Friday, 24 February 2017

'Versus' marketing strengthens positioning

Marketing magazine has a thought-provoking opinion piece by Mark Ritson, about positioning for competitive advantage. Here's one quote:
The versus position is one in which we make it clear what we stand for to customers by highlighting the differences between ourselves and others.
Remember, positioning is in the mind of the customer--how the customer thinks or feels about your brand and competing brands. Your role is to put forth a 'versus' fitting for your product or brand, one that is compelling enough to influence thought and feeling, compelling enough to encourage a purchase.

It's not enough to say 'my brand is the best'. But if you position versus traditional brands--as one example--or versus a specific competitor, you help customers understand what your brand stands for and why it's the best choice.

Here are two examples of positioning versus traditional competitors:
  • Ben & Jerry's website and packaging showcase the brand's social responsibility. The company (owned by Unilever) knows that customers expect ice cream to taste good. Ben & Jerry's stands for more than just good-tasting ice cream. Its positioning relies on the brand being good for the planet, good for workers, good for social causes--not a claim that every competitor can make.
  • Innocent positions itself as 100% pure, no additives, no 'nasty' stuff, just healthy, fresh ingredients. This is in contrast to traditional soft drinks that are carbonated and sugary, or that use artificial sweeteners. Plus Innocent (owned by Coca-Cola) is 'sourced sustainably' and gives 10% of profits to charity. Again, not every competitor does what Innocent does.

One last thought: If you use advertising to highlight differences between your brand and another, be sure the comparisons are fair and not misleading.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Who's marketing in China?

The Chinese market is large and its economic growth is outpacing that of many major markets worldwide. No wonder so many companies see China as a key market for goods and services. Four examples:
  • Reckitt Benckiser recently acquired the baby formula firm Mead Johnson with an eye towards selling more in China, now that the one-child policy has been changed and the birth rate is increasing. RB has marketed other brands in China, recognising the power of global brands that are already established.
  • Mattel, which owns Barbie and other toy brands, is working with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to research the local market and develop appropriate products. 'By combining Mattel's unmatched expertise in childhood learning and development with Alibaba's immense reach and unique consumer insights, our goal is to help parents in China raise children to be their personal best', says Mattel's CEO.
  • Shanghai Disney, opened in June 2016, expects to welcome 10 million visitors by the time it celebrates its first anniversary. Just as important, the strong attendance is helping the theme park race towards its break-even point and become profitable soon, banking on the high brand awareness of Disney characters and the entertainment experience of family fun.
  • The luxury watch brand Cartier markets in China by leveraging its connection with singer/actor Lu Han and through social media marketing. Celebrity spokespeople are credible and influential here, and world-class status-symbol brands are also coveted.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Beauty brands widen their social reach

In 2016, CoverGirl was the first beauty brand to sign a guy as its brand ambassador. James Charles is a social-media star with crowds following him on Instagram and YouTube. This is an opportunity to work with someone who influences a lot of consumers, enabling CoverGirl to extend its reach in a viral way.

Now other beauty brands are also widening their social reach by signing male brand ambassadors. Maybelline has signed Manny Gutierrez to promote makeup to his nearly 3 million social media followers. Rimmel London has signed YouTube and Instagram beauty guy Lewys Ball as its UK male brand ambassador.

Expect more deals with opinion leaders in the future as beauty brands react to changing consumer behaviour patterns and social-cultural factors. Social media can build brand awareness and send demand soaring, especially when influencers show how a product can be used creatively.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Clicks or bricks, now both

Some e-commerce companies are opening brick-and-mortar stores, even as retailers known for their branch networks are closing some physical locations and putting more emphasis on online retailing.

It's not just Amazon opening real doors to real stores in the United States. Yes, this is a good way to test products, observe shoppers as they browse and enhance brand associations. It's also a good way to identify emerging customer segments and emerging needs or preferences that represent potentially profitable business opportunities.

Online merchants don't have to be e-commerce giants to try brick-and-mortar retailing. Frank + Oak in Canada is also opening stores.

Frank + Oak's original business model was e-commerce clothing retailing. It's using artificial intelligence technology to offer product recommendations to online shoppers, much the way an expert salesperson would recommend products to in-store shoppers.

Now Frank + Oak has a growing chain of real stores in North America, featuring cafes and barbershops to provide in-person experiences that shoppers like. Just look at the store ambiance in this photo . . . it's designed as a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. The message seems to be: browse, relax and maybe buy. Frank + Oak co-founder Ethan Song comments:
There’s still a big space for physical shopping streets and malls. But I do believe the experience is going to be transformed.
One industry observer says that traditional brick-based stores might be able to use new technology to compete with the sophisticated algorithms of Amazon and other blockbuster retailers. He believes retailers can use technology to understand what shoppers are actually looking at in a brick-and-mortar store, and offer instant incentives to encourage browsing of certain merchandise. The technology could help the store change product locations based on shopper browsing and buying patterns, among other ideas.

In other words, just as Amazon and other e-commerce retailers monitor what pages attract shoppers and how long they remain on a page before clicking away, a store-based retailer can use technology to monitor what shoppers are doing and respond quickly, instead of waiting to count what is sold and when.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Marketing with purpose: Think long term

Marketing with purpose is how some of the world's largest businesses are differentiating themselves in today's competitive global economy. At left, an image showing the new packaging of Procter & Gamble's Head & Shoulders shampoo, a bottle made partly from recycled plastics found on beaches.

P&G wants to demonstrate its leadership in sustainability marketing, and this packaging will soon be at in Carrefour stores across France. On the way are hundreds of millions of shampoo bottles made from recycled materials. P&G has also set aggressive multi-year targets for zero manufacturing waste. These and are other actions are building the firm's reputation for sustainability over the long term.

Competitor Unilever has been publicising its sustainability marketing as well. Last month, the company announced ambitious goals for plastic product packaging that is recyclable, reusable or compostable. It is reassessing its products and packaging to reduce the environmental impact wherever possible (as in image shown at right).

In a recent survey conducted in five countries, Unilever found that one in five consumers said they decide to buy based on whether a product was made without harming the environment. Unilever also reported that sales of its brands linked to sustainability are growing much more quickly than non-sustainability brands in the corporate portfolio.

A recent opinion column in The Guardian noted that social activism sells, and brands are busy promoting their good deeds for business reasons. In other words, marketing with purpose is the hottest way to differentiate a brand and make consumers aware of what it stands for, in order to make a sale. Well, yes, but if marketing with purpose is insincere or inconsistent, consumers will soon find that out. P&G and Unilever are committed to marketing with purpose for the long term, with considerable financial and human resources devoted to their environmental protection endeavors.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Marketing mobile payments and mobile donations

For the Chinese New Year, hundreds of millions of people sent the traditional red envelope of cash to friends--but for 2017, these were digital packets and digital payments delivered via social media networks and mobile apps.

In fact, mobile apps facilitate many e-commerce and personal payments, not just holiday gift traditions.

Mobile payments are gaining ground around the globe, sometimes aided by government actions to remove obstacles, as India is doing. In-store mobile payments are also increasing, with Chinese shoppers especially enthusiastic about the convenience and speed.

French shoppers are less enthusiastic, however, and German shoppers are not adopting mobile payments in large numbers either.

In the UK, mobile payments are more popular than in many other markets. Why? One reason is that credit and debit cards are widespread in the UK, so linking them with a mobile payment app streamlines the process and makes everything simple. Also, national retailers like Tesco have their own mobile payment plans, which encourages shoppers to try when they buy.

Now Oxfam and other UK charities are inviting cashless mobile payment donations, making it convenient to give a small preset amount with just a tap or swipe or click.