Go Forth! Mercurylab in London (Part Two) | They (and we) Love to Eat

July 29 2014

Farmer's Market Marketing

Whether based in Brooklyn or London, good farmer’s markets not only bring a sense of the native culture and some delicious foods, but also offer great marketing opportunities for the vendors.


Broadway Market, Hackney (Left, Popino, based in Hampstead, and their homemade savory tarts and pies; right, artisan cheeses from all over the UK)

The markets provide a great atmosphere and the chance to sell not only your product, but your brand. These small business owners and artisans foodmakers often build their brands at markets, gaining a following that allows them to begin to wholesale or maybe even open their own shop. These days, in the artisan sector, a successful food brand will always bring together a combination of market sales, wholesale and retail. The sellers at the market level are in a unique position to get feedback about their products straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak). Sellers can interact with customers, create a relationship, and put a face to the food. It's all very organic (mind the pun). The UK has been forward- thinking in providing provenance for local foods, and the local food movement has taken hold and flourished here for many years, far in advance of the US.

There is an incredible interest in locally sourced food. Cooks and consumers want the Real Deal. Organic. Healthy. Ethical. Local. Lucky for market stalls, eating and ethics all get rolled up into one concern that points to more sales and exposure.


Heavenly Andina, where we set at the kitchen counter and coveted everything coming out of the kitchen

Adina, an amazing Peruvian spot we went to a few nights ago in Shoreditch, is one of many restaurants to feature fresh, local, GMO-free ingredients. They call out their sourcing right on the menu. Even the beverages are based on “Peruvian Super Fruits,” and the fries are not potatoes, but are actually healthy root vegetables typical of traditional Peruvian cuisine. Anyway, it was all delicious, and everyone in the busy kitchen wanted to share their enthusiasm for the food. YUM!

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Brand Loyalty & Starbucks

January 16 2014

As we have discussed before, Starbucks is a company which has managed its brand exceptionally well, and has built formidable brand loyalty. Attendees to my talks know that I always encourage them to be good brand analysts, and to approach any brand from a neutral perspective, so that you can understand what they stand for without judgment clouding your assessment. On to Starbucks, but in this case, with a judgment.

A few weeks ago I was at a hotel where the snack and breakfast bar was a Starbucks concession manned by hotel staff in hotel uniforms who jumped between serving at the Starbucks counter and functioning as hotel staff, even washing the floors in front of us while the coffee was brewing. Although the products were the same as at any other Starbucks, the service was not. The staff kept guests waiting while they dealt with hotel business at another counter or placed the behind the counter garbage can unappealingly in full view. Product knowledge was not good, and the effort to make a cup of tea took at least ten minutes per customer, so that a long line snaked through the hotel lobby. This was not the service we have come to expect from Starbucks.


via

So what happens when one encounters a brand touch point, like a mismanaged hotel concession, and has a bad experience? I was disappointed, but I still had my breakfast there each day I was at the hotel, and the repeated bad experience will not prevent me from going to Starbucks in the future. Ultimately, the product they served was the same, but the wrapping (that is, the service) was not. People tend to be forgiving of a brand like Starbucks because the product is predictable, and the brand has worldwide brand loyalists. From a financial perspective, extending the Starbucks brand into hotels, which they have been doing for years, does have clear benefits. They have increased market penetration, brand awareness, and increased sales.

So in this instance, Starbucks has increased profitability, presumably at low cost, without damaging brand loyalty.

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Pinning for Money and Fun in the USA and abroad

February 21 2013

How many of you are on Pinterest these days? It has become a vital tool for those of us who are highly visual, or in a visual profession, and who want a fluid and easy place to park their online image “scrapbook” for easy reference. Personally, I’m obsessed with it! In a funny way, I find that how I approach collecting images on specific topics and areas on Pinterest has much in common with the way that I edit photography for portfolios, books, websites, etc. I like to begin with a huge pull of images, frequently in the many hundreds, and then I am able to tunnel down into the core visual through-line in a photographer’s work. Now I'm doing the same for myself, and it’s a pleasurable exercise in collecting and editing.

Many American brands and retailers are also very much on board with Pinterest. In interviews, they state again and again that Pinterest is driving sales in a quantifiable way that they don’t necessarily see in other social media. It allows consumers to paste and share products in an appealing way, and to go back to their scrapbook, have a holistic view of the things that they love, and then to easily purchase the products they’ve pinned. Sometimes it’s not so easily quantifiable, as consumers frequently use Pinterest as a research tool which might then indirectly drive a purchase through looking at their own, or other pinners, collection of aspirational fashion or home décor or design images. Pinners are also repinning other images they find on Pinterest, or pinning from all over the online universe. Magazines have a strong roll to play in this environment, as they provide a great source of many aspirational images that then drive a more down-to-earth purchase.

Interestingly enough, in the course of my own time spent in pursuing images for my Pinterest board, I’ve found that it’s really difficult to pin from European home décor magazines. Whereas most American magazines have made a major push into providing ancillary and original content on their websites, most of the European magazines I visited online are far behind. They seem to see the online environment as one in which they should hold back content and force (or frustrate) the consumer into buying the print magazine. I’m curious to know how that’s working for them. Is World of Interiors more successful at retaining their print subscribers with their opaque website than a comparable magazine like Architectural Digest, which is making at least some content of value available? I don’t know, but I can say that in the new Pinterest world, I find myself more interested in interacting with brands that make my pinning most inspirational and easiest. 

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Macy's and the Capsule Collections

April 18 2012

Macys' is making some upscale and perhaps curious choices in their selection of limited collection designers for their Impulse shops. First up was Karl Lagerfeld, then CFDA winner doo.ri, and now Alberta Ferretti. I would say that in these designers are connected in that they are all upscale, kind of dressy, refined, and polished. I was very curious about the Lagerfeld collection and hightailed it over to Macy's very soon after its release into stores only to find that hundreds of pieces remained on the racks at the Herald Square store. Hmmm. So I queried the sales staff at length, who said that the collection did not sell well at all. They said that neither the design nor fabrication worked. When I went back some weeks later the collection was in serious markdown.

Why no ka-ching ka-ching? And why these designers? What is the decision behind the choice to associate the egalitarian Macy's brand with designers who are upscale (that we understand) and slightly unknown by main street USA (doo.ri and Ferretti)? Limited edition capsule collections are meant to reinforce a store's prestige, help the retailer gain traction with new audiences (consumers who might not normally connect with Macy's, for example), and to create a sense of urgency in the buying experience, so that it drives any curious and/or interested traffic to the brick and mortar stores and to the website. 

Then there is Macy's association with the new Fashion Star show. Ack! The fashion on the show is awful, but it's a great PR move, and is definitely driving sales. According to Women’s Wear Daily, the three retailers associated with the store are really pleased with sales as the items from the show are selling out. So here we are again in the realm of high/low, which any readers of my blog know is one of my major interests. What's working better for Macy's? Lagerfeld (advertised and promoted traditionally) or Miss No-Name Designer (with millions of viewers and panelists like Jessica Simpson and Nicole Ritchie)? I would LOVE to see those sales numbers!

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