A Lemon Bar With That Jeans Purchase?

I love this article from Bloomberg BusinessWeek about the rise of the retailer-restaurant. It talks about how shopping stores from Urban Outfitters to JCPenney are adding cocktails, espresso bars, and other foodservice outlets to their storefronts.

Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

Having covered the foodservice industry for the past couple years, before coming to NYU, I actually think that from the business’s perspective, this move is great. Malls have food courts, which are often crowded and bustling no matter the time. So why not create a mini-food court of your own, in your store?

As a consumer, this scares me a litte. Mostly because I think it will work. I know how much I love getting a bubble tea or frozen yogurt at the mall to walk around with, and the more stores that include yummy options like these in their stores, the more tempted I will be.

One of the last articles I wrote before I left QSR magazine and moved to New York was about Macy’s opening its first co-location with Pinkberry. I spoke to Pinkberry CEO Ron Graves and Macy’s director of brand operations, Chris Burr. They both concurred that their brands fit well together; the Macy’s shopper is also likely already a Pinkberry consumer, too. Thus, fans of both brands are already familiar with the other company, and if they’re only familiar with one, they’ll have a wide open opportunity to try the other.

This harkens back to the power of co-branding, which I talked about in my very first blog post(!) when I discussed the potency of Taco Bell and the Doritos Locos Taco. Co-branding associates two distinct brands at once, and if it works well, consumers remember not just one but two brand names at the end of the experience. Any fan of Taco Bell also knows the Doritos Locos Taco. A fan of Harry Potter may associate Universal Studios with the enterprise. Universal is owned by NBC, which has little link to Harry Potter otherwise, but its theme park broadens its fan base. And so on.

One downside to this new trend is that consumers allow retailers to dictate which foods we eat and make our dietary assumptions for us. Not wholly, of course; we can always exit the store. But their plan is to keep us in there for as long as possible, and if a store ever opened a taco window in its clothing or shoe department, I’d be hard pressed to say no.

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The Truth Behind Whole Foods’ Appeal

Credit: Creative Commons

We all love shopping at Whole Foods, don’t we? The prices may be high (a myth I am about to debunk), but the interior is shiny, alluring, and has samples.

As a brand, Whole Foods has a reputation for clean, fresh food, especially if you have a special diet regimen such as vegan or gluten-free. It’s also well-known for its emphasis on employee healthcare. The Whole Foods healthcare plan encourages workers to work out and stop smoking in order to pay less for health care.

But, back to the point. How does Whole Foods remain so appealing to its shoppers? An article in BusinessWeek breaks it down for us (with fun cartoons!).

The highlights:

  • Whole Foods used to be overpriced, it says—living up to popular perception—but the recession forced it to slash prices.
    (The question remains as to whether Whole Foods needs to promote its brand as cheaper now. Will a post-recession advertising campaign talk about its lower prices? Or will doing so draw attention to the fact that its prices were high in the first place?)
  • Employees are encouraged to do things for customers, such as cut melons in half for the to purchase or open boxes of food for them to taste, if they ask.
  • The main competition for WF is Trader Joe’s. As a result, almost all of the groceries put out by WF’s store brand, 365, mirror TJ’s prices.
  • Feel like you’re filling up more in your WF shopping cart these days? That’s because the company has increased the size of its carts over the past three years, citing an ability to grow revenue by 40 percent.

Will You Try Pepsi’s Latest Diet Drink if Pepsi Does Your Chores?

First, Pepsi announced it would team up with the estate of the King of Pop, coinciding with this year’s 25th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album.

Now, Pepsi is introducing a campaign called “The Extra Hour” to promote Pepsi Next, its new 60-calorie variety. The soda brand is joining forces with TaskRabbit, a startup in which people enlist community members to help perform daily chores. Fans go to the website, sign up, and Pepsi will hand out 50 task helpers for one hour to winners for the next four weeks. The “Extra Hour” continues through Nov. 12.

Will people take Pepsi up on this? Yes! This is a great idea for a campaign. The winners get a free soda and a free task. Who doesn’t want to skip washing the dishes or scooting to the dry cleaner for a night, and just lay on the couch, drink soda, and watch “Nashville” instead?

I wonder about the longevity of this campaign, however. It ends in four weeks with 200 ultimate winners. While it may gain good press for the brand, especially if the winners use word-of-mouth to spread their like of TaskRabbit and/or Pepsi Next, where does the promotion for the diet drink go from here? While Pepsi dream up another partnership or turn to a generic online, television, and print campaign?

If it doesn’t gain the traction Pepsi desires, I won’t be surprised to see Pepsi Next go the failed route of Pepsi Blue (2002-2004), Sprite Remix (2003-2005), and Coca-Cola’s Surge (1996-2002).

The Year’s Top 100 Brands

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By Shahroozporia

Brands are always wondering how to generate the highest rate of return. Duh. And the Best Global Brands report, released Tuesday, tells us all which brands are most successful.

The top 5 should surprise no one: Coca-Cola, Apple, I.B.M., Google, and Microsoft. Factors taken into account include financial performance and compelling consumers.

The list is significant because it tells less prosperous brands the model they should be following. Customers obviously feel a connection to Coke, Apple, and even those higher up on the list such as Disney and Louis Vuitton. That’s because these brands don’t just put out good products; they know how to adhere themselves in consumers’ memories.

Branding, marketing, and messaging are all siblings. A company that knows how to successfully brand can make grand strides in consumer loyalty and support. Consider Apple. Apple has jumped 15 spots in two years. It was No. 17 in 2010 and No. 8 last year. And now it is No. 2. I wonder when, or if, Apple will ever unseat the dominant Coca-Cola.

Speaking of, I am impressed that Coca-Cola, a foodservice brand, still has more international acclaim and recognition from consumers than the aforementioned technology companies.

Check out the full list here!

Everyone is Crazy for Doritos Locos Taco

Ah, the power of co-branding.

Not too long ago, when I thought Taco Bell, I thought, “Gordita crunchwrap. Nachos bell grande. Fresco soft taco.” You know, Spanish words that have been Americanized with a Mexican menu item slapped on as a suffix.

No longer. Now, when I think Taco Bell, the immediate word that pops into my head is, “Doritos!” And despite the fact that I once tried the Doritos Loco Taco and found it to be a saltier but otherwise comparable version of the original hard taco, Doritos and Taco Bell are married in my mind. This, I imagine, is exactly what Doritos wanted out of its partnership with Taco Bell, and is therefore an excellent case study of the powers of successful co-branding.

Launched in March, the DLT quickly became the top-selling menu item at Taco Bell by June, hitting 100 million in sales. And last week, the DLT surpassed 200 million in sales.

As David Lazarus at the L.A. Times says,

I don’t know whether this is a tribute to Taco Bell’s marketing skill or a commentary on the culinary tastes of the American people.

We’ll put the checkmark in the former category. Taco Bell has done an admirable job marketing the orange-tinged shell to the point of utmost popularity in six months. And Doritos abundantly benefitted by getting its product in the hands of its core loyalists—men under the age of 35—while simultaneously keeping the company top-of-mind.

Doritos, a brand of Frito-Lay (which in turn is a division of PepsiCo), is no stranger to carefully crafted marketing success: its annual “Crash the Super Bowl” fan contest continually scores highest among Super Bowl viewers. Extending the brand into the hands of the fans is more than a marketing ploy; it puts fans in control of the brand and how it is perceived.

The ultimate winner in this on-going triumph, however, is co-branding. Taco Bell will undoubtedly note record sales when it files its 2012 10-K and Doritos has found a way to engage fans beyond the Super Bowl timeline. What remains to be seen is whether this partnership opens doors between more consumer brands and restaurant brands, and if so, how they can duplicate this accomplishment.