Go Forth! Mercurylab in London (Part Five) | Fruit & Veg at the Borough Market

September 10 2014

On a recent visit to the Borough Market, the food market for the ultimate foodies in London, I happened to notice this cute truck attached to a bicycle for wholesale and retailer Turnips. They have one of the first and most beautifully merchandised stalls you see when entering the market, and I’ve been admiring their offerings over the past few years. I was struck by the historic, almost Elizabethan quality of the type and the logo on their truck, and of course by the low-fi delivery aspect of things.


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It turns out that Turnips is not named for a veg, rather for a football (soccer) team, and it neatly cleaved with the owner’s business interests. Turnips began as high-end wholesalers to the top-end chefs in London at a moment when food quality and interest in special ingredients and sourcing was on the rise. They write a great deal about the advent of supermarkets and their impact on the demise of the market stallholders before the resurrection of the Borough Market, and how it coincided with the high quality and standards of their wholesale business. The also had the great good luck to affiliate with Jamie Oliver, and you all know a bit about him and how ubiquitous (and important) he is these days.

The tone and look of their site also has the quality of a well-told yarn, one that is unfurled by the fire on a cold night. These days. they are focused on provenance and quality for both wholesale and retail, sourcing from British farmers, with forays into Europe to find the best of the best. This cute truck is used for deliveries, likely in the East End where people are obsessed with food, as they seem to be throughout London. Anyway, they deliver throughout London, so all I need to do now is make the time to have a dinner party before I head back to Brooklyn!

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Thank you WPO!

May 15 2014


Somerset House (left), Beth in action (right)

What a fantastic experience at the SONY World Photography awards gala and then at Somerset House for my two part talk on fundamentals of brand creation, and communicating your brand. Beautiful venue, wonderful hosts, and super talented photographers. Thanks, WPO!!!

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Upcoming Event | World Photography Organisation

April 12 2014
May 3rd, 2014, 1-2:30 PM, GMT
May 4th, 2014, 2:30-4 PM, GMT


Join us on May 3rd and May 4th at Somerset House in London for Beth’s special two-part presentation: Why Having A Clear Point-Of-View Matters. This presentation will be hosted by the World Photography Organisation, sponsored by SONY.


Beth speaking at PPA's ImagingUSA in January 2014


© Richard Schiff          


Working from a combined psychological, analytical and business perspective, Beth’s talk will help you to understand how to discover, communicate and market your vision so that you become a go-to photographer or artist. It's important to convey your special capabilities and traits so that potential clients can easily understand why to collaborate with you. Managing your brand effectively will help you to be happier in your work and more successful in your career, and can translate into real increases in sales and market share.
Click here for a full description of Beth’s two-part presentation.

This event is perfect for photographers and artists at any level and for creatives in related fields. You won't want to miss it!

Click here to learn more about becoming a WPO member.

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Starbucks, Beta Testing and Food Options

April 03 2014

I was recently in Seattle, Washington, home of Starbucks. Seattle and environs is where they test all of their new concepts and expansion ideas.

They have been focused for quite some time on their efforts to expand into the world of tea with their Tevana Café and website, something I wrote about a while ago. They also purchased a San Francisco-based bakery called La Boulange. I have heard from interviewing Starbucks’ employees that La Boulange has turned out to be a big bust, so that as a result, the company is rethinking their baked good strategy yet again. My old client, Head Cookie Baker Jon Chazen from DoughRayMe, had told me that Starbucks used to purchase and sell day day-old baked goods back in the day, something that has never been denied outright by Starbucks spokespeople or employees. Additionally, they are also trying to grab some more market share in the evenings, trying to attract the younger, typical wine bar audience for a menu of small plates and a glass of wine.


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I heard on the news last year about a Seattle resident, a woman with two kids, who spent all of 2013 eating every meal at Starbucks. Interestingly enough, because she was eating in Seattle, where Starbucks has so many options, including Evolution Fresh juices and smoothies, she did not gain a pound!


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I’m waiting to see when Starbucks will end the beta testing stage and will begin the national rollout of Teavana and wider distribution of the Evolution line. I’ve thought for a long time that they have a huge missed opportunity in the food and baked goods realm, as their customers are actively seeking a one-stop solution for breakfast, lunch and a light meal early evening. Some folks want a decent savory option, and what about the gluten-free folks? C’mon, Starbucks, feed your starving customers in the rest of the world!

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Tyrells: Chips (or Crisps), Depending Upon Where You Live

March 14 2014

The other day I went to the grocery store in search of a delicious salty snack. A photo of a group of little old ladies caught my eye, and I knew I had found what I was looking for: Tyrrells English Chips (or Crisps for you Brits). The chips were absolutely delicious. In this case, the packaging was witty and effective in differentiating the product, and definitely pulled me in.


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The company was running a promotion that was featured on the bag that I decided to enter (more on that later), and after a quick google search, I found that they had two different websites, one for their US customers (tyrrellschips.com), and one for their UK consumers (tyrrellscrisps.co.uk). While the sites have the same look and feel, I could see a slight difference in the language, which makes sense given that the UK and the US are two countries separated by a common and similar language! The UK product offerings are far more extensive, offering a wider variety of flavors like Sunday Best Roast Chicken and Naked. The brand’s witty, playful voice comes across in the flavor naming and design, which is very effective (note that I bought the first time I encountered the chip = 100% success for the brand). Having a more extensive product line in the UK makes sense considering that Tyrells is well-known in Britain, and the UK is their main market.


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The US and UK sites do share a few promotions, such as a Facebook potato sack race game and caption contest, but the “big-ticket” promos differ vastly. In the US, you can enter to win a Cambridge Satchel. This style of bag has been very popular this past year in the fashion industry in the US (and still is). It is a slice of traditional English design that is still very much in vogue with the younger crowd. The bag design is a play between modern and vintage, and it works well with the Tyrrells brand voice and aesthetic.

The UK promo is quite different, and very quirky. You can win prizes like “A Monkey’s Uncle”, “A Pack of Lies” or “Inappropriate Trousers”—the actual prize being £25,000, but of course, if you’d prefer an awkward head massage, they’d be happy to oblige. The UK promo really emphasizes Tyrell’s humorous voice to a degree that a caption contest cannot capture, and as an established brand in the UK they can run an almost snarky promotion. This type of oddball promo might not fly yet America because their audience here does not know them well enough. I’m going to track them to see how they promote in the US in the future.

The takeaway? When marketing and communicating your brand in different markets, like Tyrrells, it’s likely that you will want to shade your marketing and communications to target and engage your specific audiences based on the culture and country. Your approach to marketing your brand is unlikely to be monolithic, whether you are selling a service, product, or company.

EOS & Their Smooth Moves

March 05 2014

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed the popularity of a colorful egg-shaped Lip Balm amongst twenty-something women wherever I go. This runaway success is from eos, which stands for the “evolution of smooth” and whose tagline “Having a delightful twist on Lip Balm” seems to be working out well for them. The packaging is unique, and compelling, so the allure and differentiation of the product begins on the outside, before you even get to the flavor or color of the balm itself.

I first saw the eos lip balm a few years ago at a charity event I participated in on behalf of MTV’s Save the Music Foundation. The brand is fully committed to their demographic, as evidenced by its product placement in Miley Cyrus’ fun, but highly controversial music video of her summer hit, We Can’t Stop. Lots of celebrity product placement followed, with Kim Kardashian, Kristin Cavallari, and Nicole Scherzinger seen using the “egg”. With the power of celebrity influencers, many young women are using eos daily. At an inexpensive $3.99, eos even rang up sales as a popular stocking stuffer this past Christmas in their target demographic.


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Now, all of you know how much I love mythology, and eos is also the name of the Goddess of the Dawn, who rose each morning at her home at the edge of the ocean. She is usually depicted as a beautiful woman whose robe is woven in flowers, and has wings like a bird. She is considered to be the genesis of all of the stars and planets, and her tears form the morning dew. A name like eos is filled with high aspirations, and the brand would like to imbue this sense of power and authorship into the confident young women who buy their products. Interestingly enough, the brand is marketed only to women – there are no unisex colors, or flavors, so they have clearly marked out their brand strategy to consolidate their market preeminence with their chosen demographic.

It turns out that the company makes other products too, such as hand and body lotion, and shaving cream. Who knew? I wonder how they are doing with these brand extensions, as I’ve only seen that popular egg. My intern carries around her Blueberry Acai egg every day, and my old assistant pulled out her yellow pastel egg at the slightest provocation. Would this brand be as popular without its unique shape? It seems possible, as it is also organic, with fun flavors, which is also totally on-trend, and popular with its target audience. Smart brand, smart design, smart packaging, all very focused, resulting in deep market share.

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Down Home in New York: Fishs Eddy, and the Retail Experience

January 23 2014

Many may view kitchenware shopping as a boring chore, but Fishs Eddy makes the experience totally fun and enjoyable. Honestly, it’s less like shopping, and more like the easiest treasure hunt you’ve ever done. Fishs Eddy is fully stocked with one-of-a-kind vintage and vintage-inspired pieces. They have literally everything you need, and plenty of things you never knew you needed so much. The merchandising and display reinforce the sense of personal fun, yet its true power is in being tied to our memories of a solid America that many of us have only experienced through books, movies, and the things we buy and the homes we create. So the brand is about a personal, universal, and romantic view of America, much like an uber brand like Ralph Lauren, or even a mall brand like Anthropologie.


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Fishs Eddy is a consistent and well-managed brand that has been around since 1986, one that has weathered many trends in home décor and entertaining. Shoppers respond to their casual vibe and country flea market "general store" environment, where hand-painted signage and wooden crates spill over with sturdy china bowls and plates. Even with their rustic aesthetic, the designs still feel relevant and on trend — a perfect example is their recent collaboration with minimalist, stylized wildlife illustrator Charley Harper. The pieces he designed with Fishs Eddy are crisp and modern, yet their retro, mid-century feel fits in perfectly with the brand’s thrifty, eclectic atmosphere and products. I can just as easily imagine a 50’s southern housewife shopping here, as well as a hip, young New Yorker. The shoppers around me were saying that it’s simply impossible to leave without purchasing at least one tiny cup.


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The takeaway: Know your brand, and manage it well. Know your market, and hit your market with consistent brand touch points. Have a think on that, and then we can meet for some apple pie and coffee, served on Fishs Eddy’s dishware. Later!

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Expensive Divorce: Starbucks & Kraft Foods by guest blogger Cedric Littman

November 26 2013

Recently Starbucks had to pay Kraft Foods a huge settlement. The agreement was for Kraft to distribute Starbucks packaged coffee beans into the supermarket supply chain, while Starbucks alleged that Kraft had underperformed despite Kraft increasing sales tenfold.

Kraft is a huge food manufacturer with hundreds of brands delivering consistent mediocrity who, as their recent take-over of chocolate maker Cadburys shows, puts efficiency before ethics. If we compare the Starbucks and Kraft brands, what would we think? We think of Starbucks as a modern company delivering an excellent coffee experience in its welcoming shops where customers are warmly greeted. Starbucks is also known for its ethical business practices and treatment, having switched over completely to fair trade coffee and tea, promoting actively from within and providing medical coverage to all workers, even part-timers, so that the impression is of a circle where employees, suppliers, and customers are well treated.


by Ryan Gustafson

This prompts the question “is Starbucks is not managing its brand properly?” While presenting itself as a friendly company with high principles, it employed Kraft who seek value by delivering mediocrity at the expense of quality. Starbucks was disappointed Kraft had not increased its supermarket sales, wanting them to push hard into a market where staff are not well treated and small brands are at a disadvantage.

We think of Starbucks as highly principled and enjoyable. Can we draw any conclusions from Starbucks choosing Kraft as distributor of its “ethically produced” coffees? Starbucks’ behaviour was not in alignment with their brand positioning as they picked a corporate partner not known for their integrity, and then was angry with Kraft when profits were less than anticipated. It was a weird marriage to begin with, and ended in an expensive divorce.

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Deliverance Delivers: Building a Sustainable Food Brand

August 09 2013

Last night I was sitting and eating with some friends at Pizza Express in London. It was much better than it sounds, as many restaurants in the UK are part of chains (or chainlets) actually serve fresh, locally sourced food. Anyway. A delivery moped passed the window from deliverance.co.uk, painted in red, with beautifully modern typography. First of all, the name is so smart, a great play on words that references the biblical ways in which food delivers us. The offering itself is unlike anything that I know of in NYC. Incredibly high-quality food cooked to order and delivered to your door. It's a modern version of a personal chef.

This brand is very well managed. Like many British companies, they focus on the provenance of their food sources, naming the family farms and butchers with a Royal seal of approval, purveyors to the Crown. Given that London is a wide, horizontal city where it takes hours to run an errand in Central London, communities tend to focus around the local High Street. That High Street will have Indian, Arab, and Thai restaurants plus a few pubs with gastro pub aspirations. At the same time, Brits tend to lavish lots of love and care on their homes, are very social, and just like their American counterparts, are working too hard. So Deliverance has filled a hole in the market.

It's a branding and marketing rule that the first one successfully out of the gate with a new offering will own 50% of the market. In London, you can get your food delivered from the supermarket, from a shop that stocks only frozen ready meals, like Cooks, or from you local pizza place. It seems to me that Deliverance is delivering on their name, and their service, which is another factor in building and maintaining a brand: credibility. As they've been around for 15 years, they are sustainable, credible and differentiated, the three hallmarks of brands that are set up for long-term success. New York foodies, take note!

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Blog | Food

An American Heritage Brand: Twinkies

July 17 2013

When we think about America, we think about apple pie and baseball. What about other American classics, like Twinkies? Hostess Twinkies have been around since 1930, a true staple for generations of snackers. The cream-filled sponge cakes have never been the healthiest option but America has never seemed to care. It takes a strong brand to stay relevant and successful with such a processed, sugary product in today’s market, especially when fresher, organic options are being become more popular and widely available.

Twinkies took a hit last year when Hostess Cakes declared bankruptcy after a hostile fight with its union workers. Once the word got out that the factory was about to close, any remaining product sold out in the blink of an eye. Media stories abounded about people’s grief at the loss of an iconic American brand.  

Then Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo came along and bought Twinkies and other Hostess cakes for $410 million. Now this beloved, familiar snack is back on our shelves. The new boxes will showcase the tagline, “The Sweetest Comeback In The History Of Ever,” underlining the brand’s heritage position.

Despite their one-year hiatus, the Twinkie brand hasn’t lost its place in the heart of America. Reaction from the public seems promising, and a less iconic brand might have been mourned and already forgotten. The product will still have the same classic taste, as well as all the sugar and calories that come with it. Twinkies have a whopping shelf life of forty-five days, which may not be what it once was, but is enormous in light of the current trends towards local and fresh food and changed consumer consciousness.

So it seems that although the market for healthy food has only grown over the past year, consumers can’t wait to get their hands on Twinkies once again. This brand seems to be resilient to say the least, and it looks like the desire for this tasty treat will last a lifetime.

                 

                                                    Image via marketingpilgrim.com

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