MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Department store retailer boosting toys; in deal with Lego

BY Marianne Wilson

J.C. Penney is going big on toys this holiday season.

In July, the retailer announced it was opening toy shops in all its stores, with an expanded assortment available online. Penney on Monday said it is expanding the assortment, and has entered into a partnership to add products from the popular Lego brand in some 875 locations, with a wider selection featured online starting in December.

Penney said it is adding 40% more toys, games and plushes from a host of leading brands to its toy assortments. Additionally, the chain has quadrupled its online selection of toys since last holiday.

“By working with the best toy brands in the industry, J.C. Penney continues to differentiate itself from the competition, giving more families a reason to visit our stores and discover the amazing selection available at JCPenney.com,” said John Tighe, executive VP and chief merchant. “By partnering with a toy icon like the Lego brand, J.C. Penney is well-positioned to capture a greater share of revenue within the toy industry, during the busiest shopping period for gifts.”

Penney’s online site now boasts four times more toys than last holiday season with additional brands and categories planned throughout December, the company said. Based on customer feedback, the company has expanded its assortment of toys for all ages, ranging from motorized ride-on vehicles and bicycles to outdoor trampolines and electronic learning toys.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Amazon grabs a majority of marketing budgets

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers are more likely to increase their marketing budgets for Amazon than they are for Google, Bing, Facebook or Twitter.

This was according to “The Age of Amazon: Maximizing the B2C Marketing Opportunity.” The report from ClickZ Intelligence and digital marketing agency Catalyst, a division of GroupM, is based on responses from 250 North America-based business-to-consumer marketers.

According to the study, 63% of companies advertising on Amazon plan to increase this budget over the next 12 months, compared to 54% for Google, 53% for Facebook, 27% for Bing and 23% for Twitter. Meanwhile, only 15% of marketers agree they are using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to its full potential, and only 17% said they have a fully defined AMS strategy.

The huge reach of Amazon makes it an increasingly attractive platform for advertisers. Meanwhile, AMS paid search products are gaining traction with brands and agencies — two factors that are delivering an impressive return on advertising spend, the study reported.

“Today, it’s not enough to simply spend more with Amazon. With multi-factored opportunities for product promotion, brand investment needs to be expertly managed for maximum return,” said Kerry Curran, managing partner, marketing integration, Catalyst. “In this age of Amazon, brands must be strategic, savvy, and internally integrated to maximize sales.”

Within the research, ClickZ carried out an online survey of 1,600 U.S. consumers. This details usage of Amazon, and compares research and buying behavior for eight categories of retail, including grocery, clothing, home electronics and pet care. Data revealed that 66% of consumers had bought clothing from Amazon in the previous 12 months, compared to 64% for personal care products, and 63% for furniture or home décor.

Only 43% of consumers bought grocery products through Amazon in the last 12 months. However, this figure is set to grow as Amazon scales up both AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Pantry programs following its acquisition of Whole Foods Market.

Voice search could contribute to this growth. Currently, 14% of consumers own an Amazon Echo, and 32% are considering it. Only 15% of businesses have developed Skills on Alexa, with 23% of companies planning to do so later this year. And each voice session filters new customer data into the hands of marketers.

“Amazon has transactional data, it knows who you are and what you are purchasing,” said Chris Humber, head of search, Catalyst/GroupM. “It’s the Holy Grail, and what Google would like to have. It’s the missing piece that allows Amazon to move from predictive to prescriptive search, so they can recommend proactively.”

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