Monday, August 31, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
With Fall 2009 back to school rush hitting campuses right about now, The Retail Muse stands in some lineups, reads the NYT, wonders about those new discounts at Abercrombie, thinks about the campus tour, and pauses to consider voice recognition for finding textbooks.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sometimes a Great Notion Week of Aug 10 , 2009
Ah the discount days of summer! With overall retail sales slumping in July, the trend to follow right now appears to be frugal shopping. Back to school season is all about savings, discounts, and cutting back on the BTS budget. Cheap is the new black.
Amongst all the doom and gloom, THERETAILMUSE checks out at the latest in restaurant trends, orders a coffee from McDonald's, tries to use the laptop in NYC, and hangs out with Sears (Sears?!), to choose some new dorm room accouterments.
Happy frugal notions!
A Tuscon, Arizona couple have opened a new restaurant concept called “chopped” . With two locations in Arizona, the couple hope to take their concept nationwide through franchising. The concept is pretty simple. Fresh, big, made to order salads, with fresh soup and sandwiches. Customers can choose from created salads or create their own by filling out a card, and ticking off their favorite ingredients. Salads range from 6.99 to 9.99. It’s a healthy, leafy version of 31 flavours ice cream. A perfect fit for campus food services.
A Cup of McJoe
McDonald's Corp should be happy these days. While all their competitors try to ride out the recession, McDonald's global sales have increased 4.3% in July. Most of this increase comes on the back of McDonald's coffee sales, including the espresso and latte’s, under the new McCafe banner. This low price, coffee alternative, is pulling people away from Starbucks and other premium brands, making a simple inexpensive cup of coffee a consumer delight.
Not always welcome.
Coffeehouses in New York City have had enough of people using their restaurants to dwell in, and use the free wireless service. Stating that customers take up tables that are needed for lunch rushes, one coffee shop owner has stopped offering wifi service in the café, and others are following suit. Although this appears to be happening only in NYC, it is likely to spread as owners and operators look for ways to maximize their investment. It reminds me of the trend to put chairs in Bookstores, then take them out, then now bring them back again. Keeps customers guessing I guess!
Presumably Radio Shack is still in business! To celebrate this fact, and to remind customers that they are still around, Radio Shack is re-branding as “the Shack”. Well, sort of. Word from Radio Shack CEO is that “the Shack” moniker will be used in marketing and branding statements, but the stores will remain as “Radio Shack” for the time being. Will this change confuse people, or just seem be ignored?
Old School Marketing
Since all the marketing money these days seems to be spent on E pursuits, a new study suggests that old school newspaper insert marketing may be just the way to go. According to MORI research, 59% of adults use newspaper inserts to review, analyze, and make purchasing decisions on products. Certainly bucks the conventional wisdom. Wonder if this holds true for the 18 to 25 year old crowd on campus?
Barnes and Noble has purchased B and N College Inc for 596 Million. The college division was separated from B and N in 1986. Interestingly, while B and N store sales are down 3% this year, the college division have seen sales increase averages of 6.2% over the past three years.
Powell’s City of Books is revamping its website to stay competitive, and remain a force within the online book purchasing world. Although significantly smaller than Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Powell’s attributes 25% of their yearly 45.2 million revenue through their online site. Plans to revamp the site include adding new product categories, and have resulted in new store positions, including an e-commerce store manager, an e-commerce marketing manager and technology specialist.
Dorm Room Chic
Sears has entered the dorm room business in a big way with a facebook application called “campus ready”. It includes, among many things, an interactive dorm room design tool that allows users to drag and drop furnishing into the space, getting a chance to see what their selections will look like in their new dorm. Of course, they can then choose color combinations, order online, and pick up from the Sears store nearest their campus. Smart idea, if somewhat utilitarian.
If Sears is not for your customers, check out an interesting article from the Hartford Courant: Dorm Décor on a Dime. The article describes a number of strategies students are using to ensure frugality (there is that word again), is not frumpy. Students are loading carts at dollar stores, checking out discounts on facebook and twitter, and browsing overstock.com.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Remember last week when tales of retailers gearing up for BTS was all the rage? This week the mass merchants are price slashing deeper than ever before. Seems pretty difficult to compete on pricing right now, so The Retail Muse” searched out some weird and wonderful products, which might distinguish your store from all the rest. In the process, we found a few interesting tidbits on pop up retail, and how to keep up with changing trends.
Blink or you’ll miss it notions!
Sometimes a Great Notion Week of Aug 3, 2009
The $300 laptop
Both Wal-Mart and Best Buy have launched major back to school laptop promotions, breaking the $300 retail price point. Best Buy is offering an entry level laptop at $299. Not to be outdone, Wal-Mart started offering its laptop this weekend, at a price of $298. Both companies are offering national branded product, although the laptops are definitely entry level, with low levels of RAM and Hard Drive size. At $300 though, customers will be giving some serious thought to these offers, and might have some trouble understanding the large price difference between these models, and laptops needed by college students.
Weird and Wonderful
Looking for products and services that make you stand out? Here are a few weird and wonderful ideas for the upcoming sales season:
- Web sites promoting handmade and unique items are gaining in popularity. Madeitmyself.com, Etsy, and Silkfare, are three web portals linking local artisans with interested buyers. As customers search out new and different products to buy, these sites have gained rapidly in popularity. Etsy, saw sales rise from $166,000 in their first year of business, to now over 87 million. Opportunities for retailers to hook up with these sites are growing. This allows stores the chance to stock, and sell items that customers can’t find elsewhere.
- Harry Potter is so July 2009. This fall it is all about Twilight, as the second movie of the wildly popular book series hit the theatres this October. There are many opportunities for selling Twilight merchandise, including of course, the books! Nordstrom has just launched a new fashion line in their stores inspired by the movie, called Twilight: New Moon collection. Except every other retailer to ride the Twilight bandwagon in the fall.
- Mosquito repellent as the big seller? How weird is that! The new Proctor and Gamble clip-on mosquito repellent has become the must have item this summer. According to P and G, sales for the plastic clip-on mosquito repellent fan, sold under the “off” brand name, have exceeded sales projects by 400%
- Stores are sold out, customers are searching far and wide for one, and P and G can’t keep up to the orders flooding in for this $9 geek clip on fan. Sometimes you got to wonder what grabs the attention of people.
Pop goes the Store
Pop up retail is back. The action of setting up stores in un-used spaces for a few days or weeks has had some success in the past. Now retailers are back to experimenting this summer, opening in old museums, abandoned store fronts and other, unused buildings. The key is to create excitement for the customer and emphasise scarcity. Buy it today or we are gone tomorrow.
No word on retailers considering college campuses, like they did in some places last year. But, worth keeping an eye out on your campus in case the big Target bulls-eye is suddenly draped across your campus commons.
Track it all
Now you can track everything in the world of trends through trendrr.com it’s a free service that bills itself as a real time social and digital media tracking service. You can track up to ten trends from all the top social networking sites, and track twitter searches to see what is hot, and not, every hour of every day. It’s an interesting site, proving again that mass culture trends come and go in the blink of an eye.