Business and Operations
Marketing insights: January-February 2015
‘Beam me up, Scotty’
By Michelle Brisebois
Captain Kirk and Fred Flintstone spoke to their watches, and David
Hasselhoff on the ’80s TV show Knight Rider spoke to his car – which
then spoke back.
Captain Kirk and Fred Flintstone spoke to their watches, and David Hasselhoff on the ’80s TV show Knight Rider spoke to his car – which then spoke back. While these plot devices may have seemed futuristic, many vehicles already have software allowing voice commands to control everything from the radio to the temperature. Apple is poised to launch its Apple Watch in 2015 and many trendwatchers feel that this product is truly a game-changer. Meanwhile, we all get a bit older and demographic shifts often impact demand for products and services. Welcome to 2015 and some the trends that will shape our lives.
|Gadgets like the Apple Watch will become seamless with its owner and provide a very personalized connection to the world.|
Smart and mobile technology
The much-anticipated Apple Watch will take calls, send texts, receive alerts and monitor your heart rate … which you can then share with someone in real time. Trendwatchers feel this new “toy” is pivotal because the technology will be worn, not put away in a purse or pocket. The Apple Watch will become seamless with its owner and provide a very personalized connection to the world. Look for a new store of specialized apps for this device to help users find and sort information.
What it means for businesses: Now more than ever before, having an online presence is imperative. With each new hardware innovation, your customers can access information about your business instantly. Focus on the most popular social sites for restaurants such as Trip Advisor, Yelp and Open Table. Facebook and Twitter are good too but you will reach a smaller audience with these sites. Michael Luca, of Harvard Business School, conducted research into the power of online reviews. He reports a one-star increase in a Yelp rating “leads to a five to nine per cent jump in revenue.” If there’s one area of digital upgrade you should plan for, it would be to make your website “responsive.” This means your website should respond to varying screen sizes and orientations depending on what device is being used to view your site.
From bricks and mortar to clicks and mortar
The previous trend speaks to how consumers gather information but this trend is about how they pay for goods and services. This is another trend with Apple’s fingerprints all over it. They’ve just created an app called Apple Pay, which, as Wired magazine puts it, provides “a new way to pay for stuff inside mobile applications like Uber, which lets you instantly order a car ride, and Instacart, which lets you instantly order groceries. In short, it equips your phone with a single way to pay for anything – online, offline, or in that new netherworld between the two recently pioneered by the likes of Uber, an app that lets you pay for an immediate offline experience using an online tool.” And yes … that watch mentioned above will have this app. Will this form of payment reach huge numbers in 2015? Not until it’s available in Canada but its success in the U.S. will make Canadian options such as tap and pay more popular. The New York Times reports that the early success of Apple Pay has made all types of mobile payments more attractive, confirming “that similar services like Google Wallet have seen an uptick in usage since Apple Pay first launched. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
What it means for businesses: Apply Pay is not available in Canada yet but it will be at some point. In the United States, McDonald’s has started accepting Apple Pay at its 14,000 restaurants. The chain reports that Apple Pay accounted for 50 per cent of its tap-and-pay transactions. And Walgreens, the nationwide chain of drugstores, said its mobile wallet payments had doubled since Apple Pay came out. Tap and pay might be a good investment since it’s already available in Canada and is being used by many larger retailers. Take a look at handheld point-of-sale units to use tableside. Do you have some kind of online ordering system? Loblaw’s is getting serious about grocery delivery and supermarket poaching of foodservice pizza sales has been a challenge for foodservice for years. Our industry’s ability to deliver direct to consumer is our ace in the hole – that competitive advantage could go away if ordering groceries online gains momentum.
Cider House Rules
The big beer breweries are struggling to hold onto their market share with their big brands. Cider is the hot news in beverage alcohol. Lighter than wine and less bloating than beer, cider sales represents one per cent of alcoholic-beverage volume nationally, but sales jumped 32 per cent in 2012 versus 2011, according to the Association of Canadian Distillers. “And volume this year is projected to grow by 18 per cent over 2012,” according to Molson Coors Canada as reported in the Globe and Mail.
What it means for businesses: Include some small-lot ciders for an exotic offering and highlight it on your menu along with other gluten-free menu items. It’s thought that cider’s gluten-free status makes it an attractive alternative to beer. Cider appeals to younger consumers and women, so you can increase your average cheque with a tasty cider to offer.
Interest rates climb as the dollar softens
The National Association of Realtors is predicting mortgage interest rates will increase to slightly below five per cent next year and reach six per cent in 2016. Baby boomers with investments and fewer debts will welcome this change and may start dining out again in earnest as they feel more secure. On the other hand, younger consumers with bigger mortgages will find themselves a bit more strapped for cash and may eat out less often or, conversely, order in more often.
What it means for businesses: If you’re taking on debt, assess your ability to continue to operate should interest rates rise even a percentage point. Stay close to your financial advisors and know your options for locking in to an acceptable rate should interest rates start to climb. Watch how this shift impacts your customer base and offer options that keep them dining with you.
A new calendar year represents a fresh start and a time to pause and look to the future. Trends are good to be aware of, monitor for significant shifts and then embrace with gusto when we determine that our businesses will benefit from them. Let’s face it: sometimes you just have to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in brand strategies.