Monday, 16 January 2012

Online Travel Publications Report 2011

The aim of this report is to analyse, compare and critique the websites of four organizations operating in the sector of travel publications looking mainly at website design and secondly at online marketing and traffic building .

A deep primary and secondary research about travel market situation has been carried.

The four website selected are:


The websites have been chosen on the basis of 3 main criteria: natural listings related to the keyphrases "travel publications", "travel magazines" and "travel guides".

Traffic received from the queries "travel publications" and "travel guides" on search engines according to

Direct competition among the organizations controlling the websites and similar target markets.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Culture: The complexity of Italian People

Many definitions have been formulated for culture: Because it is a vague, abstract notion there are many candidates for the ultimate definition

According to Goodenough (1971) ,

"Culture is a set of beliefs or standards, shared by a group of people, which help individual decide what is, what can be, how to feel, what to do and how to go about doing it."

Child and Kieser (1977) wrote

"Cultures can be defined as patterns of thought and mannerswhich are widely shared"


An infographic map of italy created by Alberto Antoniazzi

Italy is a young nation unified in 1861.
Before unification there was  A lot of different independent Nations with their own Culture and Language under the influence of foreign sovereigns: Spaniards in the south, the Pope in the middle regions, Austrians in the North-east and French in the North-west.
As a result today Italy is still not culturally united: big cultural differences between North (more Mitteleuropean attitude) and South (more Mediterranean).

Common Features
Despite of the regional differences, there are important features common among italians from Sicily to Südtirol:
> Hospitality and Friendliness: Italy has been crossroads of different people and cultures since acient times.
> Traditionalism: great respect for history and regional costumes and traditions.
> Strong Food Culture: Italians pay great attention to the quality of food and an healthy diet and are proud of traditional recipes.
Italians will always find time for a proper meal which have a fundamental socialization function.
> Attention to details: Products made in Italy are known for their quality.
> Style and Beauty Culture: Italians usually feel the strong need to take care of their appearance following the latest fashion trends.
Heavy enphasis to product appearance and design.
Strong awareness of the symbolic meaning of possessions (Usunier, 200).

Some common attitudes are negative.
Hofstede's model highlights them

 Power Distance (PDI): It suggests that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.  Politics and Industry: Strict Hierarchies à Young people find opportunities abroad (China, U.S.A., UK)

Masculinity (MAS):  High in politics and managerial role à Women assertive and competitive, but the board room culture is masculine so that there are very few women in directional roles.

Individualism (IDV): Ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family à opposite to common stereotype of extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

Catholic Religion was almost overwhelming till the late 60’s when the main party, Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democracy), was under the influence of Vatican City.

The most of young people doesn't trust the Pope anymore because they think that Vatican City must not interfere with Italian goverments.

Chatholics still remain the great majority of believers

Despite of the decline of Religion among young generations, the influence of Church on culture is still strong. For instance colour meanings originated from priests' dresses colours:

Red: Blood and sacrifice (used during the Easter Friday)
White: Purity (used during Christmas and baptism rites)
Gold: Glory (used during Easter day)
Green: Hope (ordinary days)
Purple: Mourn and penitence(Used during funerals)

Italy was the 8th largest exporter in the world in 2009 (CIA, 2009).
 Italy is famous in the world for luxury cars and fashion as well as food and wine but not every product is exportable.

Successful drinks like Spritz and Chinotto are difficult to export because of their unique taste.

Here's the latest commercial of these two drinks:

Aperol Spritz commercial links the drink with a fresh summer sunset on the sea.

Chinò San Pellegrino commercial stresses the unique features of the product through linking them to the diversity of the main character compared to the other bar customers who drink the same, flat and boring drinks. Chinò - Your Dark Side. 


> CIA (2009) The World Factbook - Country Comparison Exports [online]. CIA. Available from: [Accessed: 5 May 2011]
> Usunier, J. (2000) Marketing Across Cultures. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited

Monday, 11 April 2011

Brand Positioning: Hi-Tec - You've Got to Believe!

One of the most important things in managing a brand is positioning it positively relative to competitors in the minds of consumers in target markets. The brand needs to communicate the key values of the products and the business.

HI-Tec Sports is a privately owned British company which produces quality light-wheight shoes for the mid-price market segment. (
Previously known only as sport brand, today its shoes are associated with a leisure lifestyle.Hi-Tec's four key brand elements are 
  • Pride: delivers more tha competitors
  • Honesty: keeps its promises
  • Fun: creativity, new solutions
  • Hunger: constant product development
Hi-Tec developed those elements to be closely associated with the product with the aim to emphasise these factors within its unique selling proposition.

Hi-Tec succedeed in bulding a unique brand image and reaching a worldwide audience thanks to a successful viral marketing campaign which is a self-generating activity in which people pass on information to other consumers through the internet.

It can spread a marketing campaign more widely and more quickly than traditional advertising thanks to consumers becoming advocates.

(Lounched on YouTube on 28/4/2010)

(See also the fundamentals of STP applied on ice cream industry
Hi-Tec's marketing objective was to reposition its brand opening new markets. Their marketing strategy was aimed to:
  • introduce a new brand category to the market
  • make people excited about the technology in its footwear
  • gain maximum exposure for Hi-Tec with measurable numbers
  • create a sense of 'cool' about the brand. 
At the heart of the marketing process is the marketing mix: the 4 P's

Target: Outdoor sportpeople such as trail runners and trekkers. 
  • Product:  innovative waterproof footwear that provides high performance
  • Price: sold at value for money prices
  • Place: sold online or through premium retailers
  • Promotion: achieve new markets penetration through the Internet. 

Hi-Tec used an approach that prompt customers to take action and consider the product as part of an exciting experience: an excitement thet needs to be shared. As a result many customers then become advocates sharing the video and reccomending the brand to others.

If a business can get its customers to promote products, it will have achieved one of the ultimate goals of marketing.

The Impact

The Liquid Mountaineering video caught the imagination of millions of people reaching an impressive 9.120.000 views in april 2011 and being shared thausands of times on Facebook and Twitter.

- There have been featured in the press including The Sun, The Guardian and the Sunday Times.

- TV coverage from U.S.A. to Russia.

- Some people (like me) wrote blogs about the video.

- Some others set up groups to try the 'running on water' sport for themselves.

Reasons of success

The Liquid Mountaineering campaign doesn't follow the usual forms of advertising.
Hi-Tec wanted to emphasise the spirit of 'fun' in its brand through a piece of pure entertainment:
  • The brand is never mentioned directly.
  • The documentary style and semi-scientific approach to 'running on water' gives the video a strong realism. This aims to get consumers thinking about the video raising controversy about the truthfulness of the video .
  • To add realism, one of the video participants set up a blog the previous year . This  created excitement in the build-up to the event.

Oh, I nearly forgot. If you can't get the question "IS IT TRUE OR FAKE?" out of your mind... is the answer

See you soon my dear Hitchhikers!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Cancer Heroes and Charity in the UK

On 17th of February a group formed of me (as Captain America) and 4 other first year students organized a charity theme night. The event has been held at Yates in High Wycombe to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.


Before running the event a research on the Charity market in the UK has been carried out in order to find out which kind of event could have been the most profitable and what demographic group would have been the most profitable to target.
The research has been firstly qualitative, conducting two focus groups based on the age and gender of participants. Secondly a quantitative research was carried out looking at official reports based on national statistics about charities and charity giving.

Two focus groups have been conducted for this research.
The first one, composed by six over 30s, included three women and three men while the second one consisted of six females and four males for a total of ten under 30s.
Both of them were conducted by a single moderator which introduced four main topics in about one hour.
The first topic concerned the participants’ attitude towards charity in general and their opinions on the moral value of giving.
Secondly the participants were asked to discuss about their favourite causes and types of charity: moderators stressed the points of trust, transparency and money management.
Finally the subjects of the charity promotion and of the methods of giving were introduced: participants discussed about their favourite ways to donate and which types of marketing communications are the most suitable for charity organizations.

The Charity Commission had 180,909 charities on its register in December 2010.
In 2009/10 charities received £52 billion but a small group of 833 organizations share the 54% of the sector income(Philantropy UK, 2010).
Top 10 Charities for income 2009 (Charities Direct, 2011)
Just 20% (£10.6 million) of the total income comes from individual donations by adults aged 16+ (CAF, 2010).
Income £M
Income £M
The British Council
Charities Aid Foundation
Nuffield Health
Cancer Research UK
CITB  Construction Skills
The Arts council England
Anchor Trust
The National Trust


It has been a difficult and challenging time for charities over 2008/09 with 41% needing to make cost savings and 28% drawing on reserves (PKF, 2010). Furthermore, the government’s Autumn Spending Review brought in a number of cutbacks which will impact the public’s ability to donate (Mintel, 2010).
Figure 1 - Proportion of adults in the UK giving to charity, UK, 2004/05 – 2009/10 (%) 

Despite of recession the proportion of people giving increased slightly, after decreasing between 2007-09.

Figure 2 - Proportion of donors by size of gift, and median amount given per band, UK,    2007/08 - 2009/10 (% and £)  (CAF, 2010)

The typical amount given also increased, from £10 in 2008/09 to £12 in 2009/10.
The overall amount of £10.6bn given to charity increased in real terms of £400m compared to £10.2bn in 2008/09 however, the total amount given has not recovered to 2007/8 levels (Mintel, 2010).

Trust and transparency are a key concern for consumers as 43% of adults giving to charity question how much money donated is received by the actual recipient (Mintel, 2010). Big organizations are perceived as trustworthy but wasteful however large charities as Cancer Research, remain the favourite ones.
“If you can afford it then I think you should give to charity”. This statement summarizes the opinions of over 30 focus groups members. The under 30’s generally agreed with it even if males would give only to charities that “relate to them” while females stated that charity giving “doesn’t have to be personal”. 
Empathy is more prevalent in females who are more likely to experience guilt and have more highly developed tendency for pro-social behavior (Hoffman, 1977) as a result females are more likely to give to an out-group.
Men are more motivated by a desire to enhance the community and to provide services where government can’t or won’t   (Winterich et al., 2009).
The "Pound-a-Pie" event at Bucks Gateway
Women aged 45 – 64, especially in managerial and professional occupations, continue to be the most likely group to give (68%) and young men aged 16 – 24 the least likely (31%) (Philantropy UK, 2010).
Younger consumers are least likely to donate however, the 16-25 years old customers surveyed  by Mintel are planning to donate over the coming year highlighting the potential for charities to engage this group.
Giving by cash remains the most common method of donation, used by half of all donors (50%) in 2009/10. After increasing between 2005/06 and 2008/09, the proportion of donors using direct debit now remains quite steady at 29%. Those giving larger amounts tend to use cheque/card and direct debit so these methods continued to account for the largest shares of charitable giving (CAF, 2010).

On the basis of research findings we decided that the most profitable found raising event in High Wycombe could have been a theme night be targeting 18-35 years old people and related to a well known and trustworthy organization as Cancer Research UK.
Despite of statistics, which depict them as the less likely to donate, the heavy presence of students in High Wycombe and the positive trend of youth towards giving justified this choice.


>CAF (2010) UK giving 2010 [online]. CAF online. Available from:
>Charities Direct (2011) Top 500 Rank [online]. Charities Direct. Available from:

>Hoffman, M.K. (1977) Sex Differences in Empathy and Related Behaviours. Psychological Bulletin.
>Mintel (2010) Charitable Giving, UK, October 2010. London: mintel International Group LTD.
>Philantropy UK (2010) Uk charitable sector snapshot [online]. Philantropy UK. Available from:
>PKF (2010) 77% of charities feeling the impact of recession, but mood of [online]. PKF. Available from:
>Winterich, K., Mittal, V. and Ross, W. (2009) Donation Behavior toward In-Groups and Out-Groups: The Role of Gender and Moral Identity. Journal of Consumer Research. June.