Wednesday, October 31, 2012

High-fashion gateway drugs – this Christmas, at Target

Relax, Blu. Now you can go to Target for your ‘Neiman-Marcus shopping spree-ah.’
We’ll admit we were concerned when we first heard Neiman Marcus was partnering with Target on an exclusive collection this Holiday. (Original blog post)

It’s not without the potential of being a win-win.

Target, always looking for new ways to distance itself from down-market, low-cost leader Wal-Mart, would boast a plethora of new limited-edition designers. And Neiman’s, struggling to tread water in a sea of high-end department store adversaries, could earn the attention and (eventual) patronage of next-gen fashionistas.

But would the spread in purchase parity prove too great for either party to garner any mutual / residual benefit?

I mean, how would a Herrera halter look hanging on a white plastic hanger?
Who wants to put their new Oscar de la Renta suit on the conveyor belt up at the front check lanes?

Of course we didn’t expect the 20+ design houses tapped for the promotion to simply migrate product from one store to the other, but the fundamentals of brand resonance still apply.

While it may be another six weeks before we know for sure whether Target is wasting precious holiday floor space, the collection’s preview looks promising!
Current landing page. View here.
As you browse through the 50+ pieces, you’ll come across only a few price outliers in terms of same-department, Target alternatives (Tracy Reese blouse, $79.99, Marc Jacobs scarf, $69.99).

That’s because instead of simply offering re-tooled design staples, our fashion icons have opted to apply signature brand affects to unique, everyday products.
Instead of women’s couture, Herrera applied her essence to mini travel bags and a stationary set.

Instead of leaning on their men’s formal wear fame, Oscar de la Renta commissioned a canvas tote and signature pet products.

It’s a branding tactic we’re calling the ‘gateway drug.’

The Neiman-Target collection doesn’t boast hard-core, high-dollar, all-or-nothing pieces. Instead, simple everyday items that capture the essence of brand. It’s brand introduction at its finest.
A win-win for any of the brand targets, really.

While existing brand loyalists can augment their current library with net-new component pieces, less affluent one-time browsers can finally convert, securing their very first.

Tis the season to splurge…

Sure, $19.99 is a bit more than you need to extend in securing a functional lunch box, but Christmas is the time to treat yourself and the ones you love…and this it Tori Burch!
Lunch box, $19.99. Thermos, $24.99.
To be successful in the Target ecosystem, the Neiman’s line will need to fit in, enhance, and inspire.
If the preview is any indication, check, check, and check.

We should never have doubted you, Target – and we can’t wait to see the collection in store next month!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary! (the most pointless milestone ever!)

Take no offense all you happy couples out there.

I'm talking about businesses that insist on promoting brand-centric milestones. 

As humans, I know we like to apply order to the passage of time. It makes otherwise spurious events more easy to categorize and recall down the road.

"Let’s see, it was winter and we just moved to Chicago…it must have been January-February 2011."

The calendar year and any similar convention break the unstoppable passage of time into equal-sized chunks more palatable to the human brain.

So what’s the business case for celebrating?

There are a few, actually.

1. Married to the brand

If the crux of the promotion was to simply celebrate the passing of another year of business, it’d be a 'Birthday Sale.' It's 'Anniversary' because it aims to honor a relationship – the brand + you.

Aw, isn't that sweet? – Well, that’s certainly the desired response.

Anniversary Sales (if done correctly), put you, the ever-crucial customer, center stage. It’s subtle brand reinforcement that, like a couple’s actual wedding anniversary, is designed to pluck you away from routine (shopping) and remind you why you fell in love in the first place.

2. Breed confidence and bode dependability

Does older means wiser? It does if you’re marketing professional services (banking, healthcare) or B2B (consultancies, firms).

In such cases, the act of consuming is done with less frequency. Buyers are often clueless when it comes to understanding the sales process or competitive landscape.  Fatigued by the fog, tenure often resonates.

“Your partner for the last century”

Greater trust is placed upon the shoulders of seasoned veterans; it (feels like) the safest bet.

3. No competing offers

It’s perhaps the most tangible reason, (and not without merit).

On prescribed holidays such as President’s, Valentine’s and Columbus Days, you’re grappling with competitors for a piece of the consumer pie.

But an Anniversary sale affords exclusive access to an otherwise ordinary window of time – it’s a promotion built just for you and the easiest way to secure (for a limited time) the lion's share of wallet.

So, why the random blog entry; why now?
It was a year ago today I decided to start this blog.

In part, out of boredom. With grad school out of the way, I found myself with too much idle time (one can only stand thumbing through the many social media forums for so long).

I've always been a highly perceptive person (what can I say? it’s a gift). Maybe that's why I gravitated to marketing in the first place?

Because to do it (marketing) well, you HAVE to be perceptive.

Professionally, I manage the marketing portfolio of an IT consultancy. Not without its challenges and rewards, but lacking a flavor of what I love most, consumer marketing/retail.

I enjoy trying to peel back the visual manifestation of advertising and branding; to dissect it for its deeper meanings and intentions.

And so, 30k Feet became a way to begin to hone my abilities as a professional blogger (am I on the right track?).

"Happy Anniversary, 30 Thousand Feet!"

And thanks to all of you who may be reading... :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The most brilliant ad doesn’t always get the job…

A fellow marketing buff shared this image with me last week and it got me thinking.

There’s a fine line between brilliant advertising and real-world feasibility.

First, it’s genius…

Back Story: As far as we could ascertain from the blogosphere, it was done as part of a class assignment. Students were challenged to come up with a new ad campaign for Naukri, India’s premier job search website.

While much of the class stuck to more traditional print ads, one student tried something different.

…But is that a good or bad thing?

Brilliant ads don’t always work.

And the things that make this ad brilliant and highly salient are the same reasons it would never be produced.

For sake of argument and before we dive any deeper, let’s pretend this is an America campaign for one of the many US-centric job search web sites.

Two concerns immediately come to mind:

1. Target audiences will notice but not appreciate.

The campaign could come across as offensive and unfeeling toward the plight facing people that are actually homeless – marginalizing their plight and profiteering off the raw human emotion their circumstance delivers upon the public.

The job search process can be stressful, debilitating, and scary. Job loss is (still) a very real fear in the world today. People don’t want to be reminded of that.

The ad seemingly seeks to build off universal concerns over job loss and self-sufficiency by suggesting their website will save you from the depths of unemployment and insolvency.

Take it from and trust brand awareness and affinity to comedy:
Remember these guys?

Sure, unemployment rates were higher than ever before in recent history. But the hook for was never "no job;" but finding a "better job." That’s a much better way to approach the topic, wouldn't you agree? Even for the recently unemployed (a definite target); instead of picturing themselves homeless on the street, the ads illicit an “I’m better off without ‘em” mentality. That's genius you can produce!

2. Competitors could flip and reverse your impact.

On the other side of Porter’s analysis – how would the ad leave Naukri exposed to competitors?

Taken literally, it calls into question the types of opportunities available on the website. So a homeless person found a job on Naukri? I guess they only specialize in employment searches for the unskilled, entry level, and otherwise unemployable? (Of course not, but fodder for competitors to mock all the same).

“ – because you’re not just some bum off the street.”

We’re playing a bit of devil’s advocate here – quite certain this ad would find itself in hot water as well, as it stereotypes homeless people as being unskilled and of significantly less professional merit

Still, a thought.

We know you’d see the ad – but would it compel you to employ Naukri in your next job search or cause you to recoil in angst?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Heroes in a half shell - [LEGO] Turtle Power!

Step aside, sex; nostalgia sells us adults too.

When I was a kid, I loved two things; LEGOs and Ninja Turtles.

Can you imagine the joy that pulsed through my veins when I first received this email? I’ll try to contain my excitement.

I want ‘em in the worst way.
 But why, Dan? You’re almost 30. Grow up.

But that’s precisely the attraction – and marketers know it.

Yes, I’m an adult now, and I’m bitter.

Youth is wasted on the young, remember?

We all long to be kids again. And we don’t ever really grow up, we just grow old. So sleep tight, kids - the rules of the playground (still) apply. Mommy and daddy (still) worry about fitting in; they talk (and are talked about) behind the backs’ of friends – (we’re essentially a world run by children – scary, huh?).

But I digress. Back to marketing…

The toy industry says that while parents control resources, kids are the primary decision makers.
Not always true.

Sure, they are heavy, heavy influencers, but parents must ultimately decide when and for what they’ll shell money (see what I did there? shell/Ninja Turtles? Was I born to do this or what?). :P

Now LEGO is a bit of an anomaly; possessing a sub-culture of AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) that buy and collect sets for themselves.

But all of us miss our favorite childhood toys – and if not, at least the memories.

So when we’re back in the toy aisles on behalf of our next of kin, it’s no wonder we’re most inclined to stop for a familiar face.

It’s why marketers of Furby are laying it on thick this upcoming holiday. It’s why the Care Bears enjoyed a slight resurgence a few years back.

And so, I argue that
when you’re a toy, you only have to break through to one generation of kids.

Once secured, ride the generational wave.

Set your marketing alarm clock for 10-15 years into the future and take a nap.

The next go-around, it’s just as easy to grab the attention of the parents, your former playmates.

Apply some tweaks so that you boast new, fundamental features and benefits in demand with today’s youth and wave down parents traversing the toy department no doubt lamenting their own squandered youth.
Repeat x 1,000!
Solid game plan? What do you think?