Tag Archives: Field Marketing

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 Will consumers look differently upon what they may have previously considered out of date?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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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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CES 2020 Review: The most interesting tech from this year’s show

Gekko Field Marketing MD Daniel Todaro rounds up his interesting tech finds from this year’s CES show

The New Year in tech wouldn’t be the same without CES, the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas between 7th – 10th January attended by almost every established tech brand, start up brands, incubator and brand on the periphery of technology with something to showcase. The products on display range from the expected to the unusual, as in the case of sex tech, which for the first time seems to have found its place and acceptance at CES. As indeed has Ivanka Trump, who was controversially invited to headline as the keynote speaker when arguably there are far more qualified females, actually from the technology sector, rather than this particular privileged individual.

CES welcomed over 175,000 visitors to see over 4,500 exhibitors and 1,000+ speakers making it quite a big deal within the technology industry. It also means lots of product and innovation announcements, such as the smart shower head with Alexa built-in from Kohler, a smart frying pan that analyses your food whilst you cook it from SmartyPans, to autonomous vehicles from the now established brands in this sector and not so with Sony launching its autonomous vehicle prototype named Vision S. The vehicle is a prototype designed to show off the firm’s sensors and in-car entertainment technologies. The dashboard is flanked by an ultra-wide panoramic screen for driving information and entertainment. However, Sony did not indicate that it had any plans to sell the car to the public with Sony’s chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida only stating “We will accelerate our efforts to contribute to the future of mobility”.

Do you Uber? Well in future you may be doing so in the Uber Hyundai flying taxi. The S-A1 concept is an electric powered aircraft with four rotors for vertical lift off and landing and conceptually able to travel at a maximum speed of 180mph carrying four passengers. Flying autonomously at 2,000ft for a maximum of 60 miles, it may be zipping across a city skyline near you in the not too distant future.

Surveillance related technology seemed to be big this year with multiple brands showcasing security equipment such as cameras, doorbells and motion sensors, which is really rather boring and perhaps only serves to feed the paranoia of those who fear the worst. Loosely connected to this category is one of my favourite products to be announced, a smart mailbox developed by Canadian company Danby, which addresses the common problem of parcels thefts and re-deliveries. The device would assist in reducing the carbon footprint of our propensity to order online for delivery rather than buy in-store. The smart mailbox will apparently go on sale in the UK later this year offering a box which has an anti-theft drop-in slot for smaller packages opened with a code or smartphone app. The app will also be able to place phone calls between a parcel courier and a customer if they need to open the box remotely. I suspect this will get simplified should usage increase amongst users and online retailers.

Samsung Balie device
Samsung’s Ballie – a tennis ball-like robot that rolls around, following its owner with a built-in camera to capture and store ‘special moments’

Another neat headline grabber announced at CES 2020 was the Samsung tennis ball-like robot called Ballie. It beeps and rolls around, following its owner with a built-in camera to capture and store ‘special moments’. Ballie also acts as a fitness assistant, can help with household chores, and activates smart home devices such as robotic vacuums when it thinks something needs to be cleaned. However, in common with the Daleks, it will find stairs a challenge! No release date has been announced, however AI and 5G are the main focus for Samsung in 2020 and not Bixby, as had been much hyped last year. Another product launched by Samsung and to be available in the UK and US later this year is the Sero TV, a rotating TV which connects to your phone. Perfect for Generation Z or those who spend equal time watching on a small device as they do TV. It can be rotated from landscape to portrait and is only available in a 47” 4k screen and estimated to land at £1,200.

Another twist on the laptop came from Dynabook. Majority owned by Sharp and formally Toshiba, the brand that launched the world’s first laptop computer in 1985, Dynabook has delivered another first with the world’s lightest 13.3” laptop. Weighing in at an impressive 0.9kg and sporting a nifty 10th gen Intel Core U-series processor the Portege X30L-G is built using a magnesium-alloy chassis and includes a full-size HDMI. With Gigabit Ethernet, up to 24GB memory and Wi-Fi 6 the device also includes a TPM 2.0 IR camera and fingerprint reader.

Not to be outdone was Lenovo with its ThinkPad X1. A dual/ folding screened laptop with an Intel processor that runs Windows on a 13” screen when unfolded. It is slated to arrive mid 2020 in the US at a price of $2,499 with no word yet on UK pricing.

In fact, there were a rash of foldable screens on display this year and it certainly seems to be a trend not looking to abate soon, making 2020 potentially the start of a flexible decade. Foldable screens were launched on devices from turkish brand TCL and its prototype Foldable Phone (no name as of yet) and Dell with two concepts, the Duet – Foldable Notebook and Ori – a Foldable Device, unfortunately no plans to release these have been indicated. The much publicised Motorola Razr foldable phone was on display which has been available for pre order since December but was set for released during January 2020.

As you can imagine, smart speakers and assistant-enabled products were everywhere at CES 2020. With over 46 third-party Google Assistant-endabled products and 40 Amazon Alexa ones, it made the presence of both brands more notable throughout the show, with Google creating theatre to engage, as they do best.

Google revealed, for the first time, user numbers for the services is at 500 million people in a month and also a whole range of new features enabling users to schedule certain tasks with other connected devices. The features will allow users to, for example, schedule the washing machine to start its cycle at 6pm and also upload contacts from your phone to your Google Nest Hub.

Users will also be able to leave Sticky Notes on the screen for others in the house to see and have the ability to control 20 different types of devices through Google Assistant, which is needed with the increasing third party product partnerships.

Dynabook Portege X30L-G laptop
Dynabook has delivered another first with the world’s lightest 13.3” laptop. The Portege X30L-G weighs in at an impressive 0.9kg and sports a nifty 10th gen Intel Core U-series processor

Now we are all busy people and many time saving devices were on show but two stood out to me. The first will make sure we never need to drink a warm tinny again. The Matrix Juno supercooler is a kitchen countertop device priced at £300 which uses a thermoelectric cooling engine to absorbs heat using electricity known as the Peltier effect. It can cool a can of beer from room temperature to 4oc in two minutes or a bottle of wine to its desired 9oc in five minutes.

The other is the Y-brush toothbrush from FasTeesH designed to clean your teeth in 10 seconds. It’s a mouthguard type contraption packed with bristles that vibrate to clean all your teeth at the same time, arriving in March at around £100. I can’t help but think that making time by speeding up the process of cleaning your teeth has never been a priority for many, the cleaning is what counts.

Not wanting to ignore the most progressive news at CES this year, I think it important to highlight and applaud the CES organisers decision to now formally allow sex tech brands to exhibit at CES in 2020 after many years of exclusion. What this means is that sex tech companies are on the same playing field as all but in particular the established tech giants. However, there are exclusions with those companies exhibiting sexual wellness products having to agree in addition to the CES’s standard contract and rules also a separate sex toy addendum.

Why is this a progressive move? It’s predicted to be a $50 billion industry by 2025 and as taboos tumble and generations embrace a pragmatic approach to sexuality and sex, it’s an industry sector the ‘big players’ may wish to enter and penetrate as a lucrative growth market.

With so many new products announced at CES 2020, what does it mean for retailers? And how must they adapt to innovation across existing and new categories? Experience. Consumers are looking to experience innovation in order to make educated purchasing decisions. Whether that be by seeing a foldable screen in their hand to believe it, engaging with a personal robot to realise its value to them as a user or see that TV rotate 180 degrees, it’s all about the in-store experience a retailer can create where no online retailer can.

Innovation needs to be experienced live, not online and the retailers who can identify with this can cut through to make the tills ring by giving the customer an experience worth coming back for and spreading the word. People are never going to stop shopping on the high street. It’s just the way they shop and where they are do it that has changed. Retail, as an industry, is vital to the global economy, so as we enter a new era of high street retailing, my advice to brands is: Always let consumers ‘live’ the experience and feel the brand.

To read the article on PCR online click here

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Why millennials are ignoring the environmental impact of online shopping

The Drum Blog

As high street retail continues to deplete and more people shop online, increasing to 19% of all retail sales in December 2019, a new report by retail marketing experts Gekko shows there’s increasing consumer concern about the environmental and societal impact of this transition and a marked difference in attitude depending on age.

The younger generation may tout their eco credentials but they are more easily lured into wasteful spending and shopping online with over half (53%) of 18-24 and 46% of 25-34 year olds admitting to being tempted into buying things they don’t need online, with just 19% of canny 55+ year olds saying the same.

More than five times as many 18-24 as 55+ year olds admitted to regularly buying goods online that they regret, so return them – 17% versus just 3%. And 45% of 18-24 and 42% of 25-34 year olds also admitted to being wasteful buying items they didn’t want and failing to return them, compared to only 17% of older consumers.

Surprisingly and despite the high profile of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, younger shoppers make less conscious choices than some may think about the environmental impact of online shopping versus older consumers. In general, 73% of consumers are concerned about excess packaging associated with online purchase and deliveries and 74% are worried about the amount of single use plastic in packaging.

However, just over a third (38%) of 18-24 and 33% of 24-35 year olds are unconcerned about the use of excessive packaging. This compares to 19% of over 55 year olds. And despite it being such a huge national issue and talking point over the last year, 34% of 18-24 year olds and 31% of 24-35 year olds aren’t concerned about single use plastic, versus 19% of over 55 year olds.

Even the gig economy does not seem to be a problem for the generation arguably most likely to be more exploited by it, with 50% of 18 to 24 years olds unconcerned about online shopping increasing it versus 33% of 55+ year olds. And 44% of 18-24 year olds don’t fret about the impact on the High Street and local economy of online shopping, versus 23% of 55+ year olds.

According to Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko: “Younger generations spend more time online and are therefore less inclined to resist that impulse buy. They are far more likely to buy things they regret, order more than one size, items they never intend to keep and send the goods back, but this convenience has an environmental impact.

“The future of the High Street is a vital societal component and offers a more ethical approach to shopping. If you can try before you buy there’s less transport, packaging and waste without the need to order multiple sizes or colours of the same item. The High Street sustains the heart of a community, no shops means no point heading to the High Street – there’s only so much coffee a community can afford or want to drink.”

Please visit The Drum to read the full article.

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Do millennials ignore the environmental impact of online shopping?

Bdaily blog

As high street retail continues to deplete and more people shop online, increasing to 19% of all retail sales in December 2019*, a new report by retail marketing experts Gekko shows there’s increasing consumer concern about the environmental and societal impact of this transition and a marked difference in attitude depending on age.

The younger generation may tout their eco credentials but they are more easily lured into wasteful spending and shopping online with over half (53%) of 18-24 and 46% of 25-34 year olds admitting to being tempted into buying things they don’t need online, with just 19% of canny 55+ year olds saying the same.

More than five times as many 18-24 as 55+ year olds admitted to regularly buying goods online that they regret, so return them – 17% versus just 3%. And 45% of 18-24 and 42% of 25-34 year olds also admitted to being wasteful buying items they didn’t want and failing to return them, compared to only 17% of older consumers.

Surprisingly and despite the high profile of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, younger shoppers make less conscious choices than some may think about the environmental impact of online shopping versus older consumers. In general, 73% of consumers are concerned about excess packaging associated with online purchase and deliveries and 74% are worried about the amount of single use plastic in packaging.

However, just over a third (38%) of 18-24 and 33% of 24-35 year olds are unconcerned about the use of excessive packaging. This compares to 19% of over 55 year olds. And despite it being such a huge national issue and talking point over the last year, 34% of 18-24 year olds and 31% of 24-35 year olds aren’t concerned about single use plastic, versus 19% of over 55 year olds.

Even the gig economy does not seem to be a problem for the generation arguably most likely to be more exploited by it, with 50% of 18 to 24 years olds unconcerned about online shopping increasing it versus 33% of 55+ year olds. And 44% of 18-24 year olds don’t fret about the impact on the High Street and local economy of online shopping, versus 23% of 55+ year olds.

According to Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko: “Younger generations spend more time online and are therefore less inclined to resist that impulse buy. They are far more likely to buy things they regret, order more than one size, items they never intend to keep and send the goods back, but this convenience has an environmental impact.

“The future of the High Street is a vital societal component and offers a more ethical approach to shopping. If you can try before you buy there’s less transport, packaging and waste without the need to order multiple sizes or colours of the same item. The High Street sustains the heart of a community, no shops means no point heading to the High Street – there’s only so much coffee a community can afford or want to drink.”

To read the full article please visit BDaily.

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Independent retailers: It’s tough at the top

ERT Blog

As all retailers know, seeing in a new year is not the time to put your feet up and relax, it’s a time to reflect on what’s worked, how to survive the January sales without giving stuff away and think about how to keep winning in 2020. There’s a whole heap of independent retailers thriving so let’s take a few moments to sprinkle a little new year magic and hopefully inspire even more to success.

When independent retailers are thinking about customers, store, product and marketing it can be overwhelming, let alone trying to apply innovative thinking to tried and tested strategies. I’ve consciously taken price out of the equation – we all know it’s impossible for independent retailers to compete on price with the behemoths like Amazon – so value for money, reflected in customers, store, product and marketing – not the cheapest should be the mantra of independent retailers. So how do independent retailers do this?

Let’s start with customers. Independent retailers should know their customers better than any multiple retailer ever can. Do you know what they are buying and when and if not, you should be seriously asking yourself why? And if you do know, are you fleet of foot enough to be agile with your merchandising strategy in order to stock the goods that your customers want?

Advanced technology solutions aren’t what’s needed here, your POS will be able to provide basic information about your customers and all you need to do is let your team do the talking and stalking.

Listen, talk to and watch your customers and learn from their behaviour. When was the last time you asked your customers what type of products they’d like to see in the shop? How would they improve the shop? Making the customer feel like it’s their shop is something the larger brands can never do – and use that to increase product sale through. And think about whether your customer service is worth bragging about! Remembering what your customers bought is the start of a rewarding relationship.

Do everything you can to turn your shop into a destination and take inspiration from what the larger brands are doing, especially in their concept stores. Your shop needs to be an enjoyable experience with an element of discovery every time your customers go there. You wouldn’t eat at the same restaurant multiple times if the menu never changed. If you are selling electrical goods, people want your expertise and experience to buy products they know will be fit for purpose.

Sell the solution and impart practical advice rather than just selling products in isolation. Obvious, but something an online experience can’t replicate. Make sure you know your products and the market and that you communicate this intimate knowledge to potential customers – they don’t know what they aren’t told – and provide an environment in which they feel welcome. Even if it’s a small shop, there’s still no reason why you can’t provide two chairs and a coffee machine to encourage people to sit down and discuss with you their needs – again, increasing sale through and customer loyalty.

And then there’s the marketing strategy, and I don’t just mean ‘brand’ – you all know that a consistent brand experience is important for brand re-call. This is where I think independent retailers have an opportunity to think bigger.

We asked 2,000 UK adults if they thought independent retailers should collaborate to come up with innovate ideas like sharing shop space and marketing costs to cut down on their individual overheads and 73 per cent thought it was a great idea. Every shop on the high street is in the same position, yet despite the current challenges each is still operating in silo.

Get to know your neighbours, seek collective advice and behave like a group rather than individual businesses. Collaborate to organise customer events as well as on marketing drives to reach a wider audience. Joint special events, discount schemes and offering a local delivery service and recycling throughout the year, not only at key times, will all help in developing your customer base.

Independent retailers are the beating heart of our communities and have a huge amount to offer. Collectively helping each other to apply some innovative techniques will hopefully improve the fortunes of many.

To read the full article please visit ERT.

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Live the Experience and Feel the Brand

BrandingMag Blog

Henry Matisse once said “creativity takes courage” and we’ve certainly seen a lot of creative bravery from brands that now have an incredible marketing canvas on which to paint. It’s a great time to be a marketer, leveraging opportunity and enabling people to immerse and engage in what a brand has to offer. And this has seen some incredible business transformations, with brands rising out of the ashes to new-found fame whilst others find themselves, sadly, unable to capitalize.

Let’s take Gucci, for example, and think about where it would be without social media. Partnerships with the upper echelon of society and celebrities were no longer cutting it – Gucci is a beautiful, classic, heritage brand that had lost its relevance. But wait a few years, bring in the influencers, and Gucci is massively cool again. If Billie Eilish wears it, then who am I to judge?! And, of course, this is all backed up by expensive, gorgeous, and glamorous ATL activations.

However, one thing that these currently successful brands all appear to have invested in is the ‘brand experience store’ — and bringing marketing to life on the shop floor. If you’re going to buy a Gucci handbag that you see on Instagram, Facebook or TV, you’re certainly going to want to touch and feel it before you buy it. For some people, it may be like buying a high-street bag but for others this purchase will be a naughty bit of extravagance or a once-in-a-blue-moon treat.

Creative brand artistry needs to live in the ‘real world’ for consumers and to maintain longevity for a brand. Consumers need to be able to feel, see, touch, and engage with a brand and its products to truly buy into it, not just for one purchase. So, with brick and mortar retail struggling globally, it’s important that we hero its role for brands, consumers, the community, and society in general. In the UK, 78% of purchases are still made in physical retail — a figure that astonishes most people.

Retailers may have axed 85,000 UK jobs in the last year, according to the British Retail Consortium, and yes, it’s tragic, but a lot of the blame lies with those brands that didn’t have the agility to reimagine their business models quick enough, with too many stores and not enough experience. But juxtaposed against this — and interestingly alongside fashion and beauty brands which you’d expect — it’s the ‘technology super brands’ doing brand experience really well. The exact brands you think would shy away from a traditional retail presence are sharing their creative artistry and putting the customer experience at the core of their strategy.

Brands like Samsung, Microsoft, and Apple have invested heavily in their experience stores in prime retail sites. These stores are cool and innovative — mixing retail and leisure — showcasing full product suites, curating ambiance with luxury lounges, and most importantly ‘talent’. Those people who work on the shop floor, greet your customers, represent your brand and product portfolio every day and who drive sale through your product by creating interactions that are rewarding for everyone.

It was recently reported in The Times that Amazon, once deemed as fully responsible for the demise of the high street, is discreetly building a team of British property experts amid speculation that it will expand its physical presence. So, if the most successful online business, whose Amazon Go and Whole Foods brands are examples of physical retail, believes in bricks and mortar as part of their commercial strategy, then surely everyone else must?

It becomes too easy to believe the self-fulfilling prophecy that online shopping is perfect, and the high street is a busted flush. So, the moral of this story? Brands can spend as much money as they like creating extraordinary marketing artistry, but at some point this has to live in the real world, with real brand advocates in-store, selling your products, making the tills ring, and giving the customer an experience worth coming back for and spreading the word. People are never going to stop shopping on the high street; It’s just the way and where they are doing it that has changed. Retail, as an industry, is vital to the global economy, so as we enter a new era of brick and mortar retailing, my advice to brands is: Always let consumers ‘live’ the experience and feel your brand.

To read the full article please visit Branding Mag.

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Can collaborative retail save our high streets? Consumers urge independent retailers to merge to survive

PCR Blog actual

New research from Gekko has revealed that 73% of UK consumers think independent retailers should collaborate.

The ‘Collaborative Retail’ report features comments from over 2,000 UK adults, and has found that many believe independent retailers should “think creatively and work together” to avoid going to the wall and revitalise beleaguered high streets.

In the report, nearly three quarters said they think independent retailers should collaborate to come up with innovate ideas like sharing shop space and marketing costs, cutting down on their individual overheads. Most popular ideas for shop collaborations included independent shoe and clothing retailers, favoured by 71% of consumers, followed by book shops and cafes 68% and bakeries and greengrocers 65%.

Top reasons given by consumers for suggesting collaborations are supporting the high street (64%), supporting local businesses (63%), choice (56%), convenience (52%) and an enhanced shopping experience (48%).

Alongside collaborations, nearly 90% of consumers thought it was important large national retail brands roll out their new store designs and concepts to regions other than just the major high street destinations. Over 50% said they would visit their local high street more if brands did this.

Nearly three quarters (70%) of consumers said they were concerned about the impact of online sales on the high street and the local economy, but felt that the high street still had a major role to play with benefits such as ‘try before you buy’ (62%), browsing and leisure (55%), buy and takeaway (51%) and the opportunity to visit multiple shops (40%).

“We cannot just sit back and watch our high streets continue to degrade. Our research clearly shows that UK consumers are worried about the future of the high street and the impact its demise will have on their communities. They would love to see more independent retail collaborations and believe this is a very exciting way to inject life back into the high street and it does make sense,” commented Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko.

“However, this approach to retail requires new and imaginative ideas from Government that support the legal and financial infrastructure of such initiatives. Our high streets do have a lot to offer so Government and retailers need to work together to make it an enticing proposition and lure people back.”

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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