We’ve moved our blog

Posted in Blogroll on October 12, 2009 by nmb

Dear Readers,

We moved our blog over to our website at http://newmarketbuilders.com or http://nmbblog.com

You’ll find out what we’ve been talking about since our last post on WordPress. 

We hope that you’ll follow us there!

newmarketbuilders

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Wee Sighting of Walmart’s New Great Value

Posted in Blogroll on March 29, 2009 by nmb

We’ve been anxiously awaiting signs that Walmart’s new and improved Great Value private label program is hitting stores.  As of yesterday, the old stuff was out in force in all of the existing categories; however, we spotted a wee glimpse of one out of eighty expansion products (tantalizing boxed pizza pic below) that no doubt will appear before the core items can get outta there.  I can’t imagine anything more difficult than fully transitioning a multi-category food program comprised of over 5,250 products into new formulations and packaging . . . (well, except maybe attempting to build out a fresh and packaged food program that will rival Walmart’s but we’ll save Target’s food forays for another blog). 

Look for our before and after shots as the program builds out. 

P.S.  Question for you . . . Does it matter that two Walmart store managers (A+ stores) had no idea that Great Value, the largest food brand in the country in both sales and volume, is being reinvented and due in their stores any day?  I ask this seriously. Maybe it doesn’t matter so long as they execute flawlessly.  Is it important that store-level employees are clued into upcoming brand transitions and product launches?  What are the advantages?  Could it ever be a bad thing? 

great-value-pizza

Great Value's clean, crisp pizza packaging

 

Hey Fast Fashion, Don’t Out-do Yourself!

Posted in Blogroll with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by nmb

Forbes recently called the European fast-fashion retailers that have hit our shores “America’s favorite foreign retailers,” http://is.gd/py8t  implying that H&M, Zara and the like are an exception to the current recessionary rules. The fact is that they too have struggled in the current retail climate (even as some U.S. specialty retailers such as Urban Outfitters have flourished) and, while their operating models have given everyone in the fashion business a run for the money, I’m not sure that these advantages will be sustainable.

Interesting that the Forbes article was published at about the same time that Liz Claiborne announced that it is going to begin outsourcing its manufacturing to Li & Fung, http://is.gd/py9E  particularly since Liz’ single fast fashion retail holding (and competitor to the European disruptors), Mexx, is said to be on the chopping block! Liz is going in the exact opposite direction of its fast-fashion competitors (though in lock step with the major retailers that are at once the brand’s competitors and its customers). It will be interesting to see if they somehow “win” with this contrarian strategy.

The fast fashion model of complete process and inventory ownership, from design inspiration through to retail sell-through, has been a killer advantage; one that has thrown a wrench in the traditional fashion calendar, compromised the relevance of the catwalk to retail floor journey and set an impossibly high performance bar for other apparel retailers. After all, these vertical retail machines can get designs interpreted (from the runway shows, of course), executed, produced and sold at an astounding speed. The mega cost savings realized from their highly efficient operations help offset the expense of airing new designs to stores; providing yet another speed-to-market advantage. Alliances with celebrities and well-known designers create excitement in the stores and keep the assortments from getting too generic.

I do wonder though if the demise of the very fashion system that these retailers have compromised will in the end cause them problems. If there is no system to buck and outperform (or if that system continues to conform to the new standard they have set), where will they be? “Fast” and “fashion” are fast becoming table stakes!

Twas the Hype Before Twilight: BlogTalkRadio Hits Bentonville

Posted in Blogroll on March 20, 2009 by nmb

Who knew that crude and geeky online bulletin boards would breed the blog and then spawn MySpace, Facebook and the micro-blogging hub, Twitter? The explosion of social media has enabled and egged on previously-disconnected throngs eager to share opinions, pics, academic thought, and Battlestar Galactica spoilers. Most of the audio-visual content in this dynamic world has existed in a non-live, time-shifted spectrum . . . until now. Enter, BlogTalkRadio www.blogtalkradio.com, a platform that gives voice to brands and influencers while facilitating dynamic real-time interaction among those they seek to sway.

Alan Levy, founder of BlogTalkRadio, presented his evolutionary application here in Bentonville this week as part of the Bentonville Chamber’s ongoing vendor-focused education www.bbvchamber.com. It wasn’t always bleeding-edge for Mr. Levy, whose vision started coming into focus two years ago, when he began “broadcasting” to a devoted audience of two (Mom and Sis). Not everyone was enamored of his holding forth; however (according to Levy, his wife has continued to boycott his radio programs to this day). Undeterred, he went on to forge an entirely new way to publish, consume, and share information through live interviews with everyone from industry experts to the occasional Sasquatch devotee (yes – Sasquatch shows are apparently alive, well and now stalking through the virtual “forest”)!

The upshot is that BlogTalkRadio’s platform takes information sharing from static podcasting to interactive conversations requiring only a phone and computer. The key criteria that Mr. Levy’s set forth early-on for the application were 1) anyone would be able to do it; 2)you could participate without downloading anything (I found this most novel, though not until he pointed it out); 3)people would be able to call into hosts with questions. Easy!

BlogTalkRadio now boasts more than 10,000 active hosts (thankfully, Mr. Levy didn’t mind passing the mic) and, a far cry from that first audience, more than two million visitors, one million unique, join every month to listen in. More listeners means more content . . . BTR feeds the monster via the 150-200 new shows in 75 categories that pop up every day.  Mr. Levy characterized his network as “the long tail at work” and the stats bear this out (we know that the long tail doesn’t ALWAYS work; sometimes it just stays long, thin and unprofitable!).

Major brands, such as Pepsico, Century 21 and Walmart (more on that later) have discovered the value of these live online conversations and are quickly leveraging their own branded channels on the network. There they can engage consumers, test new products, and build loyalty, all in the hope of achieving social media’s Holy Grail: going viral. 

Just as many have touted examples of Twitter’s truly useful application as an information lifeline during natural disasters, according to Mr. Levy, BlogTalkRadio is being used by a young Army soldier embedded in Afghanistan to broadcast his daily experiences . . . and by his bosses at the Pentagon who see it as a vital link for disseminating medical information. The reach is unlimited and certainly leaves plenty of room for creativity.

We’ve blogged and tweeted before about Walmart’s serious plays in emerging media (they aren’t dabbling, folks) . . . the retailer’s recent partnership with BTR to promote its Twilight DVD launch serves as a riveting case study on bringing promotional potential to full fruition at retail (and the movie and retail biz could use a bit of that right about now, doncha think?).

Whether you liked the movie or not, it is a bona fide sensation with the tween/teen set (and their guilty pleasured parents) with fandom unmatched by any property in recent years. Not leaving anything to chance (who? Walmart?), the BTR/Walmart duo turned the heat up on Twitter www.twitter.com, Facebook www.facebook.com fan Nings www.ning.com, and even the Walmart Elevenmoms www.elevenmoms.com to get the word out to any warm blooded connected teen and their mother about the live March 9th interview with one of the move’s stars, Taylor Lautner (that would be Jake . . . duh!). A mind-blowing 27,000 listeners around the world logged into the show and more than 46,000 additional listeners have accessed the program since (BTR projects that totals will eventually exceed 100,000). Industry pubs report that preorders for the Twilight DVD have set new records and Walmart claims a 250% increase in traffic to its website in the wake of the blitz. Um, probably not a stretch to assume that Walmart’s DVD sales for the movie have exceeded expectations and that those higher margin licensed product sales will provide a most pleasant afterglow. I’m thinking hotter than Robert Pattison (k . . . for those of you on the space station . . . that’s Edward Cullen…the movie’s hottie hero).

On the heels of the Twilight event, you can bet that Mr. Levy and his crew will be fielding calls from retailers and brands seeking mega-boosts for the shrinking number of properties they are willing to get behind in a big way.  In the meantime, look for more from from the Walmart/BlogTalkRadio partnership, and other BTR branded networks by visiting the site http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stations.aspx

P.S.  Do I hear the sound of NMB sharing our retail ramblings and edu-events to more masses? Stay tuned to a BlogTalkRadio channel near you.
Wanna Tweet about this or other retail happenings?
www.twitter.com/retailxpert

Circuit City – God’s Gift to . . . Amazon?

Posted in Blogroll on February 28, 2009 by nmb

What if Amazon became Circuit City’s unexpected beneficiary & Best Buy became a place to do research first? I’m pondering such things . . .

Shopping in the low-pressure privacy of your own home, no taxes and pretty good shipping (especially if you have a prime membership on Amazon) vs. high pressure or indifference, service plan come-ons and/or hikes through produce and panties to get to the CE department.

I see an upset in the offing.

Walmart’s Great Value Revamp: Great Timing

Posted in Blogroll on February 25, 2009 by nmb

Much is being said about Walmart’s decision to revamp its Great Value private label in food, mostly about what it should look like and which brands would be worthy of imitating (Kirkland is a clear winner on that front).  I’m thinking more about timing . . . Walmart is upping the anty in an already-strong category just as Target is trying to remedy its food mistakes of the past. While Target was busy creating groovy designer alliances in discretionary categories, Walmart’s food advantage and clear non-discretionary value proposition made all the difference as gas prices hit all-time highs and with the recession hitting harder than ever. Target is laser focused on getting food right, particularly on the perishable and private label side; Walmart is smart to preemptively upgrade its offering, position for the pull-out and gird against potential market share gains by Target!

All You Magazine . . . Connecting the Walmart Woman’s World

Posted in Blogroll on February 12, 2009 by nmb

Diane Oshin, publisher of All You Magazine, took the dais yesterday in Bentonville to reveal findings from the magazine’s Problem/Solution study, a study which promised to bring rare insights into what motivates and concerns value-conscious, female Walmart shoppers.

Having the opportunity to learn more about this highly-influential consumer group would be a bonus on any day; however, on the heels of Walmart’s announcement of cut-backs at the home office http://snipurl.com/br7z6 the presentation to an audience of 100+ vendors was particularly relevant.

And so it was that Ed Clifford, president of the Bentonville Chamber www.bbvchamber.com began the presentation on a somber note; expressing sorrow for the layoffs while offering encouragement regarding the many opportunities that continue to exist with Walmart and other major companies that are based in the Northwest Arkansas region.

Ms. Oshin has been publisher of All You since its inception over four years ago http://snipurl.com/br8j3 and considering the rash of titles that have shuttered or moved entirely to digital in the last couple of years, the magazine’s staying power is quite remarkable.  I remember All You’s launch back in 2004 and the skepticism regarding its premise . . .  Did the world really need a magazine with such limited distribution (Walmart only or by subscription) and with such deliberately mainstream content? Evidently so . . . and, as Ms. Oshin’s presentation revealed, the magazine’s passion for knowing its customer and staying “on point” with her may be All You’s secret success sauce.

Anyone who does business with Walmart knows that “problems” are “opportunities,” a philosophy that also forms the foundation of the Problem/Solution study that All You embarked upon last Summer when gas prices were taking the wind out of everyone’s sails . . . If you can stay on top of the problems that value-driven women are wrestling with in their everyday lives, then you are poised to offer them “practical, realistic and affordable” ideas that give women the “recognition and encouragement” that they deserve. This radical departure from overtly aspirational feel bad messages isn’t just right for the times, it positions All You as the ultimate answer for an “underserved” mega niche that is critical to any marketer doing business in the value space.

Instead of featuring limited edition products then daring its readers to go hunt them down, All You keeps it real by featuring products from stores that value-conscious women frequent, meal solutions that respect her time and budget and, at the end of the day, makes women feel good about themselves through savings achievement and positive reinforcement about where they are right now.

So, what ARE the problems that these women are wrestling with and how can marketers position their products and services as a solution? According to All You’s study, the opportunities fall into four categories:

1. Health – Women care about their own health; however, they also are concerned about the health of their parents

2. Money – Back to Walmart’s “Save money, live better” mantra

3. Technology – According to the study, women use an average of 7 technological devices to make their lives better. I’ll add that Walmart has known this for a while and that’s why they have John Andrews, the retailer’s guru for emerging media, on the prowl for any and all technologies that “connect her world.” http://snipurl.com/brbgo

4. Green – Caring about the environment isn’t just for the elite, it’s an ongoing mainstream concern. Marketers have a real opportunity to tap into women’s desire to leave the planet in better shape for their children

 Women may be pinching pennies on clothing and even food; however, according to the study, their pets are still getting the royal treatment, (if you want more on pet privilege at retail, check out this link from Retail Wire http://snipurl.com/brbsc or just head over to my house and take in the action).

If you’ve attended previous Walmart executive presentations, you know that they are all about getting items checked off of a shopper’s list. This one goal has driven everything from store layout to product selection to the retailer’s “win, play, show” merchandising strategy and “fast, clean, friendly” mantra in operations (learn more about these initiatives by clicking on http://snipurl.com/brc6o). However, getting ON the list to begin with is the Holy Grail when 73% of women go to a store with a shopping list in hand.

Ms. Oshin wrapped up her presentation with tips on how to get value-conscious women to pay attention to your messages.

1. Give her a solution she is seeking. Note that she didn’t say “Give her a solution that you want her to like.” All You is about respecting women’s freedom of choice . . . so is Walmart . . . so should you be!

2. Make her feel valued and understood. Overarching aspiration isn’t the name of the game.

3. Utilize impactful store sampling – Walmart is all about connecting with consumers where and when they are receptive to connection and sampling helps complete the connection loop in-store.

4. Act on her increased interest in couponing. As Walmart’s alliance with powerful “mommy bloggers” (known at Walmart as the “elevenmoms” www.elevenmoms.com) demonstrates, Walmart is looking at new ways to leverage tried-and-true marketing vehicles that fulfill the promise of “Save money, live better.” Ms. Oshin encouraged anyone who wanted engage in a deeper dialog to contact her at diane_oshin@allyou.com.