Archive | December 2013

Retailers in Toyland Showdown

For Mattel and Hasbro, consumer shopping during the holidays accounts for 40% of the retailers annual revenues, according to Ad Age.

According to estimates by Euromonitor, the U.S toy market has generated sales ranging from $17 billion to $20 billion between 1998 and 2012, fluctuating between growth and decline any given year. In 2013, it’s forecast to be worth $19.9 billion.

But in the search for new revenue, the brands are now creeping across target audiences… No. 3 Hasbro  (best know for making Transformers and G.I. Joe) is focusing on girls’ toys where No. 1 Mattel has dominated for years; while Mattel is investing more in content and entertainment where Hasbro has been ahead. However, Lego, steady at No.2, continues to focus on the building-block aisle.

There’s also a tug-of-war going on with the concept of “boys vs girls” targeted entertainment. Hasbro has struggled to retain its marketshare by relying on the boys market that has a “hit-drive” cycle. For instance, it maximizes gains when movies for franchises come out and rides that profitability during years without movies… this year results in 17% sales slump for Hasbro boys toys in Q3.

As a result, Hasbro increased ad spending to about $422 million in 2012 to offset lower sales in entertainment based properties. It’s capitalizing on the renewed success of “My Little Pony” by developing “Equestria Girls” for teens. It has also extended its Nerf line with “Rebelle” gear – the same shooters and projectiles it markets to boys but in prettier packaging.

The Toy Industry Association stated licensing will continue to be an important trend, with 2014 expected to be the “strongest year in recent history” for toys tied to movies.

Mattel on the otherhand, spends about 11% of net sales ($717.8 million in 2012) on advertising. With a core focus on girls (Barbie, American Girl and Monster High), it has begun to seek new segments for marketing. For instance, its pushing Fisher-Price on new millenial moms and targeting Hispanic moms with “Toy Feliz” campaign, which recognizes how hard Latina moms work to keep families happy.

Of course there’s always the growing competition of tech companies like Microsoft and Apple as children grow older and start using technology at younger ages. Plus with the release of Xbox One and PS4 this season, parents will be stretching budgets for limited big ticket items.

In its 2012 annual report, Mattel identified the phenomenon of kids outgrowing traditional toys at a younger age as a risk factor for the company. But it also flagged an “increasing use of sophisticated technology in toys.”

Brands are also seeking new ways of engaging kids with added online content for their favorite toys. Barbie, Monster High and others have incorporated apps and online games to expand the interest of a toy and ways a child can play with it.

Private label toy makers also take about 20-30% of the market. Disney and Nickelodeon are now creating their own shows and licensing the toys. Indy toy makers can break into the market with ease using website, social media and channels like Amazon, Zulilly and ebay.

But, the Christmas season’s not over yet and many parents are still shopping… so we’ll have to wait and see who comes out on top.


Tips to Optimize Your Next Press Release for SEO

Because search engine optimization has changed so frequently in the past few years, some tricks of the past no longer make the impact they once had and other can raise red flags with credibility.So I’m always interested in reading about best practices for optimizing my press releases in this new digital world… when I found this article from EINNewswire on tips for press release SEO, I knew you’d like it too.

1.  Never have a pre-determined keywords for your press release and get them stuffed in your release in any way. First, determine the news or information you want to announce and find out the most relevant keywords on the basis of it. This way your release sounds genuine and relevant.

2.  Choose the most popular keyword phrase and weave it into your title if possible. Headlines hold the most importance in SEO and having your keyword in it will make it more searchable. Also, use the same keyword for hyperlinking in the body of the release.

3. If possible, include a keyword in the subheading.

4. Hyperlinking is good but using it too much makes your release look like spam. Limit links and incorporate the most appropriate keywords and phrases to get a better click rate.

5. Don’t forget to integrate multimedia content such as images and video. Search engines pick them up better then written text. Multimedia should be keyword optimized.

6. Refrain from using abbreviations and shorter terms that are unlikely to be found or searched. Original words like “customer relationship management” are more likely to be searched and found than “CRM”

7. Tactfully place the anchor link in the first two paragraphs. Content before the fold has more chances of being picked up by search engines.

8. While linking your page to the press release, make sure you optimize it.

I think these are great suggestions to keep in mind when writing your next press release. What SEO tactics have worked for you?

2013 Black Friday Madness

Well, if you’re like me and are tired of the Christmas season starting in October and certainly not appealed by the endless Black Friday ad invasion, then you’ll be disappointed to know that Black Friday was yet another success with an estimated 22 million shoppers visiting Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving day alone (according to the Wall Street Journal).

An advocate for boycotting Thanksgiving Day shopping, I don’t mind the midnight madness for Friday. It’s kinda thrilling to be there. But its no longer just in person discounts that are getting retailers top marketshare.

The WSJ article noted that Amazon is now a major player in the holiday retail business. Online shoppers accounted for 40% of sales during Black Friday weekend last year. The new threat of online shopping may have been cause for so many retailers including Macy’s to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on rivals this year. Target, Wal-Mart, ToysRUs and others even shared Black Friday deals with virtual shoppers.

For 2013, sales by third-party retailers on Amazon rose 31% on Thursday through noon on Friday, according to ChannelAdvisor. Amazon’s strategy was to keep customers glued to its site by adding new bargains as frequently as every 10 minutes.

Best Buy however, used a three waves of deals to keep shoppers on tap including midnight door busters, online and super in-store bargains, some of which were not revealed until late in Thursday evening.

Other store chains used rolling discounts to keep shoppers lingering and competitors guessing. Wal-Mart started “Manager Specials” on Friday which included unannounced promotions set by individual store managers who received a set budget to spur sales.

Overall, marketers are getting bargain crazy to make up for a loss of annual sales from consumers whose disposable income is dwindling. Regardless if you hit the stores or not, Black Friday will continue to be a spectacle of deals and discount rivalry.

And while I haven’t read the total sales for the weekend yet ($59 billion in sales for 2012 Black Friday weekend)… I’m sure it will set a new standard for next year.

Bad Content Marketing Habits You Should Stop

hand-over-keyboard-1377963-mThis really great article from Fast Company identified 5 bad content marketing habits and gave us ways to improve them.

1. Marketing needs an internal “crack team” to create and disseminate content. Marketing cannot support your online content alone – and shouldn’t have to when you have a team of experts on hand. Consider your sources including product marketing, analysts, external experts and authors, customers, customer support and sales. Using these resources together you can develop great content for numerous topics, while keeping your audience engaged.

2. Focus your marketing on a handful of tactics, and do those tactics well. Good advice, but you don’t need to limit yourself. Because of modern marketing methods and feedback models, marketers can experiment, measure and retool campaigns quickly. According to MarketingProf’s 2013 Content Marketing Trends, today’s B2B marketers average 12 marketing tactics. The most effective tactics include social media (other than blogs), articles, e-newsletters, blogs and case studies. To maximize your entire marketing toolbox, also consider short webcasts, executive breakfasts, e-Books and educational videos.

3. Webinars and other live streaming events should be broadcast. While this may have been the case a few years ago, conversations today should be facilitated. Being able to monitor and intervene if necessary during a webinar will keep customers focused on the current discussion and less likely to hijack a webinar agenda to critique a company or its products.

4. Content needs to reflect your point of view. While its important to take a stance and provide thought leadership in your area of expertise, these types of articles are not the only forms of communicating. The best marketing content engages its audience – consider live polling, contests, surveys or offering giveaways in exchange for input.

5. Content has a shelf life. Not always true… some of the best content can influence prospects for months, if not years. If you have a good response from a report, case study or series, consider making it part of your annual communications program – something your customers expect and want from you.

Do you agree with these bad habits? Have your own “bad habit” to add?