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IKEA’s real estate branch Inter Hospitality and Marriott International Inc have partnered to create and launch a brand new economy-class hotel brand called MOXY.
Surprisingly, the hotels won’t be stocked with IKEA furniture – but the company has developed a number of innovative construction techniques to keep costs down. Created for the ‘next generation traveller’, the hotels will be popping up in or around office parks, airports and train stations, many of them featuring a neutral ‘eco-style’ theme.
Visit Lucky Days café in York and, if you throw a six on their giant dice, you get your meal for just £1. (Smart Tim). It might sound too good to be true, but there’s no catch – and the café is already tempting hungry diners with good food for a fraction of the menu price. If you’re feeling lucky (and hungry) then why not pay them a visit.
To maintain their premium image in India, Levi’s Jeans has had a great idea. Rather than reduce prices, they’ve partnered with local banks to offer payment plans so that people can pay for their jeans in three monthly instalments at 0% interest. There’s been terrific industry and consumer response, with lots of PR and buzz.
As the global economy continues to limp along, more firms will be forced to adapt their strategies to fit the consumer’s shrinking budget. No matter which strategy your brand adopts, it’s essential to maintain flexibility and constantly monitor local conditions to identify the right solutions.
Grim reading all this economic crisis stuff. Just hearing recently that there are now 80 million Europeans at risk of serious poverty and 20 million of these are children. Yes, very grim news indeed.
But just as necessity is the mother of invention, marketers will always find new approaches and methods to respond to this ever-deepening crisis. You may have heard that Unilever is now employing the same marketing tactics it uses in the developing world in some of Europe’s most failing economies. In Spain, it’s launched Surf washing detergent in packs of just five sachets – just enough for a weekly load of washing; while in Greece, Unilever is developing new low cost brands to staunch its losses as consumers move to cheaper private label alternatives.
Well this is all very clever and represents the smart thinking we’ve come to expect from Unilever, but where does this leave us all for the foreseeable future? As household budgets come under ever more scrutiny and consumers are literally counting the pennies, retailers and brand businesses are having to align themselves with the rapidly changing consumer behaviour to survive. Brands need to be nimble and adapt, just like Unilever, and provide products that meet our immediate needs. Focussing on the weekly shop and creating formats that have just the right amount for a week’s use, as Unilever did with Surf, is certainly one way, but overall the situation is more complex.
Though consumers are more tolerant of discount brands and private label and are switching on those non-brand critical items, it is not the case that we’re seeing an ever-deepening plunge into base level value. As they say, there can only ever be one cheapest product in the store and even value brands need to be able to distinguish themselves with an authentic attitude and appeal. They may be cheap but that doesn’t mean they can’t inspire consumers with an engaging and unique brand story.
The reality is that we’re moving into a much more fragmented market place. Yes, there is a growth in the value end but there is also growth in the top of the market too. It is more about the growing divide between the haves and have-nots. The big question is what is happening in the middle to the everyday good solid products that used to be the engine room of growth and profits? Many of these brands are in danger of losing their identity and are having to fight for the right to survive by carving out a unique space they can own and defend. Being a ‘good all rounder’ brand is no longer enough, as the old adage says, a brand for everyone is a brand for no-one.
So what’s the opportunity? We can expect the fragmentation of markets to continue as demographics and economics splinter further. Brands will need to be ever more adept in aligning themselves with more niche consumer groups both in brand presentation and product delivery. What price is a brand that can capture what is sure to be a swathe of poverty pensioners or become the champion of the large family with a low income.
With all this depressing news around there’s only one thing for it….. I’m off for a beer…
Recently, we’ve seen Benetton take up the cause for unemployed youth. Now here’s another example of optimism striking back! Irina Block is an art director who’s looking for a job. In her downtime, she’s designed some ‘funemployed’ buttons and printed her CV on a t-shirt. (Cheers, Tim)
You can check out her CV here: http://www.irinablok.com/index.php?/resume/