Why the Digital Shopping Experience should matter to Brand Managers

October 9, 2008

Digital has emerged as a dramatic influence of both online AND offline purchases over the past year according to Resource Interactive.  In an extremely engaging and though provoking presentation on the importance of the Digital Shopping Experience, Resource outlines what brands needs to pay attention to in this channel.  They also go into deeper detail in the White Paper they wrote for Shop.org that went along with this presentation.  Both are worth spending some time with.

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Weekly Round-Up: 5-23-08

May 23, 2008

Been slammed in meetings all week but wanted to share the following links that caught my attention.  Have a great long weekend!

Shopper Marketing and Digital Marketing are one and the same

March 31, 2008

Over on The Hub, I came across a great article by Stuart Armstrong on where retail will play in the marketing mix.  Armstrong writes:

“Which means that the future of marketing—the convergence of retail, the emergence of digital media networks and the cellphone as the linchpin—is not really the future at all. Because, as Geoffrey Frost noted, in a nod to science-fiction writer William Gibson’s famous quote, “The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

I find this point on convergence/emergence really interesting.  While P&G has placed increasing importance on Shopper Marketing, it is an area that is still in its infancy.  The same holds true for experts in digital (not interactive…but digital).  Digital experts are learning the world of not just interactive (ie traditional media applied to online) but also social media, mobile, consumer generated media and everything else that is digital today. 

The case can be made that the worlds of retail and digital are going to collide and they are going to collide very soon.  But I’m not sure if many clients OR agencies are recognizing this fact.  If you look at the major agency holding companies, most of them have their digital shops AND their shopper marketing shops.  Likewise you arent going to find many marketers that have spanned the world of both digital and shopper marketing during their careers.  Sure many have taken traditional brand / mass media backgrounds and layered on shopper marketing.  And many have done the same thing with digital. 

But it is only a handful of marketers that have thought how to take a traditional background and layer on expertise in both shopper AND digital.  It made sense just a few years ago when they were seperate worlds.  But these worlds are now converging and we all need to change…we need to change fast.  We need to understand that consumers can now become shoppers at any moment.  They no longer have to step into a store to shop.  It can happen online, on their cell phone or even on Xbox Live.  Those transactions taking place outside of traditional retail might be small now but that wont be the case in several years (ask the music industry about how fast iTunes made that happen).  Sounds like now is the time to start thinking about how shopper marketing and digital expertise are going to play together.  Will your brand be ready?  Your agency(s)?  You?

Costco Diversion Buying Strategy

March 24, 2008

A good friend of mine just sent me a very interesting article on Costco’s “Diversion” Buying Strategy where high-end goods (in this instance Crocs) are finding they were onto Costco shelves without the authorization of the retailer.  I couldnt find a link online so here is the full article. You can also read the article here (thanks Bryan) Read the rest of this entry »

Wired – “Rise of the Instapreneur”

March 23, 2008

Right after I posted about Etsy supporting handmade entrepreneurs, I came across an article on Instapreneurs in this month’s Wired. The article points to several new sites that allow aspiring designers to sell their wares without worrying about manufacturing, selling or even fulfillment.  Basically they allow the creation of instant businesses based on nothing more than a design.  Zazzle features “a dizzying array of user-designed products from posters to tennis shoes”, StyleShake is for custom-clothing, and Spreadshirt is for individual t-shirt shops.  Sites like these are removing the traditional barriers to entry and in the process taking away the competitive advantage of large manufacturers and retailers.  It will be interesting to see how these play out and if they can traction like Threadless or CafePress

Can Starbucks get its groove back?

March 20, 2008

So there seems to be quite a buzz going around after Starbucks had their annual meeting the other day.  I’ve been meaning to capture my thoughts on the whole Schultz as a White Knight thing for awhile, especially since the blogosphere has been debating what they need to do to change.  With today being a slow day at the office, I finally had to chance to organize my thoughts.

First, I have to give Howard some props.  He’s returning to the company he built and admitting they screwed up bad.    I respect a guy that says it like it is and promises to make things better.  I mean, coming out and saying “I promise you that this will not stand” is a pretty bold statement.  Also, I love that he isnt blaming a recession, but instead pointing the finger at himself.  As he said, “the problems we are facing have been self-induced.  That’s why I think we’ll be able to fix them.”  Here are a snapshot of what Schultz is proposing: Read the rest of this entry »

Fresh and Easy leaves me underwhelmed

March 10, 2008

fresh_and_easy.03.jpgWhile I was in Las Vegas this weekend, I had a chance to see one of the new Fresh & Easy stores, the U.S. entry of European grocer Tesco.  After all I have been hearing about this British invasion, I had high expectations for the store.  However, after my most recent visit, I can see why the chain is off to a slow start here in the good old U.S.A. and could potentially struggle as Tesco expands into new markets.

  1. The assortment leaves a lot to be desired:  I had read that Fresh & Easy would have only 3,000 SKUs and 42% of those would be private label products.  However, those numbers didnt really impact me until I saw it in person.   What you end up having is a glorified convenience store where you have nearly no selection, especially in Health & Beauty.
  2. They seem to have hits and misses when it comes to food:  When I first walked in, I was jazzed by what I saw in the food category.  First, they had a cool flyer/booklet that read more like a recipe book with how to take couple of items and make a killer dish (my mouth watered for the Meatball hogie they showed).  Second, they had a great selection of more, upscale gourment products like cheese, microbrews, and meats.  I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to find a last minute item like prosciutto at Wal-Mart but here you could grab the essentials in less than 5 minutes.  However, for all this good, they missed the boat with food in many ways.  For instance, the produce looked extremely unappealing in plastic wrap and came in crates that looked like the ones offices use for moving.  Second, they seemed to forcing Private Label too hard and missed high end brand items (like fresh fruit smoothies/juices) that could have been really appealing to their customers.  Instead of their own brand of juice, why didnt they get Innocent Drinks to expand to the US with them?  Finally, their bakery was almost non-existent, when I expected it to have some really nice breads, bagels and desserts like you find at Whole Foods.
  3. The store was too simplisitic:  There has been a lot of success in retail lately by going for clean lines and a simplistic type of appearance.  In many ways, I think Apple kicked off the concept with their retail stores, but you also see it at play with IKEA and others.   Fresh & Easy seems to have taken this concept and gone overboard.  The clean lines werent refreshing and energizing….instead they were boring, sterile and depressing.  It made the store just look empty and was the last thing I expected from the brand indentity work I had seen already (logo, storefront, etc).

Overall the store just really seemed to be a miss.  I could maybe see myself stopping there as a Young Professional to grab food on the way home but it would be replacing a trip to a restaurant, not another store.  Most importantly, the store isnt going to become a lovemark to anyone in the way that Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market or Whole Foods has.  It just doesnt have that story telling ability that is so important in retailing where you want to tell everyone you  know about the great place you just shopped.  I just cant see this store generating the buzz needed to really succeed in the tough US Retail Market.