Thursday, 25 January 2018

What's happening in the UK toy industry?

That's the question at the London toy fair, where hundreds of suppliers show their newest products and brand extensions to thousands of wholesale and retail buyers. And, of course, the media are invited (but no children). Above, from the Toy Fair Blog, a view of the giant show, which is taking place this week.

The Toy Character Parade is one of the special events that offer a preview of some of the branded characters consumers will see on store shelves later in 2018. In addition, electronic toys are, of course, still amongst the hottest items sought by consumers and, therefore, by retail buyers. Collectable toys are currently popular; also selling well are characters and brands already known to children and parents, such as Pokemon.

The Toy Fair also features a design seminar for students planning a career in the toy industry. Students not only hear from experts, they network with toy firms and design firms to learn more about internships and career possibilities.

As for the toy industry, UK sales of toys decreased a bit in 2017, to £3.4 billion. One reason: the rise of mobile games. Another reason: children spending more time in front of a screen (TV, phone, tablet, laptop). The decrease follows several years of sales increases. Will toy sales increase or decrease in 2018 as parents try to balance the amount of time children spend with screens/mobile games against the time spent playing with other types of toys?  

Monday, 15 January 2018

Marketing accountability and metrics

More than ever before, accountability counts. Marketers are using a variety of metrics (both quantitative and qualitative) to measure marketing and media results.

One of the key quantitative metrics is ROI. The Harvard Business Review defines marketing return on investment as:

(Incremental financial value derived from a marketing investment minus the cost of that marketing investment)
divided by
 The cost of that marketing investment

In this ROI definition, the marketer must not only know what marketing costs, it must be able to gauge the financial value gained as a result of making that investment--not so easy.
Often, a company has difficulty attributing a sales increase (financial value) that occurs because of a particular marketing investment (such as one specific promotional campaign). So many influences can affect marketing results, including competition, other marketing efforts, economic conditions, consumer buying behavior, retailer activities and more. In fact, marketing that used to produce a certain result may no longer induce that same result.

Online marketing can be measured in clicks, for example, but there are also quantitative metrics that can prove valuable to long-term financial success--such as the sentiment of social media comments (positive or negative?). This can be measured, but how does a marketer relate that to financial value? And what about ROI of investing in influencer marketing, meaning paying for popular YouTube or Twitter celebs to promote a brand or product.

B2B marketers have to be accountable too, able to measure social media and other marketing efforts. Nonprofits are thinking long-term, not just measuring immediate marketing results from fundraising programmes and other activities.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Targeting business customers like consumers

Businesses don't make buying decisions--people who work for businesses actually make those decisions. And that's why B2B marketers are targeting businesspeople using consumer-driven media, both traditional and social media, with proven B2C techniques like customizing content.

Amazon, the pioneering etailer, has a marketing initiative to sell office supplies to UK businesses. 'Whether you are a sole trader, a buyer in a mid-size company or a chief procurement officer in a large multinational organisation, Amazon Business has the products and capabilities to serve your need', says an executive.

Given that so many businesspeople have purchased from Amazon as consumers, they're already familiar with the range of merchandise and the convenience of ordering. Amazon can work with corporate buyers and procurement procedures. This creates a competitive challenge for office-supply retailers with physical locations.

Yet store-based retailers recognise that small and medium businesses, in particular, often buy in stores or online, without the elaborate purchasing processes utilised by giant corporations. In Australia, the office-products retailer Officeworks knows that it serves both consumers and business customers. Some home-based entrepreneurs might pop in for toner cartridges, or a parent might pick out school supplies for a child. Both are solid markets. When a business buyer or consumer wants to examine merchandise, select an item and take it back to home or office right away, stores are convenient.

Friday, 5 January 2018

UK marketing trends for 2018

What trends should UK marketers pay particular attention to in 2018? Here are what some experts say:
  • Influencer marketing will be increasingly important. Whether a marketer wants to reach a highly targeted audience or reach a broader market, influencers (opinion leaders) on social media can demonstrate products, explain benefits or simply express their positive feelings about the brand. 
  • Highly targeted content for specific segments. Content marketing tailored to each segment offers the benefit of relevant and timely information. With better audience analytics, marketers can therefore target content accordingly, when and where each audience is receptive.
  • Stories are useful for engaging customers. Some brands are using cause-related marketing to tell their stories, reinforcing brand purpose and showing that profit isn't the only motive for marketing. 
  • Trust in many brands must be strengthened. For transparency, be sure the brand promise is clear and specific and deliver on the promise by incorporating the brand's values through all aspects of marketing.