New Alternative Sampling Method for Full-Size Products

Nov 4, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Impact Beyond Your Budget category with 0 comments.

Citi Prepaid Services and Young America have launched a new sampling method that will have packaged goods consumers smiling. The company is developing a prepaid card, preprogrammed for specific SKUs, which is redeemable for full-sized products at stores. Clients can simply send the cards to consumers, who may in turn redeem them for free, full-sized product samples at participating retail locations or grocery stores.

This sampling card is a huge advancement compared to the existing method of sending small “trial size” versions of products by mail. In addition to convenience, it has many other advantages for both the marketer and consumer.

“Our new product sampling process not only reduces shipping costs and packaging waste, but it also significantly increases the ability to build brand awareness, brand preference and market share,” said Joe Custer, President of Young America, in a press release announcing the program. “We expect our new product sampling process to increase consumer product trial interaction by at least three to four times as compared to traditional methods.”

Among the card’s many advantages, it opens up the sampling world to many new categories. Marketers can offer trials of almost any kind of product, including beverages; fresh, frozen and ready-made foods; heavy items such as laundry detergent; and breakable items like light bulbs or even over-the-counter drugs.

One of the card’s best attributes is that it forces the consumer to go into the store, find the product on shelf, add it to their shopping cart and “purchase” it at checkout. Marketers hope this process will become habitual and in turn, increase purchase frequency.

Sampling continues to prove itself as a great way to increase trial and ultimately lead to increased buyer volume. This card will now make it easier for brands to achieve these goals.

Photo credit: Jeff Keen

by Brad Hanna under the Impact Beyond Your Budget category with 0 comments.
The Evolution of Paid Social Media

Nov 1, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Advertising & Social Media category with 0 comments.

From updates to the Facebook interface to the way marketers use social media to speak to consumers, social media and its capabilities evolve every day. Twitter’s pay-per-tweet model has allowed celebrities and brands to cash in on their fame while sending branded messages to the masses for a while now.

Followers of the Kardashian sisters are familiar with endorsements for different companies and probably realize that these are paid comments. However, Twitter followers probably don’t distinguish the difference between a friend’s call-out to a brand and an advertisement.

In fact, that’s what Twitter is counting on. In a recent development, the social site is now extending its pay-per-tweet model to the average user. Marketers can now cash in on the idea that an endorsement from a friend is received as just that—a genuine endorsement—not a paid advertisement.

Marketing groups such as IZEA or Twittad provide ad space where the everyday Twitter user can insert their own endorsement for a brand and cash in on clicks from friends. In the September 13th edition of AdWeek, Leif Abraham, co-founder of Innovative Thunder, discussed the value of a paid tweet from someone you are friends with vs. receiving the same message from a celebrity. “The reach per person is much smaller but the people you reach and the quality of that recommendation is much higher.”

Average cost for a click-through is approximately $0.05 per tweet—a low risk for marketers. Abraham’s Innovative Thunder allows consumers to pay the brand in tweets. In this case, brands can distribute digital products in exchange for a Twitter mention. The new development in social media as currency displays the importance of an endorsement. It also proves that sometimes the Average Joe has more pull with friends than a big-name celebrity.

How is your brand utilizing social media? Do you have brand advocates? Would you be willing to pay for them?

by Brad Hanna under the Advertising & Social Media category with 0 comments.
Campbell’s Invests In the Business When It’s Down

Oct 28, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Portfolio Strategy category with 0 comments.

Despite a down economy and sales declines in its soup business, Campbell’s Soup Co. is going against the grain—almost doing the unthinkable. Campbell’s is putting additional money into marketing and innovation in fiscal year 2012—$100 million to be exact. They have made the decision to invest in the soup division to reverse trends.

Advertising Age reports that Campbell’s intends to reformulate their soups to focus on taste and develop new advertising executions under the “It’s Amazing What Soup Can Do” campaign to communicate their new value proposition. It could be a tough road for them as they have increased price and have gotten out of the business of heavy discounting. They will have to convince consumers of the benefits offered for the price paid.

When things go bad, we see marketers forced to contract and tighten their belt.s Innovation slows and marketing communications budgets are slashed. Many companies almost go into hiding and hope for things to get better. One has to wonder how things can improve with that approach.

Not every brand is of the size and scale of Campbell’s, or has the luxury of pouring more money into marketing when business is down. That said, there may be something that can be learned from Campbell’s investment.

Where would you invest during this difficult economic times?

by Brad Hanna under the Portfolio Strategy category with 0 comments.
Sam’s Club and Hy-Vee Partner With Celebrity Chefs

Oct 11, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Retailers category with Comments are off for this post.

Many people are familiar with celebrity chefs from television shows such as the Barefoot Contessa and Top Chef. With their rise in popularity has also come their rise in paid partnerships. Sam’s Club is just one of the many retailers partnering with celebrity chefs to improve consumers’ cooking skills and experiences.

Sam’s Club and eight executive chefs have come together to create restaurant-quality mealtime solutions for any time of the day. The program started in August and new recipes will be introduced each month through January. The easy-to-make meals are paired with shopping lists on SamsClub.com/Meals. Consumers can print the prepared shopping lists to easily know what to purchase to make their own delicious, seasonal meals. Along with the recipes, Sam’s Club members can get ingredient shopping tips to spice up their meals, learn some chef tricks and cooking techniques to improve their home cooking experience.

Some of the chefs in the Sam’s Club all-star lineup include Todd Clore of Todd’s Unique Dining in Las Vegas, Dale Levitski of Sprout in Chicago, Jan Kelly of Meritage in Milwaukee and Casey Thompson of Brownstone in Dallas. Club members can meet the chefs in person during in-club cooking demonstrations in these areas.

“Partnering with a brigade of top-notch chefs to unveil simply delicious recipes, Sam’s Club can inspire creative cooking and make eating in as exciting as dining out,” said Shawn Baldwin, Senior Vice President of Fresh & Freezer, Sam’s Club.

Hy-Vee has also joined the group of companies partnering with celebrity chefs. In April, Hy-Vee announced their partnership with celebrity chef Curtis Stone. Many consumers will recognize Stone as the host of Top Chef Masters on Bravo and as an investor/mentor on America’s Next Great Restaurant. Over the next two years, Stone will be promoting the “Food, Family, Fun” campaign in 32 commercials that will air in the Kansas City television market.

Stone’s message focuses on healthy food and the belief that if families come together to eat, their relationships will be stronger. He will also develop a monthly recipe that can be found online and in Hy-Vee stores. Hy-Vee and Stone hope the campaign will put the fun back into home cooking for consumers.

Whether it’s at Sam’s Club or Hy-Vee, shoppers have plenty of opportunities to improve their cooking skills and learn to enjoy cooking again. With a few new ideas and guidance, any grocery store customer could be the next Curtis Stone.

by Brad Hanna under the Retailers category with Comments are off for this post.
Walgreens’ New Private Label Brand

Oct 7, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Private Label Foods Private Label Strategy category with Comments are off for this post.

As we look towards 2012, private-label will continue to play a major role in the CPG landscape. Walgreens took notice and recently introduced its new private-label brand “Nice!” in stores across the US. This new label will include more than 400 grocery and household products at prices up to 30% below national brands. The launch is part of Walgreens’ strategy to build its private brand business, including consolidation of many of the brands in its existing portfolio. Walgreens is aiming to have the majority of Nice! products on shelves by early 2012, which will include traditional grocery items such as soups, sauces and bakery items.

“Store brands have always been a core part of our business. With more shoppers seeking value in this economy, we’ve been able to attract new customers across every income level to our brands and maintain their loyalty with a focus on quality and assortment,” said Joe Magnacca, Walgreens’ president of daily living products and solutions. “Now with the launch of Nice!, we are streamlining our offering to make it even easier for customers to identify high quality everyday essentials at a great value.”

The Walgreens label is being phased out of food and household products but will remain on health and wellness items. By consolidating their private brands, Walgreens is able to concentrate product development and marketing efforts. They are supporting the brand with instore signage, PR support and are planning to launch a national campaign next year. Nice! packaging incorporates distinctive and recognizable design aimed to promote trial of the new products and simplify the shopping experience. The label promotes the tagline “smart. quality. everyday.”

The latest move by Walgreens supports the fact that customers are still seeking quality and convenience at a value price. According to A.C. Nielsen data, total private brand sales in the U.S. have increased from $64.9 billion in 2005 to $88.5 billion in 2010. The fastest growing store brand consumer segment is households with incomes more than $100,000, according to Nielsen.

Walgreens joins the growing trend to use branded private label as a means to great high value through a brand name versus a retail label. Great credit to Walgreens for also focusing their private label efforts to products that are directly linked to their core DNA – health and wellness. It is a great example of using a true brand architecture to determine the best role for private label within a retailer.

“We believe we will continue to build loyalty to our stores and our brands as shoppers find favorites on our shelves that will become staples in their everyday lives,” Magnacca said. “We are confident that our more refined approach will provide a new level of simplicity and choice, which is the ultimate value objective for our core customer.”

by Brad Hanna under the Private Label Foods Private Label Strategy category with Comments are off for this post.
New Networks Work To Deliver Integrated Solutions

Sep 27, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Advertising & Social Media category with Comments are off for this post.

Two new media ideas have recently been introduced with the goal to move from just providing information to creating more solutions and engagement.

Appetite Media
Over the past few years the growing community of “foodies” has inspired media vendors to create new and exciting ways to communicate with the group. New publications such as Food Network Magazine play off of the idea that chefs can be celebrities. They also appeal to consumers who want to add flavor and excitement to their own cooking resume. For that reason, Cox Digital Solutions recently announced a new ad network titled “Appetite Media.” The network is aimed at women 25-54 who not only are the primary grocery shoppers, but also say cooking is their favorite leisure activity. With more than 500 specialty food sites in the network’s repertoire, “Appetite Media” has a monthly audience of more than 22 million.

The new ad network aims at going beyond the expected banner delivery and instead bringing integrated solutions to marketers through custom widgets, integrated recipes, high impact units and website takeovers. Additional targeting allows the network to hone in on their target audience based on specific demographic, geographic and daypart usages.

Consmr
Consmr is a new website that gives CPG brands their own product review page. It launched on June 14, 2011 in beta and was founded to help consumers share and discover products. The site gives 50,000 brands in 20 categories (including beverages, frozen food, skin care and makeup) their own product review page and allows users to rate them on a scale of 1-5 stars and post reviews.

Started by an ecommerce director and a software builder, Consmr is dedicated to helping consumers help each other make the most informed decisions when shopping online. It is partnered with several large groups including Chobani yogurt and AriZona Beverage Co.

In the past, consumers did not have an easy way to look up ratings and reviews on all products in a category (such as “iced tea”)—rather than just one specific product—before purchasing. Now consumers can compare and contrast different products and make sure to purchase the one with the best reviews. With websites like Consmr, it is important that the products in your CPG brand are a better quality and value than competitor products. After all, who would want to buy a product with only 4 stars when compared to a similar product with 5 stars?

Consider allocating media spend to keep your CPG brand products on consumers’ minds to lead to more peer reviews and recommendations on sites like Consmr.

These are good examples in how brands need to take into consideration not only who your brand is talking to with a marketing campaign, but also how you are delivering your message. The goal of a media campaign should not just be increased awareness but also engaged interaction with brand message. By placing integrated media on highly targeted sites, one can benefit from the passion of those who take notice and hopefully build an audience of brand advocates.

by Brad Hanna under the Advertising & Social Media category with Comments are off for this post.
The Rise of Mobile Apps

Sep 22, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Advertising & Social Media category with Comments are off for this post.

As sales of smartphones continue to climb, so does the use of mobile applications. According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report, thirty-four percent of Americans use mobile applications. Consumers are using mobile applications to make smarter and easier purchase decisions. So how do companies stand out amongst the rest in the mobile app world? Many have created their own unique apps.

Clorox has developed a mobile application and website allowing consumers to easily see the chemical ingredients in its products along with what those chemicals do for the product. Later this year iPhone users will be able to scan a UPC code that will direct them to a list of ingredients inside the product. In 2008 Clorox launched the Green Works natural cleaning line of products, publishing their secret ingredients for the first time. While Clorox’s new app does display the secret ingredients to consumers, it does not offer the health or environmental impacts of its ingredients. To receive any information on the effects of Clorox ingredients on the environment or health consumers need to download the Material Safety Data Sheet listing.

This is not the first app that Clorox has launched. They also have an app called Clorox myStain that provides stain removal tips to consumers.

As more brands started to adapt mobile applications to their marketing measures a list of best practices began to emerge. The following is a list of lessons that brands have learned through the years of creating mobile apps for consumers.

Apps must be real-time: Consumers have high expectations for mobile applications. They want their apps to update in real time; the one-minute delay is unacceptable. Without real time data, a mobile app is unlikely to last.
Make it easy for consumers to pay: If the application is designed to facilitate purchases, make it easy for consumers to pay. Brands such as Starbucks have embraced this important lesson and now allow their customers the Starbucks Card Mobile for iPhone, Blackberry and Android. With this app customers can pay for their Starbucks purchases, check their balance on their card and reload the card with any major credit card.
Apps need to be part of an integrated message: Mobile applications should be integrated with a brand’s marketing ideas and messages, not stand on their own as a one-off project.
People find apps through people: The quickest way to increase the value of a mobile app is through word of mouth.

by Brad Hanna under the Advertising & Social Media category with Comments are off for this post.
New Product Innovation Approach

Sep 20, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the New Product Development category with Comments are off for this post.

At the 2011 Consumer 360 conference in June, Nielsen shared their new approach to product innovation. This is a hot topic for most companies as significant marketing dollars are put against new product launches while only 10% typically have a chance of succeeding.

As marketers and consumers, we have seen new products come into the market and quickly exit the market. Remember New Coke? Or Sony Betamax?
While the traditional metrics (purchase intent, uniqueness, value, etc.) are still important, they don’t guarantee success. Nielsen’s new approach outlined twelve steps to consumer adoption that must be successful.

Distinct proposition: Is it a truly innovative?
Attention-catching: Does it break through the clutter?
Message-connection: Do consumers connect with it?
Clear, concise message: Is your message focused?
Need/desire: Does the product meet a need or solve a problem?
Advantage: Is it better than other products in the market?
Credibility: Are your claims believable?
Acceptable downsides: Are there barriers/concerns with your product?
Findability: Is your product in the right place?
Acceptable costs: Does it win the value equation?
Product delivery: Does it meet consumer’s expectations?
Product loyalty: Will consumers purchase the product again?

These are great questions to challenge your organization. Many times, new products are created because, “we can make it” vs. “it will fulfill an unmet need driven by a deeply rooted consumer insight.”

Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker

by Brad Hanna under the New Product Development category with Comments are off for this post.
Private Labels Give National Brands Tough Competition for Nutritional Quality

Sep 14, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Private Label Foods category with Comments are off for this post.

Check out my interview about nutritional quality of national brands versus private label at DietsInReview.com.

by Brad Hanna under the Private Label Foods category with Comments are off for this post.
More Than One Way To Decrease Childhood Obesity

Sep 13, 2011 by Brad Hanna under the Consumer Trends category with 1 comment.

Childhood obesity is the target of two recent pieces of news, one to do with advertising and one to do with one of the world’s leading providers of weight management services, Weight Watchers.

This April, the FDA released a set of voluntary guidelines to advertisers encouraging them to teach children to choose healthy foods and limit the amount of unhealthy ingredients they consume, such as saturated fat, trans fats, added sugars and sodium. Because a majority (80%) of the food advertisements targeted to children are for foods that most would classify as junk food, it seems easy to draw a correlation between childhood obesity and food marketing for kids.

Industry officials are already pushing back, saying the guidelines would eliminate virtually all advertising presently directed toward kids under the age of 18. “Only 12 of the 100 most consumed foods in the U.S. would meet the FTC’s criteria,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers.

However, correlation is not causation, and food advertisements are certainly only one piece of a large puzzle that is the cause of childhood obesity and its resultant health issues such as Type 2 diabetes. While advertisers sweat out how to follow the new “voluntary guidelines,” parents and their children who wish to be proactive are now able to attend Weight Watchers meetings for free in Las Vegas.

Weight Watchers of Las Vegas will be offering its specialized meetings for parents and their children ages 10 and up to attend at no charge. While it seems to be the only city offering this program for free so far, others could follow in its wake. The Weight Watchers program has newly begun attracting a younger audience following its shift from the older POINTS to its current PointsPlus program and the phenomenal success of its current spokesperson, Jennifer Hudson.

It may sound like a disconnect, but going to Weight Watchers meetings as a family, especially if it puts no extra strain on one’s budget, may be a welcome resource for many families who struggle with their health. Americans need more solutions that teach families how to eat healthy and products that address the health needs without adding more chemicals, which many parents try to avoid.

Photo credit: timlewisnm

by Brad Hanna under the Consumer Trends category with 1 comment.