Tag Archives: strategy

Marketers: Make some noise! Problems are Opportunities

Sorry to be insensitive but Problems DO signal opportunities for marketing professionals. Undoubtedly you have already ‘heard’ of some obvious solutions to Noise Pollution –> increased opportunities for hearing aid chains.

But think a step further away, Marketers! There’s also growth in

  • noise-cancelling headphones;
  • improved  sound insulation for the New Construction/ Home Renovation industry;
  • New Product Claims such as quieter vacuums, dishwashers,…
  • New Services such as ‘Quiet Rooms’ where creative people can write their next great novel, screenplay or manuscript.

http://www.businessinsider.com/noise-pollution-effects-human-hearing-health-quality-of-life-2018-1

Years of work enroute to ‘Overnight success’

This is good! http://business.financialpost.com/news/retail-marketing/luvabella-is-this-the-hottest-toy-of-2018

A fine article & video illustrate how Spinmaster Toys puts itself in a position to be ‘lucky’.

Years of work, and many iterations, to create the next ‘overnight sensation’. (Hmmm – that sure is poetic, or perhaps just pathetic).

This also gives tons of practical insight into the New Product Development process, eg the  iterations of development, costing & cost-optimizing at stage 1,and stage 2 and stage 3 etc; their inspired choices for R&D input for a doll (Mimes! Puppeteers!); and even their thoughts on estimating market size & growth (MRK200 students should def observe 6:00 to 6:33).

Enjoy, baby!  

Steven

 

Practical Progress: converting Eco Intent vs Action

If you view my upcoming videos or have had me as Instructor in Applied Marketing Research, you will know I warn ppl against putting too much faith in respondent survey data on topics that I refer to as Survey Sirens. One of those is ‘eco-intent’.

First- TRIVIA TEST! In what year did  a nationwide USA CPG brand first launch a national eco-responsible line extension? Was it2005? 1999? 1995?

Would you believe… 1990? John Cook, Mitch Gumma, John DePaolis, Marie Blomquist, Mike Ziemke- and  I- were on Kimberly-Clark’s brand team, with tons of logistics help to coordinate 5 manufacturing facilities to source, qualify, test, contract, QA verify and –  eventually – launch Hi-DriTM Recycled Paper Towels. It was an awesome adventure, and an awesome succcess. Consumers actually paid slightly MORE PER ROLL to do the right thing.

Until 1996.

Oh yes, the recession. When it hit, the same consumers would still claim to want to do the right thing- but they looked after the household first- and pennies were pennies! Hi-Dri Recycled retreated as mightily as it began.

The Moral: Don’t always believe Consumer Intent scores about eco-solutions. Intending is not the same as Acting. Intent does not always lead to Acting. Survey respondents may answer optimistically; it validates a more pleasing self-image. And the time gaps & psychological gaps between filling out an at-home survey, and when they see the options in store at shelf – can be vast! Lots of time for cognitive dissonance- ie to escape your own self-commitment!

So it’s delightful to see savvy USA Retailers tighten that time gap & psychologcal leeway. Ahold’s Giant and Stop & Shop banners have installed powerful ‘eco-ranking’ Point-Of-Sale signage- No, sorry, even better, not ‘point of sale’, but ‘place of decision’- ie at the store shelf! Putting those eco-flags in your face, leaves you less room to wiggle out of your own commitment.

 http://www.supermarketnews.com/sustainability/turning-ethical-shoppers-buyers

Ahold- you have earned my endless respect- and let me time travel a bit back to 1990 Wisconsin, to boot! Thanks!

Steven

Online Vs Store Shopping by Generation: Assume Less!

Cool article reveals some shifts in Boomers through their offspring Generation Y. While Boomers are shopping online more, Gen Y members are increasingly shopping multiple physical stores in parts of the USA.

It’s wise not to assume too much about shoppers by age: eg avoid the trap of “old people will do/want this, and younger ppl will do/want this”; there are far better predictors of most shopper behaviours, than age.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/21/retailers-dont-ditch-the-store-millennials-love-them-survey-finds.html

SL

 

The Strategy Behind Acquisitions

Acquisitions – why do they happen?  As an Industry guy involved in many takeovers (taking over, and taken over), I’ve seen many strategic reasons for an acquisition. Usually, there’s more than 1 reason in play. I’ve created a crude table (below) listing 17  key reasons.

This is another of those blog posts where I’d love it if industry colleagues would chip in some insights. Students eagerly await your wisdom!

Not shown here: a column describing ‘What Research Can Do’ in each scenario, so Acquisition decisions are made (and initial post-acquisition business moves are made) with greater wisdom. To see THAT column, you must be enrolled as a student at Seneca college – or be an industry partner to the college.

Membership – and paying it forward- has its privileges!

Steven

why acquire a company?

 

Oslo & Steady wins the race

3 new sources of insight on #Retail trends fyi!

10 new ideas or approaches to inspire readers to try new methods, service a different kind of customer, give a new kind of retail experience

http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/americas-top-10-retail-center-experiences

An upcoming ‘call for ideas’ summit on etail-retail- virtual shopping, sponsored by WalM…

http://www.massmarketretailers.com/store-no-8-thrive-global-launch-innov8-v-commerce/

Finally, an example of how to not REACT to trends, but get ahead of them by a Canadian-based retailer that’s imo a benchmark to admire.

http://www.csnews.com/product-categories/fuels/couche-tard-ceo-talks-electric-cars-fuels-future?cc=3

C-stores by definition are positioned based on “convenience” – consider how treacherous that is!  Examples:

  • when Grocery stores opened late, they lost an advantage;
  • when weed became legally available to millions of Canadian  “glaucoma sufferers” (cough cough…) C-stores Dorito & RollingPaper sales took a ‘hit’;
  • when tobacco smoking incidence fell, C-store visits fell

Again & again, C-stores adapted: seizing new opportunities to sell throwaway cellphones & phone cards, lottery tickets, decent coffee, fresh meals, last-minute gifts & cards, and more. Couche-tard is investing to test other ways to drive shoppers to C-stores in Norway, presumably a lead market for e-vehicles.

Consider: many C-stores have traditionally been linked to (located in conjunction with) gassing up a vehicle. If consumers instead charge up their e-vehicle at home at night, what’s to become of C-stores?

Couche-tard is too smart to wait & see; the savvy retailer is getting ahead by trying & measuring different approaches. As a marketer, I applaud this! As an R&D guy, I’ve mixed feelings about a country test market. The scale is terrific, however everything is oh-so-readable… to the competition. My bet is that this move hasn’t escaped the attention of Couch-tard’s global rival, 7-Eleven. Quite possible that right now, in Irving TX and Chiyoda, Japan, note-takers are busily tuning into “Lillehammer’ on Netflix- and managers are booking tickets for a prolonged stay in Norway. They simply can’t ‘affiord’ not to know what Couche-tard is trying.

SL

Manufacturer sees Space to grow in Green, evolves into a Consolidator!

GreenSpace Brands’ shares are soaring as the firm wins at a role in Canada that SpitfireGlobal long ago urged USA firms to take- ‘Consolidator’ of on-trend ideas.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-07/quinoa-baby-mush-puts-canadian-company-in-takeover-spotlight

There’s nothing really revolutionary about the ‘Consolidator’ role- one could argue that P&G and Unlilever are more truly buyers (consolidators) of brands created by others, more so than inventors of new brands.

From 2004 to 2012,  SpitfireGlobal pushed companies to fill a gap & be a  ‘Consolidator’ in then-new all-natural products; eg sourcing & managing chemical-free & 100% natural ingredient items in Pet Products. Sadly, the companies we pushed thought it too high-risk. It’s nice to see one company has seized the gap (the stock market richly rewarded GreenSpace!)

What does a Consolidator do? At minimum, they …

1. ‘validate’ each supplier’s fit & legitimacy (sustainability, logistical capabilities, etc);

2. administer supplier actions to fit Key Account’s mission, vision, core values, priorities & logistics updates (allowable ship formats, new DC locations, new Vendor forms & certifications); and

3. provide efficient ‘single source’ shipping (eg full truckloads vs multiple part-loads or depot-drop nuisances).

What changes created the Consolidator opportunity? Two big changes:

(i) Retailers destaffed so heavily that many now lack staff on hand who know how to fill out their own New Product forms ( I kid you not!); consequently, they ‘outsourced’ duties to ‘Rep agencies’ who play a growing ‘defacto staff’ role that includes seeking new Vendors, qualifying them, managing category entry, promotion & merchandising activity (far beyond just Control Label decisions). That Rep agency role expansion happened in most categories!

(ii) Now add to this: the complication of traditional-thinking, risk averse Retailers trying to stay abreast of a fast-growing, fast changing, fragmented & risky field such as Natural products-and you have even more reason to hire a Consolidator to answer questions such as “Is this new one-off product line supplier capable of supplying us in full & on-time?”, “Are they aware what’s important to us?”, “Are they legitimately using all natural ingredients, processes?” The risk of selecting an unethical or inept supplier is huge! Because it’s the Retailer who takes the business hit &/or reputation hit, if a supplier fails to deliver, either figuratively or literally.

Are YOU ready to be a Consolidator? It’s not a role for a newbee or casual opportunist: you must know the market & respect the consumer’s preferences. That’s why GreenSpace won; they started as a Natural item supplier who understood Natural consumers’ preferences to be non-negotiable (unlike a baking soda firm that blew a foray into the Natural Products pet category after misreading Natural consumers preferences as ‘optional but not necessary’).

What will you do as a Consolidator? That varies according to how much the Retailer can handle in house & which duties can be done by other Reps/Partners. The firms we advised had to be ready to step up & handle duties as diverse as: document inspection, site inspection, process audits, assistance to ‘remedy or re-source’ any iffy or non-compliant ingredients, graphics upgrades, revised inner pack & outer packs counts & configurations, first-ever logistics models to allow consolidated shipping (many of the small firms had never needed to understand basic Big Retailer logistics -pallet height limits, truck fit calculations, Retailer logistics software, forecasting promotion load inventory, etc).

Yes- there is some hand-holding required!  There’s good reason Retailers hesitate to find & teach unsophisticated firms on Big League Basics.

Are you up to it? Consider: (a) Is the category in which you compete growing quickly (perhaps a bit chaotically?) eg SuperFoods, Craft Beer, Vintage/Hand-Crafted decor, All-Natural, Fair Trade, User Sourced… (b) Are Retailers slow to jump on the trend, due to staffing constraints &/or supplier risks? (c) Do you know that segment’s consumer needs?

If you answered Yes to (a), (b) and (c) -maybe you should think beyond your own business. You might fill a Greater Gap. Seize an opportunity outlined long ago by Spitfire Global, captured successfully by GreenSpace. Be a Consolidator!

SL

Hot Hotel market gets less roomy

On March 8, we discussed Restoration Hardware, West Elm & Williams-Sonoma getting into the hotel biz. Now you can add another name- J.C. Penney.

http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/jc-penney-checks-its-newest-business–hospitality

To be fair, they’re not actually opening actual hotels- just trying to supply them. I doubt that Penney’s wares will compete at places that would have bought decor from Restoration Hardware, West Elm or William-Sonoma. But it is a sign that hospitality – be it the part-time cowboy unregulated tax-dodging sector (airbnb) or the full-time, regulated brands – is a hot sector. Perhaps more competitive than ever – and more fragmented- but hot.

This older article from Skift remains imo a terrific little context-setter on that growth:

5 Charts That Show Why the Travel Industry Is the World’s Fastest Growing Sector

People now travel more. They’re savvy about value, location, decor.  And that travel cements new trade relationships & friendships across borders & cultures. imo the more we travel, the more we learn about the world, and the more we lessen our multicultural ignorance as a species.

So let’s be hospitable. And grow together.

SL

 

Demographics: Change is Gonna Come

Will your  staffers be humming Dylan? There’s a growing chance they will.

Demographic ‘changes are coming’ -it shouldn’t be a shock.  Are those changes working in your favour? your organization’s favour?

Demographics move so slowly & are so well monitored that some organizations are unhurried to act; they prioritize reacting to short term market change instead. Managers/Marketers/Retailers tend to be recognized, rewarded, feted for ‘reactive’ skills such as acting on shifts in daily public sentiment (which can ‘turn’ on a brand in a moment) or fashion taste (crocs in, uggs in, crocs, out, uggs out,…) or labour swings (outsourcing to freelancers, crowdsourcing, etc).

However, demographics are key b/c they’ll affect who will be on your team, who will be your customers, how you convey your message, which kinds of products & services are more likely to succeed.  And demographic changes, being so comparatively slow paced & inevitable, play the role of the warm water in a soon-to-be boiling pot. Just cuz change is slow doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be recognized and dealt with. Yet many otherwise-smart organizations fail to make fundamental necessary ‘evolutionary’ changes.

One college I know of, has seen it’s ‘Full-Time’ education arm add more & more in-demand ‘applied’ graduate certificates. The college now emphasizes a faculty’s  industry experience & contacts, ensures students earn industry accreditation  and even makes some courses available on Friday evenings & Saturdays. That shows some demographically-inspired smarts! Such traits have relevant appeal for the rising (& demographically driven) number of ‘mid-career re-education’ seekers. But this same college remains reluctant to face an ever-warming-water fact- ie THIS IS THE NEW REALITY! They won’t admit that consumers seeking mid-career retraining see the college as 1 brand, not 2 schools: ‘Continuing Education’ and ‘Full-Time’??? What dat?!?! At present, the public must navigate two completely separate systems- course calendars, websites, faculty are all 100% separate. The left hand & the right hand of 1 college brand don’t know the other exists. Consumers just want the college’s retaining/ reeducation options to be clear; why must they face a brand with 2 completely different bureaucracies, advertisements, sets of faculty, etc- when courses are offered by the same brand, on the same premises, at only slightly different times of day, days or the week? To consumers seeking re-education option clarity, this is baffling.

But, just b/c that organization won’t react to the ever-warming water, that doesn’t mean YOU should ignore demographic & long term societal changes. Ergo, a few highlights on this fine CBC story:

  • Atlantic Canada (now joins parts of Vancouver Island as) Lead Market for Seniors.
  • More people 65+ than children in Canada now.
  • Boomers are gobbling up jobs, and working later into life.

Enjoy! And consider what changes are a coming for your organization given these slow-churning shifts.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/job-market-older-workers-1.4101163

Steven

 

Research Trends to ponder

Key #Research Trends listed by Sarah Schmidt below, are pretty much the same as the ones about which I’ve cautioned students on for years. Nice to see an engaged, connected, objective professional also say these things!

http://blog.marketresearch.com/predicted-market-research-trends-for-2017

Among my longstanding favourites on her list (Sarah: pls pardon my paraphrasing):

  • Human filtering of data: the value of brevity in a sea of data detail!;
  • a growing role for Qual to answer the key question“Why?”;
  • the ‘Quantification of Qual’ -sentiment analysis, seeded online stimuli, digital ethnography,…
  • the growing potential role of Artificial Intelligence to help find meaning, identify relationships, predict behaviour,…
  • growth of geo-targeted mobile research (& ethical issues it raises!);
  • growing role of Observation (& the Ethical issues THAT raises);
  • the need for ‘poll’ oversight (too Motive-susceptible & sloppy; thankfully MRIA is onto this!);
  • online LIVE research reports (Q-Fi does a fine job here);
  • Continuous / longitudinal research (beyond panels);
  • Agencies and software that offers customizing over canned; and
  • The Growing need to (still!) invest in Secondary (Desk) Research

It’s this last point I’d like students & alumni to pay close attention to. For your career’s sake, stay atop your industry by carefully monitoring lead markets – eg Watch Vancouver Island, Italy or Japan for products & services targeting the Elderly. Watch Japan for Vending. Watch South Korea for Personal Tech. Watch California for Electric Motor Vehicles.

What makes these places become Lead Markets can be factors that are demographic (aging pop), social/lifestyle, economic policy/investment (California’s  state-wide vehicle plug & drive network), related-Industry expertise (AI, programming, entertainment,…) or a combination of these factors eg Japan leads Vending not just due to demography (few young people, hence wage costs escalate) and not just industrial policy/expertise (Auto sector automation –> halo effect on Vending) but also due to Busy Work/Commute Lifestyles (busy to work, busy at work, busy commute—> life’s too busy to wait for store staff, and so Vending’s time-saving is key).

My Reco: 1. Identify the Lead market in your industry. 2. Do desk research on it to find what factors brought it to be at the apex. 3. Monitor it & be ready for the moment you see the boss’s boss’s boss in the elevator & she asks: “So… you’re one of the new cohort- got any new ideas for us?”

Your moment is coming; be ready! Be dedicated to proactive Secondary  research!

SL