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The Grinch who stole Black Friday

BY CSA STAFF

Meijer has made it so shoppers don’t have to pore through circulars on Thanksgiving Day and then wake at 3 a.m. to wait in line and jostle with other customers on Black Friday.

Meijer said it is making holiday shopping easier for customers this year by offering aggressive Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday doorbuster deals on popular brands all day long while supplies last.

"Holiday shopping can be very stressful, so Meijer is focused on making the experience easier for our customers," said J.K. Symancyk, Meijer’s COO. "By offering our special deals beginning at 6 a.m. on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, our customers won’t have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to stand in line and can choose how early or late they want to shop for the hottest holiday gifts."

The company plans to send its Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day ad previews to customers who currently receive e-mail alerts from Meijer, as well as the more than 860,000 Meijer Facebook fans and Twitter followers. It is a smart strategy because it encourages more shoppers to like the company on Facebook and follow it on Twitter to secure access to the promotional officers.

The company is also promoting a loyalty initiative called Santa Bucks that will be available the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The digital Santa Bucks are available through the company’s mPerks digital coupon program, which will allow customers the ease of digitally clipping coupons using their text-enabled cell phones. The Meijer mPerks program was launched in the fall of 2010, and has 830,000 subscribers, with more than 5,000 joining the program each week.

 

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Market Track: October 2012

BY CSA STAFF

The overall trend has been similar to what we saw last month with a marginal decrease in the number of circulars, while increases were seen in page counts per market. Average pages per market saw 10% increase this year October when compared with the same month last year.

Walmart decreased the number of flyers compared with last year, while they focused on increasing the size of their flyers by almost doubling their page counts. Also, the advertiser gave more focus to promotional events like “Fall” and “Halloween” this year, with Fall promotions starting earlier this year.

Safeway, Staples, Target, Kroger and Kmart witnessed increase in pages per market along with an increase with the number of flyers. Of these retailers Safeway witnessed the highest increase, while it was Kroger who had highest percentage change in pages per market when compared with previous year.

Sears, J.C. Penney and Toys "R" Us followed the trend of reducing the number of flyers and increasing page counts. Toys "R" Us saw more than 100% increase in their page count. The huge increase in page count for this month was primarily due to the release of an 80-page Christmas flyer, kicking off the holiday earlier than most of the other retailers.

Kohl, Walgreens, Home Depot and Lowes decreased both circular drops and page counts.

It’s important to note a number of factors should be considered when examining the number of inserts and pages retailers send into the marketplace. Market Track’s granular level of data reflects regional versioning and market specific differences. This is accomplished through an extensive collections process, including physically obtaining the ads from the various markets in which they are distributed. In the instance that retailers send additional circulars to a limited number of markets, Market Track’s information reflects these nuances through numbers with decimals (for average number of inserts per market) and odd numbers (for average number of pages).

About Market Track:
Market Track is a market intelligence firm dedicated to increasing customers’ returns on their promotional investments. Through innovative technology and marketplace expertise, they monitor and analyze over 200 U.S. and Canadian markets for every channel of trade in order provide retailers and manufacturers with superior tools to monitor promotional activity, support dynamic decision making and turn information into market intelligence. For more information, contact Market Track at 1.800.235.3781 or e-mail [email protected].

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How to Build Better Franchisee/Franchiser Relationships, and Better Buildings

BY CSA STAFF

By Shane Kavanagh and Tricia Downing, [email protected], [email protected]

When a franchisee joins a corporation, each partner has a goal in mind. Both sides, of course, are looking to build a successful enterprise. But the very first project – building and designing the franchisee’s facility – can point up issues in the relationship. Ideas of what success means and how to get there often differ. As with any new relationship, compromises must be made.

Choosing the right design team can be critical in maintaining the right balance between franchisee and franchiser expectations – and ensuring that both the brand and bottom line are respected. Here are four considerations you should take in order to create a thriving space and maintain a harmonious relationship throughout the building process.

Add a third wheel
When designing a new franchise facility, balancing the values of the corporate office with the needs of the franchisee can be a challenge. Enlisting an experienced design firm to work on the project is a first step toward achieving this balance.

The right design team can advocate for both sides, look at the larger picture apart from each team’s individual needs, and provide feedback that will keep the process moving. Veteran design firms can also be crucial in the all-important speed to market. Drawing upon their real-world experience and knowledge of the market, they can quickly develop a design that features all of the requirements necessary for a franchise outlet. They can easily step into the middle of a project for a franchiser when the franchisee’s design process hits a wall with a less experienced firm.

An experienced, professional firm can also recommend trusted contractors and vendors it has worked with in the past, and shepherd their new relationships with new franchisees and off-location corporate team members.

Values are valuable
It’s important that each partner understand and have respect for the priorities of the other. The company and the franchisee will hold certain values in common, such as the importance of customer service. Other aims that are important to the company – brand consistency, for instance – may be less so to the franchisee, who understandably wants to control costs. The key is flexibility. The right design partner can help by establishing building plans and brand standards that are compelling and consistent but also adaptable.

An experienced design team can also utilize their experience to find cost effective ways to maintain the brand. For example with their knowledge of materials, the design firm can introduce resources that meet the franchisees’ need for durability and at the same time, the company’s brand standards, for an economical price. They also understand that each franchisee location is different and can utilize creative, affordable solutions to translate the brand within any given footprint.

Education is key
An experienced design team can take on the role of teacher when working with a new franchisee. Novice franchisees may not understand what is involved in building a new space, or they may have ideas that do not coincide with the corporate brand. At the same time, the corporate team may not be familiar with their new franchisee’s ideas. Educating each side is crucial and, as the liaison, the design firm can see and understand both sides.

One key element that requires education on all sides is the permitting process. Nothing can hold up a project more than an obstacle in obtaining the necessary permits. A new franchisee may not understand the process and may not factor in permitting time. The corporate office, while well-versed on permitting as a whole, may not understand if a specific site requires additional and/or unusual engineering documentation or if conditions warrant a permit delay. It benefits no one to be surprised by permitting issues, so constant communication and education are necessary.

Educating the teams on the importance of a site survey is also critical. Insist on this key procedure to ensure the right information is conveyed to the architectural and engineering partners as well as the appropriate code officials so that extensive delays and additional fees can be avoided.

Flexibility, with limits
No matter the building project and its specific exigencies or constraints, the brand must come through loud and clear. Most companies with franchises have spent years developing their brands into strong presences that resonate with consumers. Such a company will want to hold tight control over its brand’s look and feel across all of its properties. Understanding both the corporate need for consistency and control, and the franchisee’s need to stay within budget, is a critical task.

While the brand cannot change, flexibility can be built into the design plan. Experienced designers can offer plans that remain consistent with the brand but also provide room for unique finishes and fixtures, or space planning options for franchisees to select from. By offering solutions at various budget levels, a design firm can help a franchisee be unique yet true to their corporate brand while making both sides feel their needs are being met.

When a new franchisee becomes a member of a corporate team, there is always a learning curve when it comes to developing a new property. Both the corporate team and the franchisee can benefit from a strong design partner who will help set expectations at the onset, advocate for them and act as an impartial third party, moving the project forward. Ultimately, everyone wants the same result, but it is often up to the design team to establish the harmony and balance a project needs in order to succeed.

Shane is senior VP of FRCH Design Worldwide’s specialty architecture studio and can be reached at [email protected]. Tricia is a VP in the studio and she can be reached at [email protected].


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