A case study of an e-Business Subscription Model

Recently I stumbled upon an innovative site which I really liked.  The site is ( and it is a website through which customers can take out a weekly subscription on snacks.

Graze serves the British and US market with 2 localised websites and targets people who are after healthy and convenient snacking.  Apart from snacking, Graze also serves other segments namely the breakfast and kids segments along with providing seasonal ranges, gifts both in individual portion or sharing boxes.

A screenshot  of the main page showing a variety of snacks, the famous cardboard box and a simple diagram of how the site works
A screenshot of the main page showing a variety of snacks, the famous cardboard box and a simple diagram of how the site works

The concept behind the website is simple and this has been explained very clearly on the website.  You choose the snacks that you like (from over a hundred), and then Graze will pick four of your chosen snacks in a box and deliver to your home or office on a regular basis (weekly, every two weeks, etc).  You can then snack (or graze….) to your heart’s content on nutritional snacks that are free of GMOs, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.  Customers can manage their subscription so that even when they go on holiday they can postpone the regular deliveries.  Customers can also rate the snacks, thus giving Graze valid market information about trends and what its customers really want!  Graze has turned all the cycle into a learning marketing exercise and customers who want to stop their subscription are asked to fill in questionnaire.

Some Breakfast Snack Variety by
Some Breakfast Snack Variety by

From a customer’s point, the services provided by Graze is very convenient and from the company’s perspective, this model ensures a steady income flow of subscribed customers.   Subscription means that the company automatically has repeat customers (which many times is one of the headaches of online retailers).  The subscription mechanism allows a company to have clear projections about sales and cash flow. Subscription also eliminates a lot of guesswork (or forecasting) and one can also plan more accurately about volume of supplies to serve its base of subscribers.

The website which is very easy to browse, provides full specifics about the products and more important explicit calls for action, nudging the potential customer in the right direction to try them out.  Information about ingredients, allergies and gluten have been addressed with clearly designed labels.  The attention to detail in designing all aspects of the product and the product is really visible.  For example, when it comes to packaging, the snacks are delivered in a cleverly designed recycled cardboard box and the website even gives precise dimensions of the box so that customers can make sure that their Graze box will fit their mailbox!

The Graze Box with 4 slots for an assortment of 4 individually packaged snacks
The Graze Box with 4 slots for an assortment of 4 individually packaged snacks

Back to the web presence, one can see that so much thought has gone into the planning – visually compelling photos, clear diagrams explaining how the subscription works and clear logical text along with branding that gives the product a lot of character.   All in all, Graze are providing a truly differentiated online value proposition!

A Graze customer can get the first box for his or her friends for free and Graze also offers the first box for half price.   There is no doubt that this promotion geared on sharing helps to bring the product to so many more people.  Interestingly enough, the promotion of the first free box is not mentioned anywhere on the website and Graze relies solely on the word-of-mouth of its customers to give out the free boxes.

This sharing and giving has resulted in a very good presence in social media.  There are many videos on YouTube and many have blogged about the Graze product.  Graze has harnessed over 87,000 likes on Facebook UK page and another 80,000 likes on its Facebook US page but its social media presence does not stop there.   Graze is also very active on Twitter and Instagram.

Wish it was available locally!

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point is that moment in time when an idea/product is set perfectly poised to be liked and accepted in widespread way by a critical mass. Once the critical mass like it, the idea will spread even further!   It is that moment  when the idea (like a stone) rolls down a mountain, creating an avalanche affect!

Social media is helping many products and ideas achieve the Tipping Point in a much less time.  With ideas spreading like wildfire, many products and ideas are being assimilated into mainstream society rapidly.   Such has happened to Disney’s animated film, Frozen. It is now being reported by BBC to have become the fifth biggest film.

Frozen Movie Poster  (Source:  International theatrical release poster)
Frozen Movie Poster (Source of Image: International theatrical release poster)

The Tipping Point is a very valid concept for  the online world because it helps us understand how ideas spread.   This phenomenon is examined  in the book that carries the same name, “The Tipping Point”, written by Malcolm Gladwell.


Book your E-Marketing Course Today

Today Malta University Consulting announced that the E-Marketing Course will be held once again during March, April and May 2014.

The course consists of 8 lessons of 2 hours each has been accredited as a Level 2, 3 ECTS (Diploma level)by the Department of Marketing, FEMA, University of Malta.   The course will be held at University Residence in Lija and sessions will be from 5.30 to 7.30.

If you are interested in learning more about this e-marketing course,  follow this link.   Bookings will be on a first-come first-served basis and numbers are limited through Malta University Consulting. 


Online Marketing Tips by Marketing Malta

A bird’s eye view of online marketing

The Internet is brimming with precious information about online marketing. Sometimes seeing a distilled version helps.  These online marketing tips are not meant as the be-all and end-all but a starting point in the right direction.  More tips will be added to this post in due course.

Online Marketing Tips: Content Marketing
Online Marketing Tips: Content Marketing
Online Marketing Tips:  Why is the Marketing Mix still valid?
Online Marketing Tips: Why is the Marketing Mix still valid?
Online Marketing Tips: The 6 Is - Digitial Media Differences
Online Marketing Tips: The 6 Is – Digitial Media Differences

The 6 Is – Digitial Media Differences – that marketers need to keep in mind when designing effective digital marketing strategies. It is not just a matter Interactivity but one needs to factor the amount of customer Intelligence that can be reaped through the interactive aspect. Digital Media allows marketers to achieve one-to-one or Individualisation and online services can be provided Independent of Location. All this has to be done in a context of Integration of outbound and inbound-based communication while keeping in mind possible Industry Restructuring through disintermediation and reintermediation.

Online Marketing Tips: Issues to factor when setting prices online
Online Marketing Tips: Issues to factor when setting prices online

Pricing is already a laborious decision and when it’s pricing for online sales, there’s so much more to consider. From pricing strategies and payment options to other aspects like keeping in mind that if you are providing different prices in different countries this will be transparent and there is a good chance that your customers will soon discover your discrimination tactics….Also the wide knowledge of prices puts competitive pressure on the prices themselves, hence leading to possibly lower prices…..


Online Marketing Tips: How to plan a great product landing page that generates sales
Online Marketing Tips: How to plan a great product landing page that generates sales

If you are selling a product online make sure that you have effective landing pages. Apart from wowing the client with compelling pictures or videos, the page needs to present the product clearly both in terms of text and pictures. Extra links to more detailed information, instructions are important. Ensure that you are actually providing the online purchase facility along with more helpful aspects like links to contact, telephone numbers and possibly even online chat. Include testimonials or product reviews if you have that luxury. And make it shareable on different social media platforms.

Starting out in Facebook #Hashtags

Some basic Facebook #Hashtags Tips 

#Hashtags are the most recent addition on Facebook.

What do Facebook #hashtags mean for you as a user:

  • The new facility will make searching on Facebook for a particular topic more easier, provided that topic has been #hashtagged!  Facebook itself stated “Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic….”
  • If you want to  #hashtag anything that you are posting on Facebook,   start by picking up the keyword or topic and insert the symbol # before it.  For example if  I wanted to #hashtag the name of  this website, I would  type #MarketingMalta. When entering this symbol in the Facebook status field, Facebook will immediately highlight the text in blue, indicating that you are creating a #hashtag.
  • If you click on a #hashtag you will see what others are saying about the same topic.  This is a very interesting feature because you will be exposed to what others outside your circle are saying.

What do Facebook #hashtags mean for you as a business:

  • As a business, it is essential to view  #hashtags as  keywords. If you are already engaging in Search Engine Optimisation efforts, then all you need to do is dig out your most important keywords.
  • Select a series of keywords that you want to use as #hashtags and ensure that you include them in your posts.  Do not go overboard and make posts that are just a series of one #hashtag after another….
  • Be consistent in the way you present your #hashtags and ensure that you include the name of your business as a #hashtag.
  • Check out what others are saying about your business via #hashtags.

There is no doubt that Facebook has added this functionality to compete directly with the other platforms and services like Twitter and Instagram where hashtagging is the rule of the day.   The #hashtag is here to stay on Facebook and the sooner a business starts making optimal use of it the better.


Facebook #Hashtag Tips by Marketing Malta
Facebook #Hashtag Tips by Marketing Malta



E-Marketing Course Certificate – Endorsed by University of Malta

E-Marketing Course is Level 2, Diploma Level

It is indeed with pleasure to write on this blog that the e-Marketing course that I have just finished delivering for Malta University Consulting has been officially endorsed by University of Malta.  A repeat of this course will be done during September 2013.  In fact all delegates who have attended the 8-session course (16-hours in total ) have been awarded an official e-Marketing course certificate that states the course is accredited as Level 2,  3 ECTS (Diploma Level) by the Department of Marketing within FEMA, University of Malta.

E-Marketing Course  Certificate
E-Marketing Course Certificate awarded by Malta University Consulting and endorsed by University of Malta

Well done everyone!

Online Marketing Course – Again!

The E-Marketing Course that was organised by Malta University Consulting during the period April / May 2013 was fully booked.

The course is still going on. Delegates from different industries and walks-of-life are currently attending the course and discovering about the various channels that can be possibly harnessed in their online marketing tactics. Many interesting topics have been covered with a variety of case studies. Tips and resources have been handed out in the notes that accompany each lecture. At the end of the course, Malta University Consulting will be giving a certificate to all delegates who are attending the course.

Due to the unforeseen demand for this E-marketing course, Malta University Consulting will be repeating the course during the month of September 2013.

For more details click here and then book your place today to avoid disappointment.

Online Marketing Course in Malta organised by Malta University Consulting
Online Marketing Course in Malta organised by Malta University Consulting

Socialnomics – it’s WorLd of Mouth!

I’m currently reading (even though I must admit at a very slow pace because I’m short of time), Erik Qualman’s epic book Socialnomics. It’s by far my favourite 2013 book.

The title page states that it’s about ‘how social media transforms the way we live and do business’ and the book is exactly that and more. Even for a heavy social media user like me, the book presents so many insights, ideas and case studies. So much thought has been given to customer behaviour and this can be translated into ideas about what companies should be doing in today’s age to generate more interest in their brands.

The book is easy reading and one does not need to be technically-versed to enjoy it. Whether you are a  marketing  student or a marketing director, this is one book that you cannot do without.  On reading the book, you will immediately realise that Qualman is to today’s media what Drucker was to management in the past.

Socialnomics (2nd Edition) 2013, by Erik Qualman is published by Wiley.

Socianomics by  Erik Qualman
Socianomics by Erik Qualman

Can Traditional Stores Beat Online Stores?

Many Maltese marketers often ponder on this question: – Can a Maltese retailer beat the online stores?

Well, most often the answer is straight no. Foreign online stores have several major advantages. With no physical limitation of space (an online store is not limited by the physical space of the retail outlet), the variety is often endless and thus the visitor is mostly likely to find whatever he or she is after and more. A visit to the online shop can occur at any hour of the day and day of the week and thus there is no hassle of matching one’s shopping time with traditional shop opening hours. Online competition, along with the possibility of fewer intermediaries along the distribution chain also means that the prices are several notches cheaper than in traditional stores.

Those who have visited this blog before know that I frequently exalt online shopping, as the most convenient way of modern shopping. Somehow, this year, I am quite behind Easter celebration preparations and I knew that the only way to get the presents sorted was to visit a real toy store as opposed to search and wait for the delivery of the toys, which needs to be here, needless to say before Easter Sunday.

I have not been in a local toy store for some time. In the past, I have put off by the lack of choice along with the poor salespersons’ attitude of “what you see is what we have”, seasoned with “we just want to sell the wonderful branded products we have so do not ask about anything else ”. When I tried to put this behind me, I still found, glaring prices that would not at all tally or fairly compare to the price + delivery cost of the same toy from say a toy store from mainland Europe.

Well ….yesterday I visited Toby’s Toymaster in Birkirkara and lo and behold – I was pleasantly surprised and delighted!

To start with they had what I was after! As I went through the shop, it became clear that they stock a wide variety of girls and boys toys aimed at different ages, and there is no special emphasis on just a couple of brands. Big brands stand alongside much less renowned names. Indeed it is a good assortment, so much so, that they even stock characters from ‘In the Night Garden’, a BBC series which was not aired in Malta (to my knowledge) but which has big following abroad. Apart from the variety, they also seem to have got the prices right and finally I must not fail to mention the good service and the salesgirl’s skill and attitude, who spoke to me genuinely about the products. All in all a very good and endearing traditional shopping experience!

So back to my original question – Can Traditional Stores Beat Online Stores?

Well….Yes, I’ll be back to Toby’s ToyMaster for sure!

Toby's ToyMaster
Toby's ToyMaster

Mobile Marketing

If mobile technology has changed completely the way we communicate, it is also changing  the way that companies promote their products.   It is no longer a matter of an SMS sent to a handset, it is a more elaborate form of ‘communication’ with the smart phone owner.

Mobile applications are being considered by companies as prime ways of bringing services and brand experience to the customer.  Through applications, mobile owners can  communicate,  access information, get services, make orders and bookings and also entertain themselves.

Mobile is so much more of a channel. It  is more than TV because video is available, it is more than computer because we carry the mobile around at all times and naturally it remains a communication device.  However mobile marketing planning is also challenging as this requires thinking about the variety of handsets and devices out there. Thus the development of Apps needs careful considerations.

One of the first companies who are making mobile marketing the cornerstone of their strategy is Coca Cola. Coca Cola yesterday announced that it is investing in the development of Apps that will be help in the promotion of its products.  Read the full article about Coca Cola at Marketing Week.