Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Telge Energi - a green energy campaign that I like...

I travelled on the tube today and saw a great ad by Telge Energi, a swedish green energy provider. I will post a picture of the campaign asap.... and I call it the 'thumbs-up' campaign because the print always includes that particular symbol. So, why is it good then? Well, the ads are interesting and I think they are effective due to the following reasons. Firstly, they are noticeable and make the reader feel involved and positive about green energy. Secondly, they made me and I also think they make other consumers interested in how we can in one easy step (contact Telge...) be greener and therefore nicer to the planet simply by choosing Telge Energi. Simple and effective!

Brand Strategy - what should it include?

A good brand strategy is crystal clear, strategic yet operative and, last but not least, simple for everyone to understand. It sounds easy but in order to create a strategy that meets those criteria one needs to work hard. First, let's discuss what the strategy should contain. As I see it there are four 'must haves' that describes what ambition you have for the brand and what the brand is and isn't to everyone that works with the brand:
1) Brand Vision and Goal
The brand vision is your statement of intent for the brand long-term. The goal is short-term, the goal for the planning period. 

2) Market space
This describes what market the brand acts in, the consumer or customer needs that it should meet, the consumer or customer segments it should be relevant to, the situation in which it is relevant(i.e. if the situation is important to your brand, for a beer brand the situation is likely to be very important) and the key consumer or customer insights that your brand positioning is based on. To write this down in a crystal clear manner often requires serious amounts of thinking and insight work.
3) Brand Positioning
This is where you explain the fundamental building blocks and essence and values of your brand. I've written about the most common building blocks of a positioning before. Look here
In addition, if you write a strategy for an umbrella brand you probably need to include information about the portfolio brands with regards to their individual positionings and how the brand family works as a whole to achieve your goals. 

4) Brand Expression
This is all about how the brand is expressed in the market. Your strategic thoughts on innovation, channels, communication, packaging, packaging design and more. Of course you cannot and should not be extremely detailed here - it is more about providing a picture that makes it clear what overall actions you will take during the planning period in order to achieve your goals and work towards your vision.

As I said, it sounds so easy but it really isn't. Let me know if you think I haven't covered anything regarding this topic that you think I should've included. And remember, based on your company circumstances and ambition level you might be able to develop a strategy in a few days, but often it takes months...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Internal assessment of concepts and ideas

About a week ago I wrote about external assessment or consumer screening of concepts at an early stage of concept development. Today I want to add a few thoughts regarding the internal assessment of concepts i.e. the assessment of which concepts can actually be most profitable for the company in a short- and long-term perspective given internal capabilities and resources. I’ve added a shortlist of assessment criteria that I use but simply see these criteria as a suggestion, and have a think about if there are different criteria that you need to add given your companies specific circumstances. The criteria I often use are:
Strategic Assessment Criteria
- Is the concept in line with the vision / strategy of the company?
- Does the concept meet a large opportunity area or gap in the market?
- Is the concept strong or competitive enough to beat off the competition?
Capabilities Assessment Criteria
- Can the concept be developed given our technological platform, purchasing, production and packaging capabilities?
- Can the concept be developed given time to market demands and estimates?
- Cost of developing concept?
- Can the concept be brought to market successfully given sales and marketing capabilities?
Launch Assessment Criteria
- Is the concept strong and differentiated enough to get listed? (fmcg concept)
- Level of marketing and sales support investment?
- Estimated time before ROI?

These are just a few of the assessment criteria I would consider using. But as I mentioned above, the criteria that you use need to be discussed and finalised internally with your colleagues and with the managers who control internal resources. And there are surely specific assessment criteria that your company need to add given your market objectives and circumstances. Good luck!

Nice new organic coffee and grocery shop concept by swedish retailer Coop

Well, is it new or not? I claim that it is new simply because I cannot find any information about it on the Coop website or anywhere else... Isn't that a bit strange? Well, it might be a little less secret now when I write about it...  I spotted this organic concept store in Gothenburg this weekend and the idea and execution was so nice so I had to write about it.
The swedish retailer Coop has been positioning itself as the most organic and fair trade retailer in the market for a long time. And this positioning could indeed be very appealing for consumers. This concept store is one step on the way... a very positive step! I want to know more about Coops plans for this concept!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

10 most important consumer trends for 2010

Excellent trend analysts Trendwatching have summarised the 10 most important consumer trends for 2010. It's very interesting reading - so do take a look!

I had the privilege of attending one of their briefing seminars in London a few years back and ever since then I've been a big fan. Rainer Evers and his trends team all over the globe do a great job synthesising, analysing and presenting the themes that will have a great impact on how we live and consume tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bliw soap – Great new Nordic themed brand repositioning

The Bliw soap brand is a classic Swedish brand. It was launched in 1968 as the first liquid hand soap in Sweden and today its appeal is still connected to its retro 60’s ‘bubble’ shape.

Well, I have bought Palmolive liquid soap for years but when I visited the supermarket today and saw the new Bliw look I just had to buy it. And the reason was primarily that the new packaging design stands out on shelf and looks so naturally clean, pure and fresh. Palmolive didn’t have a chance! But when I also read on the packaging I understood that the Bliw brand has been repositioned as more environmentally friendly (via Svanen, a Swedish quality mark for environmentally friendly goods) and with formulations that have been ‘inspired by the Nordic nature’. I think that this is a great direction and positioning for Bliw. The new positioning gives the brand the differentiation that is so badly needed to defend and gain market share against the likes and financial strength of Colgate-Palmolive. So, I certainly hope my new Bliw soap will live up to my high expectations! Well done Cederroth - great concept development and positioning work. Who knows, I might just turn into a loyal Bliw consumer...

Innovation and how to assess concepts - part 1

Companies spend a lot of energy and investments on bringing new concepts and products to market. But still, most of those concepts or products fail within a year after launch… Research findings vary, but I’ve seen articles that claim that as many as 90% of innovations don’t contribute to company goals i.e. they fail. The monies involved may not be linked to massive investments in production facilities or marcom. But the employee and project resource that’s required to bring a new product to market are enough to make a failure very expensive.

I’ve seen first hand how companies ignore taking the precautions necessary to ensure that they get a return on innovation investment. Human factors like ignorance, incompetence or fear of failure are often at fault. So, if you don’t want your concept to fail (and if you’re responsible and competent) - what steps do you need to take in order to assess that your concept or innovation has got the power to last? Well, the least one can do is to ensure that the concept has been thoroughly assessed based on both external and internal success criteria. External criteria are related to market and consumer factors and internal criteria are related to company capabilities.

Well, I need to try to follow the KISS principle and keep things short and simple. So, today I’ll deal only with the external assessment factors at the early stages of idea or concept assessment. And if time permits I’ll focus on the latter stages of concept screening later on this week. I will also get back to the internal assessment criteria in more detail.  

Early stage concept assessment – Assessment criteria
To make a good job out of this assessment you need to involve qual research with your target consumer or customer. Focus groups, in depth interviews…, mini groups – there are different methodologies to chose from.

I would normally include the following assessment criteria at this stage:
  • Insight relevance – does the insight that the concept is based upon correlate to a prevailing consumer need? Is this needstate large enough to be of importance? And do consumers recognise themselves in this needstate and in this situation? How often? When? Where?
  • Uniqueness – Do consumers perceive the concept to be different to what they’ve seen in the market? Does this difference or uniqueness stand out and is it appreciated as a positive factor?
  • Impact on brand – This is a relevant assessment factor if you plan to add the concept to a branded family where it may have a positive or negative impact on the mother brand and/or other brands in the portfolio. Ask consumers if this concept is something that feels natural or awkward within the branded family.
  • Clarity – is the concept clear and easy to understand? Can you simplify it even further to make it more compelling and easy to grasp?
  • Benefit relevance – Do consumers really appreciate the benefits that this concept offers? Are the relevant and interesting enough for consumers? Are they worth paying for?
  • Price – Since this is an early stage assessment I would only add a couple of short questions to check if the project teams ambitions regarding price point and margin correspond to consumer price expectations.
  • Total market potential – Based on the response to the above criteria I would then make a total summary of the concept potential.
Huh, I’ve done a serious amount of writing now. Have you fallen asleep? I hope this was helpful anyway and as promised, I will get back to the issue of later stage concept assessment as well as internal assessment. Bye!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Taken by Trees track feature in John Lewis Christmas ad

Marketing Week reports that John Lewis is launching a nostalgia themed Christmas advertising campaign featuring the classic rock tune Sweet Child O’ Mine this time in a rerecorded version by Swedish band Taken by Trees and it is the first time that Taken by Trees music is used in a UK ad campaign. Click on the link above to see the ad!
The campaign is supposed to remind adults of the excitement they felt about Christmas as children and bring out “childhood delight”.  It is also supposed to position John Lewis as the place to buy “thoughtful, considered gifts”.
The ad features children playing with Christmas presents, and one girl transforming into an adult as she opens a present.
What do you think? Does it do the job? Well, personally I think that the track is fantastic. And that is a start... so well done John Lewis for choosing such good music. The ad is also very sweet and memorable but I wonder if it clearly connects the consumers to the John Lewis brand... Hmmm, it's definetely nice but is it effective?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Andrex puppy - that's a brand personality!

Yesterday I posted a note about the Alvedon commercial. The use of a dog and a cute puppy also made me think about Andrex, a brand that has successfully used a puppy for some 30 odd years to build and promote its brand of toilet tissues. Andrex is owned by Kimberly Clark and Kimberly Clark has successfully dominated the UK toilet tissue market for years via the Andrex brand. A huge part of the brand is the Andrex puppy. From what I've heard the Andrex marketing team discovered the power of the puppy by coincidence. Apparently the first time the puppy featured in a commercial was in the 70's - when it was part of a larger family setting. But the marketing team noticed that the use of the puppy generated higher interest and recall amongst consumers. Interesting! And they decided to continue to use the puppy and to give the puppy a larger role promoting Andrex. Today, thirty years or so later the puppy is still going strong as you can see in this recent advert for Andrex Shea Butter toilet tissue.

So, the puppy is probably a very strong force within the Andrex brand proposition today. But from what I can tell and understand from the recent commercials that I've seen the puppy seems to have less of a leading role these days. But will the Andrex brand team ever leave their puppy behind...? Well, I think they will continue to use the puppy as long as the brand and advertising delivers against the set targets. But is there a danger of becoming a bit too predictable? What do you think?
And remember... be kind to your behind...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alvedon Commercial - if you're big and strong you've also got to be kind

I haven't commented on any ads recently but I just spotted this one and I just had to write something about it. This commercial is clever, memorable and likable. It's for the swedish paracetamol brand Alvedon and I like the way that the creative have so cleverly emphasised the functional benefits of Alvedon in an emotional and very sweet way. And we all know that dogs and puppies work in commercials, don't we Andrex?
It's interesting - the commercials that I've found really good recently tend to focus on headache pills... It may have something to do with those early mornings that I experience these days. See e.g. again the ad for the ibuprofen brand Ipren that I commented on some time ago.

Brand Positioning - have you got all the bits in place?

I'm fascinated by brands and the development and growth of great brands. Some brands develop fast and become huge success stories almost overnight, others grow slowly and their stature increase over time. And there are strong brands which are multi-fasceted and complex, and others are incredibly simple yet very powerful. Some brands are built on the essence of its physical founder... others are mere creations. Isn't brand development fascinating?

There are a number of things that a brand strategist and developer needs to have in place in order to communicate the brand and to make it clear to everyone - your target group, your agencies, your colleagues... You certainly want to be crystal clear when you communicate what your brand is all about and what it stands for. In order to provide that sense of clarity one needs to have a few basics in place. Some companies spend incredible effort, research and consultancy time on getting these bits in place. Others write their brand propositions in a few hours. It's up to you how much effort you want to spend on this exercise. The key thing is to get it right i.e. to make your proposition compelling and crystal clear!

The basic bits that you need to have in place to explain your brand proposition clearly are:
Market space - A clear view of the market space that you are targeting with your brand
Target group - A clear, in-depth picture of your target group

Insight - A crystal clear understanding of the target group insight or need that your brand is built upon. If you don't know this you don't know why your brand is relevant for your target group (and why and for whom it isn't relevant) so this is important!
Brand benefit/s - The emotional and/or functional benefits that your brand delivers to your target group
Brand personality - Your brand personified... And this is there to explain different physical and mental dimensions of your brand, what your brand would really be like if it was a person
Brand values - Hmm, one can say that the brand values explain what lies at the core of your brand. The values explain what your brand stands for in the bigger picture (which in turn has a direct impact on the everyday actions of your brand)
Brand essence - A short brand statement that summarises your brand in a few words or one short sentence.

Oups, that was a lot of basics and I am pretty sure that I've forgotten a few things. So, don't you all agree that it sounds so easy! However, believe me, to create a proposition that is crystal clear throughout requires both some serious thinking effort and high energy. I have worked on quite a few brand development projects myself - and in diverse industries such as alcoholic drinks, yogurt and milk, petrol, soft drinks, grocery stores, pharmaceuticals, financial services and more. Believe me, some projects were surely more successful than others at creating strong branded proposition. What I think made those projects more successful and their outcome much stronger were the passion and hard work by the brand team, striking the right balance between strategy and creativity and last but not least, a respect for the consumer and profound consumer insight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is Sweden facing an online food revolution?

Well, I asked myself that question as I read the summary of the Coop report - a usage and attitude consumer report with more than 43000 respondents, with data compiled and published by Coop, a Swedish retailer.
 According to the report the internet has become a highly important source of inspiration for Swedish consumers. Almost six out of ten consumers claim to use the internet as their primary source of food and dinner inspiration. And the most important thing is to compare these findings to the 2007 figures. In 2007, just two years ago, only 14% said the same thing! So, in two years the importance of the internet as food inspiration has increased by 43%... I must admit that I haven't studied the details of how the data has been compiled and analysed but I do find these findings interesting!

It makes me wonder if Sweden is facing an online food shopping revolution. Are Swedes ready for online food shopping too?  I used to love online grocery shopping. In London I used Sainsburys online. I miss Sainsburys by the way... lots! And I started doing online food shopping in its infancy... 2003 it was. In those days I must admit that it wasn't the most fraction free experience. I often received the wrong goods but... it still was far better than taking the bus to and from the supermarket with fifteen plastic bags of very poor quality in tow... This year Mintel reports that one in three (35%) adults in the UK shop online for food, but just one in nine (11%) do so regularly or exclusively. Mintel also estimate that online food shopping will reach £4.4 billion in 2009, which in turn means that the online grocery market has grown a massive 134% since 2005. I think that is a pretty impressive development.

Online grocery shopping in Sweden hardly exists. But lately several of my friends have woken up to the idea and some of them have started to do their grocery shopping online via NetXtra or Coop. Their main reasons for online grocery shopping are to make their lives easier (more convenient) and to become more inspired to try out new foods and meals... So, here we go... here's that big need for inspiration again. Maybe food inspiration is just the BIG benefit that the online grocery retailers should build their offer around! I'm in a massive need of food inspiration. And, with great benefits like that I might just soon do my grocery shopping online too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fewer smoothies due to recession?

I just read that one of my favourite brands - Smoothie maker Innocent is guilty of a £9m loss for 2008. Innocent racked up the loss as sales fell by 7%, including a 17% drop in the UK during the year.  And to that came one-off costs which meant that an operating loss of £1.1m for 2008 soared to more than £9m.
These news came just after figures from Nielsen showed signs of recovery in the smoothie market after a prolonged slump in the UK when e.g. PepsiCo brand PJ Smoothies didn't survive the slump and got axed...

Sales of Innocent, which this year sold a £30m stake to US soft drinks giant Coca-Cola in order to improve their investment opportunities, rose 10% in the 12 weeks to 5 September. So hopefully the bad times are over. What do you think? Will Innocent survive and continue to thrive?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Willys PL chocolate - design makes it an option!

OK, so there I am doing my weekly grocery shopping. These days I am a devoted Willys fan - primarily because it is so incredibly easy to park there... Sad reason, I know - but grocery shopping has to be easy! Especially with a little baby in tow.

Anyway, during my most recent visit to Willys I spotted this upgraded design of their private label dark chocolate. I must say that this is just an amazing improvement to the dull packaging that they had before! It was an easy choice to reach for Lindt (first choice!) or Marabou Premium (pretty good too - but I hate the name Premium!) instead. But, with this design upgrade I automatically added Willys as an alternative. So, I will try Willys and... if it is good I might just become hooked. So, that is the power of great design folks!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Interesting initiative by Volkswagen - The Fun Factor Theory

Innovative communication initiatives are certainly interesting and this one is a very clever initiative by Volkswagen Group. It's called The Fun Factor Theory and is a unusual campaign to promote Volkswagens environmentally friendly car programme Blue Motion. The Fun Factor Theory is based on three different ads where it is proved that you can easily change the pattern of behaviour by making ordinary, and perhaps a bit boring things a bit more fun.

The campaign has been a success so far by being the most spread and talked about campaign on social media. Personally I think it is an incredibly clever and interesting innovative by Volkswagen. It also proves that Volkswagen understands the power of social media when it comes to building awareness and brand stature.

For those english speakers out there. The film that I've added to this post is just one of the three films. It's called the Pianostairs. The films shows the transformation of a staircase at a Stockholm tube stop - from boring, ordinary staircase to fun pianostairs. And the text says: Can you get people to walk the stairs by making it more fun? Then you see the transformation in people as they walk the new stairs. This is followed by text: 66% more people chose to walk the stairs. Fun can change behaviour - we call it the Fun Factor Theory.