Monthly Archives: June 2016

Smart Move

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The connected home is now reality, not a fantasy. The global market for smart-home appliances is expected to be worth $38.35 billion by 2020, and will only grow as demand and consumer interest in smart appliances increases. Shoppers will be looking for smarter appliances, but these can be balanced with regular models depending on a consumer’s desire to have some or all of their devices connected.

Some categories are clearly just jumping on the bandwagon, such as a connected SDA, which is in most cases an expensive and underused version of a regular appliance.Yet when considering the connected home from a long-term financial and time-efficiency perspective, some are valid purchases, once you’ve weighed up the cost against its potential long-term worth. Many of these domestic appliance products are, however, costly and there’s a good chance that if you could afford a kitchen and utility room full of connected devices, you’re perhaps not going to be the one cleaning or cooking and directly using the connected devices.

For retailers, the margins on smart appliances are evident, however this must be weighed up against unit sales, which may mean a lower margin than your bread-and-butter range could achieve if it were occupying the same space in your store. While the investment in ranging smart appliances may not be attractive at the moment, remember that sales in John Lewis stores in the smart-home category increased by 81 per cent year on year from 2014 to 2015. This is a growing trend that will likely spread to independent retailers, as smart appliances become increasingly more mainstream.

Having a select range of smart appliances gives your store an aspirational product and proposition for shoppers to consider when looking for a new washing machine or fridge. It’s worth considering that many shoppers looking to purchase a new appliance are doing so as a ‘distress purchase’. These consumers will be looking for a reliable device, not necessarily one with smart features.

However, a demonstration from a knowledgeable staff member connected via a tablet or smartphone, to explain the benefits of the smart system, may persuade many shoppers to purchase for the long-term benefits. These include compatibility with future smart appliances they may add to their home.

My advice is to pepper your range with connected devices, but don’t forget the mass-market appeal of traditional appliances and offer choice at all price points and functionality.

Read more at http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/smart-move/

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Should Brands Be ‘In’ or ‘Out’ of the Political Debate?

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When considering how much time, money, and effort brands invest in establishing their equity as a valuable asset, you have to ask: should they be risking this equity by adopting a political position? The answer is probably not, just as you wouldn’t debate religion or social economics in the context of your brand. However, as we are seeing in the UK with the EU Referendum, and in the US with the Presidential race, brands are getting braver and sticking their noses into the political debate, risking alienating those that buy their products based on brand alone.

It’s a given that a brand’s stance on social responsibility is of paramount importance, for example, ensuring they pay a living wage relevant to the countries in which they operate in, paying statutory taxes, and exposing corruption in sponsorship, as in the case of the rather embattled FIFA. But, when the debate shifts to who to vote for, you run a huge risk of upsetting red or blue, left or right, yes or no.

Why would a brand financially invest in finding the most appropriate brand ambassadors or advertising campaigns only to potentially destroy any good will created amongst their loyal fans by pinning their colours to a political cause? Customers are ultimately what generates revenue for any brand. Speaking to your audience in the correct manner is essential to stimulating interest and persuading them to spend their hard earned money on your brand. Therefore, apart from the obvious free PR achieved, why take a gamble by entering into the political debate?

We recently commissioned consumer research, speaking to 2,000 respondents on the effects of consumer spending due to UK’s pending EU Referendum. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the vote could see the UK, a member for over 40 years, leave the European Union. The In (remain) and the Out (leave) campaigns have created aggressive and clever campaigns, coercing some brands to comment.

What our research shows is that brands should proceed with caution when entering the political debate. When asked whether consumers agree with “I’m more likely to support the side taken by a brand that I trust,” 25% of 18-24 year olds disagreed. However, as we progressed to the 55+ age group, i.e. those with more disposable income and more likely to vote, this disagreement increased to 41%. It’s therefore a sobering thought for any brand to realise that you may alienate a large proportion of your loyal customer base – an audience not just buying for themselves, but also the wider family unit.

When asked if “brands should stay out of politics altogether,” a staggering 61% of respondents said yes, with only 7% disagreeing. When you dissect this across all age groups, it becomes more pertinent as the feeling is consistent with 55% of 18-24, 56% of 25-34, 58% of 35-44 & 45-54, and topped by 68% of the 55+ agreeing. Bring gender into the equation and 64% of females feel more strongly about brands staying out of politics, compared to 58% of males, making political brand association more unappealing as originally thought. With research indicating that brands should be politically agnostic, think about any brand looking to endorse Clinton and Trump.

The statistics are a clear indicator for any brand entering the political debate, for whatever reason, it could potentially become a toxic issue causing long term damage to your reputation across the ages and sexes. Why take the risk? A brand’s social conscience should prevail, and any legitimate lobbying should cease when it spills into the public domain. The damage caused to your brand is likely to outweigh any financial gain from influencing the electorate.

 

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2016/06/15/should-brands-be-in-or-out-of-the-political-debate/

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How to make the most of the Back to School period

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With more and more young people going to university, Back to School is becoming increasingly more important alongside Black Friday and the Christmas Peak trading period, with tens of thousands of prospective students looking to upgrade their laptop before beginning their studies in September.

No longer is going to college or university with a laptop a luxury, it’s a necessity with many establishments advising on spec and recommended models that will meet the needs of students whilst in academia. Many students will naturally be looking to the bank of Mum and Dad to fund this investment.

Therefore, your ranging needs to appeal not only to the user, but also their parents, which in some instances means you need to work harder to reassure them that they’re purchasing the right product.

The key to success is ranging a variety of price points, sizes and performance specs, appealing to families of all budgets. Focus your ranging on what consumer are looking to buy – for example ultra-slim convertibles and 2-in-1’s accounted for 21.9% of consumer device sales in Q1 2016, up 16.3% from Q1 2015.

With tablet sales in the UK falling by 8% to 1.8 million units in Q1 2016, convertible and 2-in-1 laptops are the budget friendly alternative to purchasing two different devices. Make this flexibility a key selling point for shoppers looking for the complete solution in one device.

As well as the specs of the laptop, it’s also about the package on offer. It’s not just about the device: it’s about the ability to print, within a budget, and the accessories such as cases, cables and bags that all students will need.

Many shoppers will not realise they’ll need to purchase extra accessories, so use this as an opportunity to increase your average basket value by attaching sales. Printers are an especially important peripheral, which all students will need to use frequently. However, printer sales in the Back to School period in 2015 fell 4%. Perhaps to avoid the same issue this year, and increase your print and peripheral sales, bundle them in with laptops and other accessories.

When attaching a printer to a laptop, speak to the customer about how much they expect to use the product. If they’re worried about ink costs, but are prepared to pay more up front, perhaps suggest a low-running cost printer such as the Epson EcoTank.

What’s important is understanding the needs of each individual customer, and making a suggestion suited to them.

Ensure that your staff in the coming months can speak confidently to customer about your products and can advise on the best options for them. Offering this complete solution, which meets the customer’s needs and at a budget that suits all, will help to increase sales during the Back to School period.

 

Read more at: http://www.pcr-online.biz/news/read/how-to-make-the-most-of-the-back-to-school-period/038378

With 23 days to go until the EU Referendum, Gekko research has identified that a possible Brexit vote is not hindering shopper confidence

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A new survey from Field Marketing agency Gekko has revealed that consumer confidence is stable in the face of stark warnings from both sides of the EU debate. Asking 2,000 UK shoppers whether they were worried about the threat of Brexit when making a purchase decision, the survey found that over half (51%) of consumers do not feel the need to put off making an important purchase until after the referendum result. This is especially relevant for older generations, with the survey finding that 60% of those 55 and over are confident in the state of the economy leading up to June 23rd. Thinking about the results of the referendum, a significant 73.5% of UK consumers stated that their decision to make an important purchase would not be affected by the result. In fact, only 6.4% of consumers felt a vote to leave would dissuade them from making a considered purchase such as a consumer electronics or domestic appliance product, which are rarely purchased on impulse.

The survey also found that, despite many brands coming out in favour of either side of the referendum, a high proportion (61.3%) of UK consumers feel that brands should stay out of politics all together, instead leaving the argument to the politicians. This is strong message for many big brands which have come out in favour of either side of the referendum, including Unilever, Ryan Air, EasyJet, HSBC and Marks & Spencer. However, these brands shouldn’t fear any consumer backlash from their stance – whilst the majority feel they shouldn’t get involved in politics, 49% don’t change their opinion of a brand depending on their stance, and only 21% have indicated that they have a negative opinion of brands that do not share their view. Most consumers will still buy a brand regardless of their political leanings.

Daniel Todaro, Managing Director Gekko Group, said: “what’s clear for brands is that consumers are currently very apathetic towards the possible economic impact of Brexit. Brands warning people against leaving the EU are failing to get the economic message across as 32% of consumers polled remain unsure or unaware of the impact of import tariffs being imposed post Brexit.”

“Looking at the high street, brands and retailers should not be putting off any product launches or promotions, as consumer confidence looks to remain high. However brands should avoid entering into political debate where they can. These results are good news for retailers who might have otherwise expected a dip in sales depending on the result.”

Read more at: http://fieldmarketing.com/news/gekkos-2000-shopper-survey-finds-brexit-vote-isnt-hindering-shopper-confidence/

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