Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 11-22-15

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - Thanksgiving Edition (Photo Credit: GlowRockport.wordpress.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – Thanksgiving Edition
(Photo Credit: GlowRockport.wordpress.com)

Welcome to a Thanksgiving-geared, #SaveThanksgiving special edition of #SundayMusings with Shore Branding.  There has not been too much news or debate – maybe I’m too busy to notice – on retailers opening up on Thanksgiving Day for Black Friday / holiday deals.  I’ve seen a number of Change.org petitions but none of them have necessarily exploded.  

In any case, for those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this coming week, I hope you enjoy it and get to spend time with your friends and family.  Onward to this week’s musings …

#1 –  “Be Thankful for Feedback: Good, Bad, and Indifferent” via Loyalty360.org

Premise: Customers have had polar opposite opinions on retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.  What is somewhat lost in all of the debate is the value of the feedback these stores have received due to making decisions like this.  Good or bad, listening to the feedback provided by your customers is absolutely critical.  The author provides three tips to consider as you embark on your holiday messaging.  

Thoughts: Well, the crux of our SaveThanksgiving.net efforts really started in a similar spot.  However, the overall theme here, when you pull back the curtain, really is to listen to your customers.  You have to understand the impact of the decisions you make.  

#2 – “3 tips to avoid marketing missteps this holiday season” via imediaconnection.com

Premise: How do retailers keep shoppers involved and engaged throughout the holiday season and beyond?  The author puts together three tips on what retailers can do to sustain their efforts over a longer period of time.  

Thoughts: What really caught my attention is the third tip in this article, “bridge the gap between bricks and clicks”.  If you can’t optimize your customer experience by having both channels work together, then don’t try and focus your efforts on one or the other.  It is incredibly frustrating to have a completely different user experience between the in-store and online.  

#3 – “Izze’s Friendsgiving Campaign Includes Pop-Up Social Events for Millennials” via BrandChannel.com

Premise: Fruit-drink maker Izze is back with a new campaign heading into the holidays, called Friendsgiving.  The brand will be advertising across Amazon, Instagram, and Pinterest as it targets Millennials.

Thoughts: Respectfully, I had no idea that Izze was part of PepsiCo’s portfolio until this week.  I missed last year’s campaign, but I really do like what they are doing as we head into Thanksgiving.  

What brands are using a Thanksgiving-related campaign or hashtag that has caught your attention over the past few weeks?  Please do pass them along!

Tweet of the Week:

Once again, please spread the word and help others who are struggling to put a meal on the table this holiday season.  

For those celebrating Thanksgiving this week, please have a great, yet safe holiday!  #SaveThanksgiving

 

Loyalty to Brands – Guinness

"Loyalty to Brands" - Guinness (Photo by lazygamer.net)

“Loyalty to Brands” – Guinness
(Photo by lazygamer.net)

For our latest “Loyalty to Brands” we are continuing an official “Beer Month” here at Shore Branding.  Over the past decade, my taste buds have changed and my preference for which beer is regularly sitting in our refrigerator has become Guinness.

My loyalty, or even consideration, towards Guinness actually didn’t start until a trip to Europe about a decade ago.  It wasn’t a beer of choice at the time, but I also knew there was no way you could pop into Ireland and not have the homebred beer.  As soon as I tried the local Guinness, I started to get hooked.  (Note: The Guinness brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin, Ireland was of course closed for some type of renovations when we visited.)

While Guinness has tried to grow through brand extensions, it is the original draught beer that keeps me coming back.  In fact, the only two extensions that I have really enjoyed at all are the Red Harvest Stout and the 1759 Limited Edition Amber Ale – check out the latter on Guinness’ page for more information and a great video.

Aside from the product itself, what has helped “feed” my loyalty towards Guinness?

  1. Arthur’s Day – a celebration for Arthur Guinness that was started in 2009 and ended in 2013 because we aren’t allowed to have nice things in today’s world.  
  2. Their TV ads …

Like this …

And this …

Those two ads “prove” you don’t have to sell comedy or sex to further sales in the beer or liquor industry.  

What is your preferred adult beverage?  Why?  Let me know in the Comments below.  

As always, if you have a brand or service that you consider yourself loyal to and are interested in guest blogging on Shore Branding, please do reach out and let me know via the Comments section below or through the Contact page.  Thanks!

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 8-2-15

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

This week’s #SundayMusings with Shore Branding is somewhat unique in its style in that I am building off of our Loyalty to Brands write-ups and have found recent news from brands and companies that we have focused on in the past.  Here are a few headlines that have caught my eye on several of the brands that I consider myself loyal to.

#1 – “Online shopping startup ready to rival Amazon” – via NYPost.com

Premise: Having launched two weeks ago, Jet.com’s founder Marc Lore promises to be an open book when it comes to corporate disclosure – a key contrast vs. his former boss and employer, Jeff Bezos at Amazon.  Lore provides several quotes into how he prefers to run Jet moving forward.  Jet has raised $225 million in funding but is projecting losses in its operating margin for the next five years.

Thoughts: As mentioned in last week’s Loyalty to Brands on Jet, I think it is a phenomenal site and product already.  I’m seriously considering the next nine months as the last chance for Costco to wow me with something or my membership will be cancelled.

Marc Lore has made the rounds over the past two weeks, so it is highly likely you have already seen or read what he is expecting out of Jet.com and his vision for the company as it moved out of beta testing.

#2 – “Dunkin’ Donuts Is Using 7 Social Platforms to Sell Iced-Coffee to Music-Loving Millennials” via AdWeek.com

Premise: Dunkin’ Donuts’ summer marketing campaign will go across seven different social media platforms, in an effort to better connect / resonate with millennials.  The campaign is called “DD Summer Soundtrack” and will include similar messaging and advertising across social platforms.

Thoughts: Either Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts know exactly what they are doing or this is just an effort by Dunkin’ to take some steam out of Starbucks’ connection with younger consumers.  I don’t love the idea, particularly if it was formed based on the latter assumption, but it could work out very well for Dunkin’, given its heavy promotional efforts.  I also liked to read that the brand will include a focus on Periscope – where I have seen several brands start to make their presence known.

#3 – “Hilton’s Canopy Reykjavik Offers Valuable Customer Experiences Steeped in Local Culture” via Loyalty360.eu

Premise: Canopy, “Hilton’s new lifestyle hotel brand” will be opening in Reykjavik Iceland in 2016 and be located in center city.  It will offer all of the local flavoring of the city, including food and local amenities.

Thoughts: OK, so this caught my eye and I cannot wait to go back to Iceland and stay at this new Hilton hotel.  If you have never been to Iceland, I highly suggest you check it out as the country is absolutely gorgeous.  We stayed at the current Hilton in Reykjavik and while it was very nice, it was a little off the path from center city.

Tweet of the Week:

Honda is another Loyalty to Brands focus and they have recently turned it up a notch with their digital marketing and social media efforts.  They recently aired a Periscope video rolling out the design for the 2016 Honda Accord and now have this hashtag campaign out there across networks.

The light bulb has seemingly gone off for Honda that they needed to step up their game across social media platforms.  I really enjoy what they have been doing in recent weeks.

Any of these brands in this week’s #SundayMusings catch your attention?

Happy Sunday and enjoy the week ahead!

 

Loyalty to Brands – Jet.com

Jet.com

Jet.com

Our next installment of “Loyalty to Brands” focuses on a newcomer to the world of ecommerce – Jet.com – having just officially launched this past Tuesday – after a few months in beta testing.

When I read someone describing Jet as “when Amazon meets Costco”, I knew I would be interested.  After getting into the group of beta testers and sharing the site across social media, I wound up being in the top 10,000 group which provided a free, one year membership and early access to shop Jet before its launch date this past week.

So how have I become loyal to Jet in such a short amount of time (~6 months).  There are two major reasons:

  1. Focusing most of my cart on household goods (toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.), I find the bulk shopping and incremental savings increases to be eye-catching.
  2. Not having to leave my house to go battle the lunatics on weekends in places like Costco, Walmart, and Target is equally important to me.

It really is that easy to turn me into a loyal, avid shopper.  Give me a reason (or two) to not have to deal with maniacs at the store, in the parking lots, and/or even just on the road during the weekends, is a benefit that I can’t put a dollar number on.

Note that the savings doesn’t end with household items.  You can find gadgets, food, baby care, pet items, books … virtually everything you could imagine (see the complete list below).

A bevy of categories to choose from on Jet.com

A bevy of categories to choose from on Jet.com

I will say that Jet’s beta program (Jet Insider) really did a lot to pique my interest.  It felt good to have “exclusivity” to the program and helping them fine tune the system and channels they put in place.  From the very first order, items have landed on my doorstep in the timing that was promised.  Not to mention, the fancy delivery boxes that they come in … nice branding work there!

The power of well branded, purple boxes! (Photo Credit: GeekWire.com)

The power of well branded, purple boxes! (Photo Credit: GeekWire.com)

Have you signed up for Jet this week now that they have officially launched?  If so, what do you think?  Were you a Jet Insider and did you have similar feelings to the early access?  Let me know in the Comments below.

As always, if you have a brand or service that you consider yourself loyal to and are interested in guest blogging on Shore Branding, please do reach out and let me know via the Comments section below or through the Contact page.  Thanks!

 

Loyalty to Brands – Dunkin’ Donuts

Loyalty to Brands - Dunkin' Donuts (Photo from Dunkin' Donuts Twitter)

Loyalty to Brands – Dunkin’ Donuts (Photo from Dunkin’ Donuts Twitter)

This quarter’s “Loyalty to Brands” write-up focusing on a brand/company that I have liked for a long time but have become loyal to over the past year and for a specific reason.  Dunkin’ Donuts has been around for a long time, particularly in the Northeast.

Everyone loves a munchkin (even if you have to cheat on a diet), and I strongly prefer their coffee over Starbucks and others.  However, it wasn’t until Dunkin’ Donuts launched their DD Perks loyalty program and corresponding mobile app that I really started to make frequent trips to the local stores.

Dunkin’ Donuts was one of the first brands to work with Foursquare, partnering with American Express.  When you checked into a Dunkin’ location on Foursquare and synced your Amex card to your account, you would receive a statement credit.  That started nudging me towards Dunkin’ at first.  When they decided to bring everything under their own roof and develop their mobile app, I was sold.

The ability to automatically refresh the balance on my card that is linked to the Dunkin’ Donuts app makes it an easy way to ensure I have the necessary cash in my account.  At the same time, I’m consistently earning points during purchases, which turns into free beverages once you have accumulated enough points.  (Note, as seen below, as of this writing 200 points = a free beverage and every $1 spent = 5 points.)

DD Perks from Dunkin' Donuts

DD Perks from Dunkin’ Donuts

Has a particular mobile app increased your loyalty to a brand or company like this?  Would any Starbucks fanatic like to refute this entire write-up and explain to readers why their brand of choice is superior?

As mentioned in the past, if you have a brand or service that you consider yourself loyal to and are interested in guest blogging on Shore Branding, please do reach out and let me know via the Comments section below or through the Contact page.  Thanks!

 

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 5-24-15

Photo Credit: CBS Philadelphia

Photo Credit: CBS Philadelphia

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to everyone in the States!  In this week’s #SundayMusings we’re going to build off of last weekend’s “Pin of the Month” on mobile travel and link in loyalty-related articles, ahead of next weekend’s latest “Loyalty to Brands” write-up.  Here are several write-ups that I have found on brands that I have some level of loyalty to when booking travel.

#1 – “National’s App Adds “Virtual Aisle” Service” – via AutoRentalNews.com

Premise: Earlier this year National Rental Car deployed a “virtual aisle” to its Emerald Club members and users of National’s mobile app.  At specific airports around the US, National’s mobile app allows you to conduct a real-time inventory check on what cars are available at the airport.

Thoughts: National Rental Car has always been my preferred rental car provider for as long as I have been traveling for business.  The bypass of the counter feature was enough for me right out of the gate.  However, I’ve never had a negative experience with National, their customer service has been solid, and their mobile app includes just about everything you could possibly need.

#2 – “Hilton HHonors Rewards Program” via Wanderbat.com

Premise: Wanderbat provides a rundown on the Hilton HHonors program and all of its features, implied value, the encompassing hotel chains that fall under the program’s umbrella, and more.  The write-up suggests that earning points via your spend level at Hilton properties does not carry as much value as other hotels.  However, there are a number of partner programs that can be connected to your Hilton HHonors account.

Thoughts: This write-up provides quite the extensive list of benefits, how to earn and redeem points, and runs the gauntlet of coverage on the program.  Within a few clicks you will be able to find a similar rundown for your hotel of choice.

You may have already seen this but my loyalty in the hotel space has been with Hilton HHonors.  That will provide you with everything you need to know about why I am a loyal member to their program.

#3 – “Best Airline Rewards Programs” via USNews.com

Premise: USNews.com reviewed the top ten frequent flier / airline loyalty programs and came away with the ranking found in the link above.  JetBlue and Southwest are at the top of the list, respectively.  The bigger airlines – United, American Airlines, and Delta – find themselves in the middle of the pack.

The page linked to above provides a quick summary blurb for each of the ten airlines measured.  Each airline is then one, additional click away for a more comprehensive review of their respective loyalty program.

Thoughts: While I have preferences in airlines, I am not loyal to anyone in particular.  This is largely due to differences in flight destinations, convenience, and price.  Very rarely do I purchase an airline ticket without checking prices and flight times at each of the following locations – Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, and Philadelphia.  All four are anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes away without any major traffic issues.

It is incredibly tough to be loyal to an airline when you are traveling to various locations.  If you are traveling to one location for your job every week or month, it makes it a lot easier to rack up miles and eventually earn enough for reward travel.  However, I let my points accumulate with Hilton vs. any airline program due to what I view as stronger, more usable benefits.

Moving away from stories and reviews, I wanted to provide a few additional links for mobile travel.  Here are a few mobile travel apps that I find to be very helpful while I am on the road.  The links below are to the apps’ Google Play page.

  • FlightTrack: Offers free and paid versions – link is for the free version – and is typically ahead of airlines when updating delayed flights, gate information, etc.
  • Waze: When I run into issues with Google Maps and the navigation within it, I quickly turn to Waze.  This is somewhat ironic since Google now owns Waze and they should probably be better intertwined by now.  I digress.  Waze will provide you with the appropriate driving directions, alternative routes, and notify you when law enforcement may have been tagged by other users on the roads ahead.
  • 1Weather: I started using this weather app when I purchased an Android Wear smartwatch.  However, I wouldn’t recommend waiting to use this app for your weather and forecasts needs instead of The Weather Channel app.  It is far superior in my opinion.

Tweet of the Week:

Found Simplify’s tweet on a Twitter search for “mobile travel” and loved the link that is embedded here.  Tnooz.com provides a quick summary on travel and hospitality news, specifically with links to mobile and technology.  No surprise that the top stories connect mobile travel to the Apple Watch, as more brands look to make their mark in the wearables market.

That’s it for this weekend’s mobile travel-related #SundayMusings.  What apps do you find most useful when you are traveling for business or leisure?  Let me know in the comments below or via email so I can check them out.  Thanks!

 

Pin of the Month – The Modern Mobile Travelers

Infographic by Usablenet.com

Infographic by Usablenet.com

Building off of last weekend’s #SundayMusings, our “Pin of the Month” for May dives in on mobile, specifically the mobile traveler.  This month’s infographic coincides with a free ebook from Usablnet.com.  With an interest in mobile and a desire to always be traveling, this one was right up my alley.

The infographic takes a look at the mobile traveler and provides input and feedback as to how brands can better connect with them.  I particularly enjoy how each section of the infographic itself is followed by an insight blurb to put all of the pieces together for you.

After the demographic and background information, we get to the meat and potatoes of who the mobile traveler is and their respective behaviors.  This includes the very obvious differences across generations / age groups.

There were, however, two items that surprised me a little bit (read: I don’t fit the mold here):

  1. Consumers are consistently more likely to book travel on mobile web vs. a specific app.
  2. Approximately half of mobile travelers say they are influenced by loyalty programs.  I would have thought this would be much higher.

How are you using mobile when considering or booking travel?  Are you a multiple device researcher/planner and purchaser?  Does anything catch your eye in the statistics here like they did for me?  Let us know in the comments below or drop me an email at john@shorebranding.com.

For those unfamiliar with our “Pin of the Month”, every month we post one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyze it in our “Pin of the Month”.  If you have an infographic that you would like to promote here on Shore Branding, just let us know.  Thanks!

 

Loyalty to Brands – Samsung

Samsung (Photo credit: KiddsKids.com)

Samsung (Photo credit: KiddsKids.com)

With more than a just a slight hint in last weekend’s #SundayMusings, we walked into our latest “Loyalty to Brands” here on Shore Branding.  Founded almost 80 years ago, Samsung has become a dominant force in consumer electronics over the past two decades.  From its rapid growth in equipment and partners in mobile devices to its continued production of highly regarded TV’s, Samsung continues to become a more prevalent brand in and around our household.

How or where did my loyalty to Samsung start?  About a decade ago I led a research project on consumer perceptions of various TV’s and somewhat to my surprise, Samsung was a near dominant player in satisfaction and several forward-thinking attributes.  That caught my eye as I was in the market for a new TV for my house.  Since purchasing that 46” LED flatscreen TV and being completely satisfied with the product, it has been a growing loyalty with Samsung. [Read more…]

Product Review: Samsung Chromebook 2

Product Review: The 13.3 inch Samsung Chromebook 2 (Photo: Samsung.com)

Product Review: The 13.3 inch Samsung Chromebook 2 (Photo: Samsung.com)

Several weeks ago we decided that we needed a second “family / house” computer.  With a Samsung Ultrabook already in our possession and virtually no issues with it over the past 3-4 years, I was leaning on another Samsung laptop.  The Ultrabook already had Microsoft Office and Windows 8 and there wasn’t a need for another $700+ laptop with all of the same programs on it.  The second laptop was going to be for web browsing, watching video and … surprise, surprise … blogging.

I quickly turned my attention to the Samsung Chromebook series and it quickly became a matter of “which one” vs. looking at other devices.  After viewing a number of YouTube videos (like the one below) on the nuances of Chromebook, I figured it was worth a shot. [Read more…]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 11-9-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome back to another edition of #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding.  Our focus this week will be on brand loyalty and the customer experience.  This builds off of October’s “Pin of the Month” and the continuation of our “Loyalty to Brands” series.  Here are the top stories from the past few weeks that caught my attention.

#1 – “Amazon CEO Wants to Make Holidays Easier and Stress-free for Customers” – via Loyalty360.org

Premise: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has issued a promise to Amazon’s customers that the company will be focusing on the customer experience throughout the holiday season.  Beyond competitive pricing, Amazon will have 15K Lightning Deals, gift lists, updated product lineups and the ability to to make purchases and contribute a portion to your preferred charity.

Amazon announced a slew of new tech products for the holidays, including new Kindles and Fire tablets.  There is a focus on kid friendly content and products.  Amazon Prime members will continue to reap additional benefits through early access to sales and exclusive deals on MyHabit.com.

Thoughts: As mentioned in our latest “Loyalty to Brands”, Amazon has become my go-to retailer and is where I continue to increase my share of wallet for holiday shopping.  I can’t think of another store or retailer where customer support has made it easier and more customer friendly than what Bezos has done with Amazon. [Read more…]