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Walmart raises heat on holiday shopping with earlier Black Friday opening, guaranteed deals

BY Marianne Wilson

Bentonville, Ark. — Walmart will opens its stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than a year ago. The retailer is also guaranteeing shoppers that it will have three of the most popular items it sells if they line up inside the store during a one-hour event that day.

“We know it’s frustrating for customers to shop on Black Friday and not get the items they want,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer, Walmart U.S. “This year, for the first time ever, customers that shop during Walmart’s one-hour event will be guaranteed to have three of the most popular items under their tree at a great low price.”

Walmart said that shoppers who are lined up inside the store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving will be able to purchase the following items: an Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi for $399 plus a $74 Wal-Mart gift card; an Emerson 32-inch LCD TV for $148, down from the original $228; and an LG Blu-Ray Disc player for $38, about half off the original price.

For those shoppers who are inside the store during the one-hour window and find the product sold out, Wal-Mart will offer a guarantee card for the item. The item must be paid for by midnight and registered online. The product will then be shipped to the store where it was purchased for the customer to pick up before Dec. 25.

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Feb-26-2013 05:35 am

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The Birth of a Trend: Using Social Analytics to Predict Trends

BY CSA STAFF

By Dr. Trevor Davis, [email protected]

How can you identify if a trend is worth caring about? That is, if it’s something that’s going to stick around for a while and attract a whole lot of people – all of them potential customers? It’s one of the eternal questions of marketing – and a lot is depending on the answer. Clearly, it’s important to capitalize on a trend while it’s still on the upswing. Nobody wants to be manufacturing pleated trousers after the cognoscenti have started wearing narrow flat-fronts.

Marketers of course have a number of tools at their disposal to sniff out trends – surveys, focus groups, consumer panels, instinct. They go to trade shows. They talk to their friends and neighbors. They keep their eyes open. All these techniques are valid and helpful. But now, innovations in technology are providing CMOs with powerful new capabilities. The advent of social media and sophisticated analytics software enables marketers to identify trends as they develop. The software can be used to spot “weak signals” online – nascent trends that reflect something new with a lot of upside potential. Case in point – Cycle Chic. Around 2006, I started noticing a small number of people online talking about cycling in fashionable clothing – often tweeds. They liked to share photos of themselves on their bikes – which invariably boasted classic or vintage styling. The tiny group of enthusiasts grew quickly; and using a custom algorithm, I was able to chart how the trend blossomed online – and offline – as the years unfolded.

In 2007, the Cycle Chic blog was founded in Copenhagen – an important milestone. The online discussion soon spread from Copenhagen to Berlin, Stockholm, Portland and Los Angeles. Then in 2009, the trend really began to gather steam, with online conversation sprouting up in London, Amsterdam, Dublin, Atlanta, New York, Ghent, Boulder, Seoul, Charleston, Phoenix, Poznan, and Dallas. In the meantime, the brick-and-mortar world was taking notice. Small consumer products companies and retailers started to serve the trend – offering fashions specific to Cycle Chic. In 2009, the first “Tweed run” – events where people dress in vintage or modern tweeds and cycle in groups – was organized, in Savile Row, London.

By 2011, bigger players had gotten involved. Ralph Lauren introduced the Tweed run-influenced Rugby Collection. Target began selling the new Missoni for Target bicycle. This year, Levi’s introduced its Commuter Series jeans, and – in a nod to Cycle Chic – fashion weeks in New York and London merged high fashion and cycling. Today – even though many still may not have heard about it – the Cycle Chic trend is something of global phenomenon. There are more than 100 blogs. There are Cycle Chic events going on all the time. There’s even a song. My study of this trend illustrates an important point: Using algorithms to identify and follow a trend in its infancy opens up a world of possibility for marketers. It enables them to estimate the size – and location – of a potential market. It identifies likely customers. It provides insight into what competitors may be doing – not just established players, but startups as well.

There are 500 million people on Twitter – that’s way bigger than any focus group. The vast number of online participants posting and sharing creates mountains of valuable data from which insight can be extracted. Marketers who understand how to use this data will have a much better chance of catching a powerful trend early on and riding it for maximum profit.

Dr. Trevor Davis is a consumer products expert at IBM Global Business Services. He can be reached at [email protected].


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Apr-10-2013 12:08 pm

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B.Low says:
Jan-03-2013 04:53 am

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Kohl’s posts earnings boost in Q3, updates outlook

BY CSA STAFF

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — Kohl’s third quarter sales increased 2.6% to $4.5 billion, and comparable-store sales were up 1.1%, in line with the company’s expectations.

The retailer’s net income for the third quarter rose 14% to 91 cents per diluted share. Net income was $215 million compared with $211 million, or 80 cents per diluted share, a year ago.

Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and CEO, said, “Our sales performance in the third quarter was consistent with our expectations, while our gross margin results were better than expected. Thanks to our dedicated teams, expenses were again well-managed. We have made noticeable investments in holiday inventory – both in depth and content – and the in-store experience. Our stores are festive and fun to shop. We are also very excited about our expanded gift strategy and our ability to offer great products at great values."

Kohl’s ended the quarter with 1,146 stores in 49 states, compared with 1,127 stores at the same time last year. During the year, the company opened 21 new stores, including 1 relocated store, closed 1 store and completed 50 remodels.

Kohl’s now expects earnings per diluted share for fiscal 2012 to range from $4.52 to $4.60 versus its previous guidance of $4.50 to $4.65 per diluted share. For the fourth quarter, the company expects earnings per diluted share to be between $2 and $2.08, total sales growth to be between 7% and 8%, and comparable-store sales growth to be between 3% and 4%.

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