Friday, 31 January 2014

Do you believe in marketing miracles?

As the Christmas season approached last year, my 13-year-old son asked me if Santa Claus was real.  It made me aware of the fact that he is getting older, and beginning to question some of the ideas he previously simply accepted as the truth.  I procrastinated in giving him a direct answer. Instead, I left my son wondering if there is something special and unexplainable about the Christmas season. I  wanted him to believe that sometimes special occasions and seasons take place when common things seem to turn into real magic; a time when people want and choose to share goodness and happiness with others.   

For marketers, Christmas can be a very special time in which to bring something unique to their customers. We recently saw a great case in Australia of reaching customers and inspiring loyalty in a creative way through the Woolworths and Bringing Christmas Together with Jamie Oliver campaign. Another exceptional example of a marketing miracle was created by marketers from the Canadian airline company, WestJet.

A marketing campaign that began in August 2013 was launched shortly before Christmas when 250 pre-selected passengers from two WestJet flights were surprised when their Christmas wishes came true.

Source: Digital Trends

Guests were greeted by a digital Santa Claus at the airport before their flights. Santa asked travelers what they desired for Christmas, while airline marketing ‘wizards’ secretly recorded the information. Once the flights took off, WestJet staff members in the destination cities scrambled to collect the presents to fulfill the passengers’ wish lists. When the two flights arrived, the passengers routinely  gathered at the baggage claim expecting their luggage. Instead, they received the surprise of their lives when they were met with the gifts from their wish lists. According to WestJet newsletter, almost 360 gifts varied “from socks and underwear to a snowboard and an Android tablet to a big screen TV” had been collected. What started as a simple idea to please customers during the Christmas season quickly went viral, with more than 25 million YouTube viewers of the WestJet Christmas miracle video. 

Whether it was a hearty gesture from WestJet to its customers, or just simply a smart piece of marketing to generate positive brand perception, or perhaps both, I must admit that the WestJet marketers did a fantastic job of positioning its brand in an absolutely stunning fashion. "It makes WestJet stand out as a company that goes outside of the norm to take care of its customers," said David Soberman,  the Canadian national chair of strategic marketing with the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.  For the full article see 'WestJet brand soars thanks to viral video hit' in Winnipeg Free Press.

I have watched this heart-warming video with my son many times, and believe it is an example of how miracles can be real if there is someone who makes them happen. Perhaps from this point forward he will start to believe in good marketers, rather than Santa Claus.

Elena Sveshnikova: Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Armani models wanted

The topic of branding has been weaved throughout the entire fabric of the Masters of Marketing program. In the Innovative Marketing Strategies unit, we learnt that experiential marketing is a key factor to brand building as it encourages deeper and more frequent thinking. As markets continue to become more complex and competitive, many brands are turning to experiential strategies in order to differentiate themselves, to capture audience hearts and minds, and to drive growth.

Experiential marketing can be a significant investment so it has tended to be dominated by large global brands such as Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola have led the way in experiential marketing through campaigns such as the “Hug-Me” and the “Happiness” vending machines through to the "Small World Machines" campaign. That said, I recently heard of an innovative experiential campaign called “My Picture My Statement” which was executed by Giorgio Armani in Tokyo.

My friend Ashleigh took part in this campaign that involved inviting members of the public to become a model for a day and have their picture taken in Armani clothing at a nearby store. The campaign went something like this:

The entire interaction was well executed and controlled to ensure participants had the desired brand experience. Exclusivity was key and participants initially received a warm VIP welcome, had the store to themselves, were free to look around and select an outfit before being the star in their own Armani photo shoot. I put a few questions to Ashleigh to try and determine the impact of this campaign:

Me: Have you ever been into an Armani store before? Are you more likely to go again?

Ash: No I hadn't really been before. Yes I would go again - now I know that the clothes fit me. I really want that dress I wore!

Me: Would you have bought Armani products before? Are you more likely to now?

Ash: No I hadn't bought them before. It's still a bit pricey, but as I walked around I looked at all the prices and it was actually cheaper than I thought. So I'll keep it in mind.

Me: Has it put Armani above other luxury brands that might be in your consideration set?

Ash: It's moved it into the consideration set.

The exciting thing about this campaign is that Armani is actively targeting a new audience in order to widen its appeal within the saturated luxury goods market in Tokyo. The Armani brand tends to conjure up images of the fashion literate elite, but this campaign makes the brand more accessible in the minds of many potential new customers. It also encourages a shift in attitude towards the brand, creates positive associations, drives online and offline word of mouth, and most of all lets the participants test drive the product through an in-store experience. Who wouldn’t want to buy something they have selected and look great in (especially when they have a photo, and hundreds of Facebook comments, to remind them of how great they looked)?

The campaign will play a critical role in spreading information about the brand but it does come with a number of risks. Armani loses some control of its brand and it also can’t be seen to be diluting its prestigious reputation within the fashion world. However, careful execution will minimise these risks and, I think, result in two core benefits for Armani. Firstly, they are likely to convert dormant customers into buyers, and secondly, the brands exclusivity will be strengthened, as its products will still remain aspirational for many. This desire is an important ingredient to ensure the long-term success of any luxury product. Luxury brands are not immune to today’s challenging market conditions and it is good to see Armani rising to the occasion and trying something new.
What do you think? Should Ash buy the dress? Is this a good route for luxury brands?


Ashleigh as an Armani model

Adam Kennedy: Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 20 January 2014

What's your research method?

Understanding your customer is fundamental to any successful brand. Marketing research seems to be the key ingredient for many winning stories. Therefore, the big challenge for marketers is to figure out the right method for the question at hand.

Now, more than ever, the tool-box for market research is huge. For instance, online surveys are now used as a knee-jerk answer to just about anything. I argue, however, not every research question might be answered through only a digital platform. And, of course, none of those web data-collectors can fully substitute direct one-on-one engagement.

In completing my final Master of Marketing consulting project, I have constantly doubted myself on research design. With my client and their customers being based online, I deliberated over whether or not it might be meaningful to jump into a face-to-face journey. In my Master of Marketing classes I have learnt about how crucial it is to understand customers on a personal level. The recent Walhub case also emphasised this topic for me.

The American firm Upwell created Walhub - a new electrical switch cover that has space for your keys and mail. Upwell first wanted to thoroughly test whether this concept was marketable prior to entering into large-scale production. But instead of going the trendy digital research way, Upwell marketers approached their customers in a real-life shop environment. As Upwell recently unveiled, their marketers were uniformed as regular IKEA staff who occupied some space at a local IKEA with Walhub samples boxed in an IKEA manner.

Personally, I think the Walhub research approach was simply awesome.  They wanted to observe how their potential customers would respond to the new product in a real retail situation - would people even have the desire to purchase this item? Marketers then recorded those activities and articulated a marketing stunt out of it. 

Looks simple and pretty clever, doesn’t it? Just in one move Upwell nailed brand awareness and gathered very personal customer feedback. I do love this market research method undertaken by Upwell, even though some controversy is involved. The results of this survey seem unclear about whether people were interested in buying the exact product, or whether the outcome was influenced by IKEA’s retail environment. But as an example of a creative research approach, this Upwell case is a brilliant one.

Whilst research tool-kits are doing a great job for particular business cases, the art of the market researcher, therefore, is to go beyond narrow and comfortable research methods, and to design marketing research that will really get to the bottom of things.        

Elena Sveshnikova: Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

New year, new trends

No, I’m not talking about what will be gracing the window fronts of fashion retailers. With a new year come new resolutions, new habits, and new attitudes. As a marketer, anticipating these new trends can be critical. For example, while all things digital has been growing for a while now, the Internet is aflutter forecasting a trend in 2014 that will see people put down their devices. 


A competitor to the very successful FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) acronym, JOMO is here to help people embrace the Joy Of Missing Out. Trend forecaster JWT has listed JOMO as one of its top 10 predictions for 2014, and explains it as living mindfully and switching off.

The Huffington Post explains JOMO, and it’s interesting to see even companies like Google embrace ‘silent mindful lunches,’ where you won’t see any phones or laptops sitting alongside your chicken salad.

What will this mean to social media this year? Will people really switch off and stop uploading their most recent meal?

With JWT predicting another trend being the end of anonymity, with surveillance technology fast growing to soon track every single purchase decision we make, it’s not a surprise that people are turning away from their screens. For a marketer, this seems like a double-edged sword, providing more insight but also more resistance.

In our Ethics and Regulatory Environment paper, we often discussed in class the shifting position of using technology to learn more about consumers and tracking people’s habits. While there is no hard and fast answer as to what’s wrong or right, I think that JOMO could be a great movement. Not only will it give people more time to themselves, it can also be the step that pushes companies to find more engaging and innovative ways to connect with their customers. 

Hongi Luo: Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Master of Marketing welcomes 2014!

We’re refreshed and excited for the new year! Marketing Matters will continue to bring you news from the Master of Marketing course, along with insights, news and opinion related to all things marketing.

2013 saw the largest cohort yet, and many of us have worked incredibly hard to finally arrive at our final project. With the first ever mid-year intake, many of our fellow students will also be continuing their studies in 2014. Congratulations to everyone on their fulfilling time at the University of Sydney Business School!

Visit our website for more information about the Master of Marketing.

Hongi Luo: Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.