Monthly Archives: December 2010

Tips, Tricks, and Ideas Spawning This Holiday Season

We are well into the shopping season and the retailers are all agog with the better than anticipated sales, particularly in electronics and high-end department stores. And as marketers we want to know what is working, what is not, who is doing what and where. We are also shoppers ourselves so this blog attempts to give a little something to everyone.

Tactics From the Traditional Marketing Set:

1. JC Penney, partnering with Facebook, FourSquare and Brightkite used location-based check in and rewarded those participating with $10 off purchases of $50 or more the day after Thanksgiving.

2. Best Buy is using an app called Tecca that is both iPhone and Android compatible to let customers compare devices and prices online of various products before choosing which to buy.

3. Sears is offering a feature on their website that allows customers to follow and receive sale alerts on items.

4. Walmart, getting into the GroupOn act, has developed their own group buying app on Facebook called CrowdSaver. When enough people go on and “like” the page, Walmart offers up a deal.

5. Shoppers can also get deals for checking in once, returning to a store or bringing friends to a store on Facebook. Gap, Macy‘s and American Eagle Outfitters are all on this bandwagon.

Then there is the app world.

This year, people are using their smartphones 25% more than they did last year when shopping and comparing. That means mobile couponing but it also means deal hunting.

For the Shopper AND the Marketer:

1. I just read a piece about PriceGrabber’s website. They claim that their site attracts about 26 million shoppers each month. “Using the mobile app, shoppers can scan an item at a store and see information on the best price on the product across multiple retailers. They can try to haggle for a better deal while they’re in the store, or buy it for less through a competitor. The service even calculates exactly how much the purchase will be when shipped directly to a consumer’s home, showing which option is the least expensive down to the last cent,” PriceGrabber President Laura Conrad says.

2. Because I travel so much, I am a fan of the apps that let customers earn rewards and cut back on unnecessary travel expenses to get to a store. CheckPoints is an app that allows shoppers to earn points when they take pictures of the bar codes of items the app chooses to feature. These points can be redeemed for gift certificates from places like Sephora and Neiman Marcus, as well as other items, airline miles and charity donations.

3. Shopkick is a slightly less interesting one to me. On this app you get entered in a sweepstakes just for “checking in” when you get to a store. As a marketer, this seems to be interesting only if I am looking to get a count of who is shopping and when or if I plan to give personalized deals. But for most marketers, the trick is getting people to the store in the first place. Shopkick, is a location-based shopping app that basically points you toward partner stores in your vicinity that have exclusive deals and reward points called “Kickbucks.” “Kickbucks” can be redeemed for gift cards, restaurant vouchers and merchandise from partner stores including Best Buy, Target and Macy’s.

4. Dealery – If you are a fan of apps and sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and BuyWithMe, you will love this. Dealery aggregates all the deals from participating services in a specific metro area (mainly bigger cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco). It provides information on the deal itself, details and restrictions of the deal, and the length that the deal is available.

5. Grouponicus This is the holiday version of the Groupon social-coupon service. It gives information on holiday-themed “experience” gifts that are available for at least 50 percent off in selected U.S. cities where Groupon offers deals.

6. FindtheBest is a great gift when you don’t know what to give. Or if you are torn between two items, like camera’s or e-readers. This will let you compare service, features, functions and cost through its research tool. It is a laser focused comparison engine that uses all available information from the manufacturer as well as from customer reviews and other research apps that will spit out a very detailed analysis of everything to do with the product.

7. Want to do well by doing good? Then check out Jumo. Jumo is the brainchild of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. He says the site is designed not just to collect donations but also to use wall posts, status updates and networking to help build continuing relations between the charities and their donors. All you need to do is to create an account that is similar to a Facebool profile and then choose the charity that you want to track.

8.  Shopping Goddess Could be named Gods and Goddesses as it is not just for us shopping diva’s. The app shares user reviews of stores, as well as products sold in them. The God or Goddess aspect comes in when you post your reviews. If you get a list of followers that read and follow your advice then you build a reputation on the site and can become a “Mayor” at a store which earns you rewards like $50 and $100 discounts as well as 50 percent deals at stores such as Sony, Barnes and Noble and Target. Why a Goddess would want to become a “Mayor” I don’t get but the deals seems to be good.

9. ‘Key Ring‘ is an app that collects all of your loyalty and rewards cards and transfers them directly to your smartphone. Just use the camera on your smartphone to scan the bar code on each discount card, and the app will automatically identify and store it in your phone. The next time you’re in the checkout line, just open up ‘Key Ring,’ scan your code, and save yourself some cash. 

10. The rest…Amazon, Yowza, RedLaser, Save Benjis, Coupons, ShopSavvy, etc are all back in full force this year and are pretty reliable when it comes to scanning barcodes and finding the best deal, be it in store or online.

For the Marketer:

IBM Coremetrics Holiday Alerts People who subscribe to this get the real skinny on what is going on in the retail world in terms of sales and trends. For instance, the subscribers got some of the first alerts about the Black Friday sales results and the Cyber Monday $1 Billion sales mark being hit. “The data, drawn from Coremetrics’ own research, provides up-to-date performance benchmarks and offers directions for possible shifts in retail strategies as the crucial month of December rolls on.” according to one insider. One interesting tidbit that I read from the site? Shoppers viewed 18 percent fewer products on websites and moved on faster if they didn’t find what they wanted. Does your website facilitate these shoppers?

Can Auto Safety Ads Go Too Far?

In 2007, there were 10.6 million automobile accidents in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. “Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC also states that among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:

1. Males: In 2006, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 15 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.

2. Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.

3. Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive.

These are frightening statistics whether you have teenagers at home or not. But do these statistics justify graphic, disturbing, and gory ads and public service announcements (PSA) on TV? You be the judge.

These first three ads are from Volkswagen, and while its Safe Happens campaign wasn’t strictly a PSA, it took on that tone. VW has frequently been on the forefront of progressive, clutter-breaking advertising and these ads were no exception.

This first ad features two friends simply talking as they drive through the suburban streets.

This next one takes the same approach, but this time with a group of teens talking about a movie they have just seen. Interesting when you couple this seemingly innocent car ride with the statistics above regarding teens driving with other teen passengers.

This last ad from VW features two women talking about none other than a graphic commercial where a car accident is featured … irony at its best.

recall the first time I saw these ads on television. They certainly got my attention and also got me to think more about safety, so the campaign clearly did its job. I recall the furor over these ads at the time. People were complaining that they were far too graphic and disturbing.

Since that time, however, the issue of distracted driving has become all that more pressing. Texting has become a major cause of traffic accidents in the U.S. Anyone who drives with regularity has seen someone texting in the next lane or worse, been behind someone that is swerving with their head down, punching away at their phone.

The most recent example of this has been Dr. Frank Ryan, better known as the plastic surgeon who transformed reality television star Heidi Montag into a walking Barbie doll. He drove off the side of a cliff inCalifornia this summer, reportedly while texting and driving. This conjures up some pretty disturbing mental images to be sure, but likely nothing compared to what you will see in this public anti-texting announcement developed in the U.K.

Fair warning, this is very graphic.

Clearly this ad goes to great lengths to make its point, but it has received well over a million views on YouTube. If you felt that VW crossed a line, there will be no question as to your thoughts on this one.

Still, is this the only way to get our attention in this Attention Deficit Disorder society? Can we only break through the clutter of the distractions in our lives and in our media with graphic messages like these?

The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership felt that getting an auto safety related message to people could be done differently.

Here, we get all the emotion and all of the impact that we received from the gorier anti-texting ad before it but without the violence. This ad too has been passed around and viewed well over a million times. Unlike the other ads, however, this one leaves you with a smile instead of a look of shock.

So which is the more persuasive, memorable and impactful? Only the viewer can say for sure but I would submit that from time to time, it is important to remind people of the reality of their decisions, even if that means some graphic visuals. Still, the public can only handle so much of that type of message on an ongoing basis. To that end, the Sussex ad offers a creative and effective alternative. Hopefully, other PSA developers will take note.