Archive for May 2009
This weekend I joined Home Depot’s online Garden Club. I spend hundreds of dollars a month at their garden centers every summer, and I’m always looking to learn more and find new ideas for my yard. The site succeeds in providing helpful resources for DIY project planning and detailed information on plants, tools and gardening techniques. It fails, however, to provide features the company could use to offer personalized product recommendations, direct users to the most relevant content and translate the hours members spend on the site into more frequent store purchases.
The phrase “black market” carries with it an ethical conundrum: goods and services that are likely stolen, controlled, illegal or immoral, yet still attainable via the right connections for the right dollars. Operating outside of regulation and taxation, black markets are, to some, considered pure economies capable of extracting the highest prices for those things in greatest demand. Things such as drugs, weaponry, prostitution, or copyrighted materials or designs. While regulators and the makers of luxury goodies understandably might want to concentrate on shutting down these markets, innovation leaders would be wise to get close to them and study them rigorously. As pure markets, they reveal a depth of unmet demand, a potential for mainstream commercialization, and a degree of price insensitivity that mainstream CPG companies and retailers sorely need.
LEGO made its first brick in 1958 and has been building ever since, but not without difficulty. Facing major competition from interactive electronics and computer games, the Danish company almost crumbled into bankruptcy in the late 1990’s. Then LEGO redesigned the brand blueprints, with a little help from its amateur architects.
Music has played an integral role in branding since commercial radio welcomed product advertisements in the early 1920s. During the past two decades, popular music has evoked consumer emotions around brands and, more recently, has been used to reach specific market segments. When executed smartly, music can truly change the way consumers view brands and products. However, when used willy-nilly, music can expose a brand’s confused and clumsy search for self.
“Quantiphobes” be forewarned. Marketing metrics are about to move to the forefront. The predictive power of advanced statistical analyses used to calculate risk in the credit and insurance industries for years are quickly becoming an integral part of marketers’ jobs. According to an Association of National Advertisers survey conducted in partnership with Interbrand, 80 percent of CMOs and senior marketers say the board and C-suite are increasingly demanding that marketers be more accountable. And marketers should welcome the change.
The American Idol finale will easily win the ratings war this week. Despite another year of declining viewership (and the disappointing coherence of Paula Abdul), it remains the number one show on television. This year’s final battle between aw-shucks Christian boy-next-door Kris Allen and aw-hell that boy ain’t right queen-of-scream Adam Lambert may have looked like red versus blue state politics personified. But truth is, the secret of Idol's success is the same popular narrative playing out over and over across American culture today. With the economy in the proverbial terlet and our own future uncertain, we take comfort in cheering on the average Joes and the biggest losers as they claw their way toward transformation.
Last week I spent a day walking around Washington. The weather was glorious and it was bustling. In the Newseum, an older woman examined photos with her friend from Scotland. At the White House, a family from Idaho asked me to take their picture. Near the water, the tables at Sequoia’s were full of international tourists. On the Mall, packs of school kids tried to buy lemon ice before they hit the lines at the National Air and Space Museum. As I carefully navigated the crowded steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I started thinking. The District of Columbia provides a beautifully rendered narrative of our nation’s history. But, for all those gathered here, what story does it tell of our future?
Nearly two months after we first met Lauren, Mac has tapped its own laptop hunter. Like Lauren, Giampaolo, Lisa and Jackson, Megan values big screens and fast processors. But unlike her PC-loving predecessors, Megan's final factor is usability.
Although I am a novice knitter, I have a yen for yarn. I love to go to knitting shops to peruse the different colors, textures and sizes of the skeins. I imagine myself a master at the craft, fashioning jaw-droppingly gorgeous and unique scarves, hats, gloves, socks and sweaters out of sustainably harvested, hand-dyed Peruvian wool. The reality of my current knitting ability limits me to monochrome scarves and fingerless hand warmers but, still. I can dream. The popularity of knitting, and crafting in general, has been on the rise for a few years, so it’s always cool to learn about knitting retailers that are taking a new and different approach to brand, aesthetic and voice. Enter the cleverly named Wool and the Gang.
Over the years, I’ve admired IKEA’s ability to consistently create unique experiences that engage consumers in unexpected ways. IKEA has a knack for showing rather than telling.