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Rogue One: May the Force Still Be with You

1 Dec

Last December, we wrote about the smash holiday sales of Star Wars toys, tied in to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

This year, on December 16, 2016, the latest Star Wars (Rogue One) installment will hit theaters. So, this post takes a look at some of the milestones the series has achieved — and at the new movie.

Here are some pre-Rogue One cumulative data for Star Wars, compiled by Statistics Brain:

  • More than $30 billion of revenue has been generated.
  • The global movie box office has reached $6.25 billion.
  • VHS/DVD/Digital revenues have hit $5.5 billion.
  • TWELVE billion Star Wars toys have been sold.
  • Book sales have exceeded $1.8 billion.
  • $3.5 billion worth of videogames have been sold.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the tie-in blitz (yes, these items are ready for you to buy!) for the upcoming Rogue One, reported by Erik Kain for Forbes [Note: This list is NOT a commercial; that’s why there are no product links. The list is only intended to show the mania surrounding any new Star Wars release.]:

  • LEGO Sets — “LEGO has been at the forefront of all things Star Wars for ages. This year is no different. LEGO has released some truly awesome sets to celebrate the new film.”
  • Rebel U-Wing Fighter — “If you’re looking for something a bit more heroic, look no further than the Rebel U-Wing Fighter. This is a nice twist for Star Wars fans, since we’re all pretty used to X-Wings by now. The set is a bit less complicated than the previous one, with an 8-14 age rating and just 659 pieces.The U-Wing may be the main attraction, but the characters it comes with are awesome.”
  • Video Games — “Star Wars: Battlefront is an online multiplayer shooter that pits the Rebels vs the Empire in maps on planets from across a galaxy far, far away. There’s content from Episode VII like Jakku, and there’s content from the original trilogy, including the moon of Endor. On December 6th, the final DLC pack drops, and it includes content from Rogue One. The Rogue One: Scarif pack will let gamers experience battles on the film’s planet Scarif a full ten days before they can on the big screen.”
  • Books — “Most of the books coming out about Rogue One won’t release until after the movie (because of obvious things like spoilers). Still, here are some options for die-hard Star Wars fans looking for some art and literature tie-ins to Rogue One.
  • Action Figures — “The larger ‘Black’ series figurines are especially great both for kids and collectors. You can get the 6″ Jyn Erso figurine for $12.50, Rogue One pilot Cassian Andor for $15.49; and the sleek Imperial Death Trooper for $15.99.”
  • Figurines — “An alternative to action figures, Funko’s POP figurines are as cute as they are addictive. Be careful when you start buying POP characters, because there always seems to be another one that’s even cuter. In any case, there’s tons of characters from Rogue One to choose from, ranging from a little over $5 to a little over $8.”
  • Razors — “A little off the beaten path of toys, books, and video games, we come to very sharp blades. Razors, to be precise.Gillette has some pretty cool razors available with some Rogue One branding. The boxes are cool because they have some great artwork, but the insides are also pretty neat.”

 

 

Not Trying to Keep Scaring You About Online Security, But …

30 Nov

Yes, we at Evans on Marketing have made a number of posts about about online security, privacy, identity theft, and related issues. We’re not really trying to scare you, but we are trying to get you to be more alert and to protect yourself better online. That’s why we we’ve posted several tips, such as: 1, 2, 3 (a short video quiz),  and 4 (video tips).

So, here’s another alert for YOU!! 🙂 

Recently, AV-Test, a nonprofit organization that monitors online security, published its latest report. To grasp the highlights of this report more easily, TechRepublic has summarized what it considers to the top four points made by AV-Test:

  1. “Android is becoming more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats — While the majority of malware deployed in 2015 and 2016 targeted Windows, the most widely-used operating system in the world, Android is increasingly under fire as well. Malware attacks on Android platforms jumped from about 3% in 2015 to nearly 7.5% in 2016. Though it seems like a fairly small percentage jump, it represents an increase of millions of attacks, and marks ‘a significant trend away from Windows and towards Android,’ the report stated.”
  2. “Mac’s security fortress is just an illusion — Many Apple Mac users believe that the devices cannot be infected with a virus—even those using Macs in the enterprise, the report stated. And compared to Windows, the number of malware programs attacking Apple’s Mac platform is tiny: Just 819 malware threats targeted Macs in 2015. [Due to the small percentage of Macs in the marketplace — which remain at a 7.5 percent market share as of the date of this post.] However, that does not mean that these attacks were not serious. Plus, attackers would not need to program a large number of malware applications to obtain data from Mac users, as they rarely have antivirus solutions installed, the report said.” [Is this YOU?]
  3. “The rise of potentially unwanted applications (PUA) — A new cyber risk comes in the form of potentially unwanted applications (PUA), which are deployed by the advertising industry to track personal information on user and movement patterns, and to then display personalized advertising without the consent of the user. PUA represented nearly one-third of the online risks in 2015, the report stated, and are steadily increasing.”
  4. “The top 10 Windows malware of Q1/Q2 2016 — More than 85% of malware attacks occurred on Windows machines in 2015, with that number dropping to 67% in 2016. Some 12 million new Windows malware programs enter the market each month, the report found. Here are the top 10 malware for Windows to keep an eye out for.”


 
Click here to access the full AV-Test report. Click here to access the TechRepublic synopsis.
 

What’s on Your Shopping List? Part 2

29 Nov

Yesterday, we posted about the most popular gifts this year. Today’s post focuses on gift cards. These cards are easy to purchase and enable the recipients to buy what what most interests them — while also being somewhat impersonal.

Based on the recent survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, these gift card findings are clear:

“Holiday shoppers are planning to purchase an average of three gift cards with an approximate value of $46 per card, the second most-popular gift after clothing. Spending on gift cards is expected to reach $27.5 billion, up from last year’s planned $26 billion. The most popular types of gift cards include those from restaurants (35 percent of buyers), department stores (33 percent), Visa/MasterCard/American Express (22 percent), coffee shops (21 percent) and entertainment (17 percent).”

 
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PLEASE Be a Smart Customer This Holiday Shopping Season

21 Nov

Yes, Black Friday WEEK is finally here — after weeks of being bombarded by holiday shopping ads. This post has two goals: (1) To alert you to the possible deceptions this week and (2) to again present our THIRTY-FIVE holiday shopping tips.

Our first topic is this: Is Black Friday week really a good time to shop? Are there bargains that won’t be available after Friday? Let’s turn to Brian Chen, writing for the New York Times (1, 2), for an assessment of Black Friday deals:

“The overwhelming majority of Black Friday deals are duds. Retailers’ sales promotions begin weeks before Thanksgiving, with a smattering of modest deals that eventually build up to the shopping bonanza that is Black Friday. That is followed by Cyber Monday, a so-called online shopping extravaganza after Thanksgiving weekend.”

“It has become fashionable for online retailers to build up anticipation for Black Friday with so-called flash deals. These last only a few hours, putting pressure on consumers to buy with little or no research. Yet, however you shop, chances of snatching a great deal for a quality item are slim, because Black Friday is mainly for retailers to clear out unwanted goods and best-sellers rarely drop much in price.”

“Year round, The Wirecutter tracks prices across the Web to unearth true deals on high-quality items. Less than 1 percent of the tens of thousands of Black Friday deals online last year were good deals — that is, discounts on high-quality, well-reviewed, and durable products. This year, the situation is likely to be the same.

“A quick search on Camel Camel Camel, which looks up price histories on Amazon, [can be quite enlightening]. Some mediocre deals can be tricky to catch. Toward the end of October, Amazon listed a deal for its Kindle Paperwhite E-reader for $100. This may seem like a good deal because the retail price is $120. But at the beginning of October, the Paperwhite was discounted to $90 — a price drop that Camel Camel Camel could not detect because the discount was applied at the end of the checkout.”

 

Take a look at the following New York Times video for further insights.

 

 

Our second topic is this: How can you be a better shopper for the 2016 holiday season? Here are 35 tips (originally posted two weeks ago).

2016-shopping-tips
 

Is Uber Eat(s) Setting Itself Up for Defeat?

18 Nov

Uber has grown rapidly as an alternative to the taxi. Nonetheless, Uber wants to be more than just a passenger app. And one of its more recent pursuits is Uber Eats, a restaurant food delivery service that already operates in 53 cities: “By tapping into the Uber network, you can get anything from our roster of local restaurants, fast. The average order takes 35 minutes from start to finish. When you’re ready to place your order, you’ll see a total that includes the food and delivery price. There’s no need to tip. Pay with your Uber account and track your order on the site as it comes to you.”

There are questions about whether Uber Eats will generate long-term success. There is substantial competition from services such as GrubHub and Seamless. Many local restaurants will deliver in their immediate area. Perhaps most importantly, other services are often free, while Uber Eats charges a delivery fee in some instances.

Take a look at this video clip by industry expert Phil Lempert regarding the prospects for Uber Eats. What do YOU think?
 

 

Best Blogs for Small Business

15 Nov

There are many great online resources for small business, including the Web sites of Small Business Administration, Entrepreneur, and Inc. They deal with a variety of topics to assist startups and other small businesses. In addition, there are numerous blogs that focus on information and advice specifically geared to small businesses.

Recently, CreditMonkey published “Best Small Business Marketing Blogs 2016: Top Experts to Follow.”   Here  are some of CreditMonkey’s choices. Check them out:

 
Click on the image to see why these are considered top blogs — and to see more blogs cited by CreditMonkey.
 

 

2016 China-Based Singles’ Day to Dominate Global Holiday Season

14 Nov

Last year, we wrote about the phenomenally successful 2015 online Chinese Singles’ Day, an annual event scheduled for November 11 that dwarfs Cyber Monday, which occurs on the first Monday after Thanksgiving each year. As reported by The Street: “Singles’ Day is the biggest retail event in the year, beating Cyber Monday and Black Friday.”

What is Single’s Day? As recently described by Lauren Davidson, Emily Allen, and  Ashley Armstrong for the Telegraph:

“Singles Day started as an obscure ‘anti-Valentine’s’ celebration for single people in China back in the 1990s, but it has spawned into the world’s biggest online shopping day. Astute readers will notice that November 11 is written 11.11, or one-one-one-one. Known in China as ‘bare sticks holiday’ because of how it looks numerically, Singles Day began as an anti-Valentine’s Day in the 1990s when students at Nanjing University started celebrating their singledom. It was then adopted by E-commerce giant Alibaba (China’s Amazon equivalent) in 2009; and it is now a day when everyone, regardless of their single status buys themselves gifts.”

“Alibaba chiefs spotted the commercial opportunity in Singles Day back in 2009 and began launching ‘Double 11’ deals just as online shopping was starting to explode. It was also seen as a chance to boost sales in the lull between China’s Golden Week national holiday in October and the Christmas season. When sales almost quadrupled the following year, Alibaba trademarked Singles’ Day. Some of the featured sales center around singledom, such as boyfriend pillows and single travel tickets, but the day has now widened to an all-inclusive shopping holiday.”

Angela Doland, writing for Advertising Age about the 2016 Singles’ Day, notes that:

“Alibaba’s annual online shopping festival started with just 27 merchants taking part. It has grown into the world’s biggest shopping day, and has just smashed its own record, with sellers on its platforms logging nearly $17.8 billion in transactions in 24 hours. Over 11,000 foreign brands joined in [from more than 25 countries], including first-timers Apple, Sephora, Target, Victoria’s Secret, and Maserati.”

“The Chinese Internet giant has created a whole entertainment offering around its shopfest, including a 4-hour live-streamed variety show that drew stars like Scarlett Johansson, Kobe Bryant, and David and Victoria Beckham. That’s a surprising departure from its small-scale start in 2009, when Alibaba latched on to the fact that some Chinese college students were celebrating Nov. 11 as a day for singles, an anti-Valentine’s day. Other E-commerce firms have joined in, including Alibaba’s chief rival JD.com, and much of China shops on Nov. 11. It’s not just for singles anymore.”

How well did the 2016 Single’s Day just do? It has crushed last year’s revenues — going from $14.3 billion in 2015 to $17.8 billion in 2016. Here are a sales curve (reported by BBC News) since online giant Alibaba first embraced Single’s Day in 2009 and a 2016 video from CCTV News.
 
singles-day_-alibaba-breaks-record-sales-total-bbc-news
 

 

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