Thursday, 29 December 2016

Unilever's unstereotype initiative

One of the most notable of 2016's marketing initiatives, according to Campaign Live, has been Unilever's #Unstereotype campaign, headed by the company's SVP of global marketing, Aline Santos.

Unilever's research revealed the need to make changes in how its brand advertising depicts people. Among the brands affected by this new change is Axe (also known as Lynx). Santos explains: 'The stereotype of men that we been portraying for years isn't relevant any more. Not only was it not relevant, it wasn't right.'

In June, 2016, Unilever posted the following about its #Unstereotype initiative:

Gender identity is changing. Our advertising has not changed enough – up until now. We've listened to consumers and looked at the way we portray gender in our advertising and realised we need to do things differently. We understand that by using our influence responsibly, we can contribute to positive cultural change as well as making better connections with people through our advertising. That's why we've asked every one of our brands to challenge itself to move away from unhelpful stereotypical portrayals of gender, especially for women, and to deliver fresh campaigns that are more relevant to today’s consumer. We call this movement #UNSTEREOTYPE – and it is already making a difference.
The #Unstereotype campaign resonates in an industry where stereotyping is often in evidence (especially in advertising messages to or including women). In fact, Kantar Futures head J Walker Smith says this is the way of the future:
The advertising and marketing industry has got a lot of ground to make up to simply project a realistic, contemporary picture of female identity, so keeping up with and pre-empting its evolution will be no easy task. The good news is that Unilever has now shown that it pays dividends, and that those brands brave enough to move their strategy forward have a great opportunity for growth, disruption and creativity.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Preventing 'success disaster'

Message on Hatchimals website in December, 2016
A Google product expert--one of the team behind the new artificial-intelligence Google Translate technology--recently spoke about the need to prevent success disaster. That's a situation in which an organisation lacks the practical capabilities to meet high demand for a product.

In other words, suppose something new like the revamped Google Translate is tested and adopted by a large number of users. The result would be a strain on Google's network unless it planned, in advance, for an extended, sustained surge in usage. Meaning new processing equipment and new networking equipment. Which Google did, in fact, install prior to revamping Google Translate this year.

Family Search, the free genealogy website, also understands the potential for success disaster. As more people worldwide become interested in family history and post names and photos on Family Search's databases, the organisation has arranged for flexible cloud computing services to keep operating at peak demand.

Now think about the potential for success disaster at Christmas time. Weeks ago, well before the peak of holiday shopping, Hatchimal toys were already out of stock in many stores. Even though the company shipped additional inventory during December, it recognised that some children were going to be disappointed by not having Hatchimals under the tree in 2016. The message shown at top was a pop-up on the company's home page in mid-December.

Admittedly, predicting the popularity of a new toy (actually, predicting consumer behaviour towards purchasing the new toy) is quite a challenge. But even LEGO, with its long history of sales analysis, wasn't prepared for worldwide demand in 2015. No wonder LEGO 's top executive says: “If you make a decision in product design, you need to mirror it in manufacturing.” That is a major step towards preventing success disaster.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Easy marketing £1 coffee

EasyCoffee is a growing franchised coffee chain under the Easy brand umbrella, soon to open dozens of new branches around the UK. The top brand attribute for Easy is (no surprise) value (£1 for a regular -sized coffee or tea). You know, Easy as in easyJet, the high-profile Easy-branded budget airline.

Here's the EasyGroup mission:
To manage and extend Europe's leading value brand to more products and services, whilst creating real wealth for all stakeholders.
Businesses or other organisations can have an EasyCoffee vending machine (above) on their premises to offer employee value-priced branded coffee. In other words, EasyCoffee's distribution strategy goes beyond consumer-oriented retailing into B2B marketing.

Which is a good thing, because competition in the retail side of coffee shops is intense, given the strong brands trying to increase market share (Starbucks, Costa and so on). Not to mention competition from other food service brands that make coffee a signature element in their outreach to certain customer segments (such as McDonald's with its McCafe coffees).

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Small Business Saturday success in 2016

According a survey by American Express, a founder of Small Business Saturday, shoppers spent an amazing £717 million with local stores, restaurants and other small businesses across the UK on 3 December. In all, footfall was up for many small businesses, and the total spend was up an impressive 15% on last year's Small Business Saturday.

To support Small Business Saturday, consumers and participating merchants sent more than 130,000 tweets on 3 December. The #SmallBizSatUK hashtag trended at number one in the UK on Twitter for the day. Social media marketing definitely shaped consumer behaviour, helping encourage shoppers to get out and shop.

#SmallBizSatUK now has 37k followers on Twitter, 30k likes on Facebook and 4k followers on Instagram. It's also active on YouTube and Google+.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Is Amazon Go the future of grocery shopping?

When the pioneer of online retailing tests a new store concept, the world of retailing pays attention. Amazon Go is the prototype unit of a US chain of small grocery stores, intended to serve shoppers who want a quick and convenient place to buy frequently-purchased items like milk or freshly-made sandwiches.

What makes this a unique concept is -- as shown above in a still from Amazon's video introduction -- shoppers don't queue to pay at the till. No, seriously, their purchases are tallied on a smartphone app and recorded as they leave the store. Amazon charges the payment method on file for each customer and sends an electronic receipt.

Obviously, only shoppers with smartphones can shop at Amazon Go. But given the mature nature of the smartphone market, this is not much of a barrier. And given the high brand awareness that Amazon enjoys, consumers are likely to at least give this store a go if one opens nearby. Because, it seems, there are some products that simply can't be sold online and some shoppers who simply won't buy groceries online (consumer behaviour in action).

Behind the scenes is Amazon's technology, sensing when a product is lifted from a shelf (and if the product is returned to a shelf). Amazon is a master of inventory management, and with time it will learn what sells and doesn't sell in each store location. No cashiers, an enormous cost savings. And the opportunity to serve the same shopper again and again because groceries are a frequently-purchased product category. Is this the future of grocery shopping?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

What's new in chocolate marketing?

Chocolate for the holidays . . . chocolate as an everyday affordable luxury . . . chocolate as a socially-responsible snack. These are some of the ways that chocolate marketers position their products. The world of chocolate marketing is changing, thanks to changes in technology, consumer behaviour and society.

  • Nestlé announced today that it has discovered a scientific way to reduce the amount of sugar in a chocolate bar without sacrificing taste. The company has been trying to reformulate its products to reduce levels of sugar. With obesity a concern in many nations, marketing chocolate with lower sugar could make products like Nestlé's KitKat bars more appealing to a wider market. 
  • Toblerone, made by Mondelez International, recently changed two of its chocolate bars to reduce the weight, in response to higher ingredient costs. Most if not all chocolate marketers are experiencing higher costs, which some can absorb for months and others must pass along in the form of higher prices or reduced-size products. 
  • Consumers are often interested in where a product's ingredients come from, seeking out ethically-sourced chocolate from companies that have a social responsibility agenda. 'Single-origin' chocolate is sourced from one area, ideally from one group of cocoa growers who receive fair-market pay for their crops. Single-origin chocolate also reflects the distinctive flavour of its beans. Waitrose, for example, is marketing chocolate bars from specific sources, each with its own flavour. 

  • Hotel Chocolat was a leader in single-origin chocolate, a first-mover advantage in mystique that has helped build its brand. Now Hotel Chocolat, which has a chain of branded shops, is continuing its growth by opening cafés where customers can experience its chocolates in a branded restaurant-style setting.
Some of these trends are discussed in the updated sample marketing plan for the fictional company Lost Legends Luxury Chocolatier, when my next edition of the Essential Guide to Marketing Planning is published in 2017.