retail watch

Black Friday Creep and the Thanksgiving Day Grinch: 2014 Edition

Posted by Dale Buss on October 17, 2014 05:11 PM

The war over the sanctity of Thanksgiving could turn into one of those annual holiday classics, like It's a Wonderful Life and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But while it isn't quite the stuff of movie drama yet, the battle over when US retailers open on Black Friday weekend continues to provide plenty of tension.

Well before Halloween, Macy's has taken one of the initial steps this year by confirming to Huffington Post that it will open stores to Black Friday shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day—two hours earlier than it opened last year, with online deals starting earlier. In 2014, Walmart kicked off its Black Friday deals at 6 p.m. on Turkey Day, while Target opened at 8 p.m.

Not surprisingly, this has led to angst especially among workers at America's biggest employer who are recruited to work on Thanksgiving day. Over the roughly three years that Black Friday creep has taken place, there have been outbursts of protest akin to the proliferating demonstrations over retailers paying only the minimum wage.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Quirky Relaunches as GE Relationship Evolves in Connected Home Race

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 17, 2014 04:04 PM

One in five Americans now owns an Internet-connected home appliance and two-thirds are willing to purchase one or more if it helps them save on utility bills and increase home security, leading to the multi-billion dollar question: who will power these burgeoning home ecosystems? 

It’s been a big year for connectivity. Google purchased Nest for $3.2 billion in January, Microsoft partnered with SmartLabs’ Insteon, Apple is launching HomeKit (announced in June) and Samsung acquired SmartThings.

And then there's Quirky, the crowdsourced invention startup that launched in 2009 as a “social product development company,” which has a major ally in this race thanks to GE—although it's a relationship, as their Facebook status might say, that's "complicated" and evolving.Continue reading...

social media watch

Brands Can Now Pay for Product Placements in Selfies Using Bitcoins

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 17, 2014 03:15 PM

Bitcoin and selfies somehow seem a perfectly-matched odd couple.

A startup called BadgerHunt, which calls itself a crowd advertisement platform, is offering to pay advertisers to display their logo on individuals’ clothes or bumper stickers for cars, with the payment tendered in Bitcoin.

Volunteers (called badgers) must register in order "to advertise products or services by wearing t-shirts, caps or putting bumper stickers onto their cars."

Badgers then pick a campaign and must snap a selfie daily and send it to the website, which forwards it to the advertiser.

In return, candidates can specify their daily rate in bitcoin. The minimum is $5, but more influential members can ask more than $50 per day.Continue reading...

celebrity brandmatch

Heidi Klum Expands Brand by Taking Over Elle Macpherson's Lingerie Gig

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 17, 2014 02:25 PM

As brand ambassadors go, supermodel Elle Macpherson has been identified with lingerie for years—25, in fact, working with New Zealand manufacturer Bendon to develop an eponymous line that has been available worldwide in a reported $150 million deal.

Now the 50-year-old and Bendon are parting ways, with another blonde model taking over as the face of its lingerie line: Heidi Klum, who has helped keep herself in the spotlight by hosting Project Runway since its debut in 2004.

As a result, Elle Macpherson Intimates will become Heidi Klum Intimates in January, but Macpherson will keep the naming rights to her three underwear labels, while Bendon keeps the rights to all of the designs.Continue reading...

retail watch

Walmart Plans to Shore Up Stores, E-Commerce—and Take Action on Wages

Posted by Dale Buss on October 17, 2014 01:01 PM

For Walmart and its relatively new CEO Doug McMillon, the future is about the challenge of managing the gaps. The gap between $15 an hour and $7.25 an hour in wages. The gap between Amazon's commanding presence in e-commerce and Walmart's footprint so far. And even the gap between the company's performance and McMillon's own expectations.

"There is no excuse for us not to be doing better," McMillon told investors this week at a meeting in Walmart's home state of Arkansas, as Walmart cut its forecast for sales growth in the current fiscal year to between 2 percent and 3 percent from a prevoius range of 3 percent to 5 percent.

In outlining his growth strategy to the investment community McMillon stated, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, "I really believe our future is bright. There are so many ideas percolating around."

One of them involves accelerating the company's investments in e-commerce. But many challenges keep surfacing as well.Continue reading...

branded content

Branded Content Watch: Chanel, GoPro, Canada Goose and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 17, 2014 12:31 PM

The Pitch: The One That I Want for Chanel No. 5
The Plot: Mysterious surfer model Gisele Bündchen rides a wave into Michiel Huisman's heart.
The Verdict: If this looks a little schmaltzy it should come as no surprise then that it was directed by Australia's king of overblown drama, Baz Luhrmann. Does it make sense? Nope. Is it on brand? Absolutely. Continue reading...

chew on this

Will Kids Take a Bite of Disney's Frozen and Spider-Man Branded Apples?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 17, 2014 12:01 PM

Let it go... into your grocery cart.

Apples may not have had anything to do with the plot of last year’s megahit Frozen, but that doesn’t mean the marketing geniuses at Disney don't see the fruit (which got such a bad rap, after all, in Snow White) as an opportunity to continue the momentum and get kids to eat healthier.

Disney, the 13th Best Global Brand (which turned 91 this week), has been on a kick to get kids to eat better since 2006. Since then, more than 4.1 billion servings of Disney-branded fruits and vegetables have been served up, while sales of its branded fruits and vegetables have tripled just in the last two years.

Now comes the latest Disney-branded produce, just in time for holiday baking: bags of apples branded with either characters from Frozen or Spider-Man. Why should grocers stock (and shoppers buy) Spidey apples and Frozen fruit?Continue reading...

mobile marketing

Starbucks Wishes You a Digital Holiday and a Mobile New Year

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 17, 2014 11:08 AM

Starbucks is on a tear, unveiling a “roadmap of innovations” to “further transform and elevate the Starbucks Experience in Holiday 2014 and beyond.”

Top of the list: Pay Ahead, a US-only mobile order and payment program that will be available nationwide by the end of 2015, starting in Portland, Oregon, in the fourth quarter.  

The coffee giant (up 22% on Interbrand's Best Global Brands this year) is targeting its mobile-first messaging at its core millennial customer base, who prefers to order on a smartphone, and appreciates incentives in the Starbucks customer rewards program mobile app such as free beverages.

About 15% of all Starbucks purchases are made with mobile devices, and many brands are lining up to sign up in the mobile payment app arena. Dunkin' Donuts rolled out its mobile payment app in 2012, and both Taco Bell and McDonald’s are working on proprietary apps.Continue reading...

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