Woodchuck has had an incredible start to its journey as a brand. However, it's important to constantly be aware of upcoming trends and opportunities for growth and improvement. Industry and consumer trends are continuously changing and will greatly affect Woodchuck's future. In order to see continued success, Woodchuck must make a bigger impact with its “Buy One. Plant One.” campaign, connect the brand with consumers, and empower brand ambassadors to share and grow its mission.
Key Gift Shop Industry Trends That Can Help Inform the Final Proposal
• Demand for Premium Products. The growth of premium and higher profit items has supported the growth within the overall gift shop industry. Consumer demand for premium products has become more and more popular, especially among the growing percentage of households earning over $100,000.1
• Demand for Personalized Products. Consumer demand for personalized gifts has also become increasingly popular within the last few years. Personalized products are normally more expensive than generalized merchandise, resulting in profit margins growing to 5.5% in 2018 in the gift shop industry.1
• Increased Online Retailers. More and more online retailers are showing up in the personalized gift space as well which has increased competition. Many online retailers are able to offer customizable and homemade products that are convenient to shop for and ship to desired recipients.
• Increased Tourist Levels. With improving economic conditions, Americans and foreigners have resumed their traveling habits. Domestic and inbound trips by non-US residents are forecasted to continue to grow over the next five years.1 The increase in travel has increased demand for souvenirs and novelty items which will make a positive impact on the gift shop industry.
Key Millennial Consumer Trends That May Affect the Business
• Mobile First. A report found that one in five millennials rely exclusively on their smartphone or tablet to get online.4 This means that businesses must have an optimized mobile website or app for consumers to explore their brand and products.
• Trust Friends over Corporate Channels. This generation's definition of an “expert,” has shifted from someone with professional or academic credentials to someone who has firsthand experience, like a peer or close friend.3 Millennials also tend to seek more than one source of information. For example, they are more likely to talk to a friend, then use their mobile device to read user reviews and research other products when shopping. The expansive reach of social media has become an increasingly important source of information today. Today, basically anyone with a large enough following and a strong message on social media is seen as an expert.
• They expect brands to give back to society. According to study conducted by Forbes, 75% of millennials said its very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making profits.2 They believe, more than any generation before, that collective action can really make a positive impact on the world.3 US millennials are also more receptive to cause marketing and are more likely than non-millennials to purchase items associated with a particular cause.3
How Woodchuck's “Buy One. Plant One.” Campaign Can Make a Bigger Impact
• Accept Non-Financial Support. Often times, the passion, people, and non-financial support that a company can offer can be much more valuable than physical funds. For example, some companies may only be able to donate a certain amount of funds, but instead it can donate hours of employees' time for volunteering. A company's digital channels are another example of non-financial support. If it can help spread awareness for Woodchuck's campaign using its own channels, there could be immense value.
• Look after Partnership Relationships. Woodchuck and its partners should be meeting regularly to discuss new opportunities, goals and any problems as they arise. Open, honest and continued communication is extremely beneficial to the longevity of partnerships. Perhaps last year a company was at the “Planet Saver” level but with continued conversation in place, Woodchuck may be able to move it up a level or two for the following year.
• Ensure Brand and Values Align with Woodchuck. Woodchuck's previous and current corporate partners are great. However, it should look into brands with similar values. For example, partnering with National or State Parks would ensure that Woodchuck's “Buy One. Plant One.” campaign is reaching the best audience. Another industry to look into would be partnering with sports and lifestyle brands like Columbia, North Face, Scheels, etc. Each of those companies target customer base better align with Woodchuck's campaign and overall company values.
• Smaller Scale Expeditions. Not every partnership is going to have the resources to send their employees off on an international expedition to plant trees. Offering smaller weekend or Friday afternoon trips to areas more local to the companies would allow Woodchuck to reach a broader range of corporate partnerships.
Connecting the Woodchuck Brand with Its Customers
• Show (don't tell) the Story. Start showcasing the stories behind the Woodchuck products, the people who love and use them, and how they reinforce the brand values. Creating a short video for social media channels that shows the story of how Ben Vandenwymelenberg started Woodchuck would allow customers to connect with the brand and how it started.
• Keep it Personal, Not Transactional. Consumers are wanting much more personalized approaches to shopping. Woodchuck offers many customizable products but there is room for improvement. A simple handwritten note to the customer that gets included in the box their order ships in can make them feel special and valued as an individual.
Empowering Woodchuck Ambassadors to Share and Grow the Mission
• Ask for Their Input. Brand ambassadors connect to the Woodchuck brand in a unique way. They may notice things about the products and brand that the in-office teams don't. Ambassadors are an invaluable source of feedback for Woodchuck and the communication needs to be a two-way street.
• Feature Ambassadors on Blogs or Social Media Accounts. Woodchuck can expose brand ambassadors in the same way that ambassadors expose its products. The more ambassadors you feature, the more individuals will want to get involved. Sharing ambassador's stories allows customers to see how the products are actually used.
There are many different things that go into creating and maintaining a successful business. If Woodchuck can adopt to upcoming trends and better connect with its customers and ambassadors, customer's brand loyalty to Woodchuck will increase and the company will achieve higher overall success.
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