Posted by David Holland on October 26, 2011 No comments
Volkswagen is set to become the world’s biggest car maker 4 years ahead of their 2015 target. JD Power report that by the end of this year they will have sold 7.8 million vehicles, jumping from 3rd to 1st (ahead of Toyota and GM) in the car maker league tables.
It would be easy to put this down to a few simple factors: Toyota’s supply-side struggles in a post-earthquake Japan, their extensive product recall that put into question their reputation for technical reliability, and GM’s continued struggle in their domestic and international markets and general financial doom.
However, with VW’s growth being put down to becoming the best-selling manufacturer in China, strong growth in the US and better-than-expected sales in Europe, should we not being praising VW instead?
Could it not be said that this is yet another example of consumers looking for ‘safe’ and ‘reassuring’ purchases when times are tough? With VW comes a strong, reliable and quality-driven brand that represents the best bits of the European automotive industry. This seems particularly relevant in countries where the domestic industry is struggling and producing substandard products.
Long may the reassuring ‘THUD’ of a VW car door closing be heard echoing around the world, and save cheap grey plastic dashboards for the cab ride home on a Saturday night.
Posted by David Holland on September 7, 2011 No comments
Smokers are generally considered an extremely brand loyal group of people. That little box that sits on the table next to them or sits in their handbag becomes part of who they are, and the lifestyle they live. They have their strength, their pack size, their brand.
However, a Romanian client recently introduced me to the idea of the ‘Convertible’ cigarette from Kent (a BAT cigarette brand): a new cigarette innovation that allows the smoker to choose whether they want to smoke a menthol or a straight. With the tag line ‘Click, Switch, Refresh’ the smoker can burst a bubble of menthol liquid in the filter to change the smoking experience.
An interesting innovation in a quickly darkening market but will it be enough to break the most ritualised and ‘loyal’ of consumer habits?
Posted by David Holland on December 15, 2010 No comments
‘Trends on the Horizon’ brings you the latest emerging patterns that we’ve spotted in consumer behaviour and asks how they could be relevant for brands.
As urbanisation continues to roar through both developed and developing economies, new social patterns are arising within these urban pockets. These social patterns and the resultant consumer trends may need special attention from brands in order to fully engage with their consumers.
Just 100 cities are currently accounting for 30% of the world’s economy. They also account for almost all product and service innovation. The populations within these ‘Urban Islands’ are generally considered to be ‘more daring, more liberal, more tolerant, more experienced’, and most importantly for brands, ‘more prone to trying out new products and services’. As a result these city-citizens are increasingly requiring and expecting a local, dedicated approach to products and service. For brands to engage with their new urban consumers they must begin to offer more tailored solutions to the needs of the urbanites worldwide.
Add to this the modern urbanite’s new routine of ‘Planned Spontaneity’ and what you have is a consumer that desires instant gratification with no planning involved and a solution that is tailored to their needs.
Younger consumers are increasingly willing to share their location and sign up for alerts, services, mailers (PLANNED), in order to be rewarded with the spontaneous suggestions on what they could/should be doing, buying or experiencing (SPONTANEOUS). The below examples highlight just this…
Geomium: Combining GPS, Social networks and online reviews to give local suggestions on the go with informal customer generated reviews.
Google Maps HotPot: Developing on Google Maps by adding personalisation and ratings to your maps.
Boris Bikes: Planning involved in subscribing, spontaneity in the freedom of movement, and localised in terms of positioning of stations/communications/design of system.
With the highest levels of new technology penetration occurring in these Urban Islands and the highest concentration of services ever, brands must embrace technology to allow consumers to engage when and where they want to. Are the days of the over-arching global brand and innovation strategy over, to be replaced with tailored local solutions? Watch this space…
Posted by David Holland on November 25, 2010 No comments
Brands will forever mark their landmark developments and new products with spectacles and eye-catching specials, especially those at the top end of the market. This year we saw the mind blowing unveiling of the awe-inspiring refurbishment of the Louis Vuitton store on London’s Bond Street. A few buildings down, Ralph Lauren tried to up the game this month.
Whilst the aesthetics and ethos of the Ralph Lauren brand have been deep rooted in Britishness and all that entails – sports, country pursuits, history and traditional craftsmanship – since Mr. Lauren’s initial range of neckwear in 1967, this side of the pond we have been neglected by the company in one major way. We have not had access to the Ralph Lauren online store. David Lauren, Ralph’s son, was one of the first in the luxury fashion business to begin trading online, despite fears that it would sully the exclusive nature of the brand.
Well things have now changed. Ralph Lauren has opened its UK online store, and they didn’t do it quietly. Bond Street was closed on a cold Wednesday night so spectators could witness a 4D display of Ralph Lauren-ness.
The fourth ‘D’ was added by a mist of the new Ralph Lauren fragrance whilst the store frontage was plunged into darkness disturbed only by giant catwalk models and holographic polo players enthralling the crowds for 8 minutes at regular intervals throughout the evening.
These one-offs will forever enable those that are familiar, and those that aren’t, to engage with the brand. They give the brand an opportunity to power home its message whilst also generating excitement and hype. We all know that we are now savvy consumers, but as brands try harder to engage with our blinkered-selves, we should expect more and more elaborate attempts to catch our eye… especially if one frequents Bond Street!