Saturday, July 28, 2007

That’s SO 5-minutes ago!

While reading “Entertainment Weekly” last weekend (love it!), I ran across one entertainment pundits' "In, 5-minutes Ago, and Out" installment. And I thought, "What a great Muse post that would make...the In, 5-minutes ago, Out of Campus Retail as sent in by some of the movers and shakers of the industry.

So...I hopped on e-mail and sent a note to a few college store folks that 1) I thought would qualify as “industry pundits”, 2) I figured would get a kick out of a challenge, and 3) I was somewhat certain would respond.

Below, I have compiled the contributions from those that did respond. And, yes, they are all Canadian. Go figure!

Note that I’ve credited them for their thoughts…READ: “Direct your comment-posts to them and not me!” :-)

So without further ado, I give you---

“The Campus Retail What’s In / So 5-minutes Ago / What’s Out” (July 2007)

According to: Mark Patten, Coordinator - MacEwan Bookstores (Edmonton, Alberta) & Regular Muse on The Retail Muse

What's IN
txt mssg – The Simpsons Movie – The Adult Daniel Radcliffe – Orange – Facebook

So 5-minutes Ago
Harry Potter – Green – Yoga – Myspace

What's OUT
Grey – Trans fats – Magazines/newspapers – Paris Hilton

According to: Mikhail Dzuba, CCR, Bookstore Manager - Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia)

What's IN
Recycled products – Fairly-traded products – Hemp products
Ceramic metal halide light bulbs – Another wave of cloth/woven book bags
Additives to plastic bags that make them self-destruct in landfills
The soft-cover (young reader's version of "An Inconvenient Truth")
Screen printed manufactures labels on the inside of t-shirts
Pre-paid pin codes for individual bundle components

So 5-minutes Ago
Back packs – Nun chuckers – Graphic Novels
Packets of colored chemicals for flavoring bottled water
Manufactures labels sewn-in on the necks of t-shirts
In-store digital media (that would be those plasma screens popping up everywhere)

What's OUT
Lance Armstrong's rubber yellow bracelets – Rolls of fax paper – CD's
Computer books, and dictionaries, well, and most fiction titles too, (heck--let's just say all things you need to read).

According to: Debbie Harvie, CCR, Director - UBC Bookstore (Vancouver, British Columbia)

What's IN
Greener options on all products – Carry bags made of old pop bottles – Organic cotton and bamboo clothing – Flo-jo flip flops – Gothic logos – Brown and yellow are hot – Off-centre logos on clothing – Philosophy books (really!!) – e-Books

So 5-minutes Ago
White – Pastels – Camouflage – Yoga – Electronic greeting cards

What's OUT
Computer clones – Print advertising! – Black – High heels

According to: Darrell Kane, Manager-General Merchandise Retail Services - University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario)?

What's IN
Digital Display Advertising – Green – Long-fitted female T's – Non-traditional print locations on hoodies and T's – Offering services

So 5-minutes Ago
Crested Flip Flops – Brown
Publisher's including a physical website access code in the textbook
Sweatshop issues (not that they are important but they are not talked about)

What's OUT
Powder blue (unless you are a Tar Heel) – Dictionaries – Those laminated study aids – Maps – 'Selling'

And for a bit of a different twist: How our student customers view the whole 'green' thing. I have no data whatsoever to back this up but it's just a gut feeling:
- Up to 12 months ago: A very niche group
- 12 months to now: An important thing to do for the greater good
- Now: So mainstream that it's hard to tell if a company is genuine or just another marketing scheme.
Discuss or debate, if you so choose.... :) --Darrell

According to: Colleen Olexiuk, General Merchandise Buyer - University of Alberta Bookstore (Edmonton)

What's IN
Jewelry – Silver and gold, big and small. Long necklaces with keys and lockets – Anything Asian (purses, boxes, etc.) – Ladies long, skinny t-shirts – Organic cotton – Fashion watches – Cinch belts – Short shorts – Madras or plaid long shorts for guys – Scarves – Empire waist – Lip-gloss – Vitamin D
Eating chocolate cake over the sink.

So 5-minutes Ago
Picture frames – Anything camouflage – Candles – Big pleated bulky purses – Lipstick
Eating chocolate cake over the sink.

What's OUT
Ladies short cut, baby t-shirts that show the navel (cute while they lasted) – Trucker hats (even in Alberta) – Melton leather bomber jackets – Scrunchies
Eating chocolate cake over the sink.

In the end...
Believe what you will. Perhaps use this info, if you like. But above all, ask yourself, "Can I crank out the 'In / 5-minutes Ago / Out' for my campus community?"

Happy Musing!

Tony Ellis, CAE

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Txt Msg Mktg 4 Cllg Stors :-)

I recently returned from the new NACS conference Innovate. During this program we saw examples of the amazing technology that’s likely to revolutionize our lives in a very few years. As a follow-on, we were challenged to think about how we might need to conduct our business differently in the months and years ahead in order to be remain relevant to our customers.

Jump ahead to the end of the conference and my plane ride home. I’m flipping through the May 2007 STORES magazine from the NRF (have you subscribed to this one yet?) and found a marketing piece on Domino’s text message coupon campaigns aimed at the estimated $55 billion discretionary spending habit of U.S. college students. The notation of 7-30% (!) redemption rates got my attention. The rhetorical question that followed—“How much is it worth to have 5,000 freshman walk into your store…?”—Now that got me thinking.

What is the potential of text message marketing for college stores? How does it all work, anyway? Will people really respond or is the Domino’s example just a ‘bleeding edge’?

Jump ahead a few days…Sunday, July 15. I get 3 text messages throughout the day from one of my favorite TV shows. That’s right. In fact, I have several TV shows that text me throughout the week with updates, teasers, and promotions. I opted in. I read the messages. It works!

So, over the last few days I’ve spent some spare time with Google and have some interesting things to offer:

1. Some of the Nuts-N-Bolts
I talked with Cellit (which offers CouponZap) and learned that their “standard campaign” with 1000 text messages and one “keyword” (i.e., “Text BOOK to 12340” where BOOK is the keyword) would run you just $100/month.

To illustrate—You might run an ad in the campus paper or via e-mail that tells students to text HAT to 56780 to get a coupon for 25% off any hat in the store through a specific date. They would then bring their cell phone to the store and show you the “coupon” to redeem said coupon.

CouponZap allows you to make each coupon unique and track redemption. A myriad of other options are also available to help you do more advanced promotion, branch promotions, and track effectiveness.

Check out the cool online demos and tutorials at

2. Broader Applications
Promo2Cell ( also offers text message marketing and communication services. Their “Education” division is exploring ways that text messages can be used to notify parts or all of the campus community of updates and other announcements. Get a sample of how a campus might use text messages between faculty and students to convey course updates by texting CLASS to 41513.

Broader still…The Daily Texan Online (UT-Austin) reported in Dec 2006 that Mobile Campus was considering teaming with Blackboard to give students access to course information via text messaging. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

Text messaging is here to stay
As cell phones are gradually replaced by Blackberries, iPhones, and other smart phones, the current rate of 11 billion text messages sent/month will be quickly surpassed!

More importantly, the respected Pew Internet Life study suggests that Gen Y (ages 18-27) are more than twice as likely to text message than even the next closest generation (Gen X).

As with so many things in retail--and our niche within that arena--text message marketing is something that is on the rise and worth exploring. If you want to try something new and see how it works, my quick exploration seemed to reveal a low-cost and low-risk accessibility to this emerging marketing technology. Part of being relevant and successful in the future relies on our willingness to test the waters.

Thx 4 rdg!

Tony Ellis, CAE

[Photo credit for this post: Megan Shelby, The Daily Texan Online]