retail watch

Target, Finally Getting Canada, is Really Sorry

Posted by Dale Buss on August 15, 2014 10:01 AM

Target says it's got some of its biggest problems in Canada figured out and has begun to reverse them with a three-pronged turnaround plan that will focus on the chain's supply chain, pricing and merchandise selection in an attempt to turn around an important geographic expansion that has gone badly awry.

The chain has been facing a number of problems lately, including the monumental data breach last December and a loss of much of its overall brand mojo in the US, and those problems helped lead to the departure of CEO Gregg Steinhafel earlier this year.

But the problems in Canada—where Target massively launched last year by opening 124 stores and three distribution centers—led to a loss of nearly $1 billion as sales fell short of expectations and rivals pummeled the retailer.

Now, new Target Canada boss Mark Schindele is insisting that the new initiatives will improve its business performance, pricing and inventory issues and deliver the Target brand experience to Canadian customers.Continue reading...

brand strategy

In Smart Home Battle, Quirky, Electrolux Vie for GE's Appliance Business

Posted by Dale Buss on August 14, 2014 06:03 PM

General Electric continues to show it's serious about recasting its business around reliable B2B products like jet engines and wind turbines with news that it's talking with Swedish giant Electrolux about selling its home-appliance business. Another potential bidder, Bloomberg reports, could be a group including the Blackstone Group and Quirky, a five-year-old startup that has an ongoing product partnership with GE.

The 122-year-old GE appliance division is on the block for a second time as CEO Jeffrey Immelt focuses on industrial operations, and the division could net $2 billion in a sale. "GE is evaluating a wide range of strategic operations for our appliance business including discussions with Electrolux and other interested parties," a GE spokesman told Bloomberg. 

But while the interest of Electrolux, No. 2 in US sales of appliances and maker of brands like Frigidaire and AEG, could mean a boost in business for the brand, which has had stagnant sales in the US and Europe, the potential bid by Quirky with private-equity firms including Blackstone is much more interesting in terms of the future of the smart home.Continue reading...

campaigns

Goodbye, Kitty: Japan Sends Hello Kitty into Orbit to Boost Space Program

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 14, 2014 01:42 PM

NASA isn't the only space program in jeopardy. Japan, for one, is also trying to re-engage young minds with the fascinations of space using a tried and true method: Hello Kitty.

The iconic figure, which is celebrating its 40th birthday, has created billions of dollars in revenue for its owner, Sanrio, and Japan hopes that its internationally-recognized animated toy will drive the same kind of cultural interest for its space program. 

To get more private companies interested in using satellites, the government has invested $40 million toward the project, Reuters reports. The satellite carrying the 1.6-inch Hello Kitty figurine was fine-tuned over a couple of months of experimentation and is about the size of a garbage can.Continue reading...

auto motive

Jaguar Dusts Off Iconic Lightweight E-Type for Historic Concours Event

Posted by Dale Buss on August 12, 2014 03:29 PM

The more Jaguar recovers from its near-death experience a few years ago, the more the brand can afford to look back at its original glory days. That seems to be behind Jaguar's move to revive an old racing vehicle known as the Lightweight E-type and display it at the Pebble Beach Concours in California this weekend.

Jaguar then plans to sell the new E-types, which Top Gear calls a "beauty of a time traveller," as "period competition" vehicles to some very demanding hobbyists who want to race them in classic car rallies, which is why they'll be offered first to existing Jaguar collectors.

The roots of the project date back a half century—to 1963, to be precise. That's when Jaguar—owned for the last few years, along with Land Rover, by India's Tata Group—built 12 of 18 planned "Special GT E-type" project cars for the race course. The remaining six were never built until now.Continue reading...

game change

Tim Hortons at 50: Celebrating Its Canadian Roots, and its Future

Posted by Amanda Caswell on July 29, 2014 08:01 PM

The days of the "double double" are numbered. Well, not quite. But Tim Hortons can see a future where their brand experience pushes far beyond that iconic order.

At the company's recent franchise owners conference, an innovative invite-only concept store highlighted the evolving landscape of Canadian tastes and explored what might be new in store. As "Tims" gets ready to turn its first store into a celebration of its 50 years in business, it's also brewing up a fresh pot of brand experience, and envisioning how future stores can transform.

Cue its "Restaurant of the Future" concept store, which goes beyond brewing just java—this location also served coffee beers inspired by the famed Tim’s flavor, and an expanded menu that included omelets and crepes.Continue reading...

traveling brands

With Business Travel Booming, Brands Bring Sharing Economy to the C-Suite

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 29, 2014 05:22 PM

Business travel accounts for hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and it's only growing. Despite the recent string of airline disasters, the Global Business Travel Association expects spending on business travel to go up around 7 percent this year, to about $1.18 trillion—$292.3 billion of that in the US, according to the New York Times. China, with a sustained 16 percent yearly growth rate, is expected to pass the US in travel spending by 2016. 

With plenty of money to be made, brands are tweaking their business models to accomodate the industry's influx.   

Airbnb, which is in the midst of a rebrand, is devoting an entire section of its new website to business travelers. "It's about making it easier to find accommodations that are appropriate for work trips," says Lex Bayer, head of business development and global payments at Airbnb, according to USA Today. The offering will cater to travelers that are looking to combine business with pleasure.Continue reading...

tech style

At Wearable Tech Expo, Brands Acknowledge Hurdles to Adoption

Posted by Brittany Messenger on July 25, 2014 05:05 PM

As if there were any doubt, the Wearable Tech Expo this week in New York made one thing is certain: the branded wearable space is ready for take-off—but not before sorting out a few potential hurdles.  

In her keynote address at the conference, Myriam Joire, Pebble’s Chief Evangelist, identified battery life technology and usability challenges as two key issues the industry needs to solve.

"If you want to go beyond us, the early adopters, the tech savvy users, you have to solve usability challenges," Joire commented. "The people who buy a smartwatch at Target don't want to do anything complicated. They want it to add value to their lives. Notifications alone have value right now. A busy mom carrying groceries who gets a notification that she has a text message and doesn't have to pull her phone out—that's gold."

But is product innovation enough to grow the industry? While improvements to battery life and usability will allow wearables to serve their users better and longer, how will they get consumers to even give them a shot?Continue reading...

brand partners

Walk a Mile in GE's Shoes—On the Moon

Posted by Ilan Beesen on July 21, 2014 05:39 PM

It’s been 45 years since our species, or any other for that matter, first stood on the moon. Still, there are few things that can capture the imagination quite like the thought of people walking on that distant rock that shines down on us in the night sky.

There was the heroism of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, the ingenuity of the NASA scientists, and technological prowess of the engineers at Grumman who built the Apollo Lunar Module. There was the grainy footage and the raspy audio that produced the resounding “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” which is as poetic a phrase today as it was in 1969. And there was also a footprint.

Significant technology went into that footprint, but it wasn’t only NASA that made that iconic moonwalk possible. It was the silicon rubber developed by GE that gave the moonboot the strength to withstand the most hostile environment a human boot has ever endured.

Now, GE is revisiting that magical moment with a poetic gesture of its own. And this time, 100 earthbound sneaker lovers will be invited along for the ride, or at least have the opportunity to leave some footprints of their own—only not on the moon.Continue reading...

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