Monday, November 3, 2008

Value Meal Marketing Invaluable for Restaurants

Check out the great article by Kenneth Kein (

Subway's $5 Footlong, McDonald's Dollar Menu and Outback's $9.99 "Steak the way you crave it" are among the deals that are keeping the restaurant industry in the black, per a new report from the NPD Group.

Total restaurant industry traffic is up 1% for the quarter ended Aug. 2008, per NPD, Chicago. The modest gain is being drive entirely by meal deals, per the report.

"More so than we've seen in many years, consumers are looking for savings and ways to stretch their dollar," said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD. Nearly a quarter (23%) of all restaurant visits were prompted by price discounts. This was up from 9% the year prior. Non-deal restaurant traffic was down 1%.

Subway's $5 Footlong, launched in March, has helped spur significant growth in sales and traffic for the world's largest restaurant franchise. "Our research shows that consumers' expectations of what is an affordable price have shifted as first gas prices skyrocketed and then the economy moved toward recession which caused consumer confidence to plummet to all time low levels," said Jeff Moody, CEO Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust. "Consumers are looking, more than ever, for high quality food at reasonable prices and our freshly made in front of you $5 Footlongs are fulfill that need perfectly."

While Subway and McDonald's continue to do well in lean economic times, others are suffering mightily. In fact, Ron Paul, president of the food-service consultancy Technomic, thinks the NPD findings may be a bit too rosy. "I'm not sure restaurants are in the black," Paul said. "Public companies are reporting negative same store sales almost universally. I have no reason to think the independents are faring any better."

Regardless, value menus help stop the hemorrhaging, Paul said. "Absolutely we've seen this work in the past. That's no surprise. In past recessions, combo meals have always become important. Whether it's given them a lift to offset these other forces, I'm skeptical."

Either way, price discounts have become "the cost of doing business," said Arjun Sen, president, Restaurant Marketing Group, Centennial, Colo. "In the short-term it helps brand. You want make sure traffic continues because it may be more expensive to get them back later on."

McDonald's Launches Mobile Promotion for the McRib

By Elaine Wong (

McDonald's this week is bringing back the McRib and has partnered with Myxer, a hyper-targeting ad service, to market the seasonal pork sandwich to mobile phone users.

A promotion for the McRib, which has been offered by the restaurant chain for limited periods since the 1980s, will run regionally through January in cities including Dallas, Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City and Durham, N.C. McDonald's is spreading the word via ads that invite consumers to text the word "MCRIB" to 69937 to get free mobile content, such as ringtones and wallpapers touting the McRib. Moroch, Dallas, handles the regional account and reached out to Myxer for the mobile platform.

Unlike traditional media like TV or print, the promotion targets consumers ages 18-34. Myxer's Bullseye platform allows McDonald's to narrow the demographic down by gender, age, music genre and mobile preferences. As the platform is entirely mobile, 65% of visitors to the site are between the ages of 15 and 28, said Myxer's vp-marketing Steve Spiro.

"With mobile, the audience demographic tends to skew younger," said Spiro, adding that Moroch tapped the company because they "liked the concept of being able to take their brand with them."

Shawn Gurn, new media director at Moroch, said the McRib sandwich was chosen for the campaign because "it has a cult following." In November 2005, the chain kicked off a viral marketing ploy by announcing that the McRib would be removed from the menu. The sandwich went through two subsequent "farewell tours" and is currently sold in select states. Gurn said the company was trying to leverage this "farewell" buzz in the latest marketing effort.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

YouTube ad strategy under threat as Viacom brings $1bn lawsuit

by Gareth Jones Marketing 28-May-08, 08:30
LONDON - YouTube's fledgling video advertising service could face 'certain death' should
Viacom successfully sue parent company Google for copyright infringement, according to
experts. Media conglomerate Viacom has brought a $1bn lawsuit against YouTube that, if successful, could scupper the video-sharing site's commercial strategy, which is currently being rolled out globally. Google has outlined plans to recoup the £880m it paid to acquire YouTube by allowing brand-owners to run ads around videos on the site. The service is currently limited to clips from partners, including Universal Pictures, NBC and EMI, but YouTube is widely expected to extend the model to user footage, 10 hours of which is uploaded to the site every hour.However, YouTube may be forced to remove hundreds of millions of clips from its site
if US courts side with Viacom in what could be a landmark case. Analysts believe that this would have a 'serious impact' on YouTube's ability to generate revenue from advertisers keen to tap into its huge global user-base.

'Restricting the amount of video content on YouTube will mean certain death for its commercial model,' said Jim Clark, senior technology analyst at Mintel. Google claims that the suit, which centres on 150,000 'unauthorised' clips, could threaten the free exchange of information via the internet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pop Culture Pulls in Major Bucks

By David Lieberman, USA TODAY

Entertainment and sports heroes had only a so-so year in 2007 if you look at traditional
yardsticks such as sales of tickets and discs.

But their appeal as pop culture icons was stronger than ever, judging by sales of clothing, book bags, games, toys, food packaging and other goods emblazoned with licensed names and likenesses.

Popular characters and brands including Hannah Montana, Calvin Klein and the New York Yankees helped drive global spending on licensed merchandise up 3.6% last year to $187 billion, according to trade magazine License Global and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"The emerging markets and middle classes in Eastern Europe, China and India want our brands in entertainment, lifestyle, fashion and sports," says Steven Ekstract, the magazine's publisher. That's one reason he expects sales this year to hit $200 billion, even if the U.S. economy remains in a slump. Another reason: When money is tight, people take comfort in familiar and trusted names.

He and others also are optimistic that kids attending this summer's popcorn movies — including Iron Man, Speed Racer, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredible Hulk and Wall-E — will walk out wanting related toys and clothes.

About 44% of cash spent on licensed merchandise in 2006 went for goods linked to entertainment characters, most from movies and television, says the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA).

Manufacturers and retailers take a leap of faith when they make and stock products based on entertainment characters. These commitments often must be made a year in advance.

Sometimes, promising films misfire.

For example, sales last year tied to The Golden Compass and Bee Movie "turned out to be somewhat disappointing," says Michael Stone, CEO of licensing consulting firm The Beanstalk Group. Movie-related sales "were primarily driven by evergreen and franchise properties. There wasn't a big new merchandising success."

Still, Disney reinforced its No. 1 position on the License Global company list with a string of successes including Hannah Montana (the TV show with singer Miley Cyrus as the title character), its made-for-TV High School Musical franchise and characters promoted in its Disney Princesses merchandise lines.

"Most entertainment is here today and gone tomorrow," Ekstract says. "Disney creates brands. And they tapped into the zeitgeist of the tween girl marketplace."

If a movie's big enough, it can sell merchandise even when it isn't in theaters. This year, Star Wars fans who own a Nintendo Wii can imagine themselves to be Jedi knights with a game controller shaped like the movie's famous light sabers.

Adults also often take comfort in products with familiar names — which is why several non-entertainment corporations are entering the fray.

"They're taking their brand names that consumers already know and trust, and licensing them into related but not competing product categories," says LIMA President Charles Riotto. "That creates a very nice revenue stream."

For example, Stone says he's helping Purina put its name on pet products, including leashes, collars and toys. Samsonite's brand will go on travel-related items such as diaper bags and electronic equipment. Vespa's looking to become a symbol for Italian design in apparel, footwear and espresso machines. Food companies also want to grow into pop icons. Popsicle has a line of candies, Burger King is putting its name on chips, and Hawaiian Punch is on fruit snacks. Aquafina is licensing a cosmetics line. Starburst candy will be on T-shirts.

The public's craving for good taste goes beyond food: In June, many artists will flock to the Licensing International Expo in New York looking for deals to put their names on lines of merchandise, including wall coverings, bedding and furniture.

"The show has been more responsible for this boom in licensed art than anything," Riotto says. "Ten or 12 years ago, we had maybe a dozen artists exhibiting. Now, there's well over 100 — maybe closer to 200."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Study: Marketers Stink When It Comes to CRM

April 13, 2008

By Kenneth Hein (BrandWeek)

Marketers, who spend millions to gain data about their customers, generally fail to use it properly, per a new CMO Council study.

Only 16% of companies rate themselves as effective or extremely good when it comes to customer relationship management. Forty-five percent said they are deficient or need more work at integrating and leveraging customer data gleaned from customer relationship management software.

The report polled 450-plus marketers globally. The New York-based CMO Council teamed with Computer Sciences Corp., IBM Software and Dun & Bradstreet to conduct the research.

"There is a lack of focus as to how to optimize revenue from existing customers," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "In a year of economic restraints, marketers should be more concerned with cross-selling and upselling."

Too often marketers are enamored with chasing new conquests, said Loreen Babcock, CEO of direct/relationship marketing agency Unit 7, New York. "Let's be honest. It's sexier to bring new customers in, but that whole marketing model is broken because there is no accountability."

Only half of the marketers said they have a strategy in place for further penetrating and monetizing key relationships. Not surprisingly, nearly a third of respondents (31%) reported customer churn rates of more than 10%. Roughly another third (32%) reported turnover of 5-10%. Two thirds said they have no system in place for reactivating lost or dormant customers.

Nortel has made great strides in improving its CRM efforts, said Heidi Lanford, its global leader for marketing analytics. "We've formed more of a partnership with our customers. They help us innovate faster by helping us target what their needs are. Leveraging the customers we have is critical to us."

Still, like many companies, Nortel has difficulties with data collection. "Since we're a business-to-business company we struggle to get data from our channel partners that gives us a true view of the customer," said Lanford.

Integrating a wide variety of siloed data sources across often inadequate IT systems is a challenge for many companies, said Alexander Black, senior partner of the strategic services group at CSC, an IT services company based in Falls Church, Va. "There can be as many as 20 to 25 different sources of data."

Wealth management companies like Charles Schwab and Fidelity are the best at CRM "because they have the biggest risk if they lose their wealthy customers," said Black. Internet retailers like eBay and Amazon are also tops because "they started with a clean slate. They don't have the heritage of all those legacy systems."

For many, however, "the landscape is a mess in terms of how data sources are linked," said Babcock. As a result, 31% of respondents said they don't do any data mining at all. In the end, the number of respondents claiming to have an excellent knowledge of their customers when it comes to demographic, behavioral, psychographic and transactional data: only 6%.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Online Adspend set to overtake TV in 2009

(Brand Republic)
Online advertising revenues will overtake traditional television ad revenues by 2009, as internet adspend jumped 38% last year, according to a report by the Internet Advertising Bureau.

The IAB said that faster broadband speeds and greater ownership of laptops propelled internet advertising spending by 38% on a like-for-like basis last year to £2.8bn, taking its market share to 15.3%, up from 11.4% in 2006.

That represented a slowdown from 41% growth in 2006 and 66% in 2005, but it beat the IAB's forecasts of 35%.

The internet, which is now the biggest medium behind TV and press display advertising, is expected to sidestep the downturn in other media to overtake TV advertising revenues next year, the report said.

Guy Phillipson, chief executive of the IAB, said: "To grow 38% from £2bn to £2.8bn is a very powerful performance.

"It's clear marketing directors now recognise the value of online to drive their business and more and more are using rich media and video to build their brands, just as they do on TV."

The increasing popularity of social networking websites, the availability of cheap laptops, wireless connectivity and TV on demand, such as Channel 4's 4oD, were also cited as key drivers behind growth last year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Below is a link to Paul Soldera's blog called Insight By Design ( Paul worked for a large "boutique" marketing research and consulting firm in NYC up until a few months ago. He's a really bright guy and his blog has lots of great information. Check it out.


Below is some info on a blog conference in NYC on April 4th-5th , it's $350 registration, see CK's blog entry for more information (, she is the person organizing it. You're invited if you have a blog!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2007 Market Trends Report

2007 Market Research Trends:

Increased Demand for

Market Research and Metrics


The advertising and marketing industries are changing because of increasing demands for metrics and accountability, yet many agencies and brands continue marketing practices that yield no quantifiable results. In response to this, demand for market research, both traditional and progressive, is increasing, and both agencies and brands recognize its relevance as a component of a complete marketing mix. This report focuses not on the causes for the change in the advertising agency but rather its effects, namely the demand for market research. It also examines the most used forms of market research, the reasons for market research, the efficacy of it and the source of demand.

Key findings examined in this report include:

> Companies are shifting their preferences and budgets away from traditional advertising and toward integrated marketing programs.

> Online surveys are currently the market research tool of choice for both agencies and brands; 80 percent of respondents utilize online surveys with relative frequency, and 41 percent indicate they utilize online surveys often.

> While both agencies and brands feel that clients are more likely to drive demand, brands’ belief that clients drive demand is more pronounced.

> Fifty-four percent of agency respondents view market research as an expense rather than revenue.

> The overwhelming majority of our survey participants agree that there are no practical barriers to market research.

These findings are based on the “Market Research Trends” survey conducted by Equation Research in Q4, 2006 and Q1, 2007.

If you would like a copy of the report let me know,