Kentucky Fried Chicken is promoting the launch of their grilled chicken by inviting customers to enjoy a free piece of “unfried” chicken at participating KFC restaurants on Monday, April 27.
General Motors (GM) plans to discontinue the Pontiac car brand, once marketed as GM's "Excitement division.” Once known as GM’s performance brand, the demise of the Pontiac has been attributed to its lack of focus. CNNMoney 4/24/09
The Dannon Co. has reached a tentative nationwide class-action settlement of complaints filed by consumers questioning the health-benefit claims made on behalf of its Activia and DanActive yogurts, that they are “clinically proven” to regulate the digestive system. AdWeek 4/6/09
Since it was launched early in 2009, 30,000 consumers have taken advantage of the Hyundai Assurance Plus program, which promises to make payments for three months for customers who buy or lease a new Hyundai before the end of April, and subsequently lose their jobs. Sales increased 14% in January 2009 versus a year ago, and were down just 1.5% in February 2009 versus a year ago. Adweek 4/6/09
Nissan (NSANY) plans to rollout the Cube in May, “a cute, smallish car” targeted to younger driviers, that “can be customized and personalized as easily as a cellphone ring tone or Facebook page." New York Times 4/6/09. The Nissan Cube follows on the introduction of the cube-y Kia Soul, and the commercial featuring four cruising hamsters.
In August, Hearst Magazines’ Country Living will launch a new line of home goods in Kmart and Sears (SHLD) stores that emphasizes coziness and affordability. The 700-SKU line will include bedding, bath, tabletop and furniture items in four different styles: Modern Countryside, Blue & White, Red & White and Faded Antique and be priced from $3.99 to $349. Mediaweek 4/6/09
J.C. Penney (JCP) plans to launch a line of home goods by supermodel Cindy Crawford. Chain Store Age. 4/3/09.
Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. hopes to entice people to serve more cocktails at home with the May launch of Sauza Margarita-in-a-Box, 15 servings of pre-made margaritas containing Sauza tequila. Brown-Forman (BF-B) is launching ready-to-drink cocktails in bottles this summer, including Southern Comfort Sweet Tea, and Diageo PLC is offering several prepared cocktails, including Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea. Wall Street Journal 4/1/09
A just released survey from Deloitte, "Connecting with Gen Y: Making Cars Cool Again,” sheds insight into what captures the automotive imagination of Gen Yers.
The majority of respondents felt a vehicle reflects a person's style, status and values, and the factors named most often as among the top three reasons that a vehicle is cool were exterior styling, affordability and being environmentally friendly. Forty four percent said exterior styling was the most important factor in selecting a vehicle, 40 percent said affordability and 35 percent said environmentally friendly. The survey results offer an opportunity for auto manufacturers and suppliers to be creative and turn their new business models into customized programs tailored to reach this diverse market.
The survey also found that roughly 70 percent of this age group would not consider working in the automotive industry, a challenge that automotive employers will need to resolve if they wish to recruit and retain the best Gen Y workers. Source: Deloitte 01/10/09
A Rasmussen poll finds that 51% of U.S. consumers say they won't buy a car from an auto maker that is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Thirty-one percent said they’d be okay with it, while18% said they weren’t sure. Phoenix Business Journal 12/13/08
What are the most effective means of reaching consumers in social media spaces? A report from Netpop Research, “Social Networkers U.S., Who They Are And What They Mean for Next-Generation Online Advertising” provides trending data showing the growth of social networking users since 2006, including a comparison of social networkers to non-social media users, and categorization of broadband users segments. While now is not the best time for marketers who haven’t used social network advertising to experiment with (during challenging economic times it’s best to stick with proven ROI), the report provides useful insights on social media users. Download the report, free until 1/31/09. Clickz 12/12/08
Nearly 30% of online adults will immediately leave a website if they perceive it to be cluttered with ads, and more than 75% of those who remain on cluttered sites pay less attention to the ads there says a study from Burst Media. Marketing Charts, 12/11/08
The financial crisis has spawned a new generation of mattress stuffers, aka New Mattress Stuffers, boomers “who have lost their faith in the housing market, the stock market, their bank, their big corporate employer, their auto company, and their last president,” and they’re waiting for the next shoe to drop. The new mattress stuffers are trying to create “safe havens” by investing in U.S. Mint gold coins, purchasing safes, vaults and guns, and eschewing plastic for cash. Wall Street Journal 12/10/08
Retailers can help consumers make a decision, and prevent the loss of a sale by introducing “decoys, loss leaders, or other products similar to the ones they really want to market.” When consumers are trying to choose between two highly desirable options, its easier for them to make a decision when a third, less desirable option is introduced, according to research conducted by Akshay Rao, marketing professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. Using the example of a consumer trying to choose between two attractive sweaters, adding a third, less attractive sweater serves as a “’decoy’” that makes the other sweater appear more pleasing than before.” Science Daily 12/14/08 University of Minnesota (2008, December 14). Inside The Consumer Mind: Brain Scans Reveal Choice Mechanism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 13, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/12/081211141846.htm
Nielsen Wire says that with less money to spend consumers will spend more time at home in 2009 which means increases in time spent on videos, blogs and ecommerce sites, and with technology-driven gadgets, gizmos and games.
“Luxury Shame” means more bad news for the global luxury market. Newsweek says the wealthy are cutting down on bling and spending sprees because “it seems vulgar to flaunt one's luxurious lifestyle” in “these recessionary times.” Via PRNewswire
Marketing Charts says 55% of US consumers are putting off buying a new car because of the current recession, a lack of consumer confidence, and a weak stock market, according to a survey from TNS. Respondents said that solving the banking crisis was key to getting vehicle sales moving again, while just 13% said that incentives and deals on new vehicles would make a difference to them.
In announcing the top food trends for 2009,Epicurious.com predicts consumers will make more dining decisions based on value, see noodle shops open alongside sushi restaurants, and see an increase in smoked, versus fried flavors. Here are their culinary predictions for 2009:
Peruvian is the new Thai
Noodle Bars are the new sushi joints
“Value” is the new “Sustainable” – bargains are in
Ginger is the new Mint
Smoking is the new Frying
Regional Roasters are the new Starbucks
Portland Maine is the new Portland Oregon for great chefs, restaurants and local foodies
Rustic food is the new Molecular Gastronomy –comfort food is staging a come back
Top Rated is the new Critic’s Pick – “Why believe what one person says when you can read…what hundreds think?” Indeed.
Holiday messaging from many retailers this year is downright pragmatic: Best Buy (BBY) touts reliability and trust, Kohl’s (KSS) talks pricing, Sears (SHLD) and Kmart promote layaway and JCPenney (JCP) advertises price points instead of percentage off. Via AdAge.
Mercedes-Benz USA says the private, online Generation Y-centric community they launched six months ago – Generationbenz.com - has been so successful at generating feedback from members that they plan to launch a site for boomers. Via Brandweek.
Welch’s antioxidant repositioning as the “original SuperFruit” helped the brand to reverse four years of sales declines according to the company. “Super Fruits” are characterized as having high antioxidant levels, such as pomegranates, goji berry, noni, and acai. Via Brandweek.
State Farm, “second-biggest ad spender among insurance marketers, no. 3 if Geico is included” is the ‘integrated’ sponsor of A&E’s new Thursday night reality series, “Jacked: Auto Theft Task Force” says AdAge. A State Farm agent will provide auto theft-prevention tips during “integrated” commercials that “seamlessly blend into the show.”
QSRWeb reports the release of the annual BusinessWeek and Interbrand list of Best Global Brands 2008. World-wide beverage giant, Coca-Cola, perches atop the list at number 1, Microsoft ranks at #3, and its nemesis, Google is at #10. Also in the top ten: McDonald’s (8) and Disney (9).
Folgers is unveiling a new roasting method the company calls “the biggest innovation since the launch of decaf,” says the New York Times. To tout the improved flavor and “cup-to-cup consistency,” the company will launch the most expensive ad campaign in the history of the brand to win customers among those who brew coffee at home.
Even a tough economy can’t keep a good truck down; according to the Free Press, Ford has announced that their industry leading (for 31 years) F-Series trucks will offer an optional SFE (superior fuel economy package "while still providing 7,500 pounds of towing capability.” Meanwhile, Chevrolet announced they would offer a similar package on their Silverado XFE truck last month, 7,000 pounds of towing capacity. Let the SFE truck wars begin.
The eighty-year old Springmaid brand has been rejuvenated with a new logo, brand positioning, designs and packaging. Parent and home furnishings supplier Springs Global US, Inc., says the relaunched brand delivers on the brand promise that “consumers will experience Surprise and Delight™ throughout their brand experience in impactful retail presentation, smart solutions that simplify her life and designs that enhance her desire to decorate.”
In October, Sears will launch the All American Army Brand’s First Infantry Division collection, inspired by the oldest and “most illustrious” division of the U.S. Army, the First Infantry Division. It is the first time the U.S. Army has officially licensed the use of its marks and insignias. The collection will be sold in Sears stores and at Sears.com. Source: Sears, Roebuck and Co.
According to the New York Times, consumers used to buy small cars because the were cheap, eschewing air conditioning, power windows, compact players, etc., to keep the price low. But as the cost of gas rises, consumers of all income levels are buying small cars to save fuel costs but adding hundreds or thousands of dollars on options. Hot sellers? The Toyota Prius hybrid and the Honda Civic.
Offering multiple brands in the same market, but to different target segments, can help a company maximize share. That's been GM’s strategy for years, but the Wall Street Journal reports the company may discontinue some of its brands, in spite of the belief that more brands equals broader market share. And helps them fight Toyota Motor Corp.
Cutting some of its eight brands, such as Saab, which, according to the article, sells just 35,000 cars per year, or Saturn, which reportedly has never been profitable, could help the company redeploy critical resources in a difficult market. But it most certainly will also result in a loss of market share since not all of a discontinued brand’s customers will necessarily migrate to another GM brand.
Two trends that illustrate how consumers are trying to cope with higher gas prices. Hypermiling The notion of “Hypermiling” isn’t new; but it’s a term you’re likely to hear a lot more of these days. Hypermiling describes “drivers of both hybrid cars and regular vehicles, who go to extraordinary lengths to get as much as they can from each gallon of gasoline, trying to surpass the EPA’s estimated fuel economy ratings,’ says hypermiling.com. The site credits the online communities of Clean MPG, a site devoted to raising fuel economy and lowering emissions, with originating the term.
Changes in Driving Patterns US drivers have cut their mileage for a sixth consecutive month says US Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. That’s 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April 2008 than in April 2007.
Just this year vehicle miles traveled on all public roads has declined nearly 20 billion. “We’re burning less fuel as energy costs change driving patterns, steer people toward more fuel efficient vehicles and encourage more to use transit,” the secretary says. Past trends indicate that high gas prices won’t keep Americans from driving; they’ll just drive more fuel efficient vehicles.
So---Are Changes in Driving Patterns Permanent? Peters says that past trends indicate that high gas prices won’t keep Americans from driving; they’ll just drive more fuel efficient vehicles. But an energy consulting firm quoted by WSJ is predicting that fuel consumption patterns could become permanent because consumers believe high gas prices are here to stay. Cambridge Energy Research Associates, an energy-consulting group says “2007 probably will represent the peak year of gasoline consumption in the U.S. ”
What Marketers Should Do Americans have a love affair with their cars unsurpassed by any other nation. If what the Department of Transportation and energy consultants say is true, long-term changes in fuel consumption patterns will impact everything from decisions about where to live, what job to take, shopping and recreation habits as well as discretionary spending.
As marketers, now is the time to do some brainstorming about how these trends could potentially affect your brand and help you plan for long-term changes in consumer attitudes and spending.