its products and services, so as to consolidate its leadership and effectively meet the needs of tyre users'.

Sustainability is an integral element of Michelin's plans. For example, its industrial division lets buyers and operators of earth-moving equipment know that 'our priorities are the same as yours: productivity, safety and environmental protection'.

Among Michelin's new initiatives for existing and new customers: A set of services designed to help truck and trailer fleet operators manage their costs. To deliver this valued benefit, Michelin will train drivers, install tyre pressure monitors and take other steps that will reduce costs in the long run. An interesting aspect of this offer is that Michelin and its fleet customers will share in the savings. If actual results fall short, Michelin will reimburse some expenses according to a specific formula.  

Michelin Group is also adding to its social media marketing, with online videos, Facebook posts, Twitter posts and more.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Just published: New edition!

This week, the new edition of my Essential Guide to Marketing Planning was published. The book has been updated and revised to reflect the latest principles in marketing and a how-to approach to the marketing planning process:

Chapter 1 Introduction to marketing planning today
Chapter 2 Analysing the current situation
Chapter 3 Analysing customers and markets
Chapter 4 Segmenting, targeting and positioning
Chapter 5 Planning direction and objectives
Chapter 6 Planning for products and brands
Chapter 7 Planning for pricing
Chapter 8 Planning for channels and logistics
Chapter 9 Planning for communications and influence
Chapter 10 Supporting the marketing mix
Chapter 11 Planning metrics and performance measurement
Chapter 12 Planning implementation and control
Appendix: Sample marketing plan: Lost Legends Luxury Chocolatier

New in this edition are definitions of marketing terms such as content marketing, co-creation, key performance indicators, multichannel marketing, pop-up shops and social gifting.

Also new are 12 case studies illustrating diverse challenges and opportunities  in consumer and business marketing. Among the companies featured in these cases are Burberry, the 'Ferrari train', Google, Hyundai, Inditex, L'Oreal, Marks & Spencer, Michelin, Nike, SAP and Uniqlo. (To see this book on Amazon UK, click here.)

Of course, I will periodically update these cases and discuss other real-world examples of marketing in action right here on the blog. Please check back again! And thank you.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Marketing the 'merchants of joy'

With more than 118,000 Facebook likes, 1,700 Twitter followers, hundreds of Pinterest pins, a dedicated YouTube channel and Google+ posts, Moonpig has a lot of people buzzing about its personalized greeting cards and gifts for every occasion. For users on the go, iPhone and Android apps provide the ability to be creative on Moonpig at any time, from any place.

Moonpig is one of several businesses owned by Photobox, a mobile- and social-savvy marketer. Photobox itself has more than 25 million users, and applies big-data analysis to help understand what customers want (and when). The company calls its businesses 'merchants of joy' because of the focus on mass customisation of personalised products such as greeting cards and photo gifts that bring back happy memories of special occasions.

Among its social media marketing initiatives, Photobox is testing Facebook Audiences as a way of targeting people who are planning a special occasion--people such as engaged couples, for instance. These and other tests are key to identifying approaches that engage targeted customers and encourage repeat purchases.

'Only 4.5% of the card market is online so far, and about 40% of the photo market' observes Photobox chief exec Stan Laurent, who sees huge potential for growth in the future. What's next? Laurent expects an avalanche of orders for personalised cards and gifts within a few weeks, after the new royal baby arrives.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Whitbread markets 'hub' hotels

Whitbread is introducing a new type of hotel, designed to appeal to price-conscious, tech-savvy travelers who are more interested in location, location, location than spacious rooms.

'Hub' by Premier Inn will feature chic yet smallish (11.4 square metre) rooms in downtown areas, with up-to-the-minute details like lights controlled by mobile app. The rooms were test-marketed in the Premier Inn at King's Cross, with more than 1,800 consumers providing input that helped shape the final design.

'With space at a premium, each aspect of the design has been aimed at optimising every single centimetre of space from the desk that folds up and disappears into the bed to a convenient under the bed space for luggage', explains Whitbread's Patrick Dempsey. Note the control panel at the head of the bed. Not shown in the photo is a flat-screen TV/entertainment centre. These trendy but tiny rooms are about half the size of the average Whitbread hotel room, by the way.

One reason to launch new concepts such as the 'hub' is to achieve Whitbread's goal of operating 75,000 UK hotel rooms by 2018, not to mention higher revenue and profits. The 'hub' hotels will cost less to build and operate than other Whitbread hotels, and room rates will be as much as 30% less than charged by other Premier Inn units.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Virtual showrooms and brand experiences help buyers buy

A growing number of people--Millennials in particular--are configuring cars through virtual showrooms and browsing automotive brands outside the real-world showroom. One reason: They don't want the 'hard sell,' they want to browse and buy at their own pace.

This is one of the key findings of a recent GfK survey of car buyers, in which more than 75% of respondents agreed with the statement 'If I went to a dealership, I wouldn’t want to be sold a car. I’d rather look at the cars and then approach a sales person when I’m ready'.

Here are a few ways that automakers are helping buyers experience their brands and move toward a purchase.

  • Audi City is an online and in-person virtual experience of selected models in life-size form. Consumers can design the Audi of their dreams. At the Audi City showroom in Mayfair, London, visitors can use interactive screens to explore various options, see cars in action, etc. It's a social media experience, too, on Facebook, as well as on Twitter.
  • Nissan Innovation Centre at London's O2 Arena is a non-dealership devoted to giving consumers a positive brand experience without sales pressure. Prospective buyers can even take Nissan models for test-drives--especially important for newer models like the electric Leaf, which are seeking much higher market share in a challenging economic environment. 'Few manufacturers rely solely on the dealership for marketing but this is the customer’s key touchpoint at the end of the purchase process', says Nissan's GB marketing director.
  • Telegraph Festival of Motoring, launched earlier this year, is the newspaper's virtual supplement featuring six automotive brands: Alfa Romeo, Kia, Volvo, Honda, Audi and Vauxhall. Videos, webinars, online chats and more offered the opportunity for car buyers and brand fans to see the latest and greatest, ask questions and get a peek at future designs. No hard sell, just a fun brand experience.