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    Introduction to product

    The water bobble is a mobile plastic receptacle that holds and filters water before you drink out of it.
    The product is owned by a small company named Bobble, whose product range is small and is mainly established by this particular product.
    The water bobble was innovated as a social enterprise, in order to advocate greener living by re-using one receptacle instead of throwing non-biodegradable, plastic containers to land fill after one use.

    Investigation into Digital Trends

    It is evident that technology is growing rapidly, within businesses and at home. In June 2013, 68% of households have smartphones, 42% have tablets, 62% have computers and 17% have internet enabled TV (Mintel, 2013). It can be established that the internet plays a very large role in society as Figure 1 shows that more people now have smartphones than normal basic phones, which means more people have internet access than don’t.
    In April, May and June 2013, 38% of internet users bought or used vouchers online, 53% read product/service reviews, 46% visited brands own websites, 99% of internet device owners used social networking sites (Mintel, 2013). These figures convey that use of the internet for promotion and selling is an extremely beneficial platform in that it provides much larger distribution channels much faster and easier as well as cutting costs.
    However, Figure 2 shows that only a small percentage of people have seen and clicked on internet adverts compared to the percentage of people that have seen the advert. From this, we can establish that although people aren’t necessarily following through an advert, they are still seeing it which is spreading the products brand and reputation.
    The use of Facebook has grown by 80% between 2009 and 2013 (Lieb, R. 2011: 63).



    Investigation and critical evaluation of product

    Product
    The water bobble doesn’t directly have any competitors because it has a unique selling point and it is patented. However, Bobble see any other drinks containers as competition in order to bench mark and sustain incentive for continuous improvement (Sefton, 2013). As Bobble mainly only sell the actual water bobble through retailers, the use of their website allow for more product variety, for instance the bobble jug.

    Price
    The water bobble is priced between 9.99 and 12.99 which is higher than most standard drinks bottles (Bobble, 2013). Again, their unique selling point allows them to price higher because initially they were targeting a niche market who would typically favour the environment over lower prices. This makes the bobble price inelastic to a certain extent. However, if people are looking for a cheaper yet environmentally friendly drinks bottle, the first place people are tending to look in recent years is the internet as it offers price transparency (Chaffey et al., 2003: 195). With the use of the internet, Bobble have the opportunity to price differently in different countries for example, however, this could lead to customer objection on discrimination. Also, the internet enables Bobble to lower prices slightly because it offers a direct link between business and consumer without using intermediaries which create more costs.
    Place
    ‘A website is like a virtual shopfront that is always open’ (Reed, J. 2011: 3). Bobble have growing distribution channels and sell through retailers as well as on their own website. The likes of BHS, House of Fraser and Ryman sell the bobble and these stores are very well established names.
    Bobble eliminate a lot of costs by not having their own physical store and instead just using their website, to access the whole world as a market and distribution through other retailers. This also allows the product to reach a larger market because the retailers that they sell through have a very wide customer base which includes more online presence. However MRP records and website maintenance costs need to be incurred but this is still cheaper than a physical store.
    With 159k Facebook followers and 6321 Twitter followers, nearly all of their marketing is done online, paper free and more economically. This is also an incentive for green-livers to buy this product as opposed to a drinks bottle from a sports store. Internet adverts are generally cheaper than in-store or physical adverts, so by having a social media and web presence is a more effective method (Baines et al., 2011: 637).
    Bobble’s use of web 2.0 allows them to create a sense of community online whereby existing and potential customers get a heads up when an event or update is about to happen (BBC 1, 2014).
    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, shown in figure 3 proves that people have ‘needs’ in which most of them you can buy. During economic hard times, people tend to shop around for the best deals. This is where people’s ‘googlesque’ thinking comes in very useful because there are a lot of price comparison sites (e.g. shopmart.com) and it is easier to navigate around different virtual stores than it is in real life (Lieb, R. 2011: 7). When a person needs a new water bottle; they might find it easier to look online, perhaps using Google to find the cheapest or best quality available. However, Marn (2000) researched that only ‘8% of active online consumers are aggressive price shoppers’ (cited in Baines et al., 2011: 195).

    Promotion
    Celebrity endorsement (Baines et al., 2011: 102) is a key factor for promotion that Bobble have explored and endeavoured. ‘…Bush is urging her fans to snap up the container, named The Water Bobble, as a green alternative to bottled water’ (Cambio, 2011). Bobble donated 50% of Bush’s designed Bobble revenue to the Nature Conservancy that Sophia was philanthropically fundraising for. This is almost Bobble’s corporate social responsibility which enhances their reputation as well as attracting a larger market through Sophia’s online fan base. Sophia uses social media to promote charities and teach greener ways of living so by tweeting and posting Instagram pictures of the bobble, she is acquiring new customers for Bobble through web links; creating higher authority (Reed, J. 2011: 46) and this is a form of Affiliate marketing.
    Another form of promotion Bobble have participated in is changing (or adding to) the bobble itself. Christmas time is an opportunistic time for potential sales and so Bobble decided to make a tiny addition to their product by filling bobbles with chocolate and promoting it online by hashtagging ‘bestgiftever’ (Bobble, 2013).
    ‘If you don’t know, now you know: one bobble filter can save up to 300 plastic bottles from entering our landfills. Spread the word and jump into the #waterrevolution’ (Bobble, 2013). Bobble posted this on Facebook and Twitter to preach to their existing customers as well as an attempt to get ‘water revolution’ trending. This post was made in the hope that their existing followers would share it to spread their mission. However, this post only received 70 likes from their 159k followers.
    Figure 4 shows how Bobble utlize their Twitter and Facebook page in order to promote their moral and advocate greener living and recycling with the hope that web 2.0’s ‘share’ will spread the word in order to acquire new customers.

    Ideal and Actual Self
    The internet is an extremely versatile platform for venturing and many people use it to spot trends (e.g. celebrities). While people spot an item they might like, it is very easy for them to quickly visit a website in order to collect information on, or purchase the item. This is very common amongst the Aspirant group of people who have an ‘ideal self’ to refer to when choosing a product (Baines et al., 2011: 85 and 102).

    Relationship Marketing
    Relationship marketing is ‘…about people and the interaction between individuals representing their respective organisations’ in order to gain mutual benefit (Baines et al., 2011: 554).
    Bobble rely on their social media sites to enable after-sale service by posting wastage facts and incentives in order to keep you using the bobble.
    Sponsorships and synergy are gained when two companies have shared goals and morals, so Bobble might be working with a printing company and could post a tweet promoting their company in order to receive a discount for example.
    Recommendations for improvement

    Website Technology Systems
    The internet is much more technological than physical stores which makes RFM (Recency, Frequency, and Monetary) and LTV (Life Time Value) easier to calculate. These are systems and digital mechanisms that can be imposed on websites where the number of visits by a particular existing customer (when logged in) can be counted and trended on how often visited, how recently and how much is spent. Also, the LTV can be efficiently calculated by summing the customers’ online shopping cart/orders over time (Baines et al., 2011: 223). The RFM would allow Bobble to establish a collective trend in peak and trough demand periods, so they know when to boost promotions and it also allows them to ascertain correlations of price changes in own products and in others, income changes and society trends with sales.
    All of this data can be used to calculate income elasticity of demand, price elasticity of demand and cross elasticity of demand to decipher whether price or supply changes need to be made in order to avoid economic implications.
    This improvement in research and development allows Bobble to get to know existing and potential customers’ wants and needs more elaborately. For example, Google Ad Works would allow Bobble to access their data on search trends and figures relating to most used search terms for water containers and other things that the people who search for water containers would search for; so Bobble know how to access customers through other channels. However, RFM does not provide insight into reason for purchase like Chi-squared Automated Interaction Detectors (CHAID) does by ‘enabling customer profiling and personalization and predictive analysis…’ (Chaffey et al., 2011: 241).
    ‘Pay per click’ is an efficient and economic method whereby Bobble could bid on key words, such as ‘bottle’, ‘water’, ‘recycle’ etc. Then every time someone uses Google (for example) to click on one of Bobble’s links, an amount is paid (Baines et al., 2011: 639).
    One- click purchase on most retail websites makes it easy for customers to buy, so they will (Baines et al., 2011: 229).

    Self-Selecting, Search Marketing
    Contextual adverts offer ways of adapting pop-up adverts and banners for web surfers who have previously searched for similar products to the water bobble (Baines et al., Fill, C. Page, K. 2011: 640). For example, if you were to watch a YouTube video on recycling; the commercial at the beginning of the clip might be an advert for Bobble (sponsorship). This is a form of search marketing (Baines et al., 2011: 638), but Bobble shouldn’t focus solely on this as pre-determination of potential customers isn’t always correct, so by targeting the whole world (one-to-many), there is much more potential for gaining new customers. It is however; a self-selecting method, so by the time people get to see Bobble’s commercial, they are already interested in green-living because they have searched for it.
    At present, Bobble do not fully utilize email. A mailing list of their existing customers and any other email addresses they can get hold of through surveys and other methods, should be used to send out regular product updates and links directly to their own website and not to other stores that sell the bobble because it detracts from the specific product as customers could get distracted by other products that another company are selling. This is almost viral marketing where electronic word-of-mouth through the use of Web 2.0’s ‘share’ is transacted (Baines et al., 2011: 634).


    Search Engine Optimisation
    Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is definitely a factor to be explored by Bobble because at present, they are not widely established. SEO is the use of algorithms within Google’s search engine in order to get their website at the top of the results when people search for particular words. This is a clever technique and doesn’t always have to be expensive as it is more about the skill and research transacted in order to ascertain the necessary criteria for the algorithm. When people make a Google search, they tend to only look at the first three or more findings, so if Bobble is at the top, they are reaching a larger audience. Surprisingly, not every company has deciphered this yet or have not learnt how to skillfully create algorithms.
    It is simply a creative way of becoming more accessible to the public by a basic formula: metadata+ category+ marketing= high sales rank, where a web crawler calculates and stores indexes on web links meta tags (Baines et al., 2011: 638). This is almost an alternative for the gondola zone within supermarkets because it is a manipulated positioning of a product in order to persuade customers to purchase or make use of their service.

    Mobile Technology
    As the use of mobile technology is growing (Mintel, 2013), it would be ideal for Bobble to create an App where their customers’ could live in a virtual world and clean up the environment. This App could also display their products and offer the opportunity for purchase. This method of adver-gaming creates vividness (Baines, et al. 2011), customer integration and potentially gets friends and family engaged as well as extending loyalty (Lieb, R. 2011: 86).
    Mobile marketing restricts the scope of its audience to only mobile phone users’, bandwidth capacity and too tight screen size for certain data. However, it is a very effective way of sending out information on products any time and any place. It also inexpensive and messages can be sent to target people while in specific locations through the use of GPS which is a form of pacing through location based content (Lieb, R. 2011: 69).

    Emotional Value
    A factor that could be a potential option for Bobble to explore would be improving after –sale service and general customer service and become more interactive (Baines et al., 2011: 554). Asynchronous technologies (Baines et al., 2011: 631) would allow an online ‘Live Help Chat’ to be created in order to help customers navigate around the website or just to offer advice and clarified information on the Bobble (Baines et al., 2011: 261). Although this would encounter more costs, it creates emotional value by allowing the company to connect more personally with their customers which often increases customer retention and acquisition. This is a form of interactivity that is enabled by Bobble’s use of Web 2.0.

    Media Implications
    Although ‘we are now in an era of social marketing’ (Reed, J. 2011: x) and Web 2.0 is a very useful research method through user generated content like polls, reviews, forums and more (Lieb, R. 2011: 146); it is evident from Figure 2, that only 15% of people see adverts on Facebook and Twitter and then click on them to find out more. There is only a 4% difference between this result and the results of follow-through that other online adverts such as pop-ups or banners attain, but it is still worth Bobble exploring other forms of advertising and not relying solely on social media (Mintel, 2013).
    Social media is a disruption innovation which is continuing to change socialization and marketing. However, another reason why Bobble should not rely solely on social media for advertising purposes is because it has the potential to backfire as consumers have more power when it comes to the internet and can often vent their complaints (Lieb, R. 2011: 131). For example, Waitrose released an online survey and their social media sites received ‘mickey-take’ posts from consumers which can spread like wildfire and create negative press (Mail Online, 2012).

    References

    Baines, P. Fill, C. Page, K. (2011). Marketing. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
    Bobble (2013) ‘if you don't know, now you know: one bobble filter can save up to 300 plastic bottles from entering our landfills. Spread the word and jump in to the #waterrevolution.’ 4 November, 2013. [Facebook]. Last accessed 28th Dec, 2013.
    Bobble (2013) ‘RT if bobble's on your list. @MarsGlobal @OfficialSanta #bestgiftever’. 12 December 2013. [Twitter]. Last accessed 28th Dec, 2013.
    Bobble (2013) waterbobble [Online]. Available from: http://www.waterbobble.com/bobble.html [Accessed - 16.1.2014].
    Cambio (2011) ‘Sophia Bush Designs Eco Friendly Water Bottle’, Cambio, [Online] Available from: http://www.cambio.com/news/sophia-bu...-water-bottle/ Last accessed 20th Dec, 2013.
    Chaffey, D. Mayer, R. Johnston, K. Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2003). Internet Marketing. 2nd ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
    Ledwith, M. Brown, J. Robinson, M. (2012). Waitrose Twitter Backlash.Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...or-people.html. Last accessed 29th Dec 2013.
    Lieb, R. (2011). Content Marketing. USA: Que Publishing.
    Mintel. (2013). Digital Trends – Autumn – UK. Available: http://academic.mintel.com/display/6...ight=true#hit1 Last accessed 7th Nov 2013.
    McLeod, S. (2007). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Available: http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html. Last accessed 28th Dec 2013.
    Reed, J. (2011). Get Up To Speed With Online Marketing. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
    Reed, J. (2011). Online Marketing. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd
    Secrets of the Sales. (2014). Film; Ben Steele. 50 minutes. UK: BBC.
    Sefton.(2013) [email protected] p.com. Competition. Email to Gabrielle Lewis, 11/11/2013. [email protected].
 
 
 
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