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Marketers Take Full Advantage of Black Friday Backlash

Black Friday Line

As  Black Friday sales crept more into Thanksgiving Day itself, there was a growing contingent of the public boycotting the latent consumerism that has engulfed the holiday weekend. Within the last couple years, brands took note and capitalized on the Black Friday Backlash in their marketing strategies.


It’s an unusual strategy. Businesses spent advertising dollars asking people not to go out and buy stuff—and told customers they will not be open for business. But it’s a message that resonated with customers, as evidenced by the growing number of retailers who have jumped on the anti-Black Thursday bandwagon.


Several years ago, businesses like T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and Home Goods made news with their decision to push back against the “Black Friday creep.” Last year, REI announced that not only would it be closed on Thanksgiving, but it would be closed on Black Friday as well, encouraging employees and customers alike to #OptOutside over the holiday weekend (a campaign that fits perfectly with the REI brand). Black Friday is now a paid holiday for all REI employees.


This year, more companies joined the anti-Black Thursday trend, including major names like Costco, Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, IKEA, OfficeDepot and Sam’s Club. Most of these companies included messages in their advertising stressing the importance of spending time with family over the holiday, essentially using moralism as a marketing strategy.


Principled or practical?Thanksgiving Dinner

Of course, there are plenty of skeptics who would say that while these brands were attempting to make their anti-Black Thursday stances appear to be based on principle, there were also practical reasons to keeping their doors closed on Thanksgiving.


For example, a MarketLive study revealed that approximately 65 percent of consumers either “hate” or “dislike” retailers opening for business on Thanksgiving, compared to just 12 percent of Americans who “like” or “love” it. Viral videos of customers “storming the gates” to get door-buster sales on Thanksgiving—sometimes getting into fist fights and wrestling matches over electronics and toys—continue to turn people off to Black Friday. This year being no exception: with three deaths and six injuries from shopping related shootouts at malls across the U.S.


As the sales numbers roll in from Black Friday, it appears though people stayed home, they were still shopping.  This year marked the first year in retail history where mobile sales broke $1 billion dollars, with overall online sales hitting record-breaking $3billion. Online sales on Black Thursday topped out at $1.93 billion – an increase of 11.5 percent.


Time will tell whether this surge of anti-consumerism in Thanksgiving marketing will lead to changes in the way holiday sales are run, or if this is just a passing fad. But for now, expect to continue to see more businesses adopting this trend – it is a “goodwill gesture” that consumers like and there is always online shopping.

How Will the 2016 Election Impact CPG, Beverage Companies?

cpg storeAs people throughout the United States and around the world continue to digest November’s election results, businesses and organizations across nearly all industries are looking at how upcoming changes could impact consumer sentiment. This is certainly true for consumer packaged goods (CPG) and beverage and spirits companies.


For these types of businesses especially, consumer outlook is critically important. Even before the election took place, many economists were predicting a softening in consumer spending as we reached late 2016—no matter who won. In fact, a majority of consumers surveyed last summer said they believed their households’ financial health would be worse off whether under Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.


This marked a shift in what had been a historically positive trend of U.S. consumers feeling optimistic about the future. It appears as if the negativity of this election in particular—and perhaps the unpopularity of the two leading candidates—had a strong effect on consumers’ outlook.


On the other hand, consumer sentiment in the United States did rebound in early November after hitting a lull in October. The final pre-election survey found that consumers overall felt better about the economy in the days leading up to November 8. We’ll have to wait until the end of the month to know for sure if the election results impacted that feeling in any significant way.


Consumers may shift spending habits


How does this all play out in practical terms? For one, more than 60 percent of consumers say they will be creating shopping lists before they head out to stores in the near future. For CPG and beverage/spirits makers, this means that people may be spending less on discretionary items to save money and prepare for what they see as possible rocky financial times ahead.


To that end, we may see a significant trend toward more consumers holding off on buying items they don’t need immediately and waiting until they go on sale. Some may be willing to try new, less expensive brands to reduce costs, while others may gravitate toward private label items. Now, more than ever, it is important to engage with consumers to share brand value beyond simply price.


Although consumer confidence may be questionable at this time, economists still predict that consumers will keep spending on certain indulgences from time to time. And, confidence among Millennials (individuals between the ages of 18 and 34) has been notably higher than we are seeing in older adults—at least in surveys taken before the election. Studies have shown that consumer confidence in a brand increases with one-on-one engagement.


During this time of seemingly endless turmoil, it can be difficult for CPG and beverage/spirits companies to effectively plan for the road ahead. By keeping an eye on consumer confidence metrics and industry trends, brands can determine the best ways to reach their target audience—whether it’s engaging through experiential marketing and social media, or through special deals, loyalty programs or a wide range of other tactics.



The other social media: Snapchat

With more than 100 million daily users and a growth rate of 57% percent in 2014 Snapchat is one of the most promising social networks. Founded in 2011, the social media platform follows a different approach compared to most others: Unlike Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, Snapchat's contents disappear fairly quickly. If you send your “Snap” to your followers (“friends” in Snapchat terms), it disappears instantly once viewed. In 2013 another feature named “Stories” was added. It enables Snapchat users to post a series of Snaps, which will disappear after 24 hours. Snaps may consist of videos or photos and can be decorated with emojis, fonts and various filters.

But why does only a small percentage of all businesses utilize Snapchat as a social media platform? One of the main reasons might be the demographics of its audience. Originally an infamous “sexting” app, due to the messages' quick disappearing, Snapchat is mainly used by a very young audience.




Almost 50% of all Snapchat users belong to the age group of 18-24. And an astounding 71% of all users are below the age of 34. Users below the age of 18 are not even taken into consideration, which is why in fact the average Snapchat user might be significantly younger.

Listed below are some additional numbers and statistics to take in regard, if you are contemplating using Snapchat for your own business:

Percentage of American social media users using Snapchat: 18%

Percentage of Snapchat users who contribute on a daily basis: 65%

Number of daily video views on Snapchat: 6 billion

Number of snaps per day: 400 million

Percentage of marketers using Snapchat: 1%

Percentage of college students who would likely purchase a product of a brand that sent a Snapchat Coupon: 58%


Why you should be using Snapchat

You might be saying that the audience on Snapchat is too young and doesn’t belong to your target group – but think again. Remember Facebook in 2008? Back then it was mainly used by college kids and high schoolers. Now moms and grandparents mainly use it.

Another argument for Snapchat is the undivided attention your snap gets once it has been opened. As it disappears after being viewed only once, users will most likely focus on the content instead of being distracted easily. Considering that today's social media users are constantly spammed simultaneously by multiple advertisers, having their undivided attention is an invaluable rarity.

Snapchat displays a high engagement rate and a high ratio of people using the app on a daily basis. Additionally, the numbers indicate that local marketing campaigns via Snapchat will have reasonable chances of success. Combined with a very low number of competitors, these are striking arguments for the utilization of Snapchat as marketing tool which is becoming a vital part of global marketing strategies.

How to use Snapchat for your business

Did all these facts convince you to add Snapchat to your social media campaign? Great! We have collected some strategies and explanations of how to use Snapchat for you business.

Speak the right language

Recently, marketers rely on word-heavy posts, lengthy videos and images that have been photoshopped beyond recognition. Despite brevity gaining popularity in marketing, many still showcase their product in every detail manner. But as less is more, you will want to consider using the native language of Snapchat to leave an impression: Relying strongly on visuals – using emojis (a principal part of Snapchat communication), filters and stickers – and adding a hashtag can provide your product with a much more memorable launch than a five-minute-video or wordy post.

Provide exclusive content

Snapchat is an excellent choice if you want to use real time social media. It gives your audience access to places and events they usually are not able to attend and provides them with possible insights which are not easily accessible to the public. This not only gives the audience unique and more authentic viewpoints, but also makes them feel included and part of an exclusive world.

Fashion designers Rebecca Minkoff and Michael Kors used Snapchat to introduce their collections before they even hit the runway.

2                   (twitter account: Rebecca Minkoff)



 But not only the fashion world recently discovered Snapchat. The NBA already used the app on several occasions to give fans a peak behind the scenes.



Collaborate with influencers

 Digital influencers can play a key figure in raising brand awareness. Candy brand Sour Patch Kids teamed up with Logan Paul (a popular Vine User) who also has a huge Snapchat following base. Together they created a campaign which resulted in 120,000 new followers, raising their Snap impressions to two million in only ONE week.


Reward your followers

People love to be rewarded simply for being active on social media. So why not offer the chance to win a price, a coupon or an online discount for liking and/or sharing your content. Some businesses even increased their foot traffic by offering special discounts to customers who show a special social media message or photo. Try adding a discount code or coupon at the end of your Snapchat story or send them out as snaps and watch your sales increase.



But you do not have to be worried in case you still lack the sufficient amount of followers for starting such promotional actions: 67% of all college students claim that they would like to receive coupons and discounts from brands and an overwhelming 73% would open a snap from a brand they know (45% from a brand they do not know). There is tons of potential in this kind of Snapchat marketing.

 Of course you can get a little bit more creative by starting contests or challenges in order to follow the ongoing gamification trend. Victoria’s Secret for example started a fun drawing contest to engage users.



Snapchat is a social network that lives on creativity and authenticity. Despite an evaluation at $15 billion, there is a lot of space for growth and experimentation. Last year interaction of users between the age of 12 and 24 increased by 11%, while Facebook and Twitter reported decreasing activity. Considering its recent performance, clever marketers indeed will want to start taking Snapchat seriously before everyone hops on the band wagon.

Spotlight on the Makai Internship Program

KarenKaren 2

Our beloved intern from Germany, Karen, was already battle-hardened on the field of marketing when she joined the Makai Inc. team earlier this year. In fact, she already worked for six months at the German office in Leipzig. Over here in El Segundo the 23 year-old was first assigned tasks linked to Operations, but soon after her resourcefulness and creativity were put to use on Social Media and Business Development. Karen’s best qualities came to show as she swiftly adjusted to the new assignments. Among many other things, Karen successfully manages and evaluates Makai´s social networks, routinely prepares meetings with clients and writes our blog as well as our monthly newsletter. A fruitful professional symbiosis emerged when Brianna Castillo, our Business Development Manager, took Karen under her wing. Now one thing is for sure, Brianna does not look forward to the day our German intern heads back home to Germany. Karen’s distinguished diligence and ability to deliver will surely be missed around here. Auf Wiedersehen.


AlbeBerto 2rto

A Spaniard rounded out the batch of interns coming from the German office. The 28-year-old from Bilbao, Spain, exhibits an extensive international background that nicely fits into Makai’s intercultural working environment. Alberto’s linguistic skills have also come in very handy in a market that is undergoing a remarkable Hispanic acculturation (see previous entry). He has brought his versatility to bear in many different situations and scenarios. Unlike Karen, Alberto exclusively works in Operations, but his contribution sometimes spills into other areas of responsibility, most notably out on the field. The Spaniard will surely never forget the time when he took the reins of a promotional tour in North California and embarked upon a two-week journey as assistant to the Field Manager. Nor will he forget the many times he has worked as a Brand Ambassador  all over Los Angeles. Back in the office, he efficiently assists in multiple programs and has maintained direct communication with some of our clients. As the end of his training draws closer, he hopes for a full-time position at Makai Inc., where he is convinced he can thrive professionally. Hasta la vista, baby.




Born and raised in Washington, Chanel decided to become part of the Makai team during her summer break from college. Her friendlypersonality and genuine readiness to taking on new tasks has quickly found multiple outlets both in the office as well as on the field. The 21 year-old extensively supports Operations in two major programs and now hopes to bring the newly acquired knowhow back to Seattle, where she will resume classes this fall at Washington University. Good luck and happy graduation!



A third European nationality is represented in the Makai team by an affable 21 year-old named Ryan. Straight out of London, this big-hearted Brit displays an enormous commitment to complete the very physical tasks that are usually associated with warehouse-related work. However, his dedication to duty does not stop at the many piles of product stacked in the back of our building, but it goes well beyond that. He never hesitates in offering a helping hand to his colleagues in the office and that attitude is always highly appreciated. Towards the end of his stay at Makai Inc. he took off his warehouse gloves and went on to support Operations in various programs. Cheers, mate!



The other U.S. born intern in our midst is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Business Administration at Boston University. Like Chanel, the 19 year-old Willy used his summer break to bag a professional experience with us. He works hand in hand with Ryan to support our warehouse manager in every possible way, from keeping track of a constantly changing inventory, to storing product orderly, to helping our Field Mangers load the vans we drive on our promotional tours. And boy, he’s tackled every single one of these responsibilities!

Understanding the Hispanic Acculturation… and what it means for marketing

Percent_Hispanic_or_Latino_(of_any_race)The Hispanic market has always been one of the most complex demographics to target, simply because the culture is so versatile. Not only are you marketing to over 20 different countries all being represented under the Hispanic -or Latino- umbrella, but within those you must remain conscious to the different levels of acculturation.

According to Havi Goffan, CEO of Target Latino, in her article Understanding Hispanic Market Segmentation – Part I, we can initially segment the Hispanic market into three main levels of acculturation. First there is the Non-Acculturated who only know how to navigate within the Hispanic culture. Next there is the Acculturated who are born in the United States of Hispanic decent and only know how to navigate the American culture. And finally, the Semi-Acculturated or those people who can navigate in both cultures with ease.

In an article, Goffan also states that the speed at which the Hispanic market will acculturate depends on three defining factors; time, education, and socio economic status. The longer a person lives in the United States better they are able to adopt the practices of typical American culture. Similar to that idea, the higher level of education a person has, “the faster the learning of another culture will be.” The last factor, indicates that the higher the socio-economic status a person had in its country of origin, the greater the chance that they have already been exposed to other cultures, thus speeding up the process of acculturation.

So, what does this have to do with marketing? According to information found in the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Hispanics living in the United States -estimated as of July, 2013- is about 17% of the total U.S. population. This makes the Hispanic population the largest our of all the minority groups! These are great stats to see for someone who has the Hispanic market under their belt, but for those missing out on this segment group, that is a large chunk of the population to look past. The United States is a melting pot of cultures, so to be able to represent every level of acculturation for every culture, a company must truly understands these different levels of Hispanic Acculturation. Only then can they produce the most effective message of their service or product to this ever changing demographic.


In the age of TV and digital reaching consumers has become very easy and measurable… but the real question is, are they listening?  After 20 years of business we’ve seen all the trends come and go.  And what has always resonated with consumers is the face to face interaction or “experience” with your brand.  To help our clients better understand the powerof experiential we decided to put data behind it.  We sent crews to the streets of California and discovered some pretty powerful data* we wanted to shareMakai Statistic

*data by AHAA 2011 and Makai 2014



As a marketing agency we are constantly trying to meet consumer’s needs. But to do so, it is important to understand how the decision process of consumers works.

Although the CUSTOMER BUYING PROCESS has been interpreted by many scholars over the years, the main framework of five stages, which John Dewey developed already in the 1920’s, remain:

  1. Need RecognitionA purchase cannot take place without the recognition of the need. The need either has been triggered by internal attractions, such as hunger or thirst, or external, such as advertising or word of mouth.
  2. Information SearchOnce a consumer has decided to satisfy the need, the next step a customer most likely will take is the Information Search stage, in order to find out what they feel is the best solution.
  3. Seeking of AlternativesConsumers will evaluate different products or brands at this stage. A factor that heavily influences this stage is the customer’s attitude. Involvement is another factor that influences the evaluation process, which means that if the customer’s attitude is positive and involvement is high, then they will evaluate a number of companies or brands; but on the other hand if it is low, only one company or brand will be evaluated.
  4. Purchase Decision Here is where the actual purchase takes place. Nevertheless there are two factors that may hinder: negative feedback from other customers and the level of motivation to accept the feedback.
  5. Purchase RatingAfter comparing the products with previous expectations the consumer will be either satisfied or dissatisfied. Satisfaction often will results in brand loyalty and the Information Search and Evaluation of Alternative stages will often be fast-tracked or skipped altogether.

marketingNo one of us is aware of processing those steps but you will recognize them the next time you are about to buy a new TV. Yet, there are certain influences such as cultural, social and personal factors that distinguish why a British person would never buy sunscreen or someone from Kenia an umbrella.

First, there are cultural factors that have a huge impact on consumers’ behavior. Not just that every society is deeply influenced by cultural factors, but also that among every culture subcultures exist: religions, nationalities, geographic regions, racial groups to name some of them. Every society also possesses some form of social class which is important to the marketers because the buying behavior of people in a given social class is similar. A social class is not only determined by income but also by wealth, education and occupation.

Social factors as second determiners, reference groups, family, role and status. Reference groups have potential in forming a person attitude or behavior. Here is very often an opinion leader included influences others because of his special skill, knowledge or other characteristics. Each person possesses different roles and status in the society depending upon the groups, clubs, family, organization etc. to which he belongs. For example a woman is working in an organization as finance manager. Now she is playing two roles, one of finance manager and other of mother. Therefore her buying decisions will be influenced by her role and status.

Yes, we all are pushed into roles and we depend on our reference groups but we are still individuals. It is our decision to make which lifestyle to choose or how to create our self-concept. Our economic situation, occupation, age, personality also play along.

So far so good. But what to do with that knowledge? Marketers use it to of course identify their target group. For example if you are trying to promote laundry detergent you will most likely address women in your advertisement. If you try to sell dolls, you will probably produce very colorful commercials and place them on the Nickelodeon TV channel.

Marketing certainly grew bigger and more influential over the past 10 years, but it is still interesting to see, that, according to a survey from 2014, recommendations from family and friends are still the most influential factor on a consumer’s decision. Television ads only follow on third place:


influence on buyers desicion


Here are some other key findings

  • When it comes to purchasing basic everyday goods such as groceries and pet food, US consumers do not care much for either online and offline word of mouth, but look for brands that deliver value in terms of savings. 48% say that coupons influence them and 44% say that loyalty card discounts influence them when making brand decisions.
  • Digital technology influences 36% of in-store sales on average. Electronics and alliances is the most influenced category where digital impacts 58% of all final purchases.
  • 50% of mobile shoppers said search results via smartphone influenced their purchases, followed by 42% who said they were influenced by ratings and reviews.




Understanding the Difference between B2B and B2C Marketing

When working in the media industry the terms B2B and B2C become part of one’s everyday language. There is plenty of common ground between these two fields of marketing, but there are disparities that are essential for professionals who work on either, or both sides for successful marketing.

B2B is shorthand for business to business. The products and services of the business are marketed to other businesses, meaning B2B refers to transactions between two businesses where both the seller and the buyer are business owners.

The term B2C or Business to Consumer, on the contrary, refers to transactions between a business and a final customer. Restaurants, retail stores or e-commerce websites selling products or services to individuals are examples of B2C companies.

As a nationwide acting marketing agency Makai’s efforts satisfy both B2B and B2C relations by meeting each of our customers’ demands. But what most are not aware of are some very fine but clear cut key differences in approach and execution of B2B and B2C. Let us explain what those are:

#1: rationality vs. emotion

  • This is probably the biggest and most important factor in the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. Companies marketing their goods and services to other businesses must focus on the practical benefits of their products. With B2B, purchases are more focused on completing a task or moving a project forward, whereas consumer purchases are mostly based on emotional connections with the product. Individual consumers’ purchases are often influenced by mood, desire or price. This knowledge will affect much of the way that businesses develop their marketing.
  • Also “…businesses respond better to professional, industry-specific messaging, whereas individuals prefer more relatable messaging (Louis Moynihan, Vice President of Business Development at Demandbase: Oct. 20, 2014).”



#2: different sales cycles

  • From cheeseburgers to cars, consumer marketing aims at impulsive decisions, which is why this sales cycle is much shorter. B2C buys tend to satisfy immediate needs, while B2B decisions are meant to complete long-term goals. Companies need more time to evaluate their options and weigh the risks and rewards. Multiple interactions help guide the buyer through the sales process and this is what marketers can take advantage of: The longer the sales cycle, the stronger relationships and a greater sense of loyalty can be nurtured.
  • Consumers are usually driven by need and emotion. So a decision for a purchase may only take a few moments, sometimes even seconds. B2B marketers, however, have a much longer chain of command and purchasing products to deal with: procurement, accounting and their superiors often need to approve purchases.

Different marketing tactics are used in B2B and B2C, although the methods of advertising, promotions and publicity are very often the same. However, at the end of the day, no matter which side of the B2B or B2C spectrum a marketer works on, all marketing is P2P — person to person — despite the external differences.



How to Make the Perfect Pitch


We all know that pitching an idea is hard, not only because you want to convince your potential investors but also because of time pressure. How are you supposed to put all that content, which could fill an entire hour, in a 5-minute pitch? We looked at the most important rules when creating and presenting a pitch and what investors are looking at when deciding whether or not to invest in an idea.

Know your audience

Research your potential investors and tailor your pitch according to what they are interested in. Finding an alignment between your business idea and their positive triggers will make it easier for you to get their attention.

Introduce your team

Your potential investors want to know who they might be investing in and if you have a team that is able to back you up. Therefore it is crucial to introduce your team, their background as well as their professional experience to the audience. The timing is up to you – either introduce them in the beginning or at the end of your pitch.

Tell a story

Try to minimize the number of slides you use. If you can, don’t use any slides but focus on telling a story and engaging your audience, with the important numbers in mind of course. You will be surprised how much more attention you get when not reading from slides. Keeping it brief also counts for the structure of your pitch. There are several rules you can apply for structuring your pitch. The most popular one seems to be the 5 seconds, 30 seconds and 5 minutes multilevel rule. 5 seconds refers to a short explanation on your idea whereas in the 30 second version you describe how you plan to achieve your idea. Once you are able to explain your idea in 35 seconds, you can broaden it to 5 minutes.

State your competitive advantage

This step is has to be included in every pitch. Tell your potential investors why your idea is better than what your competition does, why it will be more successful or at least how it is different. You should also know of any potential new competitors that might form an obstacle for your idea.

What is your next step

You have to know your next steps in case you get a positive response from your audience. Also make sure you’re able to tell your potential investors what you need from them if they choose to hop on board with you.

Show passion – don’t beg

It is definitely important to be passionate about your idea. Just don’t take that passion to an extreme and appear desperate. Be confident about your idea and engage your audience with the steps provided above.



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Name: Makai US Headquarters
Phone: 310.546.9585
Fax: 310.321.7933
Address: 211 Nevada Street El Segundo, CA 90245