Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Competition Mounting for Convenience Shoppers' Attention
Grocery, Other Retail Outlets Increasingly Appealing to On-the-Go Consumers
Convenience stores -- which have traditionally served all the needs of consumers looking for a convenient location, a quick grab-and-go purchase and long hours of operation -- are finding themselves being upstaged increasingly by other retail outlets that are filling those needs and other consumer preferences, according to research by The NPD Group.
NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 U.S. c-store shoppers, found that for the quarter ending December 2011, nontraditional retail outlets, like grocery/mass market retailers, dollar stores and drug stores, represented 9.3% of c-store traffic, a 2% increase from the same quarter in 2010. C-store traffic overall was down 2% for the quarter from same quarter last year.
The reasons that consumers choose to shop at a c-store -- location, speed and hours -- are generally now the same as their reasons for shopping at nontraditional c-store outlets; 79% of consumers who visit a c-store did so because of its convenient location, and it was the location of a nontraditional store that led 67% of consumers to choose it, according to the Convenience Store Monitor.
The ability to get in-and-out of the store quickly factored into the decision of 44% of consumers to shop at a c-store, and for the same reason 40% of consumers visited a nontraditional retail outlet.
Longer hours of operation, once the unique selling proposition of c-stores, is the reason that 21% of consumers shopped at a c-store; but with more retail outlets offering longer hours of operation, particularly mass market grocers and drug stores, 24% of consumers report it as a reason they shopped at nontraditional c-stores.
With needs for convenience being met by traditional and nontraditional outlets, nontraditional outlets also win convenience consumers' visits on price, selection, quality and value, attributes that may not typically be associated with c-stores.
"There is no doubt that convenience stores are facing stiff competition from nontraditional retail outlets," said David Portalatin, c-store channel analyst for NPD. "Convenience stores need to glean as much insight as they can from the preferences that consumers are exhibiting. When they do that, they can differentiate themselves from the competition by providing offerings most relevant to their consumers."
(Source: CSP Daily News, 02/02/12)
||Orthodontists Market to Adults Seeking Prettier Smiles
Once as closely associated with adolescence as algebra, orthodontists have in recent years treated growing numbers of adults.
From 1994 to 2010, the number of Americans 18 and older getting braces or some other teeth-straightening treatment from an orthodontist has jumped 58 percent, to 1.1 million from 680,000 annually, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
Over the same period, the number of patients under 18 increased at a slower pace of 15 percent. In 2010, adults accounted for 22 percent of patients, up from 17 percent in 1994.
Now orthodontists are introducing what they say is a first -- a national advertising campaign pitched primarily to prospective adult patients.
New commercials from the association show adults almost exclusively. Actors with enviable smiles beam in the ads, with one woman saying her straighter teeth gave her self-confidence, another saying she likes flashing her pearly whites on dates and a man in his 30s saying, "It's never too late."
The only two children in three spots are portrayed with parents. In one, the father of a boy says, "So then he said to me, 'What about you, Dad?' "
One reason for the commercials is to differentiate between dentists and orthodontists. Dentists are increasingly getting into the teeth-straightening business with clear, removable aligners made by companies including Align Technology, which makes Invisalign.
"Whether you're considering clear liners, retainers or traditional braces, an orthodontist is the smart choice," says the voiceover. "Orthodontists are specialists in aligning teeth and straightening your bite, so get a great smile that feels great, too."
While the implication is that going to a dentist for a straightening procedure like Invisalign (which orthodontists offer as well) would not be a "smart choice," orthodontists make the point with some delicacy because they are so reliant on dentists for referrals.
The commercials are by Athorn, Clark & Partners, a Manhattan marketing communications company. They began running in January on cable channels including Bravo, TLC and the E! Entertainment Television.
The campaign, which also includes print, radio and online advertising, has an estimated budget of $5 million.
Highlighted at the end of each spot is the new link for the orthodontist association, MyLifeMySmile.org, formerly Braces.org.
"A lot of people who are 30, 40 or 50 probably have a fairly outdated idea of what orthodontics is and they probably go back to a time when it was literally a mouthful," said George Clark, a co-founder of Athorn, Clark & Partners, which also designed the new site.
Along with encompassing orthodontics beyond braces, the new name may imply that treatment can improve not just looks, but outlooks.
"It's a shift away from this being a decision about an appliance or a specific technology" but instead being "a personal issue and a health issue," Mr. Clark said.
"We're trying to emphasize the adult market and show how good they're going to look and how much self confidence that's going to create," said Dr. Michael B. Rogers, the president of the American Association of Orthodontists. "There are many adults on the fence and we want to show them the benefits of braces."
Dr. Rogers, who has been in practice for 38 years, with offices in Augusta and Thomson, Ga., said adults accounted for about 5 percent of his patients when he began, compared with as many as 25 percent today.
The cost of orthodontic treatment -- including conspicuous or inconspicuous braces and clear aligners -- ranges from about $5,000 to $6,500 in Dr. Rogers's practice. The average duration for treatment for all orthodontic patients is 22 months, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
Among Dr. Rogers's adult patients, about half are parents who decided to get treatment after bringing in their children for braces, with some even deciding to do so concurrent with their children.
"Some will go right into treatment with their children, and there will be a mom along with her two kids in the treatment bay," Dr. Rogers said.
Mr. Clark, the marketer, said among the materials being designed to circulate in orthodontists' offices are posters and pamphlets aimed at parents transporting their children to the office. "It's a crass term" in a clinical context, said Mr. Clark, "but you do have a cross-selling opportunity there."
The first known marketing for teeth straightening, according to a 2005 article in the Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, was placed in 1796 by Josiah Flagg, who advertised that he "regulates teeth" in order to "prevent pain and fevers in children" and "assist nature in the extension of the jaw, for a beautiful arrangement of a second set of teeth."
For actors cast in the latest commercials, the marketers had an unusual requirement: they must have previously had orthodontic treatment. (Or, in the case of the boy and girl in the ads, be wearing braces.)
And while those who were cast have winning smiles, they are not generally traffic-stoppers.
"They had to look attractive but not too pretty like they just stepped off a fashion runway," said John Athorn, the other co-founder of Athorn, Clark, about the actors. "We're selling good, healthy smiles, but at the end of the day we hope people will see them as attractive yet recognizable -- and not so otherworldly."
(Source: The New York Times, 02/02/12)
||Dealers Optimistic After Early Boat Show Results
Despite decreased attendance at several boat shows, boat dealers from across the country are reporting an improved buying mood, translating to an increase in sales compared to last year.
Boating Industry magazine spoke with four dealers, who combined to attend National Marine Manufacturers Association-produced boat shows in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Toronto.
"It was amazing, we would sit down an hour into the show and were writing contracts," said Austin Singleton, owner of Singleton Marine, speaking about his experience at the Atlanta Boat Show.
Singleton said his dealership doubled sales from last year while also slightly increasing margins.
Despite a seven percent decrease in attendance at the Atlanta show, Singleton said a larger number of attendees were ready to buy and put down their deposit at the show.
For Paul Terzian, whose Causeway Marine attended the New York boat show, it was a year where his salespeople spoke to fewer people but a higher percentage of those people were ready to buy. Despite the 10-percent drop in attendance and fewer people entering their booth, Terzian said they matched last year's sales at the show.
Attendance at the Toronto Boat Show was up five percent this year, and boat sales coincided with that increase, according to Carly Poole from Buckeye Marine, which sold 10 more units in 2012 than the prior year.
Mike Pretasky Jr. of SkipperBud's said the overall mood of the Chicago Boat Show was greatly improved over 2011 and his company's sales slightly exceeded their expectations.
"Overall everybody was really upbeat, especially the customer base, and we were able to sell some boats," Pretasky Jr. said.
Both Buckeye and Singleton reported seeing the entry-level buyers return to the shows. Singleton estimated 35 percent of their boat sales were to new buyers, while Poole said Buckeye was doing more educating than normal at their booth -- something she welcomes.
"We had people coming into our MasterCraft booth and saying 'what is that metal thing on top of the boat,'" Poole said.
Poole also noticed a demographic change at the Toronto Boat Show, where a much larger Asian population attended -- a possible result of a marketing campaign by the boat show to appeal to new ethnic groups, according to Poole.
Terzian said the trend of eager, new buyers was not nearly as apparent at the New York Boat Show, where Causeway Marine collected only a fraction of the leads captured last year. Terzian worries external factors like gas and Washington politics are affecting demand.
"Since the show, I have become concerned about the ridiculous price of gas potentially bringing sales to a screeching halt," he said.
As far as the performance of individual segments, Singleton was especially pleased with the return of demand for his larger cruiser boats and big bowriders, as well as their entry-level line.
"It was the entry-level and cruiser-type market that went away. It was really refreshing to see them come back. People were willing to write those deals and give those 10-percent deposits," Singleton said.
Poole said Buckeye also experienced increased entry-level sales over the prior year, while both Poole and Terzian saw the increased interest in pontoons continue at their 2012 shows.
(Source: Boating Industry, 01/26/12)
Daily Sales Tip: Finding the Right Sales Mentor
Lately I've been hearing a lot of pretty successful people talking about how much they owe their achievements to their mentors. From vice presidents of sales to sales reps to business owners, they attribute their accomplishments, at least in part, to having a mentor to guide them.
Often though, salespeople who aspire to be the best don't have anyone to help them find the way. One of the biggest reasons may be that they don't know where to look.
Here are five tips to help you find your right sales mentor:
1. Think about what you need a mentor for. The first step toward finding a good sales mentor is to think about what you're actually hoping to gain from the relationship. Is it a sense of perspective on your career or territory, someone who can help you overcome a particularly difficult challenge you're facing, or something else? Be clear with your objective.
2. Find someone who is successful, positive, and a good listener. Look for a mentor with proven sales success, experience overcoming challenges and achieving goals that are similar to your own. He or she should offer a sounding board for the sales and career issues you're facing. Understanding what you're going through will allow your mentor to give valuable input, hold you accountable to your objectives, and push you to do your very best. Your mentor is your coach and cheerleader!
3. Your mentor shouldn't be your manager. While your sales manager may fill a mentor-like role in many ways, it's a good idea to have a separate person as your mentor. Why? Because you want to be able to speak openly. For example, you may have set a goal to sell double your quota. Your mentor can help you develop the strategy to do it, then push you to accomplish it. But your mentor won't forecast it like your manager might. Your mentor is your confidant and strategist.
4. Don't be afraid to consider mentors from other industries or backgrounds. There's no rule that says your mentor has to have, or have had, a similar sales job to the one you have. In fact, advice and guidance from a mentor who doesn't work in your field could yield an entirely new perspective. Because they're starting with a blank slate, they may be able to ask the kinds of questions that will lead you to an inspiration that you wouldn't have found otherwise.
5. It's okay to have multiple mentors. As you consider the benefits of having a sales mentor, you may find that it's beneficial to have more than one. For example, if you aspire to a sales executive role, a sales executive mentor would be invaluable. At the same time, if your strategy to get there is by growing alliance partner relationships for the company, having a mentor with experience there is also important. You don't want to have so many mentors that there isn't time to put their advice into action, but don't be afraid to approach more than one.
A mentor can catapult your success and once you start looking, you'll notice potential candidates all around you. Set an appointment to talk over coffee. You might be surprised at how open they are to helping, and just how much you'll gain from the experience!
Source: Sales author/consultant Kendra Lee, president of KLA Group