Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Visual recognition apps help fashion fans buy

See a frock or shoe, snap a photo or click a button, add it to the app and instantly see where to buy it.

Shopping for clothing and accessories couldn't be faster or easier. And that's the point.

Increasingly popular visual recognition apps like Snap Fashion (above) and Style-Eyes (right) enable fashion fans to identify an item they see (on someone else, for instance, or on a website) and immediately locate a retail outlet where it can be purchased.

Some visual recognition apps will match by colour alone (Snap Fashion's ColourPop is an example). Want a pair of shoes to match that fuchsia skirt you spotted in a friend's photo? This app will help.

The idea is to help consumers shift into shopping mode in a seamless way. The apps don't necessarily promote online buying, because if users know a garment is available at a certain store--such as Topshop or Debenhams--they can still visit the store in person, a multichannel option. Consumers like choice, and that's what makes the apps even more beneficial for users and retailers alike.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Multichannel Marketing for Hello Kitty's 40th Birthday at McDonald's

It's that time of year again: McDonald's Singapore has just released a new limited-edition set of Hello Kitty plush toys for purchase with certain menu items, to celebrate the iconic kitty's 40th birthday. Every Monday, a new kitty character will be released until all 6 toys are available for purchase.

In the past, such promotions prompted crowding and near-riots as collectors rushed to get their favourite kitty at a local McDonald's restaurant. This year, the promotion is a very digital event, with Facebook photos and posts, online ordering at the McDonald's Singapore website and more.

On the first day of sale, online purchasing was interrupted when the website crashed due to high volume. Demand remains strong, which is why McDonald's is limiting the number of sets available to each buyer.

Although offering Hello Kitty as a sales promotion is intended to increase footfall and food purchasing, McDonald's is wise to avoid logistical problems with a multichannel strategy of optional online ordering. The restaurant chain has also teamed up with SingPost, Singapore's postal service, to deliver sets to collectors at home or at pick-up stations, a smart channel choice to relieve crowding in the restaurants.

In fact, SingPost is joining the Hello Kitty birthday celebration by selling special stamps and other merchandise. Watch for more Hello Kitty merchandise worldwide as the iconic brand continues its celebration.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Dell's Distribution Strategy in India

Dell was founded in 1984 by Michael Dell, a college student who sold build-to-order PCs from his dormitory room. Three years later, the fast-growing company opened its first international division, in the United Kingdom.

Today, despite intense competition from tech leaders like Apple, Lenovo and Hewlett Packard, Dell has ambitious marketing plans for future growth in overseas markets like India.

The PC market in India showed some growth in 2013 but 2014 is not expected to be as strong. Dell is the second-largest PC marketer in India, with an estimated market share of 13.2%. The largest PC marketer, Hewlett Packard, has an estimated market share of 28.5%, more than double Dell's share.

To increase share and boost brand availability outside of major urban areas, Dell's distribution strategy in India relies on two key elements:
  • Targeting consumers, the company is doubling the number of Dell-brand stores in small cities and villages. These smaller markets are where Dell expects growth to be strong in the coming years, because PC ownership is not as widespread as in major urban areas. In addition, Dell is assembling laptops to keep in inventory, so distribution centers can ship laptops to the stores very soon after customers place their orders. In the past, Dell's build-to-order process minimised inventory costs--now, customers will receive orders more quickly, which in turn should increase customer satisfaction.
  • Targeting businesses, including partners, Dell is using a roadshow approach to bring its experts and products to major commercial centres like New Delhi and Mumbai. The objective is to increase support for channel partners, expand market coverage and demonstrate its ability to provide full solutions to commercial customers.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Tobacco control marketing and e-cigarettes

Do anti-smoking campaigns work? A recent study, published by the Society for the Study of Addiction, says that yes, anti-smoking ads are effective in lowering the odds that someone will smoke and in reducing smoking behaviour, even two months later.

In fact, the UK is a leader in tobacco control marketing, according to a 2013 report on the Tobacco Control Scale. On five of six measures (tobacco tax, smokefree places, advertising bans, health warnings and stop smoking support) the UK ranked very high, but not on public information campaigns--because the government cut spending on such marketing elements for several years. Now Public Health England has introduced a new anti-smoking campaign that shows how internal organs are damaged by smoking, with the goal of provoking a feeling of disgust that will encourage smokers to quit.

E-cigarettes are still an issue to be addressed, however. E-cigs deliver nicotine without smoke, and are often used by smokers who want to quit. Yet without long-term research, the health consequences for users are not entirely clear. Meanwhile, UK regulators are banning the sale of e-cigs to consumers under 18. And officials are warning that e-cigs can be harmful to youngsters who may try 'vaping'.

Wales is reportedly considering a ban on e-cigarettes in enclosed public places, and other areas are studying the possibilities. This may be the year that e-cigs are more highly regulated because of their increased popularity and worries that younger consumers will want to try smoking.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Marketing Record Store Day

Record Store Day began in 2007 as a way to encourage shoppers to visit independent retailers of recorded music, LPs and CDs. Today is Record Store Day, with participating retailers on every continent except Antarctica.

LP sales have been increasing year by year, thanks in part to special events like Record Store Day, interest in the unique sound qualities of vinyl and the trendiness of vinyl as a format. Vinyl sales in 2013 were twice as high as in 2012, and the momentum continues to build.

The marketing spin supporting Record Store Day in 2014 includes:
  • Special and limited-edition releases, such as One Direction's new Midnight Memories single
  • Pop-up outlets open only on Record Store Day, such as the Berwick Street London pop-up Museum of SoHo, featuring videotaped 1967 music performances
  • In-store appearances and live performances 
  • Social media messaging in Facebook and Twitter 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

350 million Creme Eggs in Cadbury's Easter Basket

Cadbury (now owned by Mondelez) is 190 years old, and still creating new products for Easter and every other occasion. During the period before Easter, Cadbury produces 350 million Creme Eggs at its Bournville factory, ready for Easter baskets and chocolate lovers. The Bournville plant is to be modernised soon, to increase efficiency and competitiveness. The plant also developed and now manufactures the Marvellous Creations chocolate bar, which accounted for £50 million of sales during 2013.

Egg 'n' Spoon is another recent choco egg creation. The package includes purple spoons to scoop out the mousse filling from each egg. Research and development for this product at Bournville was supported by testing and analysis at Reading University.

New products are vitally important to the growth of Cadbury and its parent company: "In 2012, sales of products developed in the previous three years accounted for 12% of Mondelez Europe's revenue and 13% for the company worldwide," according to an executive. Variations of popular Cadbury products are contributing to growth by appealing to new customers and also encouraging loyal brand fans to try different Cadbury items.

Cadbury is, of course, highly social, with more than 500,000 Facebook likes and 198,000 Twitter followers.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Tesco's vision includes restaurants

Tesco is continuing to expand and serve customers by investing in restaurant ventures, often with the idea of locating them near or within its stores. This is part of its vision to be (1) wanted/needed around the world, (2) a growing business, (3) innovative, (4) local/global winners and (5) inspire loyalty from customers, colleagues and communities.

By expanding its restaurant investments, Tesco is adding retail services that customers need and want, with innovative retail formats, and intriguing international touches. The latest restaurant venture is Fred's Food Construction, a casual restaurant featuring 'authentic American candy, soda and snacks' plus healthy salads and deli-style 'submarine' sandwiches.

Previously, Tesco has purchased Giraffe, casual family restaurants with burgers, brunch and a kids' meal deal. Now some Tesco Extra stores include Giraffe restaurants, to attract family shoppers to Tesco as a destination and provide other experiences beyond shopping, in line with the long-term vision.

The retailer also invested in Harris & Hoole, a coffee house with the image of a family-owned, artisanal restaurant that's expanding rapidly. It doesn't publicise Tesco's stake in the company because 'We don't believe our customers are interested in who is providing the financial backing for our business', according to a spokesperson.

After Tesco's costly and ill-fated expansion into Fresh & Easy grocery markets in the US, these restaurant ventures are intended to tap into revenue opportunities in markets where Tesco is strong.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Pop-up shops and lean retailing

Who needs pop-up shops? These temporary stores, which are just one part of the lean retailing movement, open in vacant storefronts or inside other stores or businesses, serve customers for a weekend or a month, and then are gone. Why use a pop-up shop?
  • To test new products or new markets or new locations
  • To showcase exclusive, seasonal or limited-edition products
  • To receive feedback from customers and observe shopping patterns
  • To increase awareness and exposure for a brand or product line
  • To make the most of a short-term marketing investment
Last month, Etsy (the online artsy/craftsy marketplace) opened a pop-up shop in the London West Elm, one of a series of global pop-up partnerships between Etsy and the retailer. Each of these pop-ups sells a small selection of products assembled specifically for that market and location. Etsy's artisans gain exposure with new audiences and West Elm's customers see fresh, handmade merchandise not available in other retail locations.

Retailers have to know the rules, but with a relatively high number of high-street vacancies these days, pop-ups make sense for many marketers.

To see a London pop-up shop for Kate Spade as it evolved, visit the Facebook page of specialist Neverstop. For more photos of pop-ups around the world, see the Pinterest board of POPAI and photos on London Pop-ups.