Tag Archives: Christmas



Christmas comes but once a year, so target customers with what they want and capture your share of that lucrative seasonal peak in sales, advises Gekko managing director Daniel Todaro

It’s Christmas and there’s nothing that gets people more excited than the gift of technology.

We Brits rack up a staggering £11 billion on credit cards to fund the ‘perfect’ Christmas and we start early. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of shoppers begin their gift shopping in the three months before the big day and 48 per cent just one month before. So it’s time to start your Christmas ranging.

In this world of plenty, deciding what to stock can be a difficult decision for a retailer, so keep it relevant to what your consumers either need or desire. To do this, it’s essential to be in tune with your customer base and the latest trends. What was selling five years ago may not be relevant today.

A good place to start is a category that’s most definitely relevant – the smart home. Listen to your peers and follow the advice of the ERT Turning Point summit participants: “All it takes is a small bit of space to introduce the smart home to your store – even just a metre square is enough to bring a whole new category to your customers”.

The smart home is a great opportunity for retailers looking to widen their customer base. With the smart-home market expected to be worth £53.4 billion by 2022 – an annual increase of 14.5 per cent – it has been assisted hugely by sales of ‘smart’ speakers from brands such as Google and Amazon.

Google has integrated its Google Assistant into products from other brands, such as Sony, Panasonic and JBL, increasing reach and popularity. Amazon Echo and Alexa is also being integrated into speakers and soundbars from Yamaha and other smart-home devices, such as thermostats from Hive.

Further proof as to why you don’t want to miss out on the action is the fact that 42 per cent of these smart speaker ‘early adopters’ have gone on to buy a second device. The message is clear. The smart home is here to be expanded in your range plans and with smart speaker products available from £49, ranging needn’t be an expensive investment.


The decision to range smart speakers can be justified by the fact that demographics indicate some users have never bought actual physical music. When you consider that 52 per cent of all music streamed is by the 16 to 24 age group, it’s clear to see why the wireless speaker market is set to increase 21 per cent in 2017 – equating to 55 million units shipped globally.

A study from Nielsen affirms that connected technology is the highest use of media devices among 18 to 24-year-olds, and this age group uses connected tech five times more than those aged 50+ age. That will not only grow, but also change to include older age groups very rapidly, as the smart home becomes a mainstay for all.

Music on the go is another growth sector opportunity, with headphones set to increase four per cent to 368m global unit sales this year. Premium audio brands are increasingly moving towards wireless technology, meeting the needs and expectations of younger generations. As consumers favour the wireless approach to music and media on the go, retailers need to be able to match this trend and also consider compatibility for iOS or Android devices – not all headphone products will work on every device.

The smart TV category continues to grow and is, of course, relevant to retailers in the run-up to Christmas. In the EU, smart TVs account for 57 per cent of all TVs sold, which surprised me.

It does, however, demonstrate that there is a continuing market for smart TVs and, more importantly, an opportunity to upgrade customers.

With UK shoppers spending in the region of £474 (£305 EU average) on around eight people this Christmas, the need to meet the magic £59 price point in your ranging is essential to capture the 73 per cent of sales achieved in retail for at least one gift.

Giving shoppers this experience on the shopfloor is what can set independent retailers apart from multiple and online retailers.

Off course, an omni-channel approach should not be ignored and where you can’t physically display products because of space restrictions, implement a system that enables online ordering and 24-hour click and collect from your store.

And remember, the smart home is not just for Christmas – so embrace it all the time

Read the article at ERT: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/jingle-bell-stock/



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All I want for Christmas…


Whoop, whoop it’s almost Christmas, and if you haven’t already considered what you’ll be ranging, here is some inspiration to convert shoppers into valuable customers.

Secretly, we love to buy for ourselves when shopping for presents. The truth is out there, it’s no secret, with everyone on average spending £84 on themselves when Christmas shopping – that’s an accessory like a pair of headphones or an SDA to kick-start that New Year’s resolution in healthy eating.

The most popular Christmas gifts are entertainment-based, with 63 per cent choosing these over clothes, food and drink, spending an average of £489.04 on approximately 14.8 gifts for 8.3 people – that third of a person only needs something small.


Now, with an identified average spend per person of £61 (in addition to the previously mentioned £84), what do you range that meets that price point? Not much, I’m guessing, thus increasing the importance in making sure that those items that fall within this price point are clearly visible and appealing to shoppers in your store.

New technology is still available to buy, think Ring’s video doorbell, which also won the Editor’s Choice category at this year’s T3 Awards. At £159, its innovation and functionality can be justified by ease of installation and potential as a household gift. Speaking of innovation, think Jabra’s range of wireless headphones, leading the way in the ‘hearables’ category, merging high-quality audio increasing through the range with fitness tracking via your ears.

Equally, on the back of the phenomenally successful and much discussed The Great British Bake-Off, there’s an SDA at a range of prices that every fan of the show desires to grace their kitchen or make them a better baker. These include the Kenwood mini choppers, AEG blenders and the KitchenAid hand mixer or, if you’re really generous, the Artisan stand mixer and Magimix 5200XL food processor. With SDAs helping the 41 per cent of Brits cooking from scratch, the opportunity to develop your sales, across the SDA category, can be linked to a gift purchase.

With two-in-five shoppers stumped on what to buy their friends and family, they can be swayed as 68 per cent buy based on deals and 62 per cent on convenience. By highlighting the deal, its USP and suggested target audience, closing a sale among the 40 per cent who are undecided could be simpler than you thought.

Moving up the generosity scale, a premium audio device is the perfect gift for any audiophile or music-loving household. Consider an expert in the audio category, such as Naim – also a T3 winner. The Mu-so wireless speaker combines stylish design with unrivalled sound quality filling your home with your favourite tunes compatible with all the popular streaming services – very appropriate for the Christmas period.

With premium audio sales growing by 22 per cent year on year, it’s a great opportunity to increase your average basket value. Perhaps use a showroom style approach, allowing customers to see the speakers in a living room setting, perhaps even syncing their phones to the speaker to test the wireless connectivity. Creating some in-store theatre is key to selling these premium items.

Addressing those entertainment shoppers, the huge media coverage enjoyed by the exciting Virtual Reality category – expected to exceed $2 billion globally this year – means it could be the time to start stocking a VR or AR proposition within your line up. The eagerly anticipated PlayStation VR is an accessory for the vastly popular PS4, of which there are over 1.5 million in homes across the UK. This is due to launch on October 13 and expected to RRP at £349.


Now, this may be more than the average spend, but it’s an exciting, innovative product with a forecasted 50 games available by the end of the year, with highlights such as Batman Arkham VR and EVE: Valkyrie. It’s going to be huge and a welcome gift for any PS4 user or their family. If this is beyond your ranging, think Google Cardboard. With an RRP of £15 and thousands of available apps, it’s the ideal stocking filler for anyone of any age with any brand of smartphone. With Sky and Freeview experimenting with VR as well, entertainment platforms are taking the technology mainstream.

Take some comfort in knowing that only 14 per cent of shoppers surveyed return an electronic gift. If sold correctly, return rates should be negligible within your store especially if you’ve trained your staff. Remember ranging is one thing, but if your team doesn’t know what you range, what your core Christmas items are, how to sell these correctly to the right customer by identifying what they want and matching USPs and how to close a sale, there’s no guarantee of success.

Perhaps consider incentivising your staff to attach your lower-priced items to higher-priced transactions, assisting an increase to your average basket value.

Santa Baby may be coming down the chimney with some great tech, if you get your ranging and training right.


Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/all-i-want-for-christmas/

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High street sales are booming, say new retail figures


Recent figures from the Office of National Statistic suggest high street retail is booming this autumn, with retail sales up 7.4% year on year in October. With an increase of 1.9% over September, this October saw the highest rate of sales growth since April 2002. Contrary to many who predicted an economic slump after the Brexit vote, and while the UK remains in Europe, retail appears to be in a good place leading up to the most important sales periods of the year: Black Friday and the Christmas Peak.

More good news for retailers is the increasing amount spent in high street stores, with consumers spending 6.6% more in October 2016 compared with last year, and up 2.1% on September. Retailers will be hoping this upward trend continues, increasing consumer spending during the peak sales period. The average weekly spend in October was £7.7 billion, an increase of £500 million year on year, clearly showing consumer confidence in the UK economy has not diminished despite warnings. Furthermore average retail prices fell 0.7% in October year on year, demonstrating how high street competition is dampening the effect of the decreased value of Sterling. Some have intimated that spending may be spiralling out of control, creating the bubble which forced the previous recession. However the lessons learned from back then may be applied.

The ONS report has even more good news for department stores and consumer electronics brands. The report found that 43% of retail sales in October 2016 were in non-food stores, encompassing department stores and household goods. Sales volume for non-retail stores was up 2.8% year on year, highlighting the growing consumer confidence in buying household goods. These figures are perhaps inflated by the weak Sterling which has increased international spending in particular on luxury goods, making that Hermes bag a steal in comparison to the price back home in its native France.

Overall, the ONS report suggests shoppers are ready to spend this Christmas. Of course, brands should not take these figures for granted, as in a highly competitive marketplace it’s still vitally important for brands to make an impact in store and be seen. Millions have been spent by retailers on this season’s Christmas adverts; they are now reliant on the products and brands they range to entice and convert shoppers into customers.

In order to successfully achieve this, all brands should be considering their retail execution at this busy time, especially focusing on education, merchandising and promotion to ‘wow’ shoppers looking for the perfect Christmas gift for themselves or another.


Read more at: http://www.innovativeelectricalretailing.co.uk/index.php/high-street-sales-are-booming-say-new-retail-figures/

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Have a techie New Year

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Oh no, it’s happened again. The peak sales period is upon us and while consumers are getting over Black Friday and preparing for Christmas, retailers will be trying to predict the big sellers for 2016.

The next phase of growth is going to come from the Internet of Things (IoT), which is only going to be more relevant and significant in our lives as we all become even more connected.

The retail landscape is evolving and the need to be current in your ranging is as important as the service and experience you provide.


Kitchen tech is continuing to battle for space on our worksurfaces and in the lead we still have blenders. This trend is sure to continue into the New Year, with the Nutribullet, Magimix and Nutri Ninja taking breakfast by storm for millions of smoothie lovers. Health blenders are a fantastic gift for any health-conscious individual looking to lose a pinch after all that Christmas feasting. John Lewis on Oxford Street sold an average 100 health juicers a day during ‘peak’ in 2014.


Music streaming and multi-room speaker devices are expected to be a huge hit, with innovative products like Google’s Chromecast Audio streaming music from your smartphone, tablet, Chromebook or PC to any speaker in your home.

Likewise, multi-room speaker systems from Sonos will continue to be popular, but don’t forget alternative solutions from Bose and LG.

A perfect gift for audiophiles, music streaming is becoming mainstream with physical music now a collector’s pastime. Take the opportunity to attach sales of streaming devices to non-connected speakers, or upsell to a future-ready connected speaker system. Sales of connected audio devices such as soundbars, wireless speakers, headphones, etc, are expected to increase to 267 million units in 2018, up from 58m in 2014.


Streaming devices turn any screen into a multimedia centre and the leader of the pack is by far Google Chromecast and Chromecast Audio, both the easiest sale you’ll ever make – only £30 to turn any TV with an HDMI port into a smart TV. The original Chromecast sold over 20m units, so expect the updated model to sell even more. Other streaming devices, such as Now TV, allow users to purchase one-time subscriptions to premium channels, meaning they can watch the Boxing Day football on Sky without having to pay for an expensive box and subscription.

However, if users prefer not to pay for content, it’s no longer necessary to have an expensive subscription service as they can now have Freeview Play built into Panasonic TVs or upgrade any TV with a Humax set-top box.

Home tech

Smart home solutions are an inexpensive and practical gift for many and connected security cameras are fast becoming an IoT mainstay. Coming in from around £50, a smart security device, such as a connected doorbell or camera to monitor your house and pets remotely, would make a good addition to any home. Brands to look at include Motorola and Belkin.

With a cold winter in prospect, a smart thermostat can give homeowners complete control over their heating, wherever they are using their smartphone. Hive’s newest smart thermostat is a stylish statement for the home, with its unique design adding to its great practical features and fantastic app.


Sales of smart devices are expected to explode over the next five years, so it’s no surprise to see brands across the home appliances spectrum, including Hoover, LG, Samsung and Whirlpool, investing in connected appliances.

Smart appliances from the likes of LG can also be integrated with existing smart thermostats, monitoring activity and setting appliances to switch on or change setting automatically when it deems best for a family’s lifestyle.

Retailers can get ahead of the curve, offering shoppers a connected product that will integrate with their existing smart devices and, more importantly, IoT products they are perhaps likely to purchase in years to come.


Fitness wearables and smartwatches show no sign of abating, with sales of fitness gadgets having increased by 900 per cent over the past year, according to Dixons Carphone.

The New Year is a time when people’s thoughts turn to getting fit, and fitness wearables such as the Fitbit Charge HR are packed full of features.

A great way to sell the benefits of fitness wearables is to give them to staff to wear on the shopfloor. Linking the devices to their own smartphone will also help them to demonstrate the features.

Across every category, there is innovation to suit all pockets. Show your consumers how these innovative products work together, not as separate products. Do them justice and show your customers what the IoT is all about and how great it can be.

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Staff key to a successful peak period

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With last year’s Black Friday generating a 10 per cent increase in footfall compared to previous years, research from Gekko highlights the need to recruit and train in-store brand ambassadors to maximise in-store opportunities for the 2015 peak festive period.

A staggering 50 per cent of shoppers said that there is often not enough staff on the shop floor to help them when making a purchase decision. There is also concern over the manner of in-store staff, with over half (52%) of shoppers complaining that they are too pushy about making a sale.

Despite the growth of online sales, nearly three quarters (74.2%) of shoppers benefit from the touch, feel and physical comparison of products when making purchase decisions. A quarter (26.35%) of shoppers buy in-store when they are purchasing items they need to think about and choose carefully and over half (56.8%) head in-store for advice when making a considered purchase.

Sarah Mandeville, recruitment manager at Gekko believes that staff hold the key to converting sales during the peak-time rush:

“Whether they are full-time or temporary over the peak period, retail staff must demonstrate passion for the product and the ability to make a positive impression on shoppers. In-store is a vital touch-point for consumers, and retailers need to ensure that their staff are trained to maximise every opportunity. In a competitive landscape, which is heightened during peak, a retailer will only get one chance with the consumer.”

To manage the peak-period, here are five important action points for retailers to get the most out of their staff:

1. Allow time for training – Speed is often important when training temporary staff in the run-up to Christmas. However, staff will be more motivated and likely to convert more sales if they are immersed in the role. Take time to build your team’s knowledge and understanding of the brand, company background and product range. In an omnichannel environment, where shoppers can obtain product information using their smartphone, your brand ambassadors must know more than just the product they are selling.

2. Ongoing support – Training shouldn’t just be delivered at the beginning of the peak-period. Once the staff are in place, ongoing revision, recaps and coaching should be continued to keep the team sharp on sales messaging and promotions.

3. Create a team environment – staff may not all work on the same days or in the same locations. Using group chat or social tools such as Facebook or Google Hangouts can help to communicate simultaneously and build communities. To lead the team environment, allocate a mentor as a point of contact to motivate and be contacted at any time.

4. Don’t just motivate with money – Monetary incentives can be short-lived. To motivate the team, it’s worth creating friendly competition with leader boards and prizes. This can be a fun way to build a positive attitude among the workforce.

5. Treat everyone the same – To make employees feel part of the team, employers need to treat temporary staff as though they are full-time employees. Putting effort into training and making temporary staff feel part of a larger team can be a motivating factor for staff in itself.

Read more at: http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/digital-marketing-news/research-shows-retailers-could-suffer-over-peak-period-with-lack-of-in-store-staff/2622

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Top 10 Gadgets for Christmas

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Daniel Todaro chooses his Top 10 gadgets for Christmas that can improve consumers’ day-to-day lives

Entertainment: EchoStar HDT-610R
The EchoStar Freeview+ box has an ultra-thin design at a mere 14mm deep, making it one of the most compact and stylish Freeview boxes on the market. Nonetheless, it manages to pack in a 500GB hard drive to store recorded TV. It also boasts two tuners to enable two TV channels to be recorded simultaneously. It has a simple and intuitive interface and menu, with excellent audio/video quality.


Spring Cleaning: Kärcher SC1.020
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The Kärcher SC1.020 is the best-selling steam cleaner on the market at present, which is significant given the popularity of such products at the moment. It easily cleans a variety of different surfaces, including tiles and laminate flooring, eliminating the need for an extensive range of specialist cleaning products.
Kitchen: Samsung Chef Collection dishwasher
Instead of the rotating arms found in other dishwashers, Samsung’s unique feature is its ‘Water Wall’ technology, which uses a line of spray jets that reach every corner of the machine. No more of those missed spots that often mean having to put things back in for a second wash.
Printer: Epson EcoTank
Without doubt the main attraction of the EcoTank is that rather than refilling it with costly ink cartridges, the EcoTank has four built-in ink reservoirs that can be refilled from replacement ink bottles. This is not only a much cheaper alternative, saving up to 65 per cent on printing costs, but it also lasts longer than conventional ink cartridges without sacrificing print quality.
Audio: Beats by Dre – Alexander Wang edition
Designer Alexander Wang has become the latest designer to collaborate with the Beats by Dre team. Together, they’ve created a pale gold and matt black Pill speaker with a signature printed glossy ‘stingray’ case with zipper and clip. The Pill is lightweight, portable, and wireless-enabled, meaning you can change tracks from your phone or take a call with Bluetooth conferencing.
E-reader: Kobo Aura H2O
The latest product from the Canadian manufacturer boasts an impressive 265 pixels per inch, which beats rival product the Kindle Paperweight, providing a much clearer, larger paper-like screen. It is, however, a little heavier than the Kindle. Perhaps its most useful feature is that it’s waterproof.
Fitness: Fitbit Charge
One of the latest of Fitbit’s new products, the Fitbit Charge, which will be out in December, is a significant step up from its best-selling Flex model. Like the Flex, Charge takes the form of a wristband that monitors all-day activity, tracking steps, distance, calories burned, steps climbed and minutes the wearer has been active each day. Similarly, it also monitors the length and quality of sleep. It might lack the GPS functions of other products in Fitbit’s new range, but it’s still a great gadget for anyone looking to keep trim over the New Year.
Connected Home: Hive Smart Thermostat
Hive is a simple-to-use device that enables cost-conscious consumers to have full control over their heating. By being able to remotely control heating from anywhere with an internet connection or 3G, people can save up to £150 a year on their heating bills by only having the heating on when it’s needed, rather than on a fixed schedule. The price even includes the setting-up of the device, so factoring in potential savings, there’s few reasons not to invest in one this Christmas.
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Family: Samsung WW9000 10kg Ecobubble washing machine
The Samsung WW9000 Ecobubble is a top-of-the-range washing machine – and you get an awful lot of washing machine for the money. Growing families with a lot of washing will benefit from a number of time- and money-saving features. Its touch-screen takes the place of the complicated array of buttons you find on some washing machines and its customisable settings can be set as favourites, meaning you can start a wash within seconds of loading the drum.
Smartphone: Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The sleek new design with a crisp display far exceeds what the competition can offer. IPS Retina HD technology is the cutting edge of phone design.The quality of the display is as good as a MacBook Pro.The display is also less saturated than other similar phones, producing deeper, darker colours and sharper text. The battery life is also excellent, especially given its size, and can easily be used for a full day without the need to recharge. It’s the best iPhone to date.



Read more at: http://www.ertonline.co.uk/Analysis/Christmas-Gadgets.htm

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How the Christmas ads fared on social

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For this year’s Christmas ads we’ve had the lot. Almost every major retailer has now released their ads, laying out their stall for what they can offer consumers this Christmas.

These have been closely followed by an onslaught of social media reviews, some good, some not so good.

Firstly, let’s take a look at Sainsbury’s which has become possibly the most debated Christmas advert of all time. Some love it, some loath it.

Twitter is ablaze with #sainsburyschristmas conversation. Some love it for its cinematography and poignant message for the 100th anniversary of First World War, appreciating that the retailer is donating to the Royal British Legion.

While others are angry with Sainsbury’s depiction of the war, feeling that they are glamorising it and using the conflict to advertise their products.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the advert has already had a lot of complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency (more than 700 at the moment), most mentioning the distasteful portrayal of the First World War.

Yet love it or hate it, you’re not likely to forget Sainsbury’s contribution any time soon.

We move on to Iceland, which is possibly the worst Christmas advert I’ve ever seen. It is almost indistinguishable from its normal advert except it mentions some Christmassy food.

As far as social media goes, Iceland’s twitter post for the advert was retweeted an unremarkable three times (the account has more than 16k followers). Likewise, the advert’s uninspiring hashtag #icelandchristmasad has only been used by Iceland themselves. It also only has just over 400 likes on Facebook, compared to the Sainsbury’s advert’s 126,000 likes. Yes, the advert is that forgettable.

On the other end of the spectrum Boots‘ Christmas advert does emotional advertising right. Rather than relying on an animated penguin for emotional support, the advert concentrates on the importance of family, something we should all focus on at this time of year.

Social media users love it too, with many feeling moved and especially enjoying the connection to the NHS:

Boots’ simple #specialbecause hashtag is perfect for sentimentality during the Christmas period. It’s not an especially flashy advert, and is therefore somewhat underrated, but it has resonated with a lot of people, and that’s what makes it so great.

Then there is Tesco’s ad. Although it is well-produced with the right message, this year’s offering leaves me a little disappointed. The advert’s light show is fantastic, undoubtedly the best light show since the Olympics. But, in comparison to John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, this is a little mundane.

The Twittersphere seems equally unimpressed, with many finding the ad uninspiring and even unnecessarily expensive:

Although Tesco’s Facebook is very popular, and the ad has tens of thousands of likes, even the comments section of the ad post is filled more with customer complaints than it is of genuine praise.

Even more unfortunately for Tesco, its hashtag #makechristmas was also used by Irish retail chain Dunne Stores. As a result, Twitter has an odd mix of both brands.

Now to Aldi, and though I quite like the concept of this advert, I think it’s poorly executed. Showing how Christmas is celebrated in different walks of life could make a great ad, but Aldi’s offering simply pans the camera over a number of different groups eating and drinking. The script is also dire, with lines sounding extremely scripted. Moreover, Jools Holland’s random cameo appearance at the end is extremely odd; why not use him more during the ad? Yet he seems to be the major attraction for many on Twitter and Facebook:

Although an unsophisticated offering, many people seem to love it. Perhaps Aldi’s simple, budget orientated ad is the right message for this year. And whatever you say about it, the Aldi advert probably has the truest slogan of any advert this Christmas – ‘everyone’s coming to us this Christmas’.

The Lidl advert achieves exactly what the retailer wanted to achieve. Continuing its #lidlsuprises campaign, the ad does away with the cinematic offerings of its competitors, and instead focuses on the products. I think the blind taste test was a clever idea, really highlighting how Lidl products aren’t as budget quality as people think. This also seems to have reflected well amongst Lidl’s Twitter followers:

However, it’ll take more than an advert to convince some consumers that Lidl products are on par with their competitors:

While it is a good advert and puts the right message across, I can’t help but think it’s not that Christmassy. Other ads like Sainsbury’s and John Lewis have a distinct Christmassy feel, but Lidl’s is simply a Christmas branded extension of its existing ad. It does the right job, but it doesn’t have appeal of the more cinematic ads at this time of year.

By far the most engaging ad this year has been the Halfords ad – it’s supposed to provoke feelings of nostalgia and it does it really well. The ad could easily be set in any decade from the 1970’s onwards which makes it so appealing to a broad audience. The ad wants you to remember that seminal moment of getting your own bike as a child, and ultimately share this experience with your kids. Those using #nothingbeatsabike on Twitter seems to agree:

This has to be my favourite Christmas ad; it does everything right. You might prefer the cinematic masterpieces of the likes of Sainsbury’s, but for me the simple nostalgia of a new bike is as Christmassy as it gets.

Last but not least we have the now famous John Lewis Monty the Penguin ad. There is little more to be said about the overexposed ad apart from the inevitable parodies which were released over the past few weeks, of which there are surprisingly many.


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This Year’s Best Christmas ATL?

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For this year’s Christmas ads, we’ve had the lot, as more or less every major retailer has now released their ads and laid out their stall for what they can offer consumers this Christmas. We’ve had John Lewis’ CGI/stuffed penguin, M&S’ Christmas fairies, Tesco shining a light on community spirit, surprises from Lidl, Aldi’s hogmanay featuring Jools Holland and now Sainsbury’s topical war-themed incentive to buy and share chocolate.

They’ve been met with differing reactions. The initial response on social media to Sainsbury’s advert was positive, though subsequent analysis in the press has been less warm, with The Guardian criticising the supermarket for co-opting an awful period in history for commercial gain. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a strong, top-quality advert. Meanwhile, the M&S’ ad featured a touching point in the style of a Richard Curtis/Love Actually ‘if only’ Christmas message. While John Lewis’ attempt to repeat the success of its The Bear and the Hare advert has again relied on a lot of sentimentality and presented no products (besides the £95 toy penguin), it still exhibited good brand tie-ups and extensions on social media and in-store. The campaign is still a game-changer that others will certainly emulate. Tesco – amid its well-publicised financial issues – has gone with a comparatively paired down ad, featuring people in the community gathering for a light show. It makes sense for them to focus on community spirit and amplify the affection some may still have for the brand rather than centering around products or special offers (which discount supermarkets might well beat on price).

Among the hype and chatter, there’s one advert I feel has gone unnoticed and, for me, represents the best ATL activity this Christmas. Halfords, in partnership with Mother London, has produced a great advert which, unlike the others, places nostalgia, not sentimentality, at the centre of the ad. With a powerful Cairobi soundtrack, the ad focuses on what Christmas is all about these days, not forgetting its religious significance for Christians. It’s about kids and the rite of passage, those seminal moments Christmas throws up, such as the feeling of getting your first bike – along with the feelings of freedom and independence (not to mention coolness) that it evokes. Most of us will have memories of taking off the training wheels and being able to get away from homework to cycle to the park or the BMX track and experience freedom.

It’ll be interesting to see what such an evocative ad does for Halfords’ sales, especially given that it’s taken less high profile spots on TV compared to other brands. Like a pair of well-pumped up tires, it’d be nice to see this ad go the distance and resonate with consumers, who may agree with me that, by placing nostalgia and excitement at the centre of its ad, Halfords has won Christmas this year.



Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2014/11/27/this-years-best-christmas-atl/

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The 10 best gadgets for Christmas 2014

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From fitness trackers to tellies, it’s time to get gadgeting

I’m a huge fan of technology and am always excited to see new products coming to market, especially with so many wearable tech and connected home devices being launched at the moment.

This Christmas there are a number of great gadgets in retail now available to buy for you or the family. It’s always a great opportunity to upgrade on your gadgets and take advantage of the advances in speed, functionality and integration with your busy lifestyle.

So here’s my Top 10:
1.      eReader: Kobo Aura H2O

The latest product from the Canadian manufacturer boasts an impressive 265 PPI (pixels per inch) which beats rival product Kindle Paperweight (212 PPI), providing a much clearer, larger paper-like screen, though it’s a little heavier than the Kindle. Perhaps its most useful feature is that it’s waterproof, meaning people who would like to use their eReader by the pool or in the bath can finally relax and enjoy their reading anywhere, anytime.
2.      Fitness tracker: Epson Runsense and Pulsense

A new addition to the wearables market, Runsense and Pulsense offer a complete wearable package for the first time. Runsense is aimed at runners and includes an inbuilt GPS system to track performance and offer accurate real-time data on screen. Runsense is a serious product for fitness enthusiasts, while Pulsense is useful for anyone looking to improve their fitness and track their general health.

The Runsense monitors your individual technique to help improve performance, and has a huge battery life of 30 hours with GPS activated.

Pulsense is an activity monitor, rather than a dedicated running tracker. The Pulsense tracks heart rate and movement to calculate calories burned throughout the day and monitors everyday activity (including sleep patterns) to give users an accurate picture of their fitness to enable improvements where needed. The Pulsense is one of the first activity trackers to include an inbuilt heart rate monitor, adding a vital feature to the wearables market.
3.      Connected home: Hive Smart Thermostat

Hive is a simple-to-use device which enables cost-conscious consumers to have full control over their heating. By being able to remotely control heating from anywhere with an internet connection or 3G, people can save up to £150/year on their heating bills by only having the heating on when it’s needed, rather than on a fixed schedule. The price even includes set-up of the device, so factoring in potential savings, there’s few reasons not to invest in one this Christmas.
4.      Family tech: Samsung WW9000 10kg ecobubble Touchscreen Washing Machine

The Samsung WW9000 ecobubble is a top of the range washing machine, and you get an awful lot of washing machine for the money. Growing families with a lot of washing will benefit from a number of time- and money-saving features.

Its touchscreen removes the complicated array of buttons you find on some washing machines and its customisable settings can be set as favourites, meaning you can start a wash within seconds of loading the drum. It even detects how heavy the load is and adds the right level of detergent to each wash. It also works with Samsung phones to keep track of how a wash cycle is progressing and can be remotely started and stopped.

Other features include Samsung’s ecobubble technology which dissolves detergent at lower temperatures, removes dirt more effectively and enables quicker washing. It’s also a very quiet device. Its intelligence, convenience and design make it a great gift-to-self for parents of large families.
5.      Smartphone: Apple iPhone 6 Plus

It’s hard to leave out Apple’s newest iPhone design in a list of best gadgets this Christmas. The sleek new design with a crisp display far exceeds what the competition can offer. IPS Retina HD technology is the cutting edge of phone design. The quality of the display is as good as a MacBook Pro. The display is also less saturated than other similar phones, producing deeper, darker colours and sharper text.

The battery life is also excellent, especially given its size, and can easily be used for a full day without the need to recharge. Ultimately, it’s the best iPhone to date, and finally gives Apple users a choice when it comes to handset size – something Android users have been boasting about for years.
6.      Tablet/laptop: Acer Aspire Switch 10

The new Aspire Switch 10 is a hybrid between tablet and laptop, with a detachable screen for those who want web browsing and word processing on the go. Battery life is fairly impressive for a hybrid device, as it can last around six hours streaming HD films. The magnetic hinge which connects the tablet and keyboard is high quality. Buyers can choose between a 32GB and 64GB model, however it also has a micro SD card slot and an optional 500GB hard drive in the keyboard, meaning there’s more than enough storage space for films and photos.

It comes with Windows 8.1 and is an affordable proposition for those who prefer tablets, find laptops too cumbersome, but require a laptop’s functionality from time to time.
7.      Kitchen accessories: Magimix Le Duo Plus XL Juice Extractor

The Magimix juicer is a versatile addition to a kitchen, functioning as a juice extractor, coulis maker, citrus press, and smoothie maker. It pours right into the glass making preparation easier.

Unlike some juicers it can effectively juice soft fruits like bananas and turn cooked vegetables into a jus or puree. It can take large pieces of fruit through an extra-large feedtube, minimising the time it takes to juice larger fruits such as grapefruit.

The 400 watt motor is covered by a 20-year guarantee and all removable parts are dishwasher safe and protected by a three-year guarantee. Cleaning is made easier by a shaped spatula for easy pulp removal. It also comes with a recipe book to get you started on vegetable purees and healthy smoothie ideas.
8.      TV tech: Chromecast

Chromecast is an incredible device which lets you wirelessly ‘cast’ (stream) content from your laptop or mobile onto your TV screen via HDMI. It can stream video via apps, including Netflix and YouTube, but can also stream an open Chrome browser from your laptop or phone, meaning any content on the internet can be enjoyed on your TV screen without the need for an unsightly cable.

Essentially it turns any TV into a Smart TV, and for such a low price, that’s a bargain.
9.      Audio: Pure Jongo T4 Wireless Speaker

Jongo T4
Brilliant quality speaker, but real quality is in the wireless features – can stream music from many devices over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and play music anywhere in the house.

Combine multiple speakers together to use as a hifi system, or keep speakers in different rooms of the house to stream music from a single device to each speaker.

Can use any streaming service with the speakers – Spotify works perfectly, and can even use iPlayer to watch shows on your phone whilst playing sound through the Jongo. Can even control volume from phone just using the normal volume control buttons.

Seamless streaming make the Jongo T4 a step in the right direction for wireless speakers and music streaming in the home.
10.  TV: Samsung 65” Series 7 HU7200 Smart UHD LED TV

This 65” Samsung TV is arguably the most innovative in the market in terms of the features it offers. It might be the most expensive item on the list, but Samsung has developed it to be future proof, as it can update to be compatible with future upgrades to UHD quality.

The Smart UHD TV is wide-angled and curved to enable optimum viewing with a wider picture and clearer images. It also up-scales non-UHD sourced video content to near UHD-level quality, even converting DVDs to an almost ultra high definition level.

Other features include the ability to switch between screens with ease, for example to pause a film and browse the web to find out more information on an actor before switching back. It also has voice-activated browsing which means users can quickly find out whether it’s going to rain by asking their TV.

As a Samsung it also boasts Samsung connectivity to stream content from a Samsung tablet or smartphone.

It’s arguably the most immersive TV on the market – if you love movie watching and want a real quality experience, then this is the perfect choice.


Read more at: http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/lifestyle/christmas-in-london/the-10-best-gadgets-for-christmas-2014/9269.article

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Nostalgic Christmas ads might be a thing of the past

bear and hare banner

Another year brings another fanfare as mid-Autumn ads from the big brands are rolled out to entice consumers to spend big both in-store and online this Christmas.

Last year we had Debenhams highlighting its elegant clothing, M&S taking us down the rabbit hole, and of course – who can forget – John Lewis’ Bear and the Hare. Christmas ads inevitably form part of the national psyche in the run-up to the festive period, so it’s crucial that brands get it right. It’s a huge opportunity to connect with and reach consumers at a time when their attention turns to budgeting for Christmas.

The best Christmas ads can warm consumers to a brand by harnessing the emotional attachment many people have with the period. However, get it wrong and you risk being remembered for all the wrong reasons long after the decorations have come down. So what do I think we can expect this year?

Whilst it’s difficult to predict with certainty how brands will approach their ads each Christmas, it’s been noticeable that in the last couple of years there’s been brands that have played safe and brands that have pushed the boat out and taken risks.

In 2012, the likes of Sainsbury’s, M&S and Tesco played it safe with product-focused ads. By contrast, Morrisons and Asda ran extraordinarily similar ads which critics felt reinforced gender stereotypes about Mums doing all the work at Christmas. Asda’s alone prompted 620 complaints to the ASA.

Perhaps owing to this backlash, both Morrisons and Asda ran pared down ads in 2013, and it was Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s turn to run similarly themed campaigns. Both focused on family at Christmas time, and both were decidedly saccharine.

However in 2014, we’re facing a significantly more challenged retail market than even a year ago, and brands have to reflect this in their advertising campaigns.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), sales were down 0.8% in September 2014 compared with 2013 on a total basis. The BRC also recently announced that September showed an annual drop of 0.2% on the amount people spent on food.

Consumer confidence is high – Barclaycard said total spending on UK debit/credit cards rose 4.8% in September – it’s just that consumers will no longer tolerate feeling ripped off. They want the best deals and though a glitzy ad might entertain, it won’t necessarily be enough to get people in-store if the value or shopping experience isn’t worthwhile.

I therefore expect to see a little less glamour, perhaps fewer celebrities and a little more humility. John Lewis has already set this scene by apologising for the hype surrounding last year’s advert.

If the ads match the current retail climate, this could be the year for managing or resetting consumer expectations. With Tesco in freefall, grocery in general fighting a case for value against the disruptors of Aldi and Lidl, and more shoppers comparing prices online whilst in-store, it’s likely many Christmas ads will target cost-conscious shoppers.

It’s a tricky one for grocers like Sainsbury’s and Tesco to negotiate, as by continuing to slash prices to compete with the budget supermarkets, to many it may seem like they’ve knowingly overcharged for years. Something which is in direct contrast to John Lewis’ “Never knowingly undersold” tagline.

It seems likely that many brands will put the sentimental and nostalgic journeys they’ve taken us on over the past couple of Christmases to one side. Instead there will be a renewed focus placed on showing consumers they really do understand their needs when negotiating Christmas on a budget and have real value to offer all this festive period.

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