Kmart Uses Humor to Stand Out

Kmart is providing more watercooler conversation with its new “Big Gas” campaign. In time for the peak road trip season, the retailer is offering 30 cents savings per gallon for its shoppers who spend $50 or more. But it’s not only the savings that is getting attention; it’s the ad campaign. Say “Big gas savings” really quickly, and one can see where the humor lies.

Kmart also took a risk with its “I shipped my pants” campaign recently.

It’s refreshing to see the retailer not take itself too seriously, especially when it is coming up behind larger mass merchandisers such as Walmart and Target.

Another App to Help Shoppers

Kroger has introduced a loyalty card mobile application that lets users download coupons, renew prescriptions and get discounts at checkout. The new version of the app also has features for creating shopping lists, viewing advertisements and keeping track of fuel discount points. Kroger joins other major retailers, such as Target, Marsh, Wal-Mart and Meijer, in creating its own app.

The company also has several more projects in the development or testing stage. Kroger is testing a “scan, bag, go” program in its Cincinnati-area stores. Customers are given hand-held scanners and bags as they enter the store. They can scan and bag items as they fill their shopping lists and keep an eye on the running total of the bill. When customers are done shopping, they take the scanner to the register, pay and head out the door.

Social Media, Branding Superhero

Inc. Magazine recently featured a post about whether social media is more advertising or PR. The author believes that social media can be either, depending on a marketer’s goals or objectives. My Millennial opinion: Social media is its own entity.

PR is message and communication management, a key aspect of social media. Advertising is focused on business strategy and achieving measurable results based on set objectives. Any social media promotional campaign that depends on conversion as a success factor harnesses the skills of advertising.

I agree with the author that social media can be what a client needs it to be and can lean toward PR or advertising, depending on the objective. But, as a whole, social media is the future…happening now.

The fact that social media can tackle the demands of PR and advertising in one fell swoop gives it a power that neither PR nor advertising can have on their own. It’s a medium that gives anyone the power to become a brand — and that’s exactly how my generation is using it.

We are setting the future of business by branding ourselves without the assistance of PR or advertising, but instead using social media. And thanks to this special medium, when consumers set trends on Facebook, Twitter or the like, brands tend to follow in their footsteps. If you’re wondering who is really in control…look no further. Consumers and Shoppers. They hold the power in today’s dynamic retail ecosystem.

And mark my words, the more prominent social media becomes, the more brands will begin to test its limits in ways no one could ever imagine with PR or advertising alone.

Feature photo credit: ViralBlog

Giving Back on the Go

Last week, TPN participated in its Annual Day of Service by volunteering at food banks across the nation.  The Chicago team worked together to unpack, rebag and repack 2,000 pounds of Corn Flakes at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  It provided a break from the office and gave us a chance to do something different for the day.

It also reminded me how tough it is to make time to volunteer consistently throughout the year, outside of our TPN-dedicated days of service.

So I took it upon myself to look into some online and mobile solutions for those of us who want to give back, but may not have the time:

Snoball

Snoball “turns any action into a donation,” by using the power of social media to raise money for nonprofits.  By connecting Snoball to your Facebook, Foursquare or fantasy sports apps, it “empowers individuals to seamlessly integrate giving with living.”

I personally use this program, and each time I check into a restaurant on Foursquare, it donates a dollar to my selected nonprofit.  I also have a monthly limit on how much money I’ll give (I’m a bit of a Foursquare addict and can’t afford a dollar for every check-in).

FreeRice

Owned by the United Nations World Food Programme, Freerice.com has two goals: 1. Providing education to everyone for free, and 2. Helping to end hunger by providing free rice to hungry people for free.

Simply visit the website and answer educational trivia questions.  For each question you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to the hungry.  It’s literally that simple.  Monetary support comes from sponsors who advertise on the website.

Charity Miles

Charity Miles, like FreeRice, uses corporate partners to support its cause of allowing users to “earn money and raise awareness for charities by walking, running or biking.”

The app not only tracks activity as any other running app, but users have the power to choose which charity they will run for.  Walkers and runners earn $0.25 per mile and bikers earn $0.10 per mile.

Is Big Data Producing Better Insights?

As we find ourselves in the era of Big Data, are we getting better insights?

CEO of retail-marketing agency, TPN, Sharon Love, explores the expanding role of big data in developing insights and the blurring of the basic definition of what makes an insight, an insight in her latest Hub Magazine write-up:

http://www.hubmagazine.com/2013/05/down-to-earth/