Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm sick of the price focus in food retail...

I know that consumers are concerned about spending money at the moment but still, just how much insight work lies behind the massive price focus in food retail?
I want to know. All the major food retailers focus massively on lowest price and saver deals at the moment... I fear that they forget that there are loads of other reasons for the shoppers to visit their stores. How about selection, ambiance, customer service... Why not identify some insights and fab points of differentiation and then build a strong positioning against those instead of simply focussing on price and deals. Add a low (it might not have to be the lowest) price to that and you are sure to build loyalty over time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mariestad commercial - excellent strategic execution

One of my favourite commercials at the moment is for the beer brand Mariestad. The link should take you to the commercial that I am talking about. Mariestad is one of the most popular beer brands in Sweden - I'm not updated on their latest sales figures but it's certainly amongst the top 3 sold beer brands. And its positioned as the beer brand of choice for those who enjoy the fine side of life. The most recent commercial (superbly directed by Jonas Åkerlund) emphasises that point really well. I like it and I am impressed with the strategic analysis and positioning job that Spendrups must have done to set Mariestad on the market. It shows that they've done a good segmentation and consumer insight job for a start - something that's too often overlooked.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nielsen Sweden - FMCG launch of the year 2009

I just read the Nielsen nominees. And after doing so I got even more convinced that Sweden needs more FMCG innovation. This years nominees are:
1. Pågen Subs (bread)
2. Procordia DIY Crumble fruit pies (frozen)
3. Arla Foods - Lactose free milk
To me it's obvious who should win. The really innovative product of the ones that Nielsen has nominated is by far Procordia DIY Crumble. Pågen Subs - yes, good idea but I don't personally find it category changing. It would be interesting to see what it has added in incremental sales. Arla Foods Lactose free milk - consumers have wanted it for years and I'm simply surprised that it has taken Arla so long to provide it. And then Procordia Do It Yourself Crumble mix (see photo)- I love this product. It's so simple. With fruit and crumble in one bag the stressed out mums and dads of today can cook a crumble in minutes without the mess! And with very simple instructions you cannot fail. Nevermind that the crumble will never look and taste as good as homebaked - it is still an incredibly convenient and smart product! Keep up the good work Procordia!

The market research brief - spend your energy on it!

I have seen many market research and project briefs over the course of the years. Few are really good, some are OK and loads are rubbish! A good brief is highly important to ensure that you get what you ask for - a brilliantly run market research that answers your questions. And don't forget that you pay quite a bit of money to have those questions asked!

So, what's a good brief then? This is my very simplified content list of a good research brief. It's then up to the writer to ensure that all of the content makes sense in the end. But if you start what I've stated below you will be on your way to a good brief writer.
1. Market and project background
Provide the reader with a decent market and project background. Some things are secrets but the more you can tell the better. However, ensure to Keep It Simple Stupid! Be matter of fact with the background - no novel writing please.
2. Purpose / Research Objective
Clearly state the purpose of the market research - what is the big reason for you to spend any time or money on this project? What big question should it answer?
3. Questions (that this research should answer)
Include the big questions that the research must answer. Be very specific and clear here. I usually include a list of 10-15 questions. This helps the research agency to understand the scale of the research, the right methodology, the sample and more.
4. Timeframe
Include the timeframe and be very clear about at what different times you need your deliverables. Be realistic.
5. Methodology
Add your thoughts (if you have any) on what sort of methodology you have in mind. If you want the research agency to suggest a methodology - say so. Also, try to be specific about whether you and your organisation are interested in something very traditional (e.g you will only accept traditional focus groups) or if you are interested in something else and perhaps a mix of disciplines to ensure that you tackle the questions as well as possible.
6. Sample and target group
Include your thoughts on the sample and the mix. Clearly state the target group for the research - this is very important! If you aren't specific here the research agency cannot provide you with good information regarding the costing.
7. Other issues to consider
Here you include information on other things that may have an impact on the project. E.g. you may have a consumer segmentation that you want to research agency to use when they write the recruitment spec. You may also have another project that will have an impact on the research - to ensure that the agency allows time in the timeframe for you and the team to look into that data/information.
8. Team
State who's in the project management team and their roles.

I think that is all, but I might add to this list again. Don't forget to finish your brief with information regarding which day you expect an answer and how you would liek that answer (presentation in person, powerpoint, etc).
Good luck with your brief writing!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One of my favourite books - The Brandgym by David Taylor

A very short note today to tell you about my so far favourite brand book. It's called The Brand Gym and it was written by a guy called David Taylor. I really like it because it is so hands on. David has simplified a lot of stuff - sometimes he has simplified it a bit too much for my liking... But all in all, the Brandgym is a really good and practical book for those of us who love concept development, insight and brand strategy. I also find the many cases in the book inspiring. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kalori - good idea but can it be a long-term successful concept?

It's fun to see innovative thinking within the restaurant business. And this is a nice example of a simple yet very clever restaurant concept that I visited today - the Stockholm based lunch restaurant Kalori. Kalori is a health concept restaurant based on the idea that none of the meals on offer should include more than 400 calories. And Kalori also offers a range of health drinks for the stressed out office workers around the corner. I like the idea - it is a good and very simple to understand idea in theory. But when reality sets in execution is everything... And I did not find Kalori's execution good enough. Why? Well, I belive that food must always look great and taste good. The retail space, the food on offer, the taste - everything could have been so much better if Kalori had added more flavour and taste to its low calorie concept.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fresh innovative thinking by Göteborgs Kex

In the past you wouldn't have called the Swedish company Göteborgs Kex innovative - but over the last few years something has happened. I particularly like the new product ranges Bageriets Bästa and Utvalda. Bageriets Bästa is a range of premium, american style cookies and Utvalda is a range of premium cheese crackers.

Let us delve a bit deeper into Bageriets Bästa. The first smart move by Göteborgs Kex was to identify the market need for a more premium style biscuit line in Sweden. I must admit that I was pretty horrified by the biscuit selection at my local Ica when I first saw it after eight years working in London (a biscuit mecca by the way!). But then came Bageriets Bästa! Göteborgs Kex had managed to not only produce a really fine tasting biscuit - almost like home baked. They had also managed to package it very well indeed! Firstly, the products are supported by well executed packaging design - perfect for the target market (which I bet is 30-50 year old women?) And then they've added those lovely personal product names linked to the inventors of each cookie. And of course I wanted to try 'Emelies Berry Dream' or 'Fridas Oats and Heaven' cookies. However, when I then read the script on the package I got a bit doubtful of Fridas and Emelies existance... Were they real or just another marketing gimmick? Göteborgs Kex press contact claims they are real - I still feel a bit doubtful and I do want to know more about those great cookie inventors!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lovefilm - great example of brilliant customer service

I really enjoy movies and I have spent a lot of money renting DVDs over the years. A while back my brother (who also likes his movies) introduced me and my husband to Lovefilm - I think he gave us an 'introduce a friend' Christmas offer. The offer gave us three months free of charge membership. Since then we have been Lovefilm subscribers. We started off with the 3 movies per month offer and we were really happy with the service from day 1. However, only recently we realised how amazing and customer oriented Lovefilm really is! This started when we had our baby and thus needed to freeze our membership for a while (babies are time consuming little things!). We were impressed that Lovefilm did not have any problem with us freezing our membership. And then a few weeks ago we wanted to see if we could change our membership to something less time demanding and less costly e.g. one movie per month. This was also no problem! Lovefilm has clearly realised that the cost of attracting new customers is higher than maintaining current relationships. Few companies truly understand this magic formula (compare to the rigidity of e.g. telecom companies). I'll certainly remain a Lovefilm subscriber.
If you want to know more about Lovefilm - check out their UK website which has far more content compared to the Swedish version. There's also an ad on YouTube:

Monday, August 17, 2009

The challenge of identifying true and real insight

I like the fact that Insight is taken more seriously these days. However, I have often heard the word Insight being used to describe a simple state a fact or some simple market data - not real insight.
So what is real insight then? Well, from my point of view real insight is derived from thorough analysis and consumer or market understanding. Real insight is a deep and strong understanding which opens up interesting thoughts and market opportunities. Let me demonstrate this. Compare e.g. the following three statements:
1) 40% of the UK population drink coffee and of these, 5% drink more than 5 cups per day.
2) Many women buy their own cars but many women state that they feel inadequate when they visit a car retailer.
3) Working men and women spend less time watching TV compared to those not working.

The first statement is simply data - this data offers you a basic understanding of the market but it's not insight (do you see any opportunity arising?). The third statement is interesting information. But, it doesn't offer any real insight. So, let's look at the second statement. This is what I would call an insight statement. Why - you say? Because this statement tells you something interesting and new about these women. You know already that a lot of women these days have the purchasing power to buy a nice new car. However, many feel inadequate whey they visit their local car retailers. So what? Well, how about this? If a car retailer would like to utilise this insight they should ensure that they understand what makes these women feel inadequate. An opportunity might be to develop a service and retail environment which suits these women better. Why not a specialist car retailer who caters for women needs? I think that could be a great opportunity!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Marketing - the perfect mix of analysis and creativity

Why do I get a buzz from working in marketing? I have asked myself that question many times and the simple answer is - it really suits me and the way my brain works. For me marketing represents the perfect mix of thorough analysis and more intuitive creativity. A really good marketeer needs to be able to analyse and value his data and statistics whilst at the same, he or she can never excell at marketing without a creative mindset. It is not an easy task to balance this right and left brain thinking and to draw strong and cut-through insight from data which then allows him or her to create strong and creative market propositions. It's a challenge and that's why I think it is so much fun!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Frebaco - new costume for a tired brand

I want to write something about Frebaco - a Swedish muesli brand that I had never purchased before simply because it just looked so incredibly dry and non appetizing (see the lower photo). But a few weeks ago I spotted this new Frebaco - with a product design that all of a sudden looks simply mouth-watering (upper picture). Good work Frebaco. This is a real lift to your brand! However, it is a real shame that your website and the rest of the product range looks so dull and dry. Have you got some good brand values in place - let us know! Tell us what your company and your brand is all about. If it's any good - let us see this in the whole product range!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Evian - Totally expressing 'Live Young' !

I'm totally impressed with the latest ad campaign and commercial from Evian called 'Roller Babies'. Evian has worked with the 'Live Young' theme for a few years and I love the way that they committed themselves to link the brand to a real consumer need and to express their brand essence of youthfulness and vitality through the line - in all of their communication. Fantastic! Watch it and get energised!

A brand that I love - Gü

In the UK I discovered Gü - a fabolous brand with magnificent products for girls like me who like their moorish yummy desserts. Let me tell you something about why this is such a marvellous brand. The story begins with James Averdieck, who is Gü’s MD. James came up with the idea of launching superbly yummy chocolate desserts when he was working in Belgium. And we all know that Belgium offers some great chocolate!

James launched Gü in the UK in 2003. And the success was pretty imminent. Today it’s estimated that a Gü dessert is eaten somewhere in the world every 2 seconds!

What I love about them? The idea was simply great - both the consumers and the retailers were ready for Gü's mix of great tasting fresh chocolate desserts from a brand that is both sweet and heart warming. And the best of all - my impression is that this brand hasn't lost it's credibility over time - it's still as yummy and sweet as when it was first launched.
Visit their website:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sales of electrical goods - lack of differentiation...

I have recently been frustrated by the total lack of understanding for consumer or customer needs within the world of electrical goods.

E.g. this week I've seen dozens of commercials from electrical goods companies on Swedish television. Every commercial promises the lowest price. Are there no other points of differentiation in the world of electrical goods and home appliances?

Guess what, I have also visited SIBA, Media Markt and Elgiganten during the last few weeks and they are all doing the same thing... So far I haven't experienced any difference. Their interior displays, the products on offer and their customer service - it's all very similar. This might still work well for them but I lack imagination when it comes to how they express their brand and their consumer understanding.