Welcome to the Ruck Blog!

Hello and thanks for visiting our blog - here you will find interesting articles on what's happening in the world of point sale, visual merchandising and display innovation.

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Best Christmas Window Displays 2012

We have completed most of our Christmas installations, the Ruck offices are looking very festive and with the snow coming down this week we can't help but feel in the mood for Christmas!
There have been some beautiful Christmas window displays this year. It seems every year they get more imaginative and major stores in London compete for the kudos of unusual and fascinating displays - always fun to install too! Here's a selection of window displays we love to get you in the mood for Christmas!

First stop has to be Harrods who have gone for a Disney theme this year - magical!

The Making of Selfridges Christmas Windows - Installations


The Delicious Rotating Window Displays at Fortnum & Mason
Other Favourites are Hamleys, John Lewis and Liberty London!
Well that's got me in the mood for Christmas Shopping!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Looking at Scotland's Retail Performance on St. Andrew's Day!

It's St. Andrew's day today, Scots up and down the land will be sporting kilts, eating haggis and enjoying a wee dram. A nice little boost for retailers as the country celebrates but how has the Scottish retail sector been performing in comparison to the UK as a whole?

Buchanan Galleries, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

With some of the poorest areas in the UK, high unemployment, and large public sector cuts it's not been an easy year for retailers in Scotland as consumer confidence flags. Scotland has the largest public sector employment by population than anywhere else in the UK and facing tough cuts, this seems to be partly to blame. People are just not spending. The last couple of years has seen Scottish retail perform less well that the UK as a whole.

Things have picked up in October with sales up by 1.1% on the same period last year for the UK however it's a different story in Scotland with retail sales down by 2.8% according to the SRC.

Fiona Moriarty, director of the SRC, said: "This really wasn't the result retailers wanted. September's modest sales boost offered some cause for cautious optimism, but continuing concerns about the economy led many customers to batten down the hatches again in October."

It's not a good sign for Christmas trading and quite rightly the SRC and Scottish retailers are worried it is an indication of poor retail sales to come for the Christmas trading period. We do a lot of installations in Scotland for large chains who can carry regional slumps in sales, but the independent shops will be suffering the most. Let's hope the celebrations today raise the spirits and revive the Christmas shopping season for Scotland.

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

St. Andrews Day History & Tradition:

St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland - his day is celebrated on the 30th November in Scotland and has been an official bank holiday since 2007. It is an official flag day, flying the Scottish flag know as the Saltaire.

The day is celebrated by all things Scottish - lots of food (haggis), music (bagpipes), dancing and concerts (ceilidhs), and parades, fireworks and other various activities which happen all week in the run up to St. Andrews day, as well as church services in honour of St. Andrew.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Retailers Christmas Adverts Are Out!

It's that time of year when all the major retailers release their Christmas adverts!


This year there has been a fair bit of criticism for a couple of major retailers. Firstly Waitrose donating their Christmas advert budget to charity whilst John Lewis go to town on theirs received a mixed reception, and being part of the same group that message seemed to be conflicting for a lot of people. However as John Lewis pointed out the two businesses are operated separately and have their own unique values and culture.

So was the Asda advert sexist? Mum's and women do a lot of running about at Christmas, just as Dad's and men do, and focusing on one gender and not another does not by default make an advert sexist. Any retail analyst will tell you that for most FMCG retailers the purchasing power is heavily with women and reaching out to busy mother's is not unfamiliar ground, after all Iceland based their whole campaign for many years on 'That's why mums go to Iceland'. 

John Lewis have a snow romance on the go to the Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I don't think it's had the same impact as their adverts over last couple of years have had. It's hard to buy into snow boy meets snow girl and must go to any lengths to get her a matching scarf and glove set for Christmas, even if the music is great. I think the award winning tug at the heart strings advert of last year's little boy was magic, if a little sentimental...but if you can't do sentimental at Christmas...when can you! John Lewis only started TV campaigns in 2007 but they seem to have become and institution already and eagerly awaited.

M&S, Tesco's and Boots have dropped the celebrity appearances in their adverts, it seems the recession is causing retailers to not be too overtly flashy with their Christmas adverts.

Littlewoods came under a lot of criticism last year for its myth busting of Santa Claus, this year they seem to have brought him back to life, fronted by an angelic looking Myleene Klass.

Just a few of the Christmas adverts by the clients we work with - there will be plenty more to blog over the next few weeks, as the installation of supporting in store POS materials is currently being rolled out nationwide. Christmas is well and truly on its way!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Digital Signage in Retail - Guest Blog by Sarah Allen from Acquire Digital

There is a shift towards digital signage in the retail industry. We are experiencing more and more installation enquries for digital display and point of sale so I thought this week we'd take a look at the changing face of retail signage, and discuss what the future holds with our first guest blog.
We asked Sarah Allen, Senior Marketing Executive from Aquire Digital, a few questions about digital signage in the retail sector and how they are providing innovative digital displays.

At Acquire Digital we believe in enhanced communication.  We specialise in the creation and develop of digital display solutions that contribute to improved communication and an enhanced user experience.  We provided end-to-end solutions creating both the digital programme and content for digital interactive applications.



1)    What types of digital display do you typically supply to the retail industry?

We develop and supply solutions such as, digital menu boards, digital point of sale, interactive kiosks, Wayfinder solutions, and virtual receptionists which are commonly used on digital displays such as touch-screens, kiosks, flat screens or video walls.

2)    What are the new technologies that you feel will be used in retail in 2013?

Over the last few years we have witnessed a huge increase in the demand for more innovative and interactive solutions for retail environments. This can be attributed to the advances in technology and the ever growing competition with online retailers.  More and more consumers are shopping on-line where queues are thing of the past, so a lot of retailers are implementing a queue management system which helps entertain waiting customers as well as manage queues through the ‘Call forward’ system. Customers take a ticket and then wait until the next cashier becomes available.
Because consumers are very tech-savvy these days, many customers have almost come to expect a certain element of digital in their shopping experience. for example accessing product information on a touch screen or seeing promotions being displayed on digital boards.  Many retailers have started to implement this and it is proving to be successful at increasing dwell time in shops and increasing engagement between brands and customers.  
The latest technologies that we have started to use is Near Field Communication (NFC), Interactivity, audience recognition and GPS location based advertising in a bid to maximise interaction between retail brands and their consumers.

3)    How do you measure ROI on digital signage?

Many digital solutions that we design and implement grow from a desire to increase interactivity and engagement or to add value to the in-store customer experience.  It is therefore difficult to report on tangible, monetary ROI in relation to these objectives.  However, it is important to highlight the benefits of providing a service to customers that is unique, memorable and one that adds to the unrivalled experience of dealing with your business.
There is also the investment element of installation in digital systems. The messaging and campaigns on digital displays can be changed at any time remotely so the cost associated with printing posters, distributing them and installation is reduced. Instead, digital allows you to update artwork/content and deploy in to an unlimited amount of stores world-wide in a push of button.
Our software will also measure how many views it has received which can also record audience age and gender for those who require specific monetary return on investment.
      Many organisations have reported that the installation of self-service kiosks or digital displays has helped to save staff’s valuable time and therefore money. Kiosks and displays that help customers locate places and products, or allow them to book onto activities in a leisure park, for example,  eliminate the need for staff to be on hand to do this for them.



       4) How does the interactiveness of an application impact on sales?

Interaction between brands and consumers is hugely important and cannot be underestimated. Consumers are tech-savvy these days and hand held devices such as tablets and iPhones means that retail outlets are competing against the online world, where prices comparisons can be made easily, orders can be made instantly and customers generally serve themselves.
Interaction provides this autonomy whether it is serving yourself, locating things for yourself or just generally browsing at leisure. Interaction is still regarding by most as being innovative and consumers like to see brands align themselves with innovation and technology as it means that they are cutting-edge and forward thinking.


5)    What typically is the life cycle of a digital project?

Hardware, such as TVs, monitors, computers will eventually become obsolete and can break so we always advise to check the manufacture warranty. However, software or the Content Management systems that we build are a little different. We continually assess and develop the technology that we provide so that our solutions remain cutting-edge, fresh and innovative. All of our software packages are continually being upgrades and upgrades can be made automatically over the internet.  The great thing about working with digital is that changes can be made remotely and as often as you like meaning that solutions don’t really have a life-cycle because tweaks, or even larger developments can be made remotely.
Software as a whole is an invaluable investment for advertisers and communication managers due to the ease of making future up-grades and the adaptability of software.  Software unlike anything else is virtually future proof and can be continually developed to satisfy client needs and objectives without the potential risks of a lengthy and expensive overhaul of existing software systems. 


6)    In your opinion what will the next big thing in digital signage for retailers?

Near field Communication is definitely one to look out for but I personally think that NFC is a bit of fad, much like the QR code scanning. What I think will really become big is the ability to integrate social media profiles into the real world.  For example, retailers that have a twitter account could allow customers to Tweet to that account, to generally send comments, recommendations and feedback.  Shops can actually display their ‘Tweets’ in store to allow their customers to see their ‘Tweets’ on the big screen.


To view an article recently written by Sarah Allen called 'Bringing the Online Experience Instore' please click here: http://www.acquiredigital.com/NewsStory/onlineinstore


Friday, 19 October 2012

High Street Retail - The Ups and Downs

Following on from the last blog on the expansion of Supermarkets it was interesting to see the figures in the news this week on the rate of shop closures. Figures for July & August suggest that High Street shops are closing at a rate of over 30 per day.

Past over expansion for many retailers has seen them close shops as consumer spend reduces and customers shopping habits reflect a preference for free parking in larger, out of town centres or on retail parks. Some of the large retailers that went into administration this year had previously over expanded and had too many retail outlets.

Data from over 500 towns showed that clothes, toy, gift, jewellers, furniture, card and computer game shops were the type of retailers likely to be closing whereas charity, coffee, pound shops, discount stores, pawnbrokers, betting shops and convenience stores are opening in their place.
However retail sales overall were up in September as back to school and winter clothing sales contributed to an  increase of 0.6% in comparison to last months decrease of 0.1%. Compared to this time last year figures were up overall by 2.5% for September. Better weather and the end of the Olympics have seen customers return to the shops, but also this week we have had employment figures released showing a large decrease in unemployment numbers in the last three months.

In recession consumers are more careful when they spend, they want a bargain and to know that they are getting value for money and will search out the best places to go. Many big name retailers are what bring people in to town centres and supports the hub of other local, independent shops so losing them has wider implications for local economies.
Some good news and some bad for British retail. It certainly seems to be a time of adjustment as economic conditions push retailers in to administration, to reduce their estates and to take a long hard look at their strategy. On the other hand the retailers that are getting it right such as John Lewis that saw an increase in sales of 16.2% last week are profiting. The Olympics didn't work for most retailers, the terrible summer and recession has all impacted.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Supermarket Expansion - What is Really Happening?

It seems like in every town now there are new building projects happening that are set to be new supermarkets. All the major supermarkets are investing in new stores across the UK with an increase of 20% by 2014 expected just a year ago. With a new store opening or an expansion on an existing site happening every day, and on a scale we've never seen before, when will the rise in bigger and better and more supermarkets stop... how much is enough?
What does this mean for the consumer? Better access to their favourite choice of supermarkets, or less choice as the big names take more of the market share and impact on local independent retailers? 97% of all grocery spend is now with supermarkets.
The beginning of the recession had a positive impact for supermarkets, as other retailers go bust more money is spent with the supermarkets. Empty shops and pubs in key locations helped them acquire High Street sites for development of smaller express style stores. However 80% of the expansions are set to be out of town, larger developments. Supermarkets are no longer just grocery stores - the move towards large scale retail sites allows them to also increase on the range of clothing, electrical, home and entertainment items. Morrisons is catching up the other big three this year and next moving from a grocery based business to a lifestyle supermarket retailer with plans to extend its non grocery offering and introduce a new line of clothing in-store.

Although Morrisons has recently eased back on its expansion drive, Tesco too - having previously been pursuing the goal of having a site in every postcode area, as well as Sainsbury's and M&S. The recession has impacted longer term on commodity prices and along with higher fuel costs, poor harvest crops this year, and with government spending cuts set to continue retailers are being more cautious about their spend on expansion.
 So the upshot is that whilst supermarkets are still going ahead with expansion plans they are not going full steam ahead as they initially planned, and the 20% extra that was previously expected to happen has slowed considerably this year. The expansion plans are always good for supply chain companies like Ruck Retail, offering plenty of opportunity to install in new developements across the UK.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Fair Rates for Retail Campaign Starts Today!

With business rates set to go up again this year High Street retailers have asked the government to look at how business rates are calculated for the retail sector. With more shops every day standing empty and the current difficult economic environment another hike in rates would not help to stimulate the retail sector.
The Fair Rates for Retail Campaign is being launched today by the British Retail Consortium and Retail Week, and Ruck Retail Solutions have already pledged our support as suppliers to the retail sector.
The last two years has seen rate increases of more than £500m to the retail sector, and the expected increase next year will add a further £200m in costs for retailers. With many chains struggling with a multitude of factors in this recession such as  higher priced raw materials, higher distribution and operational costs, quarterly rents and cash flow, combined with lower consumer spending, taking another hit on business rates it seems is a hard pill to swallow.
Currently 28% of business rate taxation comes from the retail sector so it's important to the treasury as a big source of revenue. However retailers are asking the government to look at the bigger picture here - the more they pay in rates the less they will have to invest in town centres that desperately need a face lift, create jobs and invest in the business. With the Government looking into ways to revitalise our flagging High Streets, surely the two campaigns must work hand in hand with each other.
Of course it hits the independent small retailers harder but with more big chains struggling this effects retailers across the board.
BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “The most important four-letter word in Westminster should be jobs but another £200m next year can only lead to more closed shops and fewer chances of work for those, including young people, who need it most.
“The Government must act on its promise to review the system. And it should recognise that retail has already more than made its contribution by freezing rates in 2013.”
To sign the petition and pledge your support please visit here:


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

From Catwalk to High Street - The Fashion Cycle

With London Fashion Week having ended High Street pattern designers will be scurrying around like mad to get the latest trends and styles interpreted for their next season collections. Designs will be sketched up and out to their manufacturers within days, and the collections ready for the next season.
Primark famously boasted that "Once a style is identified it can take as little as 6 weeks to reach stores" and the likes of Zara, having their own manufacturing and distribution, can have catwalk inspired items in store within 2 weeks. Technology is speeding up that process, with designers often streaming their shows live and of course the LFW website has videos of all the shows uploaded pretty quickly. Social Media has opened up communication across the globe and sees outfits tweeted and talked about within minutes. Retailers can see easily what's trending and being talked about, and pick up on what's going to be hot for next season.
We don't realise just how much our clothing and style is influenced by the catwalk shows. Looking at some designs you'd wonder how on earth anyone would wear some of the more outlandish collections, but those ideas filter down to more wearable fashion in the High Street stores...style and colour trends in our shops are all inspired by the designs on display at London, New York, Paris and Milan.
You won't find High Street retailers attending the fashion shows, strictly the reserve of the media, photographers, high end boutique or niche stores and of course the who's on the 'Frow'  much talked about celebrities. However some High Street brands are making it on to the Catwalk more recently, such as Topshop and Victoria's Secret. Topshop have collaborated with many top designers and celebrity collections have helped to bridge that chasm between high end designer fashion and High Street.
Earlier this year a report commissioned by the British Fashion Council on the "Value of Fashion" was presented to the House of Commons, which was the first comprehensive report of its kind, looking at everything from the top fashion houses to low priced retail chains, taking into account manufacturing, wholesale, retail, media and marketing businesses across the fashion sector. Fashion is the 15th largest industry in the UK directly employing 816,000 people, which then makes it the second biggest employer by sector.
The report concluded that the fashion industry is now worth £21 billion a year to the UK economy, with LFW being a big part of that.  It could be worth as much as £37 billion in its wider context when tourism and industry related businesses are taken into account.
So LFW is over for some but for the industry it's just kick started a hive of activity as retailers rush to get their versions of what's coming off the catwalks into store.
Some of the highlights and designs that inspire what we will be seeing in-store soon.

Friday, 14 September 2012

London Fashion Week Kicks Off Today!

It's London Fashion Week again! Starting today, no sooner have the Paralympics finished and all the Olympics displays are taken down and we're into LFW already! This is the busiest quarter of the year for retailers and LFW really does get us all in the mood for shopping!

So what do we have to look forward to  style wise, filtering down to designers in-store on the High Street for Spring / Summer 2013? It's the catwalks at London Fashion Week that typically inspire ranges across chains of cheaper High Street shops and supermarkets. The fashion we wear up and down the nation stems from the designs being marched up and down catwalks this week.

With Topshop leading the way High Street brands are making their mark on Fashion Week and for the first time this year Topshop are offering a purchase service from the show itself.

Here's a nice little preview from LFWTV on what we have to look forward to over the next five days in this trailer film created by the winner of the Fash/On Film Mentoring Scheme. A new nationwide search for emerging film-making talent launched in June,  where one talented young person is selected to collaborate with the fashion industry to showcase up and coming designers, to be shown  in full at LFW, sponsored by River Island:

A short film celebrating London Fashion Week performed by Spellbound Gymnast Troupe to showcase the best of British catwalk designs SS13 filmed in time lapse in the fountains at Somerset House, by the Guardian:

The show started with Antoni & Alison, complete with marching brass band, reinforcing the year of the British! Films of all catwalk collections can be seen on LFWTV:

Fyodor Golan explain the inspiration for their catwalk collection and an interview with Hilary Alexander, just a couple of highlights from the day, by 55TV:

Watch this space for more on London Fashion Week!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Halloween - Big Business in the UK

Our warehouse is full of spooky looking displays and POS items being picked and packed for roll outs to major supermarket chains across the UK. Ghosts and skeletons, bats and ghouls, mummies and spiders...it's all wonderfully fun and our favourite time of year receiving in these items, and sorting through them ready for installation!

Halloween, although an old festival is gaining popularity year on year as influences from across the pond make this a bigger celebration than it was when I was a child, back then it was penny for the guy and bonfire night that was the main Autumn celebration. Children did go trick or treating and have dress up parties but it's a world away from apple bobbing and homemade costumes...there just wasn't the amount of merchandise availabe then.
Now supermarkets dedicate their whole seasonal aisle to Halloween at this time of year and decorate with floor graphics, hanging nets and signs to display ghoulish items that are for sale on the shelves. It does seem to be quite supermarket-centric, unlike Christmas and Easter, as people spend less on Halloween items, looking for cheap sweet and food items, costumes and decorations.
Halloween was celebrated more in America and I think Walmart owned Asda have had a big influence on bringing big time promotion of Halloween to the UK, partnering up with brand manufacturers to offer exclusive Halloween themed confectionary items.

Halloween is now the third largest selling opportunity after Christmas and Easter so it's understandable that supermarkets spend so much on display items to maximise on sales - just try getting through the supermarket with your children when there's a huge fun and excitingly decorated aisle tempting them in! Reportedly worth more than £300 million to UK retailers in 2011, and with a growth forecast of 12.5% predicted this year by retail analysts it will be worth more like £315 million! A decade ago consumers only spent £12 million on Halloween so you can see why supermarkets and major retailers take the display and promotion of Halloween products seriously.

As we do every year we look forward to the Halloween installations, it's a fun time of year in the warehouse and for the teams out on the road making up seasonal aisles up and down the country delight customers and their children with their spooky displays!
Look out for our next blog with photo's of the 2012 displays once they're installed!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Everything Everywhere Get 4G - Mobile Market Impact

Everything Everywhere Group, who own the T-Mobile and Orange networks, have got the go ahead from Ofcom to operate 4G (fourth generation) mobile services on their existing bandwidth today. This was in the pipeline for early next year but Everything Everywhere have been allowed to operate earlier than expected.

Vodafone and O2 have expressed their views on Ofcoms decision today, voicing their disappointment, as it will clearly hold back their businesses with a major rival having a head start in the 4G marketplace. The other providers will be able to bid for 4G broadband by early 2013 as originally planned. Ofcom defended its decision by stating that this will benefit consumers and to hold back an operator that is ready to offer this service would be detrimental to the consumer. They had previously said that they wanted to see at least four credible network operators bidding in 2013 to promote competition in the marketplace.

Ruck Retail Solutions recently audited the entire Orange estate - providing valuable information for the design and installation of point of sale and promotional materials, and no doubt there will be heavy promotion of the super fast 4G broadband service now it has the early go ahead. See the case study here.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Retailers and the Olympics...Story So Far

What a fantastic start to the Olympics Team GB have had! Number 3 in the world for medals received so far and given the populations of America and China, ahead of us in the medal stakes, it makes the amount of excellent athletes our little Island is producing even more impressive. There's no doubt the whole country is proud to be British right now and proud of the Olympics but what has it done for British retailers? Is it what retailers had expected so far?

With complaints from London retailers and tourist attractions that visitor numbers are down and the city was quieter than usual during the week, the expected surge in retail sales has been a bit of a let down. However the West End retailers and Westfields reported an increase in sales over the weekend.

There's no doubt we are all glued to the TV - much of it has been blamed on non Olympic tourists avoiding visiting whilst the Olympics is on and locals staying clear of the city expecting congestion, but as we've seen last week it seems to have been quite the opposite with London roads clearer than they've been for a long time.

It's not just London, the Guardian reported this weekend that retail footfall outside of London is also slow on the High Streets, falling by 9%. However where shopping centres have installed large screens to attract shoppers, they are seeing an increase of visitors, up by 6% -11%, helped in turn by the extended Sunday shopping hours.

Lets see what happens this week - as we go for more medals the more people are engrossed in watching the Olympics, so perhaps it will be a another quiet week of trading and things will pick up again at the weekend. West End retailers have asked London Transport to tone down the advice on avoiding London so foot fall is expected to increase this week as people who'd previously avoided London for fears of being caught up in the predicted chaos return.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Retail Insolvencies are up by 10%

The Olympic games is giving our economy a well needed boost but two days in to them is the news that retail insolvencies are up by 10% this quarter. Many other retailers are in sale trying to offload the summer season merchandise that just hasn't sold due to the bad weather we've had for months, June and April being the wettest since records began. With well know high street names failing like Clinton Cards, Game, Habitat, Peacocks, and now Julian Graves it's all rather worrying.

PricewaterhouseCooper's figures show that insolvency numbers for retailers is 426 in the second quarter of 2012 compared to just 386 in the previous year. Reasons for some High St failures, apart from the bad weather, are said to be due to retailers operating too many stores and online sales having an impact as people look for better bargains.

However it's not all doom and gloom as other retailers are announcing their profits are up, such as William Hill and Harrods up by 15%, John Lewis at record profits, along with pound shops and coffee brands which are in expansion and opening new sites.

More insolvencies are expected as the remainder of 2012 is predicted to be particularly tough for the retail sector.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Financial Benefits of the Olympics for our Economy

With the Olympics about to start and contracts coming to an end it's interesting to look at the impact of the Olympics on our economy. It's been a big investment so far but will reap rewards for businesses of all sizes small and large over the coming weeks.

So far British companies have been able to access almost £6 billion worth of contracts to build and supply the Olympic games, with 98% of contracts from the Olympic Delivery Authority going to UK based companies. Two thirds  of those went to small or medium sized enterprises.  Over 30,000 people will have worked on the Olympic site to get it ready as well as an approx contractor workforce of 100,000 to be employed during the event - although that figure will be slightly less now G4 have defaulted on their security contract.

On top of that LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) are using an estimated £700m worth of goods and services. It's good news for businesses, despite the overbearing protectiveness of the Olympic brands taken against bakeries for example. It's good to hear that the government wants rules relaxed around this and also are relaxing Sunday trading hours over the Olympics so retailers will be able to make the most of the event.
In a speech recently David Cameron said he thinks the Olympics will generate around £13 billion for our economy - figures based on UKTI studies on the impact of other games such as Sydney.

He said: "I am confident that we can derive over £13bn benefit to the UK economy over the next four years as a result of hosting the games. I am certain that when you add in the benefits from construction the total gain will be even greater."

Goldman Sachs estimate we will see an increase of 0.3 - 0.4 % GDP in the third quarter this year. That's a good stimulus for a flagging economy in times of recession - however temporary or long lived the impact the Olympics will have on our economy it looks to me like a positive thing for our country and for business.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Friday 13th! Origins in Myth and Impact on Retail

So today is Friday 13th! For those who are are superstitious it's a day to avoid doing anything which might cause the chaos of calamitous disasters the days is famous for! Some people have such a fear they stay in bed - go home and lock all the doors! What impact does this have on retail sales?
It is said that Friday 13th costs retailers in the USA between $800-900 million! Are we that superstitious in the UK and if so why are we so supertitious?

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the term for people gripped with fear over Friday 13th and the
origins of Friday 13th superstitions likely come from a combination of different myths and legends throughout history.

13 generally is seen as an unlucky number with many buildings missing out 13th floors and 13th rooms, flats and house numbers. It is said if 13 people sit down to dinner one will be dead within a year! This probably stems from an old viking myth where Loki, the god of mischief gatecrashed a party of 12 gods and caused the death of one of the guests... and of course 13 guests at the last supper...Jesus was also crucified on a Friday.

There are 13 witches in a coven, although in pre Christian times 13 was seen as a sacred symbol of femininity and fertility as was Friday. 13 was viewed as a lucky number by the ancient Egyptians and Chinese too. As patriarchal religions took over Friday and the number 13 became negative as the church tried to stamp out prior pagan practices and feminine goddess worship by calling it blasphemous, and witchraft associated with the devil.

But despite all these different theories it seems that the superstition of Friday 13th being a day of bad luck is a relatively new thing starting in the 19th century...a combination of unlucky Fridays and unlucky number 13 hyped up by the media...so maybe we shouldn't worry too much, and it doesn't seem UK retailers need to worry either! We certainly won't be as we install POS promotions instore, it's just another day to us!

If you want to learn more about the origins of the myths and legend mentioned in this blog visit:

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Olympic Effect - The Benefit for Brands

It's just 25 days to the London Olympics! With Olympic themed promotional jobs coming in thick and fast it got me thinking about the impact a huge sporting event such as the Olympics has for brands. Sponsors spend millions; other brands equally spend a lot of money on linking their brand with the Olympics. They spend a lot of time, money and effort promoting their brands and products alongside the huge worldwide sporting event, but is it worth the spend?

Diageo turned down sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics. Chief Marketing Officer Andy Fennell speaking at Cannes Lion Festival said that 'It's really hard to get a return' in response to why they'd declined and that he thought brands sponsored events mostly due to '....board level corporate conviction...'

Different brands will sponsor the Olympics for different reasons and it's not always easy to measure the ROI. For some it's about reinforcing their existing presence as a top global brand, such as Coca-Cola, others are looking to increase brand awareness globally and increase sales ...but mostly it's about reaching one of the largest audiences. It is said that the Olympics will be the most watched event of the year and that is always going to be hard to resist for many brand marketers. With a well thought out marketing strategy promoting products and brands before, during, and after the Olympics it can have a real feel-good positive impact on brands.  Coca-Cola has a huge amount of adverts going out with sporting icons and music artists such as Mark Ronson, Labrynth, Katy B, and Eliza Dolittle with their 'Move to the Beat London' campaign.

Adidas are pushing their sports as well as leisure wear sales with younger audiences with their ad featuring music by Wretch 32 and footballer David Beckham.

With McDonalds having built the largest restaurant in the world on the Olympic park their sponsorship goes a step further in my opinion. It's half the size of a football pitch, seating 1500 people and will be staffed by 2,000 employees. It is estimated that they will sell 50,000 Big Mac's over the games! This along with a coordinated campaign in all of their restaurants really goes hand in hand with the new green healthier style image they are moving towards. 

It's advertising Gold for sponsors such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola as far as I can see, no matter how hard it is to measure their ROI with this kind of sponsorship. It shows the world they are top of their game, right out in front and silver or bronze just won't do.