E-Commerce Growth Expected This Holiday Season

 

Online marketers need to brace themselves for a good holiday season. That’s according to a panel of digital marketing experts who predict online sales will grow 12% in 2011.  Holiday sales are considered to be sales that take place in the months of November and December. 12% growth would match the same growth online sales experienced last year. In fact, online sales have grown every year since 2005 with the exception of 2008 where it was down 4%.

Most news regarding the global economy is doom & gloom. So how can these experts expect growth in an unforgiving recession? A high share of online consumers are affluent. These consumers are apt to spending a good amount of discretionary income when the stock market is healthy. But even stocks have been lagging and inconsistent this year. All of the quotes tied to the experts who predict a 12% growth in online sales this season allude to these points. Nevertheless, they’re still convinced that it’s going to be busy for ecommerce this holiday season. It’s worth noting that the economy was definitely an issue last year when ecommerce growth was 12% as well. We will hope for the best and know soon enough.  

 

Libraries Nationwide Experiencing Growth

Speculation of the demise of public libraries has been a talker over the last handful of years. With everything going digital (music, movies, books) it was at least clear that if libraries were going to make it through this transitional period, they would have to be willing to change with the times. The widespread opinion by many was that libraries wouldn’t survive long term but would start to see a decline in overall patronage. If that is the case, we’re not seeing evidence of this yet.

Take Wethersfield Library in Connecticut for example. According to their library director, overall patronage last year increased. More than 193,000 people visited the library in 2010- an average of 550 visitors each day. That’s a 4.5% increase from the previous year.  Quite an astonishing number considering what libraries are apparently up against. In addition to their physical visits to the library, 180,500 people visited the library’s website.

In the past year, Wethersfield Library also had 54,800 questions to reference staff (18% increase from the previous year) and borrowed 363,900 items from the library to patrons. 17,00 people attended programs offered by the library, ranging from job-hunting support groups to children’s reading events to movie screenings.

The increased use is similar to increased patronage in other libraries nationwide. The American Library Association has noted that since the recession began, libraries across the country have seen increased use by people who have fallen on hard times or who are seeking jobs and visit libraries to use the free computer to look for work and apply online.

Seemingly, the recession has had a big hand in these nationwide increases for libraries. For example, people have been dropping magazine subscriptions to save money while going to their local library to borrow magazines. While the economy might be a temporary explanation for these increases, it will be very interesting to see where the state of the public library is in another 5-10 years, assuming we climb out of the recession.

The Future of Packaging, Part 1

Like many other industries, the packaging industry has suffered through the current recession. Sustainable packaging, however, has showed impressive growth from 2008 to 2009, and has been immune to the economic downturn. Sustainability has helped companies cut costs and reduce packaging waste by using recycled and reusable materials. Europe and the U.S. represent the largest regions for sustainable packaging, together accounting for more than 70 percent of the global market.

Sustainable packaging is projected to reach $142.42 billion globally by 2015, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA). Drivers for growth include increased awareness about environmental hazards related to disposal and recycling of packaging wastes, government initiatives to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and stringent regulations.

As eco-friendly packaging becomes mainstream, many companies are implementing green packaging as a marketing tool. Manufacturers also are under pressure to use environment-friendly materials, and adopt methods that require low-energy consumption and reduce environmental impact of packaging.

In terms of market segmentation, recycled material accounts for the largest packaging category, contributing nearly 90 percent to the total demand in the United States. However, biodegradables represent the fastest growing segment in the packaging industry. Biodegradable materials are easily decomposed by microorganisms, and reduce packaging waste, while the materials preserve food products and sustain freshness. Among biodegradables, bioplastics are garnering the greatest attention in the green packaging market. As questions loom about the limitations of bioplastics, the demand continues to swell, presenting an opportunistic market as bioplastics evolve.

Markets using sustainable packaging include cosmetics and personal care, food and beverage, food service and shipping markets, and healthcare. As an example, the study cites more than 600 new beauty products with a green label were introduced in Europe alone during the past two years, driven by consumer preference for eco-friendly plastic packaging materials.

27 percent of products at major U.S. retailers are estimated to have sustainable packaging in 2010, and by 2015, this figure is projected to reach 37 percent.

To be continued…..

Check out: Green Packaging 365

Are You Prepared For the Green Consumer?

Yes, we’re somewhere in the midst of the worst economic downturn in history. For obvious reasons, consumers have taken more interest in searching for value in the products that they purchase. Because of this, price is playing a major role in the buying decisions for more consumers than in a stable economic environment.

Despite the weakness in the economy, sustainable packaging is growing and the green consumer is not going away! Recent statistics show that only 11% of consumers have heard the phrase sustainable packaging. Of those 11%, half of them thought sustainable packaging meant durable packaging. However, when we analyze consumer trends,  we find that these statistics will not hold true for very long. In fact, they were probably outdated as soon as they were published.

Consumers are becoming more educated on sustainability and its role in packaging. While still looking at price, consumers are increasingly interested in their personal impact on the environment and are demanding more from manufacturers. Many consumers believe that products have too much packaging. Because of this manufacturers are downsizing and lightening the protective covering that goes around their products. Those manufacturers are seeing benefits from these efforts by realizing material savings and increased demand from green consumers.

Most observers don’t expect any changes in the growth of sustainable packaging, no matter what the state of the economy is. If we’re seeing growth through these difficult times, the importance of sustainability to the consumer is fairly obvious. What might change is the demand for more clarity around the messaging. As consumers are becoming more educated, they’re going to be looking closely at what is really sustainable. We might expect to see more discussion about codes, standards, and oversights. Consumers are going to hold manufacturers more accountable for making sure that they’re staying true to their message.

More info:
Packaging Digest

The Library: More Than Just a Place with Books

Libraries are becoming a shelter and hangout place for more people than just students and book-lovers.  You see people carrying backpacks overflowing with all of their possessions.  Others are washing up in the bathroom.  Some city libraries are starting to seem like a day homeless shelter.homeless poor economy libraries

Especially in this economy, more and more people are becoming homeless and don’t know where to turn.  They seek shelter at the library in the day for warmth in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer.  So is this a problem or an opportunity?

Some people are turned-off when they see homeless people in dirty clothes at the library.  Different people react differently.  Some are scared.  Some are annoyed.  Some are compassionate.  Instead of turning away, we should be glad they are looking to the library for help.  With the resources available, they can learn many things through reading, get help writing a resume, and set-up an e-mail account.  These are just a few things that could help them get on track to finding a job.  But there are guidelines that have to be followed for health and safety concerns.homeless poor economy reading in library Libraries will not allow themselves to turn into homeless shelters.  They should be a place where everyone can learn and use the resources available, not a place to goof around or sleep.  As long as the rules are being followed, everyone should have the opportunity.

With the economy the way it is, libraries are busier than ever.  People, whether homeless or not, are turning to the libraries free resources for learning and entertainment.  And with the growing number of users and higher circulation rate, a larger selection is needed, as well as durable, replacement packaging that will last.

Direct Mail Marketing vs. E-Mail Marketing

When attempting to promote products for your company, you, as a marketer, must decide which marketing strategy would be the best bet for your budget.  Especially in the current struggling economy, marketers need to figure out what will be the most successful and cost-effective option.

direct mail marketing postcards and flyersSending out direct mail could be a very expensive option, especially in comparison to e-mail marketing.  All of the printing costs and shipping costs add up.  The question you must ask yourself is “Is it worth it?”  Does the return on investment outweigh the initial costs?  Also, the waste generated from direct mail does not make it the most environmentally-friendly option.  Although you can have your direct mail pieces printed on recycled paper with eco-friendly UV inks or renewable soy-based inks, there is no guarantee that the recipient will actually recycle the mail when they are finished.  There are benefits to direct  mail marketing campaigns.  They are able to gather a higher number of leads, compared to other marketing techniques.  They add a personal touch to your marketing campaign, and the recipients are much more likely to see a flyer or postcard, compared to an e-mail that can be deleted without even opening it.  A custom design CD/DVD mailer could attract more attention and the recipient might spend a longer amount of time looking at it.

e-mail marketingE-mail marketing strategies are considerably cheaper than direct mail marketing campaigns, but they may not have as high of a return.  In fact, most e-mail service providers filter out junk or spam mail from being sent to the user’s inbox, and sometimes legitimate e-mail marketing subscriptions accidentally get flagged as spam mail.  There is a very small chance that the recipient will actually open and read the e-mail, even if they subscribed to the e-mail advertisements.  But if it does work, it can get out to a large number of people at little or no cost.

Both direct mail marketing strategies and e-mail marketing strategies have their advantages and disadvantages.  A campaign that has a mix of the two strategies could be very successful.  Direct mail pieces that are sent out should at least have a website on them that recipients could easily visit.  If there is no way that consumers could respond from the ease of their own home, without having to mail something back out, the response rate may not be very high.  This, in turn with e-mail marketing could increase your rate of response and online sales.

Going Green: Just a Fad or Here to Stay?

Since today is Earth Day, we thought we would focus on the growing “green” trend.  Sunrise Packaging, like many companies and individuals, has been talking a lot about this ambiguous, yet wildly popular, phenomenon dubbed “green”. Sunpack and others have new “green” products and everyone is asking how they can make small everyday changes to become more “green”. Is this new environmentally-friendly mindset simply the result of high gas prices or is it a permanent societal change?

environmentally-friendly economy costsExperts will give you mixed answers because it is difficult to predict. Threats to our environment are real and it is possible that people are making lifestyle changes that will be permanent. On the other hand, we have seen this kind of trend before, again coinciding with high gas prices. When the prices went down, the environmentally friendly fad passed and Americans went back to driving their gas-guzzlers as much as they ever did.

Back in the 1970’s the prices for oil and gas rose and so did concern for the environment. These concerns lead to the development of Earth Day and government subsidies for alternative energy. By the 1980’s gas prices were down, Ronald Reagan cut the subsidies and concerns for the environment took a nose-dive. Is it possible that we are experiencing the same cycle today?reduce reuse recycle replenish restore earth day

Biologists and experts can provide endless evidence to attest to the fact that the planet is in trouble. For some, this is enough to convince them that the “green” wave is not just a fad, but rather a lasting change. Others will say that the planet has been in danger for a long time and there are still a lot of people who could not care less because they cannot SEE the damage. They are only changing their ways because of the economy or the gas prices.

Whether they change their ways for the environment or for their wallets, people are changing their everyday choices and actions to reflect a more environmentally friendly stance. Many people are making seemingly permanent lifestyle changes – changing their driving habits, the brands and products that they are loyal to, where they buy their food, etc. Such lifestyle changes, if maintained could indicate that this “green” mentality is not just a fad.

Even if “green” is a fad or a trend, many permanent changes may result from its existence. Interest in the environment faded in the 1980’s but we still recognize and celebrate Earth Day. The changes that will last into the next generations will be those that are implemented in ours. While the notion of “green” may be just a passing trend, it is likely that the government will make political and economical changes that will stick. This will likely come in the form of legislation.

“Going green” is motivating people to help the environment. Many experts believe that this trend will only gain momentum and grow, providing a brilliant opportunity for marketers to connect with their consumers and for consumers to positively affect their environment. Only time will tell if the eco-friendly movement will be a passing fad or a lasting change.

Blu-Ray Sales Continue to Soar

There have been doubts about whether or not the high-quality Blu-ray format would succeed like DVDs did in the past. With the high costs of the technology and the worries of the shaky economy, many did not think that people would want to pay the price to switch over to Blu-ray.

blu-ray disc rising technologyThe numbers show differently, as revealed by Adams Media Research. Blu-ray sales so far in 2009 have nearly doubled the amount of Blu-ray sales from the same time last year. Q1 sales are around 9 million in 2009, compared to 4.8 million for Q1 of 2008. To go along with that, there is an estimated total of 10.5 million Blu-ray households to date. stock blu-ray cases

People know the value of the much better quality that the Blu-ray format provides, as it shows in the sales. They are willing to spend a little more for this, despite the struggling economy. Blu-ray discs need to stand out on the shelf and be differentiated from the standard DVDs. With high-quality Blu-ray cases, customers know that they are getting what they pay for–superior technology.

Libraries Take On New Roles

The job losses and pay cuts experienced by many people throughout the country have brought on new roles for librarians. Libraries are no longer just a place to check out books, music, and videos for free. They are a place for the unemployed to go seeking comfort and help during hard times.

An article in The New York Times described thelibrary books librarian roles new stresses put on libraries.

Without as much money to spend on leisure, more and more people are turning to the libraries’ free resources and entertainment. Many libraries are seeing as much as 10 to 30 percent increases in patronage, as well as double digit increases in DVD, CD, and audio book circulation. This means that a larger media selection is needed, as well as durable, replacement packaging.

Libraries are serving a whole new crowd of users. There have been 40 million visits to New York libraries over the past year, which is the largest amount ever over 12 months. With the unemployment rate up to 8.5% the highest since November 1983 these people are looking to libraries for job-seeking help.

library computers job placementMany libraries are now offering job-search desks, help writing résumés, and workshops to bring hope to the jobless. Librarians are being trained to help with these specific needs, as well as receive counseling from therapists. They are learning how to deal with the stress of dealing with sometimes very emotional job-seekers. At times, depressed and discouraged people may even try to talk to librarians for emotional support. This can be difficult for librarians. In addition, there has been an increase of theft and violence at libraries has brought the need for added security and support.

More than ever before, people are turning to libraries for entertainment, job-help, and emotional support. People are coming in to write a résumé that may have never used a computer before, or may not know how to read or write in English. Librarians need to be trained, in order to perform these tasks for the new roles in which they are placed. With the added help and support, frustrated job-seekers can be given hope for new possibilities.