February 14, 2014

National Trust and its two audiences

National Trust

Last year, my annual pass at Legoland inspired me to write a blog post. This year we had National Trust membership and as it comes to an end, let me share a couple of observations about our experience.

The recent marketing strategy of the National Trust, which involves repositioning its offer away from grand houses and ‘look and don’t touch’ to happy memories, is well known. Has it been trying too hard to get with the times? It opened the Big Brother house to the public at the end of September last year – I won’t get side tracked on this issue.

What is interesting is to see how this repositioning has been put into practice.

The result is that the National Trust appears to have two main visitor groups: its core audience of ‘oldies’, and now young families too. Though these groups have quite different lifestyles, or at the very least, tend to not to spend their time in the same way, their needs are surprisingly similar in certain regards.

The idea of membership and having a pass which allows you limitless entry makes sense you have more time on your hands. This is the case for those whose children have left home and are retired. It also makes sense for those who are looking for low-risk days out – when you have a pass, it doesn’t matter if you only stay an hour one time as someone forgot to pack the nappies. And you can go again and again, giving you something to explore each weekend, or occupy a full day during the long school holidays. It’s not surprising, therefore, to read that membership has continued to grow despite the recent recession.

Both groups may experience limited mobility and thus appreciate support in this area. Hence, a sensible investment in golf buggies, which appeal to those whose legs have already put into many years of service, as well to those whose legs are still so small that even short distances can be rather tiring. My children found a high-speed ride on a golf buggy to be the highlight of the visit to one property. ‘Oldies’ and young families are also likely to be good customers at cafes.

In other areas, the expectations of these groups are not going to dovetail quite so neatly, and hats off to the National Trust for finding a way to include something which works for both in each situation. Take the shops, for instance. Whilst the oldies may check out pretty mugs and elegant gardening equipment, the young children will be congregating around the displays piled high with tasteful plastic tat that fits pocket money budgets. In the garden, whilst some may admire the carefully designed flower beds, others will be disappearing into tree houses, going on Easter Egg hunts or following other such trails.

The properties themselves are perhaps a higher risk area. However, handy worksheets will keep children curious and motivated to work through the building, whilst others can peer at the detail at their leisure.

And just in case it gets all too much, there are ways in which each group can go off and do their own thing. For the young families, there are often rooms filled with dressing-up clothes and replicas of old toys they can bash to their heart’s content, whilst hard core members can indulge in the nitty gritty of the history on a guided tour in peace and quiet. Given that I fall into the young family group, I must confess that the guided tour is something I have yet to experience.


October 7, 2013

Take five – examples of curiosity in action

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Innovation,Marketing — by xrematon @ 7:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

Picture1I have been building up a little collection of examples of organisations that are keeping their head above the parapet and spotting interesting opportunities. It’s time to share them.

Pizza Express and the 500 calorie pizza

Diets come and go faster than the changing seasons. Perhaps one of the last places you might expect to find a menu matching the latest ‘in’ diet is a pizza place, but Pizza Express is currently doing just that. The 5:2 diet has been gaining a lot of traction over the past 12 months and so it’s pretty smart of Pizza Express to find a way of pitching products they already had as perfect for fasters. The Leggera range was actually launched four years ago, but its offerings have now got a new wind in their sails. The company has seen that today people aren’t motivated so much by the promise of lower calories, but instead a magic number of calories, which is what a 500 calorie pizza, a 300 calorie salad and a 100 calorie pudding offer.

Meeting changing needs isn’t always about changing products – it’s about seeing what’s happening and knowing how to make the most of your current assets.

Green People and Kate Moss

One big development that’s going on at the moment is companies doing less of the hard sales-y work, and instead making the most of the opportunities of other people doing it for them.The example I am going to bring up here is a very simple one. It’s from Green People, who picked up that Kate Moss had listed their Aloe Organic Shampoo as one of her favourite hair care products, and dedicated an excited blog post to the mention.

It’s about thinking of all the places where potential customers might be engaging in your brand and product space. For personal care products, fashion magazines and beauty blogs are a good bet – these are increasingly influential sources of inspiration for people. This means it’s critical to keep eyes peeled, not to miss out a mention and, most importantly,to capitalise on the opportunity to be a free-rider!

My next example is from an institution which has managed to reinvent itself from something that was seen as a bit fuddy-duddy into something that meets the needs of today’s experience-orientated consumers. Can you guess what it is yet? The National Trust – now a peddler of fun days out and happy memories, and not fusty ‘don’t touch’ houses.

The reason I mention them for my third example is that they haven’t just spotted their opportunity (pitch yourself to families to expand your customer base), but they have also looked beyond the marketing and thought about what else can be done. National Trust shops have changed as a result. They are no longer havens for tea towel collectors and lavender-junkies only – now they have tables loaded with bits and bobs to cater to pocket money budgets too.

National Trust haven’t just shown us the dream – they spotted opportunity in the detail.

Mariott International and congee for breakfast

Big hotel chains aren’t generally top of the list for being the most innovative companies, but I would like to include them for my next example. Many of these chains – Mariott isn’t the only one – have sussed out that a lot of their customers now are Chinese and that what makes them happy is a bit different to your average Western traveller. Bring on slippers and hot tea in rooms, put Mandarin-speaking concierge staff in the lobby, and make sure to include congee, salted duck eggs, pickled vegetables, dim sum and sliced pig’s liver, amongst the delicacies on offer for breakfast.

In a way it’s very simple – follow the new money and make sure you meet the new needs that come with it.

Facebook ice-cream

My last example is somewhat tongue in cheek. An enterprising café-owner in Croatia has developed a new flavour of ice-cream made by dripping blue syrup over vanilla ice cream. Eating ‘facebook’ ice-cream– perhaps it’s taking the idea of living one’s life on social networks too far. Still, it shows how it’s possible to capture the mind-set of your teenage target audience in an original and irreverent manner. Make of it what you will!

A version of this post first appeared in Brand Gathering, and is re-published here with acknowledgments.

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