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Giving students a helping hand

Considering the current economic climate and the way our employment market is changing, it’s hugely important that we’re aware of our teenagers and how we can help them get to where they want to be in the future.

Things aren’t as simple as they were a few years ago. Now University graduates and people who choose not to go on to higher education alike are increasingly finding themselves without jobs. This only looks set to get worse in the coming years.

After reading an article from In-Store News, I’m feeling much more optimistic – it seems the Government are taking positive steps to try and increase students’ skill sets.

From September 2010 secondary school and college students will be given the opportunity to try out a brand new diploma course in retail business and marketing. Pupils will be able to choose to study retail business alongside their GCSE’s and A Levels, giving them an advantage over others once they have left school.

The qualification, implemented by Skillsmart Retail, will allow students to learn the ropes of working within retail, and offer on the job experience which will prove invaluable when starting a career within the sector.

Stores such as House of Fraser, Boots and John Lewis have shown their support for the upcoming course and are looking forward to getting started, offering students work placements within stores.

Not only will the course provide us with experienced and well informed starters, it will help to raise the profile of retail as a career choice, which is great news for the retail industry!

Let’s hope the students are as excited as I am about this pioneering development!

Sainsbury’s – the signs they are a changin’

I saw this article on in-store news and thought I’d share it with you.

It is announcing Sainsbury’s using new signage technology from Episys. The change is hoping to create a unified signage system that will bring together all in-store materials including promotional advertising and shelf-edge labelling, enabling the retailer to react more quickly to market conditions.

The atricle says: “Retail Enterprise Suite, the technology from Episys, will generate all labelling and signs to ensure that they are consistent for all Sainsbury’s’ core grocery, home and lifestyle items. The improved efficiency is intended to enable staff to spend less time on administrative activities and more time serving customers.”
I think this is a great idea and will improve the entire shopping experience for their customers. Let’s see if everyone follow suit…

Print-while-you-wait book service

A revolutionary new method of buying books has been implemented by Blackwell bookshop in it’s Charing Cross store.

Their high-tech kiosk prints and produces the book within minutes of it being ordered at the counter. The Espresso Book Machine, from On Demand Books prints, trims and binds paperback books, with full colour front and back for the same price as the book would be sold in store.

Blackwell expects that offering books at the point of sale, and only printing books that are requested by the customer, will allow customer service to improve, creating a more personal service.

Consumers will have the option to upload and publish their own content, or choose from over 400,000 titles on the system. Retailers will have the capacity to hold the stock equivalent to 50 book shops, totalling a huge 20 miles worth of traditional shelving.

This new move is an exciting prospect for retailers, as no wastage should occur. Demand will be directly supplied as and when the consumer wants the book, keeping both retailer and customer satisfied.

Although this new move is only currently taking place within the Charing Cross Blackwell bookshop, it could well convince other retailers to follow suit, bringing us into a generation of “print while you wait” services.

San Francisco

I was recently in San Francisco on a business trip visiting some of our clients and I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours looking around the shops in the city centre. It’s really impressive, Saks and Bloomingdales particularly stood out for me – their in-store and window displays were fantastic, they’re so keyed into shopper in-sight.

San Francisco seems to be test bed for a lot of major retailers, so it was a great opportunity to go and experience how they do things and take inspiration for our own clients.

It rained a lot while we were there, but I got some in-store shots for you to see.

Next stop, Vegas for the Global Shop conference – watch this space!

The Science of Persuasion

It’s rule one in any salesperson’s rulebook and marketers have been working with it for decades… Simply put, to sell something you have to be able to convince the buyer not only that they want a product or service, but that they need it.

This is clearly where the art of persuasion comes into play. But what about the science of persuasion?

These tactics don’t ‘just work’, there’s science behind them that prompts people to act in a certain way in response to persuasion tactics and a number of studies have been conducted to find out how. Gradually it’s becoming clear that in order to master influence tactics, one must learn and understand the science of persuasion. It’s science, not magic.

A traditionally favoured set of influence tactics comes from Robert Cialdini and his “Six Principles of Influence” which highlights six key subconscious triggers:

1. Reciprocity- We feel obliged to return favours

2. Consistency- We normally follow consistency

3. Social Proof- We are influence by other similar people

4. Authority- We feel a sense of obligation to people who are seen as being authoritative

5. Liking- We are influenced easily by people we like and people generally prefer to say yes to people they like

6. Scarcity- We often fear missing out through failing to act

Cialdini’s argument is that we are all part of an animal kingdom and essentially, work on autopilot based on our basic instincts. We are exposed to stimuli all day every day and as a result our brain uses subconscious routines to filter out certain signals and stimuli and thus allows us to react to stimuli without even realising. His key principles of influence provide the science behind how we are wired and, the simple fact is that whether we like it or not, we respond to each of these triggers positively.

Cialdini aimed to answer a question that researchers have been studying for over 70 years- What influences us to say yes? And it seems he may have hit the nail on the head. More recent studies have been conducted looking at some of the six tactics and the key results, along with recent examples are summarised below.

Reciprocity- “In a study, the giving of a mint increased a waiter’s tip by 3%. Two mints equal an increase of 14% in tips. BUT, if the waiter leaves one mint, walks away but turns and says but for you nice people, here’s another… tips increased by 23%!” – The influence was not focused on what was offered but how it was offered.

Scarcity- British Airways announced that they would be cutting twice daily Concord flights from London to New York because they had become uneconomical… The response: Sales more than doubled the very next day.

Authority- “At a lettings agency, the sales staff asked the receptionist to mention their credentials to customers before they were transferred on the phone. This led to a 20% rise in appointments and 15% rise in signed contracts”- Signalling to credibility is important.

5 Secrets for Effective Visual Merchandising

5 Secrets For Effective Visual Merchandising

The visual presentation in the store has always been the major customer motivation accounting for the a majority of retail purchase.

Your window display has the potential to attract the customer, reel them in and ultimately lead to purchase. However, there are a few key points every merchandizer should keep in mind.

1. Show less, Focus more
The human mind has a limited attention and focus span and therefore it is advisable to keep the display simple and uncluttered. Leave a lot of space around. The most common mistake is trying to show too much at the same time. Props should be simple in shape, preferably something that provides a large mass of color or texture, such as blocks, covered boxes or risers.

2. Love odd numbers
Always place an odd number of elements in a group. Since it’s easier for the brain to zone in on the middle and the arrangement is slightly off balance, the eyes moves around to look at each frame or object. A perfectly balanced arrangement ie even no is dull to the eye.

3. Repeat, repeat and repeat
Use variations of identical elements as that creates a very powerful display mechanism. It’s a simple idea but can have a lot of impact on the mind of the consumer and it’s hard to miss such a display.

4. Contrast is key
Make sure the items or frames you want to focus clearly contrast with the background. This includes color contrast as well as material texture contrast. For example, don’t put a metal frame on top of a glossy background. Try making the background dull and repeated so that the frame that displays important information stands out.

5. Attract first, provide choice later: Pyramid method
Place one element at the top of the display which is clear and focussed. Below that, in the form of a pyramid, place other elements which provide choice. It’s hard to go wrong with a pyramid display.

6. BONUS: Always hire a good agency to execute your campaigns. An idea is only as good as it’s execution. So while your presentation might look fabulous in your laptop, the real thing in the store must be as efficiently done.

“Good visual merchandising is a mix of art, inspiration and science. While great visual can sell lousy product, poor visuals can do nothing for great merchandise.”
Paco Underhill, Why We Buy

Get comfortable with having some empty space in your high fashion displays. Crowding is a symbol of low value. So anything that is high value deserves a lot of space around it. If you keep an expensive item in a crowd the human brain perceives it to be of lower value.

Above all, use the K.I.S.S. theory of display: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

Author: Maniraj Singh Juneja- director at Amitoje India: One of India’s best store branding and execution firms based in New Delhi. Check for more details.

iBeacon Market to Break 60 Million Units by 2019

A 60 million unit iBeacon market
New research released by ABI Research estimates that over the next 5 years, the iBeacon hardware market will grow to approximately 60 million units.

While the technology has caught dramatic attention in the retail space, the report identifies a larger opportunity, from a hardware perspective, in other sectors. These areas are Commercial/Enterprise, Connected Home, and Personal Asset Tracking.

Commercial & Enterprise iBeacon Market
Commercial/Enterprise applications have an enormous untapped potential. We’ve seen a lot of consumer-facing spins on iBeacon deployment, with smaller attention paid to less glamorous applications like inventory management, logistics, and manufacturing.

Think about the huge amount of office space square footage in the United States alone. Imagine your work-space powering up as you walk into the building, or manufacturing facilities with “smart” assembly lines. The possibilities really are limitless. Retail isn’t the only environment that might benefit from contextually aware messaging and interaction – wherever objects or people move within the physical world, there’s opportunity to add iBeacon functionality and location-awareness.

Smart Home iBeacon Market
Apple and Google have both indicated interest in the “Smart Home” of the future, and it hasn’t been subtle. With Google’s acquisition of Nest, which develops smart thermostats and smoke detectors, and Apple’s announcement of HomeKit, which aims to be the hub of the “Smart Home”, it looks like industry titans will be waging war to control the home of the future. It makes sense that the consumer home market is an attractive one, as almost any consumer appliance is primed for disruption by one of its “smart” cousins. It’s already happening with thermostats, door locks, lights, and garage doors.

Growth in Mobile Ad Spend. Source: eMarketer

What about Retail?
It makes sense that retail might be seen as having a smaller piece of the “iBeacon pie”, especially when that pie is measured in units. Retail locations are relatively small in square footage, and don’t need a tremendous amount of units for ample coverage.

The retail opportunity really sticks out, though, when thinking about the proximity-based technology market size as a whole, in dollars. Advertising dollars have begun chasing consumers as they rapidly move to mobile. This year, mobile ad spend is set to reach $31 billion, growth of almost 50% from 2013. By 2016, eMarketer predicts the market for mobile advertising to reach just under $60 billion. Geo-local technologies, iBeacon among them, are in prime position to capture a large share of this spend.

The hardware market will grow, but how will it evolve?
Another thing to think about is the rapid commoditization of the hardware market. Although iBeacon’s market size in units is projected to grow to 60 million in 2019, this translates to less than $500 million in revenue. As hardware unit prices plummet and differentiation amongst competitors becomes increasingly more difficult, hardware companies will have to find a way to expand their offerings into high profit margin services. We’re already in the midst of this transition, and it will be interesting who is still around in the next 5 years to take advantage of the 60 million unit market.

Just Desire

Shopper Marketing – A View from Down Under

Despite the fact that Dublin is over 17,000 kms away from Sydney and there are significant differences between the Irish and Aussie culture, economy, socio-demographics, ethnicity and geography – one fact remains constant and that is how to overcome the challenge in better targeting and engagement of Shoppers to make them buy more of our brands from our stores.

Shoppers, on a global level, are fundamentally looking for 3 key deliverables whenever they are in “shopping mode” and they are:

Navigation (help me find what I want – where and when I want it)
Education (give me advice on what I am buying or what I should be buying) Inspiration (make my shopping trip more enjoyable / experiential so that it makes me shop more frequently and buy more when I visit) As shopper marketers, we have a global challenge to meet on how best to leverage all the available insight and information we have at our disposal to better understand the What, How, When, Where, Who and most importantly the Why’s of why shoppers shop. Let’s ensure we don’t drown in the data but cut through to the pertinent shopper insight that will enable us to turn answers into actions.

The evolution of shopper marketing is a topic that is constantly written about with good reason. How we market brands to target audiences today and the accountabilities shopper marketers are held to will be different tomorrow than they are today…change is the only constant.

Despite the common theory that shoppers shop on auto pilot, they are actually heavily involved in the process and despite the relentless barrage of ‘cheap prices’ that are impossible to avoid, it has actually resulted in exhausting them. In fact, many shoppers make the most important purchase decisions when they’re in ‘shopper mode’ at the store and at the fixture. The traditional marketing model tells us marketing communications trigger a desire or need for a brand when the shopper is out and about living their lives; so when the shopper is later in store shopping they will automatically go and buy the brand we want them to.

Never has the traditional marketing model been more incorrect.

Shopper marketers are tasked with gaining a better understand of shopping behaviour and what influences shoppers to buy whilst in store. Therefore, it is crucial to better understand the shopping trips they make (eg a full stock up shop vs a top up shop), the purchase decisions they make when shopping (what is their decision hierarchy), and what is triggering those decisions (impact of POS and promotional mechanics in store). Data is everywhere, how we utilise this information is crucial to any promotional campaign or activation.

How we unlock this data and insight, to help understand the shopper journey along the path to purchase, is crucial to influencing and changing behaviour at the point of purchase. The diagram below illustrates the various touchpoints that shopper marketing can interact with the shopper along the path to purchase by better engagement through the living, planning, buying and using stages of the purchase decision.

Shopper Marketing Example, Worldwide

There is a myriad of shopper data and insight available to us all but how we use this information is key to unlocking the dynamics behind shopper behaviours and attitudes. Turning these answers into actions, we can become better informed on how we can help brands and retailers communicate more effectively with their shoppers and consumers. We can learn how to better interact with them in store, become part of their daily lives and understand the barriers that stand in our way that prevent shoppers from NOT buying our products from our stores.

Basic shopper demographics such as age, gender, socio-demographic groups, frequency of visits and basket spend are all good measures of who your current (and target) shoppers are and how they interact at the POP. If we don’t unlock the key insight behind WHY are they shopping in Retailer X vs Retailer Y and WHY are they buying Brand A vs Brand B, we will struggle to get any tangible and meaningful shopper insight that will help understand shopper behaviour along the path to purchase and how to influence and change that behaviour.

Understanding a shopper’s usage and attitudes towards buying brands and using specific retailers or formats will help determine the most relevant shopper centric activation to meet the desired need of that shopper and drive category sales incrementally (not just brand switching).

Segmentation work has been undertaken in the Australian petrol and convenience channel to help better understand key behaviours and motivations for buying (or not buying). It provides an in-depth understanding on the various segments of shoppers and be able to profile them based on what they are more likely and less likely to do and purchase in store.

Understanding the needs of shoppers helps to get into their mindset and also helps to create relevant solution based selling opportunities and touch-points throughout the path to purchase. Shoppers don’t shop just to buy a chocolate bar or a can of energy drink, they shop to fulfil or satisfy a specific need or want such as “I’m Hungry”, “I’m Thirsty”, “I need to buy breakfast or lunch”. This way of better understanding shoppers by their specific need is also known as Mission Management.

Taking global best practise from the USA, Ireland and UK, many retailers in Australia have started to redesign their store formats and layouts. They have created “Zones” in store that help to deliver against these needs / missions, making the whole shopping experience easier and quicker for shoppers by implementing cross category planograms and promotional activity. Having a targeted solution to meet your shopper needs is a sure way to drive category growth as well as increase frequency of visits as the proposition is now geared towards giving the shopper more occasion to buy at that particular retailer.

By Mark Johnston (Senior Account Director at Evocatif)

John Lewis Marks 150th Anniversary with a Series of Events.

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which “not enough people know about”, according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Department store chain John Lewis will launch an interactive exhibition at its London flagship store on Oxford Street in May as part of a series of commemorative events to mark the retailer’s 150th anniversary. Visitors to the exhibition will get an insight into founder, John Speden Lewis and his revolutionary idea that all workers should be co-owners and share in the success of the company.

The exhibition will include an installation that tells the story of how a WWII bomb threatened the future of the company. It will also showcase how the ‘craft of shopkeeping’ and a passion for customer service has guided the business ever since. The work of many celebrated designers and brands is recognised, as well as the retailer’s own textile mill, Herbert Parkinson, where a bespoke weave will fill the exhibition floor and run over the ceiling. Visitors will exit the exhibition with a glimpse into how consumers will shop, live and look in the future, through a unique collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

In a first for the retailer, the Oxford Street flagship will also open its roof to London. Working with Tony Woods, Royal Horticultural Society National Young Designer of the Year, and the partnership’s own gardeners from the Longstock estate, the urban rooftop will be transformed into a tranquil space.

John Lewis is also collaborating with a number of British brands and designers to offer an edited assortment of product that has been produced exclusively for the anniversary.

-Partnerships include Antoni & Alison, Jaeger, Ted Baker, Lucienne Day, Barbour, Alex Monroe, Jo Malone, Liz Earle, Dualit, Vitra, Alessi, Links of London and Silvercross.

John Lewis shops across the UK will join the celebrations, which start on Saturday 3 May, with a host of regional activities. Working in partnership with Barnardos, each shop will be supporting local charity initiatives. The retailer will also launch a special 150th anniversary television advert to kick off its celebrations.

The Latest News from EuroShop 2014

World-renowned retail enterprises present their latest concepts and top-rank retail designers give attendees a peek at their current projects.

EuroShop 2014 News and Trends:

“Light for Brand Communication: When Lighting Becomes a Part of Appearance“

Local and international companies have started to combine lighting planning for showrooms with corporate identity to achieve a holistic brand appearance. The colorful and dynamic appearance on storefronts and in interior spaces will initiate a debate on the role of LED for brand communication

“Video Helpdesk- The Revolutionary Way of In Store Customer Service”

Thomas Roßner introduces something that sounds a bit like science fiction: in-store customer service via video conference. However, this topic is not out of this world, but actually quite down-to-earth. After all, it solves the following routine problem for customers: where can I find an associate in the store, when I don’t know where to go from here?

“360 degree Shopping World for Experiencing”

In Hall 12, you can immerse in the varied world of shopping and experience a lot. In the imposing and 920 square meters booth of Umdasch Shopfitting Group GmbH the company stages exhibition worlds from four areas: Fashion & Lifestyle, Premium & Travel Retail, Food & Care and Virtual Business. It is worth an experience!

“EuroShop Designer Village”

The Designer Village opens its doors for you in Hall 12. Architecture firms and designer studios with a retail and shopfitting focus have truly accomplished a lot here. You can take a stroll through the village alleys, admire modern and top quality design and construction or take a break from the trade fair in the comfortable lounge.

“Digital Advertising on the Store shelf”

Aside from the (especially in food retailing) still popular and favored print advertising with ad flyers or ads in the daily newspaper, other types of advertising, which have a measurable impact on impulse buying directly at the POS, have also established themselves for some time now. New digital advertising solutions play a particularly big role when it comes to what product the customer chooses at the store shelf.

-“Digitalization is essential for capturing the new experience”

An exciting shopping experience is a great shopping experience. What makes it so great? Mainly the kind of presentation at the POS. That’s why digital technologies find more and more areas of application with which retailers can turn shopping into an experience. Klaus Lach, Vice President of the European Visual Marketing Merchandising Association (VMM), talks about the dramatization at the POS, stores that seem to be able to do without products and the creative battle for the customer.

And the key takeaways from this year’s show?

“Retail Is More Innovative Than Ever Before”

Michael Gerling, Managing Director of the EHI Retail Institute
The global retail industry is currently facing some of the biggest challenges in decades. Radical changes in consumer buying behavior, rapid technological change, which enormously influences both the internal processes in companies as well as the sales approach, the advancing globalization of the industry and the emergence of all new types of distribution demand a high degree of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovativeness from retail to be able to also successfully stand its ground in the market in the future.

Manufacturers will turn into retailers

Online retail – challenge and opportunity

Customers want great service and look for a great shopping experience

The retail industry has identified the trends and invests heavily

Online retailers are also successful with their own stores

The percentage of brick-and-mortar retailers in the online sector continues to increase


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The Rise Of Showrooming And What It Means For Retailers

Technology is changing the way consumers behave. They are more active on social media and mobile devices. They are more tech savvy and they will continue to grow more so. Facebook has over a billion users and more than 50% of American adults own a smartphone. Buyer behavior has shifted as consumers increasingly use social media to share product recommendations or use their smartphone to check prices. Showrooming is one such trend that has been become increasingly prevalent. How can retailers stay relevant in this changing environment when the rules have changed?

How are they doing it?

It’s all about accessibility. Amazon even has a mobile app for checking prices, which allows you to comparison shop, share the in-store price with Amazon (a smart move on their part to collect more data while they’re at it), and purchase the product directly from the app. Their app is just one of many similar ones. Online retailers can leverage pricing as a huge competitive advantage, especially if they have adopted a loss leader type of pricing strategy like Amazon. Of course not everyone has the cost structure to support this strategy, but overhead for online retailers is lower which allows them to offer more competitive pricing. The difference is that now consumers have quicker and easier access to this data.

What does this mean for retailers?

Retailers fear they will become nothing but a step within a competitor’s consumer buying funnel. The potential loss in sales and inability to price match are huge concerns, especially with the higher costs associated with running a brick-and-mortar store. Certain product categories seem especially susceptible to showrooming, such as electronics and appliances, as Best Buy can surely attest to.

In a study conducted by Placed, they conducted a survey of Amazon customers where they were able to track store visits through location tracking. They outline a comprehensive report of the stores most susceptible to showrooming and the results may surprise you.

According to the results, the top three retailers that ranked as most vulnerable were Bed Bath & Beyond, PetSmart, and Toys “R” Us, all ranking above Best Buy. This can likely be attributed to the infrequency of purchase of these types of products, as well as a high need to physically touch or try the products. If you are not operating in these product categories, you cannot necessarily assume you are safe. The types of retailers found to be at risk of losing business to showrooming varied widely, from Costco to T.J. Maxx, and more.

The reasons may vary. For example, Amazon Prime members appear to also have a high frequency of being a part of other membership-based retailers such as Costco, which they may choose to abandon if they begin to see more value in the online shopping experience. The bottom line is, showrooming presents a potential threat to all types of retailers.

What can retailers do to combat it?

Keep calm and carry on. Showrooming doesn’t have to mean the end of traditional brick-and-mortar retail.

The good news:

– Price comparison isn’t the only thing consumers are using their phones for. Often they are searching for product information, user reviews, or coupons, or asking for advice from friends and family.
– They are nearly as likely to use the store’s own website (70%) as another website (75%) to gather product information.
– They are also just as likely to use the store’s own mobile website or app (22%) as a competitor’s website or app (22%) when they choose to purchase online while in a store.
– Consumers may still choose to purchase in-store despite finding a lower price online due to convenience, urgency, and immediacy.
– Consumers do not purchase solely based on price.

Retailers can add value through:

– Online product reviews and product information
– Loyalty programs
– Discounts and exclusive in-store offers
– Upping the convenience factor (free delivery)
– Engaging the consumer and collecting feedback though social media
– Overall cross channel integration
– Elevating the in-store experience (special events, customer service, return policies)
– Integrating the mobile experience (in-store apps such as mobile checkout)
– Integrating the online and in-store experience

Countering this trend by simply slashing prices may not be a sustainable solution and will likely be a losing battle. Retailers must find creative ways to offer value to consumers that online stores cannot, or embrace the showroom concept by integrating their web (and mobile!) and in-store experiences.

Walmart has an in-store Scan & Go app that customers can use for easy self-checkout. The app also helps customers to locate items in-store. For retailers who operate in both channels, this could present new opportunities to create value. Target is a great example of this. The retailer offers exclusive products that can be showroomed in their stores and are made available for purchase on their website. Consumers can get the best of both worlds — the convenience of online shopping and the ability to see the product in person pre-purchase. The future of retail may be more of a convergence of the two rather than a war between them.

– Retail Touchpoints

Youth 100 List – What makes brands attractive?

This year’s Youth 100 list unveils what attributes make brands attractive to 18- to-24 year-olds and uncovers some surprises in which companies top the group’s ‘most desired’.

Brands that make life easier, more fun or help to save money are highly rated by young people according to a new report by youth researchers Voxburner. YouTube tops this year’s Youth 100 list, followed by Amazon, Google, BBC and Ben & Jerry’s.

Many brands in the top 100 follow these three fundamental requirements and those that achieve one or more are higher up in the list, according to Luke Mitchell, head of insight at Voxburner. (see Methodology, below.)

Google is useful to young people almost every day, says Mitchell, while fashion and price-focused brand H&M (at 28) does well in terms of saving people money. Urban Outfitters, which is considered a ‘cool’ brand, does not offer the same value so appears outside of the top 100 at number 143.

“Brands with those two functions [being useful and saving people money] are fundamentally important to young people’s lives every day so they develop strong relationships with them,” says Mitchell.

The third characteristic that stands out is fun. Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s (ranking fifth), YouTube (number 1), BBC (ranking 4) and Channel 4 (number 10) all use a combination of entertainment and function to appeal to 18- to 24-year-olds.

Skype, Wikipedia and PayPal also appear in the top 20, highlighting the ‘utility’ aspect in the choice of brands that young people love.

PayPal director of UK marketing Alison Sagar explains that this age group is a core audience for it. “With young adults leading the charge for mobile adoption, they are a critical audience for us. The PayPal brand is about being an easier, faster and smarter way to pay any time, any place and on any device. We have been established online for a long time, and with our recent app update, customers can now use their mobile phone to pay on the high street, at places like PizzaExpress, Warehouse and Oasis.”

Having good content and ‘shareability’ can also make a brand desirable, contributing to why YouTube comes top, Mitchell says. “Every time you go to YouTube it’s for something brilliant, something funny, inspiring or creative, unlike Facebook where you might log in, scroll about and find nothing of interest.”

However, pre-roll advertising and nasty comments posted by internet ‘trolls’ on YouTube are disliked very much, according to the qualitative element of the research, which had a focus group of 30 people. YouTube announced in September that it will moderate these comments more closely.

Having great content has helped the BBC take fourth place. Despite the Savile scandal, it remains a trusted brand overall. Providing on-demand services as well as being a brand that people have grown up with also contribute.

Meanwhile, Starbucks has fallen nearly 40 places from 31 in 2012 to number 70. The coffee chain’s issues around tax avoidance means that young people judge the brand according to their own morals, says Mitchell. Costa Coffee, by contrast, ranks at number 35, [down from its ranking at number 14 last year], helped by the fact that it has more shops so it is easy to access.

However, respondents are not prepared to discount Amazon, despite it also being caught up in tax avoidance, as it climbs from being 9th in 2012 to number two in 2013.

This year, the research also includes the top brands that young people would like to work for and highlights the disparity between brands they love in the top 100 and those they would be happy to be employed by.

Apple tops the list of companies young people would most like to work for but in terms of its overall popularity as a brand, it is at number 18. Google is the second most favoured employer, followed by Topshop, the NHS and the BBC. However, Topshop comes at 82 in the list of the most popular brands, compared with the BBC in fourth place. The NHS is not on the list.

This section of the research is where social and digital factors become important, with media brands such as the BBC and Samsung (at 13 in the list of employers) creating exciting products which helps them to be seen as cutting edge.

Emily Cramp, managing director at Thinkhouse, which carried out the employer brand part of the research, says: “Apple has been voted the most admired brand in the world by Fortune magazine consecutively from 2008 to 2012 so it’s no surprise that it has landed the top spot as the brand this audience would most like to work for. It is seen as a market leader and risk taker, which makes it hugely exciting to this age group.

“The age group feels passionately about brands that, after playing a functional role, strive to be socially and digitally connected in day-to-day life. Media brands like Google and the BBC, tech brands like Samsung and lifestyle brands like Coca-Cola have evolved and are creating exciting products and entertaining content that this age group can relate to.”

Trends website BuzzFeed does not feature in either of the lists, in spite of it being content and social-media focused.

[The exclusion of] “BuzzFeed is the biggest shock, considering the high internet usage of young people as well as its content agenda.” says Mitchell. “The focus group had heard about the site so maybe its digestible content is also disposable; a quick laugh but leaves little long-term impact.”

Some industries, however, fail to either be popular with 18- to-24-year olds or be part of their employer consideration set. The travel industry does not feature, for example, although leisure brands such as Odeon, Ticketmaster and Alton Towers do.

Brands that receive a high ’no feeling’ score are also in danger of losing relevance or dropping out of the list next year suggests Mitchell. Andrex, Vue cinemas, Uncle Ben’s and the Post Office all have high no feeling scores, although they do feature in the top 100. Of those surveyed, 39 per cent say they have ‘no feeling’ about Durex and the figure is the same for Thorpe Park but they rank at 74 and 90, respectively.

Mitchell believes that impact and relevancy are both important aspects of the brands in the top 100 and suggests that those that do not appear or are low down in the list look at those coming out on top and how relevant they are to young people every day.

Focusing on being relevant, good value and fun is what successful brands in this list do well, and others may benefit from applying these qualities to reach the elusive youth.

The Youth 100 report, conducted by Voxburner in collaboration with partners Thinkhouse and The Student Room, asked more than 2,500 18- to-24-year olds to rate 250 brands according to whether they love, like, dislike, hate or have no feelings towards them.

The ‘like’ and ‘love’ scores are added together to create the top 100. This year’s report has a thousand more respondents than last year’s, including young people who are not in education, to ensure a broader mix of people.

The second part of the research looks at which companies young people would like to work for. More than 1,200 university students were surveyed by Thinkhouse and their answers are unprompted.


Ane Brentford – World Record Holder!

The Skydive Empuriabrava Challenge is a unique event, running World Record events in two orientations on the one drop zone. The famous French load organiser Patrick Passe assembled a group of 106 belly-flying skydivers, with 20 on the ‘bench’, aiming to break the FAI large sequential world record. Babylon and friends drew a veritable crowd of 104, with 50 on the bench, aiming to build a European record.

Now, I will never claim to know ANYTHING about sky diving but what I do know is that one of our very own Valley Project Managers- Ane, was one of these “belly flying skydivers” and aided the success of the group to ensure they achieved not just one, but four World Record Jumps- back to back!

Participant Lesley Gale describes the story below:

In the relatively new category of World Record, Sequential Large Formation, to qualify as a ‘large’ formation for these rules means you must have a group of at least one quarter the current World Record. Then 35% of the group must move to a new formation in order to be officially recognised as a second point.

Skydive Empuriabrava
The new management of Skydive Empuriabrava was in evidence, with a drop zone transformed like a film set, with plants, walkways, giant photos, lights, balloons, and Regan Tetlow commenting to a rapt crowd of spectators. Large formations are one of the best crowd-pleasers in skydiving as they present a great visual spectacle. A film crew was making beautifully edited day videos, shown on a giant TV screen. Kicking music energised the drop zone and there was a stylish festival atmosphere.

Largest Formation
Patrick’s group met on Wednesday 18 September at Skydive Empuriabrava, and made 2 and 3 jumps respectively, from 19,000 feet (with oxygen). The first jump for both loads was a bit zoo-stylee, but the second in both cases was mega. Patrick’s group made a complete 104-way and held it for 10 seconds.. wishing perhaps that they had planned the second point!

The notorious tramontana winds kept us on the ground the next day but Friday dawned with clear blue skies and not a breath of wind. The first jump the formation did not complete due to a collision and some lost people – but half of the group got some sequential practice by making their second point. The formation flying by the pilots of two Twin Otters, two Beeches, a Caravan, a Dornier and a Porter was so close the organising team actually asked them to open up slightly and be farther away!

106-way – 2 points
On the second jump, which was only the second attempt, the first formation built cleanly and beautifully and was complete by 9,000 feet. the key was given to make the sequential move, and by 7,500 feet the group were flying in their second formation. A wonderful feeling as everyone on the jump had time to ‘feel’ that it was completed. Often on big-ways you track off not knowing the outcome but this time the general feeling was one of elation, with whooping under canopy and high-fives on landing.

The judges are still counting as I write this so the record is yet to be official. But it seems guaranteed. In fact, it was almost too easy, it was a doddle! It was my second jump here and certainly was the easiest World Record I have made. But this quick success is a testament to the strength of the group Patrick had put together, from the top to the bottom. His laid-back style of organising is the opposite of the American ‘boot camp’ style. It seemed fitting for the relaxed atmosphere of Empuria.

45 minutes later
We are dirt diving the next 106-way jump when the news comes in from the judges… it’s official! A new World Record 2-point Sequential! The group goes wild – hugging, embracing, cheering, congratulating each other, all with our record-breaking dive playing on a giant TV in the background. It was like a mosh party but without the alcohol, just everyone high on their achievement. In true Skydive Dubai style fireworks and smoke were going off on all sides, to add to the party atmosphere.

Two hours later
We had planned a 3-point 106-way. The first two points the same as we’d just achieved, and adding a third point, keyed by a streamer. We climbed back up to 19,000 feet, with a long curving ten-minute run-in to allow the different planes to jockey into position. The jump was beautiful – building even quicker and smoother than before. The first point was built, the second was keyed from the centre. I was on tenterhooks for the streamer as I had the move in the third point… we went into cloud, it didn’t bother me, I just kept my eyes on Patrick for the streamer – yes! There it was – I made my move and there was that visual silence that told me we must be complete. I sneaked a glance at my alti … 7,500 feet, so we still had 5 seconds to savour the world record feeling in the formation before tracking.

2 Consecutive World Records
Once again I’m reporting before the judges have made the record official – but I feel so sure it’s a given. Way to go! Two World Records in 2 jumps! A World Record in itself! Congratulations to Patrick Passe, his team of Captains (Milko, Martial Ferré, Stephane Mattoni, Alia Veselova, Victor Kravtsov, Pal Bergan, Tom Claeys and me) and each and every participant. To Patrick Passe, Chapeau! A seemingly effortless record, thanks to his excellent preparation, selection, slotting, and sublime leadership.

The judges had declared yesterday’s 3-point jump a World Record, so we dirt dived a fourth point of 106-way. We were now to go 1,000 feet higher and break off 500 feet lower. I wasn’t convinced we needed any extra time but it was good to feel we had it in abundance. The climb to altitude took forever and my legs started to cramp. When we ran in the set-up of the planes looked slightly different, I struggled to see the lead plane from the door of the Caravan (right right right trail). When we left the picture was different; previously the base had been straight across but now it was above us, turning everyone into floaters. I saw a few near-collisions because of this unexpected picture, and figured on my way to the formation, that this was likely going to be a hypoxic mess.

I just focussed on doing my job and was pleasantly surprised to see the formation built smoothly and quietly. I found my belief again and started willing the jump to succeed. There was the nod for the second point – yes! Streamer from Patrick for the third point, that’s my cue, and I moved forward to my new place. Another streamer from Herman, the signal for the fourth point. The formation was flying beautifully and once again I had that incredible feeling of savouring the moment. I could sense Roy Jean-Jacques in my line geeking at me, so I returned the favour.

We landed in extreme elation. Three World Records on back-to-back jumps. Incroyable! High-fives, hand slapping, and more kisses than a New Year party! Someone commented, ‘This is almost getting boring’ – but it so wasn’t. The camera team – Bruno Brokken, Henny Wiggers, Gustavo Cabana, Andrey Veselov and Alexander Khabibulin – were complaining their fingers ached, they had to press the button too many times. No-one was used to this level of repeated success.

What Next?
Could we make five points of 106-way? We had time. Watching the video then we held the fourth point for 15 sec The plan, says Patrick, is to try one time for five points. Then, whatever the outcome, we will change the plan and make some fun skydives with no record in mind, just enjoying the great group of skydiving talent assembled here in the sunshine of Empuria. We dirt dived the fifth point of 106-way, saying “Is this for real?” It felt quite bizarre to be calmly planning five points of 100+ way, as though we do this all the time, every weekend. The fifth point of the sequence was a bold move, building 24 cats on the outside of the 106.

We boarded for our last World Record attempt (but still 3 jumps of the event to go). The jump was sweet, not flying quite so perfectly as before, but for sure we made 5 points, with time to spare. We’re waiting for the judges’ decision as to whether the record is official. On the previous jump, the timing between the last grip on one point and the move to the next is split-second.

I believe it’s the first time a group has ever made 5 points of 100+ way. A decade ago Roger Ponce de Leon organised a beautiful 4-point 104-way, and to my knowledge this is the most number of points ever made in a 100+ formation. Look out in the photos for Brit Pauli who is wearing a pair of union jack boxer shorts over his red jumpsuit. They are surely his ‘lucky shorts’ as he only wore them on the record dives.

The crowd and jumpers again went wild when the judges declared our FOURTH World Record, and on back-to-back jumps!

To sum up, we made the most amazing four World Record jumps back-to-back, building 2, 3, 4 and 5 points of 106-way. Remarkably we did not change a single person into a different slot, nor did we use anyone on the bench. Outstanding. I’ve run out of superlatives so I’ll sign off. Job done and 3 fun jumps to go!

Why Facebook will Fail

Most of us believe that a company like Facebook will never fail its primary aim and will never die like many others did. This strong belief has been increased after the company filled for a 5 billion IPO. However, on further inspection it is clear that Facebook, like most other organisations- has a series of faults which could just be its’ undoing…

Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg who decided to see further standing on the shoulders of friendster and other networks that didn’t have success due to the way they behaved. Nowadays Facebook is a power, it is not just a company, but it is something that goes forward.

At the end of December 2011 Facebook had 845 million active users. The site had 483 million daily active users in December 2011. More than 425 million people were active on mobile devices. Facebook is available in 70 languages.

That is Facebook. Unbelievable? No, it is not unbelievable. This is just the result of years and years of work and passion. Facebook gave to the users for the first time the possibility to interact with the others, to find friends, girlfriends/boyfriends and relatives. It probably anticipated things that we didn’t think existed.

In a few words it is the most interesting tool I have ever seen, but now the question is will it fail ? Will Facebook lose its users? Is this possible? Are we going to face the decay of one of the great tools of the 21st century?

I believe that the answer could be yes. Maybe it will happen in a decade, or maybe in three decades, but one day we will see Facebook going down. It will go down for several reasons and I would like to share with you what I a see inside Facebook’s patterns.

Lack of Privacy They are seriously working on this matter, but it seems that they are doing three steps ahead and two backwards. They should improve it and they should show to the users in a serious and good way that their data will be protected forever.

Data Why should all my data be kept by Facebook for the next centuries? This is a good question and Zuck hasn’t replied yet to it. There is no reason to save all my data forever and most of all when I delete my account everything related to it should be deleted. Why don’t they do it ? It seems they are obsessed with control and managing people. They want to make the world a better place, but they want to do it in their way. They have introduced a new feature to delete permanently all the data, but why should I follow this process? Wouldn’t it be easier to delete everything when I decide to leave Facebook?

Software I am pretty sure that this could be the main concern. Facebook doesn’t care about what the users think. They constantly update their software because (I guess) their are afraid of what Google is doing with G+. It is always cool to have a software update with new features, but it is not cool that the software changes every six months. Why should we be obliged to have timeline? Who asked for it ? What Facebook didn’t understand is that 845 million of people live on the site. Facebook has become the home for many people. When you change and modify my home constantly I could be a little bit irritated. Instead, they should consider feedback and they should let the users choose what feature of Facebook they want.

Marketing and Advertising Normally, the average Facebook user doesn’t look at banners and so doesn’t care about it; but sometimes they are very intrusive and it seems that they are looking at you. Facebook has all your data and so it shows you banners that could interest you. In my case, there are always ads regarding pc, tech and software. Isn’t it a little bit weird? They are showing things that could be very interesting for me, but at the same time they are violating my privacy

Apps The apps have the same problems of the software, because they are not stable. I mean, I have been using the Facebook iPad app for a while and it still seems they didn’t understand the user’s needs. They changed the app twice and the first release was very bad. They really didn’t think about how a user communicates with his friends and so it was difficult to type messages in the chat. I am underlining this point because we are talking about a company that has 3000+ employees.

All these factors could cause the decay of a great company who has shaped the way we see the world today. We do not hate them, we just love them so much, but sometimes we need to underline their mistakes. With the born of Google plus and the raising popularity of Twitter who knows what it is going to be next…

USA Today – ‘Ship from Store’ strategy saves money…

One of the huge things I’ve noticed since living in the States is the fact that generally, their retailers are about 2 steps behind retail giants in the UK. You wouldn’t have thought it but honestly It’s true and It is evident everywhere. USA today just recently published the following article suggesting a “new” strategy of using stores as distribution hubs in order to compete against Amazon- UK stores have been doing this for years! Nevertheless, it continues to be these American brands who dominate- here’s why;

Some of the world’s largest retailers are turning their stores into mini distribution hubs to help them compete better online against

Instead of fulfilling Web orders from warehouses hundreds of miles from shoppers’ homes, companies including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Gap are routing orders to stores nearby.

Store employees pick products from shelves, pack them into boxes and drop them into waiting FedEx and UPS trucks that zip off to homes a few miles away.

The trend, known as Ship from Store, saves money through shorter delivery routes. More important, it speeds deliveries, avoids costly markdowns and recoups sales that have been lost to Amazon, the world’s largest Internet retailer.

“This is the most important thing that will change physical retailers over the next five years,” said Matt Nemer, a retail industry analyst at Wells Fargo Securities.

A network of large stores — with high overhead costs — has become a liability rather than an asset in recent years. Amazon, which has no stores, won market share with lower prices and huge selection. But retailers have begun fighting back by using technology to get more sales out of stores — and ship-from-store is a big part of the effort.

“Amazon has already beaten most retailers on price and selection. The third battleground is location and the smart retailers are not conceding that,” said Tom Allason, founder of start-up Shutl, which helps retailers deliver online orders from stores.

Shutl’s service covers most shoppers in the U.K., where the firm partners with retailers including Argos, Oasis and Karen Millen. The start-up is also in Manhattan and plans to expand soon to other big U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has been shipping online orders from some stores for about two years and about 35 stores do this now.

“We started ship-from-store as a test. It has exceeded every expectation we’ve had for it,” said Neil Ashe, head of Global eCommerce at Wal-Mart. “We will probably scale this to hundreds of stores.”

Already, 10% of the items ordered on are shipped from stores and the majority of those packages are delivered in two days or less, according to the company.

Two-thirds of the U.S. population live within five miles of a Wal-Mart store, so the company is using these locations as “nodes” in a broader distribution network that includes storage warehouses and specific fulfillment centers for online orders, Ashe explained.

Shipping from stores lets Wal-Mart offer faster delivery of online purchases “at very low cost,” said Joel Anderson, president of

The retailer saves money on fees it pays to carriers such as FedEx and UPS because delivery distances from stores are much shorter.

The strategy is helping some retailers that until recently were left for dead by investors concerned about the competitive threat from Amazon.

Best Buy, the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S., was labeled a “Big Box Zombie” on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine last October. In December, the stock hit a decade-low of $11.20, valuing the company at less than $4 billion — about 3% of Amazon’s market capitalization.

But Best Buy shares have more than tripled so far this year on optimism about a turnaround plan led by new Chief Executive Hubert Joly.

The plan focuses on “turning its store base from a cost liability to an offensive weapon,” Gary Balter, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said.

A crucial part of this is ship from store, which Best Buy has rolled out in about 50 locations.

Best Buy’s Joly sees it as a way to generate more online sales by avoiding situations where shoppers search for a product on its website and are told that it’s not available.

Best Buy gets about 1 billion online visits a year and in 2% to 4% of those cases shoppers cannot buy products because they are out of stock in the company’s e-commerce warehouses. But in 80% of those cases, Best Buy has the products in one of its physical stores.

“Unlocking this potential is an enormous opportunity,” Joly said earlier this year.

Shipping online orders from Best Buy stores could generate an extra $5.8 billion in sales and $168 million in profit next year for the company, according to Balter’s estimates.

Other retailers that have started doing this in recent years include Target, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Lowe’s, Gap, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ann Inc. and Finish Line.

Physical stores will play a crucial role in driving online sales in the future, says Doug Anmuth, an analyst at J.P. Morgan.

It’s increasingly important as Amazon builds its own fulfillment centers closer to customers. In California, the company is constructing several giant warehouses one to two hours’ drive from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Amazon already delivers packages in two days for free through its popular Prime subscription. The company is also testing same-day and next-day delivery through its AmazonFresh grocery business in Seattle and Los Angeles — challenging retailers on location, as well as price and selection.

Wal-Mart and other big retailers hope that, by turning stores into shipping hubs for online orders, they can re-create Amazon’s fulfillment network with the assets they already have.

“Some people talk about Amazon with their 100 distribution centers, God bless them. We have 2,600 distribution centers,” said Gap Chief Executive Glenn Murphy, referring to the apparel retailer’s network of Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy stores.

Gap launched ship from store in 2012. The move has helped it deliver online orders faster, while avoiding situations where shoppers cannot find the right size or color of a particular garment.

Another big benefit: When stores have a lot of unsold products, online orders can be routed to locations with the most inventory. That helps limit costly discounts on unsold merchandise.

Wal-Mart and Best Buy also route online orders to stores that have the most inventory of a particular item.

Nordstrom started shipping online orders from its high-end department stores in 2009. It has helped the company maintain high levels of full-priced sales and get new fashions into stores quicker.

“There’s profit margin enhancement to fulfill an online order in a store that is about to take a markdown on that item,” said Wells Fargo’s Nemer. “It sounds very promising.”

The Rise and Fall of the Tech Firms.

It has been reported that tech firms, Apple and Google have leapfrogged Coca Cola to become the world’s top two brands- according to the Best Global Brands report from brand consultancy Interbrand.

The ranking looks at the role the brand plays in influencing consumer choice, financial performance of branded products or services and the strength the brand has to command a premium price. Coca Cola has held first place in these rankings for 13 years but its brand value changed very little in the past year- rising just 2% to $79.2bn, while Apple leapt 28% and Google surged 34%.

On the other hand we also note the fall of some previous category leaders such as Yahoo! And Blackberry who fell of the ranking entirely, while Nokia experienced the largest decline in brand value in the history of Best Global Brands- falling from 65% in 2012.

Interbrand suggested that Apple’s rise could be attributed to their ability to keep the consumer as the focal point of any innovation or strategy changes- anticipating their needs and wants in a way which kept them ahead of anyone else. The new leadership team at Apple had “kept Steve Jobs’ vision intact” enabling the business to continue to deliver on innovation despite the significant changes to their management structure.

Similarly, Google followed a similar general strategy but chose to use evolutionary changes in its core offerings to drive the growth in brand value- for example Android, Gmail, Google Glass etc.

Facebook was also noted as the fastest growing brand overall with its value up 43% year on year and even luxury brand Prada got a mention and was up a huge 28%.

Essentially, it appears to be the brands that think differently about the role they play in consumer’s lives and how to fulfil that role that have an opportunity to expand and grow in ways they never imagined.

Back to Business A Level to crack the Retail Industry.

The retail industry has never had it so tough, squeezed by a stagnant economy and the structural challenges thrown up by the rise of ecommerce.

However, every challenge also represents an opportunity, we were all taught that in A level business weren’t we?

1. Inspire consumers by curating the physical environment

All brands will have need for curators in the future to help communicate the joy of shopping. Tim Greenhalgh, chief creative officer at Fitch Worldwide, argues the new differentiators for brands will be innovations that play to consumers “dreaming and exploring mind states”.

Lego bringing the products inside its boxes to life using augmented reality technology that a three-year-old child can use is an ideal example of the how brands can inspire shoppers.

We recently completed an in store augmented reality display for the Audi A1 ensuring it was the fastest selling Audi in history. That just shows the power that closing the gap between imagination and reality can have.

2. Showrooming is nothing new

The showroom-style environment of Apple’s retail stores, held up by many as the future of retail, is a centuries old concept. David Roth, chief executive of The Store, cites the rows of shops that were built on Rialto Bridge in the first half of the fifteenth century as an early example of shops being used as “showrooms”.

Roth explained that the difference today is that “mobile technology has made showrooming more effective”. The only way to guard against consumers using physical stores as showrooms and buying products elsewhere online is to create a very clear value proposition that gives the brand a point of difference.

3. Don’t be complacent about the competition

The explosion of ecommerce means “your biggest competitor may not even be known to you today but they will be known to you tomorrow”, according to Futures Company EMEA deputy managing director Henry Tucker.

Retailers that will succeed are those that understand how the consumer is changing and how to turn the changing behaviour to their advantage. However, the difficulty is judging the pace of change. In the words of Bill Gates: “We overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will happen in the next 10″.

4. Data is your friend, avoid letting it swamp you

Retailers need to be great at something specific rather than being everything, everywhere to everyone. Phil White, planning director of Geometry Global, says the future is about “streamlining, simplicity and rationalisation based on data and a deep understanding of how people behave”. Data should be used to support the business strategy rather than dictate it because retail is fundamentally about people. Chris Perry, joint chief executive of Fabric proposes retailers should “think about the least amount of data to maximise their goals”.

5. Location is still king

“Location, Location, Location” are the three most important factors in retail, according to Roth. The importance of location nowadays is becoming less about where the physical retail store is on the high street as the emphasis shifts to online.

Roth explained that “today’s location is about virtual location and that virtual location is going to change constantly”. Location-based marketing is still a relatively untapped channel, but there is no doubting its power.

Kleenex managed to increase sales year-on-year during a mild winter by combining data on historical flu outbreaks from the NHS with data from Google ad words auctions on keywords linked to illness such as “flu remedy”. This allowed Kleenex to adapt its media spend on its winter flu campaign in real time to effectively boost sales.

6. Learn from the best

Retail brands would be wise to adopt some of the philosophy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Amazon believes it is a waste of time endlessly poring over financial results and instead focuses its energy on “controllable inputs”, according to eCommera co-founder and chief scientist Michael Ross.

Bezos famously fired marketing directors who came to him to talk about conversion rates until they stopped talking about it. Prevention is better than a cure is another Amazon philosophy. In a possibly apocryphal tale, Bezos had a moment of epiphany during a tour of one of his fulfilment centres.

The moment came when he was asked: “I’m in favour of a clean fulfilment centre but why are you always cleaning? Why don’t you hunt the source of the dirt?”

Project: Puma

Plajer & Franz under the direction of Puma head of global store concepts Ales Kernjak, the building has been completely ‘Pumarised’ inside and out with an intelligent yet simple design that embodies the joyful and witty spirit of the sport-lifestyle brand.

The impressive facade is made out of meshed metal, allowing daylight to enter the store, while at night the interior lighting beams out onto the street, providing a glimpse inside the building during closing hours.

The interior is designed to unite Puma’s various collections while celebrating footwear as the core of the brand. The lower two levels of the building are designated shopping areas, while the open roof top provides a space for performances and sport events.

A large cone-shaped staircase winds up through the centre of the store which, together with its vast red brand wall, draws customers into the space. From the base of the stairs, a footwear catwalk stretches across the entire ground floor, which is also home to the sport-lifestyle product line and black label.

‘Although the design of both areas is simple and functional, with references to Japanese architecture, both speak different visual languages and are clearly distinct from each other,’ explains a spokesperson for Plajer & Franz. ‘With a very light and flexible design, the use of materials such as black steel, plywood panels combined with re-used gym flooring elements and the mixture of matte and high gloss surfaces, the black label area carries a visible sports heritage.’

The design of the first floor, which is dedicated to the brand’s performance line, is even more flexible and functional, using more technical materials such as stainless steel and perforated metal in silver grey. A catwalk area also runs across the entire floor, leading towards a footwear focus wall.

Digital screens are scattered around the store, above footwear display tables to show brand videos, while the Puma ‘peepshow’ in the fitting rooms – a red box that opens up to show various video clips – allows customers to further engage with the brand.

‘Shopping at the new premium store is above all an experience and, in line with Puma’s philosophy, an active interaction with the brand,’ says the spokesperson for Plajer & Franz. ‘Whether creating their own customised sneakers at the Puma Factory, engaging with Puma’s sustainable actions summarised in the Sustainability Journey or enjoying the online experience via iPads, clients shall be surprised, entertained and given opportunities to identify with the brand.’

Maisie the Marketer… not the dog




I just thought I would write a quick introduction and explanation before I proceed to blog in a way which can be described as far from expert. My name is Maisie Richardson and probably the most interesting thing about me is that I have been lucky enough to be blessed with the same name as the Valley’s dog (I’m sure that’s why James gave me this job…)

I am currently studying at the University of Leeds, working towards achieving my MSc International Marketing Management, following the successful completion (thank goodness) of a BSc International Management with American Business Studies from the University of Manchester. During my time as an undergrad I was lucky enough to also study at Emory University in Atlanta, so if, upon reading some of my blogs, you notice any “American-isms” or “Southern-isms” to be exact, I can only apologise!!

I was drafted in to take care of some of the marketing and PR for Valley around 2 years ago now, and since then my role has evolved to include showing off my not so expert skills in the world of blogging and acting as editor of the wonderfully successful Life in the Retail Space. I wouldn’t call myself a novice but I am here to learn and improve, so if you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to get in touch- I don’t bite (neither does Maisie 2 fortunately)!!

I intend to post a few blogs a month but if you’re sitting on the edge of your chair in anticipation for the next one, feel free to follow @thevalleygroup on Twitter or  Linkedin, where there will be a number of jaw dropping, out of this world, unbelievably exciting articles and blogs posted most days- Enjoy!

O2 bring a whole new meaning to “Talk to the Hand”

Communication company O2 has launched gloves that double as phones, so you can literally talk to your hand.

As the second part of O2’s Recycle collection—the first being its shoes that can be used as phones—the gloves designed by Sean Miles were made of vintage Mui Mui and Pineider gloves together with recycled phone parts.

Dubbed ‘Talk to the Hand’, the Bluetooth-connected gloves contain a speaker unit embedded in the thumb, and a microphone in the pinkie.

Though silly-looking, the gloves come in pretty ‘handy’—pun intended—users not only get to keep their hands warm while they chat, but are also relieved of the hassle of digging for their phones in their bags when a call comes in.

On that note, Miles and O2 are also working on combining phones with handbags.

Talk to the Hand gloves give a whole new meaning to the word “handset”.

“Ryanheir” rebrand…

Well we can’t say we didn’t expect it… Brands have gone Royal Baby crazy. We’re talking temporary rebrands (Ryan”heir”), ads on screens in rail stations (The Sun), parties (Mamas&Papas), online greeting cards (Google), and so much more.

And it’s not just brands linked to children that have got involved. B&Q, Warburtons, Carling and even Mumm have all jumped on the Royal baby marketing bandwagon producing a series of witty ads to run in the weeks following the birth.

Mobile-Controlled Minions Drive DOOH Campaign for ‘Despicable Me 2′

The digital out-of-home marketing campaign for “Despicable Me 2″ has put Minions to work on digital signage screens across Europe.

To promote the theatrical release of the new animated movie, Universal Pictures has kicked off a mobile-controlled and interactive DOOH campaign running on Clear Channel International’s network of shopping mall screens in five European countries —
Finland, France, Norway, Spain and the U.K.

The mall digital signage screens invite shoppers to take control and personalize the on-screen creative featuring the by-now-familiar little yellow Minions from the movie via mobile phones, according to app provider Grand Visual.

The interactive campaign was conceived by Clear Channel, planned and coordinated by TED@MediaCom and powered by an app designed and built by Grand Visual. The creative technology solution links input from SMS or Web apps to prompt more than 30 animated sequences that make up the interactive experience.

The execution features Gru’s mischievous Minions tapping their feet impatiently with the call to action to text a command to see them dance, wrestle, play, build or boogie. Users can text any command along with their name to a shortcode, and seconds later the Minions will act out the instruction accordingly with an on-screen thanks to the named participant.

A campaign management dashboard powers the real-time interaction and personalizes the copy and playout in a mall-specific geo-targeted response. Users also will be rewarded with a text linking them to a copy of their personalized Minion film which they can share socially online.

“From the outset we wanted to challenge convention by taking a traditional medium and turning it into an engagement hotspot for kids, parents and the whole public to have fun with the Minions,” said Neil Wirasinha, vice president of international advertising at Universal Pictures International, in the announcement.

The campaign is running on 259 digital screens in 51 shopping malls across the five countries. The interactive experience is supported by additional static and digital ads in close proximity to participating malls. The DOOH campaign is fully integrated with Universal Pictures’ social and online channels, and an online version of the game replicates the experience at, according to Grand Visual.

Mariama Jelman, the international associate director at TED@MediaCom, Universal’s international media agency, said, “Using engaging digital out-of-home experiences is a great way to reach families and get them interacting with the film’s main characters. Working in close collaboration with Clear Channel and Grand Visual has a created a truly innovative campaign that will create a real buzz in the shopping malls reaching over 10 million shoppers with a clever memorable campaign that will be further amplified online.”

David Roddick, Clear Channel International’s sales director, said that a creative digital out-of-home execution of this sort shows the medium’s potential to engage, stimulate and interact with an audience via their mobile devices. “It captures the personality of the Minions and brings the movie’s characters to life for cinema-goers of all ages, communicating a compelling message about how much fun the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise is.”

Real time retail marketing at its Royal best.

While the rest of the world was concerned about whether it was a girl or a boy, in the retail sector, social media teams were conjuring up Royal baby tweets and mini campaigns hours before the birth.

Coca Cola tweeted a picture of 2 bottles using their “Share a Coke” campaign with the tag line… wait for it, it’s ingenious… “Share a Coke with Wills and Kate”. That must’ve taken them a while to think up.

Oreo reaped the benefits of real time marketing, tweeting “Prepare the Royal bottle service!” just a minute after the birth and featuring a picture of a baby’s milk bottle with an Oreo and the tag line “Long live the Creme”. This tweet alone received over 600 retweets at press time but managed to cause some controversy- of course.

According to Twitter UK, there were more than 25,300 tweets per minute following the new prince’s birth and since Kate arrived at the hospital, the #Royalbaby hashtag has been used more than 900,000 times!

However, don’t think that the marketing storm is over. Beware, this show of Royal themed marketing is just the beginning. Unilever has created Royal baby themed packs of Persil detergent and fabric softener and there are even rumors from across the pond that Barney’s in New York is selling Royal baby clothes.

It’s official- the retail world, not unlike the rest of the world, has gone Royal baby crazy.

iPads, iPods & Macs all over Aeropostale’s cool new prototype store

Aeropostale recently unveiled its brand new prototype store that’s supposed to propel the brand into the future. The teen retailer’s goal is to spark an “emotional connection” with consumers, reports Sharon Edelman at Women’s Wear Daily.

It’s pretty high-tech too. There are iPods in fitting rooms so that people can personalize the music while they’re trying things on. Apple desktops and iPads are throughout the store for customers to use to scan products and see reviews. The iPads have a build-your-own-outfit guide too. Another interesting addition is a jukebox for customers to vote on the music that plays in the store.

“We’re adding a unique element of fun. Our mantra was, it has to be simple, it has to be easy and it has to work,” EVP of customer engagement Mary Jo Pile said. “The technology we integrated adds to the service element. Shoppers will be able to access our e-commerce site [in the store] and we’ll be able to show more sizes and online exclusives.”

New breed of European shoppers outpacing USA in use of technology

A new breed of ‘Xtreme shoppers’ has been identified, amongst whom the European ones are outpacing their American counterparts when it comes to use of technology for shopping.

Over nine out of ten of these European Xteme shoppers (95 per cent) like to research products online, compared to just over six out of ten of the American Xtreme shoppers (66 per cent). This is despite a higher percentage of the US shoppers agreeing that shopping online is more efficient (90 per cent and 80 per cent respectively).

These are the findings of a recent study into the Future of Shopper Marketing, which was carried out across the France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Spain, the UK and the USA.

The Shopper Agency explains, “Xtreme shoppers are a new segment of consumers defined by their specific shopping attitudes and behaviours across all demographic groups. They are present across all seven of the countries in this study, accounting for over two out of five of the European consumers, and just under that in the US. More importantly, they appear to be a rapidly expanding segment that is largely made up of 25-44 year olds in full time employment – a prime target group for many retailers.”

Born out of the combination of a belt-tightening economy and readily available technology, Xtreme shoppers show increasing levels of value-oriented shopping behaviour. The European ones are currently leading the way in use of the internet for researching and buying products, with three-quarters saying they are using the internet more than before to research products (75 per cent), compared to just over two-thirds of US Xtremes (68 per cent).

Direct buying over the web is also increasing amongst this segment – with the European contingent leading the way here too, with seven out of ten using the internet more than before to shop for products (70 per cent). In Poland and the UK, in particular, three quarters or more Xtremes are increasing their use of the internet to purchase products, while the US tails the chart alongside Spain at 62 per cent – but well ahead of Germany at 52 per cent.

The Shopper Agency states, “There is clear indication that the trends we are seeing are set to rise, with the Xtreme shopper segment increasingly adopting their mobile phones and tablets to help them shop. This is especially strong in Russia and Spain, where a third of shoppers are using their mobiles more than ever to shop.

“Of course, the down side to all this internet shopping is that competition is extreme. Over three quarters of European Xtreme shoppers and two thirds of US ones say they are less loyal to any one retailer because they need to shop around for value. Retailers therefore need to find a way to reward loyal customers that will resonate with their current needs – a statement that nearly nine out of ten of all shoppers surveyed agreed with.”

Selfridges Named Best Department Store in the World

London-based Selfridges & Co. was recognised as the Best Department Store in the World for a second time at the Global Department Store Summit 2012 (GDSS) in Paris. Selfridges took the top slot among finalists from around the world, including Macy’s and South Africa’s Woolworths. The International Group of Department Stores (IGDS) holds the GDSS every two years. IGDS consists of 32 members from 30 countries on five continents.

Retail sales jump in January

Retail sales received an unexpected bump in January, driven by higher than expected demand for furniture and household goods, this is good news and we all need some dont we.

Sales were up 0.9% in January, compared to the previous month, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) against a 0.3% decline expected by most analysts.

The value of retail sales increased 4.4% year-on-year, while volume sales were up 2%.

Fab new adaption of the Microsoft Kinect system

At CES 2012, Microsoft has been demonstrating a concept that they hope will one day get adopted by retailers. This electronic mirror relies on the Kinect gaming system and basically allows people to try on clothes before taking their final selection to the dressing room.
Microsoft’s Steve Clayton took time out to show Dr R how the technology works. He demonstrated how he could scroll through a fashion collection on a TV screen to pick clothes and accessories and the system would dress him on screen– it would even move the clothes with him as he turned around or raised his arm.

Dr R noticed this trend recently and wrote about it in his Futuretail report. In conversation with experts about the technology, they told us that these electronic mirrors don’t replace the dressing room experience — but they help shoppers select which items they truly want to try on, making the overall shopping experience more pleasant and satisfying.

Valley Wins Display of the Year 2011

Valley are delighted to announce receiving a staggering 3 POPAI Awards at the prestigious In-Store Marketing Event, held in the Hilton Park Lane, 25th October.

The most prestigious Award of the night (Display of the Year 2011 – Permanent) was awarded to Valley for the design, development, manufacture and installation of the highly acclaimed adidas Boot Wall. The very same display also received a further Gold Award within the highly competitive ‘Sports, Toys and Accessories category.

The event hosted by BBC Breakfast News Presenter, Bill Turnbull was attended by 400 industry professionals and brands and is widely recognised for identifying the very best in Retail Display. Valley was also awarded a further Silver Award for the development of retail displays for Reebok’s new Fitness sport range, Reezig making Valley own of the most awarded benefactors of the night.

Valley Marketing Manager, Daniel Marr commented “It is a fantastic achievement to receive not only the Display of the Year but a further 2 awards and one that is a real credit to all the brilliant work everyone at Valley has produced the last year” Marr continued, “We have a simple aim here at Valley, produce highly creative, market leading display solutions that provide our fantastic clients with the valuable return they demand in these tough times… and we promise there is plenty more to come!!”

If you would like your brand to be in with a chance of appearing as the Display of the year for 2012 then please come and speak to the award winning team at Valley on 01535 272861.

Its clear….Technology has a place?

Looking for something different? – that extra inch of creativity? – that added WOW?.. all desirables for every In-store Marketing campaign most would agree?

But how can these requirements actually be achieved?

Often these are desirables for a brand in their search for that all important ROI from their limited marketing budget. Point of Purchase however continues to deliver impressive value vs. sales within an ever evolving marketing mix. However most marketers would profess ultimately there needs to be something else to connect with their target audience.

Enter ‘Technology’… Something not exactly new to the retail marketing arena by any means but does start to answer some of the aforementioned requirements.

Groundbreaking technology such as Augmented Reality is now a fully integrated retail environment, whilst most importantly being fully embraced by consumers. AR accomplishes its goal, it sends the consumer through a multi-dimension product journey that is visibly astonishing whilst making the consumer beg the question ‘How does it do that’? Whether the product in question be in a box, on a shelf or sat in a showroom AR fully envelopes the consumer through its interactivity – moving, touching, opening and turning – all motions that AR enables you to interact directly with the product (all be it a simulation!). Its flexibility is unrivalled with a growing number of applications – AR is utilised in so many disparate retail and buying locations.

So is this an example of the ‘more’ that marketers are looking for within retail? It certainly ticks the boxes when it comes to creativity, wow and point of difference and above all else educating the consumer further about the product with the fabled ‘try before you buy’ philosophy. Yes it does all these things and yes its proof that technology clearly has a place but the 10 million pound question is – does technology convert a consumer into a customer? Is the interactivity and wow that surrounds technology a passport to more sales or do brands have another agenda when using this approach? Is it more about building an experience around the brand and elevating it to a certain platform?

What is clear is that standard retail marketing still leads the way in terms of value and guaranteed sales uplift – Technology is a perfect accompaniment to this and some may argue more effective in communicating more complex products or services. As we speed to towards 2012 what other innovations lye around the corner.

Come back and read more soon as we explore future Retail technology!

UK Summer starts here for Retailers

Sales of barbecue essentials expected to soar

With temperatures set to reach around 20 degrees this weekend, Sainsbury’s said it expects sales of burgers to increase by 300% compared to the previous week.

Bread rolls, burger relishes and marinades are also set to see uplift in sales of 50% and demand for salads could be up by a third.

The retailer is stocking up on summer essentials and expects to sell 25% more summer drinks such as chilled ciders and rosés as people make the most of the light evenings and socialise more.

Sainsbury’s weather expert David Bailey says: “After what seems like a long winter, Brits are understandably very excited about a weekend of sun. Sainsbury’s is making sure we have everything to celebrate the first warm weather of the year.”

He added, “As temperatures hit a high we expect there to be an abundance of BBQs and picnics up and down the country and we will be making sure we have enough for those looking to stock up.”

Retail Trends 2011

The retail sector, like the big dipper, is not without its ups and downs and performance both on and offline over the past 18 months has shown us how susceptible this industry is to the tightening of consumer purse strings.

It is also incredibly competitive with a plethora of brands, organisations and even celebrities all vying for consumer pounds. The challenge for marketers lies in developing eye-catching campaigns that capture the imagination of consumers while delivering on the bottom line.

However, this is also a market that refuses to sit still and as the new year begins we wanted to share our thoughts on what trends are likely to gather momentum in 2011 and to also discuss what shockwaves are expected following the recent VAT rise.

The growth of digital marketing

It’s no secret that digital marketing has been one of the definitive terms of the past 12 months but in a year which has witnessed a change in government, budget cuts and widespread redundancies we wanted to find out what the knock-on impact has been on digital marketing budgets. The results are reassuring with over two thirds of respondents (68%) believing 2011 will bring an increase in digital marketing budgets and suggests a rise in confidence of the results this channel to market can bring.

If further proof were needed, the fact that UK shoppers spent more than ever before online at Christmas shows the visible difference a combination of digital and traditional marketing can have on the bottom line.

The integration of video

The use of video in marketing campaigns is not necessarily new and thanks to the rise of YouTube, it is now one of the most popular tools to engage and amuse consumers alike. With broadcasters now serving increasing amounts of content online and YouTube enjoying over 1 billion online views a day, it comes as no surprise that video is expected to go from strength-to-strength this year.

The conversations we have had suggest that video is set to become firmly integrated into the marketing toolbox. In the same survey we found that almost a third of marketers believe video advertising will be one of the most widely used digital formats in 2011. Without a doubt, all eyes will be on video and marketers should take note and start thinking how this can be integrated into their campaigns.

The impact of VAT

The recent VAT rise is no secret and as shoppers brace themselves for potential price hikes, we wanted to understand how this would impact marketing campaigns. The results are encouraging and in today’s age of the individual, our survey found that a third of marketers (30%) expect to see a bigger focus on targeted campaigns versus their mass marketing counterparts.

However, a fifth of those we surveyed are planning to streamline their processes and make steps to increase efficiency, while a further 18 per cent are expected to encourage greater emphasis on measurement and ROI. Demonstrating confidence in the industry’s performance, only 18 per cent thought their budgets would be cut as a result of limited resources and just 7 per cent predicted a lack of funds would cause their company’s creativity to be stunted. The message is clear; the rise in VAT will manifest itself in more targeted campaigns that have a real impact on the consumer.

The future for shopping online

We cannot ignore the fundamental impact the launch of tablet devices, most notably Apple’s iPad, have had on the way people are shopping. With this, the rise of the app has dramatically changed the way people access, browse and purchase goods on the move. Some of the most popular and successful apps have managed to replicate the high-street shopping experience on the tablet, giving browsing a stronger air of luxury compared to traditional smartphones. This approach will almost certainly go mainstream and with the boom in the tablet market showing no signs of waning and so it is essential marketers look at how they can integrate mobile devices into the campaigns they run in 2011.

A prosperous year ahead

For marketers looking to increase their brands’ market share and continue to make a strong impression in the boardroom, there needs to be continued focus on the needs of the individual consumer. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is by implementing an affiliate marketing campaign. As a measurable approach, it is an excellent tool for marketers looking to tailor and maximise the ROI on campaigns and we for one will continue to sing the praises and ensure it remains high on the agenda of every marketers’ digital strategy next year.

In a world which is shrinking thanks to the immediacy of the web, it is also one where consumers expect to be treated as an individual and our survey suggests that marketers agree. We are optimistic about the next 12 months and in a climate where the next change is never far away, marketers have to move with the consumer, especially in the retail sector.

Customer experience industry flourishing thanks to innovation

The UK user experience market grew by 5% in 2010, and will grow by an estimated 8% year-on-year in 2011 to a value of approximately £222 million, according to Econsultancy research published this week.

According to Econsultancy’s User Experience Buyer’s Guide 2011, the market is maturing, as more companies think about the strategic importance of customer experience.
Econsultancy Research Manager Aliya Zaidi said: “It’s an exciting time for the user experience industry, with much technological innovation in this space. The web is becoming more social, and this is resulting in the online environment becoming broadly more ‘human’.

“New devices and formats, such as touch-screen technology add a whole new dimension to the user experience, but they represent both an opportunity and a challenge for marketers. The introduction of new web standards, such as HTML5 will also make the user experience more immersive, interactive and engaging.”
Econsultancy’s valuation takes into account the slowdown caused by the recession. Although businesses are recovering, the economic outlook remains unpredictable. Given the uncertainty, there will be a continued focus on demonstrating ROI from user experience.

Zaidi added: “The good news for marketers is that it is getting easier to benchmark success, thanks to analytics technology becoming more sophisticated. There is now a wealth of site monitoring, testing and optimisation tools, which allow marketers to place a tangible value on user experience.

“However, what is clear is that analytics alone do not provide the whole picture. The data must be combined with qualitative insights, such as user behaviour to deliver actionable information.”

UK Stores facing carbon cost time-bomb

Major retailers and landlords could face hefty fines as they are insufficiently prepared to deal with impending sustainability challenges, finds independent retail analysts, Verdict.

A fall in CO2 emissions from UK shops of 8.1 % in the last three years has led to government bodies and watchdogs assuming the sector is on target to meet sustainability goals. Verdict’s report, however, suggests that this figure has been grossly inflated by a 5.3% fall in retail space over the period.

Matt Piner, senior retail analyst at Verdict, comments: “With the problems created by the recession, the majority of UK retailers have allowed themselves to become distracted from their sustainability strategies.

“However, new legislation, such as the ‘Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme’ (CRC), means retailers that aren’t working aggressively to lower carbon emissions may face hefty fines.

“Many retailers remain ignorant of these impending, significant costs and the false economy of cutting sustainability investment. Our report estimates that UK retail faces a possible £300 million annual bill to cover the carbon emissions from stores.”

Verdict argues that construction companies and developers have an important role to play in helping to address this problem.

“Construction companies need to be proactive,” says Matt. “They must show they understand the issues facing retail property, taking the role of educators and demonstrating that they can assist retailers in addressing their problems. In this way they can help retailers meet carbon emission targets and establish an advantage over their less forward thinking rivals.”

On the construction and property side, Verdict singles out Willmott Dixon and Hammerson for praise in its report.

Matt concludes: “Companies like these realise a sustainable approach can be an advantage in creating demand for their brand and improving relationships with their clients. However, there are still too many that are waiting around under the illusion that new technology will provide ‘silver bullets’ to solve their problems. In reality the equipment already exists – it’s simply a case of having the design, strategies and training in place to utilise it.”

Tesco plans big for Halloween

Tesco is launching its biggest Halloween marketing push to date, in a drive to capitalise on what the supermarket describes as a £55m sales opportunity for the brand.

The supermarket giant is rolling out a series of TV and print ads, as well as in-store activity, which will culminate on 31 October.

A TV campaign will break tomorrow (1 October) to promote its exclusive distribution deal with DreamWorks for its latest DVD, ‘Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space’, which Tesco is selling for £5.

Print ads will push the retailer’s range of children’s and adult Halloween costumes, while closer to the date itself the brand will advertise its range of confectionery as well as seasonal favourites such as pumpkins.

Carolyn Bradley, UK marketing director at Tesco, said Halloween trailed only Christmas and Easter in terms of seasonal sales, and had overtaken both Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, making it a key marketing battleground for retailers.

Bradley said: “Since the recession, we’ve seen consumers looking to spend more time with their families and making their own entertainment at home. The range we’re offering is very accessible and affordable.”

Promo junkies become hooked on a quick fix

The retail sector’s aggressive use of price-led offers poses a long-term threat to brand values as consumers take advantage of a tool designed to give sales a quick uplift.

Price fixation: It is rare to find a sales promotion not based on price

Sales promotions have long been employed to drive volume, support product launches or smooth out seasonal sales spikes, but marketers need to beware that if used too often they can damage a brand.

Christine Cross, chief retail and consumer adviser at pwc, says any discount above 25% “puts a brand in dangerous territory”. It is unsurprising, then, that the latest sales promotion figures are concerning analysts and marketers.

In the grocery sector, promotions now make up 34% of overall sales, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Some sectors, notably beer, cheese and blocked chocolate, rely on promotions for up to 65% of their sales.

Once the whole chain becomes accustomed to operating on the basis of price cuts, this can, and has, become an unsustainable norm.

Indeed, when retailer Spar released a “buoyant” sales update last quarter, its head of marketing support Adam Margolin confirmed that sales promotions are “a vital part of everything we do”.

Spar’s sales of promoted items rose by more than 28% year on year, and Margolin explains that the retail chain is in a catch-22 situation.

“Brands can keep promoting to keep customers, or reduce promotion and risk losing customers,” he says. “The real winner in all this is the customer.”

And consumers are certainly taking advantage of price cuts. Of the 34% of sales that Kantar attributes to promotions, half are price cuts.

During much of last year it was rare to find a sales promotion that was not price driven. And it is not just challenger brands that are responsible for this trend; leaders in certain categories are succumbing to the vicious circle. Walkers Sensations crisps used a cut-price promotion to launch the premium sub-brand in 2002, and the price has remained static, prompting parent company PepsiCo to launch Red Sky crisps in 2009 to fill the premium positioning.

There is also a danger that non-food promotions could fall into the same trap, which Cross at pwc warns could leave brands “mortgaging future sales”. For example, items such as toothpaste or toilet roll on buy-one-get-one-free offers won’t encourage more use as consumers will simply stock up when the product is on offer to tide them over until it is next on offer again.

Perpetuating such a cycle of discounting means shoppers will increasingly make purely functional decisions, overlooking all the values the brand has spent time and money creating and communicating.

Clothing retailers, too, are at risk if they rely on discount offers to get people through the doors. Simon Wolfson, chief executive of high street fashion retailer Next, suggests that clothes prices could rise 8% next year in line with overall costs. Add in the VAT increase, stubbornly high inflation, along with the public spending cuts and it’s a cocktail that will only intensify the headache.

Dairy Crest customer marketing controller Tim Dummer sees it both ways. Damage has been done as promotions have been relied on as a result of tough trading conditions, but he recognises there is a real need to change. “We offer discounts as a reward to loyal customers and to encourage them to buy our brands when they’re hard-pressed for money,” he says. “When consumers can afford to pay more, we need to re-engage with them on the benefits of the category, the product quality and to show that the current levels are not sustainable.”

Definition debate
Part of the issue may be in the way the term sales promotion is defined. Marketers regularly view sales promotion as a straight discount tool rather than a loyalty tool, while analysts often refer to it as any initiative to promote an increase in sales. But the Institute of Promotional Marketing – which changed its name from the Institute of Sales Promotion in May – says sales promotions provide short-term uplifts, but can be hugely damaging to brand values in the longer term. Clive Mishon, chairman of the IPM, said at the time of the rebrand that: “Changing our name from the Institute of Sales Promotion underlines the fact that promotions are about more than sales.”

Rather than being defined by discounts, promotional marketing, on the other hand, changes behaviour and can have a much longer term and more strategic focus. For example, government departments now use promotional marketing to encourage people to reduce their consumption of alcohol and saturated fats, or cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke.

Is it possible, then, to wean consumers, brands and retailers off price-based promotions? Such an aim will not be achieved quickly and with Christmas – when the focus on price reaches its peak – just around the corner, it is unlikely there will be any considerable shift away from this trend in the near future.

Retailers could do worse than to look at how the banks have changed their promotional strategies in the wake of the financial crisis and declining trust in the sector. Their focus has now shifted from an acquisition strategy to one of deepening relationships with existing customers. Banks are also providing existing customers with the best rates and look to provide them with the service levels that will keep them tied in for years to come.
If high street banks can change their ways, so too can other retailers. Ian Humphris, joint managing director of through-the-line specialist Life Agency, argues: “In a retailer-driven landscape, clients have to take back control of their brands and provide more reasons for consumers to buy them.”

Mosaic Marketing & Promotions has been observing activity over the past year through its “Promo Watch” blog. Director Adam Miller says there has been a “visible decline” in price-led activity this year. Brands are now going beyond a simple price promotion to embrace the full gamut of the socially connected world. He cites the Doritos: King of Ads crowdsourcing website and Carlsberg Team Talk viral video, which show that “it’s about more than just slapping up a Facebook fan page”.

The expansion of online activity has certainly increased the options for promotions. High street fashion retailer Uniqlo now offers discounts in return for customers using Twitter to publicise the chain. Meanwhile, the “One pack, one vaccine” promotion run by Pampers in conjunction with charity Unicef builds on the Procter & Gamble-owned brand’s social responsibility strategy and overcomes the shopper’s price barrier at the shelf.

Redemption schemes could also be key in weaning consumers off price cuts. However, the easier the redemption conditions, the higher the take-up is likely to be, highlighting a need for fixed fee promotion groups and promotions risk management consultants. If only Hoover had used one – its infamous free flights promotion of the Nineties, which resulted in severely budget busting and brand destroying redemption rates, continues to be a stark warning of the risks involved in sales promotions.

There is still plenty of price promotion occurring in supermarkets, but this is now being coupled with messaging about quality, provenance and choice. Even Asda’s new chief executive Andy Clarke has said the supermarket will be driving as hard on quality as on price.

This shift has come at a time when consumer attitudes about price are beginning to change. According to the latest 2010 Global Monitor research from The Futures Company, the priority that consumers placed on price during the recession has weakened slightly during the past year. Some 53% of consumers agree that price is more important to them than brand names, down from 57% in 2009. The study also offers good news for brands with 39% of consumers agreeing with the statement that “it’s best to buy famous brands because you can rely on their quality”, up from 34% last year.

The Futures Company’s executive chairman J Walker Smith says the changes may be small, but are notable, and signal “the start of a long-awaited reversal in attitudes”. But it remains to be seen whether this report marks the beginning of a much-needed reversal in price-based sales promotions.

Innovation Station

I’m currently on the lookout for ambitious design professionals to join my award winning design team here at Valley Head office, West Yorkshire!

We have 3 openings that we require to fill quickly.

Middleweight P-O-P Designer -3-5 years experience
Thick skinned & bursting with creative juices!
You’re a talented 3D designer with the initiative to run projects from sketch to 3D alone or part of a team. A passionate & holistic approach to design means you can “see with shopper’s eyes” & inspire those around you to realise outstanding in store solutions under tight deadlines. Exceptional 3Dmax, CS3 & sketching skills are a must.

3D Creative Designer – 1-3 years experience
Young fresh & eager to take a bigger bite!
You’ve already cut your teeth & so ready to progress into an exciting, fast paced creative environment. You’ll be a team player eager to contribute in creating industry leading POP for the world’s biggest brands whilst pursuing your strong desire to expand your skills & learning. Developing 3Dmax, CS3, sketching skills is a must.

High energy creative’s! A proven track record of exceptional creativity & visualisation skills, in & around the retail marketing sector. A Concise PDF portfolio of unique skills is required

If you are interested in any of the above vacancies please forward your CV for the attention of my Studio Manager, Lewis Turner to

In-store Media does boost Sales

Multi-media in-store activity does boost the additional sales uplift from promotions by an average of 25%, according to new research commissioned by The Co-operative.

In-store radio was found to be the most successful channel registering 30 to 40% higher uplift per £1 media value than the other measured channels.

The study, conducted by Data2Decisions, analysed the additional sales generated over a two-year period in food stores operated by the company.

It concluded that retail media communications attributed incremental sales of £13.4m.

Of the £13.4m incremental sales, radio accounted for £5.3m followed by shelf talkers which generated £4m compared with all the other channels, such as shelf wobblers, in-store sampling, till screen adverts, direct mail and leaflets accounting for £4.1m.

Susan Beetlestone head of commercial marketing at The Co-operative says the results “confirm what we have long suspected”.

“Retail media is an emerging route to market versus the more traditional channels, such as TV and press campaigns. Our media centre offers brands a unique opportunity to reach millions of regular shoppers and members, and this analysis shows that our in-store channels can deliver powerful results for advertisers.”

Communicate effectively & win the purchasing power of women

With Mothering Sunday fast approaching it’s fitting that the importance of targeted in-store communications towards the female population is highlighted.

80% of purchasing decisions in a family are made by women, with the proportion of female shoppers is increasing. It is generally known that women like to talk and communicate in a variety of ways so a good method to win favour with women is good in-store communication.

Most home electronics departments look the same – however this sector is particularly poor at marketing itself to women and tapping in to their purchasing power. Despite the fact that women currently make the decision concerning 75% of all purchases of technical goods, stores still communicate with male orientated strategies in mind!

Research shows that women are generally attracted by good function and good design more than by a particular technology. In-store Communication should therefore be in the form of attractive images and easy-to-understand information about the pros and cons of a product, rather than complicated technical information. The store should also have an inviting and welcoming atmosphere that would appease to a generally more design conscious female trait.

In most environments however, it is often the requirement that a communication must find a happy medium, being appealing to both gender audiences. This is where the true skill in creating a balanced message and design must be addressed.

Global Shop – A Finger on the Pulse

Constantly travel the globe, to discover new & innovative retail marketing solutions that can be introduced to our clients. My most recent journey took me Global Shop 2010, Las Vegas, USA.

I took my camera with me and took some shots of some of the more interesting P-O-P on show. Hopefully these will give you some inspirational sparks for your own retail marketing campaigns.

Take a quick look at the gallery below

The Big Freeze – Is this a cause for concern for P-O-P?

It’s been reported that the recent chill could have a negative impact on retailers with shoppers opting for the comfort of their home computer for purchasing rather than venture out to the high street…. Is this anything to worry about though? I’m not so sure. It’s expected that a percentage of shoppers will simply defer purchases temporarily rather than seek an alternative means.

This is encouraging for the retail environment and should be seen as an opportunity for when shoppers do decide to journey out. Strong, relevant and stand-out P-O-P will reign supreme when the shopper surge hits the high street and could be seen as a prime promotional opportunity.

Swatch demonstrates great in-store point-of-sale

The design and layout of a shop should accomplish a few basic things. It should draw people in, be creative enough to highlight the product but not distract from it, be easy to navigate and deliver the brand’s key message.

Swatch is the maker of fashionable watches and its store on Broadway in New York just had a makeover. The new shop interior ticks all the right boxes. It is creative, innovative, fun and sends the message that Swatch is all those things too.

First, the white-on-white interior is more of an off white-on-off white interior and gives a richer hue than the cliché whites. It has a large graphic on the wall of a watch so without even going inside you know what they’re selling. The brightly coloured watches that Swatch is known for stand out against the white interiors, so the products are the main attraction.

The display counters are all ingeniously shaped, reminding everyone of clock gears and cogs. The counters aren’t too close together making the store easy to navigate between styles. The counters, which aren’t really like counters at all, are lower—much like a museum. With the lower surfaces and the lights perfectly positioned, the watches look like a piece of art. If you look above, the watches actually have been used for art. Hundreds of different coloured watches make up the looming chandeliers.

Innovative design draws people in and the product stands out. The store is clutter free and easy to navigate and they delivered a key message—creative, innovative and fun.

Swatch’s new store is a great example of how to create shop interiors and displays. Think about your message and then design a shop or display that conveys that message for you.

Innovative POS but is it effective?

An innovative idea from the United States in maximising POS through the in-store customer journey by using the checkout conveyor belt as a promotions tool. This may seem like a brilliant innovation at first however when you drill down into the basics of its placement it has its flaws.

The most obvious problem with this placement is the fact that customers will cover the surface almost immediately with shopping, hiding any of the promotional messages displayed. However more importantly, unless the products being promoted on the conveyor are immediately to hand for the customer they will have little chance of purchasing at such a late stage of their shopping journey…

A great idea and proof that P-O-S has potential in so many different locations even if it needs a little refinement.

Follow this link Checkout P-O-S..but does it work?

P-O-P Reaches new heights

Biscuit manufacturer Oreo show that in-store prominence, innovation and clever use of the featured product all contribute to a truly unique Point of Purchase display.

The display ties in with the launch of the world’s tallest building in Dubai, replicating the buildings appearance and enticing customers to be photographed in front of the display. Its a powerful method of raising brand awareness and proof that relating P-O-P to recent and relevant events can increase a customers chance to interact with the product itself.

Take a look at the video  OREO Aims High through P-O-P

The Valley Group’s new website

After lots of hard work, we’ve now revamped our corporate Valley website. The new site has a lot more movement and even has a miniature James that comes out to speak to you! It’s a lot easier to navigate and allows visitors to easily access information about our company and view some of our case studies.

Go and have a look and feel free to let us know what you think!

Infiniti uses augmented reality for point of purchase display

Following my last post about augmented reality, I have found several more uses of this new technology. Infiniti recently used augmented reality for a point of purchase display which is really eye catching.

Utilising this new technology for point of purchase display is an excellent way to reach consumers. While people are interacting and “playing” they are being given the company’s message, whether that be product information or a promotion.

Shoppers can hardly resist the new technology. Otherwise hard-to-reach consumers are now willingly participating in marketing and advertising.

Infiniti was able to showcase a new product, position itself as a cutting edge company, highlight key features and promote its product in an innovative and fun way.

Hugo Boss uses augmented reality in window display

Christmas is a time for cute window displays with lots of fake snow and waving Santas, but Hugo Boss took another route. They created a large scale interactive augmented reality scene in their shop windows.

A few weeks ago, I saw an advertisement in Stylist, the free weekly magazine, encouraging me to take the ad to the window of Hugo Boss’ London store.

For those of you that are new to augmented reality, the basic idea is to take a certain image and place it in front of a web cam. The program delivering the service responds to the image and then something happens! It can be anything from someone talking to you to a video playing.

Hugo Boss brought this idea to a large scale- a shop-window. When people took cards that were handed out or ads such as the one I saw in the magazine to the window, a sparkly “Season’s Greetings” appeared. A personal fashion show also commenced showing the latest fashions.

Drawing people inside, they had another augmented reality station. By holding their card up to the screen, a game of black jack would start. If their card was a winner they won £50. You could possibly win £250 if you brought one of the ads from Stylist or ShortList.

By using this type of display you can engage with and reach many people. By showcasing something new, people will be interested. Shoppers will be curious and people who see the ad will be motivated to participate. By using something new such as augmented reality, online conversations spark and are spread like wildfire which in turn peaks people’s interest to visit the store or the website.

Hugo Boss really stepped up the window display this season and was able to reach a much wider audience by integrating interaction with a store display in a unique and engaging way.

Conveying value using point of purchase

Marketing magazine has reported that ‘power brands’ are refocusing their marketing activities and shifting a lot of attention to point-of-purchase (POP) in order to differentiate their products during these economically challenging times. Differentiation is going to be key in the run up to Christmas.

POP is set for an annual growth rate of 21% according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Procter & Gamble have gone on record stating that ‘if [a marketing idea] doesn’t work at the store, it’s a miss’ and Diageo is advertising for two dedicated POP managers. A sure sign that as marketing budgets tighten, POP is a high-value opportunity to ensure your product is visible.

Value shift

Research by consumer analyst firm IGD has found a growing trend for consumers looking to find a bargain but also minimise wastage – BOGOFs and multi-buys are increasingly becoming seen as wasteful and consumer focus appears to have shifted to value in correlation with sensibility – hence why food retailers have refocused their messages to convey quality value instead of quantity value.

Disney’s theme park retail plan

While many other retailers are cutting back and playing it safe, Disney is taking risks. Disney is putting into motion an expensive and very aggressive redesign of its 340 stores in the United States and Europe.

Disney will be getting a high-tech makeover from the floor up incorporating recreational activities. The goal is to make children want to visit the stores and want to stay longer, hopefully boosting sales.

After much internal debate, the estimated million pound reboot is being set in motion. Several board members feared its lavishness would prompt parents to use the stores as a nursery and others worried people would come for the entertainment and not buy anything.

There will be theatres in which children can view clips of their choice as well as participate in karaoke contests. Children may even be able to chat with Disney stars via satellite. Computer chips embedded in the product packaging will activate hidden features in the store. For example, holding a princess tiara will activate a “magic mirror” and Cinderella might appear and say something to you.

More features include the 13-foot-tall Lucite trees which will crackle with video-projected fireworks and sound with the touch of a button and the scent component. If a clip from Disney’s coming “A Christmas Carol” is playing in the theatre, the whole store might suddenly be made to smell like a Christmas tree.

The brilliantly redesigned stores may bring in the crowd for entertainment only, but the hope is that when customers are ready to spend money again, Disney stores will be ready.

Interactive Coca-Cola vending machine

I’ve been interested in Coca-Cola’s latest vending machines since they were introduced as prototypes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Known as the uVend, they have generated a lot of interest as they have completely modernised the concept of the basic vending machine.

Now, after picking up an award at the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival in June for Point of Sale, they are to be introduced on a much wider scale and they are planning on advancing some of the great technology even further.

The machines consist of a 42 inch LCD touch screen which is integrated into the front of the vending machine. This screen utilises the latest in flash technology, high definition video and Bluetooth, creating a highly interactive and integrated retail experience.

The machine is unique in that it can vend Coca-Cola products but also advertise drinks at certain times of day to specific audiences. In this way, it is similar to a digital advert and yet the results are immediate.

Anthony Phillips, global marketing manager for Coca-Cola, said:

Coca-Cola have truly revolutionised the way in which consumers interact with vending machines and have allowed them to become immersed in the brand in a fun and unique way. As vending machines are the number two connection point for reaching consumers with the Coca-Cola brand, it is vital that they are constantly changing to match trends and demands.The machines will certainly alter the way the brand is perceived, bringing it bang up to date with tech savvy consumers. The entry into the Cannes Lions reveals that the Coca-Cola brand recognition for “”Hip and Contemporary” went from a 10% rating for traditional vending machines to 79% with the Multi-Media Coke Machine.”

The machines are currently only in operation across parts of the US, but are due to spread across the globe in the near future. Hopefully, Coca-Cola’s vending machine concept can completely change the way brands view their vending machines, making it more of a fun and interactive consumer experience.

Taking traditional retail to a whole new level

This post is a bit different to my usual Point of Purchase observations, but this story from creative ideas blog, Springwise, really interested me and I felt it deserved a mention here.

Traditional luxury department store Fortnum and Mason have recently decided to take local produce to a whole new level by sourcing honey from beehives kept above their store.

Four bee hives have been placed high up on the roof of their building in Picadilly in order to create the unique urban honey to be sold in store. The pollen from chestnut and lime trees, as well as a wide variety of other flowering plants, is expected to make this one of a kind urban honey, which will be on sale from May 2009.

It is believed that a 227g jar of Piccadilly Honey will be priced at around £10, which for such a unique product from such a prestigious retailer is, in my opinion, great value. Adding to the unique quality of this idea, there are two webcams which offer customers the chance to see the bees up close making the honey.

I think this is a great local approach and ensures customers not only know exactly where their products are sourced, but also that they are great quality. It is also a unique tactic for such a traditional store to implement, which makes it even more appealing and interesting.

Technorati Tags: Fortnum and Mason, retail concept

IKEA enhance loyalty scheme with in-store kiosks

IKEA has launched a new, advanced technology concept in six of its Belgium stores to help encourage customers to join their IKEA family loyalty scheme.

Kiosks positioned around the store allow the customers to sign up to the scheme without the need for staff assistance. The kiosks have been piloted across Europe, with just over 28 now in use.

The kiosks, created by Quant Marketing and Protouch, also provide the user with helpful information about the store, including upcoming promotions, offers and events.

Tim Schroons from IKEA Belgium, said to In-Store News: “We are very happy with the new family registration kiosks in our Belgian stores.

“They gives us a much more efficient way of recruiting new IKEA family members without the presence of a co-worker being required. This versatile solution allows us to recruit new members and have existing members print out a temporary card or update their customer profile in a user friendly way.”

This is a great idea and shows how technology is not only improving the customer experience, but also making business more efficient.

Dior makes over its POP

In order to promote its new fragrance, Ms Dior Cherie L’Eau, luxury brand Dior has begun a new retail concept which adds a unique and elegant twist to the usual point of purchase stands in Boots stores.

In a recent article from ‘In Store News’, Dior’s merchandising manager Nathalie Coloigner said:

“We approached MAD to create a visually impactful POP that would help transform Boots’ generic towers into eye-catching, qualitative and elegant selling units.”

Mad About Design developed new Point of Purchase tower units along with mini selling sites for staff. It’s important for luxury brands to stand out against the competition, particularly during the financial strain when many are opting for cheaper alternatives.

It is also interesting that luxury brands are choosing to branch out from traditional in store promotion strategies and explore more exciting avenues.

Hopefully we will see more experimentation when it comes to Point of Purchase ideas which could change retail experiences in areas which usually don’t push the boundaries.

The Big Brother of retail

A recent article in Wired magazine explored some of the interesting, revolutionary and some may say frightening advances which could be employed in the next generation of retail and in store technology.

One which I found particularly fascinating was the use of face-tracking technology in order to specifically tailor in store advertising messages to customers.

Although reminiscent of the gadgets in a science fiction film, or the constant surveillance of Nineteen Eighty Four, this technology is already being used in parts of France and seems as if it could be implemented on a larger scale in the near future.

The thing that makes it particularly interesting is that normally these systems rely on the co-operation of the viewer, whereas this is different as the stand is fully aware of it’s audience and can make the necessary changes.

Paolo Prandini, from Quividi the design team behind the new face-tracking technology explains how the system works:

“At the core of the system is a face-detection algorithm that can tell whether a human face is actually looking towards the camera. Once we have locked onto that face, we can extract some information and features from it, such as gender and age group”

The technology can also tell how long the customer looks at the advertisement for and their basic demographics. This makes it an ideal tool in order to target specific messages at the right audience and keep them sufficiently engaged, but does raise some issues about privacy and exploitation.

I love the idea of in store retail technology advancing at high speeds in this manner but I can’t help wonder if we’re being far too intrusive in our use of advertising? I’m sure consumers will feedback to advertisers and retailers about how they feel about this if it does start to be implemented on a wider scale.

Small creative businesses popping up all over London

An innovative company called KiosKiosk is offering free and short-term leasing of small pop up kiosks to help new creative start-ups sell their products in an innovative way. The kiosks are opening up around London this summer and are one of the initiatives backed by the London Sustainable Development Commission, working to help creative independent new businesses become a success during tough financial times.

KiosKiosk explain that:

There are over 60,000 design students on design courses in the UK and this is growing at 3% per year. There are significant rises in the number of post grad design students coming to the UK to study as the UK’s reputation for design education continues to grow.

However, the problem lies with how it is now increasingly difficult for any of these students to start their own business when they graduate, retail space isn’t affordable for young people straight out of education.

Businesses that are interested in the kiosks are asked to send in their details along with an explanation of why they feel they deserve one of the kiosks.

The KiosKiosk website is engaging and highly interactive. Those interested can choose which kind of ‘skin’ they want their kiosk to have and there are design choices from floral fabric to corrugated steel. There’s also a calendar explaining who will be in the kiosk and what kind of products they will be selling to give them extra exposure.

Not only is this a great way to help start-ups, it’s a quirky new retail idea and a fantastic opportunity to showcase up and coming creativity. So, look out for one of the kiosks popping up near you this summer!

Vending convenience

Following the last post about vending machines, I stumbled upon several other vending examples that have found very specific niches. From prescriptions to shoes to bicycle parts and now swimming suits.

InstyMeds has created a vending machine that will provide prescription drugs and is designed to be placed in emergency rooms, doctor’s offices and clinics.

Offering a remedy of comfort, Rollasole and Afterheels have been vending comfortable ballet flats in nightclubs. They even come with a matching bag to place the constricting heels in on the way home.

In the mechanical industry, Trek have introduced a machine that vends bicycle parts and is conveniently located off a bike path.

Most recently, Quicksilver have teamed up with The Standard Hotels and now have a vending machine offering their line of swimming suits at the hotel’s pools.

I like the idea of using the traditional idea of vending machines, specialising the product, and marketing to a specific niche. Being able to provide exactly what a consumer needs in the exact place provides customer satisfaction. The isolated nature of placement of vending machines also significantly lowers competition.

On the topic of isolation, many times when you NEED a vending machine, you’re not next to an electrical supply. Well, no worries, there are now solar powered vending machines, thanks to Solar Energy Vending, which can provide treats where you need them like ice-cream on the beach. Not somewhere sunny? Well, just replace the solar panels with a windmill and you can have nice hot drink at the bottom of ski slope.

Alluring artsy shop

Some of the best designed stores look amazing before you even notice what’s for sale.

Similar to Ikea’s mock room set-up, L’Appartement’s interior entices you to come in. It looks like a lush, well-decorated and furnished home.

Once in, after appreciating the beautiful decor, you begin to notice what’s actually for sale. Many of the items are exclusive to L’Appartement and showcase designer’s creations.

I think it’s the visual impact of the shop interior that makes it successful. When laid out in a lavish, creative way you can really appreciate the ingenious design of it’s products. It also allows you to visualise how the products would look and what other pieces would coordinate with them. It’s shops like this that make it hard to leave with only one item.

Store front hits the right note

When designing store displays, the main goal is to capture attention. The Guitar Store took that concept to the street, literally.

I have to admit I think there are a lot of tacky shop fronts in the UK. Some shops completely ignore the historical architecture of the existing building with bright and repulsive colours. Others keep the historical aspect of the architecture and blend in with the rest of the building, but this shop has been creative with their store front.

Looking like a speaker amp, it captures the attention of those in the street. It certainly will capture music lovers who may be a target audience, but I think it draws attention from all passer-bys.

Store displays are designed to send a message and are intended to remain static. Many are designed for short period of time, such as the span of a season or trend. A clothing retailer, for example, will change it’s displays weekly or monthly. It will have to change it’s colours, style and attitude to keep up with the trends. This store front works because the products the shop sells are very specific and do not tend to change with the wind.

Photograph courtesy of

Chocolate’s in bloom

I found a point of sale display, created by David Tonkinson, that is beautiful and creative. His brief was to design a confectionary chocolate and a POS to go along with it. The chocolate is moulded to form petals of a flower. You can then “pluck” the petals of chocolate to eat and share. The chocolate and its packaging alone are fascinating, but the display is what I’d like to comment on.

I think a point of display should be simple and eye-catching. I also believe that the best displays are those that draw the customer in and create an experience for the customer. You can see Tonkinson’s flower design for the display here. Keeping with the flower theme, he created a display that mimics the inside of a flower. The packaging is designed specifically to fit into the display and has simple, chic effect.

I think the whole idea from the product to the packaging is really innovative. The display’s beautiful design visually lures you in and the product is so unique that you can hardly resist to buy it.

Great point-of-sale isn’t rocket science

No matter how innovative, quirky or unique a POS is, there are basic standards that, in my opinion, successful POS should meet.

Obviously, it should be visually appealing; the display should draw you in and spark your interest. I personally like bright and inviting.

Following this, it should be balanced. It looks nice when the products and display have somewhat of a symmetry about them. When balancing something visually, it makes it easier to look at for the customer.

Keep it simple. Don’t over clutter the display. It can be confusing for the customer. Instead of luring them in and sending a desired message it can have the opposite effect. To manage this issue, make sure you focus on a theme. Your theme can be based on a colour, style, price, season, etc. By sticking to a theme, you can still be elaborate without the confusion.

Make the layout of the design easy to browse. Once you’ve got a customer’s attention, make sure that interaction with the display is easy and comfortable, leading the customer to buy more.

Those are some of the main notes I think a POS should hit. It’s simple for anyone to create no matter what the product or how high or low the budget.

I found this photo from another blog of a stall in Marrakesh. It brilliantly encompasses all of the points I mentioned above, proving the simplicity of point-of-sale.

A Finely-Threaded Machine

A retail crew at Puma recently built a Ferrari to create quite a unique display. A usually highly innovative and technical process that could take days only took this crew a few hours. They built it out of t-shirts, jeans and other Puma stock they had at hand.

Although it only took an afternoon, it took weeks of planning to turn a pile of clothes into a finely-tuned machine.

This creative display is unique and draws a lot of attention, whilst obviously promoting Puma’s link with Formula 1 as well as with other motorsports. Reading about it compelled me to research the brand and even watch a video on YouTube of the whole building process. It’s a well rounded advertising move as it’s a creative in-store display as well as having potential to go viral.

To create the Ferrari Grand Prix car out of designer gear it took 1,500 T-shirts, 88 pairs of Jeans, 20 belts, 26 pairs of shoes and baseball caps. It may look like it’ll go 200 mph, but this set of wheels is staying put.

The final product is impressive, but watching the video is just as awe-inspiring.

World Cup and sport point-of-sale

Following on from this weekend’s England friendly, here at Valley we’re all thinking about the World Cup. We’re avid football fans, but it’s also great to see how big brands use landmark sporting events such as this to promote their product in a new and interesting way.

Valley has experience in helping iconic brands create unique sport-themed point of sale. For example Greene King for the ix Nations, Red Bull for the X-Fighters and Lucozade for the FA Premier League.

Using sporting events and seasonality to attract customers is always fun. Sport-themed displays make a big impression on your customers, differentiate your products from the competition and stimulate interest in your product.

By creating a unique sport-themed point of sale you catch the attention of your customers. Your product may then be associated with all the good feelings associated with that sport such as fun, friends, good times, the weekend, etc. Some brands are able to boost sales by piggybacking on big sporting events that are evocative with consumers.

I found this really creative sports themed display by Vitamin Water whilst looking online. Vitamin Water created a stadium, complete with a pitch and players with their bottles of products. Click on the link to have a look at the photos – quite unique!

POP expanding faster than internet advertising

The recession has consumers looking for deals on the items they buy now more than ever. That means it’s even harder from brands to stand out amongst the buy-one-get-one-free offer and half price stands.

Knowing and understanding consumer behaviour can be at your advantage when planning a point of purchase decisions.

I recently read on Marketing Magazine’s website that point of purchase is expanding faster than internet advertising and has an expected annual growth rate of 21% in 2010. It seems brands are realising the importance of POP as about 70% of brand choices are made in-store, especially in supermarkets.

Not only is it harder to stand out these days, consumers are also more “brand promiscuous.” They seek out the best deal and will swap brands at the drop of a hat. Research has shown that 37% of people buy a brand for the first time because of in-store promotions.

Understanding that people are now harder to sell to and that they try to stick to shopping lists to prevent going astray, brands can tailor their POP to be more effective.

When designing a POP marketing plan, brands should ensure their objectives match with existing in-store activities and targets. Point of purchase needs to help and support in-store environments and blend seamlessly into every day shopping.

Disruption of the shopping experience isn’t effective. Attraction is better.

So, we know consumers are trying to save money and aren’t as loyal to brands. Businesses need to use these factors to their advantage and design a POP plan with these consumers in mind.

POS is touchy

To some, point-of-sale may be to the extent of a difficult-to-fold cardboard display box at the till, but don’t be too basic. Despite the recession, adding technology can improve a company’s bottom line.

Customers have fancy phones that they can touch, talk to and have the ability to get any information they please from a variety of apps. People are used to touching and interacting and want that interactivity in their retail experience.

Some of the first “techy” in-store displays were TVs on stands. Now there is much more like Bluetooth, touch-screens and image recognition. Customers want to immerse themselves in the experience. They should be able to create, share and have fun and that’s a whole lot more than watching a plasma on the wall.

There is so much you can do from customising a display and tailoring it to your audience to demographic targeting using face recognition.

Using all this technology for your shop can be fun and exciting, but be smart. Keep it easy to use and informative. Also, make sure that using it integrates seamlessly into customers’ shopping experience. Humanize it-make it entertaining and appropriate.

Hopefully, your point-of-sale extends beyond a Vasoline lip balm holder at the check-out, but if not, maybe it’s time to update.

Maximise the benefits POP can provide

Cutting costs seems to be a priority for retailers and brands in 2010, meaning price is ultimately prioritised over quality and creativity when making P-O-P decisions.

P-O-P suppliers can bring innovation, expertise and experience to the table to help you deliver results for your customers brand or product within a realistic budget. Also working together with your supplier can ensure your customers reap rewards by delivering an effective, low cost campaign.

However, to avoid ending up with an ineffective P-O-P campaign, Doctor Retail suggests the following 3 top tips:

1. Be thorough and detailed about your goals. Don’t be brief with your brief. Combing through your brief with the supplier will help you make the most of your budget.

2. Use your point-of-purchase supplier’s insight and involve them early on in the campaign planning process. Let their experience save you money.

3. Learn from the past. Review previous projects and address what did and didn’t work. Using these findings, you can improve effectiveness of future projects.

The Valley Group acquires CPI

I’m pleased to announce today that we’ve acquired the business of the CPI in the UK. From now on CPI will be known as Valley CPI and we’ll continue to service our current clients in the global luxury goods markets, but we’ll be operating out of CPI’s existing premises in Leicester.

My new friend Jan Wojciechowski is set to become the Managing Director of the new company, with Mike Fentem as Finance Director, joining myself and the other Valley Directors , Jonathan Haggas and David Williams on the new Board.

Valley was established over 118 years ago and we have grown to become a leading point of purchase specialist with impressive global operations.

Over the course of the last year, the two businesses have forged close links, and we’ve procured substantial manufacturing contracts from CPI’s extensive production facilities encompassing injection moulding, vacuum forming, timber and metal.

We have long been impressed by CPI’s client list, none of whom conflict with our own, and the quality of their extensive manufacturing capabilities – we are really looking forward to working with the CPI management team to build on this fantastic foundation.

New Innovation in Retail Environments

This really is the future in Point of Purchase…to the extreme. Imagine standing outside the store of your choice doing your usual window shopping, thinking, dreaming of what you could buy, when suddenly at your finger tips you are able to explore the entire store, viewing which products are available or on sale without actually walking inside? The concept sounds like a convenient innovation for the consumer…but is this sapping the life out of the shopping experience? and more importantly is it deterring shoppers from entering shops and making those ever so crucial impulse purchases? You make up your mind…

This innovation does however emphasise the importance of traditional P-O-P in the retail environment though. Its ability to enhance a brand or product in a desired footprint still offers more of a story to the customer than a generic digital offering outdside of the retail environment…

Take a look and make your mind up

Click here

Innovation Station

I’ve been on my travels again the past few months so apologies for the lack of posts recently! I wanted to showcase some truly inspirational & innovative Retail Fixture magic this week. There seems to be an overriding rule within premium retail environments that interestingly enough contradicts the hustle and bustle of modern day life…that being simplistic design.

These are some stores I personally visited that really caught my attention as retailers that have their fingers on the pulse and how modern day Point of Purchase should be steered. Simple store layouts and fixtures make the shoppers life easier…why? They are less distracted by conflicting messages, they can make informed decisions without feeling claustrophobic and most importantly they are not pressured or over confused into panic buys….Surely making our shoppers feel comfortable within a retail environment will bring long term benefits also with improved loyalty!

Take a closer look and form your own opinion…

31% of Shoppers are making major changes to spending habits

More than half of the population expect the emergency budget to make things even worse for them.

A new report announced today by Shoppercentric shows that UK households are continuing to struggle to make ends meet – despite the recession being “over”. This study follows up from Shoppercentric’s “Shopping in the Recession” reports published in January, April and December 2009, and its purpose is to provide an indication of how shopper behaviour is changing – right now and in the future.

Shoppercentric reported back in January 2009 that 24 percent of shoppers said that they had made major changes to their spending – as of July 2010 this figure has now risen to 31 percent. Furthermore, 75 percent of all shoppers surveyed agreed that they had made some changes to their spending – highlighting the almost universal impact of the on-going economic situation.

“In April 2009 we reported that 11 percent of shoppers claimed their salaries had been affected by pay cuts / pay freezes or a drop in hours and hence we saw a fall in spending habits as a result. We then noted an improvement in this situation in December 2009 (five percent were reportedly affected by salary cuts etc.), however our latest report shows that the situation has worsened again with 12 percent of shoppers now being affected,” comments Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director at Shoppercentric. “It’s still a very challenging time for a lot of people – despite reports of green shoots on the horizon! Difficulties in managing budgets don’t just disappear overnight, many people will have gone into debt to just keep afloat. It’s a case of looking at how and where they can make savings and work towards recovery.”

The report also found that most shoppers have adopted the strategy of Prudence (87 percent) rather than Economising (82 percent) or Store Switching (76 percent). It’s all about avoiding waste, cooking from scratch and being careful about what they buy. From Shoppercentric’s first report in January 2009 it was identified that Prudence had the potential to become a long term trend, to become learned behaviour among shoppers. This latest data set emphasises the continued use of this strategy, whilst others such as economising are falling away over time.

54 percent of respondents felt that the government’s emergency budget would make things worse for their financial situation. 30 percent did not expect to see any real change and just 16 percent thought it might make things better for them.

Bearing in mind the emergency budget implications, the report found that Shoppers are looking to categories beyond household groceries to make savings. Of those hit the hardest economically, 51 percent said they would look to reduce spending on clothes and shoes (adult), 49 percent on going out/eating out, 40 percent on holidays and household and grocery shopping coming in fourth place with 33 percent.

Women continue to bear the brunt of the recession, both in terms of reduced circumstances (15 percent of women cited their income has been reduced as a result of a job loss compared with 11 percent of men), and making changes to household spending (87 percent of women compared with 79 percent of men).

“The report update has flagged up some interesting, perhaps surprising results,” concludes Pinnington. “The continuation of prudence by the shopper presents retailers and manufacturers with new challenges and promotions opportunities on ingredient items amongst others – to fire up shopper enthusiasm for cooking from scratch etc.

Retailers need to continue to listen to shoppers and their needs and respond accordingly with good pricing and reward strategies. Likewise the government needs to recognise and provide support for the impact that the VAT increase will have on providers of clothing, restaurants, holidays etc., as the long lasting impact of the recession continues to press sectors outside of the grocery arena.”

Valley presents a cool new 3D Display that gives products competitive edge

In today’s highly competitive retail market brands and stores need exciting from the competition. The Dreamoc, is a unique 3D display unit that conveys compelling product messages that consumers just can’t ignore. Dreamoc provides a dazzling combi-nation of holographic-like, free product a display.

The video can be or campaign requirements. Make your product stand out from the crowd with the powerful and eye-catching Dreamoc display.

Features inc.

Visually stunning product display

Generates positive attention

Superior exposure and branding

High brightness LED for product exposure •

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Take a look for yourself on the following link – A new age of Retail display

The Doctors diagnosis of CES 2011

Always searching for new innovations in retail marketing this month I found myself visiting the Consumer Electronics Show 2011in ‘viva’ Las Vegas. The aim of my visit was simple…seek out new technologies, new trends and new methods of maximising retail presence so that we can build into our own offering here at Valley….CES did not disappoint!

I was snapping away so that I could bring some of these fantastic display ideas back to the UK so please have a look through my album below!

After speaking with a cross section of senior marketing professionals at the exhibition what is clear is that shape & form of exhibition stands will indeed find their way into retail environments across the globe so this really is the prime time to collect ideas for in-store marketing displays.

I also discovered that a large presence of designs on show were influenced by household environments. This may be driven by an ever-growing subconscious desire by shoppers to purchase products that can be easily visualised within their very own homes – essentially triggering positive purchasing behaviour. For instance in regards consumer electronics – putting the TV within a ‘home-styled’ retail display allows the consumer to actually imagine it in their own home..really doing the hardest part of in-store marketing in one swoop!!

I have loads more feedback though so if you would like something more concise on CES 2011 I would be more than happy to send you a presentation of my thoughts. Just drop me an email on and I will fire it over!

Xmas figures show more work to be done at point of retail

Sainsbury’s has come out on top as the supermarkets report mixed fortunes over the festive period, according to the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

Sainsbury’s was the only Big Four supermarket to increase its market share over the 12 weeks to 26 December 2010, thanks to its more premium positioning and the relaunch of its Taste the Difference range. It now holds 16.6% compared to 16.3% a year ago.

Asda and Morrisons both reported a 0.1% fall in market share during the period, with Morrisons continuing the slide that first emerged last month following three years of positive gains.

This highlights a necessity to continue pushing presense at the point of retail. As competition increases across retail channels and a slow but increasing number of shoppers turning to internet shopping is is Point of Purchases responsability to ensure that consumers are still engaged and enthused within the retail environment – The economy is clearly still extremely dificult so low cost high return methods such as this are key to any marketing strategy.

For more ideas or help on your in-store marketing campaign contact me, Doctor Retail or my Marketing Manager Dan Marr on 01535 272861.

My findings from POPAI Paris Awards

Hello all our Doctor Retail readers! I’ve finally cleared some space to feedback some of my findings from the amazing POPAI Awards held in Paris, Porte de Versailles this year. Armed with my trusty camera I managed to snap away at some distinctive display designs and forms to inspire your own retail marketing campaigns.

Displays representing all sectors were on show this year, however I was particularly attracted to the fragrance and cosmetic designs that showcased some brilliant outside the box design execution, notably the Paco Rabanne Lady Millions gold safe that intrigues and attracts the consumer to brilliant effect. Other displays used harmonious material and lighting applications to emphasize the products on display such as the Samsung Handset desk- subtle yes but extremely effective and stylish with it!

Or how about making a shopping trolley or hand basket made to look stylish? We think this is a very clever way of subconsciously suggesting to the consumer to ‘fill their basket’ full of Veuve Cliequot Champagne – Very simple in its execution but minimalist with it reinforcing the brands characteristics perfectly.

Have a look for yourself and see if you can draw some inspiration for your own brand. If you would like help developing your own In-store Marketing campaigns though come and speak to me.

Good news for the high street – H&M to Add 275 New Stores in 2012

Stockholm-based H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) recently announced its expansion goals for 2012, with plans to add approximately 275 new stores. The fast-fashion retailer will open the most stores during the year in China, the United States and the United Kingdom. In addition, the retailer will enter Bulgaria, Latvia, Malaysia and Thailand for the first time.

The company also plans to open in Mexico during fall 2012—marking its first-ever store in Latin America. This will make a total of 10 new H&M markets over a period of two years. H&M also will continue to expand its other brands, such as COS and Monki, with the opening of its first COS stores in Hong Kong, Italy, Finland and Kuwait. Currently, the company operates approximately 2,500 stores in 43 markets.

Louis Vuitton new flagship store opens in Rome – well worth visiting

Louis Vuitton has opened a new Maison flagship store within the former Etoile, Rome’s first cinema. It includes a library and a screening room as part of the brand’s program to support the Italian film industry.

This opening marks an architectural extension of luxury brands’ recent activities surronding film, with Lady Dior, Longchamp, Cartier and Calvin Klein using a web series, music videos and short films. Built in 1907, the building in Lucina Square has been reinterpreted for luxury retail by architect Peter Marino. It covers three floors with a Baroque-style interior and a grand staircase resembling a film strip.

The Louis Vuitton Maison Etoile Rome includes a book room dedicated to Italian cinema, especially Rome’s iconic Cinecitta film studios. It also features a 19-seat cinema, which will screen short films, documentaries and original creations. Louis Vuitton’s film program, in collaboration with the Scuola Nazionale di Cinema del Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, aims to develop new talent with scholarships and academic programs.

Shoppers Making More Purchasing Decisions In-Store

According to the Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) 2012 Shopper Engagement Study, the majority of customer purchasing decisions are made in-store.

The study found that today’s in-store decision rate has reached an all-time high of 76 percent. More shoppers than ever are utilizing in-store marketing and branding cues to make purchase decisions.

The study also highlighted other key findings that in-store and shopper marketers should note, including the importance of utilizing in-store marketing to put product on display. The study found that nearly one in six brand purchases are made when a display with that brand is present in-store.

Also, according to the study, retailers are not fully maximizing the opportunity to enhance the in-store experience by cross-promoting items and locating displays away from the home aisle.

Additionally, the study highlighted the value in compelling, creative visual displays, noting that a significant number of eye-fixations (13 percent) were made on in-store display, with 66 percent of all observed grabs resulting in purchase.

The study also found that shoppers who use debit/credit cards are more susceptible to impulse purchases and make more decisions in-store. The average shopper misjudges the amount they will spend by 35 percent. Even when accounting for impulse purchases, 57 percent of shoppers still spend more than they planned.

Three quarters of UK consumers now use the internet for grocery shopping

A new study has found that three-quarters of UK consumers use the internet to buy their household groceries and that saving money is a major reason why they shop online.

The 2012 Nielsen Global Survey of Digital’s Influence on Grocery Shopping in the UK has revealed that 48% of those who went online for grocery shopping looked for deals, while 30% went to coupon websites and 25% used the internet to compare prices. Among those looking for grocery coupons, more than a quarter (26%) did so on a daily basis.

Shoppers in the UK were shown to be more likely to use the internet for saving money on groceries than Europeans as a whole with 43% of Europeans looking for deals online and 22% seeking out coupons.

More than a quarter (27%) of the UK online consumers surveyed said they intended to buy food and drink products online in the coming months. This makes groceries the third most popular category in the UK behind travel bookings (30%t) and books, newspapers and magazines (28%). This compares to groceries being the seventh most popular category just two years ago.

Almost half (47%) of the online UK consumers surveyed said that they used the internet for grocery research, such as checking a price or reading a consumer review. Among this group, one in five said they did this on a daily basis.

Nielsen UK head of retailer insight explained: “Grocery shopping and the internet go together like bread and butter for three-quarters of Brits. It shows just how aware supermarkets and brands need to be about how it impacts their bottom line – not just in what products people buy, but the prices they pay and where they get them from.

“One in every 10 Brits online uses the web for grocery shopping research every day, while 8% visit a coupon site daily for grocery deals. The growth in smartphones and apps makes this easier than ever. Retailers cannot ignore trends such as that.”

Nearly half (46%) of UK consumers who bought or researched grocery shopping online said the internet accounted for at least one-quarter of their total online and offline grocery activity time while 27% said online accounted for at least half their total grocery activity time.

The research found that, the rise in food prices has been the biggest factor determining what grocery brands and products UK consumers have purchased during the past year. This was followed by increased transportation costs (27%), health reasons and retailer loyalty programmes (both 21%). The availability of self-service checkouts has also had a major impact on the grocery choices of 18% of UK consumers online.

Watkins added: “Three of the four biggest factors impacting what people have bought over the last year relate to cost, which reinforces the price sensitivity of Britons when it comes to grocery shopping. So, while much has been made about fitness and wellbeing in this, an Olympic year, British shoppers are as likely to make purchase decisions based on retailer loyalty programmes and the use of coupons and vouchers – available online or via their smartphones – as they are on what’s best for their health.”

Nielsen’s research surveyed more than 28,000 internet consumers in 56 countries.

What’s Next: Retail 5 Years into the Future

“My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare, I had to cram so many things, to store everything in there.”

The lyrics in David Bowie’s song “Five Years” capture what life is like for many consumers in the fading light of the year 2013. This is the age of overload and overindulgence. We don’t watch TV any more, we binge view. We no longer communicate; we drown in email and social media inputs. We don’t make simple purchase decisions; instead we battle choice paralysis at the supermarket shelf. Too much stimulation. Too much information. Too much stuff. It’s totally exhausting and the next five years will be about stripping away and simplifying for consumers. And retail will need to play its role in helping to make our complex lives easier.

By 2018 I believe that we will be well in to the “Responsive Retail” era. Being responsive is all about, as the dictionary defines it, “reacting quickly and positively”. Technology will be far less intrusive and more invisible than it is today, retailers will instantly and automatically adapt to individual customers’ needs, and retail generally will be far more intuitive than it is now.
The days of shoppers delightedly comparing prices across the globe on their computers and smartphones will be gone. Customers will expect that pricing changes dynamically and, allowing for exchange rates at a given time, will be consistent market by market the world over. Individualized pricing will be typical – personalized offers, rather than mass percentage-off sales.

QR codes will be a thing of the past. If you want more information about a product, the item will talk to your mobile device and give you precisely what you need. Burberry is ahead of the game already in this regard, with their system of RFID tagging, where the chip in a garment triggers content and changes the mirror in-store into a digital display.

We will need to do much more of the thinking and the work for customers. You can already see the beginnings of that trend now. I often quote the example of Sainsbury’s Brand Match. The UK supermarket offers a service whereby every time you spend 20 pounds or more in store, the POS system and the checkout automatically compares the prices of the brands in your trolley versus other leading supermarkets and, if you could have paid less at the competitors, you receive a coupon for the difference.

Another case in point is the work that WPP* and Intel are doing on developing “intelligent shelves” (in trial in Singapore right now). In the next few years, the store shelf will “read” who we are; our likes, dislikes, wants and needs, and alter the information presented to suit.
It’s all getting closer to what Cisco Systems calls true “Customer Intimacy” in a data-driven, completely connected world.

The complementary movement to responsiveness over the next five years will be “Responsible Retail”. Again to quote the dictionary meaning, this is about being “morally accountable for one’s behaviour”. Consumers are becoming ever more aware of the results of their actions – a product bought today becomes landfill tomorrow, and an improperly sourced item can have societal ramifications (e.g. encourage sweatshops). Shoppers will want retailers who think through the cradle to grave cycle of products, who ensure fair and ethical manufacture in the first place, and who “give back” as much as take from society.

The trend is already evident in retailers such as US adventure-wear company Patagonia, which famously ran a full-page, anti-consumption press advertisement in the New York Times, headlined “Don’t buy this jacket”, and recently introduced “Worn Wear” (second-hand Patagonia clothing with a story behind each piece). In answer to one of America’s biggest shopping weekends of the year, Patagonia produced a short film called “Worn Wear”, which was billed as “an antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, Worn Wear is an invitation to celebrate the stuff you already own.”

Retailers like Toms in the United States are institutionalizing a responsible retail approach. Toms started life as an online shoewear company, with a manifesto (now trademarked) called “One For One”. For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms donate a pair to a needy child in a third world country.
In 2018, retailers who don’t behave responsibly will be the exception rather than the norm.

Amazon provides clues on where retail will be in five years’ time. They are already both “responsive” and “responsible”. In terms of the former, Amazon tracks and reads a shopper’s profile, anticipates needs and makes relevant product suggestions. Their “1-Click Ordering” makes purchasing easier too – once your details are in the system, you are just one click away from check-out. And when it comes to acting responsibly, Amazon recently introduced “Amazon Smile”, which allows shoppers to automatically donate 0.5% of every purchase to the charity of their choice.

Responsive and Responsible Retail. A kindler, gentler, more intimate and intuitive future? Well, yes. But both trends will also take pressure off shoppers and remove guilt. And relaxed customers are more likely to open their wallets.

(Credit: New Retail Blog)

DESIRE Micro Mobile Marketing Platform & App unveiled at CES Global Event.

The hotly contested arena of micro marketing technology and its attendant fields of next generation consumer apps, brand platforms and in-store transmitter beacons is today turned on its head by a groundbreaking innovation unveiled for the first time at the global CES new technologies showcase event in Las Vegas.

With the launch of their multi-purpose Desire platform and API, British marketing and technology wizards, Mark Aubin and Craig Smart, have created a micro marketing tool which not only leaves similar Silicon Valley rivals trailing in their wake but sets advanced new benchmark standards and capabilities to significantly advance the global consumer shopping experience.

Whilst Desire still relies on Bluetooth smart Beacons to deliver proximity marketing alerts and messages to consumers, it is how it significantly puts the customer at the forefront of the electronic shopping experience- and in a one stop, decision making role about what brands and products that they want to hear about on their apps- which gives it a crucial groundbreaking competitive edge over all other rivals in the field.

Says Mark Aubin, founder and CEO of Just Desire Ltd, which has conceived, created, engineered and is now developing Desire in collaboration with several major global retail chains:

“Everybody else has built their micro marketing strategies around push technologies directed by the brand or retailer and then aimed at the consumer. We’ve deliberately turned that thinking on its head and made our platform and app totally customer-centric”

“They decide what brand messages and store marketing alerts they want. That way they are kept happy and shopping rather than being turned off by a bombardment of messages to their mobile phones every time they walk around a store.”

Adds Aubin, a global marketing expert who has specialised in driving corporate growth via highly customer focused strategies for major brands such as Cadbury-Schweppes, Samsung, Panasonic, Nokia and T mobile:

“Our point of different over the other micro marketing technologies is of crucial importance in winning the hearts and minds of shoppers in what is going to be the next big arena of retail competition. For brands and retail chains it is all about capturing the minds of consumers and winning their loyalty. That isn’t achieved by pushing a deluge of messages at them but about giving them specifically what they want, when they want it and in a non irritating way. Desire, as its name implies, delivers all that.”

“Consumers have to register only once with Desire which brands and stores they want to receive information about- they we do the rest in delivering that data to them at the appropriate and relevant times on their different shopping trips. Our app can store, literally, thousands of requested alert notifications and behaves as if it is the digital mind of the shopper.”

All other systems rely on consumers having to repeatedly load scores of individual shopping apps for each and every brand they want to be alerted about- and then these consumers being indiscriminately deluged with messages whenever they make a shopping trip.

That being said, retail experts believe that the arrival of the micro marketing revolution, whereby shoppers’ mobile phones are pinged with sales messages, brand videos, marketing campaigns and price deal offers whenever they are near participating stores where special transmitter beacons have been places, will positively make a step change in blurring the vexed lines of demarcation between online and off line shopping.

Desire, which has offices and development laboratories in Cambridge, England and Chicago has recognised this and how crucially important it is to deliver benefits for both shoppers and retails and brands alike.

To this end, as well as the marketing leading advantages it delivers for customers, Desire provides for brands their retailers an array of highly detailed marketplace analytics which will take dissection of consumer habits and behaviour to new levels of detail and focus.

“With Desire, brands and retailers get the best possible insight into the minds and behavioural shopping habits of consumers. We are very confident that it will get a very significant sales pick up from major multinationals, the global advertising and marketing industry and retail chains and super marketing groups,” predicts Mark Aubin.

Already Desire has linked up with a number of major UK and European retail chains as well as Vibe Audio, the global audio equipment specialists, to develop their unique sales and marketing tool, trailing it in High Street shops and with consumer focus groups.

Stores and their leading brands are able to upload all the elements of their current marketing and advertising campaigns- from videos, TV ads and special price offers to personalised customer messages and loyalty programme offers- to the Desire platform which correlates them to mobile phone app users.

Shoppers then receive alerts and marketing information when within 100 metres of a retail stockist or 30 metres of particular products in which they have registered an interest- it can be anything from cars and shoes to hair gels and clothes- via specifically located in store transmitter beacons.

The great advantage of the Desire platform and app is that it has been engineered and developed to work across all mobile phone systems- IOS, Android and soon Windows- making it the only fully versatile proximity marketing tool on the market.

With such an array of market leading advantages over all its rivals, Mark Aubin sees Desire being of huge global appeal to secondary users as well as major retailers and brands. The advertising and marketing industries will want it to supply to their clients whilst major supermarket groups, with product ranges running into thousands of items, would gain massively if they could stream specific product messages and price deals on an individual basis to each and every one of their millions of customers.

“The potential for Desire is simply immense and we believe that we are at the very leading edge of the next generation technology which is driving the revolution now taking place in micro marketing to consumers”.

“It is a fast paced arena in which to compete but we are confident that with the many additional developments we’ve still got up our technological sleeves, that we have a very big future ahead of us”.

To find out the latest news follow @JustDesire1 on twitter and like and share

What a Google store means for retail

Last week, a rumor emerged that has sent retail pundits aflutter with delight and speculation. Google: search giant, arbiter of the Android operating system, and seemingly omnipotent part of the digital world, might be entering the retail space in America. With its hand in dozens of industries—from energy to fitness, and mobile phones to historical book preservation—Google is running out of digital kingdoms to conquer. The only solution is to enter the physical world with a brick-and-mortar store.

Google has already experimented with retail in other countries. Most notablyAndroidland, a series of stores throughout South Asia and Australia that are operated by carriers but heavily branded with the Android mascot and its garish green color scheme. With this though, it seemed like Androidland was more about platform recognition and experiential product exploration than product movement.

Although Google created and maintains Android, Androidland was not about Google. It was about carriers and third party partners showing off products that happened to carry Google software. Google’s retail ambitions in the U.S. are far more important. This will not be an Androidland. This will be a Google store through and through.

What a Google brand would look like
In the past two years, Google has made significant changes to its branding, placing greater emphasis on the company as a household name. Google has begun to develop a company-wide design language and style: There’s a typography, color scheme, and cohesive look to all of Google’s products that was lacking for years. Just like an average person can differentiate an Apple product from a Microsoft device, consumers will be able to identify Google’s unique homegrown products from its competitors.

Empowered by this new visual identity, Google is fighting back against third party OEMs that skin its Android mobile software into an unrecognizable form. The company has scored key wins from popular OEMs like Samsung and HTC, who have agreed to make clean “Google Play editions” of its flagship smartphones.

Most importantly though, Google now makes self-branded hardware and has products to sell in a retail store. The Nexus line of smartphones and tablets, along with devices like Chromecast, the Chromebook Pixel, and new ventures like Google Glass are all branded as Google devices before anything else. They all sport the increasingly iconic colors of Google: green, red, blue, and yellow.

What a Google store would look like
Google wants to elevate this brand recognition by creating controlled, real-world environments where consumers can have a “pure” Google experience, much like Apple’s eponymous retail stores. With its store, Apple was able to create a tangible shopping experience that was inextricably linked to the company’s image. The store allowed the company to move its design philosophy out of cyberspace and into the physical realm of décor and customer service. Google seeks to do the same.

No wonder Google’s first store is rumored to be located just down the block from Apple’s SoHo store in New York City. This is a play we’ve seen before: Microsoft has attempted to mirror the Apple Store’s runaway success with its own heavily branded store experience, complete with an “Answer Bar” to emulate Apple’s Genius Bar. Sony also revamped its Style stores in 2011 to more closely resemble the Apple shopping experience.

It remains to be seen what form Google’s store will take. Based on Google’s aggressive branding push, you can bet you’ll find the company’s yellow, red, green, and blue colors tastefully splashed throughout a minimalist interior. Google has mastered “flat” design with clean fonts and lots of white space. If that can be translated like Apple’s use of wood, metal, and black and white colors, you’ll feel right at home in a Google store.

One thing’s for sure: Google will use its stores as a central location where customers can be immersed in the Google ecosystem. The Apple store allows shoppers to experience how their products “just work.” Likewise, expect every product and experience in the Google store to take full advantage of Google’s web services. The point of the Google store is to show how indispensible Google can be to your daily life.

Google can succeed where previous companies have failed in replicating the iconic status of the Apple store, because Google has created a truly positive brand culture. Slogans like “Don’t be Evil” and the company’s famous employment perks make Google a PR darling to geeks all over the world. Engendering a retail environment that emulates that culture and allowing consumers to access a slice of Google’s world in their neighborhood may be all it needs to dominate in the retail sector.

And if all else fails, Google will still have thousands of devices running Android to sell.

Kit Kat Boutique opened in Tokyo

KitKat, launched in Rowntree’s York factory in 1935 as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp before becoming KitKat Chocolate Crisp in 1937, became Japan’s favourite chocolate in 2012. Nestlé, which nowadays makes KitKats at factories around the world, including York, says its popularity is boosted in Japan by the launch of hundreds of unusual and innovative special edition flavours to meet Japanese consumers’ experimental tastes and sense of style.

“Many KitKat flavours, created to reflect regional specialities, are only available in specific regions in Japan,”

Called Kit Kat Chocolatory, the store will open on January 17 at the Seibu Department Store in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro. It will be located in Seibu’s basement, along with the department store’s other food sellers (In Japanese department stores, the basement is typically home to amazing and delicious food vendors.)

According to IT Media, the Kit Kat Chocolatory will offer special Kit Kats that are aimed at adult tastebuds and suit each season. The specialty shop is teaming up with sweet shop Le Patissier Takagi for its gourmet Kit Kat store, with pastry chef Yasumasa Takagai overseeing and developing new Kit Kats.

Rethinking retail: why brands are embracing the rise of the concept store

As consumer shopping habits rapidly evolve, retailers are looking to innovate beyond their four walls.

The rise of online shopping has sounded the death knell for many traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers. But innovative brands are reimagining the physical store, turning to magazines and museums for inspiration and creating spaces where the virtual and physical worlds collide.

A new wave of thinking about bricks-and-mortar retail has given rise to a surge in brands experimenting with concept stores. Apple and Burberry have been leading the pack when it comes to creating experience-focused retail for many years. But a wider range of brands is starting to experiment with concepts, and no longer just luxury ones.

General Electric, for example, is currently working with New York concept store Story as part of an exercise to promote one of its products.

Story is built on the concept of treating retail as media, curating its merchandise every month, like a magazine would with content, and getting a brand to sponsor it. This month’s theme is “cool” and the products on sale in the store – clothes, jewellery and gadgets – reflect that.

GE, which has partnered with invention platform Quirky for the curation, does not take a revenue share from product sales, but is using the store as a platform to promote a smartphone-controlled air conditioning unit. “A product tells a much bigger story than just a transaction and in Story every item has a long-tail narrative attached to it. That is really what we want to do. Not to enhance every transaction and sell more, but to tell the story behind our work through product, commerce and experience,” explains Sam Olstein, global director of innovation at GE.

Nestlé, on the other hand, aims to combine branding with direct-to-customer sales through its KitKat concept store in Japan.

The Chocolatory, located in a Tokyo shopping mall, sells exclusive and unique products, such as Sublime Bitter and Special Sakura Green Tea. Stewart Dryburgh, Nestlé’s global marketing head for KitKat , explains that creating unique products taps into the Japanese custom of buying thoughtful gifts for people, helping KitKat build an emotional connection with the consumer and reinforcing positive sentiment around the brand.

The store has attracted a lot of social media attention and requests for versions in other markets. “We did not open the store on a whim, but it is still quite early in evolution and we are doing a lot of testing and learning to understand how best we leverage it in other markets,” says Dryburgh.

While e-commerce is rapidly growing, particularly on mobile – eMarketer forecasts worldwide business-to-consumer e-commerce sales will increase by 20.1% this year to reach $1.5tn – not all commerce will shift online. The clicks-versus-bricks debate is wearing thin as more retailers embrace an omni-channel retail. And with eBay and Amazon having both experimented with physical retail concepts, and Google also reportedly planning a museum-style concept store in New York, even the most successful digital brands recognise the importance of physical retail.

People still love to shop as a social occasion, family day out or even holiday, but there is a crucial distinction between the act of shopping and where a purchase is made, says David Womack, executive creative director at R/GA. “Retail serves a number of complex functions beyond moving merchandise. The retail experience is an incredible part of the consideration process, it is just where they do transactions that will shift,” he says.

A concept store that leverages technology effectively can close the loop between digital and physical, overcoming the problem of attributing online marketing to offline sales. “As we are able to have single view of the customer from digital to retail, this will change the nature of the [physical] retail experience. Stores will become more like galleries,” Womack adds.

Tesco has been exploring omni-channel retail to power a new kind of shopping experience. In South Korea, Tesco created a touchscreen storefront in a subway, enabling commuters to buy groceries while waiting for their train.

“Our focus is on helping our customers shop whenever, however and wherever they chose to,” says Paul Wilkinson, head of technology research at Tesco Labs.

“The proliferation of channels, devices and services means that people can shop in a huge variety of ways and they expect a seamlessly connected experience. We are building our business around that,” he says.

One of the key challenges retailers face with concept stores is ensuring they add value. They are a big investment and if the technology falters, or the space has no buzz, it could create negative brand perception.

Logistics will also prove to be another battlefield. With delivery times speeding up – Amazon potentially will deploy delivery drones – bricks-and-mortar retailers will no longer be able to depend on instant gratification to give them the edge over their online competitors.

For Rachel Shechtman, founder of Story, the future of retail lies in experience, community, differentiation and mass customisation.

“We are barely scratching the surface, and while bricks-and-mortar is often referred to as dying, I think it will only give way to a new frontier with endless and untapped potential, light years beyond looking at sales per square foot,” she says.

Source: The Guardian

A sneak peak at Life in the Retail Space…

Rise of the iBeacons

Digital marketing is fast becoming marketers ‘go to’ in bridging the gap in omnichannel retailing. With that being said, creating a strategy that incorporates mobile devices with the in-store experience has proven quite a challenge. The competitiveness of the retail environment necessitates not only an in depth understanding of shoppers, but also a frictionless integration of digital interfaces and conversation between consumers and brands. This is critical not just before the point of consumption or after it, but at all points throughout the shopper journey.

These days, the majority of shoppers carry a smartphone of some sorts, be it to check prices, health and nutrition advice or just to communicate with friends while on the move. Whatever the reason, the fact that they are using these devices in store presents retailers with an unrivalled opportunity for communication and engagement. All in all, an enhanced in-store experience leads to greater customer loyalty and, ultimately, a bigger basket at the point of checkout.

It is becoming clear that by combining customer data gathered both online and in store, retailers can deliver an experience for customers based on an exchange of information and enabled by new technologies and applications, including the iBeacon.

These in-store beacons utilise proven Bluetooth Low Energy technology to send any number of messages to mobile devices as they come into range. This technology allows shoppers to be presented with simple calls to action or branded content. As such, communication is facilitated between consumers and brands and companies are able to offer unique discounts and promotions to users.

Furthermore, beacons allow brands to measure the effectiveness of specific parts of their marketing strategy, facilitating a direct link to be drawn between a shopper viewing a promotion and making a subsequent purchase.

iBeacons offer a seamless and integrated omnichannel experience, solving problems people having been trying to resolve for years. Traditionally these problems were dealt with using near field technologies such as QR codes, however the friction in transactions of this type is often highlighted.

With the coming of the new era of “proximity vs location”, it has become clear that brands are increasingly aware of the importance of staying in the ‘mindset of customers’. Part of the answer is thought to be mobile apps, and iBeacons in particular, but the real challenge is figuring out the optimal timing and frequency of promotional messages and advertisements. Consumers do not want to be bombarded with information, and it is entirely possible that overexposure in the future may lead to the formation of new ad avoidance strategies by customers.

For more articles like this visit: and access our popular periodical Life in the Retail Space.

Consumer Trust: Capital Lever of Brands in the 21st Century:

The new sustainable cognitive monopoly:
Written by James Fakhfakh – Corporate Communication Sr. Adviser / Neuromarketing Strategist.

For more like this contact:

The balance of power has shifted from the retailer to the new consumer. Think NOT NEUROMARKETING unless you understood the fjord of consumer’s trust
TRUST has always been key in branding. A few decades ago, our grandparents would walk to neighborhood shops where they visited the as the local butcher, baker, fish market on the corner and vegetable patch and paid without asking price. This is where trust manifests itself via the built-in altruism that welded them together.

The world of choice today to name a few, the fast food, supermarkets, department stores and discounters warehouse etc.. instinctively continue to flood the consumer confidence and drown it down. With the global economic uncertainty, inflated dollar and fluctuating consumer confidence, consumers are increasingly conducting their research before they buy to ensure they get the best value for their buck.

The new consumer is becoming more vigilant than ever in their choice of a brand worthiness / of a high level of credibility and trust. Brand is no longer what the brand owners say it is but it’s what the consumers say it is.

Armed with many tools at their fingertips, this new consumer, with a mouse click, can find and compare brands and prices in real time. You only have to visit online forums to see what others are saying about your brand and how a in a storm of clicks, all their friends and family learn in real time what they need to know about you, your brand and about your product.

These new responsible consumers are empowered more than ever with decision insights as to when, where and how to shop. A wide menu of choices had become increasingly available to them to become more than ever more selective.

In essence, brands managers must become more intelligent how and where to invest in order to influence consumers and their awareness of their product during the purchase process, hence the ROI (Return On Influence)

Trust, Recommendation and Buying association

for most of us, trust is amorphous and intangible. As a concept related to the relationship between consumers and brand, trust can be made tangible and can be quantified and measured with the Castaldo balance formula. Trust of consumer or not trust of a brand or retailer can be won and lost. Once lost, it is very difficult to reclaim.

There are different levers that increase trust: some are more important than others. When asked if the current communications and promotions of retailers were not relevant enough, 81% of them said yes.

What does this mean? Maybe marketers need to communicate more effectively with their customers in a more tangible and more salient way.
Trust is important because it is a deserved currency. Once the merchant or brand installed trust in the consumer, they have a Cognitive monopoly over their competitors. The more a consumer trusts a brand or retailer, the less they shop elsewhere.

Think about the level of trust you have with your dentist or family doctor. It is this level of trust that many people have with their brand of toothpaste, clothes, hairdresser, supermarket or a local cafe. In the 2012 study, the” model” Castaldo Retail Trust says that to increase trust, it is not enough to focus only on the experience of retail, or only on the product. Brands must leverage both to to achieve sustainable solutions.


Although cognitive trust is based on knowledge, the need to trust relies on a state of incomplete knowledge. A state of absolute certainty regarding the future actions of a partner means that the risk is eliminated and trust is redundant. Williamson (1993). When a client is a state of hesitation and refrains from buying he would use any pretext to escape the pressure by giving the vendor a variety of forged answers such as it is outside their budget or He will get back to you once he compared other similar brands. When in fact he’s telling you: ‘’ I don’t have enough tangible information to trust you.

Tangibility is the 4th cerebral stimuli acutely related to ventro-medial prefrontal cortex who in turn relates the information or lack of there of the emotional brain to decide. Not stimulated, the latter receives no confirmation from the brain stem therefore of no decision to be taken originating from uncertainty, including risky or ambiguous information.

it is also suggested that even in the absence of tangible information, the prefrontal cortex in collaboration with the limbic system may not decide favorably due to lack of value-based information even in the absence of uncertainty. It is vital to understand that even though we’re prone to buy emotionally but it is confirmed that in the absence of trust originating from manipulative or intangible information, The frontal lobes become increasing involved in tasks ranging from making binary choices to making mufti-attribute decisions that require explicit deliberation and integration of diverse sources of information.

Trust between companies can be described computational trust as companies can reduce uncertainty and opportunistic behavior through due diligence and contractual guarantees.

Consumer transactions, however, involve less contractual guarantees, and knowledge asymmetry that prevents comprehensive reasonable diligence. An act of faith thus a permanent feature of the consumption of consumer services.

Affective trust is trust that is placed in a partner on the basis of emotions generated by the charge and for the partner shows (Johnson-George and Swap, 1982. Rempel et al, 1985) It is characterized by a sense of security and the perceived relation-ship strength. The reputation effects also affect the emotional confidence, but the emotional trust is much more limited personal experiences with the focal partner cognitive trust.
The essence of emotional trust is the link of a partner based on emotions. As emotional connections deepen, trusting a partner can venture beyond what is justified by knowledge. This element of emotion is based on trust that makes more transparent relationship to objective risk assessment prescribed by economists.

The cognitive and affective trust are compatible with the basic notions of cognition and emotional, it describes the cognitive component of the attitude as consisting of a judgment about advertising characteristics , it is the will to rely on a service based on specific cases of reliable operation. And just as emotional, it responds an ad based on the feelings of a subject during the exposure thereof.


To understand what all this means, is to be a CONSUMER
After all said and done, marketing in nothing but a MINDSET: The rise of the consumer and the falling of everything else. And the only barriers to success: is the “PUSH” mentality.

Future Shock is here:
So if you’re a company organized for the past and not the future:
Public Relations
Sales Promotion
Direct Marketing
(Ad or Sales Trained)
Wake up to the “Pull trust strategy” and smell the future.
To dismantle the barriers that impede your brand success, just put yourself in the consumers viewpoint and perspective. You’re also a consumer, would you buy a product that emits no credibility? The consumer said:” before I buy your brand, I must first buy you as a credible messenger.

Coca-Cola’s One Brand Strategy

Coca-Cola embarks on a major redesign of its marketing strategy that will see it bring all Coke brands under one master Coca-Cola umbrella as part of the “next chapter” of the Coca-Cola evolution.

It is combining all four distinct brands – Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coke Life, under one master branding umbrella: Coca-Cola, in a bid to drive unity across the portfolio.

The move will lend Coca-Cola’s brand equity to the other three variants and will double marketing spend for Coke’s low and no sugar products. From May, brand campaigns for Coke Zero will be scrapped and Diet Coke brand campaigns will also be phased out over time in order to create a unified master brand.

Advertising campaigns from May will feature all four products, and the strapline “open happiness” will be replaced with “choose happiness.”

Although all four will feature in campaigns, Coke will be able to “hero” whichever product is most relevant to the campaign.

It is also rolling out new branding across all four Coke variants to create a more visual “common identity” according to Marketing.

Though each product will continue to use its distinctive colour variations– red, black, silver and green, the branding will be uniform with the “Cola-Cola” trademark made larger and more visible.

The new packaging will also introduce colour coded front-of-pack labelling showing fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories.

“Coca-Cola is one of the best-loved and most iconic brands in the world. With our new ‘one brand’ approach, we are uniting four distinct brands under the umbrella of Coca-Cola,” said Jon Woods, GB & Ireland general manager.

“We believe our no and lower sugar variants will benefit from this closer association with Coca-Cola and that featuring all variants in our advertising will make clear to more consumers the full choice we offer them.

“By focusing on building one brand and extending the appeal of the original Coca-Cola across our lower and no sugar variants we believe we can drive sustainable growth for our business in Great Britain in the years ahead”.

Source: Marketing

Global trends in retail marketing at POPAI Mumbai

I was having a look online the other day and I came across a post on Marketing Interactive about the POPAI India Chapter event held in Mumbai last week.

Richard Blatt, president & CEO of POPAI, presented his thoughts on the new marketing model and the latest trends in retail marketing.

The post covers Blatt’s presentation and his suggestion that the old ways of marketing are a thing of the past. He said; “the traditional marketing mix is changing, but no one has finalized what the new model will be yet.”

Along with this, Blatt also went on to quote Elliott Ettenberg, chairman and CEO of Customer Strategies Worldwide, New York and former chairman and CEO of Bozell Retail Worldwide, who said that “the days of the four P’s – product, price, place and promotion – are a thing of the past; this has given way to the four R’s — relevance, relationship, responsiveness and repetition.”

The post raises some interesting questions and looks at the new trends taking hold of the market, things we all need to be aware of.

Recipease making in store cooking easy

I was reading my feeds this morning and came across a really interesting post on Springwise. It is talking about a new in-store retail unit that is really interactive and cutting edge. The unit has been designed to support Jamie Oliver’s new venture, Recipease. This product gives consumers the opportunity to assemble their own ready-to-cook meals, made from pre-prepared ingredients, made before their arrival.

Consumers can book their sessions online in advance, then simply turn up and find all the ingredients they need, washed, chopped and full prepared. I think this is a great way to encourage healthier eating and appeal to those who or short on time – or simply don’t like peeling spuds!

The service is very tailored, from the ready prepared meals for people in a hurry, to full cooking lessons for those who have a bit more time and maybe want to increase their culinary skills.

Recipease claims to be a place “where anyone can learn to cook and make great food.”

This is not only a great consumer idea, but it is supported by a truly innovative and interactive in-store execution. It embraces the concept of consumer interactivity and aims to equip people with valuable skills to take away with them.

Doctor Retail does Global Shop 2009

It’s that time of year again for Global Shop – so Dr Retail grabbed his suitcase and jetted off to the sunset strip.

And what a great trip it was! Not only did we get to see all the new technology being used across the industry, which we’re excited about implementing for our own clients, but also saw some fabulous displays across all the categories.

This year we spent more time looking at companies who could supply Valley with specialist materials at the best cost. Even with the current exchange rate, we managed to create some good leads and are already specifying certain suppliers to our customers.

The other area of interest to me were the battery powered LED screens. These have great potential to deliver a truly interactive message to the consumers, without the major problem of getting power to the fixture.

However, the winning display for me has to be the Dr Pepper FSU made out of their outer packaging. It was so simple but so clever and effective. Another stand out display was for the film ‘Bolt’. It used a corrugated backboard with a giant inflatable ball on the front section with the character in it – really fun and different.

A selection of images will be uploaded in the next few days so stay tuned. Overall a great trip – see you all next year!

Valley to work with Hovis

Things here have been busy as always, especially as we’ve just won a new account with Premier Foods. We’ve been consulting with them over the launch of a new Healthy Living loaf from Hovis, as fronted by ex-Spice Girl, Emma Bunton.

We’ve helped prepare for the launch across Tesco stores throughout the UK and have really enjoyed working with such a prestigious company.

Our trip to the Westfield centre

Following on from our visit to London for the Retail Trust Ball, myself and my colleague Jonathan went to the Westfield Centre in London.

The place really is amazing and hosts some of the best shop fronts I’ve seen in ages. I like to get out and see the retailers first hand – it’s interesting to see how our designs look in-store, but also to see what’s happening in the industry and what competitors are doing. There are some of the best below.

Finally, Jonathan and I then flew over to Germany to finalise contracts with a company based out there. We did some window shopping again and also indulged in a spot of German beer for good measure.

Valley sponsor the Retail Trust Ball

All the team here at Valley had a fun night out recently at the Retail Trust Ball. We were official sponsors of the ball and are proud to support such a good cause.

The Retail Trust provide support for anyone in retail, including their families and employees. In these tough economic times it’s great that they’re there to offer some support for retailers who have worked in the industry for years.

Kia to double digital spend in 2009

Just read an interesting article by Alex Faber about Kia Motors increasing their digital spend in 2009. They’re planning to double their digital budget and overhaul their website in an attempt to increase brand awareness in the UK.

However, Lawrence Hamilton, their marketing manager said that the overall strategy is to bring people back to the site after the point of purchase.

It is interesting how many big brands are now integrating traditional marketing methods and new media to engage with consumers.

Are you struggling to find a happy balance between the two – or are you particularly proud of your strategy? Do let me know!

Marketing mix, what’s a good budget balance?

A good article here from Business Week about the importance of a balanced marketing mix. It is good to see point of sale being valued and, in some cases, acknowledged as more effective than advertising.

I like the closing quote from the by-lined author, Steve McKee:

“The important thing is intentionally and deliberately to set aside some rational percentage of your sales to get out there. That way, the question you have to answer isn’t “How much should we spend?” but rather, “How do we spend most effectively?”

This has to be a key learning coming out of today’s harsh economic climate.

The shopping experience and the six second rule

During this festive period I’ve found myself thinking about how brands are frequently challenged with capturing consumer loyalty – especially at this time of year. In a crowded market place, it is essential to find ways to set themselves apart from the competition.

Delivering a stand-out experience in-store provides this opportunity. Point of purchase is part of the experience, and suppliers are required to design, innovate and provide a fresh approach to evoke consumer emotion. Point of purchase is where your brand-building is tested; on average, consumers will spend only six seconds seeking a preferred brand before settling for an alternative.

A retail experience that evokes the right emotions within the target audience is vital. To create this, we need to understand these emotions. Consumer preference stems from positive emotional associations. With 65% of communication being non-verbal, an experience should span all the senses.

At Valley, we have developed research techniques that enable us to analyse the consumer emotions, both conscious and unconscious, that combine to create an unforgettable experience. We use these discoveries to map the consumer journey at an emotional level while looking at how different stimuli are received by the consumer at each stage.

This provides brands with an understanding of the role played by the retail experience in the customer journey, enabling them to improve their chances of success.

We go beyond the traditional point of purchase approach to look at the communication tactics already in place and find ways to provide a more holistic offer. These might include staff training, online guides and ‘mystery shopper’ checks. As technology and environmental considerations develop, we are combining this with interactive point of purchase.

In-store marketing is the most significant tool to drive sales growth. Brands are built in the mind of the consumer, through experiences. Thanks to our fresh, forward-thinking approach, our clients have enjoyed an average sales uplift of 30%, as well as gaining credibility and kudos from unique, eye-catching and innovative retail prominence.

Point of purchase and an overall communication campaign allows brands to maximise the opportunities within the retail environment, which has a strong role to play in creating brand perception, as well as securing that all-important sale. Future winners within the point-of-purchase industry will continue to create those experiences, which are key to building brands. Those who don’t will get left behind.

From Bogota to bras.. and back again!

With the festive season well and truly upon us, it seems the credit crunch is forcing families to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. Consumers are inevitably spending less this year, so the shopping experience is crucial to helping retailers secure those valuable purchases.

This is something I was discussing with a new designer from South America based Bogota last week. He works with a specialist team of around 50 designers, all of whom specialise in point of purchase. It was great to speak to someone who plays such an important role in what we do, and also to get an insight about the trends and styles affecting point of purchase overseas.

Last week, after much arm-twisting, I also attended the launch of the new lingerie and swimwear collection from La Senza. The event was held at Home House in London and as you can imagine was a sea of models in their underwear and champagne – it’s a hard life!

Over the past couple of years the chain has really diversified and updated their image, for example the new face of La Senza is everyone’s favourite WAG and ‘I’m a Celebrity ’contestant, Gemma Atkinson – plus they’ve recently joined forces with the Pussy Cat Dolls to launch the new‘ underwear as outerwear’ range. It will be interesting to see how the brand revamp is echoed in their in-store environment.

I’ve also just got back from a fleeting visit to Holland where I met a number of potential new business leads and also had a nosey at the current point of purchase displays being used there, whilst doing a bit of Christmas shopping.

Finally, you’ll have noticed the picture of yours truly in this post. This was the product of standing in the cold on a very busy Oxford Street for over an hour with a Marketing magazine photographer a couple of weeks ago. The photo is to accompany a feature article in Marketing as part of the Forward Thinking issue. Look out for it in January!

Will post again soon, I’m off now to get cracking on my daughter Holly’s Christmas presents! Good luck with your preparations and Merry Christmas from me and all the Valley gang.