Marketing to Women: Eight Tips to Optimize Your Retail Layout

January 1, 2016 § 1 Comment

mobile-shoppingI have worked with retailers for most of my career and sharp retailers know that every single foot of store space needs to work hard.  Spend some time in your store observing customers and what they are doing.  And then try some tried and true store layout tips gleaned from retail consultants Kizer & Bender that might help get your stores optimized for the best selling environment.

  1.  Allow for a “decompression zone”.  When consumers enter a store, 90% will typically turn to the right.  Shoppers typically don’t notice merchandising displays within 15 feet of the entrance.  The first thing that customers are noticing is your general decor, your brand statement about your store – walls, flooring, accent colors, fixtures, pleasing smells and comfortable aisle widths. Your checkout should never be in the right front of your store.
  2. Check your Vista.  According to Kizer and Bender, stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone (about 5’ inside the store) and spread your arms out at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. The space you see is called the Vista – the area that builds a shopper’s first impression of your store. The space inside the Vista needs to be clean, uncluttered and full of not-to-be-missed product. This is where you should place your Speed Bump displays.  Speed Bumps are just past the decompression zone and are the place for those attractive items.  Speed bumps can be special fixturing or small tables for display.
  3. Color is important.  Neutral colors are used in 80% of all stores, with strong accent colors used sparingly.  The wrong colors can change the whole shopping experience.
  4. Choose a story layout that fits your business.  There are three types of store layouts– the Grid Layout typically used in supermarkets and big box stores, the Loop (Racetrack) layout that creates a clearly defined path through the store, and the Free Flow Layout, typically used by specialty retailers, where they find new merchandise displays at every turn. Make sure you are always leading a customer somewhere.  Most stores use a circular path to get the customer to walk through the store and back to the front.  But keep “merchandising outposts” in their path so they can discover items as they walk through the store.
  5. The Power Wall.  Walk inside the front door, stop just past your decompression zone and turn right.  That’s your Power Wall, the place to display important departments, new and seasonal items, high demand and high-profit items.
  6. Where’s the Bananas?  Every store has a high volume necessity item like bananas or motor oil that customers always look for.  Put them in a back place along the shopping loop that encourages your shopper to shop the entire store.
  7. Store Fixturing is a tool.  Keep in mind the purpose of the fixture.  You aren’t supposed to see the fixture.  You should see the merchandise.
  8. Check out should be placed at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience or path you have created.  Have a counter big enough for shoppers to place their bags and/or personal belongings.  Last chance for encouraging impulse or “last minute” items.

And don’t forget technology in today’s world.  The technology can include digital screens, iPads to aid shopping and online helps.  Does your store have WiFi?  It should because shoppers are using their smartphones in-store.

 

Plus Size Fashion Continues to Grow

November 9, 2015 § 1 Comment

SHEVA-Ashley-TiptonIt’s no secret that the average American woman is a size 14. And it seems that American fashion is beginning to take note.

Several things have happened recently to amp up the plus size movement.  Project Runway celebrated its first plus size fashion designer win last week.  Ashley Tipton is only the second designer on the show who has specialized in plus sizes.  Her unique collection celebrated her Mexican heritage, a nod to Frida Kahlo and a fashion forward plus look.  Recently Melissa McCarthy launched her own clothing line which is carried at retailers like Nordstrom’s and shopping network HSN.

According to market research firm NPD group, sales of plus-size clothes grew five percent in 2014, making it a $17.5 billion industry.  What’s more the study defined ‘plus-size’ as U.S. size 18 and up, whereas in the fashion industry it starts at size 14, meaning the growth may well have been significantly larger.

Over the past two years, plus-size sales within the e-commerce category have grown 31%.  Online shopping seems to take a larger share of plus size shopping. Even traditional retailers have more plus size options online.

The Opportunity

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Most plus-size women feel that their body size is not sufficiently represented in fashion and retail.  A recent study from ModCloth found that 46% of plus-size women ‘never or rarely’ find clothing that flatters their body.
The online retailer surveyed more than 1,500 women to determine how they feel about the current state of the plus-size market.  They found that most women are dissatisfied. Some 81%  said they would spend more on clothing if there were more options available in their size.

 

Starting Today, You Will Be Able to Buy on Pinterest

July 1, 2015 § 2 Comments

pinterest-buynow-01-2015Today you start seeing buyable Pins on Pinterest.  According to their blog, when you spot a Pin with a blue price that means you can buy it.  Pinterest is rolling it out to U.S. Pinners on iPhone and iPad, so make sure you have the latest app version.

Buyable pins are simply the way you buy your favorite products on Pinterest.  The pins will be viewable in your Home feed, boards you visit and in search results.  After putting in credit card information, users will get what they purchase delivered to them once they click the buy button.

What makes this so great is that Pinterest users generally have a strong purchase intent.  They are in a planning mode and that might make them closer to a purchase consideration.  They are searching for ideas for a new nursery, a wardrobe or their next party.  So rather than going to a specific merchant, you are going to a bazaar of ideas that leads to a purchase.

Retailers will be in charge of applying the buy buttons so it may take a while for Buyable Pins to be prolific on the site.  Two-thirds of content on Pinterest is pinned by businesses.  Pinterest says within a few weeks there will be 30 million Buyable Pins all over Pinterest, from name brands like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

Retailers don’t pay for the pins, and Pinterest won’t be currently taking a percentage of purchases. Advertisers will pay to promote the pins as native ads however.  Pinterest did their homework and found users wanted buy buttons.  Almost 90% of pinners have made a purchase because of Pinterest, according to a recent study by market research firm Millward Brown found. With 70 million monthly active users, these Buyable Pins could make Pinterest a major e-commerce player.

Buyable Pins will not be available for Android users or desktop users for a while, but it’s coming.

Marketing to Women: Why Shopping Local is Important

December 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

Linda Berry, Bella Linea Owner

Linda Berry, Bella Linea Owner

Shopping local is more than a trend. It is growing for several reasons. Shopping local is good for business, good for the environment and good for our desire to find one-of-a-kind, meaningful products.

Good for Business

Local shopping is not insignificant. In a world of online shopping and big box retailers, the 23 million independent stores in America account for 54 percent of sales. These independent stores provide 55 percent of jobs, and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s.

One study says that local business generates 70% more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. Keeping dollars in the local economy has been the rally cry for small business. My friend Linda Berry, owner of fine linen store Bella Linea in Nashville, Tennessee, recently shared some of the facts with her customers to reinforce the importance of keeping dollars in her community. She shared statistics showing that for every $100 spent at a locally owned store, $45 remains in the local economy, compared with about $13 per $100 spent at a big box and almost zero for online shopping.

A movement around Shopping Local has begun. American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to visit small businesses in their community as part of the after Thanksgiving shopping. This year shopping local has grown double digits. A report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express – the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey – revealed that 88 million consumers “shopped small” this year, up 14.9 percent from just a year ago.

Good for Our Need for One-of-A-Kind Finds and One-of-A-Kind Experiences

Shop-Local-This-Christmas-300x278Many retailers like Linda Berry also talk about the importance of meeting needs for today’s shoppers. Linda spends time traveling to find and create one-of-kind products that her customers can’t find anywhere else. Services like free designer consultation and free gift wrapping make small businesses like Bella Linea stand out among the mass marketers.

Trends like eating local and the Maker Movement also continue to provide unique goods and experiences that meet the desires of today’s consumer. The Maker Movement really captures the group of people creating individually made pieces for the home, small-batch food products, hand-knit, handmade and hand crafted items that can’t be mass produced.

Food has gone local with independent restaurants, local food purveyors, handmade food products and farmers markets proliferating.   Beyond the food, food experiences have become custom as well. There are food tours, hands-on cooking lessons and small batch wine classes.

Good for the Environment

And, surprisingly, shopping local is also good for the environment.   Shopping locally helps cut down on processing, packaging and transportation waste, leading to less pollution and less fuel consumption.

So, with just a few days of the shopping season left, visit a local store and make a difference in your community.

Marketing to Women: More than a Number

November 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

1983I don’t often talk about a single television spot but the Special K “More than a number” campaign has generated a spot that really defines women as more than sizes or numbers.  Special K and their agency Leo Burnett actually created a pop-up store for women buying jeans.  The proposition is real.  Women fear only one thing more than shopping for jeans and that is shopping for a swimsuit.  They talk about depressing feelings related to the shopping experience.  Every woman I know talks about fat jeans, comfortable jeans and skinny jeans, but Special K has tried to change the language.

Hidden cameras capture women as they are shopping in the pop-up store.  A surprising thing happens when they find out there are no sizes on the jeans.  Their whole attitude changes when they find out that the jeans are not sized in numbers but in words like “fabulous”, “confident”, and “radiant”.  The women were free from numbers and were affirmed that they were beautiful.

As women, our self-esteem and confidence is enhanced when we are not tied to old tapes we play in our head.  And advertising can play a role in establishing new self affirming roles for women.

Research shows that if we feel more attractive, we are more confident.  Jane Risen, an associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, says  “The most relevant study that comes to mind for me is a classic study looking at self-fulfilling prophecies,” she said. Men and women had a 10-minute conversation, via headphones and microphones so they couldn’t see each other. Before the chat, the men were given fake pictures, so half of them believed they were talking to an attractive woman, and the other half an unattractive woman.

“The most remarkable finding was that an independent set of coders who listened only to the women (and didn’t see a picture) also thought that the women who were supposedly more attractive were more friendly and sociable,” Riser said. “In other words, being perceived by the men as attractive lead the women to act differently such that other people came to believe the same thing that the men believed.”

What Advertisers like Nine West Need to Know about Marketing to Women

August 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Bt9QAX4CAAE2UY3.jpg-largeBeyond the 25-49 Demo

I hear target audience horror stories like Nine West all the time.  Sometimes it is a media target issue, sometimes it is a relevance issue and sometimes it is a creative issue.  Today targeting marketing to women has a whole new meaning.  We need to know a lot more about a target than their sex, age, income and favorite brands.   The creative, the brand and the media all have to be in sync.

Nine West Looking to Shock?

One of the most talked about campaigns in the women’s sector is the fall advertising campaign from shoe company Nine West.  Customers of the brand found it offensive and said the brand did not know them well.  The campaign targets women 25-49.  Okay and what else?  Evidently the campaign has centered on supposedly key occasions in women’s lives – Starter Husband Hunting, the anticipated Walk of Shame, and the First Day of Kindergarten complete with four-inch heels and the Drunch – a drunken lunch.  Criticism has come from those saying this campaign is not new, but rather a throwback to the 50s when all women wanted was a wedding and a child.

The marketing team said that the brand had lost its luster and they sought to bring some new life to it.  And maybe they did expect to encite and enrage a bit.  They were clearly not going after mainstream women, but following those who see themselves like HBO series “Girls” and Amy Schumer, the provocative stand-up comic.  Did they target them?  Maybe.  This advertising smacks of Miley Cyrus trying to be irreverent to get a new fan base.  Or American Apparel trying to be provocative to make t-shirts sexy.  But the real matter is how many of their base audience did they disenfranchise.

Consumer Backlash to Nine West Campaign

“Stupid campaign 9W. Love your shoes but don’t patronize your customers by an outdated ideal,” said one Facebook user. “Women are hunting success and goals, dreams and visions. Not husbands.”  This is pretty true.  Millennial women of today think man-hunting is a pretty outdated notion and they value their independence.  The top priorities in her life are career success and love. Oh, and love does not necessarily mean marriage.

resizeJen Drexler, senior vice president at the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” found the Nine West ads problematic.“ ‘Starter husband hunting’ and ‘walk of shame’ is not the sort of thing you say out loud even to your best friend, because those are things that men say about women, not that women say about women,” Ms. Drexler said. “If you really liked women, you’d be calling that a ‘victory lap,’ not a ‘walk of shame.’ ”

Jimmie John’s had a moment of lapse when they aired a spot in the Super Bowl that shows a man coming home to his wife who is doing the laundry.  Whoa!  Did they forget that 74% of women work and many of them are their customers?  SodaStream took heat for their spot with Scarlett Johansson which broke several rules – mentioning Coke and Pepsi and objectifying a woman as a way to sell the soda maker.

Huggies had their miss when they showed Dads being inattentive to babies with full diapers because, hey, Huggies can handle anything.  They certainly where in tune with the importance of shared responsibilities for children today, but they didn’t catch the nuance that Dads were portrayed as inattentive and non-caring. Stay-at-home dads were irate and created a petition “We’re Dads, Huggies, Not Dummies”.

An advertising friend called me this week and was telling me another story about targeting.  Campaigns for a luxury car didn’t move the needle until they took into account the aspirational buyer.  Their media tracking was able to notice this aspiring buyer. By offering a lease package for these aspirational buyers, sales accelerated nicely.

So what is the lesson here?  Certainly brands must hit the right segment of their target audience and clearly they must trigger the emotion that the product or service has for the buyer.

1.  Look at your target beyond demographics.  What are the psychographics of the buyer?  Why are the self-expressive benefits of your brand? How does the product make them feel?  What are their values?  Two moms can be vastly different.  One can value organic food, yoga and do her own composting, while another can be a price/convenience shopper, with their mobile phone dialed to take-out and restaurants that take coupons.  Find out their tangential interests – what do they pin to Pinterest, follow on Twitter or share on Facebook?

2. Talk to your consumers.  Shocking thought.  Today we can do that in a variety of ways.  We can conduct online or in-person focus groups.  We can turn to social media to see what they are saying and we can use social to have conversations to better understand how to be relevant to them.  We often construct customer journeys to see how a brand fits into a consumers day and life.  Recently some research we did on furniture purchase turned up an interesting fact about a huge national retailer.  The consumers were not in love with the brand; it was just an easy alternative to working with a designer for the less important rooms in their home.  Everything worked together and could be purchased and delivered quicker than designer fare.

3.  Understand the problem your brand will solve for the consumer.  I doubt Nine West had research that said they wanted special shoes for a “Walk of Shame”.  Need states and occasions have long been part of marketing but truly understanding the underlying reason for the product is essential to creating relevant advertising.  If you are advertising cars, some may be eco-friendly and interested in gas mileage while others are seeking safety for their family, or technology to suit their geekiness.

Oh, by the way, Nine West is sticking to their campaign.  So let’s see how it works out for them and see what they do next year!

 

 

 

What We Can Learn from The New York Times Being Behind the Times

May 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

320-Innovation_fullThe Gray Lady has problems – more than just the firing of Jill Abramson or lack of reporting on Jill Abramson’s demise. It seems the Times is behind the times in all things digital.  On May 15, Buzz Feed leaked the 96-page New York Times Innovation Report that candidly describes the digital struggles and weaknesses of the legendary print icon.    The report focuses on digital providers like Vox, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and BuzzFeed.  The report describes the institutional inertia that is keeping many businesses from embracing the new face of marketing.  And in some terrible irony of ironies, it was that upstart BuzzFeed that leaked the story.

Key learnings for all marketers today.

1.  Beware of Disrupters.  The news biz is changing like all business today.  Once small outsiders like BuzzFeed and  Huffington Post are now garnering more traffic than the Times.  Sound familiar?  Like Amazon, AirBnB, Uber and other disrupters?  The report gives some of the hallmarks of disruptive innovators – introduced by an outsider, less expensive than existing products, targeting new or underserved markets, initially inferior to existing products and advanced by an enabling technology.  Sound familiar in your business category?  Your competition may not be who it was yesterday. Today the New York Times is facing disparate competition such as LinkedIn’s Pulse Publishing platform,  Flipboard’s visual presentation of news, Vox as a collector of live blogging in passionate verticals, or Yahoo News that has hired Katie Couric and repurposes the best of news.

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2.  Stories Find Readers Today.  The Times identified a trend showing that users are moving away from browsing and actually expect the news to come to them through social media, mobile notifications, aggregators and more.

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of The Guardian’s website says, “The realization that you have to go find your audience — they’re not going to just come and read it — has been transformative.”

 

Death of the Home Page.   Only a third of readers visit the home page of The New York Times. And those who do visit are spending less time on it. Page views and minutes spent per reader dropped by double-digit percentages in the year 2013.  Where do people see your content?  We cannot expect our website to be the first view of information.

home-page-v-socialNews from Social Media.  Less than 10% of the New York Times traffic comes from social media compared to Buzzfeed who gets 60% of their traffic from social media.  In fact, I read the story about the New York Times report on LinkedIn and Mashable first.

Marketers cannot expect just one media to work for them.  It takes  multiple ways to get your important news out.  Social media, email marketing, guest posts, podcasts, interviews, speaking engagements, search marketing and even advertising, if well timed and placed.

3.  Content Packaging is as Important as the Story.  Journalists have thought that the story is the thing.  Build it and they will come.  But today, a journalist must craft the right story for the audience, understanding the reader relevance.  I was stunned by a story from Forbes writer Kashmir Hill who took an anecdote buried in a 5,000 word article in the times and repackaged it as “How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did.”  Her Forbes article has been viewed 2,455,821 times, and was the chief traffic driver for the Times story.  Crafting the right point of view takes a real understanding of your target audience.  And then, you have to position your story appropriately, with engaging content.

4.  Timing is Everything.  The Times is publishing their best content on a schedule meant for print.  They publish the majority of their content in the late evening, in order for it to make the morning paper, while  the majority of their traffic is in the morning hours. The biggest stories are published on Sundays for the venerable Sunday Paper, even though Sunday is the slowest day for traffic online.  A lesson to marketers here is are you publishing at times when you audience will see them?  In today’s world, the news is a 24-hour operation and news consumers expect to have it on a 24-hour schedule.

5.  Every Story Needs A Promotional Strategy.  All content needs a promotion strategy.  The publishing of the story is just the beginning.  What is the social strategy?  Is there a checklist for publishing that includes search headline, tags, images, pre-written Facebook and Twitter posts?

“Even ProPublica, that bastion of old-school journalism values, goes to extraordinary lengths to give stories a boost. An editor meets with search, social and public relations specialists to develop a promotion strategy for every story. And reporters must submit five tweets along with each story they file.”

How can you repurpose the content?  The Times report tells, “On a whim, Andrew Phelps created a Flipboard magazine of our most important obits of the year and it became the best-read collection in the history of the platform.”  The Gawker took a 161 year old story from The Times to help introduce “12 Years as a Slave”.

Consumers Expect Personalization.   The Times is looking at new engines to foster personalization online.  Increasingly, consumers are expecting to have options served up to them based on preferences.  Can readers follow their favorite columnists?

Engagement is everyone’s job.  A key learning is that you need to engage with your audience – respond to comments, answer emails and converse on social media.  Equally important is looking at the list of influencers that can help spread your message and interact with them.  Or events that help create community.

6.  Silos are out, teams are in.  Here is the telling statement:  “Our Twitter account is run by the newsroom. Our Facebook account is run by the business side.”  Departments need to break down walls and work together.  The refiguring of team is important to create more harmonious efforts.  The Times has recognized the power of collaboration focused on reader experience.  What a wonderful concept!

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.  So, as The Times goes, it seems they are embarking upon an important journey.

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