2013; a year of twerking, horse meat and The Great British Bake Off. We saw more luxury cars on the road. House prices increased and vinyl record sales continued to flourish. We cheered as Andy Murray finally took the Wimbledon crown, Froome won the Tour de France and England reclaimed the Ashes. Retailers continued to innovate. Cadbury’s gave us a chocolate experience with Marvellous Creations and Ikea brought us solar panels for our homes. Apple launched the new iPhone and gained Burberry’s CEO. We celebrated the arrival of Prince George and BBQ’s were aplenty as record temperatures hit. The battle between technology companies continued and high street casualties increased. 3D printing grew at mass from mini me’s to medical arm casts. The US Super Bowl had a power-cut and edible meat was grown in a lab. David Bowie was back in our charts. Sir Alex Ferguson, as well as The Pope, retired. We drank craft beer and danced to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. The race to Mars began and a guy called Riccardo sparked one of the best Twitter conversations yet seen.
Luxury cars at full throttle
Despite ongoing economic strife in Western Europe and even a slowdown in China, the luxury car market raced ahead in 2013. BMW, Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley all recorded a growth in sales. Interestingly, this boost hasn’t come about from price drops or mass market extensions – far from it. If anything, the market has shifted upwards with £100K+ models becoming the norm, indicating the renewed health of luxury and a continuing appetite amongst the elite for top dollar motors.
If wishes were horses
In January, the biggest food scandal in recent history hit the UK. What initially seemed to be an isolated, if unsavoury incident (equine DNA found in beef burgers) quickly unfurled to highlight some serious problems with our food supply chains. The news headlines might finally have died down, but there’s no doubt this episode will have a long-lasting impact on consumer confidence and most probably change our relationship with food, and the organisations who sell it, for good.
What happened to Blackberry?
In September, Blackberry was sold for $4.7bn by a Canadian private equity group. Blackberry mistakenly ventured into the, much bigger but more competitive, world of personal communication. They never were able to catch up both in terms of technology and in terms of image. It’s a sad story of a brand trying to stretch too far from its core and losing it all.
That Oreo ad
Remarkably, the most talked about piece of comms at this year’s Super Bowl turned out not to be any of the TV ads (for which brand owners are said to have stumped up $4 million apiece), but Oreo’s quick-witted viral content which went around mid-game in response to an unexpected blackout. “You can still dunk in the dark” was ‘liked’, shared and celebrated widely, setting a new gold standard for agile, culturally relevant and engaging marketing.
Ikea selling Solar Panels
Solar energy installation comes at a cost; as a consumer you are effectively paying in advance for your energy. With the ‘Big 6’ energy companies struggling to develop their reputations as consumer centric, it’s hard to see how they could credibly offer solar and not be seen as profiteering. By getting into the open market Ikea is the ideal candidate to deliver solar, their reputation for value gives them a broader appeal, helping to bring clean energy into the mainstream.
Click and Collecting our way through retail
Many retailers are now offering a ‘click and collect’ service. Argos and ebay have announced they are to be joining forces to enable ebay shoppers to ‘collect’ their purchase at Argos stores. Asda have just publicised that they are trialling ‘collect’ locations at London Underground stations. Highly valued by consumers who love to shop from their sofa or office desk but put off by the notion of being shackled to their home waiting for a delivery, retailers are now giving much more flexibility to the consumer.
From Burberry to Apple. From fashion to widgets.
Angela Ahrendts has decided to leave Burberry; a brand she has played a major part in building in order to take on a beast of a challenge at Apple. Apple is not just bigger in size, scale and turnover, it’s also vastly different. Going from the world of glamour and luxury to the world of widgets and interfaces. It’s an inspiring move demonstrating courage and ambition. And if she succeeds it will be a colossal achievement making her one of the most successful businesspeople of all time.
Craft beer ker-ching
Craft beer’s been taking hold for a few years now, but 2013 was the year that small went BIG. What’s been interesting to observe is how many of the big alcohol companies have tried to jump on the bandwagon. With mainstream beer sales falling, many have launched their own faux ‘crafty’ brews. The success of these ventures is yet to be proven, after all, consumers these days are pretty skilled at sniffing out marketing promises, but those brands that get it right now will grow.
Have brand owners finally learned that Social media is not just another way to talk loudly about yourself but a place for interaction which lets your brand’s values and personality shine through. The recent Twitter conversation between Tesco Mobile, Yorkshire Tea, Jaffa Cakes, Cadburys, Phileas Fogg and a random man called Riccardo was heartening… and hopefully the first of many.
Tesco – the one stop shop?
Tesco has been filling our columns with numerous brand stretching ventures designed to attract customers and shore up the business. Some seem utterly bizarre (NHS dentists in store?) but others, on paper at least, make good sense; coffee shops, soft play areas and family friendly restaurants. With traditional retail floundering it’s not a bad idea to be innovating, but with a clear heartland established around value. Which of these extensions genuinely enhance the brand proposition.