Posts filed under ‘trends’
I posted a few weeks ago about what I hoped were the first green shoots of recovery I’d spotted. And since then I’m pleased to report that the local firm who are fitting our new bathroom tell me their enquiries and orders have doubled over the past two months and they’ve had to take on extra staff, which sounds encouraging.
But I’ve picked up on another mini-trend that seems to reflect the fact that money is still very tight for lots of people – the qualitative research gatecrashers. I’ve had quite a bit of qual on recently and my mobile number ends up being listed on the research invitation as ‘if on the day for some reason you can’t attend please call….’. I’ve had 8am calls from women wanting to how “how I can get on the research” (face-to-face depth interviews pre-recruited to a very specific criteria) and focus group respondents turning up with their husband and sister in tow in the hope that I’ll let them into the group too so they can all collect their forty quid. I’ve had Mums swear blind that the recruiter said it was OK for them to bring their young children with them “they won’t be any trouble!” when it’s been made clear to them that they can only attend on their own and respondents throwing major tantrums because they’ve arrived far too late to attend and therefore won’t be paid. It’s been an interesting Summer!
I love all the weather-related retail stories that come out whenever there’s the slightest sign of a heatwave in the UK. It’s a gift for PRs (who are probably sitting on a load of Royal Baby press releases they can’t send out yet) and a fun way to fill column inches for newspapers – and yes, even blogs.
The subject came up in a meeting with a Major Supermarket earlier this week, where they pointed that thanks to the hot weather they might be selling more barbeque food, summer clothing and paddling pools, but you win some you lose some because categories like DVDs suffer a drop in sales when we spend our evenings swanning round the garden instead of watching a DVD indoors.
So here’s the latest stats:
Amazon – year-on-year sales are up 816% for paddling pools, 519% for sprinklers and sprayers, 543% for patio chairs and loungers and 145% for sun skincare products
M&S – ice lolly sales up 300% year-on-year
More than four in 10 of us have had a barbecue so far this summer, compared with just three in 10 throughout the whole of last year.
Waitrose – 450 per cent leap in sales for barbecues, and a 316 per cent rise for Pimm’s.
Asda – barbeque sales up 204% in the last two weeks, charcoal and fuel up 176%, paddling pool sales up 446% and sales of garden furniture up 44%.
Experian said that in the first week of July footfall in Britain’s shopping streets and centres was down 8 per cent on the same period last year.
Most major online travel agents are reporting sales down by more than 20 per cent.
And of course, hot weather can be very dangerous for anyone who is frail, ill or doing something stupid like swimming in a quarry. Slip, slop, slap and stay safe.
I was going to call it. To say that I’d spotted some definite green shoots of financial recovery.
But the Sunday Times and YouGov beat me to it. In yesterday’s paper (paywall, so data summary here) they revealed that in the UK the Feelgood Factor (thinking things will get better not worse) is at it’s highest point since the general election in 2010. Optimism is on the up.
From my point of view, I’ve been flat-out since January the 2nd. As has every other freelancer I know in the North of England, everyone I know in agencies across the UK and all of my suppliers.
Most of the agencies I work with are desperate for extra bums on office chairs, their clients are recruiting like crazy too and mothballed branding and research projects are suddenly being approved.
So I think it would be safe to say that at least the marketing industry is feeling rather optimistic at the moment.
However that’s B2B. In ConsumerLand this positivity doesn’t seem to have entirely trickled through yet. We’ve been planning a big refurb at home for the last year and visited around a dozen local independent bathroom and bedroom suppliers as part of our research. Four of them are no longer trading. Even the most popular local restaurants are less full than they’d like and the focus groups I run with Supermarket Mums tell me that they’re still watching every penny and anxious about what the future will bring.
But YouGov rarely get it wrong, so watch this space. On the other hand we could be simply seeing a blip, after all if we’re working on Robert Beckman’s predictions things aren’t supposed to get better until 2016…
In last week’s Radio Times (which is nearly as good as The Sun for a pulse of the nation type snapshot) Radio 4’s Today presenter Justin Webb wrote in his column about how his children will have a limited need to know actual facts, what with the world’s knowledge being there at their digital fingertips.
But he writes that they will need to be able to manipulate information when they find it, “there is a need for clever people to sort [information] out and compare datasets in a way that tells you interesting things about interesting people…but the key to entering this lucrative professional class will be knowing what to do with knowledge, not knowing the knowledge itself.”
In other words, we’re going to need more Planners, more Digital Strategists and more Data Analysts. But is the current British education system geared up to churning out these kind of investigative seekers of Interesting? Is it heck.
Have you had a play with the BBC’s new class calculator yet?
Looking at the categories, most of the Planners I’ve met would slot neatly into the Technical Middle Class box:
But when I tried with my own data, I came out as Established Middle Class, probably because thanks to my horsey friends I could tick almost every box on the ‘do you know people who work in these jobs’ question:
So then I put my Dad’s data through it and HE came out as Technical Middle Class, even though he’s the least emerging culture, social media type person I’ve know.
In light of this, I think I can surmise that this still isn’t a perfect classification system – and I don’t think briefing a recruiter to head off into a supermarket with a clipboard to find me some Technical Middle Class mums aged 25-45 would go down that well…
I was at a wedding recently and during the evening do I got cornered by someone who had found out I worked in advertising and demanded to know:
“Why do all the ads with a family in them have a confident, in charge woman and a hopeless man?”
I was about to write his comment off to one too many glasses of wedding bubbly until I started thinking about it. It turns out he has a point:
and Oak Furniture Land fall back on the old ‘he can’t even shop properly!’
You could argue that women tend to be the main decision makers for these kind of products and acknowledging that they sometimes do take the head of household role should in theory appeal to them. Buts it’s still lazy advertising. At least we’ve come a long way from these kind of ads:
I saw an ad today for Scrooge the musical, which will be at the London Palladium this Autumn starring Tommy Steele, aged 75.
This tied in rather nicely with a piece I stumbled across on The Stage’s website earlier this week about the resilience of older performers, including Ann Emery (82), who plays Billy’s gran eight times a week in Billy Elliot in the West End and Des O’Connor (80), who is currently starring as the title character in The Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile, away from the world of musicals, Ken Dodd (84) and Paul Daniels (74) are both still touring while Bruce Forsyth (82) continues to remind us to “keep dancing”.
You certainly won’t find the average AdMan still working well into their 70s or even 80s. You could argue these older entertainers have got performing and the associated applause so tied up with their own identity that they can’t live without it. Or that their lifestyle requires them to keep working to pay the bills. But they couldn’t work if the demand wasn’t there – and thanks to better healthcare, lifestyle and pension provision there’s an enormous, relatively affluent 70+ audience out there who want to see the stars they’ve always enjoyed watching. An audience that has the flexibility to attend matinées, will happily go on organised group outings to the theatre and enjoys ‘proper’ Saturday night entertainment that they can watch even if the extended family are over.
This audience is one of the most affluent demographics in the UK – and probably one of the most ignored by marketeers. If I had a product or brand aimed at these kind of people, I’d be on the phone to Tommy Steele’s agent straight away.
In the first half of my Planning career I worked on a number of drinks brands and became a bit of an authority on stuff like maximising back bar selling hotspots. As a result, I ended up writing lots of features for drinks trade mag The Publican and still provide expert comment for the odd piece in The Morning Advertiser (who merged with The Publican).
In December last year I contributed to a feature on Why New Drinks Fail, including a rant on the drinks industry’s attitude towards Marketing to Women:
click to enlarge to readable size – or the text is below...
It’s only the brewing industry that seems to feel the need to target it’s NPD on the basis of gender. But women have been conditioned by the industry itself to look for a drink to suit the occasion, rather than their femininity.
Women are more willing to order their own drink to suit the occasion, or invent one, with hundreds of variations on spirit-and-a-mixer. And that’s the point – everyone is an individual and you can’t market at the entire female adult population as some kind of homogenous sisterhood. Which is exactly what beers aimed at women seem to have set out to do.
It seems that the drinks industry didn’t listen. We’re about to see the launch of Coco Breve, a ‘coconut water-infused clear malt beverage targeting women’, hot on the heels of last year’s Animee, a low calorie beer that comes in clear, lemon and rose – and only sold £300K worth in its first four months on supermarket shelves. Then there’s Carlsberg’s Eve, a lychee flavoured drink fronted by Louise Redknapp which failed despite massive marketing spend.
There’s a great piece from last year by Melissa Cole in The Guardian about why she thinks beers aimed at women fail. Only 17% of beer in the UK is drunk by women so it’s clear why brewers see an opportunity. But they still seem to be hell-bent on producing a brand to fit a demographic rather than a mindset and/or needstate.
Ladies, can I have a big cheer please for Boots No7. Their Ta Dah! campaign (by Mother, which has been running since last August) makes me very happy because they haven’t used airbrushing, models with lash extensions or models who have had cosmetic surgery.
But not only that – the campaign implies that their products make you look like the best version of you, rather than the usual “buy this or no-one will shag you” (thank you, Eddie Izzard) messaging cosmetic companies usually resort to.
I suppose ‘Ta Dah!’ is the cosmetics equivalent of shampoo’s ‘Good Hair Day’. I can totally identify with the (sadly infrequent) moment when you’ve done the usual ‘throw makeup in general direction of face while running late’ thing, then look in the mirror and think “I appear to look like a better version of me!” and bounce off to your evening out full of confidence.
It sounds like that’s what the brand intended to get across. I’m not quite so keen on the TV for their anti-aging cream (again from last year but I’ve only just seen it) which, inevitably, has to focus on the product’s looking-younger properties, but at least it’s still pretty down to earth.
Here’s the rest of the campaign I’ve been able to dig up:
this image came from here
I did a project a few months back for a UK retailer looking at all the events planned for Summer 2012 and assessing the likely impact. Without giving away all the insight the client paid for, it’s a little bit worrying.
For a start, it’s going to be a long-haul Summer. From the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle starting on 10th May until the Paralympic closing ceremony on 9th September, there is Something Big Happening almost continually. The major events are obviously the Jubilee, Olympics & Euro 2012, but there’s also Wimbledon, big music festivals and so on. I really think there’s going to be a bit of Celebration fatigue kicking in at some point.
On the upside, it seems logical that there will be an uplift in National pride – and you can already see brands like M&S taking advantage of this.
But one of the downsides is that I’ve ploughed my way through all the briefing documents and I can only conclude that London is effectively going to come to a standstill in late July and the first half of August. If you’re planning any kind of activity in the London area that requires a vehicle to be in a certain place at a certain time around then, I’d reschedule it now.