Here's the latest research on "showrooming" behavior – referring loosely to the practice of checking out a product in-store only to to buy it online at a lower price. How widespread is this practice? Which retailers are most at risk? Are retailers winning the battle or losing it? This article takes a look at some of the more interesting research highlights from Placed, the IAB, JiWire, and ClickIQ (Source: Marketing Charts).
A DISCUSSION ABOUT BRANDED ENVIRONMENTS, MARKETING AND COOL DESIGN.
Technology has forever altered the way we market brands. We’re living in an era of deep customer engagement. Today’s more empowered, critical, demanding, and price-sensitive customers are turning in ever-growing numbers to social networks, blogs, online review forums, and other channels to quench their thirst for objective advice about products and to identify brands that seem to care about forming relationships with them.
There’s been a lot of buzz this past week about Google and whether they will be opening their own retail stores sometime later this year. In our view a Google store makes a lot of sense.
The retail industry is undergoing a transformation of epic proportions. Two weeks ago, serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame predicted the eventual death of bricks-and-mortar retail in favor of pure play ecommerce. Reid Hoffman responded with a more balanced view that envisions a world where innovations in software and social media bring the off-line and on-line retail worlds together in an ever more seamless integrated experience.
Underlying either forecast is the acknowledgement that technology has irreversibly changed the way consumers shop. With cookie-enabled personalization on the web and ubiquitous access to information via their mobile phones, consumer expectations are rapidly changing. On-line shoppers expect web sites they visit frequently to remember them, and the apps in their pockets to recognize where they are. And they are willing to provide a certain amount of personal information in exchange for what they see as an overall better experience.
Beyonce's half-time show at the SuperBowl last night was breath taking. I'm not just referring to her performance, which was terrific. But also to the amazing special effects and massive video displays that made her live performance feel like a finely edited music video. As millions of us witnessed last night, display technology has reached new hights, opening a world of possibilities for brands looking to engage and amaze their fans in all sorts of brand activations and themed environments.
Companies like Nike, Bonobos and Zappos have figured out how to engage customers not just on-line, but in real life.
We love cool experience design at Hood. And we're drooling over PSFK's roundup of the best design ideas that they discovered in 2012. From the revelation of Steve Job's luxury yacht, to a public library creatd out of a former Wal Mart store, to the new Starbucks retail store design in Amsterdam. All very inspirational.
The trade show industry was on life support just a few years ago. But, as with so many other industries, technology is rapidly altering the trade show landscape, driving higher levels of customer engagement and increased efficiencies. Here is an excellent update from Forbes that discusses the major shifts that are taking place.
As the trade show season begins this week with CES in Las Vegas, Active Network (NYSE: ACTV) will get to work with automated, integrated systems to identify prospects, invite people who have shown an interest by logging into webinars, register attendees at their hotels to reduce lines at convention centers, track their attendance at seminars, record interactions with vendors and followup after with calls, email, social media and webinars.
Even in the internet age, events are big, and important, business. The Aberdeen Group finds that 9 percent of an organization’s total budget is spent on events and that figure is expected to climb 20 percent over the next two years.
“The original evolution of the event was a point in time,” said JR Sherman, senior vice president of business solutions at Active. People showed up, had a great time, maybe the organizers did a survey and then it was “See you in 365 days.”
The next step was to engage with prospects and customers before the event and maintain contact after. Leading firms have learned to integrate social tools, mobile, and virtual content before the event and to stay in touch longer after the event
“That is where a lot of organizations have gotten to now. The next step, where we are unique, is to have the event itself no longer be the center of the universe. Instead, the participant is the center and the participant will drive the balance of virtual vs. physical engagement.”
Active has worked with Cisco for several years and helped launch Cisco 365, an online community aimed to understand participants to better personalize their experience at Cisco Live or one of the smaller regional events.
“If the content is driven by participants, it can lead to more aggressive participation,” said Sherman.
It seems a little paradoxical that Cisco, which promotes high end teleconferencing to reduce business travel, should be a leader with Active in something as arcane as physical conferences. Sherman said Cisco is a leader in both virtual and physical events, always ready to apply new technology to conferences.
Virtual conferences have driven higher participation at events
A few years ago when virtual events launched with a big splash, event planners thought their jobs were in danger, he added.
“Almost the opposite happened. Virtual participating through teleconferencing, Web casts and Skype drove deeper engagement and more participation in physical events. It is hard to replace the value of a handshake.”
After Salesforce teamed up with Facebook to offer content from its Dreamforce conference, the company found that many who had logged in to watch showed up in person for the event the following year.
Sherman said that around the time of the financial crisis events were falling out of favor, partly because firms didn’t know how to measure their return. In fact, most didn’t even know how to measure their spend. Active Network has made a number of acquisitions, most recently StarCite last January, to form a Business Solutions group that links to hotels, convention centers and suppliers as part of a comprehensive event management tool.
One of the reasons that events got cut was that firms couldn’t aggregate their spending and drive efficiency with their vendors. Marketing would run a conference, procurement would handle the suppliers, but they didn’t necessarily coordinate well. That can be costly.
Software leads to significant savings
The 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) runs more than 200 annual events, including 4,000-person conventions. It was tracking meeting RSVPs in Excel spreadsheets. With Active Network’s StarCite’s Strategic Meeting Management solution, the union was able to identify savings opportunities, source venues more efficiently, and reduce event costs by 48 percent in 2011.
As Aberdeen put it: “Organizations must focus on a full cycle of processes within what is now considered an engagement, and with this evolutionary notion comes a vast array of phases, including social media outreach, increased marketing and promotional activity, deep-dive analytics and consistent messaging to attendees.”
This is such a fast-moving field — even the leaders are just beginning to explore all the uses of mobile and social media — that the vocabulary struggles to keep up with developments. While Active refers to its business as Strategic Meeting Management (SMM), The Aberdeen Group says organizations should move from thinking about managing meetings to “engagement management” and talks about measures of success such as emotional ROI.
Still Aberdeen’s report says that good SMM leads to 48 percent higher compliance with internal meeting management policies, a 44 percent higher rate of meetings under management, and 30 percent high frequency of events on or under budget.
Nestlé in the U.S. has expanded from managing 150 meetings with Active Network to more than 500 meetings a year and has seen savings year-on-year. The meetings management team provides detailed meeting analytics on spend, savings and forecasting to their key stakeholders on a regular basis.
“With the centralized portal and data collection, we’re able to see our event spend as a category versus having to track it throughout various expense reports,” said Nancy Teresa, procurement manager for travel and event planning at Nestle.
Integrating event software with ERP and CRM
Aberdeen focuses on budgets and control issues, such as integration of SMM with a company’s CRM system and travel and expense management, plus the ability to analyze the attendees and the ROI after an event. The best in class organizations are significantly better, often twice as good, at project management, registration and tracking, internal approval of meeting, marketing and formalized processes for payment of meeting related expenses.
“Best-in-Class organizations (40 percent more likely than all others) are actively instituting centralized budget management for meetings and events. This factor allows them to understand where planned meetings sit against both an overall events budget and the corporate budget.”
Organizations have a lot more focus on total spend for meetings and events, said Sherman, as CFOs look for much better information and firms look to drive efficiency in marketing.
The rapid evolution in SMM shows up in areas such as analytics and reporting, which Aberdeen says are in place in 46 percent more Best-in-Class organizations. It is often the weakest link in strategic meetings and events management, said the consultancy.
“Only two years ago, this program attribute was a low-level priority.”
In the SMM category Aberdeen calls Next Generation, the gaps between best practices and all others can be huge: 70/24 for post-event analysis, 64/33 for centralized database for contacts, suppliers and content, 60/14 for persistent engagement with audiences, 50/22 for ongoing collection of intelligence on attendees, events, and suppliers and 30/10 for consistent use of mobile apps and portals.
Hood Branded Environments envisions, designs, and produces trade show programs that help clients drive deeper engagement with their customers. For more information, visit our web site at hoodbe.com. Click here to download our free whitepaper: 5 Things You Can Do Now To Take The Cost And Complexity Out Of Your Trade Show Exhibit Budget.
Retail Week recently published their list of the best new retail store designs of 2012. "At a time when budgets are under pressure, it is reassuring to see that store design does not appear to be falling victim to cutbacks and, where it is, that ways are still being found to fashion interiors and exteriors that continue to appeal."
A kid’s clothing store that feels like a child’s book and which, in spite of being a 3D interior, has a 2D quality about it. This is perhaps the simplest Store of the Week to have made in into the pages of Retail Week this year, yet it is among the most unusual.