Monthly Archives: September 2013

Marketing key to capitalising on back to university rush

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Daniel Todaro, MD of field marketing agency Gekko, shares his views on what retailers and resellers can be doing to maximise their sales to students and universities.
 
The yearly appearance of autumn leaves signal two things for retailers: it marks the end of summer, but it also signals the annual back to school rush.
 
With children of all ages preparing for the new school or university year, thousands of parents will be charged with the task of effectively equipping their offspring with the equipment necessary to navigate the upcoming year. Recent research shows the back to school bill for the UK totals £1.3 billion alone, but to believe this investment is purely made in stationary and PE kit would be a grave mistake.
 
Following the school rush, thousands of teenagers will be making the pilgrimage back to university too; a journey that could not possibly be made without the latest technology. While the parents will be the ones inevitably opening their wallets, many are allowing their offspring to take increasing ownership over the purchase decision-making on high ticket electrical items. Now, more so than ever, it represents a significant opportunity for retailers and brands to drive sales.
 
This time of year is always accompanied by a surfeit of advertising targeting parents to make their purchases for the inevitable return to school. The effectiveness of this advertising is not in question but it cannot work in isolation. Advertising serves to drive customers through the door but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that footfall will translate into much needed sales.
 
Without help, consumers will naturally gravitate towards value and promotions; which for brands can result little more than a sales roulette – particularly with frugal parents looking to limit their losses with their free-spending children.
 
The largest impact will inevitably be made at point of sale. However, like TV, this cannot act in isolation. What is crucial is a robust through-the-line marketing approach; a seamlessly joined up experience characterised by a strong narrative through the line, from the TV to the in store.
 
Having staff that are correctly trained to deliver the messages communicated in the advertising is pivotal. Staff should be able to communicate the messaging effectively and consistently; able to deal with any question. This human element is pivotal, and what many consumers visit the store for – the ability to have a real conversation with an expert and receive guidance in making a decision. After all, no one wants to speak to a robot(or buy the wrong product!).
 
Empathy is crucial, particularly in a category where consumers are not likely to be experts on the products and fearful of making the wrong choice and wasting money. However, compliance – which is often overlooked, is equally important. A brand may spend millions on artistic ATL, but this can be for nothing if the product and promotion is not displayed accurately in store.
 
Back to school is a gift to retailers, especially retailers specialising in technology. With a ready-made calendar hook to fuel footfall retail outlets need to put the work in only to convert this into sales. Retailers must ensure that they implement a through-the-line approach to convey a seamless message in-store where every available touch point is utilised to maintain the brand experience and drive sales with a higher average basket value.
 
Daniel Todaro is from field marketing agency Gekko

Read the full article at http://www.pcr-online.biz/news/read/opinion-marketing-key-to-capitalising-on-back-to-university-rush/032029

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Who Can Save Our Faltering High Streets? Why Not the Mega-Brands?

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The plight of the UK High Street is well-documented. With countless retailers closing and sales figures dwindling year on year, the High Street question is one that many are keen to answer before a great British institution disappears before our eyes. HMV and Jessops were given last-minute reprieves when faced with the gallows, but as we move forward it’s inevitable that more big names will fall upon the hardest of times, with fewer being granted a second chance.
 
There have been a number of solutions mooted as means for saving the High Street. A government minister has also suggested consolidating retail spaces within towns by converting empty units into affordable housing. What’s clear is that initiatives are sorely needed to truly bring life back to dead commercial business districts, so here’s an idea:  Why not ask major brands to sponsor the High Street? Many may feel that it’s perhaps about time corporations demonstrated a bit of social responsibility and gave back to the communities from which they profit so ostensibly.
 
With the point of purchase increasingly becoming ‘any place, any time,’ the emphasis shifts to experience – the need for brands to curate spaces dependent not entirely on sales, but immersive, engaging environments. Environments that consumers can spend time in without any obligation, experience the brand and perhaps become a long-term advocate tied-in on an emotional level.
 
With this in mind, why shouldn’t the biggest brands think bigger? Under the term umbrella branding, the P&Gs, GSKs and Unilevers of the world have all made moves in recent times to bring their masterbrands to the fore and develop a relationship with consumers for the first time in their histories. So why not think beyond single retail units and engage their wider portfolio to create a real immersive experience that also gives back to the community at the same time? Cellular carriers have done this to great effect, as have some CE brands. Of course, I can’t fail to mention Apple, the most profitable retailer by square footage, which Microsoft is presently trying to emulate in the US.
 
Take Unilever, a global masterbrand that has made a concerted effort to place social responsibility at the heart of its operations. Notably, its ‘Sustainable Living Plan’ sits front and centre within the organisation’s modern-day mission and is deemed a ‘strategic response to the challenges our world faces.’ Furthermore, it has partnered with D&AD to create a brand new award, the White Pencil, for the best example of design and creativity that has social good at its core and sets purpose above profit.
 
Unilever has a vast portfolio of brands, including Marmite, Walls, Lynx, Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Persil to name just a few. According to the figures, it holds over 400 brands worldwide with over two billion consumers using them daily. So why couldn’t they utilize these brands and take over empty retail units? It would both promote the shared ideals and values of the Unilever proposition, but also deliver a unique experience that our towns desperately need.
 
Furthermore, in addition to retail units allocated to various brands within the portfolio, retail space could also be offered to small businesses and students, in order to showcase and sell their products and talents. The current environment makes it challenging for entrepreneurs to start up and an investment from a brand would provide both a valuable platform for budding business owners and also a little bit of hope, too. Plus, such an investment would be a very small price to pay for the opportunity to create a High-Street-wide brand experience.
 
Lastly, much debate has centred upon local communities becoming increasingly homogenized and such a move would go a long way to sparking some life back into our towns. The High Street is so much more than the point of purchase and it’s vital not just to our economy, but also to our society. What better way to engage a community than by injecting some belief, inspiration and positive energy into a struggling economy?
 
Although the burden of responsibility appears to be a hot potato at times, the seeds of social consciences are still sprouting and emerging. It requires bold thinking, indeed, but, in light of tax scandals and ethical controversies, it offers an opportunity for such brands to truly put their money where their mouths are, give back and perhaps change the shape of the High Street for new generations.

Read the full article at http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2013/09/20/mega-brands/

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Training: Get in the groove and go with the data flow

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Omnichannel marketing means freeing up your data and schooling employees in the analytic tools necessary to sharing digital content with social networks.

Toshiba, a longstanding client of Gekko, share their views:

For Toshiba, training is all about engagement through interaction. We work with field marketing expert Gekko to ensure our retail field team are fully immersed in the brand through interactive training.

The level of data management with our training allows us to offer more information and knowledge because we are able to have a greater understanding of the hundreds of stores nationwide that carry Toshiba products and promotions.

Data collection, for example, enables us to monitor activity on a highly detailed level, which, in turn, positively affects the information we pass onto store staff. The training element evolves constantly.

We use our own Toshiba tablets to equip staff using information in real time to bring them up to speed on the latest developments and promotions. As more information becomes available, staff are able to learn how to respond to shopping trends and promotions immediately.

It’s essential that store staff are fully up to date with key features and the latest product developments. If staff can project Toshiba’s brand message seamlessly in their approach it will form an intuitive reputation among consumers to drive sales and loyalty.

Read more at: http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/training-get-in-the-groove-and-go-with-the-data-flow/4007797.article

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