October 21, 2014 § 1 Comment
The 2014 holiday shopping season will be a tipping point for online shopping. A PwC report finds that 41% of shoppers plan to spend more online this year than they did last year. In fact, more than two-thirds of today’s shoppers are omnichannel, easily shifting between their mobile technology and physical stores. There are conflicting reports on the size of this year’s holiday spending. The National Retail Federation is calling for holiday sales to rise 4.1%, the largest jump in three years. Online sales are expected to grow between 8-11%. PwC is not so optimistic, calling for an actual decrease in spending.
While you may think millennials are doing a lot of this online shopping, think again. Millennials only represent 18% of planned spending. It’s GenX and Boomer shoppers who will be leading the charge.
Estimates point to 43% of all spending will be online with 40% of consumers falling into a category called trade-off shoppers. Trade-off shoppers will do most of their research online and will buy online if the product is cheaper than in stores; another 32% are considered primary online shoppers; and 29% of shoppers will prefer going to the stores, after a little online browsing. Actual spending in-store will decrease from 55% in 2013 to 50% this year, but the individuals shopping in-store are likely to spend more. One important consideration is the whopping 15+ hours shoppers spend online researching purchases. Consider what that means for product descriptions, photography and selection.
Four Waves of Spending
The coming holiday season will have only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, just one more than last year and five fewer than 2012. That is important for all retailers as the compare same store sales. Black Friday is the #1 in-store shopping day during the holiday season. The next most important dates, according to a 2013 MasterCard SpendingPulse report, are December 21 and 23. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most popular days for online shopping, and Fridays and Saturdays are the top days overall for in-store holiday shopping. There are four distinct time periods for spending this year – Pre-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Mid-Holiday, and Post-Holiday. Early shopping represents 21% of all holiday spending. The week of Black Friday will represent 21% of spending. Mid-Holiday is the traditional December shopping period where 50% of spending happens, with much of it in the last ten days before Christmas. And those bargain shoppers are 8% of the shopping dollars.
What Do People Want for the Holidays?
According to the National Retail Federation, for the eighth year in a row, gift cards will be the most requested gift item for the holidays. Sixty-two percent say they would like to receive a gift card, followed by clothing (52.5%), books, CDs, DVDs or video games (43.1%), and electronics (34.6%). And one-quarter (24.8%) would like to receive jewelry.
How to Be Prepared This Season
There are some important ways you can help this season’s shoppers.
1. Embrace online connectivity. Online experience means both your online presence but your connectedness in-store. Make sure Wi-Fi is available and sales staff are available with mobile devices to check out your customers. Make sure your cybersecurity is up-to-date. And make sure your online shopping is easy to navigate, informative and provides simple check-out. One-quarter of shoppers say easy-to-use mobile websites is an important factor in their decision to shop with a specific retailer, and 40% of Black Friday online shopping was mobile. And don’t forget free shipping. It is more important than the delivery date.
2. Create a differentiated in-store experience. Make sure your store personnel are knowledgeable, your merchandise is in-stock and easy to shop, the atmosphere is festive friendly, and your merchandising is distinctive and memorable. Think about personalization and special add-on services that simplify the gifting experience.
3. Make sure your offerings represent value. Shoppers still have a deal mindset based on best prices and seasonal deals, so your innovation, unique selections, bundling and convenient shopping experience will be important to take you from a commodity purchase to a brand purchase. Special deals will continue to be important to drive shoppers to your store. Reward your best customers with special perks for shopping with you.
4. Provide messaging consistent with your brand. A consistent promotional look and feel that reflects your brand is important in creating greater impact with your customer.
October 6, 2014 § 3 Comments
My daughter Katie often sends me pictures of her fabulous vintage finds like a folkloric skirt from the 50s or a cocktail dress from the 60s. She is one of many milliennials regularly frequenting shops that specialize in vintage, retro and thrift clothing.
One of the shops Shareen Vintage of Los Angeles describes their vintage wonderland as the creative center of a secret society of women who love to be at the cutting edge of fashion trends. In their store, clothing is divided by decades, starting in the 1920s through the 1990s, providing a living retrospect to fashion. Another store Re-mix Classic Vintage Footwear actually started out selling vintage shoes, but when demand outpaced their stock, they began having their own 20s – 50s vintage designs manufactured for women demanding more of the vintage looks.
Millennials have embraced Thrift Style, a fashion movement that incorporates several trends with their desire to be an individual. Research by Ypulse shows that 36% of Millennials find thrift shopping cool and 56% of Millennials say that thrift shopping is a great way to find cheap and unique clothes.
Six Key Trends Shaping Millennial Shopping
1. The end of conspicuous branding and the rise of personal style. Some 55% of people between 13 and 34 say they don’t follow trends. Millennials want to stand out and prize individualism over “fitting in.” With access to global stores like Abercrombie and Fitch are having problems enticing millennials because their fashions are seen as ubiquitous and too high priced for their taste. A big logo is no longer a coveted status symbol. Finding something completely original is the goal of trendsetters today. A thrift store find is both unique and rare. Even celebrities have contributed to the vintage culture by wearing vintage couture to big events like the Oscars and Grammys.
2. Saving money is cool. There is no surprise that 60% of millennials worldwide feel personally influenced by the economic crisis. So the ability to save money and find a personl look are added bonuses of thrift shopping. Shoppers pride themselves on smart finds at great prices. In fact, because of the durability of the items, they are actually seen as an investment in higher quality goods.
3. Sustainability. There is a decided movement against the “disposable culture” of throwaway plastic bags and planned obsolescence of electronics. Shoppers don’t really care if their retail purchases are over-wrapped or put into paper or plastic for transport. They are fine with foregoing some of the traditional trappings of the retail environment. Vintage items are often seen as being constructed better and made out of high quality fabrics. And the ability to recycle things of the past helps cutdown on their personal footprint in society.
4. Nostalgia for better times. In an unconscious way, milllennials are drawn to simpler times. Those who lived during the first Strawberry Shortcake period remember it with fondness and positive memories. For those who did not experience the 50s and 60s, the vintage look recalls a time of stability and lack of stress. Here in Nashville you can buy and experience a little slice of Grand Ole Opry history by just shopping at Katy’s Western Wear.
5. Personalization and DIY. Personal style means personalization. And, influenced by programming such as Project Runway, millennials turn to online sites such as Etsy and eBay for fun finds. These shoppers and designers can express their own creativity by reworking clothes with sewing, knitting, embellishing and dying their finds. Some 22% of Millennials say they often modify, cut up or embellish their clothing.
6. Purchases with a Purpose. Thrift stores are getting a millennial makeover to appeal to young shoppers who like to shop with a purpose. The idea that the YWCA can help women, Goodwill trains disadvantaged for retail jobs or ThriftSmart actually gives their proceeds to real charities is an appealing proposition to millennials who want to make a difference in the world around them.
Retailers and marketers alike need to understand the way Millennials shop and how best to appeal to their interests.
September 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
Naming Gen Edge
A Guest Post by Amy Lynch
Recently demographers and gen theorists documented a clear shift–new behaviors and attitudes that signaled the start of a new generation. Technology plays a role here. For people 19 and under, social media and multi-tasking on five screens at once are the norm. In fact, many of them were read “Goodnight iPad” rather than “Goodnight Moon” at bedtime.
Now the question: what to call this new group? Names abound–Homelanders, iGen, Gen Z–but the name that sticks seems to be Gen Edge. Here’s why.
Each generation is born into a time of stability and belonging, a time of idealism and awakening, or into a period of skepticism and instability. And then (drum roll) once every 100 years or so a generation is born into a world that sees on the edge of collapse. Economically, socially, politically and technologically, things are changing so quickly that the whole era feels unpredictable, risky, edgy.
Of necessity, a generation of kids who grow up on the constant edge of change become edgy themselves. Resourceful and resilient, they find their way through minefields of uncertainty and figure out new ways of making things work.
Parenting comes into the mix as well. Today’s kids are being raised by Gen X parents who have nurtured without coddling. Unlike Millennials, Gen Edge has not been overprotected. They’ve known about adult problems, like unemployment and bills to pay, from early on. So they navigate the work with savvy beyond their years. Realists to the core, they have an edge. Gen Edge just fits.
Amy Lynch is president of Generational Edge, helping companies move beyond generational awareness to generational strategies that increase innovation, engagement and sales. She has talked with groups as diverse as MTV, Boeing, Johnson and Johnson, and the Staff of the US Senate.
August 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
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.
Jen 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!
August 16, 2014 § 1 Comment
Football season is upon us and women are gearing up for the season. Yes, women are a real target and marketing to women has never been more important. Advertisers know who is buying all those wings and chips for the game. But the female factor goes beyond just supplying the game day food.
“Women are the custodians of most decisions made in the households,” said Mark Waller, the chief marketing officer of the N.F.L. Describing football as “the last great campfire,” which brings families together on Sundays as reliably as church, Waller said women were at the heart of the sport’s most sacred rituals.
The Facts – NFL
More women are regular season viewers of NFL football than NBA and Major League Baseball. Some 23-28% of women watch between 6 and 10 hours of football per week.
45% of NFL fans are women. And 55% of women watch football on television. Over the past decade, average viewership of prime-time NFL games has increased by 31 percent to 20.3 million, according to Nielsen. In 2013, every network that had broadcast games reported increased viewership. Most weeks, in fact, NFL games aren’t just the most-watched sporting events on television — they’re the most-watched thing on TV.
Nine out of 10 top viewed single programs in 2013 were live football events. The only one that wasn’t football was the Oscars. Football has become the only real time event that gathers the whole family in front of the television.
More women watch the Super Bowl than the Grammys or Oscars combined.
The NFL has focused on giving women more than men’s jerseys for the past few years and sales of women’s apparel have tripled over the past four years.
The Facts – The Advertising
Just like we have seen the influence of marketing to women in the Olympics and World Cup Soccer, the top rated commercials during the Super Bowl 2014 definitely appealed to women, Budweiser’s Puppy Love, Dorito’s Cowboy Kid, and Budweiser’s Hero’s Welcome.
The Facts – College Football
39% of college football fans are women. In college, more than 49 million fans turned out to watch a college game in the stands but more than 216 million tuned in to watch a game.
The Facts – At Home
Homegating is a real thing. Football is as much a tradition for Sundays than going to church? It is the one place where family and friends can group around a single event. And eat. Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest food consumption day of the year, behind only Thanksgiving, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to Bud Light, female fans (45-percent) are 10-percent more likely than male fans to socialize during a game.
20% of Fantasy Football Fans are women.
The Facts – Influence
Last year, Barna found that Americans believe athletes have a greater influence than any faith leaders. And in a new 2014 study, more than four in 10 women (41%) strongly agree that sports are an important part of American culture.
More than Just Fans
Women are more likely to be fans for life. Women are more brand loyalists and it seems that football teams are really brands. But increasingly, women are becoming more than just fans or grown-up cheerleaders for football. They are playing in football leagues, coaching, sportscasting and taking on referee roles. Sarah Thomas is a name you will likely here this year as the first female referee in the NFL. She shattered the male dominated profession seven years ago at the collegiate level, officiating games for Conference USA. She was the first female official at the NCAA’s Division I level, and the first to work a college bowl game.
Marketing to Women
Marketing to women is often a delicate science of respecting their gender and not falling into some pink state of condescension. It’s not a world of “pink it and shrink it” anymore.
But the stakes are high for females. The male market is tapped out. Women represent the growing side of the football market. But female football fans are dealing with lots of contradictory issues. Health issues are huge for those moms of budding and current NFL players. Violence often makes headlines with players in the headlines for everything from domestic assault to murder. Women were particularly upset with the slap-on-the-wrist two-game suspension for Ravens Ray Rice who knocked his fiancé unconscious in a casino earlier this year, but he was ultimately handed an indefinite suspension.
And at the same time, we see the tremendous good that comes from the sports community service. Individual players have foundations that work with kids, support charities and volunteer in the community.
But all that pink? Once a year, the NFL sponsors a breast cancer awareness game where players wear pink shoes and gloves and a portion of the pink NFL merchandise sales goes to the American Cancer Society.
Can football continue to grow? It seems it will take a deep understanding of women and their role in the game – as mothers, as sports professionals, and as fans.
July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
Back-to-school is in full swing now. The traditional back-to-school season has changed and marketers need to make note. The reason for many of these changes are year-round school schedules, just-in-time shopping, online shopping habits and budgets. The back-to-school season has become more of a pinnacle of an ongoing activity than a confined season.
How big is back-to-school? The average family will spend $670 on shopping this year, up 5% from 2013 according to the National Retail Federation. However, 21% of families with children in elementary, middle school or high school reported in a NRF survey they will spend less this year.
Did you know? Combined school and college spending was estimated at $72.5 billion, making it the second-biggest season for retailers. Winter holiday ranks first at $84 billion and Mother’s Day comes in at third at $21 billion.
Here are five things to know about this year.
1. Back-to-school shopping starts in July. Americans began their search as early as June last year. Google conducted a study during the 2013 season and found that 23% of respondents began back-to-school research before July 4, with nearly two-thirds (65%) starting by the end of July. In contrast, only 35% said they made a purchase by the end of July.
The spending is spread out over several months, with traditional spending in August and September. The early shoppers take advantage fresh merchandise, early bird sales and comparison shopping, while the later shoppers are necessity shopping and maybe taking advantage of end-of-season sales.
One difference in the early and traditional shopper may be their form of shopping. The early shoppers are using their desktop and tablets to shop, while the more traditional are using mobile devices and shopping in-store.
During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012. There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.
2. Just in time shopping. The mall has been replaced by online and teens are constantly shopping for new ideas. The world of disposable fashion has lead teens to take advantage of affordable retailers and wait to see what their friends are wearing. Digital-native students are shopping constantly throughout the year, even if they’re not buying.
Just-in-time shopping also shows that as many as 50% parents only buy what is essential for back to school and then buy additional needs during the holiday season, when they expect the best deals. It is a way of spreading out the shopping expense to make it more manageable for their budget. And parents are saving money by buying store-brand items, shopping sales and using coupons.
3. Online is #3 destination. eMarketer forecasts that digital sales for the back-to-school season will increase 16.0% in 2014. One-third of all back-to-school shoppers will make an online purchase, and 45% of back-to-college shoppers will head online. According to Deloitte, among top back-to-school shopping destinations in 2013, 36 percent of consumers shopped online, moving online shopping to the third destination behind discount and office supply/technology stores, a significant jump from the No. 8 position in 2012.
4. College Online Spending Big. More than $3 of every $5 aimed at back-to-school clothes and supplies is spent on college-bound students. A PM Digital report shows online shoppers stealing 37% of this market as the online college segment spends over $1,100 per family. In fact, shopping expenditures are higher online – with 37.3% K-12 and 37.1% college students buying through e-commerce.
5. Smartphone Tool for Shopping. During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012. There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.
What should marketers do this season?
1. Make sure your campaigns are live now and active through September. To stand out, thing about using video and consumer stories to help tell the story. Search should be already in place.
2. Make sure content is available on tablet and mobile. Don’t forget social. Hashtags like #stapleshasit and L.L.Bean’s #packmentality, which leapt from social media into display, email and print last season, will proliferate in 2014.
3. Solicit stories from your customers to drive positive reviews.
4. Time your sales (early-bird and end of season) to match buying periods.
5. Differentiate between back-to-school and back-to-college.