The deepest and broadest retail discounting in living memory is creating a quandary for consumers: There are so many sales that people don't know where to start -- or when to hold off.
Google's built a multi-billion-dollar empire largely on the strength of search ad sales. But that's starting to change as the years Google has spent nurturing side businesses that have nothing to do with search are beginning to show small, but growing returns.
YouGov BrandIndex, which says it interviews 4,300 people each weekday from an online panel that's designed to be representative of the U.S. population, crunched the numbers on Super Bowl advertisers before and after the game. It found that Budweiser, GoDaddy, Doritos and Microsoft got people talking or increased the positive buzz about them more than other Super Bowl advertisers. But of those four only Doritos made the top 10 for a lift in purchase consideration.
CVS Caremark pharmacies will phase out tobacco in U.S. retail stores by Oct. 1, officials announced Wednesday, saying that selling cigarettes side-by-side with medicine undermines the mission of promoting good health. The chain will lose about $2 billion in revenues annually from sales of tobacco in its 7,600 stores, but CVS Pharmacy president Helena Foulkes said it just makes sense for a firm now positioning itself as a health care company.
In recent years loyalty programs that reward buyers for sticking with the brand have steadily grown in popularity. Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. loyalty memberships increased by 10 percent per year – reaching over 23 memberships per household. But for all their growth and popularity, do loyalty programs really pay off for the companies that offer them?
Of the millions of American consumers planning to soon buy an automobile, 21 percent say that digital advertising will affect their purchase decision, says a joint report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and stats company Prosper Insights. That's 71 percent more than the average population, per the study, which surveyed 6,200 car shoppers and 19,774 regular consumers over the course of several months last year.
Is your business website working as hard as it should be? Is it helping you to reach your real-world, bottom-line business goals? Most aren't. In a day and age when it's possible to accomplish so much via the web, most business websites still serve more as "web signs" than actual sources of new customers. They might have nice visuals, but they often aren't compelling, or effective... and most certainly aren't generating new sales opportunities.
The Giants of the Industry Are Creeping Onto Each Other's Turfs.
As marketers duke it out in the critical holiday sales season, they'd be wise not to forget about a key demo: men. Yes, men -- who outspend women during almost every annual holiday, according to a study from ESPN Research and Analytics.
Cyber Monday is the day retailers love and hate. They love the huge revenue potential, but hate the pressure to perform.
Marketing investments in new channels are certainly necessary, as companies learn to master omni-channel marketing. But marketers should also remember that email marketing also requires investment, as it continues to evolve. Marketers need to adapt to a new inbox in order to harness the full power of email.
Q&A with Jay Sears, svp of development for the Rubicon Project.
Sales teams and marketing teams pursue a common objective: create customer value and drive company results. But sales and marketing don’t always get along. Certainly, all-out war between the two teams drains productivity.
Mad Woman Lauren Reeves loves to see people scared to death in ads.
Millennials are shaping the present and owning the future. With more purchasing power and decision-making abilities than ever, Millennials are expected to make a lasting impression for decades to come.
Aims to show how AdWords affects digital conversions.
Social savviness boosts sales, SMBs say.
Coupons. Gift cards. Loyalty points. These tried-and-true tools of the retail trade might not be as sexy as other forms of marketing. But together they account for more than $165 billion in purchasing power.
Despite the hype that inevitably clings to the newfangled, however, it’s relatively antique tech that appears to be far more important for selling stuff online.
For the artist, album sales are album sales. But what Samsung got out of this deal was much more valuable than the paltry $5 million they paid.
Content marketing has changed the ways that businesses sell to a B2B audience.
Warner Bros. is consolidating its digital sales operations as it looks to build out an entertainment-focused ad powerhouse on the Web.
Marketing strategy is particularly difficult because the rules have changed. A generation ago, brands mostly strove to create buzz and “drive awareness,” now they need to build compelling experiences that keep consumers engaged.
The most common question B-to-B marketers ask me is: “How do I use social media to get more leads?” And the answer is:...
Peter Drucker once commented that “trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Though we agree with Drucker that forecasting is hard, managers are constantly asked to predict the future — be it to project future product sales, anticipate company profits, or plan for investment returns. Good forecasts hold the key to good plans. Simply complaining about the difficulty does not help.
Struggling companies all share something in common. Their sales and marketing efforts are at odds. Sometimes, they are even at war. The marketing team lectures the sales department, saying that if only the salespeople would follow their advice, their problems would be solved. Meanwhile, the sales department always says it needs something else from marketing. The salespeople are clamoring for the silver bullet that will convince the most ardent skeptic to buy. The root cause of this situation is that sales and marketing have different views of the world.
When consumers are overwhelmed with options, marketers should give them what they really want: ways of shopping that lower the cognitive demands of choosing.
Following the first panel on sustainability in the fashion business at the PSFK Salon: Innovation In Fashion, the second panel touched on technology that is affecting marketing in retail spaces. The panelists shared some of their insights around mobile apps and their influence on purchase decisions.
"Everybody lives by selling something," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, author of "Treasure Island." Agents, CMOs and deal makers will always get starry-eyed by the big names of "celebrity" because brands love endorsements, and consumers buy into "celebrity." Questions remain, however, as to whether the international obloquy related to the Tiger Woods crisis dealt a devastating blow to celebrity endorsement. In light of the risks, is the celebrity endorsement deal still worth it?
For her debut as Gucci's women's designer five years ago, Frida Giannini picked sweet floral prints from the Italian house's archives as her starting point. Ms. Giannini's early designs—a repudiation of her predecessor Tom Ford's raw sexiness—earned her low grades from fashion critics. Women's Wear Daily said of Ms. Giannini's runway in 2006: "Trends do not start here." Critics be damned. They were a commercial success. Old fashion is hot again, and Gucci is banking on its heritage.
Anheuser-Busch— whose Budweiser brand sales and image have taken a serious licking — today will announce plans to push free beer and a hipper Bud image to younger beer drinkers over the next several weeks. To appeal to the under-30 set that has ignored the brand — but is a prime consumer group for beer — Budweiser will unleash its biggest-ever national free-sample effort in trendy bars and eateries. The campaign begins Monday, with the slogan "Grab some Buds."
It's going to be a green Christmas, at least in consumer-electronics sales. Bolstered by a flood of new products such as motion-controlled game consoles, 3DTV, e-readers and tablet computers, sales are projected to keep the industry growing at a strong clip. The Consumer Electronic Association predicts $175 billion in shipments for 2010 in the U.S., a 3% increase over 2009 and a $9 billion jump in the group's earlier January prediction. What's more, not a lot of it will be purchased off the sale rack.
It's Steven Spielberg's futuristic "Minority Report" come to life. Marketing companies are experimenting with a new wave of digital technologies to pitch to consumers while they shop: interactive dressing-room mirrors, kiosks with virtual customer-service representatives, and shopping carts and digital scanners that offer personalized discounts. These futuristic technologies are among the interactive tools on display at Interpublic Group of Cos.' new retail center at the advertising company's Media Lab in Los Angeles.
Retailers have been flailing about a bit in their efforts to get people to shop again, deploying all sorts of gimmicks and promotions to spur customer spending. Wal-Mart hoped that deeper cuts in its standard rollbacks would be a draw, but then said the prices went too low. At Saks, perhaps customers would go for designer labels if the lines offered less-expensive items. And for Macy’s, how about inexpensive clothes by Madonna? The secret, at least for Nordstrom, has not involved a piercing insight into a customer’s mind. Rather, it has changed the way that it handles, of all things, inventory. And that has brought the department store more success in improving sales than at most of its competitors, whose recent reports signaled that their consumers were still cautious.
What a difference a deal makes. This morning, Groupon launched its first nationwide deal, $25 off a $50 purchase at Gap. The promotion, which was available in every city, briefly crashed Groupon’s servers as deal-happy consumers clicked on the 50% discount and pinged their friends. Despite the technical difficulties, according to Groupon‘s CEO Andrew Mason, as of 11AM PST (the e-mail blast went out at roughly 6AM in each time zone) Groupon has sold 200,000 Groupons and is currently selling roughly 10 per second. Ten sales per second is an unusually high volume, Mason says, “several multiples above the average.”
Apple's iAd mobile advertising platform is getting favorable reviews from the companies whose advertisements were the first to run on the new system, including Dove soap-maker Unilever and Nissan. App makers like Dictionary.com and CBS Mobile have said iAd is allowing them to charge more for ad space in their applications. Though neither Apple nor the advertisers would share revenue or traffic numbers, they noted that their pilot iAds tended to pull in users and keep them interested for significantly longer than other kinds of digital ads.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s publication of its “The Popularity Issue: America’s most popular products and how they got that way” makes some fascinating statements about today’s business culture — but not because of the items it named (although those do make for an interesting read.) The fact that a business publication would devote an issue to things which are “popular” and that it plans to do this every year (as this issue was named its “1st Annual”) suggests that popularity is a concept businesspeople care about – which is an interesting, and not necessarily good, development. Further, the methods by which BusinessWeek measures so-called popularity reveal the vagary in any undertaking to understand popularity – which leads to some important implications about business success.
It’s like the most persistent sales clerk you’ve ever encountered. Major retailers are working with a new smartphone application that tracks and offers promotions to shoppers as they move from outside the store, to counters, to cash registers — even inside the dressing room (now that’s persistence). The app, called Shopkick, will be available on Tuesday for the iPhone and in the fall for Android phones. And with five major companies supporting it — Macy’s, Best Buy, Sports Authority and American Eagle Outfitters, along with the Simon Property Group, the prominent mall operator — it is getting a big introduction.
While the focus at General Motors Co. in the last several months has been on the change to VP-Marketing Joel Ewanick, on re-shaping Chevrolet and Cadillac, and on the automaker's impending initial public offering, very quietly the Buick brand has become a driving force for the company. A new design and a marketing shift to a younger audience have helped U.S. sales of Buick's Enclave, Regal and LaCrosse skyrocket since last year -- and even more so in China, where it is the No. 1 brand. To steal a line from the classic Oldsmobile campaign, this is not your (grand)father's car any more.
Americans are spending more on electronics like iPads and flat-screen televisions and less on durable goods like furniture, washing machines and lawn mowers, according to government data released Tuesday. The shift reflects a change in priorities for American consumers. After pouring money into all aspects of their homes during the previous decade, consumers are redirecting their purchases to eye-grabbing technology and socking away more of what's left over into savings. Apparel company executives are worried the lure of electronics will eat into their sales as the back-to-school season gets under way.
As we enter August and our shrinks go on vacation, it would be easy to go crazy over all the dour news related to social media. Fortress Facebook is showing cracks as 170,000 or so 26- to-34-year-olds defected from the network in June, according to Inside Facebook. Fast-growing Foursquare, which reached its 100 millionth check-in milestone in July, was doused by a Forrester study that recommended a wait-and-see approach. And 24 hours after the most beautifully orchestrated social media stunt since BK's Whopper Sacrifice, several respectable publications were asking, "Yeah, but did it sell bottles of Old Spice?"
Nielsen's second-quarter statistics for smartphones are out, and of course it involves the quickly evolving and often bloody fight between Apple's iPhone and the various phones using Google's Android. For the first time, more new purchasers (within the past six months) have chosen Android more often than iPhone. Android accounted for 27% of those smartphone sales in the US, while the iPhone snagged 23%. BlackBerry, of course, remains on top.
Product cycles aren’t getting shorter. They’re disappearing. Retailers are concentrating on their store brands and giving shorter shrift to national brands and manufacturer partnerships. They’re culling nationally branded products that fall short of sales and turn expectations from shelves. Sometimes, these metrics aren’t even used as justification!
Corona Light is carving out its own image with the “It Only Gets Better” campaign at a time when consumers are buying less beer. For two decades, Americans drank beer regardless of how the economy fared. That included a lot of light beer. Then the economy fell into recession, and all beer sales slipped for the first time in nearly two decades.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cannot seem to find the right fit when it comes to selling clothing. By quietly ousting its U.S. division apparel chief last week, the world's largest retailer acknowledged that its clothing strategy has been a dud. Again. Over the past decade, Wal-Mart has veered from one approach to clothing to another. The discount giant has even tried to emulate rival Target Corp. by stocking its own lines of trendy outfits. At other times the Bentonville, Ark., retailer has placed its bets on bulk packs of everyday wear, like tube socks and T-shirts. "Wal-Mart has suffered from not knowing who they want to be," said Allen Questrom, the former chief executive of J.C. Penney Co. who recently left Wal-Mart's board. "They're either trying to be too fashionable or too basic."
At the heart of the Ryanair business model is differentiation of the finest and most deliberate kind. I would - in all seriousness - rank Ryanair next to Hermès or Pret a Manger in terms of brand positioning and execution. Ryanair’s brand associations centre on three key themes: low-price, no nonsense and aggression. Don’t underestimate points two and three.
Struggling Eastman Kodak Co. said its movie-film business, a onetime cash cow, is shrinking faster than expected, raising fresh concerns about the viability of the iconic company's turnaround. The faster pace of decline puts more pressure on Kodak, which is still struggling to build profitable new lines of business. Kodak on Wednesday reported disappointing demand in one of its newer businesses—digital still cameras. Another, consumer and commercial inkjet printers, showed gains, but isn't expected to be profitable until 2012.
Last week in Advertising Age, I tried to argue that we marketers should reevaluate our approaches to "interruption" and "engagement" marketing, as I think we're using both terms incorrectly. Budgets are getting shifted away from the short commercials of traditional media into longer social experiences of new media, like Old Spice's recent campaign, as if the latter's entertainment can replace the former's historic utility. Dozens of smart folks chimed in with ideas that either improved on what I'd tried to say, or added thoughts that had never occurred to me. I want to thank all of them...except for the numbnut who declared that "advertising is lies, all lies" and called us "paid prevaricators." I have no idea what he was doing slumming with us in one of the Inferno's outer rings, as he clearly belongs further in. I'd like to riff on what I found to be the most consistent and insightful commentary.
Isaiah Mustafa, aka "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," has clearly broken through all previous viral-video records and achieved pop-icon status. The question is: How much Old Spice body wash has he sold? And the answer is a bit of a mystery.
I know we're not supposed to say it out loud, but a lot of CMOs and agency types think that advertising is going the way of the dinosaur, the Model T and conversation without emoticons. Consumers want to engage with content instead of get interrupted by ads, or so the logic goes, so we celebrate social campaigns like the recent one from Old Spice, and find favor only for commercials that are entertaining. Making a sales pitch just isn't credible anymore. Now that we're well into the social-media revolution, I think it's time to revisit the three assumptions on which this argument is based.
Scott Monty is the global digital communications chief for the Ford Motor Company, and full disclosure, a force to be reckoned with in The Influence Project. He currently ranks at number 43. He likes to say that Ford subscribes to a combination Woody Allen/Yogi Berra theory for social media where 90% may be just showing up, but what's critical is what you do when you get there. Monty talked to Fast Company about Ford's strategy for combining online and traditional advertising, breaking out of comfort cliques to expand a customer base, and the trials and opportunities presented by living in a 140 character society.
Amazon.com Inc. said it reached a milestone, selling more e-books than hardbacks over the past three months. But publishers said it is still too early to gauge for the entire industry whether the growth of e-books is cannibalizing sales of paperback books, a huge and crucial market.
Old Spice has made history, dominating YouTube last week with 8 of the 11 most-watched videos on Friday and racking up tens of millions of views. Its "Smell Like a Man" campaign, in which its spokesmodel quickly shot mostly unscripted and hilariously funny replies to nearly 200 online inquiries (including some from famous people). It prompted numerous copycat videos and got covered by just about every news outlet in America. Now what?
Domino’s last week introduced an industry first: A transparent pizza. The chain, working with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, attempted to one-up competitors on the authenticity front by announcing that all the photographs of its pizza that will appear in ads will from now on be devoid of “fancy food artistry” or “fancy touch-ups.”
Now Kleenex, the brand that invented facial tissues 86 years ago, is hoping to bolster summer sales with packages that resemble wedges of fruit and look more at home on a picnic table than a bedside table. The A-frame packages, featuring fruits like watermelon, orange and lime, were available only at Target last summer, and are being sold at all major retailers this summer.
The push by retailers into social media continues, with some even bringing out Version 2.0 or 2.5 of their presences on Web sites like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Case in point, Target, which has introduced an application on its Facebook page for its Merona line of clothing. The app is called the Merona My Look Maker and is aimed at women ages 35 and up. The goal is to give them a chance to virtually try on, and try out, Merona fashions. A twist is that the merchandise that can be played with on the app is changed constantly to reflect the Merona merchandise that is in Target stores. The looks can be shared with Facebook friends and computer users can also be connected to the Target Web site (target.com) with a “shop it now” feature if they like the looks enough to consider buying the merchandise.
The giveaways are part of Coke's biggest marketing campaign, with World Cup-themed events and advertising spanning 160 countries. The beverage giant won't disclose its World Cup spending, but IEG LLC, a Chicago company that tracks and analyzes corporate sponsorships, estimates the company has poured as much as $600 million into the World Cup. That figure includes $124 million for sponsorship rights and as much as $475 million spent on marketing globally.
Nike is leveraging the success of its 2010 World Cup Write the Future ambush marketing effort with a campaign extension that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness in partnership with (RED), above. The pro-social message, which stars soccer icon Didier Drogba, is particularly apt in Africa as "ground zero" for the global AIDS crisis. Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer isn't too worried; he expects the brand's official World Cup sponsorship to blow past projections, having already garnered almost $2 billion in sales.
Riding high on its "Write the Future" world football campaign, Nike executives announced that fourth-quarter profits came in strong and say its proactive strategy throughout the recession is paying off in a big way. "I said a year ago that Nike is not a 'wait and see' company, and we weren't about to let our core strengths sit idle," Mark Parker, president and CEO.
While there is still plenty of football left to play, it looks like the FIFA World Cup games are already making marketing dreams come true: Adidas -- one of the major sponsors of the FIFA World Cup games -- says it has already set a new sales record, selling double the number of jerseys compared to the 2006 games.
The tablet era has just begun, but Forrester Research is already predicting tablet sales in the U.S. will overtake netbook sales by 2012, and desktop sales by 2015. At the Untetheredconference today in New York City, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps laid out her projections comparing tablet sales to netbooks, laptops, and desktops. She expects 3.5 million tablets (including the iPad and other tablets) to be sold this year, growing to 20.4 million in 2015. Meanwhile, she expects desktop sales to drop from 18.7 million units in 2010 to 15.7 million units in 2015.
AT&T Inc.'s website, unable to handle the demand for Apple Inc.'s new iPhone on Tuesday, had difficulty processing orders and in certain instances appeared to reveal subscribers' personal information to strangers. Although the scope of the problem and its underlying cause couldn't immediately be learned, some AT&T customers, who were logged into AT&T's website as themselves ended up in other users' accounts.
Repositioning is all about changing people’s minds. Changing the minds of current customers who know the brand and accept its current state is difficult. The most frequent, loyal customers are the most resistant to change – but if they’re not generating enough sales and profits to keep the business growing, they probably shouldn’t be the priority. Changing the minds of folks who have rejected the brand usually depends on the execution of the concept. So, asking consumers about the appropriateness of a brand change is generally not helpful. Instead of assessing brand fit of the new concept, evaluate its unbranded appeal – and then explore how the company might make the concept believable for its brand.
The biggest recent highlight for the Denny’s restaurant brand was its 2010 Super Bowl campaign marking the return of its free Grand Slam breakfast on your birthday promotion. It was also, as it turns out, the last hurrah for Denny's CEO Nelson Marchioli.
In retail, success comes with a curse. A long line of retailers have been tempted into rapid store growth to maximize sales, only to hit a wall and need to shrink. Starbucks may be the best example. It likely set a record for the fastest long-term expansion of any big retailer. Morgan Stanley's John Glass says Starbucks added U.S. stores at an annual 27% rate from 1995 to 2005, reaching almost 12,000. That is even faster than the 17% rate of McDonald's from 1965 to 1975.
While sales have been strengthening at Nordstrom, executives from the Seattle-based retailer told a group of investors that one of the best lessons it learned in the recession was a savvier balance between its full-line Nordstrom stores and the Rack, its rapidly growing off-price division.
It's not enough to just chase after new statistics for social media to ensure today's brands soar in this increasingly digital environment. Regardless of their product, CMOs must become obsessed with three kinds of data to make sure any social media campaign contributes to the company's profitability.
High-fructose corn syrup is getting a bad name. Hunt's ketchup is the latest product to replace corn syrup with old-fashioned sugar. Gatorade, Wheat Thins, Ocean Spray cranberry juice and all the baked goods at Starbucks are now made with regular sugar. In New York State, a bill to ban the sale of food containing high-fructose corn syrup was introduced this year. One analyst estimates that U.S sales of high-fructose corn syrup were down 9% in 2009 compared with 2007. A further fall is expected this year. This decline has taken place in spite of a two-year $30 million "Sweet Surprise" advertising campaign sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association. The campaign highlights what the association says are vague and unsubstantiated opinions.
Although the deals tend to be bigger, in scope and revenue, and because of it, B2B sales tend to have a longer cycle. More decision makers are involved on the side of the prospective customer organization, while subject matter experts tend to get involved on the selling side. More people on both sides of the agreement include legal counsel for contract reviews, and teams who will be responsible for the implementation of said purchase. At least one hopes they will be in the loop as execution is where a company realizes its return on investment.
Despite all kinds of mixed economic tea leaves, a new study of consumer perception from Deloitte indicates that most Americans do believe financial recovery has arrived, and that view is especially strong among affluents. "Consumer confidence is really strengthening," Scott Erickson, a partner in the firm's retail practice, tells Marketing Daily. "And people with higher incomes are more likely to believe we are in recovery."
We've all been there. It's that dreaded moment of truth when you realize that having The Talk, The Big Conversation, perhaps even The Great Ultimatum, is inescapable. It could involve your child, your spouse, your subordinate or your colleague. But in every case, it only arrives when it's too late to pretend that the conflicts aren't there or don't really matter. If you're in marketing, that moment often means getting to the bottom of differences that, in so many companies, force your own professional efforts out of phase with those of sales. And in a dicey economy, when doing more with less has become a mantra, alignment between the two functions has now become a core survival strategy.
Lies, damned lies and statistics: You can play games with numbers, and recently the game has been to show Android phones are beating the iPhone in the U.S. Now new data proves that in the rest of the world, Google's still chasing Apple.
Remember the days of two Starbucks stores on one corner in some cities? That was just the beginning. The brand that many experts said was all washed up two years ago is back, with two consecutive quarters of same-store-sales gains -- and it wants you to drink a lot more of its coffee. Despite a seemingly ubiquitous presence with 11,000 coffeehouses, Starbucks estimates that it holds less than 5% of the brewed-coffee market in the U.S. So the company is looking for ways to get in on more of that business, whether it reaches people through fast-food chains, in their homes or at their desks.
General Motors Co. earned $865 million in the first quarter as strengthening sales and savings won through bankruptcy helped drive to auto maker to its first quarterly profit since 2007. The auto maker made an operating profit of $1.2 billion and generated $1 billion in cash. Global revenue grew 40% from a year ago to $31.5 billion, as the auto maker increased production 57% world-wide from a year ago.
Domino's Pizza's recent sales surge is one compelling reminder of the power of a clear benefit appeal and intelligent execution, as opposed to advertising that entertains but falls short on results, in the opinion of at least one marketing consultant.
General Motors Co. removed a recently named marketing chief Wednesday and replaced her with an executive known in the car industry for a clever campaign that helped Hyundai Motor Co. bolster its U.S. sales. The move reflects the urgency Chairman and Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. places on winning customers and increasing sales in the critical U.S. market. Since becoming chairman last summer, Mr. Whitacre has made it no secret that he expects GM to gain share in the U.S. market, and sees raising sales as critical to its turnaround.
After more than a year of consumer research and agency brainstorming, McDonald's global chief marketing officer unveiled an updated take on its iconic, 7-year-old "I'm Lovin' It" campaign today before an audience of 15,000 franchisees, marketers and suppliers.
Chrysler's message with its latest quarterly report is that things are turning around, and that the company isn't the Larry King of automakers: This time the marriage is going to work. The company said net revenues increased to $9.7 billion in the first quarter this year, representing a 4% increase versus the prior quarter. Chrysler says it has a profit of $143 million and positive cash flow of $1.5 billion, giving the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker, a unit of Fiat, $7.4 billion in cash as of month's end, March.
Your brand has 10,000 Twitter followers and 2,000 fans on Facebook. Does that mean your social media marketing efforts are paying off? Maybe not. As the old adage goes, it’s quality, not quantity, that counts. Recent data that Meteor Solutions collected from across more than 20 brand marketer clients shows that the type of friends, fans and followers a brand amasses on social media sites matters more than the number. On average, approximately 1% of a site’s audience generates 20% of all its traffic through sharing of the brand’s content or site links with others. And these “influencers” drive an even higher share of conversion. These very important Internet users can directly influence 30% or more of overall end actions on brand websites by recommending the brand’s site, products or promotions to friends.
Google may be fighting a multifront war against Apple, Microsoft, federal antitrust regulators and the government of China, but its online advertising business continues to hum along nicely. The company topped published forecasts on Thursday, reporting that its net income in the first quarter jumped more than 37 percent from the recession-mired quarter a year ago. Sales grew 23 percent from the period a year earlier. But the stock was down nearly 5 percent in after-hours trading because the results were lower than the “whisper number” of analysts, the unpublished estimate that some analysts give clients. Google shares closed at $595.30 in regular trading before the earnings release.
“First and foremost, what we want to do is establish Crocs as a brand and not that one shoe,” said Ken Chaplin, vice president for marketing at Crocs, referring to the original model. With newer loafer styles and flats, the company hopes to gain more of a year-round presence. “Spring, summer — we own that,” Mr. Chaplin said. “But we also have great shoes for back to school, fall and winter. There’s a lot of opportunity to expand wearing occasions and the seasons we play in.”
As wary Americans start to crack open their wallets, household-goods makers like Procter & Gamble Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Clorox Co. are cranking up their advertising, hoping to coax consumers farther out of their shells. Amid signs of an improving economy, recent survey data show consumers are more willing to splurge by eating out or buying new shoes, but the same doesn't necessarily hold for everyday household goods.
I read an article in The New York Times about a contest being hosted by OgilvyOne to find the "best salesperson in the world." However, it's not a Rolls-Royce contestants must convince consumers to buy, but an ordinary red brick. News of this contest hit the business pages and blogs just as reports about Apple's ( AAPL - news - people ) latest innovation, the iPad, hit the front pages and every other media channel. As a branding veteran, I couldn't help but note how these individual stories characterized the two fundamentally different starting points for achieving the same ultimate marketing objective: Make the sale. Let me explain.
Statistics confirming the overall growth of Hispanics within the U.S. population and their spending power are readily available and frequently cited, but quantifying the Hispanic market's impact on specific consumer goods categories and industries can prove more elusive.
Apple Inc.'s iPad appeared to get off to a strong start over the weekend as swarms of buyers flocked to stores after weeks of publicity about the tablet-style computer. But the long lines soon faded, and few stores sold out of the device, which continues to face questions about how broadly demand for it will spread beyond technology enthusiasts.
Have you made the move beyond SEO to conversion optimization? Haven’t heard of it? According to Wikipedia, “Conversion optimization is the science and art of creating an experience for a website visitor with the goal of converting the visitor into a customer.” While this seems to me to be a fairly accurate description of the process, it’s also important to note what conversion optimization isn’t.
Last year, those Evian roller babies skated their way into the pages of the Guinness World Records as the most-viewed online advertisement in history, with what the company now claims is more than 100 million views. But one achievement it did not pull off? A boost in U.S. sales. Evian lost market share as sales dropped 28 percent in each of the first two quarters, although it reduced those declines to 26 percent in the third quarter and 19 percent in the fourth, according to Beverage Digest.
An agency whose founder went door to door to sell stoves before he got into advertising — and was so good at it that the company asked him to write a manual for the other salesmen — is creating a contest that celebrates selling. OgilvyOne Worldwide, part of the Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide division of WPP, is tipping its hat to David Ogilvy by sponsoring the contest, which is to begin this week. The contest will search for what is being immodestly described as “the world’s greatest salesperson.”
Traffic and sales are way up at Toyota dealerships, thanks to aggressive incentives, Kathy Jackson and Arlena Sawyers report, but the spiffs could damage the traditionally high resale value of the brand. "Incentives fuel sales from bargain shoppers," says Kelley Blue Book analyst James Bell. "But once that audience is satisfied, it remains to be seen how much buyer interest they will see -- no matter how much cash they put on the hood."
New rules that take effect on June 22 severely restrict the way that tobacco companies can advertise and sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, especially to children and teenagers. Lyndsey Layton reports that the rules are the result of the broad new powers Congress granted to the Food and Drug Administration last year to regulate the ingredients in tobacco products and the way they are distributed, sold and marketed.
Remember Tang? Astronauts used to drink it, so it got a lot of ink in the 1960s and 1970s. Nowadays, it gets about as much notice as the space program, holding just a small slice of the U.S. powdered-drinks market. But in developing markets from Brazil to China, Kraft Foods Inc. has turned its Tang brand into a juggernaut with $750 million in annual sales.
Perhaps the most difficult aspects of Social Media to embrace are the changes in our behavior and overall philosophy it necessitates in order to earn relevance and ultimately prominence in consumer hearts, minds, and markets. Simply put, Social Media makes us vulnerable and officially ends an era of perceived control threaded by the illusion of invincibility. Everything we thought we knew and valued is now in dire need of reassessment. We are entering into a time when we are affected by voiced sentiment in the public spotlight and backchannels of the social Web. What we hear, see and observe can and should touch us.
Consumers boycott brands for almost as many reasons as there are brands. If you were looking for a brand to boycott because it made deals with both the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran (and in possible violation of the Iran Sanctions Act), the New York Times provided a handy list last weekend.
The Disney studio, which is to unveil its production slate this spring, is backing away from one-off comedies like "When in Rome" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic," according to people familiar with the studio's new gameplan. In their place, Disney plans to focus on films that are essentially brands—like a planned Muppets movie—that can be exploited across its network of theme parks, videogames and commercial products. The recent success with "Alice in Wonderland" has given a new team of executives who run the studio confidence in their approach.
It has been a rough few months for Toyota because of its three big safety recalls. But the automaker’s luxury division, Lexus, appears to have avoided much of the fallout. Even though a Lexus ES 350 was involved in a widely publicized accident before the recalls, Lexus sales are up about 5 percent so far in 2010 compared with last year. That is close to the average for other luxury brands.
When Russell Levine's lease on his 2006 Subaru Forester was coming to an end, his car hunt was quick. Levine bought another Forester SUV, his fourth. Levine, 48, of Huntington Woods never was tempted to try another brand. "The data speaks for itself. It's highly rated by independent agencies. The mileage is good," said Levine, an information technology architect who recently started commuting to a new job at General Electric's new tech center in Van Buren Township. Subaru's message of high safety ratings, fuel economy and resale values is resonating with more drivers, especially highly educated ones that automakers like to capture.
The marriage of brand advertising and free content is facing peremptory annulment. There is no shortage of punditry around “the death of the media company” and whether it is a just dessert or a societal travesty. But that’s looking at it from the media company and consumer viewpoint – what do advertisers think about all of this? Where is online advertising headed and what does that mean for free content?
U.S. consumers haven't stopped pinching pennies, but two months of sales gains show that they are in better shape than feared and have begun the year with a return to more normal buying habits. After spending much of 2009 in a defensive crouch, shoppers braved bad weather and took to the malls in February, snapping up spring merchandise at close to full price. Hard-hit teen retailers, including American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and higher-priced department store chain Nordstrom Inc., both of which reported big sales drops a year earlier, reported sharp improvements from a year ago. The results, on the heels of similar gains in recent months, signal consumers, even if they aren't returning to free-spending ways, are giving up the ultra-frugal habits of last year.
Move over, Amazon. Consumer-products makers, squeezed by private-label goods at retailers like Wal-Mart, are hawking their wares directly to buyers online.
Toyota is employing a marketing campaign to mitigate the horrific damage it has sustained over the past several weeks – including an estimated 18,000 “lost” sales in February, billions of dollars in repair costs, and an untold deterioration of its once-sterling reputation. Even as Toyota executives testified on Capitol Hill this week, the brand was unveiling a whole new approach in its TV advertising and launching the company’s most ambitious incentive program ever. “We’re back in the sales business,” Bob Carter, general manager of the Toyota division of Toyota Motor Sales USA, declared to reporters on a conference call yesterday.
Ford Motor Co. surpassed General Motors Co. in sales last month for the first time in at least 50 years, presenting a new headache for the government-owned car maker as it struggles to return to profitability. Hours after the sales results were disclosed Tuesday, GM announced an overhaul of its top managers—the second executive shuffle in three months. The news underscored the impatience of GM Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. and the heat the company is feeling from a resurgent Ford.
Heineken USA's sales dipped nearly 11% last year, a reflection of a difficult economic climate for pricey imports as well as erratic and ineffective marketing on its flagship lager brand. The No. 2 importer's total sales declined 10.7%, worse than the 9.8% drop for the total imported beer segment as well as the 6.8% decline posted by its chief rival, Corona marketer Crown Imports.
There’s no question that Toyota is in deep trouble with its current recall crisis. But could these issues actually be helping its brand? Shockingly, an analysis of Toyota shows that its Social Influence Marketing (SIM) Score saw an uptick in January. Who’d have thought that a crisis of such significant magnitude could actually help a brand’s perception? This seems to be true, at least in the short term, even though sales may be dropping. Let me explain how.
Let's get this straight right away: Return on investment in social media is not measured in how many friends you have on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter. It's not calculated in trending topics or YouTube comments. It should, in fact, be held to the same criteria other marketing channels are: Did it move your business? It's done just that at Starbucks, which is a digital marketer worth watching.
Fresh off announcing an unusually strong Q4 and full-year 2009 (particularly by current restaurant industry standards), Chipotle Mexican Grill is looking to build on the momentum with a new marketing campaign to launch in Q2, a new rewards program and new packaging -- not to mention expansion into Europe. For 2009 overall, the fast-casual chain reported revenue up 14% (to $1.52 billion), net income up 62% (to $126.8 million) and diluted EPS up 67% (to $3.95). The sales gain reflected both revenue from 121 new stores opened during '09 and comparable-store sales growth of 2.2% (including a 2% gain in Q4). Like other chains, Chipotle saw some traffic fall-off, but comp-store sales grew as a result of menu price increases instituted in 2008.
For all the excitement about social media, there's a specter hanging over its use by companies. Is all this tweeting, blogging and Facebooking paying off? For some proponents, the question is irrelevant. They agree with the view encapsulated in the social media bible The Cluetrain Manifesto -- markets are conversations. Companies have to participate in the conversations where they're happening, ROI be damned. Their dismissal of metrics is summed up in an oft-repeated question, "What's the ROI of putting on your pants in the morning?"
We all know the statistic and scratch our heads: The average tenure of a CMO is around two years or less. Why? Usually it takes that long to fully understand the intricacies and true insights of most industries, companies and brands. Repeating an action over and over again anticipating a different outcome is a humorous definition of insanity. So are CEOs and boards insane?
U.S. consumers didn't let snow or frigid temperatures stop them from shopping in January. And if they couldn't get to the malls, there was always the Internet. Retail sales increased a larger-than-expected 0.5% last month, more than recovering a 0.1% loss of December. Sales might have increased even more if not for the lack of inventory. The latest retail data suggest real gross domestic product is on a solid track, even though February's storms cut into business activity. The January shopping gain was broad-based, with sellers of sporting goods, books and music, general merchandise stores and Internet retailers posting increases in excess of 1%. Internet sales have soared 12.4% over the past year.
If you’re ready to think of your blog as a business (one of the hot topics over on Third Tribe Marketing), one way to do that is to start thinking of your blog content as the core of a distribution flow. In the little drawing to the left, I’ve put your subject matter at the heart of your system, and then have recommended you look at your blog, other products, education, and partnerships as the four areas you might consider. Note how I’ve moved your blog off to a branch and not to the heart of the drawing. Let’s talk through it.
I came to the conclusion today that marketing is destroying the internet, and a part of the reason why many companies are struggling online.
Strong soda sales in developing economies such as Brazil and India pushed Coca-Cola Co.'s fourth-quarter profit up 55%, but tepid consumer spending continued to pressure its business in North America. The company's earnings reflect a trend reported by other consumer-product makers in recent weeks: Consumer spending has generally bounced back in fast-growing markets in Asia and Latin America, but has yet to make a comeback in the U.S.
Optimism is creeping back into style, following three seasons of budget slashing, according to luxury-retail executives who will attend New York Fashion Week. More than 50 designers will showcase their collections in the tents at Bryant Park this week, with dozens more holding shows elsewhere in Manhattan as part of the twice-a-year fashion extravaganza staged for retail buyers and the press. Forecasting consumer sentiment six months out—when those styles will land in stores—has become easier in recent months, as wealthy shoppers have exhibited an increased willingness to spend. Even so, there's a focus on luring back "aspirational shoppers."
I'd planned in all sincerity to write an essay about the three Super Bowl commercials that I thought wouldn't get the recognition in most "top ten" lists, but that I believed might actually do something business-wise down the road. I meant it. I wanted to be positive... ...but I just can't. I can't think of one spot that is going to matter after today's Monday morning ad quarterbacking is done.
Procter & Gamble is testing a new online venue for selling its products called eStore, a venture designed to deliver lessons in online selling that P&G plans to pass on to other online retail partners. The initiative comes as less than 1 percent of P&G’s $79 billion in global revenue last year came from online sales via sites such as Walmart.com and Amazon.com.
Magazines' newsstand recession certainly isn't over -- but it seems to be lightening up. Many magazine publishers now reporting circulation figures for the second half of last year are again posting declines, but in most cases those declines aren't nearly as steep as the plunges that came before.
Ever since the phrase “you manage what you measure” made its way into the dialogue of corporate America, metrics have played an increasingly important role in the management of businesses. No one can argue the value of timely, detailed, and accurate measures of performance as assessments of effectiveness and guides for decision-making. Yet, which metrics are best remains highly debatable.
General Motors said Tuesday it had struck a preliminary deal to sell Saab to Spyker Cars, a tiny Dutch maker of high-end sports cars, saving the Swedish automaker from what seemed like certain extinction after previous bids for it collapsed.
Apparently, half-naked models aren’t enough to entice customers anymore -- at least in the case of upscale retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch. Their once-enticing skimpy image is now resulting in nothing more than skimpy sales. The trendy teen chain has again reported a troubling decline in sales -- 21 straight months of declines, actually, in stores that have been open for over a year. Reports showed a 19 percent drop in December, a month that most retailers depend on to bolster their year-end profits.
McDonald’s posted strong fourth-quarter results on Friday, aided by currency fluctuations, leading to annual earnings of $4.6bn for 2009, a gain of 6 per cent on its results for 2008. For the quarter, McDonald’s earnings jumped 23 per cent to $1.2bn, up from $985m in the comparable period the year before.
The next interview in the B2B Marketing thought leader interview series is with Christine Crandell, one of the most innovative thinkers I've met on the topics of sales and marketing alignment and marketing accountability. Christine sits on several advisory boards including Coupa and SDForum, and has held senior marketing positions at Egenera, Ariba, and many others. Her thoughts on organization and how marketing can earn credibility and "go toe-to-toe" with sales leadership are definitely worth reading.
Kristiauna Mangum, 22, a senior at Ohio State University in Columbus, said she always had a flair for makeup, but never considered it a professional calling. Then she heard about a pilot college program offered by Avon’s little sister brand, Mark, two years ago. “My mother was an Avon Lady, so I thought, huh, maybe becoming a Mark Girl could really be the way to go,” she said. Now Ms. Mangum is the sales manager for Mark at Ohio State, and manages 155 other Mark Girls who roam the dormitories and sorority houses, selling Mark beauty products and fashion accessories for a commission in the range of 20 to 50 percent.
The Simulcam and Fusion 3D camera inventions were not the only technologies that made James Cameron’s Sci-Fi epic Avatar a massive box office success. While smaller films have used social media to spread the word guerrilla-style, no other major blockbuster has employed a full-on social web marketing assault quite like Avatar. The results in its case were a $232 million opening weekend, a total of one billion dollars in revenue by year’s end, and the rank of #2 highest grossing film of all time. Cameron’s $500 million act of hubris has paid off. Here’s an outline of the social media moves Avatar’s team made to achieve success.
The buzz is palpable about Apple's plans to announce a tablet computer later this month. I think it's instructive as to the function and uses of conversation. Apple is a company that has utterly shunned the social media campaigns that have displaced more old-fashioned ways to waste consumers' time. It has no Twitter feed, provides no payola to twentysomethings so that they’ll blog about its products, and I bet it would happily ignore a request for comment from the President if asked. It doesn't talk. Apple does.
Many of the largest US retail chains reported sales that were at the high end of their forecasts for the important holiday shopping month of December, although sales for most remained below pre-crash levels of two years ago. Retail Metrics, which tracks the monthly figures, said its index of comparable store sales rose 3 per cent, the strongest increase in the index since April 2008.
Google stepped up its attack on the smartphone market on Tuesday, introducing a new touch-screen handset called Nexus One that is widely seen as a rival to Apple’s iPhone. Google also said that it would sell the Nexus One, which it called a superphone, exclusively through a new online store. Google, which earns the vast majority of its revenue from advertising, said it was dipping its toes in the direct retailing business not to reap profits from the sale of phones but to broaden the availability of handsets running its Android software.
A year-end flurry of ad spending helped moderate steep declines at some newspapers and magazines, and has fueled an uptick at others, raising hopes for a recovery in 2010. Still, following a brutal 2009, when scores of publications closed or made drastic cutbacks, publishers remain wary of declaring an ad rebound as marketers selectively reopen their wallets. Publishing executives attribute the recent influx of ad money in part to marketers hurrying to spend the remainder of their annual ad budgets after doling out those funds sparingly earlier in the year amid fears of an economic collapse.
In the last year, consumers spent more money on video games in Britain than on films, including both trips to movie theaters and films on DVD, new figures compiled for U.K.'s Daily Telegraph indicate.
Over the past two years of abysmal sales, many retail executives had one simple goal: to survive. Now, even though consumers' spending remains weak, many retailers must carry out changes in order to compete in the future. That's the view of Michael Collins, a partner in the retail and consumer practice of corporate consultant Bain & Co. He says that after focusing on cost-cutting and other short-term measures to weather the recession, retail chains and the malls that house them must reposition themselves to please consumers who have new demands and new ways of shopping.
As a relatively subdued last-minute rush brought pre-Christmas shopping to a close, retailers were hoping to entice procrastinating consumers to keep on buying through the holiday and after. More retailers planned Internet sales on Christmas Day this year in an attempt to cash in on the growth of e-commerce, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster holiday shopping season. Shoppers and stores have engaged in a tug-of-war this year, as consumers postponed shopping in hopes of deep discounts and retailers tried to preserve their profit margins, offering limited deals designed to drive traffic into stores.
A holiday season of Web price wars and aggressive online promotions by store-based retailers is leaving e-commerce a larger force in American retail. While sales conducted at brick-and mortar stores are about flat this season compared with 2008, online retailing grew 4% from the beginning of November through Dec. 18 to $24.8 billion, according to Web tracking company comScore Inc. Online sales on Dec. 15 totaled $913 million, marking a one-day record for the industry.
The mobile phone is quickly becoming Santa’s biggest helper. Powerful software applications for devices like the Apple iPhone are making it easy for bargain-hunting consumers to see if another retailer is offering a better deal on a big-screen HDTV or pair of shoes and to use it to haggle at the cash register. Online retailers are revamping the mobile versions of their sites so consumers can make purchases without tedious typing. And offline retailers, battling for every last dollar, are sending cellphone users electronic coupons to lure them away from competitors.
Verizon Wireless made clear from the start that its Droid smartphone was designed to put pressure on Apple, the maker of the iPhone, and AT&T (T), the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier. As part of a $100 million marketing push, Verizon Wireless enumerates several ways it believes the Droid outperforms the iPhone. Yet analysts say the Droid and other devices that sport the Android operating system may also take a toll on Research In Motion, the maker of another smartphone, the BlackBerry. "It's clear there's been a lot of marketing at Verizon around the Droid, so that is going to hurt RIM," says Raymond James (RJF) analyst Steve Li.
More consumers flooded the nation’s stores on Thanksgiving weekend in search of bargains. But with retailers dangling rock-bottom prices and consumers only biting at less expensive merchandise like small appliances and winter clothes, the average amount spent by each shopper declined from last year.
I can all but guarantee that someone you know and care about is planning to go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. You need to intervene.
In any product category, roughly 10% of the consumers account for more than 50% of the profits. These super-consumers, as we call them, are the hot dog buyers who eat five pounds of hot dogs a month, wolfing down as many as 4 per sitting. They are the stapler users who own 8 different staplers. They know what they want, they'll buy a lot of it, and they'll pay a premium for it. They're passionate and engaged — sometimes even a little obsessive — and they exist in every category, from soft drinks and air travel to fast-food and oral care products. Many managers assume that their super-consumers are a unique species whose extreme appetites say little about what more casual consumers might go for. They also figure that their super-consumers are already sated, so there's no point in probing them further. That's a mistake.
With only a month left before Christmas, it seems clear that consumers, worried about the economy and unemployment, will need considerable incentives — in the form of big sales and deals — to buy anything. As a result, campaigns are celebrating price cuts, discounts and bargains in a manner that the British call “cheap and cheerful.” It is a far cry from the holidays of not so long ago, when commercials suggested giving luxury cars as gifts by topping them with red bows — and never mentioned the sticker shock.
'Tis the season to diss Apple in some very creative and entertaining ways. I'm just not sure whether it's a sign of strategic marketing insight, or fishbowl-like confusion of message over meaning. First came Microsoft's "I'm a PC" campaigns, with its snippets of slice-of-life everypeople declaring their stereotypical lifestyles, and then shoppers explaining how they'd first looked at an Apple but then chose a PC because it was a better value. I'm all for comparison ads but the nonsense of contrasting PC-ness with Apple-ness is kind of silly.
‘Tis the season for social media. Seventeen percent of U.S. consumers plan to leverage social media sites to assist in their holiday shopping this year. The majority (60 percent) will do so to seek discounts and sales, according to Deloitte’s 24th annual Holiday Survey. More than half of social media users reported that they will also use these sites to research potential gift ideas (53 percent) and view their friends and family members’ wish lists (52 percent). Forty-six percent will research product reviews and 30 percent plan to share their own wish list. The study, which was conducted online by an independent research company, surveyed more than 10,000 individuals.
Microsoft Windows 7's launch video was a viral smash. And while some believed it was because people thought "HostingYourParty" was a riotously bad -- Microsoft is enjoying the last laugh. Still, despite the negative attention directed at the instructional video, which was intended for people hosting Windows 7 "house parties," the tech giant managed to reach a lot of consumers. In fact, from Oct. 22-29, more than 800,000 people attended more than 10,000 parties in 12 countries hosted by Windows 7.
SALES of vitamins and minerals are projected to grow more than 6 percent this year — to $11.2 billion, from $10.6 billion in 2008 — according to Mintel, a market research firm, and that bump may come not in spite of the economic downturn, but because of it. “Economy-conscious consumers concerned with avoiding illness, and thus avoiding sick days, turn to supplements to maintain good health,” Mintel wrote in a recent report. “People tend to take better care of themselves when there are tough economic conditions,” said Joe Fortunato, chief executive of GNC, the vitamin and supplement retailer. A healthy diet, exercise and supplements “are a way to reduce health care costs down the road,” Mr. Fortunato said.
The recession may be over but companies that cater to consumers believe people are digging in for a long, frugal winter. That's why Clorox Co. is keeping the price steady on a new improved trash bag that grips the top of the garbage can. Clorox says it wants to highlight the bags' "greater value." Similarly, Campbell Soup Co. recently reduced the promoted price of its V8 beverages in some markets to 2 for $5 from 2 for $6. Burger King Holdings Inc. is selling double cheeseburgers for just a dollar. Glimmers of recovery in housing starts, manufacturing and auto sales have yet to reassure many consumers who are spooked by 10.2% unemployment, determined to save more and skeptical of sunny forecasts. The Conference Board recently said its consumer confidence index fell almost six points in October from September.
Leading retailers say October turned out to be unexpectedly solid, with consumers spending more freely than expected. The International Council of Shopping Centers, which tracks leading chains around the U.S., says its index gained 2.1% for the month, the strongest gain in 15 months. And Retail Forward, a consulting company that tracks a slightly different group of stores, says its index saw a pop of 2.3% compared with a 0.9% gain last month and the 3.8% decline in October of 2008.
After a year of steadily shaking up consumer habits in the supermarket, the recession has produced some clear winners -- and new research from Nielsen shows that most of them are on the edges of your local grocery store. Stores' perishable departments -- the bakery, fresh meat, deli and produce that line the perimeter -- are becoming more productive as consumers become used to eating out less, and focus more intently on the quality of the meals they prepare at home, says Jeff Gregori, VP of Nielsen's solution consulting, based in New Jersey.
Touchscreen smartphones are the thing in the U.S. this year, with sales growing so rapidly it would give the Ares I-X a run for its money. And next year the pace of the change is going to be even faster. Welcome to the touchscreen era. Comscore's data looks at the three months ending August of this year versus the same period last year, and the numbers pretty much speak for themselves: Among U.S. smartphone subscribers aged 13 and over, some 33.8 million owned regular push-button smartphones, against 23.8 million owning touchscreen ones. While that data looks stacked in favor of regular push-button phones, check out the growth rate. Smartphone ownership grew a whopping 63% over last year, proving this is the smartphone age all right--dumbphone sales simply can't compete with that growth. And touchscreen smartphone sales exploded 159% at the same time, which is incredible.
The recession has battered some of the nation's biggest companies. Even so, top marketing executives believe social media and behavioral targeting technologies will help them boost business as the economy stabilizes and consumer sentiment improves. A cautiously optimistic group of marketing executives from big companies, including Bank of America, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Mercedes-Benz USA and Xerox, gathered in Palm Beach, Fla., at the Fifth annual Forbes CMO Summit late last week. There they discussed ways they can rebuild trust and boost sales at their companies as the economy stabilizes.
For the third year in a row, Apple's iPhone will enter the holiday shopping season as the smartphone to beat. But this year, it actually has some respectable challengers. Perhaps the best rival will be the new Droid phone by Motorola for Verizon Wireless. Running the newest version of Google's Android operating system, Droid includes an improved web browser, free turn-by-turn navigation, a gorgeous screen, a slide-out keyboard and a super-fast processor.
Kellogg Co. bested industry expectations with third-quarter earnings released this morning, thanks in part to higher ad spending. Sales slipped slightly on currency conversion, to $3.3 billion, but the company's earnings per share grew 5% during the quarter, as it also boosted advertising by a whopping 17%. The company also forecast another double-digit increase for ad spending for the fourth quarter. "Our commitment to investing in advertising continues to be a key to our business model and to achieving our goals," Kellogg Chief Financial Officer John Bryant said during the call. "Rather than take advantage of lower rates to reduce the cost of our advertising investment, we see this as a great opportunity to increase our investment and build even stronger brands in the future. Higher spend combined with media deflation and a push on efficiency is driving a significant increase in advertising pressure."
Poor package design is costing marketers more than $2 billion in U.S. sales as consumers are accidentally reaching for copycat house brands that are meant to look like the well-known branded products. According to a new study by strategy and design agency The Brand Union, 70% of consumers said they had purchased the wrong product in a supermarket in the past year. Some 60% said they had trouble differentiating products on a store shelf due to the packaging. The most confusing categories: canned goods; cold and allergy products and hair care items. (Of the 23% of consumers who said they were confused by the canned goods category, 42% said they ended up purchasing the wrong product.)
Private label is at something of a crossroads. Rising out of the shadows of its humble, “no-name” generic past, private label today has blossomed into a $100 billion industry. While the media and analysts are fixated on sales numbers and growth expectations another story frequently gets little air play: Private label has the freedom (and not the baggage) to seize opportunities to leapfrog name brands in such critical areas as ingredients, flavors, preparations and even packaging. Looking through the lens of contemporary consumers and shoppers, we see that the rapidly changing private label landscape is far too complicated to be adequately explained by aggregate sales or customer transaction sales data alone. Our Private Label 2010: Redefining Meaning of Brand report moves beyond simplified discussions of sales data to present a holistic consumer and shopper perspective on private label that accounts for the role of the economy, new meaning of value, distinctions in retail formats, product categories, name brands and, of course, private label brands.
Halloween may conjure up visions of shrieking kids in princess and skeleton costumes trick-or-treating door to door. But this popular holiday increasingly has morphed into a celebration by adults who buy a Dracula or sexy showgirl outfit and head to a party or club. The shift has accelerated over the past five to 10 years, ushering in a transformation in the Halloween industry, according to retail industry analysts and executives. More costume sales are going to adults, with some retailers saying the percentage of adult sales exceeds 50 percent. Nightclubs, restaurants and bars are throwing more Halloween parties and events.
In the soda wars, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has long run a distant third to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. But the beverage maker is experiencing a surprising renaissance. Its stock is up 154% since March, compared with a 33% climb for Coke and a 32% rise for Pepsi. Sales of its flagship brand, Dr Pepper, are bucking the industry trend, rising almost 3% in the first half of this year while overall soda consumption dropped by that much, according to Beverage Digest. Analysts expect the company to post a $498 million profit this year, up from a $312 million loss in 2008. For CEO Larry D. Young, the turning point in DPSG's fortunes came with the Plano (Tex.) company's spin-off from Cadbury in May 2008. That allowed Young to cut costs and invest the savings in building up long-neglected brands and distribution networks.
Walmart is doling out hundreds of millions of dollars for "Project Impact," an ambitious five-year push to de-clutter its stores to make them more shopper-friendly. But having less merchandise on display has put a serious crimp in sales for some categories and dinged suppliers. And that's got Bentonville buzzing that the retail titan might just put the program on hold as a result. "They solved half of the problem, which was un-cluttering the stores," said a person familiar with Walmart. "That leaves them with the other half of the problem: how to make up for the lost sales" from removing millions of square feet of prime merchandising space.
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, there will still be a good amount of holiday cheer in the coming months. American consumers are still looking to purchase beer, wine and spirits, and are more likely to seek value and entertain in the home compared to years past, according to the latest Nielsen data. The alcoholic beverage category has proven to be resilient, but not recession proof. Sales were up slightly, at 2 percent, for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 5 compared to the year prior. Wine saw the biggest spike at 5.1 percent followed by spirits (2 percent) and beer (0.7 percent).
Jos. A. Bank is running a big sale this weekend. Wait a minute, it seems that it runs a big sale every weekend. Buy one, get two free. 50% off all merchandise. There are endless permutations of the deal, but they all center on putting the store pretty much in permanent fire sale status. I think any self-respecting brand expert would say that this is a dumb way to run a business, let alone build a reputation. The serial sale messaging blows up any claim to value beyond the immediate discount, doesn't it? Yet the company reports that its latest quarter sales grew 10%, earnings increased 40%, and the stock price is approaching highs it hasn't seen since 2004. We should all be so stupid.
Having just returned from vacation, (hence the break from blogging) I had the distinct pleasure of keynoting Silicon Valley AMA last night at Cisco’s Telepresence suites in Santa Clara. In my opening keynote, I had a specific message to marketing leaders in the valley to think holistic about social. I outlined some of the major impacts to other departments beyond marketing.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then how much is a tweet worth? Ten words, a dozen? When embracing Twitter, have you struggled to write something profound or worthwhile within the confines of 140 characters? I have. Don't get me wrong, "tweet speak" has its place in our digital world, but with every process that strips away the need to construct coherent and meaningful prose, not just blurts with links, we will, in turn, think less about what and how we write. It's already happening. When talking about the art of communicating and storytelling, whether it's oral, aural, visual or in words (stay with me here, I am trying to correlate this with PR), the creative process is often lost during the template-driven process of writing a press release.
Isn't the Internet wonderful? Don't you cherish the ability to see the exact return on your search engine marketing? Don't you just love your legion of Facebook fans and Twitter followers? Of course you do, and who wouldn't? But before we get too carried away by the power and efficiency of social networks, communities, and one-to-one marketing, let's remember that for many marketers, nothing matters unless consumers cough up real cash for tangible goods and services. I'm talking about companies that have manufacturing plants, warehouses and physical stores, which can only produce a return on that capital infrastructure by selling products on an ongoing basis. Quality homepages, unique visitors and Twitter posts--while helpful and interesting--might not be the things that grow these businesses. In some instances, the Internet will only go a short way in driving sales.
It doesn't matter much which marketing publication you pick up or which industry trend piece comes across your desk, it is simply impossible to miss the constant attention being paid to shopper marketing these days. No one should be surprised. With 72% of shoppers deciding what to buy in-store, the marketing world is acutely aware of the importance of the "last mile" and the ultimate moment of truth. Today, clients and agency folk alike are rushing to shopper marketing, searching for the experts and digging for the insights that will lead to stronger commercial programs and real marketplace advantage.
They aren't in marketing, or in sales (although they do both simultaneously). They have a strong streak of digital intelligence, and their knack for creating conversations puts them far beyond the stereotypical techno-geek. Meet your neighborhood social media professionals, they're using the Web to not only put human faces on corporations and politicians, but also to defend their honor when something goes awry. Chris Brogan and Julien Smith call them "trust agents" after their book by the same name, and say that they are harnessing the power of Twitter and other social media to "build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust."
Toyota Motor Corp. is preparing a $1 billion marketing blitz to juice U.S. sales in the fourth quarter and plans to expand its line of gas-electric hybrid models under the Prius name, people briefed on the plans said. The strategy, aimed at revitalizing its key North American operations, was laid out by Toyota President Akio Toyoda and his top U.S. lieutenants at a meeting in Las Vegas with the company's U.S. dealers. The world's largest auto maker needs to turn around its North American business after acknowledging it expects to report a loss in its current fiscal year, which would be its second annual deficit in a row. Toyota executives vowed to go "pedal to the metal" in the fourth quarter, using financial strength to drive sales as the U.S. economy appears to be recovering, these people said.
In an effort to take sales from rivals, Toys "R" Us Inc. is setting up 350 temporary stores and toy boutiques that will stay open during the holiday season, in many cases taking over shuttered retail space in shopping malls. Chief Executive Gerald R. Storch said Toys "R" Us wants to "seize the day" and increase holiday market share, even as toy sales remain mired in a recessionary slump. The move also underscores the race with competitors like Sears Holdings Corp. that want to capture the spending that last year went to the now-defunct KB Toys chain.
Beauty is in the eye of the food shopper, according to data released by Mintel. The research company’s Beauty Innovation division found that food and drink launches with a “beauty enhancing” claim increased 306 percent worldwide between 2005 and 2008. This demand has sparked a flurry of innovation in this category. The number of new teas, snack bars and other products promising to reverse the aging process or improve the consumer’s complexion, nails and hair have already surpassed last year’s total. Some 299 products have already premiered around the world this year. Last year, 288 such products debuted.
Absolut vodka sales are way down in the U.S., and since we represent half of the vodka's market, this is an Absolut Catastrophe. The reign of Absolut as the coolest and one of the most pricey vodkas is one of the best tales of advertising lore: Absolut took a blah product and made it cool. Now, less expensive upstarts like Skyy and Svedka have been stealing their market share, essentially by using their own tactics against them.
For one answer to the nation's most pressing economic question -- when will the recession end? -- just take a peek inside the American man's underwear drawer. There may be some new pairs there, judging by recent reports from retailers and analysts, and that could mean better days ahead for everyone. Here's the theory, briefly: Sales of men's underwear typically are stable because they rank as a necessity. But during times of severe financial strain, men will try to stretch the time between buying new pairs, causing underwear sales to dip.
Back to school but not back to normal. The retail industry is expected to record its first drop in back-to-school sales in 10 years, with the National Retail Federation estimating an 8% decline in year-over-year sales. Less money in consumers' pockets and reduced school budgets are hurting a category that is already having a difficult year. At Staples and Office Depot, the No. 1 and No. 2 brands, respectively, in the specialist office-supply sector, the marketing departments are sharpening their 2B pencils to compete for a share of a smaller market and keep general retailers such as Walmart and Target from stealing their lunchboxes.
A new study indicates that online advertising boosts retail sales of consumer packaged goods brands by 9% on average -- comparable with the lift from TV ad campaigns. The findings come from comScore and marketing consultancy dunnhumbyUSA based on research involving online campaigns run over three months for a variety unnamed CPG brands.
With more than 60 percent of Toyota Motor’s WAP traffic coming from the iPhone, the automaker decided to take a different approach to mobile with the promotion of the newest Prius car model. To better cater to these loyal iPhone users, Toyota launched a mobile site optimized specifically for touchscreen devices such as the iPhone. IPhone users can access the Toyota site at http://m.toyota.com and click on the Prius icon to get rerouted to the iPhone optimized site.
Sometimes people ask me why, say, McDonald’s or Coca-Cola or Nike bother to advertise at all. We’ve all heard of them, right? We’ve all decided whether or not we like them. So why waste the money? Here is my answer: Because the simple-sounding issue of salience is very important. And as backup I offer the abrupt return to popularity of Michael Jackson’s music.
Consider this: conversation is to selling what cooking is to eating. Process. Not ingredients, nor consumption. How, not what. You wouldn't know it from the hype and confusion that surrounds the social media space, though. Conversation is an absolute good, an ideal that, once achieved, spins off numerous lesser benefits. It's a synonym for selling. If only our businesses talked to consumers more often, the brands would be strengthened, and the bottom-lines improved.
I was in my local Barnes and Noble on Sunday and I bought two books. Both of them from Amazon, online, using my iPhone while standing in the isles. Of course I felt bad. I learned about these two books thanks to Barnes and Noble. They ought to have made the sale.
Marketing tells a story that spreads. Sales overcomes the natural resistance to say yes.
While sales of higher-end beauty products have been struggling in most retail channels, a new report from the NPD Group finds that at this point, beauty sales are growing on the Internet.
The DVD rental chain says more people are watching movies at theaters, pulling traffic from Blockbuster stores. Profit plummets 39%.
What do guns, burglar alarms and condoms have in common? Their sales all boomed in 2009, with condom sales jumping 22 per cent over the same period in 2008. But why? The answer can perhaps be found in Nigeria and Chile – two countries I visited on my world tour promoting Buyology. Surprisingly neither of the two countries was familiar with the “R” word. When asking government officials why that was the case, the explanation was simple – the media hadn’t paid that much attention to it, and as such no one had effectively read about the Recession, so the Recession simply had not yet arrived.
These tools we have like blogging and podcasting and video and the use of social platforms are interesting, but to be useful to a sales marketing process, we have to look at where they make the most possible leverage and value.
Think of the most persuasive person you know. The salesperson you can't say no to, your mother (guilt always works), your spouse or your six-year-old child. Now, imagine if you had never met the person in person and they were trying to persuade you over the phone, or by email. Would they be as persuasive? No. Persuasion just don't work as well if you're not face to face.
Amid all the talk about what the iPhone has done for AT&T, Verizon is also delivering -- without a killer handset.
After years of double-digit increases, bottled water sales have stopped rising. Industry analysts say the economy is driving the change, but they also say environmentalists may be having an effect.
People want to do good. By extension, people want their brand choices to reflect their desire to do good. Since its inception, the Internet has forced companies to reassess their corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices by increasing people's access to information about "improper" corporate behavior. Social media, which simply increases the rate at which people can publish and spread information/content, has magnified the importance of CSR. However, it is not just avoiding the "bad," but harnessing the "good" that will lead to companies doing well financially by doing good socially.
Package-goods brands are still cautious about social media, figuring that the return on investment can't be accurately measured. After all, marketing on Facebook or MySpace might generate a conversation but not necessarily a sale. Now, however, a method is emerging to relate one to the other, potentially eliminating a major impediment.
Corona Extra's formidable brand was built, in part, on crackerjack marketing campaigns equating the Mexican brew with tranquil vacations on pristine beaches. But Corona's falling sales have some beer business watchers wondering whether there's trouble in paradise. A tough economy and intense competition are weighing on some of the higher-priced imports. Their future, and whether beer drinkers' habits have permanently changed, are being closely watched in the $26 billion-a-year industry.
Tropicana's rebranding debacle did more than create a customer-relations fiasco. It hit the brand in the wallet.
The economy's in the tank. Consumers have no spare cash. And the financial outlook is bleak. So, guess what the savviest consumer product makers are rolling out these days: happy stuff. That's right, products that make folks smile.
Best Buy, ConAgra, Dr Pepper Snapple Group earnings drive gains.
ConAgra Foods today reported a 6.1 percent rise in third quarter fiscal 2009 sales, which the company attributed to new product introductions and improvements on key brands, such as Banquet and Marie Callender.
I visited a mall in Glendale, Calif., a few weeks ago and had a novel experience: I saw customers.
Declining retail sales and dramatic markdowns took their toll on Perry Ellis' earnings, but the Miami apparel company looks to rebound.
Microsoft and its partners are reaping big rewards from the $300 million Windows marketing campaign. That's my conclusion after reviewing February U.S. retail PC sales data released by NPD on March 16. Apple's steep U.S. retail sales declines continued in February, comparatively worse than January's already dismal showing. Meanwhile, Windows PC sales continued their recent year-over-year growth rally.
For the first time since the financial difficulties of General Motors began threatening the company’s existence, a G. M. division will run advertising that addresses the effects of the precarious situation.
That was quick: A week after the Amazon Kindle 2 started shipping, Amazon's Kindle iPhone app is now available for free download. What is it? A very basic e-book reader app that syncs up to your Amazon account to access the Kindle books you've purchased. You can't buy books directly from the app, but you can via a computer or the iPhone's Safari browser (or a Kindle). Good enough.
When there were old-school parking meters in New York, quarters were precious. One day, I'm walking down the street and a guy comes up to me and says, "Do you have a dollar for four quarters?" He held out his hand with four quarters in it. Curious, I engaged with him. I took out a dollar bill and took the four quarters. Then he turned to me and said, "can you spare a quarter?" What a fascinating interaction.
With this year's Super Bowl behind us, this seems like a good time to address the advertising business and how it has lost its way. My overall comment on the array of wildly expensive and unintelligible commercials that ran: What in the world are advertisers thinking about? Most of the people sitting in my living room kept asking me, "What are they selling?" My response was that I was just as bewildered as they were.
Businesses in all sectors are struggling in today's tough economic climate. The retail industry looks particularly grim. AlixPartners, a Michigan turnaround-consulting firm, estimates that more than a quarter of all large retailers are at significant risk of filing for bankruptcy or facing financial distress.
The most common frustration I see, and I see it daily, comes from marketers who can't figure out why more people won't buy their product. This particularly afflicts b2b marketers, who ostensibly have rational customers.
While it's no secret that the dead-in-the-water real-estate market means fewer people are buying and selling homes, a new study shows that turmoil in job markets means people are moving, but the opportunities for marketers are narrower.
Japanese electronics maker Pioneer Corp said it would cut 10,000 jobs and pull the plug on its loss-making flat TV business, a move that could signal a further shake-out in the battered sector.
As more companies target the growing U.S. Hispanic population, Hispanic marketers are trying to extend their sales to the rest of America.
To survive, retailers are battling to convince these new, mindful spenders that their products deliver long-term value, not just empty calories.
Video games and Blu-ray or DVD movies are both competing for what little time I have to enjoy entertainment. Usually, that happens during weekends or after I'm done working each night. And although I still watch a slew of films each year, I've realized that if I need to choose between playing a game for a couple hours or finding a movie worth watching, I'll choose the former almost every time.
People long have taken for granted that some categories, such as toilet paper, truly are recession-proof. Turns out that, like many assumptions, is wrong.
Is Hyundai's buy-back program, Hyundai Assurance, alive? Too soon to tell. Or is it? Joel Ewanick, the Fountain Valley, Calif. company's VP/marketing for the U.S., says the vital signs are strong--with January sales so far holding up to last January's. That may not mean much in more salubrious times, but when "flat" is the new "up," it's pretty good news.
Isn't sale pricing the antithesis of branding? Now that stores are in full-swing with after-holidays markdowns, discounts, red-liners, or whatever else they call them, they're really telling consumers the same, basic thing: What we charged you before wasn’t what our stuff was really worth.
In the final countdown of one of the worst holiday retail seasons in decades, more retailers have extended hours and are staying open for 24-hour periods or more in a last-ditch effort to capture sales.
There's a brand that is raising the price of its newest redesigned vehicle by nearly 10 percent, adding dealerships and boosting unit sales by more than 30 percent year-to-date. No, it's not fiction or the daydreams of a stress-crazed car executive. Mini--the brand BMW AG management almost didn't bring to the United States--is defying the economic turmoil and the odds.
Honda is doing the best job of keeping its customers of any company selling vehicles in the U.S. According to J.D. Power and Associates' "2008 Customer Retention Study," 64.7% of Honda buyers are returnees. Second place goes to Toyota with 63.2% and then Toyota's Lexus at 60.4%.
The video game industry appears to be alone in bucking a retail recession as consumers turn to fitness workouts, musical jam sessions and fantasy worlds to take their minds off the credit crunch.
It's not all bad news out there, particularly if you're selling something for a buck. During a month when many retailers reported dismal results, McDonald's same-store sales in November jumped 4.5% in the U.S. and nearly 8% globally.
Hip retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. suffered dismal November sales results last week, and one reason may be a bold tactic that is backfiring: while rivals are aggressively slashing prices to battle the weak economy, Abercrombie has refused to join the rush to discount.