A-B to Fight for Independence — Or Higher Price?

July 2, 2008 by

Brew blog

A-B expected to present strategic plan.

Can Anheuser-Busch successfully fend off InBev’s unsolicited, $46 billion bid by presenting shareholders with an alternative plan to boost the stock price?

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that A-B was poised to reject InBev’s bid and present shareholders with a strategy that would deepen a cost-cutting program, shed assets including theme parks, and possibly include a special dividend.

Notes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Ironically, such cost-cutting and divestitures would mirror moves that analysts say InBev might make if it takes over Anheuser-Busch.”

Will it work? The Post-Dispatch finds some observers are skeptical. From the story:

“Are you kidding me? This is not going to fly,” Morningstar analyst Ann Gilpin said Wednesday evening. “The board didn’t really have a leg to stand on to begin with. … I think shareholders are going to look at (the plan) very skeptically.”

Gilpin said the trouble is that Anheuser-Busch appears to be contemplating a drawn-out restructuring plan, while InBev is holding out the promise of $65 a share in ready cash. Plus, buyers of theme parks will not give a desperate Anheuser-Busch a good price in a slow economy, she added.

Beer industry consultant Joe Thompson, meanwhile, says A-B should fight — and could be better positioned to boost the business. From the story:

Joe Thompson, president of South Carolina consulting firm Independent Beverage Group, said “the best thing to do is for Anheuser-Busch to fight” the takeover. Thompson said he believes the Anheuser-Busch management team is better prepared than InBev to grow the A-B’s core business in the U.S. over the next three to five years.

Another beverage analyst, meanwhile, suggests A-B is trying to push A-B to offer a higher price.

But Tom Pirko, president of Buellton, Calif.-based industry consulting firm Bevmark, believes Anheuser-Busch’s reported plan is actually a bluff to squeeze more money out of InBev.

“Quite candidly, what they’re doing doesn’t even buy them any time,” said Pirko. But Anheuser-Busch’s plan is meant to reset InBev’s offer at a higher level — perhaps $70 or even $75, he said.

InBev faces some constraints of its own, Pirko said. InBev chief executive Carlos Brito “has to be very careful” not to damage Anheuser-Busch’s assets — including its relationships with distributors, retailers and the general public — by going hostile.

Pirko predicted “a real knock-down, drag-out series of discussions” between InBev and Anheuser-Busch on how to value the St. Louis company while avoiding a “disastrous” impasse.

Time will tell.

Report: A-B to Reject InBev Bid

July 2, 2008 by

Brew blog

Expected to argue it undervalues A-B, WSJ reports.

Anheuser-Busch is poised to reject InBev’s unsolicited bid for the company — potentially setting the stage for InBev to go hostile, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

From the story:

Anheuser-Busch Cos. is prepared to reject InBev NV’s unsolicited $46.35 billion acquisition offer as early as this week, setting the stage for a hostile takeover battle for America’s largest brewer, according to people familiar with the matter.

Anheuser is expected to argue that InBev’s offer undervalues the maker of Budweiser beer and soon will present its own strategic plan. That plan, which is likely to include the sale of noncore assets such as Anheuser’s theme parks, is designed to boost the company’s share price, these people said.

Ultimately, the move isn’t likely to deter InBev, which has put together a carefully crafted battle plan, according to people familiar with the matter. InBev, of Leuven, Belgium, is prepared to take its offer directly to Anheuser shareholders via a tender offer that Anheuser has few defenses to stop, these people said. Many investors have expressed support for the bid, which represents a roughly 30% premium to where Anheuser shares traded before the offer.

MillerCoors Sales Execs Named

July 2, 2008 by

Brew blog

Regional vice presidents, top chain and craft/import exec announced.

The MillerCoors sales structure is taking shape as regional vice presidents and a top chain, crafts and imports executive were named today.

The MillerCoors organization will be divided into eight regions, plus Puerto Rico, each overseen by a vice president.

Kevin Doyle, currently Miller Brewing Company’s vice president-Midwest Region, was named chief customer officer and managing director of the craft and import division. In that role he will oversee chain as well as crafts and imports. He will report directly to Tom Long, who will be president and chief commercial officer of the new organization.

“Two of the essential requirements for winning in beer are leading value creation in chains and other strategic customers, and taking share in the fast growing craft and import sector,” Long said in a memo announcing Doyle’s appointment.

Meanwhile, Tom Cardella and Ed McBrien — the presidents of MillerCoors’ Eastern and Western divisions, respectively — named the regional vice presidents reporting to them.

Eastern Division regional vice presidents reporting to Cardella are:

— Paul Hanson, regional vice president – Great Lakes Region (Milwaukee): Joined Miller in 1982; currently vice president – Western Region.

— Neil Kiely, regional vice president – Northeast Region (New Jersey): Joined Coors in 2007; currently regional vice president – East Region.

— Stephen Horgan, regional vice president – Southeast Region (Atlanta): Joined Coors in 2007; currently vice president – Key Accounts.

— William Dreger, regional vice president – Mid-Atlantic Region (Charlotte): Joined Miller in 1981; currently area vice president – Texas

Western Division regional vice presidents, as well as the Puerto Rico vice president, reporting to McBrien are:

— Michael Magoulas, regional vice president – Central Region (Kansas City): Joined Miller in 2006; currently general manager – South Central Market Area.

— Jeff Colbert, regional vice president – Southwest Region (Dallas): Joined Coors in 2002; currently regional vice president – South Region.

— Jami McDermid, regional vice president – Mountain Region (Golden): Joined Coors in 2005; currently vice president – commercial development

— Mike McGhee, regional vice president – Pacific Region (Roseville): Joined Coors in 1982; currently regional vice president – West Region.

— Javier Soler, vice president – Puerto Rico (Guaynabo): Joined Coors in 2007; currently vice president and general manager – Caribbean and Travel Retail.

“Earlier this month, we shared our vision of becoming the best beer company in America,” Cardella and McBrien said in a memo to distributors. “We’ll do this through our brands, our people, our partners and our scale.

“MillerCoors creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the nature of competition in the beer business by creating a best-in-class sales force.”

Viral Video, Meet eCommerce. Shake Hands

July 2, 2008 by

Marketing VOX
Like it? Buy it

Splashcast released a tool that turns online videos into impulse buy opportunities, reports Mediaweek.

HotSpot enables marketers to tag objects — like a chair or a table lamp — inside a published video. Viewers that click on the highlighted item see a sponsored message and a link to the purchasing page.

Splashcast hopes HotSpot will inspire product placement opportunities in films that have already gone viral. The format was also designed to draw minimal attention to itself, so as not to irritate viewers.

“Video viewers are alerted to HotSpot content by a subtle highlighting of an image within the video,” said HotSpot.

Interested advertisers must contact Splashcast directly.

Splashcast specializes in connecting advertisers to social media users. Clients include Red Bull, MTV, Nike, and Sony Music.

Will microbrews kill the King of Beers?

July 2, 2008 by

msn.com | Money

By Joseph Tirella, MSN Money

If Robin Ottaway, sales manager and co-owner of the Brooklyn Brewery, wants to know how popular his company’s beer is, he need only check his e-mail. In his inbox last month were requests from interested parties in Costa Rica, Panama and India asking how to get Brooklyn’s brews (already sold in China, Turkey and Finland, among other countries).

“Just people inquiring about our beer,” he says. “We have a pretty well-established international market.”

Co-founder on success of Brooklyn Brewery

Indie “craft” beer makers such as Brooklyn Brewery are where the action is these days. American craft brewers are small (producing fewer than 2 million barrels annually), independent (not controlled by an industrial brewery such as Anheuser-Busch) and traditional (using at least 50% all-malt ingredients in their beers). And their success is striking fear into the mass-market brewers who dominate the $97 billion U.S. beer industry.

How beer is made at the Brooklyn Brewery

Although craft beers account for only $5.7 billion of the industry, they have seen a 58% increase in dollar sales since 2004, according to the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo. Last year, while imported and noncraft beer both experienced a growth rate of 1.4% in volume, craft beer enjoyed a 12% growth rate in volume, according to the Brewers Association.

The shift in consumer tastes — along with a commodities boom that has put pressure on profits throughout the beer industry — has put the jumbo players on the defensive. The industry’s No. 2 and 3 players, SABMiller (SBMRY, news, msgs) and Molson Coors (TAP, news, msgs), respectively, are merging their operations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Their new company – MillerCoors – is expected to go into effect in July and will have a combined market share of nearly 30%.

And the nation’s self-titled King of Beers, Anheuser-Busch (BUD, news, msgs), has been dogged by the possible takeover by Belgian global powerhouse InBev.

Click here for more on the possible takeover.

Craft beers are nothing new to Anheuser-Busch: For the past decade, the company has been buying its way into the sector with minority stakes in producers such Redhook Ale Brewery (HOOK, news, msgs) in Seattle and Widmer Bros. in Portland, Ore.

Who really owns your favorite beer?

Anheuser-Busch has also been revamping its Michelob line, which includes flavors such as Honey Lager, Amberbock and Marzen, an Oktoberfest-style beer. Several of Michelob’s brews have been winning awards at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

But the craft sector has proved particularly thorny for Anheuser-Busch since April 2007, when its second-

largest American distributor, Ben E. Keith Beverages of Texas, broke an exclusivity deal with the brewer after taking over the Texas operations of C.R. Goodman Distribution, a Colorado-based network that specializes in craft and import beers.

“We saw a great need to expand our portfolio into the craft and import segments,” Kevin Bartholomew, the president of Ben E. Keith, which has been carrying Anheuser-Busch beverages since 1933, said in an e-mail. “This segment has been growing in mid-single to double digits, although at a lower base, for at least 10 years.”

Ben E. Keith now carries more than 60 brands of craft and import brands, including Belgium’s Duvel and Chimay as well as Brooklyn and Delaware’s Dogfish Head. The distributor has seen greater than 12% growth in the category since January, Bartholomew said.

The Ben E. Keith move was “a jailbreak,” with serious implications for Anheuser-Busch, said Bump Williams, the general manager of Chicago market research firm Information Resources. “If (Ben E. Keith) is breaking their exclusivity,” he said, “then everyone else is going to be breaking it.”

If one major brewer has an edge with craft-beer consumers it might be Molson Coors, which has created its own successful craft-style beer.

The company sent brewer Keith Villa to Belgium, which has a far more varied beer tradition, to earn a doctorate in brewing chemistry at the University of Brussels. When Villa returned to the U.S., he created Blue Moon Belgian White Ale, which looks, tastes and is marketed like a craft beer but is mass-produced — a detail the Colorado company isn’t going out of its way to promote.

Initially, drinkers were skeptical. “People said, ‘There’s something wrong with my beer — it’s cloudy,'” said Villa. But once they tasted it, he said, “we couldn’t brew enough of it.”

Even without national advertising, Blue Moon has seen double-digit growth since 2002, according to a spokesperson. In April, it was named the No. 1 beer in U.S. supermarkets for 2007, according to IRI’s Top 30 Beer Brand Performers (which featured 20 craft and imported brands among its ranks). “This beer is on fire,” said Williams, of Information Resources.

Williams says the major brewers seem to be taking the right steps to adapt to the changing beer market. “When you’re as big as these three companies, you’re not going to see the double-digit growth like in the craft beer market,” Williams says. “But all three (Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller and Molson Coors) are doing the right things to capitalize on that part of the beer industry.”

As the tectonic plates of the U.S. industry shift, some smaller brewers — Boston Beer (SAM, news, msgs),

Heineken U.S.A. (HINKF, news, msgs) or D.G. Yuengling & Son, a regional brewer in Pottsville, Pa., that bills itself as America’s oldest brewery — might find themselves in a position to grow their market shares. “They’re under the radar of the big brewers,” Williams says. “But people are watching them.” Still, he adds, until the St. Louis brewery is dethroned, Anheuser-Busch remains king. “They’re still the one to beat.”

A ‘lunatic fringe’ beer

That might sound like bad news for most smaller brewers, but not to Tom Peters, co-owner of Philadelphia’s Monk’s Café. Peters pours only Belgian, German or American craft beers.

See the variety of beers at Monk’s Cafe

“The big boys are opening the market,” says Peters, one of the first people to sell Belgian beer in the U.S. “What Coors and Anheuser-Busch are doing is growing the market share, and that’s going to trickle down to smaller brewers.”

Monk’s owner on the beer industry

From Peters’ vantage point, Blue Moon is “a gateway beer or an introductory beer to Belgian beer and other craft beers.”

And craft brewers, certainly, will drink to that.

Heinz Ketchup Ranks No. 1 in Brand Equity

July 2, 2008 by

Marketing VOX

Henry John Heinz said “to do a common thing uncommonly well brings success,” and Heinz Ketchup is apparent proof of that maxim, ranking consistently among top brands in Harris Interactive’s EquiTrend brand-equity study — and claiming the No. 1 equity score in 2008, reports MarketingCharts.

harris-equitrends-top-10-brands-overall-2008.jpgEquiTrend is a 28-year brand-equity study that measures more than 1,000 brands across 39 categories based on six base measures: familiarity, quality, purchase consideration, brand expectations, distinctiveness, and trust.

Notable 2008 category winners among brands measured:

harris-equitrends-category-winners-2008.jpgWord-of-Mouth

This year’s EquiTrend also includes specific questions that help quantify the level of word of mouth marketing within a category and identify demographic sub-groups, Harris Interactive said.

The Restaurant category has the highest volume of word-of-mouth activity, followed by computer related products, foods, consumer electronics and resorts/attractions, Harris found.

“While there are many ways to strengthen the bonds between brands and their stakeholders, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the social networks to which stakeholders belong and how they operate, in order to proactively influence the spread of positive brand experiences and minimize the damage of negative experiences,” said Carol Gstalder, SVP, Brand & Communications Consulting, Harris Interactive.

About the study: The 2008 EquiTrend study was online conducted among 20,289 US consumers age 15+, between March 27 and April 16, 2008. The total number of brands rated was 1,170. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 60 randomly selected brands.

Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data were weighted to be representative of the entire US population of consumers ages 15 and over on the basis of gender, age, education, race/ethnicity, region and income. Data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online.

What Online Consumers Want: A Personalized Experience

July 2, 2008 by

Marketing VOX

Consumers want — and expect — online merchants to provide personalized experiences and product recommendations based on shopping behavior, according to a MyBuys/e-tail group survey of 1,345 online consumers — MarketingCharts writes.

Highlights of the findings:

  • Three out of four consumers are willing to provide some meaningful amount of personal information in exchange for a more personalized, relevant shopping experience.
  • 77 percent say they have made additional purchases when they have encountered personalized product recommendations online – more than half say they usually peruse those recommendations when offered:

my-buys-personalized-product-recommendations-purchased-additional-product.jpg

  • Over one-third of consumers (36 percent) indicate they award more loyalty to merchants that meet demand for true personalization in the shopping experience.
  • Just 2 percent report feeling that products suggested to them online are tailored for them based on their individual purchases and behaviors.

“Our research shows that consumers value the convenience, time savings and ease they get from a more relevant interaction with a merchant,” said Lauren Freedman, president, the e-tailing group.

However, most merchants have not yet made the technology investments necessary to create effective personalized product recommendations, MyBuys noted.

From one-on-one interviews with 24 merchants:

  • Personalization is only an upcoming initiative for 41 percent of merchants.
  • More than one-third of merchants cite lack of resources as a challenge to making personalization a higher priority:

my-buys-personalized-product-recommendations-top-5-obstacles.jpg

  • 79 percent of merchants who do attempt to personalize the online experience still rely on manual, hard-coded methods for providing additional product recommendations to online shoppers.

How To: A Beginner’s Guide to Building Web Widgets

July 2, 2008 by

Marketing VOX

Marketers are expected to spend about $40 million on web widgets this year. This guide will teach you how to build and embed simple web widgets at no cost (besides an investment of time).

It’s free, easy and takes about five minutes to roll out your first creation.

One of the best things about widgets is that you can enable sharing. Sharing widgets means more mashing of your ideas and content. More mashing means more community and more buzz around your brainchildren. For those who love to play and live in the WWW sandbox, this article is for you.

Getting Started with Web Widgets

The first widget we will build is embedded below. It is basically your blog or website in a condensed format, showing the links to the latest 20 articles in a custom, branded, linked and optimized format. In the first short video we show you how to build this widget, which we then embed to a Facebook profile.

The second widget we build is a custom news feed using Google News. This widget adds value by providing visitors with targeted, niche-specific news without leaving your site. This widget can also drive traffic to your destination, because you can brand it with your own logo and link, and add it to a public gallery where others can access and embed it to their own sites. We embed this widget in a private website which runs off WordPress.

Keep in mind that you can choose to make your widgets publicly available to anyone who wants them, or to keep them private for your own use.

Finally, in this guide we will briefly cover other technologies you can use to build widgets, and we will resources for how to embed widgets to platforms not listed above.

Here’s one of the widgets we are going to build:

Get the <a href=”http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/content-management-cms-news-reviews-re-cmsdemo-2″>Content Management (CMS) News, Reviews, Resources</a> widget and many other <a href=”http://www.widgetbox.com/galleryhome/”>great free widgets</a> at <a href=”http://www.widgetbox.com”>Widgetbox</a&gt;!And here’s the process we cover in the vids.

Building Widgets

* Go to WidgetBox.com, create an account and sign in.
* Click on “Create Widget,” top-right of the screen.
* Choose “Create from Blog/Feed.”
* Get the path to your RSS or ATOM feed, if you have one. Right-click on the RSS icon on your page, the XML icon, or the “Subscribe” link, and choose “Copy Target Location.” More on finding the path to your RSS or ATOM feed here, and we also discuss this in the first video. The feed url will often end in something like: http://www.yoursite.com/rss.xml. You can grab any feed you want, from a different blog or a Google News search result, etc. When you’ve done this, hit Continue.
* Change defaults/cosmetics as you see fit. Choose a logo/pic to brand the widget with.
* Hit ‘Publish Blidget’ when we’re happy.

Embedding Your Widget

* At the next screen, click on “Get Widget.”
* Choose where you want to embed it. If you want to embed to your Facebook or Blogger account, sign into that account in a seperate screen, click on the relevant icon, and you will be brought through a brief, one-screen installer.
* If you want to embed to a regular website, select “Copy” to grab the default embed code for the website. You can get this in Flash or Javascript.
* Embedding to a WordPress website: From the Admin Dashboard, select Design, Widgets, Add Text Widget. Click Edit. Paste the embed code you copied earlier. Save and exit. Resources for embedding to other platforms at the bottom of the page.

Part One: Turning your blog or Website into a Widget and Embedding it on your Facebook page

(Apologies for a few spots of audio static)

Part Two: Building a Custom News Widget and Embedding to a Website (WordPress)

Some of the Best Widget Building Websites

Widgetbox.com
Widgetbox is the technology used in these videos, simply because it is the best and easiest for the type of feed-driven widgets we’ve built here.

Simplicity and development speed are the primary attractions of building with Widgetbox, and there is one other compelling reason to go with these guys. As the most popular online widget-maker (apart from Google Gadgets, which is slightly different), its public gallery is the best place to list your widget for maximum exposure.

Although we stuck with building simple widgets in the examples above, you can build high-capability, highly customized widgets using Widgetbox technology.

Dapper.net
Dapper can’t match Widgetbox for sheer simplicity, but the range of things you can do with just a bit more effort is stunning. Dapper lets you build a widget which manipulates a field like a search field, effectively building a feed from that field. This is done from a virtual browser. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Have a look at Dapper’s own brief tutorial video to see how this is done.

So what’s so great about that? Remember in the second video above where we got the RSS field from a Google News query? That worked great, but what about the other 99% of sites which don’t enable RSS from a query string, like YouTube for instance? Dapper will build the feed for you, so you can make extremely useful mashup widgets from the full gamut of Web 2.0 websites.

One mark against Dapper: its virtual browser can be a bit of a headache. We had compatibility problems with FireFox, and had to switch to IE to get Dapper working correctly. On the plus side, there’s a fantastic array of import and export capabilities. On the whole, a superb resource.

When we come to building intermediate level widgets in a future article, we’ll be using Dapper. Stay tuned.

Google Gadgets
Do you want your website widget listed in Google’s gallery? Of course you do. Get started with this video, which shows you how to build some very cool Gadgets. Then go to Google Gadgets to get busy.

Sprout.com
We like to keep tabs on what the early-adopter crowd is using. In the widgets space, it’s Sprout.com. The hip cats like Duncan Riley use Sprout, so it’s got to have something going for it.

Sprout allows you to “build, publish and manage rich media web content including widgets, mini-sites, banners, mashups and more.” We haven’t tried it yet, so if you think this is the front-runner in the widget-building stakes — as many seem to, then enlighten us below.

Top 50 US Web Rankings Issued for May, Google No. 1 for Second Time

July 2, 2008 by

Marketing VOX

For the second time, Google Sites edged out Yahoo Sites among US web properties in May, having finally overtaken Yahoo for the top spot in April, according to a comScore Media Metrix monthly analysis of US consumer activity at online properties, MarketingCharts reports.

With an audience of some 143.4 million visitors, Google eclipsed Yahoo, which had 142.9 million visitors.

Content categories showing gains in May included flowers/gifts/greetings, jewelry/luxury goods/accessories, coupon, and travel sites.

Top 50 Properties (Unique Visitors)

comscore-top-50-online-properties-us-may-2008.jpgAmong the highlights:

  • Microsoft Sites, in third place with 121.3 million visitors, was not far behind Google and Yahoo.
  • Time Warner – Excluding AOL – moved up one position to #9 with 56 million visitors.
  • IRS.gov jumped 14 positions to #20 with 31 million visitors, propelled by Americans’ checking the status of tax refunds and stimulus checks.

Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking (Advertising Reach)

comscore-ad-focus-ranking-us-may-2008.jpgAmong the highlights:

  • Platform-A continued to lead the Ad Focus ranking, reaching 90 percent of the nearly 191 million Americans online in May.
  • 24/7 Real Media moved up three spots, to #15.
  • Turn, Inc. jumped six positions to #26, reaching 39 percent of the online population.

Top-Gaining Sites and Categories

“Mother’s Day was a key driver of web activity in May, as the convenience of online shopping for flowers and gifts drew many to retail sites,” commented Jack Flanagan, EVP of comScore Media Metrix.

“Summer travel was also on Americans’ minds this month as warmer weather and the end of the school year spurred vacation planning. With Americans feeling the pocket pinch of soaring gas prices, rising food costs and an unsteady market, scouring the internet for hot travel deals was essential for many to ensure an affordable summer vacation.”

Mother’s Day Traffic to Gift and Retail Sites

Flowers/gifts/greetings sites had traffic gains with the celebration of Mother’s Day on May 11. The category reached 42.4 million visitors, up 15 percent from April, making it the top-gaining category for the month.

comscore-top-10-gaining-categories-us-may-2008.jpgOther highlights:

  • AmericanGreetings Property led the category with 15.7 million visitors (up 5 percent), followed by Hallmark with 5.5 million visitors (up 23 percent).
  • Proflowers.com ranked third with nearly 5.5 million visitors, or a 319 percent gain versus April; it was one of the top-gaining properties for the month.

comscore-top-10-gaining-properties-us-may-2008.jpg

  • The e-cards category also recorded traffic increases, as it grew 8 percent to more than 35 million visitors.
  • Other retail categories gained as a result of Mother’s Day, including jewelry/luxury goods/accessories (up 9 percent to 17.5 million visitors) and mall sites (up 9 percent to 29 million visitors).
  • MSN Shopping led the mall category with 7 million visitors, a 25-percent jump from April.

Coupon Sites Traffic Increases as Economic Concerns Rise

With rising consumer costs affecting many Americans, coupon-site traffic soar soared in May:

  • The category grew 11 percent to 24.5 million visitors during the month, as each of the top five sites in the category recorded double-digit gains.
  • Coupons, Inc. led the category with 7.2 million visitors (up 20 percent), followed by Eversave.com with 5.2 million visitors (up 13 percent) and CoolSavings.com with more than 5.1 million visitors (up 24 percent).

Summer Vacation Draws Many to Travel Sites

With Memorial Day marking the unofficial beginning of summer and vacation season, several travel categories achieved gains:

  • The travel-information category grew 9 percent to more than 47 million visitors, led by Travel Ad Network with 11.7 million visitors (up 7 percent), Yahoo Travel with 10 million visitors (up 5 percent), and Tripadvisor Sites with 8.2 million visitors (up 16 percent).
  • Online travel agent sites grew 7 percent to 45 million visitors, led by Expedia Inc. with 25.4 million visitors (up 8 percent), Travelocity with 12 million visitors (up 10 percent), and Orbitz.com with more than 9 million visitors.
  • Travel – ground/cruise sites also saw an increase, up 6 percent to 11.2 million visitors.

What women want

July 2, 2008 by

Notes from a Digital Frontier

In a recent article, a media research director lamented the fact that “when she used to attend mobile trade shows with a male colleague, she said, ‘they showed him the cool phone and showed me the phone with a mirror.’”

This issue hits on much bigger problems I have seen with marketing to and perceptions of women as consumers.

Why is it that people, such as the person in the example above, assume that a woman would be more concerned with a mirror on a phone rather than its functionality? Why wouldn’t a woman be interested in a sleek, well design, high-tech smartphone?

The quote above is from an article about how the tides of smartphone consumption are changing. Increasingly, women are becoming serious consumers of smartphones with roughly one in three iPhone purchases made by women and 71% of wireless plan choices are made by the women in families rather than the men. These statistics should prove that women are a relevant and important segment of the population to consider while promoting high tech gadgets such as the smartphones; these purchases are no longer confined to male, work-obsessed, Crackberry addicts.

But still, there are those who insist that marketing to women means taking a smaller version of a more powerful phone, and making it pink. Now I love pink – but it will never be the defining factor in whether I buy a phone or not. I recently purchased an HTC Tilt for the fact that it has Windows Mobile, the internet, powerful cell signal and a full keyboard. It also happens to be a sleek, comfortable phone. I assume that I chose this device for the same reasons any other person, male or female, would chose a phone. But the example above shows that there are still many who believe slapping a mirror onto the back of a perfectly good phone will make that device more appealing.

Design is important when choosing a phone, which is why the iPhone has become the smartphone of choice for a lot of people. But there are few marketing campaigns which seem to get this. A lot of the business-centered gadget marketing is directed almost exclusively to men. Show me a woman in your HDTV commercials not buying a television for her husband. Talk to me about why one laptop is better than another without showing me the “cute laptop case” available. Show me a smartly-dressed business woman using her iTouch and Blackberry. These are the images relevant to me and to many other women my age (and younger/older).

Media is changing the game now. Women are keeping up and smartphones are just the beginning. If marketers want to stay on top of competition and tap into uncharted demographics, start considering what women want too.