Tag Archives: Marketing

Retailers, It’s time to be relevant to consumers

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What’s happening to the British High Street? It is facing record levels of store closures in the first half of 2018. According to research by PWC, on average, 14 stores a day, 4,400 in the first 6 months, are closing their doors with 85,000 jobs lost in the first 9 months of this year. The industries most affected by the closures are fashion and electrical stores. Not far behind them are pubs and restaurants. There are few brands that haven’t been affected with coffee Shops and ice cream parlours accounting to the small amount of store openings.

As a nation of shoppers, why are we turning our back on the high street?

It is predicated that due to the large amount of choice now in the consumer’s hands the way they shop will change. Online shopping is predicated to account for 25% of non-food sales by 2022 which is a 5% increase on what it is today. The consumer now has the ability to shop across a variety of platforms from the high street, e-commerce, m-commerce and social commerce.

The choice to shop this way will increase through generations that grew up with the internet at their fingertips coming of age, working and having disposable income to spend. The generation that grew up with ordering something in the evening and having it delivered to their door the next day may not see the attraction of the high street. As shops close their closest functioning high street might get further away and less appealing to travel to when after a few clicks their product is brought to their door. The impact of online is a self-fulfilling prophecy and once the heart of a community is gone, it’s very difficult to entice it back as many councils are finding Public Houses, Restaurants are also affected due to digitisation – if you can order Italian food to your door are you going to leave to go to a restaurant? In-Home Leisure – If you have a huge TV/Projector, top of the line speakers, streaming service are you going to pay £30 to go to the cinema? Or go to watch the Football in a pub? Supermarkets interestingly do not seem to be affected at the level, perhaps due to people buying their own food to cook at home in line with changing dietary trends and therefore becoming more conscious of eating out?

The impact of the changes being posed may be too late. So what’s being done?

The introduction of a review for all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less, intended to cut their business rates bill by one third is a positive step realising an annual saving of up to £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.

In some locations this is perhaps too late when you consider the vacant properties on the diminishing high street. The PWC research highlights that London has the highest change between closures and openings with Wales having the lowest. The numbers might be big for London but when you consider the size of some of the high streets in Wales compared to those in London -22 shops could be the closure of a whole High Street.

It also does not help those retailers, multiple or independent, with a larger footprint. For stores which anchor the high street such as Debenhams, HoF, M&S etc. the reduction in business rates for these retailers by local authorities, delivers a longer term tangible wealth to the community.

“This government constantly refers to a ‘dividend’ for all, which is used entirely in the wrong context, as there’s no dividend for communities whose high street have already been decimated and resemble ghost towns.”

What can retailers do for themselves?

The industries that were least affected by the closures such as Ice cream parlours and coffee shops could be down to the public still enjoying the little pleasures in life. It could also be that the brands have realised that consumers are now looking for personalised experiences. Millennials seek out experiences and value experience over material items. Those retailers serving the Instagram generation are offering them locations, products and experiences that are picture worthy and have bragging rights. Acknowledging these trends and the new way people shop are perhaps the key differentiators that have kept them from closure and continue trading successfully.

Although the numbers, for many, paint a negative picture for considered purchases there is still time for them to turn it around. Our research has highlighted that over a third of shoppers still prefer to go to bricks and mortar shops to buy their technology. There are still consumers who want to feel and touch products before purchasing. They are also looking for advice from staff and an immersive experience which some retailers do recognise however sadly many do not and are destined to failure unless they acknowledge and change soon. The investment made in retail by many brands is treatment to this consumer desire.

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First steps for Mothercare: will it save the troubled brand?

Mothercare blog

A couple of weeks ago British retailer Mothercare released its first significant ad campaign in a decade entitled ‘First Steps’ intended to capture those first moments parents experience. This campaign comes following the news that the retailer will close 50 of its 139 stores by June 2019 with 900 potential job losses. This decision is driven by the fact that the longstanding brand experienced pre-tax loss of almost £73 million for the financial year to March 2018 and it’s just announced blooming half-year losses. So will the First Steps campaign assist to turn the retailers’ fortunes round?

The campaign must be applauded for being very ‘real’ -using images and models which resonate perfectly in the ‘real’ world. Avoiding the Instagram perfection and clichés many may be led to believe are indicative of motherhood and parenting, it has a comforting reality of life across any demographic and nationality. However, for me, it doesn’t speak to a wider audience and as a ‘turnaround’ campaign, the message needs to be broader to attract all pockets to come and spend in-store.

The ads are articulated beautifully, drawing on the raw emotion of being a parent and it will resonate with parents or those expecting, no doubt drawing them into or back to the brand. However, the ad seems to have forgotten people who aren’t in the same position, perhaps an aunt, uncle, godparent or friend who has not yet or has no desire to experience parenting, whom therefore may not share the same emotional connection.

They are also potential shoppers, some may argue with more disposable income, who also need to be attracted to the brand to spend. The wider the appeal of the ad, the more it increases the odds to attract shoppers of any kind. Surely, this should be the objective of this desperately needed turnaround campaign which is all about increasing sales.

In the UK the average annual birth rate is 670,000 births (Office of National Statistics) and the market value for this sector is £7.3bn and estimated to grow by 2021 +2.3% in clothing and 4.4% in Footwear (Euromonitor) and research from 2017 indicates that 64% of shoppers prefer to touch and feel products in this category, 48% prefer to research products in-store resulting in 58% of sales created in physical retail (Pragmarket). The opportunity for growth is therefore evident for any retailer in this sector, especially an established brand like Mothercare, as while it’s unlikely that the nation will stop giving birth, people can be influenced where we shop.

The customer experience must reflect the emotional journey the brand takes its audience through in these ads and translate it onto the shop floor. The creative and sentiment that’s applied to the ad, the real and caring traits it communicates must be applied to staff, the store layout, its ranging, staff training and the advice they give to a new and likely tired parent or complete novice when shopping for infants.

A clear message which translates from ATL to the in-store experience is crucial to ensure a clear measurement of ATL and to convert awareness to revenue. A successful ATL may well bring customers back but a poor customer experience may make that crucial first hello, the last.

And here’s the real dichotomy for Mothercare, do they invest more money in the remaining estate to make the shops a truly engaging experience and destination for people or leave them wondering what their role is in the ‘real world’ – I know which strategy my money is on!

For the full article visit The Drum

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How new businesses and small businesses can fire up their retail sales and list listing

Fourth Source BlogThe innovation of technology products is developing at a ferocious pace and there’s a gadget for everything and everyone these days.  This has resulted in a very competitive retail environment both on and offline with a continuous flow of new products being launched to market.

However, it is important to note that much of the new tech coming on to the market is originating from innovative start-up brands who may or may not have the marketing muscle or budgets to compete at the same level as established brands.  For example, brands like Tile who have a limited portfolio of products but are bringing innovative tracking technology to the smart home category. Innovation from these types of company is fueling this exciting technological transformation, but we must make sure that these products get to see the rabbit so to speak.  Without brand recall in retail, many brands get lost in the noise those with ‘bigger’ budgets are able to shout about. Your route to market should not merely rely on the big online retailers to show consumers.

Businesses spend time, money and energy pitching to buyers but many fail to prepare properly for when the listing finally gets the green light which in most instances can take months rather than weeks as many brands hope. It may also only be a sample of a retailers estate in which the brand gets the opportunity to prove the viability of their product.  Once a retailer presses the button a brand must fit with the retailers’ timelines and expectations and retailers are savvy operators, not to be underestimated when understanding what their shoppers like. So when the listing begins is when businesses really need to move product, especially in traditional brick and mortar stores.

Some brands are astute enough to have created a strong online presence and awareness already via their own platforms or investment in an advertising campaign but for many building brand awareness and driving conversation really starts with retail.  So, what’s the best retail strategy for a start-up technology brand?

Firstly, don’t just focus online, according to the ONS online sales still only account for 18% of overall retail spend.  And especially for electrical / technology products, which are often a considered purchase our own research shows that people like to go in-store, touch and feel the products, see them working in situ and get advice from store staff on what they should be purchasing.

And despite what many brands may think, you cannot rely on purely the store to sell your products as you will be just one of many established brands in a crowded category or a category of one which no one has heard of or understands fully. Your carefully crafted marketing messages and USPs can easily get lost in translation.  It’s not like an own brand store where everything is within your control but you can take collaborative steps to help how your brand is marketed in third party retail.

Depending on the store and deal being negotiated pick your store strategy carefully.  For example, you may or may not have the option to be in an entire estate and you may have more success and sell through picking off specific stores that attract more of your audience profile. However, which stores you end up is not necessarily your choice but possibly being in fewer stores can make things easier to manage in the short term to establish store presence as sales increase.

This is one of the most crucial times for a start-up brand and getting momentum can make or break a business. Invest in working with a partner, an agency or individual consultant that strategically works as an extension of your sales and marketing strategy and enables your limited resources to focus on the ‘bigger picture’, making the right connections in store – connecting your brand with both the sales staff and consumers alike. Don’t leave it to chance or risk being ignored.

Work with the store to create an experience and we’re not talking here a large scale costly production.  Merchandise well and manage the retail space so consumers can learn, look, touch and interact with the product effortlessly. But most importantly, develop a relationship with management and shop floor staff.  Show them that you’re a brand that means business and is going to invest in them as a partner. Seeding product with selected store staff is common practice and enables them to talk sincerely about your product based on actual usage and therefore encouraging them to become an evangelist of your brand.   You ideally want to create a store full of influencers who are willing you to succeed so charm them, train them and reward them.

Innovation is fueling this exciting technological transformation, must make sure that these products get into the hands of retail store advisors who are capable of selling it and ultimately into the consumers’ basket. Considered purchases take time and an approach that resonates with a consumer’s lifestyle and need. Brands should not just be reliant on the big online retailers who are not the panacea many brands perceive them to be. Marketing online is another Pandora’s box we can discuss next time.

For the full article please visit Fourth Source

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GIVE THEM A RETAIL EXPERIENCE THAT’S WORTH THE TRIP

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You will convert more customers if you sell them a ‘solution’ that solves their problem rather than a product at a price that may be cheaper online anyway, says Daniel Todaro, managing director at field marketing agency Gekko

Let’s be honest, it’s a challenge out there in retail and every one of us shudders when we see superb businesses like Maplin hanging up the ‘closing down’ signs.

It’s now more important than ever to offer a solution-based sales model to your customers, converting as many as possible of those precious shoppers who take the time to visit your store.

Whatever their motivation for coming into your store, consumers are looking for a solution to a lifestyle problem. As a retailer, it’s within your power to provide this solution, offering consumers the right product for their needs and reinforcing why traditional retail is still the best platform to buy consumer electronic products.

Overall online sales were up 13.9 per cent year on year in January, with footfall down 6.6 per cent and it was almost 12 per cent down in London and the South-East.

When you look at the CE category, this was only up 4.4 per cent online, suggesting that shoppers are more hesitant to go online for big-ticket, considered purchases.

That first face-to-face interaction is critical. Sales staff should be asking key questions of consumers to discover why they are in the store, their needs, budget and motivations, in order to create the foundations of a solution-sales approach.

Is your shopper looking to buy new, upgrade or has something broken down? What do they currently have? What features do they require? Where will it be used? How often? Is it a primary or secondary device? What is their preferred price range? Do they need it installed? A customer wants reassurance that the product will meet their needs.

It is important to ensure your staff can demonstrate the product and explain the benefits. And don’t ignore what the shopper tells you, so that the features link naturally to their needs. This could make all the difference to their decision to purchase.

If shoppers can see how the product will solve their unique ‘problem’, they will go away satisfied and come back for more. Online will never be able to provide this level of service, so retailers need to take control of their destiny and provide consumers with an experience that was worth the trip.

Gekko’s OnePoll ‘influencer’ research has conclusively proved that ‘50 per cent off’ shoppers still want to head to a store to see, touch and experience a product in person. Now you’ve got them in your store, you should also know that our research showed that 35 per cent are influenced by recommendations from shop staff.

So the training you give your staff is possibly the most important part of achieving effective solution-based sales. Imagine how great it would be to convert that 35 per cent. If a shopper has confidence in a salesperson who focuses on their needs as a whole, rather than just on a particular product, they are more likely to purchase. You will instil confidence in your shopper and also build that all-important relationship that converts them into a customer who will keep coming back.

If you don’t believe me, the research also showed that that only 10 per cent of customers were influenced by celebrity endorsement, or 15 per cent by bloggers, etc. This is because there is no tangible engagement with, or as much trust in, these opinions to create a meaningful relationship. Compare this with the 71 per cent who are influenced by word of mouth from friends and family. The back-and-forth conversation needed between shopper and salesperson for solution selling is vital for building the trust needed to buy based on their recommendation.

This underlines the importance of having well-trained staff that know the products inside out and the lifestyle issues that each product helps address. We work with our brands to understand what strategy works by measuring sales before, during and after. One example from a connected-home partner confirmed that the number of units sold in three store groups in the 10 days after a briefing and merchandising campaign increased by 45 per cent. But 10 days later, sales dropped marginally, as staff didn’t continue the solution-selling techniques they’d been trained in.

The need to retain and continue the solution-based approach highlights the need for regular training and is proven to convert your shoppers into customers today, tomorrow and long into the future.

Visit ERTOnline to view the original article

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New study by Gekko reveals that SMART HOME TECH IS LEAVING NOT SO SMART BRITS BAFFLED

The results from a recent study this week by field marketing agency Gekko entitledSmart Home Shopper’ reveals that more than half of Brits have purchased smart technology for their homes – but have no idea how to use it.  The survey by was conducted among 1000 UK consumers between that ages of 18 and 55+.

The study which investigated smart home purchasing behaviour found that 56 percent of adults have bought the latest must-have smart home tech, including WIFI controlled security cameras, heating systems and speakers – but have been left scratching their heads when they get them home.  In fact, three in ten consumers regretted buying at least one or more items of smart home technology because it proved so difficult to get up and running.

Nearly a third of adults say they never read instructions or manuals when they buy a new piece of kit, while 21 percent admit that although they have a love of tech, they are intimidated by the complexities of it.  Thirteen percent of consumers who have invested in smart home technology said they couldn’t get all their devices to connect – which is the whole point of having a ‘smart home.’  More than one in ten have used a piece of smart home tech once and never again.

The trickiest bit of kit to install was security equipment (45%), including app-controlled doorbells, motion sensors and CCTV, however 28 percent couldn’t get their smart lighting to work and 35 per cent came unstuck when installing their smart heating system. Twelve percent claimed poor WIFI connection made installation difficult and 15 percent confessed to lacking any technical ability.

Surprisingly and despite its current popularity, 30 per cent of adults that have purchased a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home don’t understand all its functionality.

Those people that bought their smart home tech from a bricks and mortar shop did so to play, touch and feel the product (40%), get advice from sales staff (30%) and a demonstration (30%).

Dan Todaro, MD, Gekko comments: “It’s clear from our study that smart home tech is popular, but people don’t know how to fully utilise smart home tech to meet their lifestyle needs – whether that’s convenience, money saving, leisure time or learning.

This is a great opportunity for retailers, especially bricks and mortar to improve the customer experience within the smart home tech category by having an environment where consumers can ‘play’ and a retail team that understand each product in detail and can match consumer need to product performance.    By solution selling it’s a win win for the customer and the retailer – the retailer can enrich the sale by demonstrating the whole product portfolio and functionality and the customer gets a product that’s fit for purpose.

Traditional retailers have never been under so much financial pressure to adapt to today’s market conditions, so they must use what they’ve got to make every customer visit worthwhile.”

Other key statistics:

Key Stats – Pain:

  • 50% of consumers invested in smart home tech purely because they like trying new gadgets and 30% to save money
  • 54% of consumers think smart home tech is too expensive
  • 17% of consumers get stressed out trying to operate their smart home tech

Key Stats – Passion:

  • Consumers tend to use their smart home speakers for playing music (56%), getting answers to questions (46%), getting news & weather updates (35%) and making notes (27%)

Key Stats – Purchasing:

Thirty Seven per cent of consumers went to bricks and mortar stores to by their smart home tech so that they could play, touch and feel the product (40%), get advice from sales staff (30%) and a demonstration (30%)

 

Read Gekko research here

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New survey by Gekko reveals retail staff are more influential than celebrities and vloggers

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The results from a recent survey published today by field marketing agency Gekko entitled ‘Shopper Influencers’ reveals that the bricks and mortar retail environment continues to play a significant role in influencing shoppers purchasing decisions across both general and high value goods. The survey by OnePoll was conducted among 2000 UK consumers between 18 and 55+.

Even among today’s tech savvy 18 to 24 years old’s more than 40% prefer to head in-store to see, touch and experience a product before buying, rising to 58% for the over 55’s. Most surprising is that 38% of 18 to 24 year old’s want a personal service and recommendation from in-store staff, the highest among all of the age categories. Only a small proportion of 18 to 24 year old shoppers are swayed by celebrity endorsement (18%) or the opinion of vlogger’s and bloggers (28%).

The influence of friends (70%) and online reviews (71%) among this age group is significantly higher in making product purchase decisions and this is consistent across all age groups. And when it comes to high value items such as TV’s, home appliances and luxury items, the trend continues with online reviews, personal recommendation and the in-store experience rating as the most important influences across all age categories.

When it comes to looking at the key influencers across product sectors there are some notable trends: 

  • Within the tech sector, online reviews from other people are still heavily relied upon (38%) among 18 to 24 year olds but interestingly this is also the case for all age groups with (35%) for over 55’s.
  • Similar to tech, for home appliances, user reviews rate highly across all groups (32%) 18 to 24 year olds, rising up to (46%) among 45 to 54s.
  • For beauty and fashion, reviews from other people score highly across all age groups but in this sector, unlike the others, the influence of bloggers and vloggers is much more highly rated, although only among the younger 18-24 generation (32%) for beauty and (23%) for fashion.

When asked what advertising has influenced a considered purchase none of the mainstream advertising channels were cited as influential: just 7.5% for TV, 8.7% for website, 4.6% for social media, 3% for billboard and 2% for newspaper and print. Advertising in-situ within the retail environment however was rated the key influencing factor at 19%.

Daniel Todaro, Managing Director of Gekko, said: “According to the ONS, while online sales continue to rise, e-commerce as a percentage of total retail sales July to August 2017 was still only 16.4%.  The findings of this study show that the shop floor is clearly still winning in considered purchases, therefore marketers need to invest in making the experience as good as it can be. When a shopper is ready to make a purchase they will look for advice and guidance from people who have experience of using the product be that friends, family, other users or experts in-store. Consumers today are much more savvy and recognise that celebrities and vloggers have been paid for their endorsement, while time and money spent working with staff on the shop floor will in fact pay for itself through category development and increased sales at a higher average sales price, making your marketing work harder.”

Read the article here

Source: Gekko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Sport sponsorship: the good, the bad and the politics

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Sponsoring major sporting events on an international playing field can bring rewards to brands. It’s any marketer’s dream and brings boundless opportunities for brands. There is return, beyond the cache of being associated with such high profile events. After all, there is the index-linked effect on sales, which can’t be ignored, as well as the value of a brand’s stock and overall stature in today’s economic climate.

You only have to tot up the figures to see how lucrative this market is. Adidas claims that the London 2012 Olympics boosted its sales, while Kantar reports that from 2004 through 2013, the Super Bowl game has generated $2 billion of network advertising sales from more than 130 marketers.

However, while sponsorship can give brands a chance to promote themselves on a global stage, as well as enter new markets, they must be prepared for the politics too. The 2008 Beijing Olympics saw sponsors targeted for their association with the event, with protesters putting pressure on them over China’s human rights record. There was also much scrutiny spotlighted on the London 2012 over brands that were not aligned with the Olympic values. Heineken and Cadbury, McDonalds and Coca-Cola bore the brunt of the negativity in light of not being wholly associated with good health. When people took to the streets in Rio over the Brazilian Governments preparations for the 2014 World Cup, the media turned to the sponsors for their response.

Now, it’s Sochi where some sponsors have found themselves having to handle difficult political questions over human rights and the government’s controversial law banning so-called gay ‘propaganda’. These are brands that simply signed up to sponsor one of the biggest events in the world, and presumably support the ethics of the Olympics movement. When McDonald’s started using #CheersToSochi on Twitter to cheer on athletes, protestors hijacked the hashtag.

Now when you search for the hashtag you’ll see reams of fiery messages directed at sponsors. Commentators have used the same McDonald’s branded Twitter feed to attack Visa, Procter & Gamble and other long-time Olympic sponsors that have issued statements backing a non-discriminatory games — but stopped short of condemning Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” laws. AT&T, a Team USA sponsor but not a global Olympics backer, has been the only brand with official Olympic ties to publicly condemn Russia’s laws.

Many brands take a ‘politics-neutral’ approach, avoiding taking sides on controversial or political issues. Silence can often be golden if a brand doesn’t have anything relevant to say or the credibility to say it. However, when they’re involved in massive sponsorships, it becomes very difficult for brands to maintain this position. And when they don’t respond they’re deemed as complicit anyhow. Or they could be like Google and change their Doodle to the colours of the rainbow.  

But regardless of whether a brand decides to jump headfirst into the political ring or stay well clear, if they do so they must be prepared for the consequences.  The reality is that we need these global brands to support the global events they sponsor. They serve to inspire us, our children, our nations and create a bubble where for several weeks of the year, the world unites around one event together in the name of sport. We should never ignore the issues but for the sake of the athletes, perhaps put the politics to one side and get on with the games and applaud human endeavour made possible with the support of brand sponsorship.

By Dan Todaro, MD, Gekko

Read the full article at http://www.utalkmarketing.com/Pages/Article.aspx?ArticleID=23636&Title=Sport_sponsorship:_the_good,_the_bad_and_the_politics

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Google Endorsements: Industry reaction

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This weekend Google announced its latest advertising platform – Shared Endorsements. Similar to the soon-to-be defunct Sponsored Stories option on Facebook, Google’s Shared Endorsements will pull in users’ names and profile pictures in adverts, ranging from Google Play store recommendations to adverts for restaurants.

Following the announcement The Drum asked a cross section of marketers what the introduction of Shared Endorsements could mean for advertisers and what lessons Google could learn from Facebook’s mistakes.

It’s no surprise that Facebook’s Sponsored Stories didn’t meet with vast amounts of success. So how can Google’s Shared Endorsements avoid that trap?

The trick is to offer consumers exactly what they want. No-one likes to be bombarded with messages that are completely irrelevant to their tastes and buying behaviours. Think how frustrating it would be to be marketed a beer ad if you only drink wine.

Nonetheless, the potential this offers to marketers is huge, with a massive, global audience who will potentially see their ad.

Therein lies its key factor – its reach. Google’s audience is so vast that it outstrips all other forms of advertising. What brands must ensure, however, is that the content that they are putting in front of people actually appeals to them. After all, a targeted campaign will always be more effective than a blanket approach.

read more at: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/01/14/google-endorsements-industry-reaction-digitaslbi-havas-mec-iprospect-and-more

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Can Anything Be Done To Save The Ailing PC Sector?

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Following what was described as the longest decline in history back in the summer, PC shipments are now at a five year low – and it shows no signs of abating, despite the traditionally fruitful festive period impending.

Steve Jobs, sitting on stage at a conference in 2007 with Gates, first raised the idea of a “post-PC” era, a time when the traditional PC would no longer be the centre of a user’s universe. Instead, more mobile, function-specific devices would come into play, and would make computers much more personal than the PC. The proposal of a post-PC era was certainly in the interests of Apple, but the vision would quickly come to fruition with the iPhone kicking a smartphone revolution; one that would also include such vendors as Samsung and HTC, as well as bringing Google’s Android operating system to the fore.

Flash-forward to Christmas 2013 and fewer consumers have a new PC on their wish-list this year?  Gartner research shows the desktop and laptop market in Western Europe is declining even faster than expected and would likely continue to do so. The UK has been hit especially hard, making for particularly grim reading following a brutal 2012. But should this be a surprise?

Well, we can point to frugality as one reason, with consumers and businesses unwilling to trade in and upgrade their current PCs until absolutely necessary (with Windows 8 no doubt having an impact on this decision), but tablets and smartphones are taking huge chunks out of PC market share.

This is evidenced in no clearer detail than the contrasting fortunes of Lenovo and Acer in recent weeks. Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC maker, has been focusing on mobile devices amid a slowing global PC market. The result? A 36% jump in profits. Meanwhile Acer, the world’s fourth largest computer manufacturer and has been hit by further losses.

Ofcom’s Communications Market Report points to how that is playing out in terms of usage. When consumers are active users of smartphones (now at 51% penetration in the UK) and tablets (now double the penetration of 2012 at 24%, 56% of which is iPad), those consumers are swaying away from using desktop PCs and laptops. Our smaller, less expensive and Internet-friendly alternatives are taking over. It’s perhaps too soon for this Christmas now, but brands in this space need to adapt quickly.

With new brands entering the tablet market all the time, trying to grab a slice of the fortunes (Tesco’s Hudl the latest in a long line), it has driven a tremendous level of choice and value to the consumer; enabling it to become a cost-effective option for the vast majority of consumers.

Moreover, the connectedness provided by our smartphones and tablets also mean that we’re using our PCs significantly less. Whether it be shopping, banking, socialising or e-mail, the strain is now spread across three of four devices and with less functions to be relied upon, the PC upgrade more often than not will be bottom of the priority list. With lower usage means a longer product life too.

However, despite the market shrinkage, I believe there is still a place for PCs in people’s lives. But they have to quickly find and define a new purpose. If e-mail, shopping, banking and even TV-streaming are to be handled by tablets, then in addition to the latter, photography, gaming and design can be the new points of emphasis. Likewise, how can manufacturers tailor their offering to their business audience?

The critical issue when looking at the dip in shipments is that the lost unit sales are largely at the lower end of the PC market. Cheap, commodity-spec, throw-away boxes powered by low-end chips have been made obsolete by tablets. Rather than attempting to be as multi-purpose as possible should PC manufacturers look to consolidate function and emphasise value within USPs.

PCs may never regain the market share they once enjoyed, but there is still plenty of space for them to exist in a complementary role —more portable, more energy-efficient and in a range of new form factors. Whether targeting businesses or the consumer, the PC remains an integrated part of the user’s wider digital consumption habits, becoming the hub of your digital life which tablets and smartphones complement as satellite devices.

By Daniel Todaro, MD, Gekko

read the full article at http://www.techbubbles.co.uk/blog/can-anything-be-done-to-save-the-ailing-pc-sector/

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