Online Loyalty Shopping: 21st Century Green Stamps

Hanson Marketing forms specialized channels for makers of various goods and services, that link them to customers worldwide. Each time we dig into a new project, we find that no matter how we slice and dice the desired customer demographics, there exist e-commerce websites that cater to them. Whether the targeted customer is an avid RVer who hits the road with Good Sam Club card intact, a government purchasing officer buying IT equipment on contract, or a frequent flier, these online shoppers are introduced to e-commerce sites by the organization they have in common, sites that enable them to shop as usual while rewarding them with points or discounts or rebates.

My mom used to collect S & H Green Stamps with every transaction at the gas station and grocery store. Licking the stamps and filling up the pages was a fun chore for me, despite green tongue and sticky hands. Once I filled in the books, she would visit the local Green Stamp storefront to swap them for merchandise. What a satisfied feeling you get from earning points and free merchandise for being a loyal customer.

Collecting and redeeming trading stamps has evolved to online shopping malls, frequented by like-minded loyal members. Such online malls are powered by affiliate marketers, which collect and publish various loyalty sites; and by such service providers as Google Affiliate Network. These enabling services extend the reach of even the smallest manufacturer by connecting them with millions of loyalty shoppers, routing buyer to seller and collecting transaction fees.

So, if you’re a retailer, a dealer, or even a manufacturer of goods that sell particularly well among like-minded consumers – professional or leisure – then take notice of loyalty shopping sites, and talk to those enabling service providers who can accelerate that link. Their negotiated discounts are a bargain, with fees based solely on sales; and their marketing programs are as focused and timely as you’d expect from any online campaign. Word of mouth recommendations fly further and faster, too.

And what of Green Stamps? Sperry & Hutchinson, the people who invented rewards currency, brought them into this century as S&H greenpoints, a site launched in 2000. And, while they no longer operate neighborhood redemption stores, loyal S & H members still get the same thrill as they got when turning in a book full of stamps, by redeeming points online.

Pork Butt: Iowa Scores Another Global Export Win

The Des Moines Register reports that the US Meat Export Federation has short-listed pork butt as the next, best candidate for US meat exports. Target markets for this Iowa product range from NAFTA to near-Asia.

Referred to in polite company as Boston Shoulder Roast, pork butt is all the rage in the states, under the guise of pulled pork; though is mostly seasonal. The great state of Iowa, largest producer of pork butt, missed out on a branding opportunity, I’m afraid. What’s wrong with calling this powerhouse new export product “Iowa Pork Roast”? Boston’s got plenty of brand cache already – beans, pie, chowdah – and I don’t recall seeing swine grazing on The Commons recently…

While we’re at it, let’s raise a toast to the US pork industry, who’s exporting about 25% of total output. Their numbers are up over 2009, and they’ve only just begun. Expect an educational campaign targeting retailers, consumers, and purveyors in hospitality and food service on how good and versatile pork butt really is.

Shake that Moneymaker!

Re-tooling Outdoor Playgrounds for Older Citizens

“There aren’t many children using playground equipment now [in Japan], and most equipment is damaged and needs to be removed … it was natural for us to replace old equipment with workout equipment for the elderly.” Yipes… the incredibly shrinking kid population in Japan opts to stay inside and play digitally. Meanwhile, the elders gain more quality time during their frequent visits to neighborhood parks. The elderly are especially revered in Japan, which is a good thing… they currently make up a third of the national population.

So, who’s running the fitness classes while caregivers are at work during the day? This little fella.

60 going on six: Vivien Backhouse and Peggy Yuill go for a swing in the Older People's Play Area in Dam Head

Along with elder-only playgrounds, communities are constructing adjoining toddler-elder lots, so that caregivers of both generations can keep one eye out in each direction.

If you manufacture play equipment for a living, build up a product road map to address elder and disabled needs, while paying heed to grant- and publicly-funded programs that serve to outfit parks, centers, senior living and health care providers. It may be that your traditional sales channels need to be expanded to reach decision makers in health care, senior living, and community centers.

Read more about these interesting new global trends:

Rare Earth Mineral Supply Routes Start in Asia

In a recent analysis written for Reuters, Chris Buckley notes how China’s export strategy for its rare earth minerals hits the Achilles heel of our globe’s high tech manufacturing sector. China supplies about 97 percent of the world’s demand for rare earths metals, which possess magnetic, luminescent and other properties used in emerging clean energy technologies, computers and electronics.

Writes Buckley, “China, as other producers have given up environmentally destructive mining of rare earths, now supplies 97 percent of the world’s demand for the metals… For a country with a voracious appetite for imported commodities, it is one over which China can exert control as an exporter. It now wants the metals for itself for technology that it can use at home and export.”

China this year has slashed export quotas to about 40 percent below 2009 levels. A recent statement by Secretary of State Clinton sums up how Japan, the US, and the EU are feeling. “This served as a wake-up call,” she said. “So we welcome the Chinese statement that it will resume normal trading in these materials but I think the entire world has to seek additional supplies.”

China is more willing than other nations to exploit its natural resources in order to get at the rare stuff. I also note that India has undertaken plans of its own, reopening rare earth mineral processing plants that have been idle since 2004. And, there’s even talk of U.S. lawmakers backing plans to restart a shuttered operation in California, located about 30 miles from the Nevada border.

The Golden State is versatile and yields a bounty of natural resources, above and below ground. Said operation’s owners, on their website, report that California at one point provided 40% of the world’s rare earth supplies. If you’ve ever driven to Vegas via Interstate 15, you’re passing by the rare earths operation just as the mirage-like neon of Primm’s stateline casinos appear in the distance.

South American countries are more likely to become providers, as are African nations; than any EU or North American nation. In both regions, China has become very actively involved in building transportation infrastructure and partnerships in order to claim their share of rare earth.

Read more here and here.

Learn about rare earth minerals here.

Map Out Marketing & Sales Wins in 2011

This Thursday, November 18 TechAmerica San Diego Marketing and Sales Roundtable gives area tech professionals insight into successful technology marketing and sales for 2011. Our panel of professionals can guide you toward success, and around obstacles, to ensure market wins in tough times.

If you’re a member of TechAmerica (formerly AeA), the event is FREE. If you’re a future member, you pay only $20… half the normal fee. That’s TechAmerica’s annual end-of-year treat!

You may already know our 4 panelists, all well-established in the San Diego technology community:

Jeri Egbert, Director of Corporate Marketing for PacketVideo

Emily Porter, VP at Formula PR

Cat Virca, Partner at Panoptix Events

Mike Sick, Owner of Sick Performance Concepts

Learn more, then sign up here!

I hope you can join us.

President Obama Writes on Exporting

Here’s an article submitted by President Obama, reprinted in its entirety.

The New York Times, November 5, 2010
Exporting Our Way to Stability

AS the United States recovers from this recession, the biggest mistake we could make would be to rebuild our economy on the same pile of debt or the paper profits of financial speculation. We need to rebuild on a new, stronger foundation for economic growth. And part of that foundation involves doing what Americans have always done best: discovering, creating and building products that are sold all over the world.

We want to be known not just for what we consume, but for what we produce. And the more we export abroad, the more jobs we create in America. In fact, every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs at home.

It is for this reason that I set a goal of doubling America’s exports in the next five years. To do that, we need to find new customers in new markets for American-made goods. And some of the fastest-growing markets in the world are in Asia, where I’m traveling this week.

It is hard to overstate the importance of Asia to our economic future. Asia is home to three of the world’s five largest economies, as well as a rapidly expanding middle class with rising incomes. My trip will therefore take me to four Asian democracies — India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan — each of which is an important partner for the United States. I will also participate in two summit meetings — the Group of 20 industrialized nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation — that will focus on economic growth.

During my first visit to India, I will be joined by hundreds of American business leaders and their Indian counterparts to announce concrete progress toward our export goal — billions of dollars in contracts that will support tens of thousands of American jobs. We will also explore ways to reduce barriers to United States exports and increase access to the Indian market.

Indonesia is a member of the G-20. Next year, it will assume the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — a group whose members make up a market of more than 600 million people that is increasingly integrating into a free trade area, and to which the United States exports $80 billion in goods and services each year. My administration has deepened our engagement with Asean, and for the first eight months of 2010, exports of American goods to Indonesia increased by 47 percent from the same period in 2009. This is momentum that we will build on as we pursue a new comprehensive partnership between the United States and Indonesia.

In South Korea, President Lee Myung-bak and I will work to complete a trade pact that could be worth tens of billions of dollars in increased exports and thousands of jobs for American workers. Other nations like Canada and members of the European Union are pursuing trade pacts with South Korea, and American businesses are losing opportunities to sell their products in this growing market. We used to be the top exporter to South Korea; now we are in fourth place and have seen our share of Korea’s imports drop in half over the last decade.

But any agreement must come with the right terms. That’s why we’ll be looking to resolve outstanding issues on behalf of American exporters — including American automakers and workers. If we can, we’ll be able to complete an agreement that supports jobs and prosperity in America.

South Korea is also the host of the G-20 economic forum, the organization that we have made the focal point for international economic cooperation. Last year, the nations of the G-20 worked together to halt the spread of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. This year, our top priority is achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth. This will require cooperation and responsibility from all nations — those with emerging economies and those with advanced economies; those running a deficit and those running a surplus.

Finally, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Japan, I will continue seeking new markets in Asia for American exports. We want to expand our trade relationships in the region, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to make sure that we’re not ceding markets, exports and the jobs they support to other nations. We will also lay the groundwork for hosting the 2011 APEC meeting in Hawaii, the first such gathering on American soil since 1993.

The great challenge of our time is to make sure that America is ready to compete for the jobs and industries of the future. It can be tempting, in times of economic difficulty, to turn inward, away from trade and commerce with other nations. But in our interconnected world, that is not a path to growth, and that is not a path to jobs. We cannot be shut out of these markets. Our government, together with American businesses and workers, must take steps to promote and sell our goods and services abroad — particularly in Asia. That’s how we’ll create jobs, prosperity and an economy that’s built on a stronger foundation.

Barack Obama is the president of the United States.

Boomers Seek Lifestyle-enhancing Products; Retail Channels Respond

A recent study produced by AARP and Microsoft shows how manufacturers need to tailor product development and channel sales strategies with the boomer consumer in mind. If your product exists to help users sustain health and maintain a mobile, active lifestyle, then consider how the baby boomer consumer sector is influencing product development. And don’t forget to carefully map out a boomer-friendly retail channel strategy.

Technology is a big part of boomer leisure and creative pastimes, as well as fitness pursuits. From in-home fitness systems that improve stamina and balance, to mentally challenging video games, boomers and their “older” senior citizen parents have staked a claim to a large slice of consumer products that help with fun and healthy living.

Retailers such as BestBuy are lining up alongside the stalwarts like Sears to claim loyalty in this growing “active senior” demographic. The buying experience is more comfortable, the product mix is more appealing. Manufacturers need to gather where makers of other, like products are being sold.

Major drug chains such as CVS and Walgreens sell a broad extension of healthcare products at their online stores — products that otherwise would not fit in their store layouts — while entering services such as limited health care and remote monitoring of prescriptions.

Whether proactively managing health, or preventing or forestalling the onset of disease, boomers are getting the jump-start on enabling technology in their daily lives. Where they shop and how they choose their products is key to a sustainable product roadmap and channel strategy for today’s consumer goods manufacturers.

Southern California’s Trade and Transportation Hubs

Since Hanson Marketing belongs to the Advocacy Committee at World Trade Center San Diego, I felt compelled to join the WTC’s excursion last month for an up-close tour of the infrastructure at the Port of Los Angeles, both rail and sea. Well, more than compelled… delighted, actually. Getting to see and learn about the inter-modal freight facilities and the working waterfronts of southern California’s ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego is my idea of fun.

Union Pacific Intermodal Facility

Port of Los Angeles

Being the proud son of a railroad family, I was eager to visit the Union Pacific Railroad Intermodal Transfer Facility, a 277-acre, near-dock rail yard that’s used as a relay point between the ports of LA and Long Beach, and major rail lines. Our crowd got to view the whole operation from a tower meeting room. Cargo containers are unloaded dockside and shuttled to waiting trucks, which convey them to the rail yard. Gantry cranes pluck the containers and place them on waiting flat cars, depending upon their destination (east or north, mostly) From the water, to a truck, to a train and back again… all this takes place within a few square miles. The UP is proud to report that they’re converting many of their infrastructure to electric fuel, reducing air and noise pollution and improving efficiency.

Port's non-stop traffic from all points

Containers shuttle from water to truck to rail

Next, we got on board a launch for the best on-water tour I’ve experienced. The Port of Los Angeles is, no lie, THE gateway to international commerce for the United States. Its cargo operation volume is record-setting, even as it strives to initiate and comply with 21st-century environmental regulations. Not to mention the ever-increasing security measures for cargo and personnel.

Port of Los Angeles, Oct '10

While on board, I struck up a conversation with Mr. Jim McLellan of the Port of Los Angeles, which made my tour even better. Jim’s had a career in global logistics that’s taken him from his native Quebec to the UK and the US. Besides being active in the Southern California District Export Council (a fellow DEC member!) Jim has a broad knowledge and keen interest in the history of the Port of Los Angeles. He pointed out the oldest facilities that handled freight and passenger cargo starting more than 100 years ago. He’s promised to write a book on the rough-and-tumble, yet romantic-sounding travel across the Pacific in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I’m holding him to that book!

Our excellent day trip ended at a reception and scholarly presentation hosted by the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) housed at California State University Long Beach. Of note was a presentation on the Panama Canal Expansion, and its impact on West Coast ports, jobs, and cargo volume.

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