Archive for October 2009
In our June 2009 Trend Briefing, we covered FOREVERISM. But even then, we pointed out that the need for everything that is (right) now/current/real-time, is being satisfied in numerous novel ways, with (wait for it) the online world showing the way forward. Dubbed 'NOWISM', this mega trend has, and will continue to have, a big impact on everything from your corporate culture to customer relationships to product innovation to tactical campaigns. And yet you probably only have a few minutes to spare on it so we’ve done our best to keep this Trend Briefing digestible.
It's an increasingly common dilemma for CMOs with brands in the middle or top end of the market. Should you tackle the threat head-on and reduce existing prices on your premium brand, knowing it will reduce profits and potentially damage brand equity? Or should you maintain prices, hope for better times to return, and in the meantime lose sales from customers and support from your CEO? With both of these alternatives often proving equally unpalatable, many marketers have decided on a third option: launching a fighter brand.
No successful web company (not eBay, Flickr, Amazon, Facebook...) succeeds because of a significant technological barrier to entry. It's not insanely difficult to copy what they've done. Yet they win and the copycats don't. Few organizations succeed in the long run because of proprietary technology. Not Starbucks or CAA or Nike, certainly. Not Caterpillar or Reuters either. Technologists often tell me, "this product is very hard to build, that will insulate us from competition and protect our pricing." It might. For a while. But once you're successful, the competition will figure out a way. They always do.
I happen to think that the folks who were in charge of the Olympics branding strategy in Rio de Janeiro did a phenomenal job of differentiating Rio's promise from the other cities in contention, and then clearly establishing its relevance to the IOC. In other words, the "Brand Rio" team followed a couple of the basic rules of smart brand management and came out the category leader as a result. There is almost no brand category that isn't awash in choices. Whether cars or cosmetics, beverages or baby carriages, there is a lot of stuff out there and most of it is pretty similar. The competition for consumer attention is fierce and it can't be won on table stakes. The only way a decent brand can ever hope of becoming the chosen brand is to make a promise that's completely different from any its competitors' and ensure that this difference is meaningful to its target audience. In an ever-expanding global marketplace, this is getting harder and harder to do.
Honestly, categorizing human behavior and activities in social networks by financial status appears incomplete and almost insular. If we are learning anything in the study of and participation in social networks, it’s that individuals are forming networks that traverse across multiple social networks – and, they will continue to do so, forming one larger, expansive human network in the process. We’re bound by context and interests and it’s why psychographic data overcomes demographics when assessing how to best reach, engage, and galvanize the people who define our communities online.
Exit, crisis. Enter, surprise: it's the most unexpected economic Nobel, bar none. Oliver Williamson and Elinor Ostrom are both scholars first and foremost of instutions — and as Paul Krugman has noted, this is an "institutional" Nobel. The crux of both Williamson's and Ostrom's work is that institutions are what make economics happen. Different institutional arrangements give rise to tremendously different modes of production and consumption, that, turn, differ in terms of efficiency, productivity, and growth. Williamson was a refreshing choice. His work suggested that the costs of interacting and transacting influence the choice between different modes of organization: markets, hierarchies, and networks. But Ostrom is a radical — and awesome — choice. Not just because of the "what" of her work, but, more deeply, because of the "how" of it.
What's the difference between personalization and customization? Are consumers really in control? Do brands (and designers) want them to be? Nick de la Mare considers curation and the myth and reality of control.
The life sciences industry [herein includes pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic and medical device companies] plays a critical role in the U.S. economy. Innovative new medicines developed by life sciences companies provide better patient outcomes, improved quality of care, increased life expectancy, and lead to economic gains. Currently, the strengths [e.g. innovation, quality of care] and weaknesses [e.g. gaps in healthcare coverage, high costs and inefficiencies] of the U.S. healthcare system are the subject of great debate. During this period, it is essential for all parties involved to place the importance of medical and scientific innovation at the forefront of the conversation. New medicines should be viewed as investments in the future, not only in patient health – but also in economic recovery and growth.
All content is not created equal. While valuable content is the linchpin of an organization's marketing strategy, different types of content map to different part of the buyer's journey. McKinsey published a report earlier this year that confirmed what many of us with the ear to the digital space have known for a while - people don't like to be funneled into a neat graphic. We're way past calling buyers consumers. Even as the term may be technically correct, it has an image problem. I prefer to talk about customers and since last week was customer service week and I was traveling, I thought we could have more than one customer conversation this week. In the digital space, your content is likely to be activated by participation.
Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over. In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine. We all still use email, of course. But email was better suited to the way we used to use the Internet—logging off and on, checking our messages in bursts. Now, we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.