A Top 20 USA Business & Marketing Podcast
News Update: Empathy in marketing; Walmart's new Black Friday sale; #SendNoods; Halloween's impact on candy companies

October 16, 2020

News Update: Empathy in marketing; Walmart's new Black Friday sale; #SendNoods; Halloween's impact on candy companies
Play Episode

Weekly News Update for the week of October 16, 2020.

What's up?! - It's Friday! Here's the weekly news update from THE RADCAST:

  1. Bringing empathy into marketing: the strategy more businesses should be using
  2. Walmart's new Black Friday sale: How they are conducting Black Friday in a Covid-19 world.
  3. Kraft's campaign on National Noodle Day: #SendNoods
  4. What's halloween going to look like for candy companies?

Follow along for more radical happenings in the business and marketing world... visit us at theradcast.com | @the.rad.cast | @ryanalford


Ryan Alford [00:00:48] Hey, guys, what's up? It's Ryan Alford and Riley Clarke. Welcome to the latest edition of the Radcast. It's our weekly news update. So we've got quite a few updates. But what's up, Riley? 

Riley Clarke [00:01:08] Just hanging out this week, it sounds chilled but I feel like we've been very busy. There's a lot going on. And then as far as things are going on around here, we are having a new launch of some merchandise at one of our stores that we're doing here just practicing what we're preaching e-commerce series or getting that expanded a little bit. So that's exciting. 

Ryan Alford [00:01:41] E-commerce series have been good. I enjoyed our episode. We need to talk about our perspective a little bit more. And that was good. Get some good feedback on that. 

You mentioned the merchandise stuff. Yes, it is our way. We run a merchandise store, T-shirts and sweatshirts and stuff like that. It's been local-based around this notion of the local hustle. But we're expanding it and there'll be some more news on that. But we cannot use it as a platform. One, we do some things giving back locally, but also as a way for us to live, breathe and run an e-commerce store. Since we do that for clients, it's a great way for us to learn and test certain things that we might use for clients and a much less pressure environment for us. And so it's been good. We've had a great response. We design all the stuff in-house and run the store. So excited about the change or the pivot and some of the things that we're going to be doing, some of the messaging and stuff, some more news on that. But it's been fun getting to have a vested interest in it. Not that you don't have it in your client stuff, when you're like you have to run it yourself every day, it puts you in the shoes of your clients, too. And so it's been a great practice for us. And more news on that. 

Here is the Radcast news. 

Riley Clarke [00:04:37] We have a couple of headlines this week, one of the ones we'll get to is bringing empathy into marketing, and this is a strategy more businesses should be using for a lot of reasons. But first, why do you think it's something that businesses should start being way more mindful of versus just ‘sell, sell, sell’? 

Ryan Alford [00:04:52] Well, this is like as much as people try when the Covid-19 first hit. It was like every commercial was the same. It was like “we know how you feel and it's so sad” with very depressing music and all that. Finally, we got out of that which was brands trying to be like what I'd call faux empathetic. And now you're seeing more of it as it relates to the reality of the Times. And this article calls out one guy is called the marketing marketoonist. He's a cartoonist that writes in the marketing space but does it through the lens of empathy for marketers and brands. And they are hilarious. Like, it's all tongue in cheek. And it highlights the reality that if you start from a place of empathy, it actually might allow you to introduce humor into your marketing, which always plays well. And so and now I think we've transitioned to this stage where people need to laugh, they lighten up. And empathy now is making things lighter for people in your messaging and realizing that you're not diminishing the impact and which has been great. But at a certain point, we all need a release valve, and I think that's the biggest thing going on now between the election and between the pandemic. Everything else, everything is so hypercharged. I think the brands that can figure out how to leverage empathy – understanding the moment, transitioning into humor can start to break through with their messaging and not just be pandering to times are tough and all that's true. But it doesn't come across as real. And so, I'm going to read one of these marketoonists that shows a business guy talking to his boss at a brand said or the message that they were going to put on the recording. It says “Due to Covid whole times, maybe long, our selection may be limited, our fees may be excessive, orders may be delayed, our service may be bad”. And then his boss is a woman and there's a picture of her as she was. “But wasn't that all true before Covid as well?” Because we're all in this together!

Riley Clarke [00:07:49] It’s good for them.

Ryan Alford [00:07:51] Brands and companies and the discussions that they're having and like, all right, you need to do better before the pandemic. 

Riley Clarke [00:08:01] Yes, it shouldn't be necessarily an excuse.

Ryan Alford [00:08:06] And the other one is there are all these marketers sitting around a boardroom table and a woman goes, “Our consumers drive a BMW. They like John Mayer, they watch Ozark, they love rescue dogs and they hate having their personal data used for psychographic profiling”. And another one at the table. “Well, but what model of Volksvagen do they drive?” The notion that marketers aren't really listening to the fact that they don't want to be psychographically profiled. And the guy at the tables goes in one ear and out the other. It's marketoonist.com, go check it out and definitely deploy empathy and humor in marketing and you'll win. 

Riley Clarke [00:08:54] I think this is a great Segway, actually to another article, another headline we have for this week. I don't necessarily know that this went great for them personally, but Craft’s #SendNoods campaign. I think this is hilarious because my opinion on this is like regardless of all these angry moms that are like “you're sexualizing macaroni and cheese”. Like my thing is the audience of macaroni and cheese is bigger than just children. It's also college students and older people. It's not just kids and this was hilarious to me. I feel in these strange times, people are in need of extra comfort. This is exactly what their CMO had said. And this is a nice way to let people know you're thinking about them. Send them a box of mac and cheese… 

Ryan Alford [00:09:53] It was for National Noodle Day. This is the overkill of the politically correct environment we're in. Don't get me wrong, I have children I don't want. Child trafficking and I get it. It's sensitive and all this. But if we can't have fun with things a little bit, it's like “Cancer Culture 101” for me. I know it is serious stuff. But we have to be able to there's no delineation anymore of, OK, this is humor for humor's sake but they're serious things going on. So I that's that all of us take everything really seriously. 

Riley Clarke [00:10:49] I get there are some people that are there, how they cope or whatever. That's their personalities. And that's totally fine. But I also feel like there are a lot of people that feel this is funny. I feel like this is actually way more harmless than it was coming across. And for them to have done it on National Noodle Day, it's still in the middle of a pandemic. So it might make someone feel better. Box of mac and cheese. I feel like a missed opportunity to say no.

Ryan Alford [00:11:15] No press is bad press. So, I don't know how they're viewing it. But I thought it was brilliant. And I think that again, back to breaking through in a covered environment where everyone's doing a lot of the types of the same stuff and craft is brave enough to to to to run a campaign like this and I can't pretend to know if you're the CEO of Kraft or whatever level is raised up to the pressure that might have come and not wanting to alienate some level. But good grief, what a buzzkill for a great promo, I guess a few days. 

Riley Clarke [00:12:03] I think it's hilarious.

Ryan Alford [00:12:06] #SendNoods 

Riley Clarke [00:12:16] Let's get this trending. And we'll bring it back in terms of holiday stuff, these last two articles about Black Friday sales and then obviously about Halloween. But Walmart, this is a really interesting tactic. They're doing Black Friday sales, but they're doing three different types of sales starting online. And then the sale will be in the store a few days later. What do you think? Like what is your initial takeaway from that strategy? Obviously, they're a huge company, so it's different than a small business doing something like this. 

Ryan Alford [00:12:51] But I think you've got a few things at play here. It's probably not a good idea for 10000 people to be in the store at the same time. So it makes a ton of sense to split it up. These retailers, whether they're Walmart or Mom and Pop, brick and mortar, rely on black. I mean this is called Black Friday because that's when most retailers get in the black. They start when they actually have a year that makes money. And the big guys are having great years. They got to black a lot earlier in the year. The mom and pops are strongly still. But this is all about how do you split up your traffic, especially at stores. They still want to get in-store business. They still need that. And how do you accommodate a pandemic that's going on? And you don't want ten thousand people on top of each other and you've got crowd control. So how do you split this up? And look, you've got the trend of online already there. And so it makes a ton of sense because you already have Cyber Monday, it’s become its own thing right after Black Friday. And so this is a way to get started a little bit earlier, break up the crowds a bit, both online and in-store. It makes sense. I think what you're going to see other retailers follow Walmart being a leader in the space, you're going to see other retailers and other stores do the same things. Unfortunately, I think the mom and pops are going to struggle, even more, I think, during this period, the ones that don't have an e-commerce strategy. If you're only a brick and mortar, and you're trying to make way for Black Friday this year, it's going to be a rough year. Because you're still going to have some amount of social distancing and not going to have the traffic in the stores that you did before 

Riley Clarke [00:14:49] Also, because you have to limit how many people can come in. 

Ryan Alford [00:14:51] So I need to do if you haven't already, you need to start your e-com strategy or be building it or find ways. The one other tip that I might give was to find ways to leverage the store, pick up one or two points, even if you don't have an e-commerce store set up. Have extra people on the phones that week and have an outside cart set up where you'll call. They can call, you can call the store and blast it on your social media channels. If you're looking for a product, we'll consider this for you. And so how can you up that if you have an e-commerce store, then you only need to leverage that. Come on, pick up in-store or if you're local, you got to find ways to concierge it and find ways to remove the friction that pandemic is applying. All of this is more friction to my buying process. That's another layer. And so what Walmart's done is they're trying to remove that friction. They're trying to spread it out over time because I don't think they're going to be open. A lot of these retailers are canceling the Thanksgiving Day opening. So truly going back to Black Friday, which I commend, it drives me crazy that the people that take half their Thanksgiving with family and they were worried about getting to…

Riley Clarke [00:16:22] I know that transition of giving and getting flipped so quickly with Thanksgiving. The last article goes into this a little bit. I know a lot of candy companies feel, “what's about to happen with Halloween”, the new normal challenges versus the old way of doing Halloween. This is something that a lot of companies are concerned about. A lot of people don't know if they're even going to meet that initial target that they always had every year for Halloween. Because the other thing is people could be celebrating in a very different way that actually might require more candy or everyone’s like, “we're not going to do Halloween this year at all”. And then no one's buying anything. 

Ryan Alford [00:17:09] Candy sales had been up in general. None of this is surprising to all of my candy. we've all been stuck at home or a lot of us. And the candy sales are up and food sales are up. Elastic pants and somehow Peloton bikes are exactly where you can't work the diet, I'll tell you that from personal experience. But nonetheless, they've been producing it sounds like more candy with the actually less Halloween or less seasonal in hopes of having a longer shelf life and which makes sense. They've been preparing for this, but it'll be interesting to see where the sales numbers come out because it's not a get out kids aren't. I don't know what percent is going to be the number one. Most of the houses probably aren't allowed for the kids that are doing it. I know they're there. I don't know if anyone's come out and said that Halloween is officially canceled, per se. 

Riley Clarke [00:18:11] I feel like a neighborhood because neighborhood watch is probably not going to have things anymore. They're probably going to send out like alerts those kinds of things that are saying, “oh, probably limited Halloween” or you're probably not going to see cars parked miles down the neighborhoods. But no, I think it'll be interesting. 

Ryan Alford [00:18:31] I think what's interesting that has been happening is that all of these brands are using the last news we talk about with Walmart. It's forcing agility and a rethink for these brands, for how to market smarter, how to package smarter, how to navigate and execute. And I don't think that's going to serve these brands well down the road because, as much as we like to think things change quickly, some things don't. And they've relied on Halloween forever for a certain percentage of their sales. So if they can maximize in a pandemic; in a season that may or may not happen, the traditional trick or treat season, it's going to put a Medal of Honor on them, a little bit of navigating through this. We'll see how many presidents and see CMOs make it through this, some of these large retailers. The uncertainty in everything is what's killing everyone. Mentally like the unknown and what's the other shoe going to drop and all of those things and so, 

Riley Clarke [00:19:44] And not even knowing if a new strategy is actually going to work or if it's going to have the effect they want it to have before it, which is, and to eat. 

Ryan Alford [00:19:54] And it will be interesting to see the online sales of candy, after all this is said for the season. You’ll see fewer people going to the stores, more people buying online and on in any other category. I'll be interested to watch the numbers on Candy over the Halloween sales if it falls in that same time. I imagine it does on some level. But there's going to be an impact. There will be some decline. There has to be. When three hundred million kids are trick or treating.

Riley Clarke [00:20:51] We'll definitely follow up in a couple of weeks to see how that plays out. But that's our news for this week. And then an episode releases on Tuesday at noon Eastern Time. 

Ryan Alford [00:21:03] We appreciate everyone listening. You can follow along at the Radcast Dotcom, and we'll talk to you next time. 

Riley Clarke [00:21:11] See you next time.