Instead of letting panic rule your agenda in these uncertain days, a strong brand can function as a compass to navigate the troubled markets.
Davis Brand Capital today released the 2012 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand management and performance comprehensively. It is the only annual ranking of companies that demonstrate overall, balanced approaches to managing the full spectrum of brand and related intangible assets, providing an indicator of total business strength and effectiveness.
There is certainly humor to be had watching, sprawled out in the comfort of another century, the way previous generations handled – or didn’t – destabilizing changes that we now take for granted. We are now obligated to live in a culture of conversation with its simultaneous flattening of things like expert culture and its ever-expanding choice of content providers and options.
The operational benefits of business intelligence gathered through digital (and social) are often overlooked by organizations. Company silos are one of the main reasons for the disconnect. A connected experience from the web to the store through mobile is another aspect that takes second seat to the more visible presence in social for promotions and awareness.
Have you ever visited a B2B website and come away unsure of what the company actually does? If so, you are in good company. Many B2B websites are verbose, yet vague and confusing.
Design has emerged as a new forcing function in the historical cycle of business integration. It’s what lets companies monetize the intangibles — especially the all-encompassing “experience.”
Data shows that consumers demand value
Content marketing has changed the ways that businesses sell to a B2B audience.
Discussions about customer experience often focus on consumer-facing (B2C) companies, but what about organizations that sell to businesses (B2B)?
So you've finally finished developing your product or service, flushed out your business model, and you're ready to dive head first into your new business venture — but how the heck do you raise enough capital to get started?
In the ongoing evolution of social media in 2012, people’s behavior in social and mobile matured to a point where the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning is check Facebook on their phone (some even sleep with their phones).
A Rose-Gold Alloy Mostly Made of Copper Wouldn't Smell As Sweet Coming From Anywhere But Tiffany's. Press releases trumpeting Tiffany’s posh “new jeweler’s metal,” coined and trademarked Rubedo (Latin for “red”), continues unabated. But many specialists have taken umbrage with both the “new” and the “metal” portions of Tiffany’s claim.
Brand architecture often comes down to an evaluation of tradeoffs. In my experience, there’s rarely a cost-free benefit or a no-foul cost. That’s why I have found the concept of brand value so helpful. It focuses on the net effect of an initiative -- are the benefits worth more than the costs of getting those benefits or are cost-saving initiatives doing more harm than good?
Discount voucher sites are all the rage. Groupon, Living Social and a host of other players are entering the mushrooming markdown market. This begs the question if discount sites are good news for brand value? In summary we don’t think so. It may be good for short term revenue spikes and potentially contribution margin boosts but not long term brand value. This is based on our experience with hotels, spas and restaurants to name a few. Let us share how we arrived at this position.
Customers, employees, shareholders and taxpayers hate large corporations for many reasons. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a lengthy list of corporations for which there is substantial research data to choose the 10 most hated in America.
Could Web 2.0 be grounded in nature? Our new research shows that Web users are increasingly conceptualizing the online world and new technology — social networks, mobile phones, and even whole businesses — as ecosystems.
Here we are, roughly midway through 2010, and I find myself thumbing back through old articles on Search Insider, like my first of 2010, titled "The Opportunity Impact Of Change." As I looked back at trends, my own thoughts, and how our business has evolved I recognized a theme -- which is not surprising, for, as they say, vision is usually 20/20 in hindsight. That theme is around the art of pinpointing and predicting future value -- and how often this gets separated from where value is actually created. Simply put, value is created by the end consumer, and everything flows back up the food chain from there. This seems really simple, but all too often this gets over-thought and muddled with the confusion of one's organizational place within the food chain. History has seen it before, and our industry is rich in change and opportunity with lots of exposed risk.
When IBM recently polled 1500 CEOs across 60 countries, they rated creativity as the most important leadership competency. Eighty percent of the CEOs said the business environment is growing so complex that it literally demands new ways of thinking. Less than 50 percent said they believed their organizations were equipped to deal effectively with this rising complexity. But are CEOs and senior leaders really willing to make the transformational moves necessary to foster cultures of real creativity and innovation?
Has your company spent seemingly countless hours tweeting on Twitter, networking on Facebook and writing the company blog? Have you found yourself wondering if it's all a waste of time? Maybe that last Facebook fan page contest saw fewer entries than you'd hoped for, or that last Twitter-only coupon had fewer redemptions than you'd expected, but perhaps that's not all that matters. According to the the latest report by analyst firm Forrester, many people are looking at the face value dollars and cents of social media marketing and, put simply, they're doing it wrong. Beyond clicks and coupon redemptions, there lies a case for social media marketing that shows its value is well beyond what we see on the surface.
Brand owners face a "new world order" in which their customers have redefined notions of value and are placing different demands on the products they buy, a study has argued. The Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey of 12,057 people in 14 nations, including Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and US. It found that while many shoppers thought there was room for optimism in 2010, overall anxiety levels were considerably higher than in the spring of 2007, before the recession had begun to bite.
Brands identify the source or maker of a product. Based on what customers know about the brand, they can form reasonable expectations about its benefits. Companies believe that brands contribute to reducing risk by helping buyers avoid a purchasing mistake. It is also a widely held belief that brands are financially important to companies.
Of course it's in Facebook's best interest to show that people who are fans spend more money. Without that, why would companies buy ads on Facebook? I just think we should think about why people become fans of a brand on Facebook. They already have an interest and desire to be more involved in the brand. They may be looking for deals or looking to contact other people who are interested in the brand. But they're already a fan. I wonder if anyone is asking what they spent on the brand before they became a fan on Facebook. That would at least give some indication as to whether or not Facebook is influencing purchasing or simply the by-product of people who are already fans.
Nike’s “Write the Future” 3-minute video campaign has attracted more World Cup-related mentions than Adidas, Coca-Cola, Sony and Visa, according to a new report by Nielsen. The video, which we discussed when it first launched, has created significantly more online buzz – based on an analysis of blogs, message boards and social networking websites – and developed more of an association to the World Cup than any other brand’s efforts to date.
A couple of days ago I wrote a post about exposure and visibility and how quality content that is valuable takes time to create. Everyone agrees with that sentiment. However, when push comes to shove, with very few exceptions, people tend to spread content that is more popular -- even when popularity means less helpful, sometimes incomplete. The ability to think critically is a gift -- it's also the underpinning of an effective business strategy, where you work from your core competencies. I worry that much of that ability gets lost to the desire to fit in and become popular -- to make the quick list, in blog parlance.
If you had to name the business age we’re entering right now, what would it be? The Age of Meaning, Proof and Authenticity. In the past, you could largely succeed on reputation, image, pedigree, even performance. That’s not enough any more. Now you have to prove substance and sustainability across the board. From having a clear business vision and a structure that can support and advance it, to creating true and needed value.
The baleful consequences of the Great Recession cannot be resolved by maintaining the same approaches as when we created it. The "new normal" in business means many brand owners need to leverage something much larger than a re-take on marketing. They need to accelerate their collaboration with consumers, so that principles such as "for people, for planet, for profit," combined with tools of the web and next-generation media, can transform brands' role in the economy, society and business.
The age of austerity is over, as the well-heeled splash out on Porsches and Dom Pérignon champagne, according to retailers of luxury goods. The wealthy are more prepared to open their wallets than at any time in the past two years, suggesting they have put the financial crisis behind them. But they are still looking for value for money and craftsmanship, says a study published today. Flashy labels and glitz have yet to make a comeback.
In the wake of a recession that caused consumers to question the value of $198 jeans, Levi Strauss & Co. is reintroducing consumers to its $198 jeans. The 157-year-old company is trying to reinvent itself as not just a purveyor of basics but as an edgier brand suitable for the fashion cognoscenti. By opening lavish boutiques, like one in London, renaming its high-end labels, and hiring executives from competing designer brands like Ralph Lauren and 7 for All Mankind, the company is seeking to improve its fashion street cred, a move that it hopes will reignite sales, which have stabilized at around $4 billion annually after peaking at $7.1 billion 1996.
Brands have rushed to Facebook to build fan bases, with some amassing millions of connections. The nagging question has been: What is the monetary value of these fans? Social media specialist Vitrue, which aids brands in building their customer bases on social networks, tried to put a media value on such communities. The firm has determined that, on average, a fan base of 1 million translates into at least $3.6 million in equivalent media over a year.
Take a look at your marketing materials, and you will probably see that your content is focused on two areas of opportunity. In an analog world, because of the way organizations are structured with a direct and indirect sales force -- through channels -- pre-sale or prospecting and promotion are the two most visible areas of potential impact. Which is why the organization has been investing in them.
Welcome to...the Roaring Teens? More than a few investors I've spoken to recently think that because consumption appears to be skyrocketing upwards again, all's well that end's well. And on the basis of that conclusion, they're ready to pump capital back into the same old industrial era assets and businesses. Would that it were so. A slightly deeper logic suggests a very different conclusion.
This week we all will be thinking about Tiger Woods to see if he can return to form at the Masters in Augusta, and tries to set aside the massive damage that has occurred to his brand name. But who are we kidding. Has anything really happened to the man's valuable brand equity? Reports are out now that golf gear with Tiger's name on it is selling better than before the scandals hit, a lot better in fact. Unconfirmed reports say that Nike is planning on airing an advertisement featuring Tiger.
I gave a talk in Edinburgh last year to a group of TV executives gathered for an annual conference. From the Q&A after, it was clear that for them, the question wasn’t whether the internet was going to alter their business, it was about the mode and tempo of that alteration. Against that background, though, they were worried about a much more practical matter: When, they asked, would online video generate enough money to cover their current costs? That kind of question comes up a lot. It’s a tough one to answer, not just because the answer is unlikely to make anybody happy, but because the premise is more important than the question itself. There are two essential bits of background here. The first is that most TV is made by for-profit companies, and there are two ways to generate a profit: raise revenues above expenses, or cut expenses below revenues. The other is that, for many media business, that second option is unreachable. Here’s why.
The result is that capital has become alienated from its value and purpose. Originally intended to enable the increased productivity of the society through investment in productive capacity, it has lost its connection to value creation of any non-financial kind. Consequently, the financial services industry itself becomes alienated from the rest of society, because its work no longer benefits its customers: Who do you think was on the short end of the trades that earned the dominant share of the economy's profits?
I'd like to advance a hypothesis: Despite all the excitement surrounding social media, the Internet isn't connecting us as much as we think it is. It's largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships. During the subprime bubble, banks and brokers sold one another bad debt — debt that couldn't be made good on. Today, "social" media is trading in low-quality connections — linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.
A new survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, the second issued by Booz & Company since the early days of the recession in October 2008, confirms that a “new frugality,” born of the Great Recession and evidenced by two consecutive years of declining per capita consumption, is now becoming entrenched among U.S. consumers and is reshaping their consumption patterns in ways that will persist even as the economy starts to recover.
The other day, one of my colleagues asked me, "What exactly do you mean when you use the word 'innovation?'" Answering the question led to a productive discussion about what really inhibits innovation inside large organizations. When I use the word innovation, I think of three interlocking components.
Mr. Clean is a car wash in Texas. Gerber sells baby life insurance. Caterpillar makes flashlights. I think the brand extension business is just a little crazy. I get why it should work, and I certainly know why businesses want it to. Any survey or focus group will tell you that consumers associate brands with purposes. GM makes cars. Apple makes computers. They also attach emotions to them, however unfairly and unevenly. GM cars aren't any good, while Apple's computers are cool. Comcast is a service nightmare. These internal states of brand awareness have value that should be transferrable to other products and services, especially if they keep within the constraints of that knowledge. Gillette should be able to sell men's grooming products because its brand is already all about razors. Microsoft sells computer hardware because it’s already in the software business. Such "extending" isn't a reach because the new products are easier to embrace and buy due to the power of the brands. Selling them that way is cheaper than trying to invent awareness from scratch. Is it really that easy?
Recessionary darling Walmart saw the first down sales quarter in its history and a surprisingly weak top-line over the holidays as aggressively expanding dollar stores and hard discounters swiped at its positioning. Additionally, last year it lost modest market share in package-goods sales for the first time since Information Resources Inc. began tracking the data -- while supermarkets, dollar and club stores all gained. In short, Walmart is increasingly finding itself caught in the middle between higher-end retailers and value players and, at least in recent quarters, is losing share to both.
The wave rolls in every day at noon Manhattan time. It gathers invisibly, out in the digital netherscape. A few minutes before the hour, the online retailer Gilt Groupe blasts out an e-mail, and a hush falls over many a workplace, as phone calls are cut short and spreadsheets minimized. Gilt Groupe is in the business of selling high fashion at deep discounts, and as you might deduce from the company’s name, with its Frenchified “e,” it presents itself as an exclusive club. In reality, that’s just artifice—Gilt is a viral-marketing phenomenon. During the hour after its weekday sales kick off, between noon and 1 p.m., the company claims, its site is visited by an average of roughly 100,000 shoppers. For that time, it might as well be the most crowded store in New York.
We’ve all been there. Right? We’ve had those managers that have asked us to do things that they themselves would never do. In fact most of the time they have asked us to do certain tasks because they refused to do those tasks themselves.
With Americans tightening their belts, BMW AG is parking "the ultimate driving machine" in the garage, at least for a while. The auto maker for years has promoted the power and performance of its cars using that slogan, one of the longest-running and most well-known in the auto industry. But now the company is switching gears. On Friday, it was launching an advertising campaign that focuses on the joy the company says comes from owning its vehicles and suggests BMWs are safe for mothers and children. One print ad uses the tagline "Joy is Maternal"—a departure from past promotions that touted horsepower, handling and acceleration.
I came to the conclusion today that marketing is destroying the internet, and a part of the reason why many companies are struggling online.
This is something we keep hearing about, how people and companies need to add value. Adding value is fast becoming the new bubble. A few years ago, Marshall Goldsmith, the world's top executive coach, questioned the cost of adding value in his debut post at Fast Company. In the opening, Goldsmith outlines a very powerful piece of advice: In my experience, one of the most common challenges that successful people face is a constant need to win. When the issue is important, they want to win. When the issue is trivial, they want to win. Even when the issue isn't worth the effort or is clearly to their disadvantage, they still want to win.
It may be that Tiger Woods's name has not suffered as much as we might have thought it would only a month or so ago. This week Forbes reports that his name still holds the top spot among athletes with a value of $82 million. This is still more than the following huge sports names make combined, reports The Street, "David Beckham ($20 million), tennis player Roger Federer ($16 million), NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($14 million) and NBA stars LeBron James ($13 million) and Kobe Bryant ($12 million)."
Most things that are used are seen to be diminished by use. Depreciation is not just an economic concept. It’s a cultural fact. Once something has been owned by someone it is soiled, profaned, yuuky, somehow. We continue to have the idea that things come from the factory in a state of grace. Ready for ownership. Ready for us. Any ownership diminishes them. But what if these products were blank, storyless, tedious. What if objects straight from the factory seemed somehow orphaned, smaller and less interesting for the fact of their pristine condition. If we care about recycling, we want objects to be better at absorbing and recording and reporting their histories.
Several years ago, my colleague Dave Ulrich and I looked at how leaders build value by building employee confidence in the future. Our findings bear revisiting as companies begin to emerge after the devastation of the last 18 months and work to create new value.
"A fool and his money are soon parted" is an old expression that has never been more true than it is today. Consumers and investors are not quick to let the moths out of their wallets. With unemployment figures high, every penny counts. So how do marketers make their brands relevant and indispensable?
The frequent question asked of the design community is of its value to business. The query itself makes little sense. Quite simply, the role of designers has always been to translate and communicate the value of a business idea to consumers. The best designers can do far more—they can help companies connect and establish a dialogue with consumers, thus enabling firms to innovate more efficiently. The challenge for most corporations today is about how to innovate while mitigating risk. For consumers, choices are made by balancing the need for evolution with the force of habit. Designers are trained to understand how people think and how to make things. For this reason, there are four basic areas in which design has an important role to play in value creation.
Though there's still widespread disagreement of just when the industry will put the recession firmly behind it, one thing's clear: Whenever it happens, marketers had better be ready. Forward thinkers such as Allstate, Walmart, New Balance, Macy's, Procter & Gamble, McDonald's and Bank of America are already paving the way to recovery by spending on marketing and product innovation, cementing relationships with new consumers and rewarding loyalists who stuck by their brands during the bad times. They are also creating products and messaging that bridge from recession to recovery.
In the old days, most of the meanings of our objects came prefab. This is what brands did for us. Brands, and the advertisers, planners, researchers and marketers who made them. Inevitably we would add meanings to our possessions. We might finesse the ones we found there. But mostly, anyone with the same objects had the same meanings. Thus did our material culture make our culture material.
Modern capitalism can be broken down into two major eras. The first, managerial capitalism, began in 1932 and was defined by the then radical notion that firms ought to have professional management. The second, shareholder value capitalism, began in 1976. Its governing premise is that the purpose of every corporation should be to maximize shareholders’ wealth. If firms pursue this goal, the thinking goes, both shareholders and society will benefit. This is a tragically flawed premise, and it is time we abandoned it and made the shift to a third era: customer-driven capitalism.
Most of the marketing rules we lived by just five years ago are practically obsolete. The industry has faced more changes in the last five years than in the previous 50. Let's face it, there's no point in improving broken legacy models. Since necessity is the mother of invention, let's not waste this recession and instead use it to rethink how we go about branding in this new decade.
When it was announced in June 2009 that Robert McDonald would replace A.G. Lafley as chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble, investors and employees alike found themselves asking, Who is Bob McDonald? Putting that wonder aside, McDonald has already done well delivering a greater than 20% increase in P&G's stock price since becoming CEO in June. Now that he is slated to become chairman of the board on Jan. 1, 2010, what can his past actions tell us about what he values most and how he will continue to guide the 182-year-old consumer products company into the uncertain economic future?
Last week I sent an email to Googlers about the meaning of "open" as it relates to the Internet, Google, and our users. In the spirit of openness, I thought it would be appropriate to share these thoughts with those outside of Google as well. At Google we believe that open systems win. They lead to more innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers, and a vibrant, profitable, and competitive ecosystem for businesses. Many companies will claim roughly the same thing since they know that declaring themselves to be open is both good for their brand and completely without risk. After all, in our industry there is no clear definition of what open really means. It is a Rashomon-like term: highly subjective and vitally important.
Buyers of new cars and trucks are much more conscious these days of the value and quality of the vehicles they buy, since their dollars are not going as far as they used to. Value and quality are driving brand loyalty as they never have, according to J.D. Power, whose latest Customer Retention study puts Mercedes-Benz on the top of the list when it comes to owners who stay with the brand.
The Empire always strikes back. Every revolution inspires a counter-revolution. Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance didn't win independence overnight — and neither, it seems, will the www. Microsoft is negotiating with News Corp to pay it to remove its content from Google's index. Uh-oh: the Empire — industrial-era business as usual — is striking back. Will the rebels be crushed? Not a chance. Blocking Google is about as smart as eating a pound of plutonium. Here's why MicroFox is making a big mistake.
At a Yale conference a week ago, Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer talked about the life cycle of the value of news in his business. When a piece of financial news comes out, it is at its most valuable for a very short time, he said. I asked him later how long that is. “Milliseconds,” he replied. Milliseconds. That’s as long as a computerized trader has to take advantage of news before the market knows it, before the news is knowledge and is thus commodified and loses its unique and timely value.
'Tis the season to diss Apple in some very creative and entertaining ways. I'm just not sure whether it's a sign of strategic marketing insight, or fishbowl-like confusion of message over meaning. First came Microsoft's "I'm a PC" campaigns, with its snippets of slice-of-life everypeople declaring their stereotypical lifestyles, and then shoppers explaining how they'd first looked at an Apple but then chose a PC because it was a better value. I'm all for comparison ads but the nonsense of contrasting PC-ness with Apple-ness is kind of silly.
The recession may be over but companies that cater to consumers believe people are digging in for a long, frugal winter. That's why Clorox Co. is keeping the price steady on a new improved trash bag that grips the top of the garbage can. Clorox says it wants to highlight the bags' "greater value." Similarly, Campbell Soup Co. recently reduced the promoted price of its V8 beverages in some markets to 2 for $5 from 2 for $6. Burger King Holdings Inc. is selling double cheeseburgers for just a dollar. Glimmers of recovery in housing starts, manufacturing and auto sales have yet to reassure many consumers who are spooked by 10.2% unemployment, determined to save more and skeptical of sunny forecasts. The Conference Board recently said its consumer confidence index fell almost six points in October from September.
Nobody's arguing that SEM (both in its paid and organic subspecialties) can deliver ROI. But viewing ROI as a primary and exclusive goal for your organization's search campaigns is dangerously myopic. Here's why:
Private label is at something of a crossroads. Rising out of the shadows of its humble, “no-name” generic past, private label today has blossomed into a $100 billion industry. While the media and analysts are fixated on sales numbers and growth expectations another story frequently gets little air play: Private label has the freedom (and not the baggage) to seize opportunities to leapfrog name brands in such critical areas as ingredients, flavors, preparations and even packaging. Looking through the lens of contemporary consumers and shoppers, we see that the rapidly changing private label landscape is far too complicated to be adequately explained by aggregate sales or customer transaction sales data alone. Our Private Label 2010: Redefining Meaning of Brand report moves beyond simplified discussions of sales data to present a holistic consumer and shopper perspective on private label that accounts for the role of the economy, new meaning of value, distinctions in retail formats, product categories, name brands and, of course, private label brands.
Packaging is one of the aspects of design that we see the most, we get packaged products at home, work or wherever we go. The following are great example of well done packaging that add value to the product.
Throughout the recession, many marketers have relied on so-called "recession-survival" lessons to drive their strategies. Unfortunately, these aren't always lessons as much as they are myths. We thought we would help dispel some of them and share a few tips to spur positive momentum.
While much has been made of America's newfound thriftiness, a new study suggests that shoppers are less focused on price than most marketers think. "Marketers are very focused on the word value, but have very little sense of what that actually means to consumers," says Jarrett Paschel, VP at The Hartman Group, tells Marketing Daily. "Everyone assumes it must be something about the way consumers are trying to save money. But that doesn't mean we've entered a new era of frugality."
And actually get to the heart of things. The touch of a human hand is always welcome. Yet it is what scares people the most. All kinds of push back and walls have been built to rationalize, compartmentalize and control the most basic of needs - that to connect with another human being. Yes, I'm also taking about social media environments. It's time to start mingling with the rest of the world - and do/create something. Doing business is a way of connecting, that of the current economic model and context. While it would be nice to think about intrinsic value, we use money to buy groceries and pay rent - business today equals earning money.
Two events of recent days underscore for me how old-media executives are not comprehending the collaboration economy: how it adds value, how it creates efficiency, how it operates under new currencies. Add this to the other blind spots these old media powers have about the new economic reality: the imperatives of the link economy, the need and benefit of giving up control, the advantages of creating open platforms over closed systems, the value of networks, the post-scarcity economy and the art of exploiting abundance, the need to be searchable to be found, the deflation innovation brings, the value of free, the triumph of process over product…. This is what I wrote in my book about. Trying to get media to understand it is why I wrote it. Behind each of these new laws of the new age is a set of consequences that result if you don’t at least try to understand them and continue to operate under the expired rules of the industrial economy.
Settling into adulthood amid the Great Recession, today's 20somethings are a practical-minded bunch, according to a J.D. Power and Associates study. Examining the online discussions of 22-29-year-olds, the research firm found them particularly focused (relative to other age groups) on "value brands," which are "competing with trendy brands for share of mind."
True public relations is a fundamental and helpful part of the communications mix. The issue I have with the question is that it usually comes from the marketing side - those people who have been pushing messaging at us in the first place. Raise your hand if you did PR the spammy way; in that case you need to reinvent yourself and your relevance to the business community. For the rest of us - we are and have been on the value side of the conversations for a long time.
"You get what you measure." I found this wonderful adage in this paper on measurement for agile development. And it helped me to put my finger on what I want to change about digital measurement. The way we approach digital measurement needs to be fundamentally reconsidered. I propose that the experiences we create and the metrics we use to measure their effectiveness should be in service of creating proven valuable outcomes for the client's business. It's a simple idea, and something that feels obvious. Yet, much of digital measurement as it's conducted currently, fails to meet that standard.
From Domino’s sandwich launch and in-your-face ad campaign to Quiznos attacking at every price point, Subway has had more than its share of competition this year. However, the chain continues to see gains on top of the double-digit growth it experienced last year. Sales may be coming in $5 as a time, but that’s the way Subway wants it. The $5 footlong has given the chain a weapon to battle the recession—one that competitors continue to search for an answer to combat. CEO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust Jeff Moody sat down with Brandweek to discuss the competition, the economy and the chain’s plans for future growth.
Fighter brands are one of the oldest strategies in branding. In a classic response to low priced rivals an organization launches a cheaper brand to attack the threat head on and protect their premium priced offerings. Unlike flanker brands or traditional brands that are designed with a set of target consumers in mind, fighter brands are specifically created to combat a competitor that is threatening to steal market share away from a company’s main brand. Fighter brands are usually a classic recession strategy. As value competitors gain share and private labels grow stronger - an increasing number of marketers turn to a fighter brand to rescue disappearing sales while maintaining their premium brand's equity. When a fighter brand strategy works it not only defeats a low priced competitor but also opens up a new market.
Branding Is Dead! Long Live Brands?! Many pundits have declared the death of branding and it would be difficult to argue to continue typical branding activities. Creating an image to serve as the “face” of a company, refreshing a logo or tagline in an attempt to reinvigorate the business, developing advertising campaigns to “get our name out there” – the business value of these efforts can indeed be questioned. Today’s savvy consumers are likely to see through a brand façade. They can easily find out if the business practices, products, and people behind a brand are what their ads say they are. And they’re more likely to trust their own experience or the recommendation of a friend or even an online reviewer than a company’s own chest-thumping. In fact, one could argue that the historical role which brands played – that is, serving as symbols to guarantee a certain of level of quality – is no longer relevant or useful today. But that is not to say that brands themselves are no longer valuable.
My dad always said, if you want to get ahead of the leader, don’t follow his tracks in the snow. If I owned my own jewelry store, this would be the mantra for everything I did. And my store would be truly different. I think the greatest challenge we all face is avoiding the well-worn track. So, how do we avoid falling into step with everyone else? The trick is to find inspiration, not from your competitors, but from brands outside your own category of business. Let’s imagine that Apple went into the jewelry business. Now let’s imagine how the Apple jewelry store might look.
We are all consumers. As we continue to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts of global growth, it has become clear that our consumption-centric lifestyle has challenged our planet's ability to support us. Recent market meltdowns, regulatory limitations on off-shore manufacturing, and the social and environmental impacts of a consumption-oriented economic model has given rise to a challenge -- does our economy need to be focused solely on spurring consumption in order to survive? The answer is a resounding no.
Niels Bohr once noted that "prediction is very difficult, especially about the future," but then he didn't have access to predictive loyalty metrics. Happily, we do. And, as they measure the direction and velocity of consumer values 12 to 18 months in advance of the marketplace and consumer articulations of category needs and expectations, they identify future trends with uncanny accuracy. Having examined these measures, we offer 10 trends for marketers for 2010 that will have direct consequences to the success - or failure – of next year's branding and marketing efforts.
You’re probably quite familiar with Gartner’s hype cycle (above) which describes the stages of hype, disillusionment, and then actual productivity that many new innovations go through. However, one of the not so obvious implications of it is that the real value in any innovation only gets unlocked when people start to figure out how, when and where to use it. Another way of stating this is that: The value is not in the innovation itself, rather it’s in understanding how, when and where to use that innovation.
It’s hard to justify the time spent on social media account management. But there are ways to measure the real value (monetary or otherwise) of fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter. These top two social media websites offer free advertising, an open customer service and communication platform and a demographics database all wrapped up in one, so knowing the value of fans and followers can be a big help when deciding how much time should be allotted to social media efforts. Here are some of the ways to measure how much Facebook and Twitter users are really worth.
Journalists are truth-tellers. But I think most of us have been lying to ourselves. Our profession is crumbling and we blame the Web for killing our business model. Yet it’s not the business model that changed on us. It’s the culture. Mainstream media were doing fine when information was hard to get and even harder to distribute. The public expected journalists to report the important stories, pull together information from sports scores to stock market results, and then deliver it all to our doorsteps, radios and TVs. People trusted journalists and, on our side, we delivered news that was relevant—it helped people connect with neighbors, be active citizens, and lead richer lives. Advertisers, of course, footed the bill for newsgathering. They wanted exposure and paid because people, lots of people, were reading our newspapers or listening to and watching our news programs. But things started to change well before the Web became popular.
Companies as diverse as McDonald's, Ford, and American Express are revamping their marketing to win back that most valuable of corporate assets.
For corporate communications specialists and reputation managers in the post financial crisis universe, the combined elements of distrust for authority and demand for transparency converge on the internet, specifically in the realm of social media. Hardly a day goes by without a breathless email announcing yet another conference, video, webinar or book providing the definitive answer to the mysteries of bending social media to one’s will. However, the relentless hype that has accompanied its growth may exaggerate or misconstrue its impact. Professionals would do well to take a deep breath and begin to think about how to build a detailed business strategy that includes but does not necessarily focus on social media so as to create sustainable value.
Innovation: it's the ultimate source of advantage, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the economic ring. Innovation is what every organization should be ruthlessly pursuing, right? Wrong. I'd like to advance a hypothesis: awesomeness is the new innovation. Let's face it. "Innovation" feels like a relic of the industrial era. And it just might be the case that instead of chasing innovation, we should be innovating innovation — that innovation needs innovation. Why? When we examine the economics of innovation, three reasons emerge.
One thing every venture capitalist knows but rarely talks about is the “revenue problem” with hot startups. When a startup is “growing like gangbusters” as Twitter cofounder Biz Stone told Bloomberg today, they tend to get a lot of attention from suitors. Twitter has been growing so fast this year, they’re getting more attention than they probably know what to do with. And that presents a problem of sorts. The company has to decide whether or not to turn revenue on. It sounds ridiculous, but it is a real decision. Once revenue is on, how the company is valued by the market can change dramatically.
I recently gave a talk titled Free the People! at the Potomac Forum’s Government 2.0 Leadership, Collaboration, and Public Engagement Symposium in Washington, DC that generated enough interest for me to post my slide deck and write a summary for a wider audience. These thoughts constitute some of my early ideas about “offensive social media” for organizations (this talk was particularly geared towards a government audience, but the fundamentals apply to the private and public sectors more broadly).
The folks at Blackcoffee have been inviting folks to complete the thought, “A Brand Is…”. I was so fascinated to read the range of responses that I decided to take a closer look. I wanted to see what common themes emerged among people’s definitions of “Brand” and what we could learn from them.
It's likely that the children and teenagers of today will conduct the majority of their shopping online, according to a report from Nielsen. While online shopping accounts for a modest percentage of today's sales, it is growing rapidly. In 2008, online retail accounted for approximately 7% of total retail sales in the U.S., with 1.5% of consumer packaged goods (CPG) spending done on the Web, according to Nielsen's "Building Great Brands in the Digital Age: Guidelines for Developing Winning Strategies."
While producing information costs money, information as such doesn’t necessarily carry monetary value; it mostly carries intellectual, social, artistic, practical value. And that’s why, historically, news has been commercially, publicly, politically and privately subsidized. That information is not necessarily connected to a physical good (paper) or a concrete service (the delivery), or a limited quantity anymore, making it difficult to measure its price. We have difficulties spending money for digital information because at the end of the transaction we neither save time nor do we hold anything concrete or limited in our hands. It feels like buying air.
As the global economy emerges from recession, regardless of when or how quickly, the focus in the executive suite is already shifting from cost cutting to recovering top-line growth. What role can the CMO play? If CMOs are truly to be growth champions for their corporations, they can't simply rely on traditional marketing and brand-building techniques. In nearly a decade of research, my colleagues and I have found that established companies increasingly are successfully building new businesses on a repeated basis, a process we call corporate entrepreneurship. Marketing -- true marketing, not just selling the story but helping create it -- must play a central role. True marketing is about understanding current and potential customers better than anyone else, translating those insights into powerful new offerings and experiences, and creating ever more effective and efficient paths to market. In other words, marketers must design new businesses, rather than just launch new products.
“If I am I because you are you. And you are you because I am I. Then I am not I and you are not you.” ⎯ Unknown Rabbi. It may sound like double-talk, but the wise Rabbi’s message is a profoundly important one for those trying to navigate today’s complex and rapidly evolving marketplace. And it’s this: We are not separate. We define each other. We are fronts and backs of each other⎯producer/consumers; government/citizens; manufacturer/suppliers; consultant/clients; management/talent; and, especially, brand/customers. In fact, a brand only knows what it is in terms of its customers. Unfortunately, we tell ourselves a very different story.
David Weinberger tells the story of Jake McKee, the man who taught Lego how to have a conversation with its consumer. It turns out McKee supplied a crucial piece of Lego's cultural intelligence.
The liberating thing about value as money is that it's "colorless." It carries no meaning. When value is "at rest," it is culture free, non denominational, undeclared, so to speak. It will become cultureful when used to buy a Hummer or a Prius. But for the moment it is value that is value free. All value is the same. (Until it isn't.)
For Grey Global Group Inc., its contract to create TV, print and Internet advertisements for Procter & Gamble Co.’s Pringles isn’t just about selling potato chips. It’s about the end of billable hours. Instead of being paid for hours clocked devising promotions for rice potato chips or crispy cracker sticks, Grey earns an undisclosed fee upfront and add-on payments for sales and market share gains. P&G moved brands accounting for 40 percent of sales to the new payment system July 1 and aims to expand that.
Organic farmers and grocery retailers are embracing the idea of lower-cost, private-label products to retain newly budget-conscious consumers. Supervalu Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. food retailer by sales, expanded its Wild Harvest organic brand to 312 items, from 150 last spring. Safeway Inc., the third-largest U.S. food retailer , last fall began selling its organic food brands to other retailers. Private-label organics have "broken some price barriers for shoppers, and everyone is price sensitive these days," said Mike Gilliland, chief executive of Newflower Market Inc., a natural-grocery chain based in Boulder, Colo., with 25 stores.
Following a complaint from Apple, Microsoft has quietly tweaked at least one of the ads in its "Laptop Hunters" campaign to reflect its rival's lower pricing on its Mac notebooks.
A friend in the restaurant business confided over a bottle of wine that he could always tell when a restaurant was in trouble. Deftly peeling back the linen of the breadbasket, he pointed out that the rustic bread had gone missing, replaced by a de rigueur white rolls. Such little things lead like breadcrumbs to the same old story: a retailer fighting for its life not by dialing up a customer's pleasure, but by diminishing it, ingredient by ingredient, value by value, service by service.
Soapboxes predate blogs as one of the earliest forms of self-expression, but HSBC is making the platform hot once again in the latest extension of its ad campaign. “The world’s local bank” will ask consumers to step on a soapbox and speak their thoughts at an experiential event this Thursday in New York’s Madison Square Park.
Let’s face it: Your regular customers are on autopilot. When a purchase is repeated enough times, it becomes habit. However, market shifts can disrupt even the most powerful habits, and the current financial meltdown is the single biggest market disruption we’ve ever lived through. Customers are altering their behavior because of uncertainty about the future: laying off employees (maybe even your contacts), hoarding cash and postponing routine purchases. All purchase decisions are now up for conscious review. This is a daunting challenge, but it also creates opportunities.
It's a big deal when a new chief executive takes the helm. All eyes, therefore, were on Fabrizio Freda at Reuters Global Luxury Summit in New York last week. Freda is about to become the head of Estée Lauder, and he took the stage to outline the future direction of the huge cosmetics group, which includes brands such as Clinique, M.A.C. and Crème de la Mer.
Ask any businessperson what marketing is about and they’ll answer with clichés about satisfying customer needs or “world class” service. Eventually they’ll get around to the 4 Ps, advertising, USPs, viral and social marketing, and a plethora of brand distinctions like: brand promise, brand identity, brand image, brand religion, brand essence, brand personality, and on and on.
No, it is NOT. I've made this argument before, but as I watch even more organizations, and entire industries, drown in their own irrelevance - Six Flags being the most notable, recent causality - I feel compelled to say it again. A brand is not a promise; it's an expectation. "But 'promise' is just a word, a definition." Hardly. It's your world view. It conditions your sensibilities and behavior. It represents a much simpler, outdated marketplace model, not today's complex, rapidly changing environment. And it's killing you.
As marketing budgets shrink and tip in favor of value messaging and cost incentives rather than brand-building, the absence of the latter in favor of the former is acutely dangerous. This type of price-driven activity has historically been considered a generic, low-level marketing practice, and normal branding rules have not applied. While that may have worked well enough during flush times—when larger branding efforts acted as a halo and compensated for generic activity—today all communications must incorporate brand-building. Otherwise,brands risk coming across as interchangeable, schizophrenic, watered-down and reactionary.
In a move that will put a smile on the faces of local newspaper publisher, at least for a day, nearly 3,000 of the roughly 3,700 U.S. Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers will run mostly full-page ads in local newspapers this Sunday. Unlike traditional ads from individual retailers that push sales, the executions are more corporate in tone. Ford Motor Co. and JWT's Retail First arm, Dearborn, Mich., created eight different templates for the "advertorials" for the dealers to customize with their own local ad agencies, said Kim Cape, retail marketing manager at the automaker.
Brands have adopted a variety of tactics in response to changing consumer attitudes and behaviors. In the first quarter of 2009, we monitored more than 100 brand responses to the recession. We found that most approaches fit into six buckets: optimism, humor, nationalism, nostalgia, consumer empowerment and value/price.
Much of the innovation we’ve seen lately hasn’t led to growth but instead to efficiency - that is, shrinkage. I’ve been mulling over Mike Mandel’s cover story in last week’s BusinessWeek, in which he tried to puncture another bubble: the belief that we’ve had a rich decade of American innovation. He argues that there’s actually an “innovation shortfall” and he uses economic stagnation to plead his case. Now I’m not economist (that’s a straight line) and so I won’t argue about the impact of other events on growth - starting with the so-called financial crisis.
The coffee wars generated a flurry of advertising in May. McDonald's launched its first McCafe blitz, Dunkin' Donuts made its first concerted doughnut push in more than a decade and Starbucks began its first pure branding campaign. While it's too soon to say what the impact on sales has been, all three marketers saw a major uptick in buzz, as measured by Brand Index.
Social marketing gives us that giddy combination of exciting and terrifying. Makes your heart thump. Some people think that email marketing by comparison is old-school and boring. I say there is nothing sexier than the high revenue and ROI from the email channel.
In the first part of my article on Post Consumerism, I touched on the drivers of the “Citizen Renaissance,” as Jules Peck coins it. My hypothesis is that there are emerging citizen values, and a shift away from consumerism towards citizens who are actively engaged in behaviors of business, the decisions of government and of involved in communities of interest. In this second part, I attempt to outline the market need and opportunity, and some examples that attempt to address post consumerism.
One-point-five seconds. If you believe neuroscientists, that's all the time we have to get someone's attention with our marketing messages. In little more than the blink of an eye, each of our targeted customers plays judge and jury to our marketing handiwork and decides whether to pay attention to us or banish us to the ash heap of misspent marketing dollars.
When the economic winds are howling and the weather gets ugly, consumers tighten their grip on brands they are loyal to; they don't run to the label with the lowest price. Brand equity does not lose potency when money is tight. So says Harris Interactive in its latest EquiTrend study.
As the recession keeps depressing, luxury brands are experiencing a wake-up call from this nasty cycle and from chastened luxury buyers.
As the dust settles from the collapse of the financial markets, one thing seems increasingly clear. One of the key drivers of corporate growth moving forward is going to have to be marketing. The sources of corporate growth and "profitability" for the last several decades, the practice of leveraging and more straightforward uses of easy credit, are no longer possible in the ways they once were. These were the growth strategies that made corporate finance and the CFO the center of attention in the boardroom and they have evaporated in shocking fashion, right along with earnings.
When I attended TWTRCON in San Francisco and also the 140 Twitter Conference in Mountain View recently, the intent of businesses was perspicuous. Speakers and attendees were on hand to actively share, inquire, and learn about how to increase visibility, engagement, and brand presence on Twitter and other social networks.
Today I’m launching a short series on brand value creation. My intent is to outline the ways brands create value, organizing the points by the four quadrants of The Balanced Scorecard.
Content doesn’t spread on the web because of its inherent qualities. We choose to share content because of its value within a network.
You have to love - or at least pay attention to - Digg’s new advertising system enabling users to vote on ads: The more that users digg an ad, the less the advertiser pays. That’s a reversal of advertising but it’s the way advertising probably needs to go: The better your relationship (which springs from a better product and service), the more your customers will market it for you, the less you’ll have to pay to market it. That is the ideal. Advertising is failure.
How does unnovation happen, anyways? Why does the zombieconomy churn out unnovation as reliably as Lady Gaga churns out bad outfits?
Spend on marketing, capital investment and innovation or risk losing your business within the next five years. That tough talk came from Del Monte Foods Co. Senior VP-CMO Bill Pearce at the Argyle Executive Forum's CMO Leadership Forum, where his keynote offered bold advice for navigating the titanic shifts that have resulted from the worst economic crisis since the Depression. In an environment where the name of the game is to manage risks, he challenged marketers to take them and offered eight tips for marketing in the downturn.
The biggest challenge confronting marketers is how to deal with the Meineke mind-set consumers have adopted as a result of the recession.
You know you're old when songs you listened to when you were a kid are being used to brand old fogey cars. It's common for musicians of all ages to sell their music to advertisers. Beck and the Who have done it, as have Feist and the Rolling Stones. It's not just a crass sellout anymore, but rather crass marketing strategy: ads get heard more often than songs on radio stations, so getting into a commercial is just one of a menu of options that include inclusion in the soundtrack of a movie, or appearing in a teen drama on TV.
As Simon Clift of Unilever made clear at the Ad Age Digital Conference recently, brands no longer have total control of the communications surrounding their products or even the positioning of them. That power is now in the hands of the digital consumer. Ford agrees. It's just asked 100 bloggers to launch the Fiesta in the U.S.
As YouTube has grown into the preeminent video sharing service online, marketers have tried, with limited success, to broadcast themselves and to reach audiences with their messaging. And while individuals have used YouTube as a platform to step into the spotlight, most brands have been left behind in the shadows. Save for the occasional media-supported viral video blitz, or user generated contest, commercial success on YouTube has been elusive to the many brands that have tried to reach for that brass ring.
Last week a friend of mine invited me for a libation at a recently opened restaurant bar. "Where is it, exactly?" I asked. "It's right behind 'X' (a restaurant with a bar), he replied. "You know, across from 'Y' (another restaurant with a bar). If you walk out the back door of 'Z' (another restaurant with a bar) you'll be facing it." I found it.
Marketing is facing its first real existential crisis, as pressure builds on CMOs to achieve what many are referring to as "the same impact for 60% of the dollars." That's why now's the time for CMOs to adopt and apply to their marketing operations the 7-S Framework, an analytical tool that's been successfully used by hundreds of corporations.
Perceived quality is a brand association that is elevated to the status of a brand asset for several reasons.
As the economy declines and consumer spending habits undergo a vast reevaluation, there is nowhere left to hide. The media industry, in other words, must adapt or die.
When the Facebook Platform was launched in 2006, it immediately became a hot property as thousands of eager developers rushed to launch the next great Facebook application. A few brands made the early leap as well, with some successes and a few total failures. It quickly became clear that if brands were to succeed on Platform, their applications would have to provide value, and not use Facebook as just another medium to push advertising messaging.
The JKR blog is well worth a look, as it has lots of really good mini case studies on design. One that caught my eye was one about the online search engine, Ask.com. Another interesting example of the care you need to take with visual equities, hot on my earlier post about the Tropicana re-design disaster.
Analyst conferences are rarely exciting, but when P&G Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley appears at one next week, some believe the near-term future of package-goods marketing -- and the long-term future of Procter & Gamble -- may hang in the balance. Some are even billing the appearance as "Tide Thursday," a reference to "Marlboro Friday" in 1993, when Philip Morris, battered by value-brand incursions on its Marlboro brand, cut prices 20% and stepped up consumer marketing in a move that was ultimately copied by many in the consumer-goods industry, reshaping the way many marketers approached pricing and advertising.
Would you say that a value brand is one that offers the most benefit for the cost? That sounds reasonable, right? Until you realize that it depends on a particular customer's changing perception of the benefit as compared to his or her changing perception of its cost. This is not mumbo jumbo. It's a critical distinction.
Unlike the ironic sentiment often expressed when quoting (or, as in this case, vitiating) Shakespeare's Richard III, I am not suggesting that attention is unimportant. I am, however, suggesting that businesses obsession with attention is misplaced, at best. And the fact that major industries have evolved to feed this obsession, simply adds to the problem.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the utility of ad placement on social media sites, and whether it's the most enlightened way to monetize services like Facebook or Twitter. I'd posit that there are two broad, and somewhat mutually-exclusive schools of thought on the subject: one looking forward, and the other back.
Have you seen Starbucks new campaign? The one designed to remind you of the "Starbucks story?" From the announcement video to the ads themselves, Starbucks is making the first mistake of modern advertising - they're telling you when they should be showing you.
Apple may have some of the most interesting online ads we've seen in a while, but Microsoft's recent push to paint the competitor as pricey is starting to work, according to data from BrandIndex.
How much would you pay to read this page? At about 2,000 of the roughly 50,000 printed words in a typical copy of the Financial Times, it should in theory be worth about 4 per cent of the newspaper's cover price - 10 US cents, 17½ euro cents or eight pence. To readers particularly interested in the subject, perhaps, it may be worth more. To others, though no journalist would like to admit as much, it will be worth nothing. Similar questions are being asked with growing urgency in boardrooms across the news industry and the wider media sector, as stalling economies challenge the foundation on which most content owners' digital strategies have been built.
It wasn't enough that McDonald's is beating competitors in same-store sales and winning the value-perception wars. Thanks to stepped-up burger marketing, it's now getting higher-margin customers, too.
Microsoft is continuing its attacks on Apple products as overpriced with a new Web campaign for its Zune portable media player. In a Web video, financial planner and former reality show star Wes Moss presents the case that the 120GB iPod would cost $30,000 to fill with music buying songs at $1 each at the iTunes Store. "People worry about the capacity of their iPod," Moss says in the 30-second spot. "What about the capacity of their bank account?"
One of the best ways to grow your blog, is to leave it. What I mean by this is leaving comments on other blogs is a great way to create value for others, and ultimately grow awareness for your own blogging efforts. But not all blog comments are created equal, and here's some of the tips I've learned over the years for writing great blog comments:
Value. It’s a word you hear tossed around quite a bit in this economy, but not one that applies to every brand, according to a recent report. A survey by Brandindex, a daily measure of brand perception by the London-based firm YouGov taken from January to April, found that some brands, like Starbucks and General Motors’ Hummer are not convincing consumers that they offer value.
Yesterday we got the results from the Treasury regarding the stress tests. The results were on one hand extraordinarily troubling, i.e. how is it possible that banks still need another $75 billion in funding to withstand future buffeting? On the other hand with this additional capital, the US Treasury deems these institutions financially capable of handling whatever future financial troubles befall them, which provides the confidence we need to grow our economy. The market has responded by bidding these banking stocks up, the NYSE Financial index is up about 10% this week and 87% off its low. While I am encouraged by the strong response of the market to these financials, I told you earlier in the week that I would be revealing the results of my own “brand” stress test.
At the upscale beauty counters run by Estée Lauder Cos., shoppers can get advice on fighting wrinkles or choosing the right shade of lipstick. Now, they will also get help finding a bargain.
For those of you worried that this “social media” stuff adds chores and time to your days, it does. It definitely does. And yet, we find new value in it every day.
Toys “R” Us today (Wednesday) announced it is expanding front-of-store offerings to include everything from paper goods to light snacks to laundry detergent.
Chains are resorting to giveaways or less-than-$1 menu items. And they're getting smarter about engineering lower-priced but still-profitable items, though some say the cheaper food tastes that way.
Starbucks, the coffee company that built its business on word-of-mouth recommendations, is to reveal “a long term, multi-million dollar” advertising campaign in the US, as it seeks to combat perceptions that its products are over-priced. Howard Schultz, chief executive, said the campaign would “define the fact of what's true and what’s not”.
Considering the sophistication of humans as mammals, it is still interesting how we are doomed to repeat the same behavioral patterns as our primate ancestors, even when is comes to social media.
When it comes to laundry detergent, many Americans prefer to pour their own. That's foiled many attempts to market detergent tablets and other so-called predosed laundry products. Next month, however, Dial, a unit of the German consumer-goods company Henkel, plans to launch Purex Complete, a "3-in-1" laundry sheet embedded with detergent, fabric softener and antistatic agents.
For the next few days I plan to explore what I am calling the Age of Involvement: the role of participation in an information society and how it leads to an expanded view of our economy. I am not an economist and have never studied economics. I am approaching this as someone who believes that innovation is redefining everything around us, including the ways that we measure human achievement.
Best Buy Co. is rapidly expanding its private-label electronics business in a gamble to gain a key competitive advantage over rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Best Buy believes it can prosper in private-label electronics -- an area that has historically flummoxed U.S. retailers -- by using the mountains of customer feedback it collects from its stores to make simple innovations to established electronic gadgetry. The move comes as Best Buy's position in the consumer electronics market has strengthened in the past year following the liquidation of former rival Circuit City Stores Inc.
There are several stakeholders concerned with brand equity, such as the firm, the customer, the distribution channels, media and other stakeholders like the financial markets and analysts, depending on the type of company ownership. But ultimately it is the customer who is the most critical component in defining brand equity as it is his/her choices that determine the success or failure of the company and the brand.
Every day, with everything they do, the key question for journalists and news organizations in these tight - that is, more efficient - times must be: Are you adding value? And if you’re not, why are you doing whatever you’re doing? Sitting in a hotel room, cruising by CNN the other day, I caught a behind-the-scenes segment that wanted to show us just how cool it is to be a reporter dashing from story to story. It did the opposite for me. I was disturbed at the waste.
Why is it that so many companies are still struggling to create vibrant online communities? For every Threadless or Ideastorm, there are literally thousands of failed attempts at community-creation. What are so many companies missing?
The global publishing giants have declared war on the new technology generation of content distributors -- but they have lost sight of what consumers value and how they want to get to the value. It's time to separate content creators from distributors. It's time for a new business model which requires technology understanding and leadership to develop -- and one that new generation search applications like Google News and Digg for the consumer, or FirstRain for the professional investor, can sign up for to get the right news to the right people at the right price for them.
Every day consumers log onto the Internet from their computer to search out the best prices on the products and services they want. Ask anyone selling software, TVs, even cars and they’ll tell you a story about a consumer coming in holding the printout from a website. The Internet has created a price transparency dynamic that has fundamentally altered price driven industries like computers, hotels and airlines. And it’s going to get worse.
Perhaps no word in the marketing lexicon has been abused as much in the past six months or so as “value.” Marketing messages of this stripe are one strategy for addressing the fact that consumers are loath to open their wallets these days. But they’re also only one alternative to cutting prices. It seems like marketers aren’t exploring others.
Introducing a new Technologizer feature--T-Debates! In this inaugural one, Dave Worthington and I have at it about the value of Twitter--he's doubtful it has much at all, while I'm a Twitter optimist. But we're mainly doing this in hopes that you'll continue the conversation in comments, whatever your stance.
Technology will shift the power from brands to people as they are able to control their own identity. As a result, the Social Contract between people and brands will evolve.
In an economic downturn of such weight and impact as this, now being referred to as the "Great Recession" due to our love for branding our own historical periods, how does a mass-market consumer brand react to ensure success? I've been paying close attention to various answers to this question over the last few months, and I've learned there are two distinct camps of response. They are diametrically opposed in process and structure, but each can be successful in its own right.
After years of being defined by Apple, Microsoft is fighting back and somewhat surprisingly, landing some punches. The company’s latest round of ads featuring real consumers named Lauren and Giampalo trying to buy laptops for less than $1,000 and $1,500, respectively, seems to have struck a chord.
Six weeks ago I wrote "I'm Sold On Engagement." In the post I proposed that, "given the proper definition and standardization, engagement can provide the right baseline for marketers to plan, buy and measure brand campaigns online." After reading Brian Morrissey's March 23 piece titled "Making More Than a Good Impression," and speaking with Randall Rothenberg, head of the IAB and author of the must-read blog on interactive advertising "I, A Bee," I felt there were a few points I wanted to reiterate about engagement as the future base metric for branding online.
The reality show focuses on Billy Mays, the most successful direct-response salesman in TV history. 'I cut through the noise, through the clutter,' he says. 'People want to hear the pitch.'
Like every automaker, Honda is trying to drive traffic at a time when people are loath to make one of life's more expensive purchases. But the company is hoping to avoid the quicksand of endless discounts to achieve it.
In the next five years, we will see a rapidly changing landscape across the globe, where the opportunities for businesses to benefit from corporate and product branding efforts will be larger than ever before. The growing emphasis on branding will move up the boardroom agenda and I strongly believe that branding will become one of the most prominent drivers of value across the globe in the next two decades.
On its face, the rationale behind value-based advertising seems to make sense. It's a recession, and consumers are watching what they spend. But assuming everyone really is only out for the best deal during this recession, at what point does it all become one big blur? That is, if everything is a value, then what's the value of being a value?
Microsoft's new Lauren is a tech-savvy engineer with a complicated, foreign name, tasked with finding a laptop that'll address his needs for under $1,500. You'll never guess what this Microsoft-paid probable-actor decided to buy.
Value building is not a new concept. In good times and bad, smart brand marketers have always recognized the need to build value and differentiate—to make their brands a little better than competitors by adding a new feature, creating a special promotion or forging a unique alliance with another brand. What’s different today is the targeted relevance of value building. Faced with a protracted global economic recession, established brands are searching for ways to add maximum value without cheapening their image or undermining profits. Some brands are out-smarting and out-performing their competitors because of value-building strategies.
A new study by London-based market research firm Hall and Partners that examines how the economy is affecting consumer trends in the U.S., the U.K. and mainland China finds few surprises -- the UK and U.S. are pessimistic, while Chinese citizens see a bright future once the economy goes through short-term turmoil.
I’ve been thinking about a central marketing issue, as both a consumer and as a branding and design consultant. The issue of trust.
Take a close look at the image to the left. Can you identity the current design of the U.S. penny? You should be able to; you've been exposed to it a countless number of times. In fact, the reach and frequency of the penny image is over the top! The government should print ads on it. That would solve the budget crisis. So why can't most people recall the correct one (no, I'm not going to tell you which one it is)? :) Simple. It's irrelevant.
There aren't too many places where Walmart isn't dominant. The digital realm is one of the relative few, but not for long, as it ramps up a host of programs to vault the chain -- which has already distanced itself from value retailers in the offline world -- further ahead in the online one.
Once again Microsoft’s ad strategy is off-base. Their newest ad criticizes Apple for being expensive by “documenting” one woman’s quest to find a laptop that meets her needs for under $1000.
Amid the economic downturn, marketers in categories as diverse as cars, personal computers, fast food, soft drinks, beer and insurance have touted their relative value to boost sales. Add greeting cards to that list.
Treat your community like it’s gold and it will return the favor.
With the recession as its backdrop, Microsoft has finally jumped on the value-messaging bandwagon in a new ad, a 60-second spot dubbed "Laptop Hunters" that will break tonight during the NCAA "March Madness" basketball tournament.
Boston Market is determined to appeal to the appetites of fast-casual diners—many of whom have lapsed from the category—with a little bit of humor in these gloomy times. The restaurant chain has kicked off a campaign, via new lead agency Fallon, highlighting the just-introduced Crispy Country Chicken in a series of funny TV spots.
Most years, Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive of Starbucks, uses the annual shareholders meeting to introduce a major new product or a cool new piece of coffee-making equipment. Something buzzworthy. At this year's meeting, held in Seattle on Wednesday, there was nothing in the way of buzz, and Schultz introduced nothing new, except for a focus on "value" and a fresh effort to squash the "myth" that "there is a $4 cup of coffee at Starbucks."
Sustainability and "green" were the issues du jour for much of 2007 and 2008, but with the recent market crash, the national dialogue has turned more toward keeping a roof over your head than keeping a green roof over your head. So what's a sustainable brand to do?
Sears says it is rolling out a new marketing campaign, themed "Sears. Life. Well Spent," which it hopes will sell shoppers on the money-saving possibilities of both its proprietary and national brands.
Consumers are cooling to cable. And they're not very satisfied with satellite TV. In fact, according to consumer research firm GfK Roper Consulting, about 40% of those surveyed during mid-2008 and early 2009 said they'd be willing to do without cable or satellite TV.
Buyer for luxury retailer prefers plastic to crystals; searching for 'value' to sway full-price sales.
"Blogosphere outreach" has become more prevalent within the integrated digital marketing mix. The practice itself has gotten traction as the sphere has gained increased legitimacy.
Procter & Gamble, which has made the “value” argument to consumers in this down economy, is adding another one: Buy our products and some of the money will go to charity.
Even as the floor is dropping out of the U.S. economy and restaurants are offering "recession deals," price isn't everything. New York-based marketing firm Brand Keys, in its 2009 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Index, says successful brands are those that stand out because consumers think of them as valuable, and don't see the term as a synonym for "cheap."
People are scared. Have you finally figured that out? They want to make sure that their marketplace decisions are "good" ones; that they'll receive "value" for their exchange of precious time and money. So how do you help them do that? The first step is to think and feel what your audience is feeling.
After presenting his third of four Oscars, Will Smith looked into the camera and the audience and said something to the effect of "yes, I'm still here." That essentially sums up this year's Oscar telecast, a bloated and overdone spectacle that left us bewildered, unenthusiastic and exhausted to the point where only "Randy The Ram" could have saved the show by laying the smackdown on the all-schmaltz affair. Sadly, he never entered the ring.
Struggling Starbucks is about to seriously enter the "value" zone. On Monday, the gourmet coffee chain that's been losing business at quite a clip of late, will unveil plans for its first value menu: $3.95 will get you a latte with coffee cake or drip coffee with hot sandwich.
With no sign the economy will improve anytime soon, fast feeders are rolling out the value offerings thick and fast. But by relentlessly reminding consumers about its 6-year-old dollar menu, McDonald's has managed to own the space.
Kentucky Fried Chicken has launched a new campaign that promotes both the chain's continuing practice of cooking Original Recipe chicken on premises and a new "Unbeatable Feast" dinner deal.
Best Buy is expanding its recycling program to all U.S. stores next month, and while it will charge $10 for many items, it will also reward customers with a $10 gift card. Experts say the move shows how important it is to link doing the right thing with the immediate impact of cost benefits for consumers.
With clouds continuing to darken over the economy, marketers are, not surprisingly, focused on the trends of the moment--value, downsizing, staying in. But to maintain the health of brands over the long haul, it's important not to become too distracted by the here and now. When it comes to innovation, it's critical to look beyond the abyss.
The goal is to create a product that people love. If people love it, they'll forgive a lot. They'll talk about it. They'll promote it. They'll come back. They'll be less price sensitive. They'll bring their friends. They'll work with you to make it better. If you can't do that, though, perhaps you can make your service or product less annoying.
It is do or die time -- for agencies and the companies who are trusting us. Now, more than ever, only the really tough survive. If your agency won't at least follow the rules below, you may as well resign and save yourself the heartache -- and your clients the pain and expense.
In an article in the summer, Jon Fine observed an interesting paradox in the TV biz. Viewership continues to fall, but ad dollars remain in place.
Organizations want to change our perceptions rapidly, through communication, rather than by the hard work of shaping our memories and feelings through experience. And they're increasingly finding that they can't.
If your brand commands a price premium, you had better understand the nuanced way that your audience defines and intuits value. And then make sure that your brand - including your facilities, people, web site, et al. - deliver a bundle of value components that provide "good value" for your customers' investment of time, money, attention and identity.