Get back to where you once belonged – IFA 2020 Review

IFA 2020 is a much smaller, intimate socially distanced affair in Berlin. The event organisers have done a superb job at keeping the CE industries key event open all be it, not to the general public.

I am here as a guest to sit through keynotes from the industries great and good however more exciting is the next gen events running alongside these.

The Corona effect has impacted the industry at a global level and as we come out of having spent quite possibly the longest continued time than normal in our own homes, consumer’s desire for new technology to enhance their space has grown. The industry knows this and my business has seen this since retail reopened with an average conversion to sale of over +60% and ABV increase by +10%.

Drivers to purchase range from distress to replacement but also upgrade, desiring the latest in smart CE to complement the extra time we are now spending at home but also just in case we are forced to spend another lengthy lockdown in our cribs.  

One of the long-term effects of lockdown has been that people are now spending more time at home, by choice, centred around the kitchen meaning that more of what we consume needs be made or prepared using technology. This extends to how we wash not only those pots, pans, crockery etc. but also how we clean our clothes and our homes, in addition to working from home and socialising. Brands within the category have jumped to call of more innovation, more integration, and more space. The design of the home is evolving faster due to Coronavirus making consumers keen to enhance their quality of life at home through smart technology whilst not compromising on aesthetics.

A brand that seems to have designed to meet this challenge post lockdown is BSH, which has added not only smart technology to its range but also a third shelf in its dishwashing range. It’s also increased the size of its freezers with an extra 26cm of cubic space. Its neat invention, Connected Cookit, is a multifunction food processor with cooking functions that cooks up to 200 degrees. It’s a slow cooker, but not as you know it – it makes it, cooks it and connects to your voice assistants and your smart devices so you can control it remotely. This connectivity extends to BSH ovens, dishwashers etc. from your Fitbit whilst you venture out for a run meaning that you can still be in the kitchen, when you’re not.

Innovations include changing hues of ambient lights on hoods, dishwashers etc. to match your mood or interior and also programming your coffee machine to make the perfect cup of coffee just as you, your family and your guests like it, bringing the barista out in you.

Investment in R&D are the key shout outs this year across all brands showcasing at IFA this year. Amongst the largest was $100bn from Huawei’s who are committing to developing technologies encapsulated in an initiative called ‘1+8+N seamless connected living’ on which Huawei is in the first chapter and that enable a connected future for all. In reaction to the US sanctions imposed on Huawei and those who worked with the brand, Huawei have risen to the challenge admirably engaging directly with almost 460m monthly active users, 33m in the EU alone. The App Gallery is the third largest app store globally, increasing 76% YOY naturally due to the loss of Google services meaning Huawei users have limited choice but to do so. Petal search, the new search engine from Huawei, now has over 100m users with 81,000 apps integrated. Relevant apps are on the platform meaning that whatever the USA government tried to do to dampen Huawei has backfired and served to make the brand stronger in the market. 

The investment extends into retail, where others fear to tread, Huawei are leading the charge and opening eight flagship stores across major cities such as London, Paris, Milan which will be complemented by 42 experience zones that offer a user experience unrivalled so they claim. This initiative is close to my heart as the need to engage consumers in the considered purchase space is so important to achieve meaningful sales, market share and create advocates of your brand if not for life, certainly for the next five years.

Another Chinese brand making significant noise is Haier, which also owns Hoover, Candy and GE Appliances wants to be 100% connected throughout its portfolio of products. Currently they have 18 families of products that they are developing through app and voice connectivity, “democratic connectivity” according to the CEO Zhang Ruimin. With a three brand strategy of Candy delivering Value, Hoover as the core and Haier as premium. Candy, positioned in the market by its parent company as ‘affordable, smart, Italian’ claims to have 1.2 million paired products and 30% active users which in 2019 it recorded that 21% of Candy users were launching a washing cycle using its smart home facility, a multiple of 3 YOY and still growing.

Nova by Candy is a fully connected washing machine powered by your smartphone. The first of its type with one single button to control the MDA but also learning about your usage and making recommendations to enable consumers to wash smarter and ecologically.

Impressively it is claimed by Hoover that they sell globally a stick vacuum every minute. The new range will also be connected. H-Wash will scan your label via your smartphone and your connected Hoover H-Wash 500 will select the best program for your laundry. Now that means anyone can do the laundry.

H-Habitat air purifier, connected of course, will assess the quality of air in your home, the weather forecast, pollution stats, pollen count and adapt your purifier to react according to the need within your home. Gathering internal and external air data through the H-Scanner, which activates the robotic vacuum to clear dust and the air purifier to adapt the air quality in your home.

Positioning Haier as a premium brand and claimed to be the fastest growing premium brand (in this category) through creating innovations such as antibacterial laundry and five door cooling each with adjustable temperature zones. Did you know that Haier makes wine storage solutions? They are linking with the Vivino app to help you with how you should store any bottle of wine. By scanning the label, the app will automatically update the temperature of the storage to suit your choice of wine.

The trend at IFA 2020, it would seem, is that every brand is seeking to be the first choice for consumers to integrate with your smart home. It’s fair to say that the big news came predominantly from the MDA sector amongst others.

LG – “For us, this is a milestone of foundational significance because with this level of digital integration, we’re really beginning to build an evolving, connected and open ecosystem of smart products and services that can deliver so much more than the sum of its parts – going above and beyond device-level thinking to unlock a whole new world of potential at the system-level.”

Dr. IP Park, President & CTO, LG Electronics (Watch the summary of his speech.)

BSH – “We at BSH want to be the first company in our industry to neutralize the direct carbon dioxide emissions of all our locations worldwide.”

Matthias Ginthum, CMO BSH Hausgeräte (Watch the summary of his speech.)

TCL – “Our mission is to make life intelligent with innovative technology to make our customers’ lives easier and smarter.”

Frederic Langin, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, TCL Europe (Watch the summary of his speech.)

Haier – “Haier will introduce new solutions based on an ecosystems built from the Internet of Things for turning the group vision of Smart Home and Smart Living into reality.”

Yannick Fierling, CEO Haier (Watch the summary of his speech.)

Schneider electric – “The need to start to make homes not only smart but also sustainable and the urgency of the same has increased with the current crisis. (…) We are now linking the electric world and the digital world. This is Wiser.”

Manish Pant, CEO & Executive Vice President Home & Distribution Division Schneider electric (Watch the summary of his speech.)

Beurer – “Experience the power of the sea at home with maremed®. The patented technology creates a natural-identical seaside climate.”

Georg Walkenbach, Managing Director, Beurer GmbH (Watch the summary of his speech.)

Miele – “The Miele Group has coped quite well with this challenging year so far. In fact, at the midpoint of the year our sales were actually almost 2 per cent higher than those in the first half of 2019.”

Dr Reinhard Zinkann, Executive Director and Co-Proprietor of the Miele Group (Watch the summary of his speech.)

Hyundai – “You know we are making strategic investments in smaller fast-moving companies that will help Hyundai become more of a tech company rather than just a car company.” Michael Cole, President and CEO Hyundai Motor Europe 

HONOR – “Today, I am pleased to announce that we are bringing our all scenario smart life strategy to the next level. We will upgrade your productivity, creativity, connectivity and entertainment experiences, expand your smart life” and “From outdoor watches to all-rounder PCs, we are empowering young people to reinvent their smart life and expand the way they approach fitness, creativity, productivity and everyday entertainment”

George Zhao, President of HONOR Global (Watch the summary of his speech)

Now, with a handful of brand booths and three days of press conferences also IFA Business, Retail & Meeting Lounges, the highlight was the cross-industry innovations at SHIFT Mobility meets IFA NEXT. Here many ranging from start-up and established brands were showcasing new emerging technologies and there were in my humble opinion three worthy of note:

Heatle

When we boil water to make that cup of tea we boil more than we need. This device will boil whatever the amount, whatever the liquid. It is the easiest, fastest and most sustainable alternative to traditional ways of heating liquids benefiting our environment and does so free from limescale. It claims to save up to 60% energy per cup but you can’t have one just yet, as there’s a waitlist to own one.

Meater 

A wireless Bluetooth enabled meat thermometer that helps you never overcook that special cut of meat and cook it to perfection. It’s the first wireless smart meat thermometer that will estimate how long to cook your food to get perfect results which can be used on all types of cooking equipment to gage a temperature. As you would expect its wireless using a Bluetooth connection and app to permanently measure the internal and external temperature of the food. The app provides real time information on the cooking status of the meal, including resting time. Available in 3 versions: The Original MEATER and MEATER+ has a 50 metres Bluetooth range, ideal for the BBQ and for the Masterchefs amongst you. The MEATER block with 4 temperature probes boasts unlimited range and integrated OLED-display

Visseiro 

It is a ‘Smart Care Cushion’, which it claims allows reliable, continuous and contactless measurements of vital signs. The simple pillow effortlessly tracks elderly’s health and stores data in an app that can be checked regularly and sent to your doctor, if needed. Currently still in development but you could become a test user to aid its development.

It is these products that make IFA the destination event to experience innovation from established and start up brands. However this year, IFA as we know was sadly missed and whilst the event was skilfully orchestrated, I’m sure all will welcome the mass of brands in every category coming together as normal to enthralling and engaging media and consumers again next year at IFA2021 3rd – 7th September. Save the date.

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Smart Watches, Smart Choice

Daniel Todaro, Gekko’s managing director discusses the growing trend in smart watches, as we all look to monitor our health more closely and the wider acceptance these devices are gaining in the wake of COVID-19

Lockdown turned the attention of many to fitness and general wellbeing to make the most of the limited options available to exercise our bodies and minds. Therefore, what easier way to monitor this than through a Smartwatch, to give us that additional incentive or red flag to get up and be active within the constraints we all encountered. As a result, the market experienced a 20% surge in sales for Smartwatches during the H1 period that included lockdowns across much of the globe. The Wearables market is forecasted to grow in 2020 by 27%, with average selling prices dropping 4.5% but increasing to be a market worth over £18 billion.

It is fair to say that the popularity of smartwatches has been driven by advances in miniaturisation, through smaller and smarter sensors enabling ergonomic product design in devices. In fact, research and advisors, Gartner, are predicting that 10% of all wearables may be discreet and nearly invisible in the near future.

Beyond the hardware, is the trend in development of apps and services to complement wearables. Apple’s recent announcement of Fitness+, Amazon’s new Halo, and Fitbit’s Fitbit Premium, connect users with health and fitness content giving consumers guided workouts, coaching and diet advice, while incorporating data from their wearable device. For many this creates greater advocacy towards a brand’s ecosystem, making the software equal to the hardware when consumers make a choice on which wearable is right for them.

You will not have missed that Apple launched the 6th incarnation of its watch, which over its product lifecycle has contributed considerably to the smartwatch market. Indeed, Apple holds the largest share of a category that shipped a staggering 92.4 million units in 2019. Fast-forward to Q1 2020 and the increased popularity in the Apple Watch saw 4.5 million units shipped, holding a 26.8% share of the market. Whilst not to undermine this impressive lion share of the market that Apple holds, it’s important to note that there are other equally as good, if not better, wearable brands and devices available on the market. In total, all brands contributed to global sales across the category and in some instances shipping more than Apple when you include all Fitness wearables from Trackers, Body Sensors and Smart Wristbands.

The other significant market leaders in the smartwatch category are Fitbit, who shipped 2.5 million units in the q2 2020, as well as Samsung who held a 10.8% share in the first quarter of 2020. Other more sports focused brands, such as Garmin, extend the Smart watch category towards the pro athlete types that would never consider any mainstream or ‘lifestyle’ brand. Also, let’s not forget the many ‘challenger’ brands that are impacting on the market and chipping away at the category leaders share. These include the Chinese company Xiaomi, whose Mi Band fitness tracker has been witnessing great success creating a market share of 20.4% in Q2 2020. Put all these brands together and the category is forecasted to grow having already successfully shipped across all brands 33.7 million devices in Q2 2020.

The value of this market has developed 34% year-on-year as more consumers adopt smart devices for health and leisure reasons.

The integration of smartwatches into our lifestyles has become ‘normal’ to many across all generations who now couldn’t live without these devices. This growth in popularity and acceptance across all demographics and wider markets will see the category grow further and ship a forecasted 156 million units in 2021, an increase of 14.4%.

This increase will certainly see the smartwatch landscape potentially change with shifts in operating systems as Google’s planned acquisition of Fitbit enables it to bolster its health and fitness offerings. As you can imagine, an aggressive acquisition strategy is likely to be on the cards adding more OEM manufacturers to its list of Google Wear OS providers. The competition will undoubtedly get fierce with Samsung’s Tizen also looking to gain share with its own fitness-focused Galaxy watches. Therefore, the need to innovate and compete against challenger brands becomes even greater and adoption will be greater if the integration and compatibility of your smartwatch fits in seamlessly with your other devices.

Fitbit, who you could argue created the category, has recently launched the Sense product that responds to the growing desire from consumers to better understand their lifestyle and increase wellbeing. Features include Stress Management, Compatible ECG App, Skin Temperature Sensor and Sleep Tools for Better ZZZs. All bundled up in a competitively priced and design-led product that is compatible with all iOS and Android devices and can be customised to mix and match with colours and accessories to broaden, not only compatibility, but also its appeal.

Pre-empting this battle is perhaps the reason why Apple has launched the lower priced Watch SE that sits between its premium and entry-level legacy devices. This will enable the brand to benefit from the growth, to be stimulated through an aggressive land grab dominated by Google, Fitbit, Samsung and challenger brands such as Xiami and Huawei. It is widely recognised that the market for basic smartwatches and bands will benefit from the youth market whom these challenger brands offer a cost effective entry into the category and perhaps also those late adopters to the category.

With the gifting season upon us, against the backdrop of Covid-19 and people not being able or perhaps opting not to go to gyms, the options for smart health to increase its reach are obvious. Extending this to the older generation who perhaps value the peace of mind of understanding vital statistics without the need to book appointments and venture into surgeries may increase forecasted growth.

What we do know, it is the established users who remain an important sector, as they demand that their smartwatch does more and we are less coy about wearing these daily in place of a traditional timepiece. In fact, according to market research from Kantar, British consumers are not shy in admitting they use a fitness tracker, with 15% happy to claim publically to owning a smartwatch. Adopting them as a lifestyle choice to be used more widely across families and friends, thus increasing acceptance and contributing to the wearables success story.

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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Working From Home

Just as you think life is even just a little closer to ‘normal’ it changes in an instant! Or just before Strictly on Saturday evening.

The new lockdown rules are in full swing, and just like you, our teams are continuing to work remotely. It may feel like the months have crept in and you now can’t tell the difference between where you work and where you relax. 

So we have come up with some simple tips to help you get out of the bad habits you may have picked up and get back into the swing of working from home.

  1. Create a dedicated working space

Get back to the space you created at the beginning of lockdown. If it’s possible, make it a place you can close the door on when the working day is over. This will enable you to switch off and make a clear distinction between home and work. 

If you do not have an option of a dedicated working space just make sure you switch off and tidy everything away so you can enjoy your evenings without being distracted by work.

  1. Set aside your soft office 

Working from home may have meant you have ended up in a ‘soft office’ where your couch has replaced your chair and your lap is now your desk. 

This isn’t good for your posture so find a more sturdy working space.

  • Pick a seat that supports your back and allows both feet to rest on the ground
  • Use a stand or a stack of books to bring your screen up to eye level
  • If using a keyboard and mouse they should be in front of you close by
  1. Reinstate boundaries

You may have put boundaries in place when you first started working from home but they may have now fizzled out. If they have, take some time to chat to who you live with, discuss how you have felt most comfortable and the ways you worked which made you most productive. 

Make sure you monitor how long tasks are taking. You could use a laundry cycle as a way to time how long you have focused on one piece of work or an app tracker to ensure you are getting the most out of your day.

  1. Take a break

If you have been working from home for a while now you may have forgotten what a usual day in the office looked like. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re working but we hope you haven’t forgotten to take a break. 

Try planning your days in the morning and add in breaks where you may have had them when working in the office. Use the time as a chance to stretch your legs, prepare some comforting soup or just give your eyes some time away from the screen.

  1. Stay Connected

If you are used to and enjoy an office environment, working from home for so long could feel isolating. You’re not alone as your other colleagues may feel the same so schedule times for a walking meeting. 

If you know you do not need to be in front of a screen for a meeting why not use it as a chance to stretch your legs. Plug in your headphones, put your trainers on and take a walk while participating in the conversation.

We hope that our tips will help you recreate a better working space that encourages productivity and creativity. 

We would also like to remind you to be kind to yourself while adapting to changes that are out of your control. 

You are doing the best you can, keep it up!

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Black Friday vs Cyber Monday: Which one has better discounts?

Are Cyber Monday deals the same as Black Friday?

The discounted items might change between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with larger items set to be reduced on the first day of the sales and smaller items including clothes normally discounted on the Monday, how much money you can save tends to be similar on both days. Especially on technology and electronics. These deals from the likes of the John Lewis Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale, and the Amazon Black Friday sale tend to be almost identical. 

As the managing director of Gekko, Daniel Todaro tells GoodtoKnow, “No, neither is better than the other, however, what it offers is an opportunity for physical retail to capitalise on a 24hr sales bonanza and those who trade solely online, the opportunity to do the same 48 hours later. Retailers with an omnichannel approach (a physical and online presence) are able to capitalise twice on the opportunity, offering different offers on each event.”

For those looking to swoop in on the best discounts and Black Friday reductions, Daniel says, “Be prepared. Go to store knowing what you want and don’t procrastinate as Black Friday offers are limited and only for that day. Stock will be limited and if it doesn’t sell out, the price will immediately go back up again ready for the Christmas sales. On Cyber Monday, check out items online creating your basket ready to refresh on the day and check out, if it’s a price you’re prepared to pay. Again, don’t procrastinate, these products will also be limited in quantity and priced to sell out.”

For more great deals, it’s also worth checking out the Amazon Prime Day which happens in October. While we reckon the online shopping giant will have some incredible bargains on technology over the early sale period, we already know that there are some fantastic deals on Amazon toys and games coming our way.

Black Friday vs Cyber Monday: Which one is better for clothes?

In 2019, almost 50 percent more shops discounted their clothes on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday and similar rates were seen on shoes as well. So while it’s not an exact science, we do reckon that if you’re in the market for a new wardrobe, you really need to scout around on Cyber Monday.  But with deals flying off the shelves over the whole weekend, if you see your perfect winter coat or ideal pair of trainers on Black Friday then be sure to snap up the deal while it’s hot, as it’s unlikely to be reduced again the following week. 

Daniel has over 20 years in the industry and currently works alongside brands like John Lewis, Currys PC Word and Google. He says this is because,”For all retailers, it’s the blow out they need to sell through existing ranges but more importantly, purge themselves of old stock that’s gone a bit stale. Don’t forget it’s a sale and by their nature, they are intended to clear the way for the next season of new and exciting products. However this year, a year like no other, we may find that the impact of the pandemic may create more bargains than normally available”.

To read the full article please visit GoodtoKnow.

Smart at the home heart

Gekko’s managing director, Daniel Todaro reports from IFA 2020 in Berlin on the latest in smart tech home appliances and the evolutionary trends in IoT

IFA 2020 is a much smaller, intimate socially distanced affair in Berlin. The event organisers have done a superb job at keeping the CE industries key event open all be it, not to the general public.

The Corona effect has impacted the industry at a global level and as we come out of having spent quite possibly the longest continued time than normal in our own homes, consumer’s desire for new technology to enhance their space has grown. The industry knows this and my business has seen this since retail reopened with an average conversion to sale of over +60% and ABV increase by +10%.

Drivers to purchase range from replacement to upgrade, desiring the latest in smart CE to complement the extra time we are now spending at home but also just in case we are forced to spend another lengthy lockdown in our cribs.

One of the long-term effects of lockdown has been that people are now spending more time at home, by choice, centred around the kitchen meaning that more of what we consume needs to be made or prepared using technology. This extends to how we wash, not only those pots, pans, crockery etc. but also how we clean our clothes and our homes, in addition to working from home and socialising. Brands within the category have jumped to the call of more innovation, more integration, and more space. The design of the home is evolving faster due to Coronavirus making consumers keen to enhance their quality of life at home through smart technology whilst not compromising on aesthetics.

Designing f or the new normal
A brand that seems to have designed to meet this challenge post lockdown is BSH, which has added not only smart technology to its range but also a third shelf in its dishwashing range. It’s also increased the size of its freezers with an extra 26cm of cubic space. Its neat invention, Connected Cookit, is a multifunction food processor with cooking functions that cooks up to 200 degrees. It’s a slow cooker, but not as you know it – it makes it, cooks it and connects to your voice assistants and your smart devices so you can control it remotely. This connectivity extends to BSH ovens, dishwashers etc. from your Fitbit whilst you venture out for a run meaning that you can still be in the kitchen, when you’re not.

Innovations include changing hues of ambient lights on hoods, dishwashers etc. to match your mood or interior and also programming your coffee machine to make the perfect cup of coffee just as you, your family and your guests like it, bringing the barista out in you.

Investment in R&D is the key shout out across all brands showcasing at IFA this year. Amongst the largest was $100bn from Huawei who are committing to developing technologies encapsulated in an initiative called ‘1+8+N seamless connected living’ on which Huawei is in the first chapter and that enable a connected future for all. In reaction to the US sanctions imposed on Huawei and those who worked with the brand, Huawei have risen to the challenge admirably engaging directly with almost 460m monthly active users, 33m in the EU alone. The App Gallery is the third largest app store globally, increasing 76% YOY naturally due to the loss of Google services meaning Huawei users have limited choice but to do so. Petal search, the new search engine from Huawei, now has over 100m users with 81,000 apps integrated. Relevant apps are on the platform meaning that whatever the USA government tried to do to dampen Huawei has backfired and served to make the brand stronger in the market.

The investment extends into retail, where others fear to tread, Huawei are leading the charge and opening eight flagship stores across major cities such as London, Paris, Milan which will be complemented by 42 experience zones that offer a user experience unrivalled so they claim.

Another Chinese brand making significant noise is Haier, which also owns Hoover, Candy and GE Appliances wants to be 100% connected throughout its portfolio of products. Currently they have 18 families of products that they are developing through app and voice connectivity, “democratic connectivity” according to its CEO, Zhang Ruimin. With a three-brand strategy of Candy delivering Value, Hoover as the core and Haier as premium. Candy, positioned in the market by its parent company as ‘affordable, smart, Italian’ claims to have 1.2 million paired products and 30% active users which in 2019 it recorded that 21% of Candy users were launching a washing cycle using its smart home facility, a multiple of 3 YOY and still growing.

Nova by Candy is a fully connected washing machine powered by your smartphone. The first of its type with one single button to control the MDA but also learning about your usage and making recommendations to enable consumers to wash smarter and ecologically

Impressively it is claimed by Hoover that they sell globally a stick vacuum every minute. The new range will also be connected. H-Wash will scan your label via your smartphone and your connected Hoover H-Wash 500 will select the best program for your laundry. Now that means anyone can do the laundry.

A breath of fresh air
H-Habitat air purifier, connected of course, will assess the quality of air in your home, the weather forecast, pollution stats, pollen count and adapt your purifier to react according to the need within your home. Gathering internal and external air data through the H-Scanner, which activates the robotic vacuum to clear dust and the air purifier to adapt the air quality in your home.

Positioning Haier as a premium brand and claimed to be the fastest growing premium brand (in this category) through creating innovations such as antibacterial laundry and five door cooling each with adjustable temperature zones. Did you know that Haier makes wine storage solutions? They are linking with the Vivino app to help you with how you should store any bottle of wine. By scanning the label, the app will automatically update the temperature of the storage to suit your choice of wine!

The trend at IFA 2020, it would seem, is that every brand is seeking to be the first choice for consumers to integrate with your smart home. It’s fair to say that the big news came predominantly from the MDA sector amongst others.

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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Taking back control

We’ve talked for so long about the high street and in particular independent retailers being the beating heart of the community and how the internet, large retail parks and changes in consumer behaviour has rocked this foundation to the core. We’re at the point where independent retailers are becoming a rare breed and, as such, local high streets become less appealing.

Whilst none of us could have imagined the COVID-19 situation to happen, it’s been such an almighty step change in the way we live.

Our fundamental societal roles have changed – working, shopping, education – as well as our attitudes to the community roles we all took for granted; our NHS, bin men, local butchers, bakers, milk deliverers have all been elevated to heroes in our communities.

But will this lead to a reappraisal of the role of independent retailers in the community? Will consumers look differently upon what they may have previously considered out of date?

So with a new captive audience and acceptance of service to society, how can independent retailers revive their fortunes by socialising their new audience and retain them through experiences? We all understand the power of retail experiences, but we now need to plan ahead and look at this with a post COVID- 19 social lens. Let’s face it, people have been thoroughly enjoying pubs, bars, restaurants and cinemas recently as they have missed doing this for quite some time. This includes the experience of physical retail and reliving the enthusiasm of consumerism as a pastime, rather than having another brown box left outside their front door.

Don’t just do the same

My first piece of advice. We’ll soon have a drastic change in seasons and there will be new product ranges ready and waiting to go. Remind people why they like physical shopping. The ability to see, feel and choose – think about layouts and colour, fun and opportunity for helpful conversation and engagement.

Westfield, the shopping centre chain, released its ‘How We Shop’ report discussing the biggest retail trends to date and what the future holds. The report said that 2025 is the tipping point year when more than half of retail square meterage will be dedicated to experiences rather than product.

A colossal 81 per cent of shoppers interviewed said they would be willing to pay more for experience, 75 per cent will spend more in stores that offer experiences as well as product, and 42 per cent want to see more creative experiences in store.

As an independent retailer, you may think that your store cannot compete with Westfield in terms of size, scale and budget, but recent consumer behaviour has shown that ‘local’ is just as important. So keep on fighting and entice consumers with products that appeal to their needs and desires to get out and shop and treat themselves. Make that contrast between the anonymity and soullessness that can be experienced by online shopping and the personal experience that local businesses can offer.

With 40 per cent of all online sales during the first three weeks in lockdown being ‘non-food’, the challenge is to win back those consumers who may have had no alternatives, particularly with distress purchases, to shop online. Take back control and don’t let go of your customer base.

Enhance the experience

The experience is the glue that holds this together. An experiential model can streamline logistics and free up cash flow, allowing your sales advisers time to spend helping customers.

Unlike the typical retail model that is focussed on immediate sales, the experiential model aims to drive traffic into the shop and extend the customer’s dwell time in the space. Even if it doesn’t result in immediate physical sales, it can still be a longer term win as customers who spend time browsing tend to buy more expensive items and come back time and again.

So think about how you could enhance the experience – whether it’s smaller or bigger ranging, specialisation, marketing, PR, advertising, training or extra services. And then how do you socialise it? Free coffee, a fitting service, desk space to speak to someone face to face, new displays, improved window dressing, giving back to the community, offering key worker discounts?

With an estimated £12.6 billion in revenue forecast to be lost from UK retail sales in 2020 and 34 per cent of people worried about the economic recovery, the impact of COVID-19 could be long-term. So, keep your head up and make a good case for every valuable consumer pound being spent. Appeal to a national new found sense of community and locality and aim to socialise the shopping experience.

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Gekko’s Top 5 CV Tips

The outbreak of Covid 19 has seen so many changes in how companies are recruiting and the competition for positions is ever increasing. If you’re a job seeker, we’d like to share a few tips with you on how you can best prepare yourself for this and also how to make your CV and application stand out.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of vacancies in retail, hospitality and the information and communication industries reached an all time low between March and May 2020. Some industries are recruiting again but the number of applicants per role is also increasing meaning that competition is fierce.

We’d like to share our top 5 tips on updating your CV straight from our Recruitment Manager.

  1. Keep it brief 

Your CV should be clear, concise and informative but doesn’t need to be any longer than 2 sides of A4.  Please don’t waffle or feel the need to write more!

  1. Update it (and don’t tell fibs!)

It’s really important to make sure the information on your CV is updated but also correct. Ensure your contact details are correct and that your CV shows your current/most recent situation but most importantly, don’t fib – there’s nothing worse than being caught out during an interview about something on your CV that’s not quite true so do yourself a favour and don’t put yourself in that situation. 

  1. Stand out from the crowd

It’s a tough market out there, now more than ever. Employers see so many CVs each day, make yours unique to you. This doesn’t mean it has to be super snazzy with all the colours of the rainbow but try to express yourself through your CV. 

  1. Make it relevant

If you’re applying for different roles in a variety of industry sectors, think about adapting your CV and communication to recruiters accordingly. We don’t mean stretching the truth but making everything just a little more relevant gives the impression that you’re genuinely interested in a specific job rather than applying a scattergun approach to job hunting.

  1. Proof read…proof read…proof read!

Don’t just check your CV for spelling and grammatical errors but also make sure that it reads well, and there’s nothing missing. Sometimes it helps for someone else to take a glance over it too, they might see something you haven’t.

We have roles available from our Head Office in Newbury to our Field Teams that are based throughout the UK. If you are interested in joining the Gekko team please visit our website for more information on the roles we have available.

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School’s in for autumn!

The back to school market was worth £1.7bn last year, according to GlobalData and it is a very lucrative time for brands that target children and parents in education. However, like with everything else in 2020, the lead up to this Back to School period has been extraordinary. We have witnessed a time of unprecedented turmoil for young people, from algorithms determining grades to having classrooms swapped for living rooms as the new seat of learning. With schools returning in September, anxious and tired parents will be preparing for every eventuality in ensuring their children don’t fall behind.

There has been a lot of hasty pivoting for brands depending on whether or not kids are physically back to school or not. Retailers and brands should take notice of a series of key trends impacting the market, ensuring they maximise the opportunity and connect with parents at this crucial time.

With a lengthy lockdown and parents becoming teachers overnight there has been a huge rush to buy electronic equipment for home schooling. With the potential of a second wave, parents may have to don the metaphorical mortarboard hats again. However it is laptops not whiteboards that have been their key props. Consumer Electronics has in fact been one of the few winners from the pandemic. Consistent growth is forecast due to the new demand for laptops for working & for schooling from home. Notebooks have been at the centre of a demand surge in particular. 73% of retailers have reported growth in sales for these products.

Pent up demand as parents return to retail
The economy grew by 8.7% in June on the back of the return to retail and steeper growth is forecast for July. With schools off since March, there is a lot of pent up demand with parents needing to get their children ready for the new school term. Clothing should still be a driver at the historical peaks of July and August, however stationary and tech products have been in demand during lockdown as both children and adults have been at home, with discounts readily available to take advantage of. The latest GDP figures showed Ireland, which is slightly ahead of the UK’s “return to normal” steps has shown positive precedent of customers returning to retail to buy their laptop and seek expert advice to do so. For many starting university or college it will be a virtual first term where lectures and study will not happen on campus but remotely, which could have a further effect on the tech market. Students will need the right equipment for working remotely and there is a huge opportunity to meet this need.

Allied to this, a clear trend that is coming through is that people are shopping with purpose. Parents looking to buy equipment for back to school are seeking expert advice but also looking to minimise unnecessary journeys with the virus still circulating. According to research from Kantar, since the Covid-19 induced lockdown began in March, shoppers have typically taken fewer trips to stores but have bought more items. We’ve found this ourselves, where some of our in-store brand teams have been achieving conversion rates well over 60%, however this can present some challenges. Many retailers will have a strategy to retain stock at their central locations to service online first, but also encourage stores to process click and collect or web orders for customers to allow the stock to go where it is in demand. This does mean limited opportunity for instant gratification, which is often the reason a customer will visit bricks and mortar. Retailers should look to ensure they can match the needs of customers so they can avoid a wasted journey. After all while online is growing it still can’t fully replace the bricks and mortar experience.

With necessity driving purchase and parents out in larger numbers looking to buy, brands and retailers should ensure they are still offering promotional activity to attract new customers. For example Dixons are offering consumers a 1-in-20 chance to win money back on laptop purchases of £349+. They are also offering Buy now pay later also on devices £349+. Meanwhile John Lewis are planning to run an “Off to Uni” online event from Mid Aug showcasing needed items.

With consumers less willing to venture out unless they have a ‘purpose’ we are seeing the high conversion rates indicated above of product demonstration leading to a sale. Having staff that can influence a sale was critical before the pandemic and is now more important than ever. With a plethora of hardware options out there for pupils, it is vital that in-store staff and those on the telephone can sell parents the products that meet both the needs of their children and their schools.

With new patterns of learning and pent up demand from parents, brands and retailers should learn the lessons and ensure they have a top of the class offering this Back to School period.

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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How retailers approached Back To School season this year

Retailers still took advantage of the Back to School marketing season this year despite the uncertainty that remained with schools reopening amid the Covid-19 pandemic. So how exactly did did retailers create desirable in-shopping experiences for these uncertain parents?

“The customer journey has changed for some, not all,” said Daniel Todaro, managing director of marketing agency Gekko.

“It may now more often start online, but retailers can use an omnichannel approach in the ‘considered purchase’ space to drive footfall into store to encourage the right equipment students require.

“The message should be that it’s better to get hand on advice from an expert in-store who will have sold to many students over the years and therefore better understands the need of the consumer.”

While retailers may turn to a multichannel approach to drive footfall, marketing tactics also needed to adapt from its usual tone in order to match the mood of anxious parents.

“Traditionally, retailers’ marketing investments include a mix of TV and radio commercials, print and online ads, flyers and newspaper inserts,” said Sam Holding, head of international at email analytics firm SparkPost.

“While email marketing remains a direct and cost-effective way to approach consumers, and ensure customer loyalty and repeat business.

“But, to be more effective, retailers should adapt and invest in segmentation, analytics and email marketing to get the best results for their brands and improve customer experience.”

To read the full article please visit Retail Gazette.

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In-Game Advertising – Smart Ways for Brands to Reach Targeted and Immersed Audiences

More of us are spending increasing amounts of our lives immersed in electronic games. It is a trend many brands have cottoned on to, as they use the virtual world to encourage real world action.

The stereotyped view of the gamer remains the headphone plugged in, square-eyed teen in their room. But of course, the fact this image has persisted for twenty years highlights an important fact. The teenagers of the 90s are now middle-aged and still love gaming. While younger consumers might game more, there is significant penetration among older audiences who have grown up with consoles. According to Statista while 73% of 18-24 year olds regularly play computer games, 40% of their parents’ generation (45-54 year olds) are also still regular gamers.

Generation Gamer

Gaming is moving away from being an entertainment source to being integral to how many people form connections with their friends, as well as with their preferred brands. So the idea that gaming is anti-social is misplaced.

For millennials, gaming is a huge part of their life and identity. They are gamers, they have purchasing power, they’re into new stuff, but also respond well to games that make them feel nostalgic. They are also mobile-first. While the traditional view of gaming is via an Xbox or Playstation, mobile games now contribute 51% of the entire global revenue from the gaming industry.

Today, advertising in video games is served in a way that is sensitive to the game environment and blends unobtrusively with gameplay. Smart brands have really begun to capitalise on the opportunities presented with in-game advertising. It has become more urgent for many. The onset of Covid and social distancing has blocked off many other traditional mass market advertising routes. This ranges from less footfall for outdoor advertising in ghostly city centres to still shut sports stadia.

The Covid Effect

Recent evidence highlights how much time we are now spending immersed in online, virtual worlds. A report from Digital Voices shows that viewership of the gaming category on YouTube is up an astonishing 31% since the start of Covid. Reflecting this, there has been a sharp increase in Twitch viewership and a jump in esports influencers on TikTok. People are playing and watching games to keep themselves distracted during these difficult times.

So brands have varied, engaged and growing audiences to reach through collaborations which many are now acting on, if belatedly. For brands dipping their toe in the virtual waters, they should take the time to really think about what they are looking to achieve with sympathetic forms of collaboration. Being seen to advertise in an inappropriate way can backfire as Burger King recently discovered to their cost on Twitch. They used a bot that normally reads out messages from fans to announce meal offers. This was seen as being “spammy” and exploitative and fans were quick to vent their fury.

Here are some of our favorite examples of effective in game brand collaborations:

1) The face that launched a thousand trainers
Adidas recently chose to collaborate with streaming star Tyler “Ninja” Blevins to launch a new line of trainers that was sold out in under an hour. Ninja, famously known for playing Fortnite, was delighted and posted a video thanking his fans. 

2) No stadiums? No problem
Adidas also recreated the canceled European Championship in the FIFA Playstation video game in June as a way to offset some of the inventory it lost from the live matches. Matches between 12 footballers and 12 celebrities were live-streamed across Adidas’ Facebook Live, IGTV and YouTube Live profiles in Turkey. 

3) DHL delivers an inter dimensional experience
The ESL One Hamburg activation with shipping company DHL was one of the most compelling examples of a smart brand collaboration. It showcased what is possible when a brand’s message is paired with a game and community to deliver an effective and engaging result. ESL’s campaign featured content creator Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner cast as an employee at an “interdimensional” DHL facility that serves both the physical and video game worlds, complete with an in-game version of DHL’s automated warehouse robot, EffiBOT. 

4) Can we target voters? Yes, we can
Back in 2008, Barack Obama (then Senator) achieved a first when his presidential campaign ads appeared in the popular EA game Burnout Paradise on Xbox 360. A billboard message inside the game encouraged players to register to vote. Obama realized back then what many brands are taking note of today: young audiences of 18 to 34-year-olds — which represent the core gamer group. As we approach the next Presidential election expect similar plays from the candidates to reach a younger audience. 

As brand collaborations with game developers become more common, the industry will move into a structured ecosystem demanding more advanced measures of viewability, analytics and real-time data to improve campaign performance. For one of the newest advertising markets, it’s Game on!

To read the full article please visit Digital Doughnut.

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