Banking on good service?

July 29, 2010

Interesting to see the launch of a new bank Metro Bank today and its intention to place customer service at the heart of its offer, and to use the shopping mall as it model.

We know from our own work in retail that good service remains the number one issue for all shopping centres, so making this a key differential is both a brave and commendable move. I’m not sure their rates will tempt me to open an account however I may well mystery visit them just to see exactly what it is that make them different.

Changing times for shoppers?

January 6, 2010

As a new year starts, the first indications suggest that Christmas sales are being described as “buoyant”. Although a complete picture is yet to emerge, it seems that a late surge in present buying, that is for the ‘things that people think other people want’, in the final days before Christmas was combined with an immediate post Christmas surge. This was helped by the way that Boxing Day fell on a Saturday in 2009 as people with any money left to spend rushed out to buy the ‘things that they really wanted’, i.e. not the things they actually received!

This suggests that December tills may indeed have been ringing frequently however with the rise in VAT also helping to nudge up post Xmas revenues there is talk of January being particularly bleak to the point where some are claiming that the January sale is dead. Whilst I think that is premature generalisation as I sit through another TV commercial offering ‘buy now pay later for a new 3 piece suite’ or significant reductions on a new kitchen/bathroom/bedroom from the home improvers, the days of the January clear-out may well be numbered on the high street.

Anyway here’s looking forward to another interesting 12 months for UK plc.

The Power of Facebook

December 21, 2009

Anybody who had any doubt of the power of marketing on Facebook has had an object lesson this week from a couple from Essex. Jon and Tracy Morter successfully campaigned using only a single medium, gathering nearly half a million fans on their Facebook page. Taking a song originally released 17 years ago and beating the 4-month long marketing campaign driven single from Joe McElderry shows the real power of reaching people. Taken in conjunction with the fact that this campaign was only one week long, and had no budget at all the results are truly remarkable.

This may now mark a true shift in UK businesses perceptions about online and social media. As we’ve already said in other blogs, more and more companies are using social media to reach and understand their customers. This is what research has always been designed to do, but the advantage of social media is that it enables the possibility of personalised two-way feedback between a brand and their customers. 2010 will be a year that using social media will become a mainstream business strategy, with more brands realising the huge potential that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter bring.

An end to deep discounts?

December 11, 2009

As Carluccio’s announces its abandonment of 2-for-1 offers, does this herald the end of discounting in the casual dining sector? Or does it indicate the end of the recession?

The casual dining sector is one that has been particularly active in offering deep discounts, with Pizza Express, to name but one chain, seeming to run offer after offer to the point where one feels it is almost impossible to pay full price for a meal!

So does this give us the first indications of a shift to other forms of promotion activity, and, if so, will others follow?

Christmas spend set to fall by 15%

October 30, 2009

Despite signs that the recession is beginning to pass, research we conducted in the past week paints a worrying picture for the high street.  The run up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year for most stores; indeed many rely on this period to make any profit in the year. Results from our survey show, however, that the average spend on non-food goods this Christmas is set to decline by 15%.   As many as a third of all shoppers also believe that they will be spending less this Christmas than last year, with a little more than half believing that their total non-food spend will be unchanged. Unsurprisingly, the main reason given to explain this is that they are ‘cutting back’ in the face of the recession.

In further worrying news for the high street, shoppers project that almost 30% of their non-food shopping will be done online this Xmas, with as many as a quarter of respondents doing more so this year than in 2008.  We also found that around one in 10 shoppers say that they are ‘definitely holding back’ their purchases this year in anticipation of pre-Christmas sales.  This shows a rise compared to our previous research. A further third believe that they will hold back ‘somewhat’ this year – as a group these shoppers make up more than twice the proportion of previous years.  Clothing remains the most popular category to hold back on in anticipation of sales, but toys and games are estimated to be well up on previous Xmas research, as are electrical items.

Valentine’s Day

February 16, 2009

I heard on the radio over the weekend that, according to research by Asda, 39% of respondents were looking to ‘cut the cost of Valentine’s day’.  It’s an interesting statistic, but is this something that any normal person would actually think about doing; I mean totally unprompted. Sure we look to cut the cost of our groceries, manage the cost of Christmas, or try to budget our summer holiday. But Valentine’s day? Believe me, I’m all for market research, but I’m not sure what this really tells us other than that thankfully the media still lap up ‘research’ statistics and brand owners will continue to source them.