Saturday, 27 February 2016

What's New in Mobile Marketing

The Mobile World Congress just concluded, with more than 90,000 attendees converging on Barcelona to learn about the latest in mobile developments and see new phones and accessories. Above, attendees try out virtual reality gear, a consumer version of tech that may have profound implications for scientific research and for marketing, among other applications.

Many top industry leaders spoke at the congress, everyone from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and BT Group's Gavin Patterson to Telefónica's César Alierta and UNICEF's Anthony Lake. (By the way, Mark Zuckerberg sees a bright future for VR and social media.)

For marketing, a key point is that mobile is not yet a mature marketing medium, which means brands have the opportunity to experiment now while the price is still low and consumers are still open to trying new things.  

Another point is how to connect everyone (including areas where mobile adoption is still low) to share the benefits of tech that can serve as a foundation for payments, entrepreneurship, innovation and more.

Yet if all the devices and data bog down networks, mobile can't deliver on its promise. So ensuring that systems and networks have the capacity to handle video streaming and everything else is essential.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Competitors as Stakeholders, Collaborators and Customers


No matter what business you're in, your competitors are, without question, stakeholders. I've written extensively about this topic, including identifying the top four reasons here.

Remember, stakeholders are people and groups that can directly or indirectly influence or be influenced by a company's performance.

More and more marketers are viewing competitors as potential collaborators and certainly as customers, in the right situation.

Natalie Massenet, founder of the highly successful online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter, writes in Wired that this year, 'the most successful businesses will be characterised by collaboration between businesses in the same sector, different sectors or with their customers'. Her bottom line: 'Competition creates win-lose scenarios, but collaboration benefits us all'.

Netflix competes with Amazon in the market for streaming entertainment, yet Netflix buys its cloud storage services exclusively from Amazon Web Services. Why? Because Amazon has already solved the most challenging problems that Netflix would face if it built a cloud system on its own--and Amazon continuously improves the services that Netflix buys. So Netflix turns out to be an excellent customer for Amazon, and the relationship benefits both.

Notice that I'm not suggesting competitors collude to set prices or do anything else that is unethical or illegal. Competitors can and should be fierce rivals. Still, they can also consider collaborating when both parties would benefit or buy from each other when the situation makes sense.

Monday, 15 February 2016

More controversy over plain packaging for cigarettes

New Zealand is considering a switch to plain-pack cigarettes, covered in health warning labels, following other countries that have switched to make smoking less attractive, especially to underage and young smokers. England and Ireland have already decided to move to standardised plain-packs. Individual brands will be identifiable only by uniform printing on package tops and fronts--not by 'trade dress', meaning colorful graphics intended to reinforce brand differentiation and image. All packs will have to include specific health warnings about the dangers of smoking.

France expects to implement plain-packaging requirements before June, with the aim of reducing smoking rates. South Korea is watching world developments closely, not only because of the legal challenges from tobacco marketers but also to see whether smoking rates are actually affected by the switch to plain-pack cigarettes.

Some brand experts suggest finding other ways of addressing the public-health consequences of smoking, due to the economic impact of changes such as plain-pack regulations.

The issue is complicated because some tobacco marketers are using legal challenges to delay or derail plain packaging. Meanwhile, packaging businesses are receiving unusually high orders as retailers rush to stock up before any bans go into effect.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Fighting for sweet share of Easter purchases

Cadbury's traditional Creme Egg was part of the reason that sales of the company's Easter product range was lower in 2015 by £10 million. What happened? Parent firm Mondelez changed the recipe, angering loyal fans.

Contrast that to 2009, when Cadbury's sales were on the rise as UK consumers had a hearty appetite for chocolate Easter eggs.

Now Cadbury is fighting hard for a higher share of 2016 chocolate purchases as this year's Easter season approaches.

'To strengthen our positioning, we will continue to invest in power brands, launching new seasonal products and a brand new Easter pack design', says the marketing manager. To keep awareness high, the company recently launched a pop-up Creme Egg Cafe in London.

Meanwhile, competition is altering the marketing environment as Mars launches its new Galaxy Golden Eggs.

Knowing that approximately 80% of UK consumers purchase chocolate for Easter, Mars is targeting this large and lucrative market early--in direct competition with Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Entrepreneurs give marketing advice

Startups often have big ideas but little money, so marketing is vital to survival and growth.

Here are quotes from entrepreneurs about their marketing ideas and insights.
  • 'My service isn’t for everyone, it is for those who appreciate it for what it is'. Melissa Curley, founder of SocialBee, which puts on afternoon tea events for clients, large and small. Her marketing insight is that the target market is not everyone, only people who understand the benefits and value and are willing to pay for her service. 
  • 'Look for collaboration and you will find opportunities to grow'. Aaron Jones, founder of Fikay Fashion, an ethical clothing company that puts profits towards reducing poverty. His insight is that marketers can leverage the resources and ideas of partners to become bigger--a good idea for businesses of all sizes. 
  • 'Having a pet pig is what I’m known for, it’s what people I meet always want to know about and I’d like to think my business has some of the best qualities of pigs - being smart, sociable and down-to-earth.' Why Katy Pollard named her business Listening Pig Communications is an interesting example of how to stimulate conversation about you and your offering. She didn't brand her service 'pig' but instead added words that would convey more about what her business does.
  • 'Usually the original has the greatest value, and will be sought out, and this is the thought, as original creators, that we must cling on to'. Gary Lancet created the Bookchair, a bookholder that would reduce neck strain. Then he began to worry about competitors copying his unique design. So his marketing insight is to protect the innovation but also remember that first-mover advantage has meaning to customers.

Friday, 5 February 2016

High fashion meets fast fashion

From September, Burberry will make clothing and accessories available during its fashion shows, not months later (as traditional). Why? One reason is that fast-fashion marketing to the masses (by H&M and Zara, among others) has conditioned buyers to expect easy and quick access to in-season styles.

High-fashion buyers want to be able to buy online or in a store soon after a fashion hits the runway, at a time when they plan to wear it. So instead of showing summer fashions in winter or spring fashions in fall, Burberry will show fashions when they're in season and immediately sell the clothing online and in stores. Logistics may be easier once the shows, production and distribution are aligned rather than separated by many months. Plus, Burberry is cutting back on shows, introducing collections on the runway twice a year instead of four times a year.

Another reason for the change in availability is to avoid the delay that allows others to produce lower-end versions of high fashion. This protects exclusivity for the brand, at least for a short period. See a style in a show? Click to buy right away, wear the clothing within days and bask in the status of being among the very first to have the latest style.

Burberry has been emphasising mobile marketing in recent years, finding that the majority of visits to its website come from mobile devices. Continuing with digital marketing, the brand's menswear collection recently streamed on Apple TV (but with no e-commerce opportunities). The brand is working with SnapChat to target fashionistas. Marketing remains an area for investment, even when Burberry considers cost-cutting moves.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Vinyl sales spinning higher

Vinyl records--that old LP technology popular with Granddad and Mum--is continuing to flourish. By one estimate, vinyl LP sales hit 2.1 million in 2015, a record high not seen in more than 20 years.

Now some of the traditions from the LP era are returning, such as a separate chart for vinyl-based music.

Top musical artists like Adele are releasing new albums on vinyl. In fact, her album 25 was the top-selling vinyl record of 2015.

With the resurgence of vinyl, production is struggling to keep up with ever-higher demand. Many LPs are being pressed on old-fashioned equipment from decades earlier, kept alive by careful maintenance. More retailers (including Tesco) are adding vinyl LPs to their merchandise assortments.

Collectors are even more interested in rare vintage vinyl LP gems. In short, demand for vinyl sales is influencing demand for other goods and services. Record Store Day (16 April) should bring strong sales this year.