Make Black Friday Green With Sales!

Instigated by the frenzy of commercials and promotions, shoppers often wonder “am I getting the best deal?”  In a tongue-in-cheek campaign, appliance retailer hhgregg captured this anxiety as FOBO (Fear of Better Offers.)  Zimmerman, the agency behind the campaign, said the idea came from “research that found millennials currently experience feelings of fear that better options may exist elsewhere.”   hhgregg is positioned as the solution:
As we head into the peak shopping season, many consumers are likely to be feeling the effects of FOBO. And despite the positioning of Black Friday as the height of discounts, some reports are finding these “deals” are not deals at all, furthering shoppers’ angst.
Some apps and websites are seeking to help relieve shoppers of these fears. Flipp aggregates retailer flyers and lets consumers pinpoint the local retailer with the best price for items on their shopping list. They’ve even created a new commercial highlighting the app’s applicability for Black Friday gift shopping.

And for those who prefer to shop Cyber Monday? As noted in last week’s NYTimes, new apps like ShopSavvy allow users to compare prices for items in brick & mortar retailers versus Amazon and other online outlets “ all in search of the best deal.”
Some questions for marketers:
*How important is getting the best price for your prime customers?
*How transparent is pricing for your product or service? Is it easy for consumers to choose to buy your brand?

It’s Easy to be Green – Take 2

Building on our post last year about Marcal’s line of earth-friendly paper products, Kimberly Clark has taken green innovation to the next step with its new Tube-free bath tissue.

Launched exclusively in Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, the new tube-free bath tissues offer consumers a visible way to help reduce the 160 million pounds of trash (usually not recycled) generated by discarded toilet paper tubes.

One downside – the new Tube-free offering does not use recycled paper, like the rest of the Scott Naturals line. However, K-C personnel indicate a move to at least 40% recycled-content paper is in the planning stages, especially if the product is launched into other retail outlets.

Have you tried this new tube-less wonder? What do you think – share your thoughts in Comments.

HealthStyles: A New Path to Value

We started our discussion about Value a little while back and our post on The Green Value Opportunity: Local Solutions was a first look at re-defining value in a way that resonates with consumers.

But, there is also a consumer-driven factor that is likely to impact this new value paradigm and we believe this is an attitude of responsibility.

With this mindset of responsibility playing an important role in the “stuff” consumers acquire, it will be important for marketers to imbue their products and services with attributes that reflect new values. This brings us to the notion of Health & Wellness which we view as another Value for marketers to take notice of.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that are contributing to the emergence of Health & Wellness – which we term the HealthStyles Value.

The Social Environment

Interest in HealthStyles is driven by several major demographic and social changes.

First, Americans in general are living longer – and people want to live those extra years “better.” As Iconoculture reported last year, several reputable studies have found that lifestyles that combine a healthy (low fat, high in fruits/vegetables) diet and moderate exercise may forestall Alzheimer’s and other mental declines. Consumer interest in learning about the importance of exercise in improving the quality of life was evident in the high “share” rate (the third most shared article of the day on for John Hanc’s recent column, Staying on Balance, With the Help of Exercises. The article points out the importance of balance for our growing older population, and the share rate demonstrates just how much people are clamoring for this kind of information.

Second, despite the current recession, the overall cost of food continues a 20-year decline as percentage of a family’s income and obtaining adequate, nutritious food is now much more accessible to most people. Under the auspices of the Federal WIC Farmers Market Nutrition program, almost every state allows low-income residents to utilize food assistance cards/coupons to purchase locally grown foods at farm stands and farmers’ markets.

And third, with the recent move toward universal healthcare coverage, there is an increasing recognition that developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more cost-effective over the long term. There are several high profile initiatives centering around the relevance of health consciousness including:

Let’s Move. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” project to address childhood obesity is an example of utilizing core Health & Wellness in a major policy initiative. The program incorporates nutrition education (with fresh foods in the forefront) and developing a lifelong, physically active lifestyle. By targeting children through engagement in growing and preparing healthy meals and incorporating “movement” into every child’s daily schedule – maintaining a healthy weight and fit body is easier and more natural.

NFL Play 60. Launched in 2007, NFL PLAY 60 is a national youth health and fitness campaign focused on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. Along with national outreach and online programs, NFL PLAY 60 is implemented at the grassroots level through NFL’s in-school, after-school and team-based programs. The program has targeted $200 million to address childhood obesity since its inception.

The Marketing Environment

Several companies are getting out in front of the Health & Wellness trend and are taking a holistic approach to promoting consumer products and services.

Whole Foods’ partnership with “Eat Right America” enables shoppers to create store-wide shopping lists tailored to different eating plans from vegan to allergy-aware to baby/toddler to weight management.

V-8’s “What’s Your Number” TV commercials highlight the fruit/vegetable nutrition count in their products with a focus on the positive effects of these beverages on consumers’ overall health. Weight Watchers just revised their famous points system to give dieters a free pass when consuming fresh fruits or vegetables – by identifying these items as “point-free,” members will be encouraged to increase consumption of more healthful (and lower calorie/fat) foods in their ongoing efforts to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

In April, Rite-Aid, the drugstore retailer launched their new Wellness+ rewards program. The loyalty program allows card holders to redeem points for free glucose and cholesterol screenings at local labs. As consumers search for savvy ways to stay healthy, has Rite-Aid found a unique way to leverage Health & Wellness to create more value in their relationship with their shoppers?

Even fast food companies like Wendy’s are getting in on the act by offering better-for-you french fries made with “Russett potatoes, leaving the skin on and sprinkling sea salt on top.”

While food, fitness and healthcare are a natural fit for the Healthstyles Value, we believe the possibilities go beyond these categories.

The Business Opportunity

Some brands are taking the long view and positioning their brands as offering benefits that contribute to a lifetime of health. Aquafresh toothpaste has gone beyond addressing the obvious attributes of fresh breath and white teeth – their new Aquafresh Iso-Active range is positioned to deliver “Strong, Healthy Teeth for a Lifetime.”

As Americans become more time and cash crunched, personal services such as Spas have suffered as customers cut time-consuming luxuries from their budgets. By repositioning spa services into 30-60 minute “wellness breaks” and focusing of revitalizing treatments versus pampering, day spas may be able to recapture past customers while building a new customer base.

In this rushed world more people are considering time spent away from work, recharging and enjoying recreation with family and friends, to be critical to their overall Health & Wellness. Products and services that enable consumers to utilize their work time most effectively and re-engage with family will be viewed as delivering this new Healthstyle value.

Microsoft’s new Windows 7 phone is leveraging that important value. In its “Really” campaign, users of competitors’ products are shown as disengaged and missing important milestones because using their smartphones is so time-consuming. In addition to clearly setting up the phone dilemna in this Windows 7 launch ad, an additional execution in the campaign directly reflects the HealthStyles value by showing how the Windows 7 phone supports a fulfilling, “healthy” lifestyle experience.

Which other product or service categories do you think could benefit from integrating the HealthStyles Value into their branding efforts?

The Green Value Opportunity: Local Solutions

According to public relations firm Edelman,

” the global tide of conspicuous consumption is turning away from traditional status symbols of the past and moving toward products and brands that support sustainability. Protecting the environment, improving healthcare and reducing poverty are the causes that global consumers care about most.”

Marketers are taking notice of this. As discussed in a previous post, we believe there are new value areas to be mined-areas that people will resonate to more deeply-a higher order level of value. And ‘Green Value’ represents one of those opportunities.

One of the more visible efforts in this direction can be observed with P&G’s Dawn DishwashingLiquid. When the brand came to the rescue in the Gulf Coast what quickly followed was an eco-friendly advertising message featuring Dawn as “the only product that can be used to clean oil-soaked animals” and a promotion where portion of sales would be contributed to Save Wildlife.

Leslie Kaufman discusses the Dawn phenomenon in her column, Ad for a Dish Detergent Becomes Part of a Story.

And, consumers are living green!

Yes, the notion of green (which initially spoke to environmental or macro-level conservation) has trickled down and has become personal. And, as green becomes personal, consumers are finding ways to make more personally and socially responsible decisions about how they spend their money-choices they view as long-term solutions.

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle is a long standing initiative referring to minimization of waste materials, and you don’t have to go very far to see charts instructing us on how to accomplish this.

What we want to explore has to do with the mindset that consumers are bringing to their decision making process. To this end, let’s take a look at three living green solutions!

The growth in the buy local movement speaks to a sustainability strategy with benefits that extend beyond the “feel good” support your community. Not only might it have favorable economic implications for a community or region, it becomes a deeper way for consumers to demonstrate environmental responsibility. In addition to thinking of local in terms of geography, we propose thinking of it as a micro concept so we actively include smaller enterprises in our decision-making set for whatever we consume.

Just as individuals flock to farmers’ markets in cities across the country or seeing ‘buy local’ triggers one’s commitment to support local growers, people are applying this concept to other sectors.

Imagine customers being motivated to switch their financial portfolio from an investment banking leader to Domini Social Investments, an investment firm committed to socially conscious investing. Investors can directly support underserved communities in every state through a special Social Bond Fund.

Then there are restaurants like Red Robin being recognized by the National Restaurant Association in an annual reward designed to “raise awareness about the restaurant industry’s contributions to local communities and to inspire other restaurant operators and owners to do the same.” Or Jimmy’s No. 43, one of the first restaurants in New York City to stop serving bottled water, hosting slow-food events and featuring a slow-food menu as part of its commitment to the Slow-Food movement.

The impact of ‘local/green’ solutions can also be applied to other product and service providers. Let’s spotlight some existing and potential opportunities.

Apparel. Environmentally friendly clothing is no longer limited to niche brands. Now you can count Van Heusen, Levi and Eileen Fisher among the companies with organic entries.

Food/Beverages. Major soft drink and beverage marketers, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi maintain dozens of bottling facilities across the country. Prominent label copy highlighting “bottled in Philadelphia, PA, or Tampa, FL, or Portland, OR” would remind consumers of the reduced carbon footprint and improved product freshness of a product bottled nearby.

Restaurants. Jim Denevan, founder of the traveling restaurant series Outstanding in the Field, has made it his commitment “to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.” The OITF experience is captured vividly in Deborah Moss’ column, Foodie feasts straight from the farm. Restaurants participating in New Jersey’s Restaurant Week promote special efforts to include locally grown/sourced ingredients in their menu offerings.

Retail. From Whole Foods to supermarket giant Kroger, grocery stores are highlighting locally grown produce and specialty products.

Travel. The Staycation (or vacationing close to home) phenomenon, triggered by the economic downturn, has become a feature of hotels from luxury brands like The Breakers Palm Beach or major chains like Marriott or Hilton. Even state tourist boards are seeing the value of strategies to encourage travelers to spend their recreation dollars in their state or neighboring states. In addition to the cost savings, travelers also get the benefit of lightening their carbon footprint.

Can you think of other ways to bring local solutions to your marketing and brand strategies?