Monthly Archives: March 2014

Ethical Bargains: Do They Exist?


How do brands respond to “shopper tribes” research to drive sales? A recent study commissioned by Gekko Group showed that only 15 per cent of shoppers are influenced by Ethical Issues, however, many companies try hard to distance their brands from any ethically negative press. Could consumers who are not flouting ethical issues be telling brands through this statistic that they expect them to be ethical? The recession has fueled the priority of bargains for many consumers, as they seek cheaper deals; however, consumers simultaneously wish that brands remain ethical.

Can brands do both?

Take companies like Innocent, Green & Blacks, Body Shop. Ethical, fair trade, cruelty-free are your immediate assumptions, but they are all owned by conglomerates who you would not immediately associate with ethics: Coca-Cola, Kraft and L’Oreal. What these brands have done through acquisition is target Millennials who are all about niche brands, small start-ups and companies that they relate to. They want to support brands they like – those brands that reflect their values. However, shouldn’t we expect ethics from all brands regardless? Shouldn’t it be built into the essence of every brand to ensure they care about the planet, humanity and cultures without question?

The small percentage of consumers that consider ethics as key in their shopping activity indicates the trust they place in brands to already be ethical in their product. As with the great sugar/obesity debate, we make our own choices. This choice extends to the brands we use every day and how we choose to identify with them. Can an airline ever be truly environmentally friendly? And the same goes for cosmetics, processed foods, electronics and, in fact, everything we buy. Every brand tries to do their bit, but it should be done without question, as a matter of course and continuously challenged internally.

Packaging of these brands will happily shout out “Natural”, “Organic” and “Sustainable”, and are usually emblazoned across the majority of the packaging to strengthen brands’ credentials and continually build that perceived trust we have in them that they are doing the right thing. Look closer and those tiny ingredients don’t look as natural, organic or sustainable as they could be. This could certainly turn us off those brands little by little until we eventually stop recommending or, worse still, stop buying the products. It’s up to the brand to do the right thing or be honest and give consumers the choice.

The ethics debate is a debate that will never go away and one that will forever be relevant to every generation. However, whilst only 15 per cent consider it in the mix, we must remember that for the 85 per cent that don’t, it’s not that they don’t care, but that they trust every brand to act responsibly in all that they do – just like most people, I suspect, choose to do in their everyday lives.


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Did the Wearable Tech Expo deliver the goods?


Last week saw London’s Olympia host the UK’s first ever Wearable Technology Conference and Expo, dedicated to showcasing the latest developments in smartwatches, wristbands and other wearable devices. With speakers from Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Intel, the show promised a lot, but did it live up to the hype?

The show floor at Olympia reflected an industry that is still in its infancy with a clear split between sport and leisure wearable gadgets. The most commercially successful wearable tech category so far is that of sports-focused devices, and the plethora of health and fitness-trackers on display at the show underlined the consumer demand for these products.

Wearable tech innovations are helping athletes – both amateur and professional – to improve their performances by creating data while they train, allowing the user to identify areas that require improvement and extra focus. The recent Winter Olympics highlighted these developments as we saw athletes from around the globe trying out a variety of devices in an attempt to gain an edge over the competition. Users of sport-based gadgets certainly know what they want from their devices.

On the other side of the coin, the majority of leisure-focused wearable gadgets like Google Glass and Vrase have not yet hit the open market. This category of devices needs to be refined and defined for the consumer before it penetrates the market, a point which was very evident at the show. The battle for domination in the wearable tech industry is heating up with the major announcement from Google last week about its plans to establish a bigger presence in the industry. The search giant announced Android Wear, a version of its operating system designed specifically for wearable devices. The effects of this move by Google will be felt across the sector by chip makers, electronics firms and fashion labels working on wearable gadgets this year.

All of this is taking place against a backdrop of privacy and security concerns among UK consumers. The market share remains firmly up for grabs and the next twelve months will tell an interesting tale.

In order to thrive in the wearable tech industry brands need to place more emphasis on the quality of the design of the products, with much more input from the creative and design side required. Brands will also need to explore more effective ways for users to interact with the devices. Whether this will be achieved by taking voice activation or recognition to the next level, or through an entirely different approach remains to be seen. We can expect a different state of affairs at London’s Wearable Tech Show 2015. Watch this space.

Rupert Cook is business development director at field marketing agency Gekko
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What product demonstrations can do for brands


Field and experiential marketing can be costly but if a brand gets it right, it can reap the rewards.

Marketers often speak of starting ‘conversations’ with customers and prospects but, in reality, very few campaigns ever lead to a face to face chat.

Yet, despite the digital age, the saying that people buy from people still stands – and they are more likely to do so if they have an opportunity to try before they buy. In fact, TGI figures suggest that 41 per cent of shoppers who see a demonstration of a product go on to buy it from the store.

That is why experiential marketing and in-store demonstrating are growing industries in the UK. They now form a major part of field marketing which, in total is estimated to be worth £230m a year by the Institute of Promotional Marketing.

The latest branch of field marketing is a world away from brands having people dress up in outfits and hand out flyers at busy spots. A whole new industry has sprung up to line up prime in-store locations, train brand ambassadors and provide the latest technology so immersive experiences can be shared through social media.

For longer established brands, awareness and advocacy are still important goals of in-store demonstrations but, in most cases, sales will be higher up the list of priorities.

That is certainly the case for Gekko Client, Epson. Like other brands which regularly commit to using brand ambassadors, the company has a detailed message it needs to get over which is best conveyed face to face where a trained representative can show the benefits of its ‘premium ink’ packages.

Hence its sales manager Tim Bedward believes the key to its annual in-store demonstration programmes, across the peak Christmas and January shopping months, is in the training its brand ambassadors receive through in-store marketing agency Gekko.

“Everyone on the programme spends a day at Epson being trained on the products and shown how we’re all about ink quality,” he explains.

“The crucial part is we not only get this message across but we can also spot if we don’t think somebody is going to work out as a brand ambassador. It’s not common but we do fail people. We also finish off the training by showing people how to ‘close’.

“It’s key for our brand that shoppers don’t feel pressured and so it’s fine if we don’t sell a printer or ink so long as we leave the customer with a good experience.”

Field marketing: The big threee challenges

Budget and time

Very few brands carry out their own experiential marketing efforts because of the sheer time and effort required to coordinate booking the right positions in the best venues, training up temporary staff and putting together the equipment and technology required for an effective campaign.

For this reason the biggest challenge is finding the budget and coordinating at least one or two agencies, sometimes three, to ensure a campaign delivers on its objectives.

The right people

Once a marketing team has decided to run an in-store demonstration or experiential campaign, the most important aspect is to find the right people to represent a brand effectively.

Brand ambassadors must know the companies and brands they are representing and understands their key values. Only then can the required product knowledge, where applicable, be learned.

Top priority is to never be pushy but rather always give an enjoyable experience that may lead to an immediate or future sale.

In-store relations

Brand ambassadors need to work well with permanent in-store staff, and realise they are there to convey a brand’s messages and showcase products, without denigrating rivals, and then pass on a sale to a permanent member of store staff to process at a till.

Get this right and the brand will not only be welcomed back by the retailer but the positive impact should remain with the permanent staff too.


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