Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rajar: industry reaction


Last week RAJAR announced that 90% of the UK adult (15+) population – 47.3 million people – tuned in to their selected radio stations in the first quarter of 2013, up by approximately 608,000 on Q1 2012, though the total number of hours listened to radio (1.03 billion) was down marginally, -3% year on year.

Daniel Todaro of Field Marketing agency Gekko comments:

Highly impressive figures last week to see listeners are going to digital in record numbers. DAB sets continue to fly off the shelves and we’re not too far away from seeing over 50% of the UK own a DAB set. It seems a far cry now from the negativity that initially surrounded a potential digital radio switch-over.

However, the move towards that switch-over remains a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s lots that can be done to build upon the great foundations laid by the accomplished Digital Radio UK ATL campaign that’s been capturing the nation’s imagination for the past few months; one that’s already been shortlisted for an Arqiva Award.

Change is still a difficult thing to accomplish, but the success of the Digital TV switch-over should give plenty of cause for confidence and optimism that the public can embrace change if handled with sensitivity and correctly guided at a pace they’re comfortable.

A next step for Digital Radio UK would be to support the ATL investment with experiential activity in order to create a real seamless, multichannel experience to drive that educative and awareness-raising process.

Particularly with a summer devoid of the types of events we saw in 2012, there’s vast opportunity for brands to fill that void with exciting and engaging shopping centre activity to really surprise and delight consumers who may previously have viewed digital radio with trepidation.

By pairing up with the stations proving popular, such as the Absolute Radio Network’s burgeoning brands, a clear message of the great entertainment on offer can really be driven home.

With BMW also now fitting DAB as standard in their cars, we’re well on our way towards a fully digital future.

Seize every opportunity

Daniel Todaro, managing director of field marketing agency Gekko, warns that in an ‘empty’ year, without World Cup or Olympics-style events to stimulate sales, retailers and manufacturers must make the most of opportunities such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and offer potential customers a compelling in-store experience

Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Bank Holidays, Back to School and Christmas are all key occasions for electrical retailers, as consumers hit the high street with the specific intention of buying something.

Traditionally, each year we’ll see the usual raft of short and sharp sales promotions around these events, designed to grab a few impulsive shoppers, with the main investment going towards a big summer campaign.

However, while retailers have been spoilt in recent times, able to piggyback off the World Cup, Olympics, Jubilee and Royal Wedding, 2013 offers next to nothing in comparison to get consumers excited. Therefore, this year it’s imperative that electrical stores make the most of those annual calendar hooks. The ‘empty’ summer of 2013 won’t give retailers the same sales drive, so they must capitalise elsewhere to create a special emphasis to drive sales.

Father’s Day in particular is looming and represents an excellent chance for electrical retailers to push the ‘dad’ market. Long gone are the days when a pair of socks or slippers would cut it, now it’s all about something he can use and enjoy like an iPod or Kindle Fire. A targeted marketing campaign with a timely promotion can provide the lure to get people through the door, while in-store staff can talk customers through the top products and drive the sales. Likewise, Back to School represents another key trading period with compulsory requirements for a demographic that is growing by the year.

The continuing recession in ‘empty’ 2013 means that naturally consumers will cut back and put off spending. Therefore, the lure of promotions around calendar hooks can encourage people to splash out on bigger-ticket items and white goods. Having an experienced and knowledgeable brand representative makes all the difference for the consumer. They not only help to find the right product to meet the individuals needs, but also improve customer service by supplying expert advice, driving standout within crowded categories.

It is now more usual to see modern demonstration in-store focused on ROI [return on investment] and ensuring a sales upswing from the activity rather than simply brand recognition. Furthermore, this brand experience in-store is often driven by staff trained to sell ancillary products, rather than a simple desire to shift the big-ticket items alone. Information and add-ons at the point of sale will also help to boost the average basket value, as customers look to purchase extras such as batteries and cases for products. In-store activity provides the opportunity to home in on an occasion like Father’s Day and make for a much more immersive and successful store experience for the shopper.

Both multiples and independents naturally stock more than just one brand alone and will be primarily concerned with providing service and impartial advice. With products often stocked in hundreds of locations, brands need to ensure the multiples charged with selling their wares are doing them justice. Knowing what the latest situation is out in the channel in real time is even more relevant and valuable on peak occasions such as Father’s Day.

Meanwhile, the slightest slip in standards around stock levels and availability can result in a lost sale within seconds. Likewise, the ability to respond to such issues and prevent them from arising is a big advantage both in terms of short-term sales and the overarching brand experience.

Ultimately, the customer journey remains paramount and its importance for brands can’t be ignored, especially when a promotion is linked to above-the-line comms activity. From first sight of the advertising campaign, that journey must be a seamless and consistent one. Premium brands in particular need to adopt a through-the-line approach to ensure sales are closed successfully at the point of purchase. The more sophisticated a product and the higher the value, the more vital it is that a representative is on hand to emphasise the full capabilities and value of the product. Without impartial guidance, cold feet could result in a consumer resorting back to a purchase decision based solely on the cheapest price.

With the continuing threat of customers using electrical stores as showrooms before they go online to buy, brands need to be savvy. Change customer’s minds about buying a gift online and offer them an experience and after-care that will get take them through to the tills rather than Amazon’s checkout. Within this year where opportunity to celebrate and push sales is sparse, electrical retailers must pull out all the stops.

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Saving the high street is not Mary Portas’s job


Here’s an idea: why don’t corporations fill those empty retail units with their own catalogue of brands, whilst also giving opportunities to ambitious start-ups?

Mary Portas has been practically unavoidable in the media these past couple of weeks, which can only mean one thing: she has a new TV show to promote!

Actually, she has two.

Portas kicked off the “charm” offensive by calling out none other than Sir Terry Leahy for “talking crap” in the Radio Times. Leahy had suggested that the disappearance of family butchers from the high streets is a sign of progress and “the best way of ensuring that the better organisations come through”.

Now, Leahy’s fundamentally wrong to suggest that the disappearance of local butchers is a good thing. Particularly in the FMCG sector, small independent retailers are crucial to provide not just choice, but specialist expertise too (and a more pleasant shopping experience). A visit to the local butchers entails more than the action of purchasing a leg of beef. It’s the social aspect, the expertise and the positive feeling that comes through engaging with the local community. Most of all, it is fun and fulfilling (and much less likely to contain traces of horse).

But it’s equally frustrating to see Portas placing herself as the supposed saviour of the high street. For such an “in the know” expert, I’d love to hear why Portas doesn’t place her own wares on the high street, as opposed to selling it through department stores.

Surely with her unrivalled expertise, it would be a runaway success? But let’s be honest, while Leahy may be looking at a hefty bill for the ill-fated Fresh and Easy venture, considering he turned Tesco into the UK’s biggest retailer, and that he’s the one with the knighthood, I think I’d trust him over Portas on retail execution.

What is abundantly clear to me is that Portas is already preparing her exit strategy from this doomed initiative (an over 65’s employment agency is already lined up for her new show). A second FOI request has revealed the extent to which the Portas Pilots have fallen off the government’s agenda, and sadly the British high street continues to struggle on. According to one recent survey, the retail chains shut an average of 20 shops a day last year alone.

Initiatives are needed that truly bring life back to dead commercial business districts, so here’s an idea: why not get brands to sponsor the high street? It’s about time corporations demonstrated a bit of social responsibility and gave back to the communities from which they profit so ostensibly.

Take Unilever’s vast portfolio of brands: Marmite, Walls, Lynx, Pot Noodle, Dove to name a few. Why couldn’t they take over empty retail units utilising these brands, and then also offer space to small business and students, in order to showcase and sell their products and talents?

The high street is so much more than the point of purchase and it’s so incredibly vital not just to our economy, but our society, too. What better way to engage a community by injecting some belief, inspiration and positive energy to our failing economy?

Daniel Todaro is MD of field marketing agency Gekko.

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Windows 8 Update: How can Microsoft manage its customer discontent?


Don’t call it a u-turn. Don’t call it a failure. And definitely don’t call it a crisis.
Microsoft is furious at the Financial Times for running a story about its imminent Windows 8 update earlier this week that it claimed represented “the biggest admission of commercial failure for a major product launch since “new Coke” was withdrawn 30 years ago”.
According to the FT, despite selling 100 million licences “interest in Windows 8 has flagged” and a new update called Microsoft Blue will be rolled out shortly that it speculates could restore the Start button and provide a “boot-to-desktop” option to bypass the new “unloved” tile-based interactive Windows 8 interface altogether.
This has not gone down well with the Redmond-based software giant. And in an official statement, Microsoft said: “It is unfortunate that the Financial Times did not accurately represent the content or the context of our conversation about the good response to date on Windows 8 and the positive opportunities ahead on both Windows 8 and Windows Blue. Our perspective is accurately reflected in many other interviews on this topic as well as in a Q&A with Tami Reller posted on the Windows Blog.”

Daniel Todaro, MD at Gekko, adds: “Windows aren’t going to re-release the 7 OS; instead they’ll try to learn from their mistake and forge ahead. Blue is very specifically an update to what already exists (much like Windows 3.1 was once upon a time), not a regression. While it won’t be a full-blown u-turn from Microsoft, the urgency for a damage limitation exercise from Microsoft to prevent this from becoming a total catastrophe cannot be understated. The lesson that Microsoft has to learn (and quickly) is the basic art of change management. Microsoft tried to run before it could work, walk, likely scared into doing so by its late arrival to the established touch screen/tablet phenomenon. As a result, the rush to adapt its product to these trends saw Microsoft neglect the decades of brand equity they’d already built within the desktop space.
“The theory and ambition wasn’t by any means misplaced; risks need to be taken and change needs to be embraced in this sector. But people don’t like change! You have to manage the change process incredibly carefully, understanding every possible critique before it can be asked and preparing a readily available solution in anticipation. Windows 8 came along and consumers couldn’t understand how to use it, what the benefits were or even why they needed it. Unfortunately, they completely neglected to ease that transition, alienating millions in the process.”

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