About Julie...

The responsibility to grow the business is yours. The skill set and process that make growth happen are very much hers. Julie Burrows has run $1 billion consumer business, launched over 70 new products and deeply understands consumer interactivity and social media. Using her skill, growth becomes your product's results. More.

Drive Repeat!

My twin sister Lynda (on right) and me. BTW our nicknames in high school were Pete and Repete. Apropos for this post!

I’ve always believed businesses are built on repeat.  All the businesses I ever worked on needed at least a 40% repeat rate to be viable.  And when you do the math – which I just love to model – you see just how much of the volume is due to repeat.  That 80/20 rule (80% of the volume comes from 20% of the users) really does come true.

So the new trend of subscription services is very intriguing.  Of course, insurance premiums and financial products have known how to do this for decades.  But now hard goods has an easy way to drive repeat with their best customers using these services.  Here are some new ideas on the market:

  • Birchbox for Men -  monthly subscription service that’s like getting a goody box in the mail. The men’s Birchbox contains a menagerie of lifestyle and grooming products plus snacks. The subscription is $20 per month.  See more men’s services in this article from November in Mashable.  (FYI..there is Birchbox for women too.)
  • Amazon Prime – As Jeff Bezos says, “…Prime is now the best value in the history of shopping.” For an annual subscription of $79 you get free unlimited two-day shipping for 15 million items.  This service drives repeat of Amazon in our household!  There’s no official number of subscribers, but Piper Jaffrey estimates it at 10 million at the end of 2011.
  • Member.ly – To run your own subscription service is as easy as using member.ly.  You can be your own curator!
  • Executive clothing shopping services:  There are many to choose from but my favorite is Corset Styling.  It’s a local Edina store but stylist Jodi Montgomery Mayers has customers all over the country.  This group is high service and wonderful style!

On a side note, I guess I inherently have an interest in “repeat” given I’m an identical twin.  My twin sister Lynda and I were called “Pete” and “RePete” in high school (my maiden name is Peterson.)  There’s a lot to love in repeat!!


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Comparison Shopping Days

How do the key holiday shopping days compare in 2012?  Here are the facts, showing the dominance of Black Friday weekend.  Even Black Friday online was almost as large as Cyber Monday!

Thanksgiving/Black Friday Weekend:
Total Sales:  $59.1 billion, +13% vs. last year
Top five categories (based on what shoppers said they bought): clothing, electronics, toys, movies/DVDs, and for the first time ever – footwear.
Fun fact: 22% of shoppers shopped on Thursday with the busiest times from 5-8pm.
Fun fact:  36% of shoppers used smartphones to help shop while in stores on Black Friday.
Online fun fact:  Spending online on Black Friday alone topped $1 billion for the first time (comScore, National Retail Federation.)

Small Business Saturday:
Total Sales:  U.S. supporters of local businesses spent $5.5 billion or 9% of total weekend sales.  Note:  this spending is only shoppers who were aware of Small Business Saturday and not how much was actually spent at small businesses on Nov. 24.
Fun fact:  Small Business Friday is in its third year.  My niece Ali Chapin leads the Social media effort for Small Business Saturday at Amex.
Fun fact:  American Express reported a 21% increase in card-member transactions on Small Business Saturday. (National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.)

Cyber Monday
Total Sales:  $1.46 billion spent online, +17% vs. last year.
Fun fact:  11/26/12 was the busiest day for online commerce in history.
Fun fact:  Online sales for all of November were $16.4 billion.
Not so fun fact:  Online shoppers loaded up on more items but spent less per visit on Cyber Monday.

This should be a strong holiday for retailers, based on one fact alone.  This is the longest shopping period between thanksgiving and Christmas that is possible.  In my days running seasonal businesses at Pillsbury, we counted these days carefully as the number of shopping days and weekends for parties directly impacted sales.

So here’s to a great holiday for all, not just our nation’s retailers!

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Are you feeling the need to get organized?  Recommitting to a new routine?

This seasonality wheel has been in my tool it, thanks to Dugan Valva Contess.  While it’s over ten years old, it continues to be relevant today.  (As Harry Balzer of NPD would say, things don’t change that fast!)  While we live in a world of minute-by-minute marketing, it’s crucial to know the overarching emotional and activity states of our culture throughout the year. The insights from this wheel have helped me answer the following questions:

  • For a consumer shipping business, how can we address a summer slowdown and continue to grow our business with the most loyal users?
  • How should we approach the holiday season on a daily basis?
  • When should we target events in the blood donation field?

Interestingly enough, my colleague and social media guru Robin Neifield (CEO of NetPlus) recently wrote on the same subject for ClickZ, thought she focused on the timing of social interactions.  She reminded us that “the biggest mistake you can make with a seasonal business in social media is to assume that seasonal high months are the only ones you need to plan for and to ignore all of the adjacent opportunities for good interactions and good content.”

I want to update this wheel with the new digital mindset (i.e. adding Black Friday.)  Let me know what you would add.  And watch out this month…you may finally have that urge to organize your office…it’s the season!

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gender and social media

chicksruleinformationisbeautiful.net has recently updated its infographic on gender visits in social media. The graphic shows social media sites with the % of visitors by sex and the number of visitors represented by one sex more than the other.

Currently, there are 99 million more women visiting social media sites than men. The sites that are visited more by women seem to value sharing thoughts and feelings (Facebook, Twitter), staying connected (classmates), and sharing creative interests (Pinterest, Instagram). The sites that are more frequented by men deal with networking (LinkedIn), searching and tagging (Google, del.icio.us, digg), video (Youtube), and humor (Reddit).

While these are generalizations, it seems men and women use different sites to share, learn, and create.  How this evolves will be crucial to how we target by gender!

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