Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Omni-channel choices for cosmetics buyers

For more than 125 years, Avon (now headquartered in the UK) has sold its beauty products door to door, via representatives who meet with customers, demonstrate makeup techniques, take orders and deliver products personally.

These days, however, time-pressured buyers are often buying online and watching social media tutorials rather than working with door-to-door salespeople.

So Avon now offers omni-channel choices. Buyers can still request a representative visit. They can also click to buy directly from the online Avon shop and receive purchases via courier.

To engage with buyers, Avon UK is active on Twitter (102k followers), Instagram (115k), Facebook (more than 20m followers), YouTube (24k subscribers) and its own Beauty Connects club blog (254k members).

Some Avon reps have their own social media accounts to show products and explain benefits. After all, in a world where makeup experts can attract hundreds of thousands of social media followers, Avon's reps can shine by offering special tips and personalised service for buyers.

Avon's products are competitively priced and attractively positioned. However, with improved profitability in mind, the global beauty brand is closing some markets to focus on higher-potential regions.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Three visions of the future of retailing

What is the future of retailing? Different businesses have differing visions of how people will shop and buy in the future. Here are three visions among the many being planned and tested worldwide:

  • Suning, a Chinese retailer, is testing unstaffed stores. (Photo above is from its news release.) The company calls this 'smart retailing' because of omnichannel choices and automation. Shoppers who have registered their Suning financial services account are identified via facial recognition and gain entry to the unstaffed stores. The idea is that some shoppers prefer to examine merchandise and buy in person, with tech assistance to speed transactions. 
    Start Today
  • Twenty-year-old Japanese fashion e-commerce firm Start Today wants to help customers order clothing in the correct size. Shoppers dress in a Zozosuit and their measurements are captured electronically. Then shoppers can order clothing made to fit. 
  • Retailers (both online and offline) are increasingly stocking a larger selection of preowned products (meaning gently-used merchandise). This is a trend in the upmarket wristwatch business, for example. It's also a trend in designer clothing and accessories. Not vintage, necessarily, but used items that originally were luxury priced.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Bargains Draw Buyers on Amazon Prime Day

Once again, Amazon Prime Day has broken all records for merchandise sales. Eager shoppers clicked or swiped to buy more merchandise on 16 July than on Black Friday or CyberMonday, two "shopping holidays" that lead into Christmas buying season. Small businesses were among the big winners, promoting discounts to their customers via the Amazon retail platform.

Although Amazon generally puts special emphasis on electronics on Prime Day, Drapers reports that the retailer sold 287k clothing items during its shopping holiday--many of these from the company's private brand collections. Amazon has been more aggressively promoting its private brands in recent years, with product launches scheduled during Prime Day in 2018.

One of the year's most popular appliances sold out--the Instant Pot. But, not surprisingly, Amazon's own Echo Dot speaker was the biggest seller of all on Prime Day, along with its own Fire Stick TV device.

Monday, 16 July 2018

The Fourth Year of Amazon Prime Day Discounts

For the fourth consecutive year, the gigantic online retailer Amazon is celebrating Prime Day, a members-only sale that rivals Black Friday in the number of special discount deals.

To increase anticipation in advance of this sale, Amazon put a count-down clock on its home page. Here's what the clock looked like on 12 July. Despite the name, Prime Day takes place over more than 24 hours, as the clock indicates. According to one evaluation, Prime Day UK's average discount in 2017 was 21%.

In addition to deep discounts on cameras and other electronics, Amazon is also promoting discounts on its own brands, including Amazon Basics. The company's private brands have been attracting customers and increasing revenue year after year.

Currently, Amazon markets 80+ private brands such as Mama Bear, Echo speakers, and Happy Belly bottled water. In 2017, the top-selling product during Prime Day in the UK market was, in fact, the Amazon Echo speaker. Electronics and kitchen products were also strong sellers.

New this year: limited-edition products and new products launched especially on Prime Day.

Based on reports from previous years, bargain-hunting UK shoppers are likely to make Prime Day 2018 the most successful selling day of the year--again. UPDATE HERE

Friday, 6 July 2018

Primark continues Primania

Primark, a master at marketing low-priced fast fashion, continues to engage price-conscious brand fans via its Primania page of consumer-generated fashion content. Want to see how other Primark customers accessorise a special dress or wear the company's newest tops? Browse more than 16k images uploaded by brand fans, subject to the marketer's content guidelines.

Founded in Dublin in 1969, the company now markets under a variety of private brands, including Young Dimension and Ocean Club. In addition, Primark partners with groups to market special product collections. Its recent LGBT+ Pride collection is in partnership with Stonewall, a nonprofit that promotes equality, and a portion of each purchase benefits the nonprofit.

Primark operates more than 350 stores in 12 countries. Its US stores are doing well, but the company is awaiting long-term analysis before expanding there. Unlike nearly every other retailer on the planet, Primark does not sell online, only in physical stores.

Yet its social media presence is impressive. Primark has nearly 6mm Instagram followers, 98k Pinterest followers, 225k Twitter followers.

How will Primark use marketing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019?

This post updates the "Marketing at Primark" feature in Chapter 1 of Essential Guide to Marketing Planning, 4th edition.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Update on the UK chocolate market

The UK chocolate market continues to grow, with more competition than ever and new products attracting attention. Consumers in the UK eat more chocolate per capita than consumers in any other nation. Seasonal products are leading the way, as are niche products that represent social responsibility commitments.

Tony's Chocoloney is a company that markets ethically-produced chocolate products. Based in the Netherlands, and already selling to the US market, Tony's plans to launch its first chocolate bars in the UK next year.

For a niche marketer, the company has a solid social-media following (more than 100k Facebook likes, for instance). Its ethical-source mission resonates with many consumers who seek out brands with purpose.

The upmarket company Hotel Chocolat continues to expand. It operates 103 retail stores, some with cafes attached, as well as a sustainability-based cocoa plantation. The company recently reported higher earnings.

Hotel Chocolat recently repaid thousands of bond-holders who invested in its so-called chocolate bonds, providing funding for the firm's sustainability projects and more. The firm recently prevailed in a dispute with Waitrose, saying that the grocer appeared to have copied the company's signature slab chocolate products. Waitrose stopped marketing the chocolates and the CEOs of both firms planned to sit down and chat over a cup of cocoa.

This post updates background information in the "Lost Legends Luxury Chocolatier" sample marketing plan, in the Appendix of my Essential Guide to Marketing Planning, 4th edition.