Amazon, Autumn Budget, Uber: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From Amazon launching its first London-based pop-up store to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget, here are five of this week’s biggest stories for marketers.

Amazon pop-up

Amazon launches first UK pop-up for Black Friday

If there’s one company that wants to go big on Black Friday, it’s Amazon. This week, it even launched its first ever UK pop-up as an informal countdown to the event. The retail space looks to engage consumers with the brand in a more direct way, and aims to make the shopping experience as easy as possible.

The 3,000-square foot space features more than 100 curated products within five themed rooms. This includes a kitchen and living area, a bedroom and beauty parlour, an immersive gaming and technology zone, a kids’ play and storytelling room and a creative workshop space.

Workshops are hosted by small business owners, as well as master classes and cocktail tastings, makeup tutorials by popular YouTubers and competitions to win prizes.

But perhaps most importantly, consumers are able to purchase the products by scanning a QR code, which will open up the product page on the Amazon app. A dedicated Prime Now delivery area is in the lobby of the venue, allowing shoppers to have their Black Friday deal purchases available on Prime Now delivered to the pop-up within two hours.

Other retailers might be wise to consider upping their game when it comes to their in-store experience.

UK customer experience performance hits all-time low

Some British marketers might boast about how their brand offers the best customer experience – but new research has caught them out. It suggests that despite UK brands ploughing billions of pounds into improving their relationship with consumers, they are failing to keep up with increasingly high expectations.

KPMG Nunwood’s annual Customer Experience Excellence study shows that rather than improving, the overall performance score for British brands has hit the lowest level in the eight-year history of the report, dropping from 7.33 in 2016 to 7.08 this year. In stark contrast, the score for US brands rose from 7.42 last year to 7.75 in 2017.

But there are brands that buck the trend. Shopping channel QVC has climbed 18 places to claim the top spot for the first time, knocking last year’s winner First Direct into third place. Lush, which topped the charts two years ago, came in fifth.

Uber faces more criticism with data hack

uber

It must be a tough gig working for Uber’s PR team. Besides having to battle negative headlines around sexual harassment, false advertising and deceiving law enforcement, this week it faced down criticism surrounding claims it covered up a data hack of 57 million customers.

And while the hack didn’t happen under the watch of its new CEO, more than two months elapsed before he notified affected customers and drivers of the incident. The firm also reportedly paid hackers $100,000 to delete data and keep the breach quiet.

The move might complicate its appeal to win back its licence to operate in London, with mayor Sadiq Khan saying the cover-up was “of real concern”. It will be interesting to see whether Transport for London will forgive the company for another big mistake.

The government announces its Autumn budget

Even if his Top Gear jokes weren’t the best way to connect with young voters, there’s no denying Chancellor Philip Hammond was in good spirits as he announced his Autumn Budget – which has been praised by the Advertising Association – this week.

Hammond revealed the government has put aside £3bn to cover every possible outcome of the Brexit process and said any rises in business rates will now be pegged to the Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation rather than the higher Retail Prices Index. And in a welcome news for booze brands, there will be no rise in duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits.

But even if Hammond gave the impression things were all rosy, his GDP numbers suggested the UK economy is still in for a tough ride.

Back in March, the Chancellor backed 2% growth in the British economy for 2017. However, that prediction has now been downgraded to just 1.5%. And he says growth is going to slow steadily over the next three years (2018: 1.4%, 2019: 1.3%, 2020: 1.5%) before rising again slightly to 1.6% in 2021/22.

This is the first time in modern history that the official UK GDP growth forecasts are below 2% every single year over the forecast horizon. Whether Hammond will still be cracking jokes in 2018 remains to be seen.

Virgin Media and BT welcome new rules for broadband advertising

Internet service providers (ISPs) including BT and Virgin Media have welcomed a move this week by the Committee of Advertising Practices (CAP) to cut down on ‘misleading’ broadband advertising.

The Committee of Advertising Practices (CAP) says any numerical speed claims featured in future broadband ads must now be based on the speed available to at least 50% of a brand’s customers at peak time, with this messaging branded as “average” speeds.

This marks a considerable change from current regulations, where speeds are based on what’s available to at least 10% of customers at peak time and branded as “up to” speeds. And this guidance will take effect from 23 May 2018, with the industry given a six-month implementation period to fully prepare for the changes.

A spokesperson for BT said: “It’s important that customers know they’ll receive the advertised speed in peak time when customers place the highest demands on the network. We will continue to provide personalised speed range estimates as part of our sales process, so that individual customers know clearly what is possible for their home connection.”

It’s an important move as it should mean there’s now far more transparency for consumers looking to switch ISP, with misleading claims around broadband speeds thought to currently be pretty widespread within the sector’s advertising.

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