Many expected Aldi’s sales growth to slow dramatically as the major supermarkets took the fight to the discounters. Yet according to Kantar Worldpanel Aldi is still experiencing double-digit growth and taking share from the big four.
Marketing has one again been key to its success. Its Christmas ad strategy was widely lauded, with a parody of the John Lewis ‘Man on the Moon’ campaign helping it top Waggener Edstrom’s analysis of the most effective festive ads. It also topped YouGov’s list of the most popular British brands for the second year running.
Aldi has also been attempting to move beyond the ‘discounter’ label. It marked its first move into ecommerce with the launch of a wine website. And become the sponsor of Team GB as it looked to push its fresh food and healthy living credentials. It plans to open 1,000 new stores by 2022 and is starting to push a message that consumers can do their full shop at Aldi, not just visit for particular items.
Marketing director Adam Zavalis explains Aldi’s mission has “always been to provide every person and family in the UK with access to fresh, affordable, healthy food”. It looks like that plan is coming to fruition.
BT continued its growth into a dominant media and telecoms powerhouse in 2015, moving back into the mobile operator market for the first time since 2002 with its acquisition of EE and launch of BT Mobile, and consolidating its foothold as a broadcaster with coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League football tournaments on the new BT Sport Europe channel.
Both moves were accompanied by major marketing efforts. Revenue in BT’s consumer division rose 7% in its 2014-15 financial year on the back of broadband and TV subscriber growth, and its first three quarters of the following year have each seen further growth. The company grew its broadband market share for the sixth straight year last year, while BT Mobile had 300,000 customers by the end of 2015. The company also invested in call centre staff, resulting in 20% more customer issues being resolved in a single call.
The much-hyped release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the end of 2015 contributed to a bumper year for Disney with global box office revenue for the movie reaching nearly £1.5bn, not to mention merchandise and licensing agreements, which generated more than $700m in toy sales alone in the US.
This also led to The Walt Disney Company reporting record quarterly earnings of $2.9bn for the first quarter of 2016. Disney also dethroned Lego as the world’s “Most Powerful Brand” earlier this year, according to Brand Finance.
Given the huge success of the Star Wars franchise and the continued profitability of Frozen, Disney has overtaken Lego has the world’s most powerful brand, according to Brand Finance which values the business at $31.7bn.
Disney has also used its position to encourage families to adopt healthier lifestyles through its ‘Healthier Ever After’ campaign featuring a troop of well-known characters including Frozen’s Elsa and Mickey Mouse.
It was a big year for Heineken in 2015, registering two of the globe’s highest-profile sponsorship activations – the Rugby World Cup and the latest James Bond film, Spectre – alongside its ongoing support of the UEFA Champions League.
At the former, Heineken recorded the highest prompted and unprompted awareness of all the tournament partners, according to PSG Sponsorship, with group revenues for Heineken’s beers rising alongside sales of the core Heineken brand in the company’s annual results. Total beer volumes, operating profits and net profits all grew too, the latter by 16% compared with 2014. That capped an impressive performance in a year where Heineken was named creative marketer of the year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
It was also a year of innovation, with Heineken launching a home beer machine, the Sub, and reaching a benchmark of 25% of marketing spend going on digital channels on the way to a target of 50% within two years.
Instagram is stepping out of the shadows of its parent Facebook to become an important marketing tool in its own right. Now with 14 million UK members and 200,000 advertisers, the site has become the go-to for brands wanting to prove they are creative, edge and cool.
Instagram has done this by playing to its strengths and focusing on its core tenets of community, creativity and mobile usability. It has launched new ad formats, better targeting and improved data. And it is not afraid to court controversy – news that it was to start applying an algorithm to its news feed had many up in arms but the social network has promised it will in fact aid the user experience.
In a world where many marketers feel the rise of digital has undermined their creativity, Instagram is providing a space for brands to express themselves. Plus is on the frontline of the move to mobile, social and video.
What’s one way to measure success? If brands from other sectors start trying to emulate your business model. That is exactly what has happened with Lidl, with brands as diverse as Ryanair and Travelodge looking to copy its strategy of low pricing coupled with a message of great quality and value.
Figures from Kantar Worldpanel show Lidl has continued to increase its share of the UK grocery market despite increased competition from the big four supermarkets which appear to have finally woken up to the threat posed. It also came second in YouGov’s list of the most popular British brands, behind just Aldi.
And it is not resting on its laurels. It has made its first foray into the loyalty sector with the launch of a members club and signed a multimillion pound deal to become the official supermarket of the England football team.
The Starbucks brand has come along way since it became public enemy number one for a time in 2012 when news of its minimal corporation tax contributions emerged but brand perception and sales have recovered.
Many credit its digitally led experience innovations as the key to its success. The brand’s senior leadership has talked about the role its “special and unique” digital strategy – which saw ‘Mobile Order Pay and Go’ and a music platform tie-up with Spotify launch last year – has played in driving sales growth.
It also opened an experiential store in London last year that brought together the brand’s newest tech developments and a bespoke coffee offering, as well as introducing an evening menu complete with beer and wine for the first time.
Global revenue increased 18% to $4.9bn in its fourth quarter last year, while EMEA like-for-like sales increased 5%.
St John Ambulance
In 2015 St John Ambulance shifted is marketing focus away from the controversial approach it had taken previously to one of education. The new strategy, which brought to life ‘The Chokeables’, is paying off in the most valuable way possible having been responsible for saving at least 42 lives since its launch last year.
The campaign, borne from the insight that 79% of parents would not know what to do if their baby choked, used animated characters and the distinctive voices of David Mitchell, Sir John Hurt, Johnny Vegas and David Walliams, to explain what to do should the situation arise.
The campaign considerably exceeded all targets achieving 32 million TV views and 8 million online views, and generating 547 million pieces of coverage. The activity inspired 300,000 people to seek further education through first aid videos – 100 times more than the 3,000 people it aimed for – and increased knowledge on first aid technique by 24%.
The sports apparel and performance sector has traditionally been dominated by two mega brands: Nike and Adidas. However, a third brand is increasingly nabbing attention and sales: Under Armour.
2015 saw the brand make waves for its product developments – since buying MyFitnessPal and Endomondo in January last year it has launched a string of connected fitness products. It has also made great use of its sponsorship properties, gate-crashing the Rugby Union World Cup in September with its “Earn Your Armour” activity featuring some of the tournaments stars and has had the fortune and foresight to sign up some of the US’s highest sporting achievers such as the 2015/2016 NFL season’s “Most Valuable Player” Cam Newton and double major winner in golf Jordan Spieth.
Sales have benefited. Full-year sales increased 28% to $3.96bn in 2015.
Tie-ups with The Muppets and Sylvester Stallone created significant buzz around bakery brand Warburtons in 2015.
‘The Giant Crumpet Show’ launched in November is part of a £25m integrated campaign, which sees Kermit and Miss Piggy promoting the brand’s newest product, and was singled out by Millward Brown as the most successful Christmas TV ad of 2015 and the most likely to result in a purchase.
Warburtons plays on the fact it is a family-run business by featuring chairman Jonathan Warburton in ads, and is wise to do so given 81% of respondents in an Institute for Family Business survey think it builds trust.
Despite being 140-years-old, the brand doesn’t shy away from innovation having invested more than £400m in the business over the past decade, and £20m in its sandwich alternatives in 2015 alone.
Continued investment has resulted in the business doubling in size over the past 10 years; according to Nielsen it is now the second biggest grocery brand in the UK after Coca-Cola based on value sales. Warburtons was also crowned the ‘most loved bakery brand’ by Millward Brown in 2015.