When a “sale” is more than just a sale…

Marketing analysts have been using consumer’s characteristics and behaviors to play a considerable role in strategy formation of sales.  In the 1960’s, Black Friday gave birth to modern day sales tactics.  Retailers claimed it was the point of the year that they turned a profit or were “in the black” and it essentially took them all year to generate enough revenue to break even.  They found that if they had sales throughout the year – people would spend money more readily and not just towards the end of the year.  This allowed retailers to make more money earlier in the year and turn a profit or break even much faster than the day after Thanksgiving.  Retailers discovered that impulse-buying accounted for a significant portion of consumer spending and if they could play on those behaviors, the stores could generate more revenue.  Some of the most common used tactics are:

In Your Face – placing expensive items in plain sight and up front

Sensory Delight – bright, attention getting items

Sacrificial Lambs – unloading slow moving inventory

This Goes with That – bundling products and grouping items together

Super Specials – bargain bin items and appearance of deep discounts

Checkout Tempters – small items that catch your eye at the checkout stand


Keep an eye out for these sales tactics and more.  Be sure to ask yourself – is this really a sale and I am getting a good deal?  Because a “sale” might just be a gimmick and not really a good deal.

Acquisition – Congratulations you’ve been acquired by a brand…

… and you didn’t even know it!

Welcome to our first post in our series on CONSUMER INVOLVEMENT MARKETING.

The song “How Much is That Dog in the Window” and the hit 80’s movie “Mannequin” have two things in common – they both speak to the willingness we have as consumers to be attracted to… window displays.

Is it a story or a product
A 2012 Macy’s holiday window display. Is it the beginning of a great story to market something new to you as a consumer?

Retailers recognize the importance of a window display as the first point of contact between a store and the customer – its a critical first impression, has the opportunity to define what the store is about and allows a creative form of advertising for the retailer that may not be available simply in print or media. It’s basically an acquisition point for retailers to draw us in and make us know > like > love their brand.

While no one has really discussed how much money is spent on the most spectacular holiday displays in flagship New York City retailers such as Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue, Sam Joseph was once quoted saying it took nearly 11 months, 150 full time workers and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create the Macy’s Miracle on 34th Street display in 1999.

VS Las Vegas
The “Runway” concept store at Caesar’s Palace mirrors the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

An insider (former employee) of Limited Brand’s Victoria’s Secret we met reports that changing out the floor set every 4 – 6 weeks brings in repeat visitation from both loyal and newly acquired consumers based strictly off design that supports both classic and new product offerings. Proof is seen as Victoria’s Secret has one of the largest revenues per square foot of any retailer. In the 1990s they used a very pink and gold victorian model for their stores. As time progressed and the popularity of their catalog and fashion show took off, the stores became more essence oriented in making women feel like their models, also known as Angels. The Caesar Palace flagship even goes as far as creating a runway concept to mirror the fashion show. The business of bras and panties went from something intimate to something everyday and aspirational. Their PINK line even targets the younger crowd, while their beauty products compliment the overall purchase with perfumes and make-up. However, their target market is limited to one’s size in their stores and most their employees fit this profile (sound a little Abercrombie & Fitch to you?).

Sometimes live models work as well
Live models also work in “window displays” to attract consumers to enter a retail space, such as with Abercrombie & Fitch.

The next time you are at the mall, take a closer look at those windows. What story are they telling you and are you willing to listen. Now take a moment, and share with us your favorite window displays.

Until next time where we talk “B” for Brand Ambassadors.

A + R

Marketing with Humor.

I was standing in the grocery isle with my wife, she turns to me and says “Why don’t you pick up some beer for the house” and before finishing her sentence I’m already halfway to the beer section. As I’m standing there looking at the vast selection of cold beverages, beer slogans start to clutter my mind. Do I want to taste the ice cold rocky mountains of Coors or have my beer for breakfast with a Guinness? Then as I see it, a thought comes to mind and clears the clutter…. “Stay thirsty my friends.”dosequisfella

Chances are you’ve seen the commercials either on TV or a link one of your friends sent to you via email with the subject heading LOL. I’m talking about those entertaining Dos Equis beer commercials staring Jonathan Goldsmith that first aired back in 2006. Euro RSCG out of New York was the brains behind this tremendously successful marketing campaign that boosted market shares over 15% in the United States while its closest competitor was at 2.7%.

Cuachtemoc Moctezuma Brewery, who are the distributors of Dos Equis, had no idea how successful it’s new marketing campaign would become. They did however know it needed to be different from their competitors. Having a worldly older spokesman who younger viewers would not perceive as threatening or remind them of things they have not yet achieved, was the premise for their new spokesman. They wanted to create someone their viewers can work towards becoming rather than a mirror to themselves. Jonathan Goldsmith was soon to become every guy’s fantasy, maybe even some women too.

Humor has a big play in the success of its commercials. The best marketing campaigns I remember were clever and tugged at my funny bone. Remember the “Where’s the beef” commercials? Wendy’s cute old ladies with their giant hamburger buns and small meat patties? When you can get people to laugh and share with others, the content will spread and create  popularity around your product or service. One-liners like “He has won the lifetime achievement award, twice” and “His blood smells like cologne” have contributed to the success of this clever marketing campaign as well.

The_Most_Interesting_Man_In_The_World_Meme_When I drink beer, I really don’t prefer Dos Equis. What I do like are the funny commercials and the imagery around it. I made up my mind in the grocery beer section and walked back to my wife with a six pack of Dos Equis in hand, silently laughing to myself and thinking about which one-liner I was going to use.

The Path to Developing New Sucessful Products


“Is your company finding it hard to develop new products? If so, you might try learning from the masters.”

The Wall STREET Journal Report

Originally, I when I first posted this article, I really wanted everyone to just read it; I didn’t realize I probably should add my “2 Cents”  in terms of “my thoughts” on the concept.

Sometimes when we are the marketing team taking a product to market, we become so consumed by the actual product, we lose focus on the customer.  The costumer relationship that the outside marketing team is building is imperative to the long-term productivity of the team.

While, it seems obvious to us that we need to put the customer’s needs as the highest priority, sometimes people tend to obsess about the actual marketing plan and product and lose the human touch of interacting with the customer at a human level.

With modern technology, email, cell phones, texting, etc…we often cease to actually meet, brainstorm and create together.  When we do this, it becomes a collaboration that we are all invested in.  According to this article, by focusing on these relationships, product deadlines tend to be met, customers continue to retain your services and employees are happier.

“We found—after surveying more than 300 employees at 28 companies across North America and Europe—that the businesses with the best product-development track records do three things better than their less-successful peers: They create a clear sense of project goals early on, they nurture a strong project culture in their workplace, and they maintain close contact with customers throughout a project’s duration.”

The teams in our study that embraced these tactics were 17 times as likely as the laggards to have projects come in on time, five times as likely to be on budget, and twice as likely to meet their company’s return-on-investment targets.”

So, everyone, don’t forget the customer reigns supreme.  The product is an extension of the customer.


 Posted Team J, by Robin Follman-Otta and Sandro Siles

Mario and Luigi need an Apple- An Example of Integrated Growth

Nintendoapple-logo9Yes friends Mario and Luigi, these lovable Italian stereotypes have represented Nintendo since the company’s inception. And of course we have Apple; represented by an apple. So what does this blog title really mean?

Team Alpha submits to you our Marketing Strategy of the day. What’s this strategic plan? You guessed it – Integrative Growth! Below we provide a quick integrative growth summary for Apple and Nintendo.apple-iphone-5

Let’s start with Apple. Although sales for Apple’ s I-Phone 5 have been solid, it’s no secret that Apple is being viewed in a vulnerable position having witnessed their stock prices falling . The overall perception is that Apple may be losing its innovation edge due in no small part to the loss of Steve Jobs.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Nintendo which launched the most successful Video Game console in history known as the Wii over 6 years ago. Their follow-up, the Wii U, launched this past November and is struggling out of the gate. Nintendo’s sales numbers pale in comparison to the Wii when it first launched. Despite this, the Japanese company is still solid with strong cash flow aided by their software sales and portable videogame system the 3DS.Nintendo-Wii-U

So both companies have found themselves in vulnerable positions and at a crossroads; something neither is accustomed to. The next 5 years will be critical and could ultimately decide their fates.

We know that Apple is developing a TV which analysts expect will hit the market in a few years. Nintendo has just released a new console and needs to secure its longevity. Therein lies Team A’s marketing strategy for these two companies, a joint venture into the TV market to sell the TV/Video Game Console of tomorrow. This merger and alliance is a match made in heaven and I’ll tell you why:

  1. Nintendo has always been the innovator in the video game industry and standard bearer. From software to consoles, Nintendo leads the pack when it comes to quality and innovation. This holds true with Apple. Always the innovator and synonymous with quality.
  2. If Apple wants to enter the TV market, and we know they do, they have to do something bold and let’s be realistic, voice command on your TV is more of a novelty than a true innovation. Nintendo basically invented modern video games. From creating the modern controller button layout, to motion controls, they need to continue creating and moving the industry forward.
  3. Both Apple and Nintendo share the same competitors like Microsoft and Sony which are themselves competitors in the videogame market (Playstation 4 vs X-Box 360). This joint venture will force both Microsoft and a Sony to re-evaluate their Videogame consoles and may lead to a similar strategy.

So the Plan is simple – an Integrated Growth Strategy. Create the first TV/Video game console that will be able to do everything a regular TV can do with the added benefit of being able to play video games. Popular 3rd party Software developers like Electronic arts and Konami will jump at the opportunity to publish games for this new hybrid TV/Console.


Customer Satisfaction as Key Ingredient for Success

As consumers today, we are regularly bombarded with surveys, recorded calls to ensure quality, and platforms such as Yelp to voice our pleasure or dismay as the case may be. As businesses providing products and/or services our focus has been increasingly directed away from purely transactional tenets toward relationships. The “Customer Experience” or “CX” is now a primary source for competitive advantage especially given the arsenal of knowledge consumers bring to a first engagement.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) member, Matt Mickiewicz, wrote a Forbes.com article in December 2011 entitled, “Why Customer Service is the New Marketing”, and included his three golden rules (followed by my take-aways):

1. Think long-term reputation vs. short-term profit—a single interaction can seal your fate; consider the life of the relationship before offering your course of action.
2. Identify your top customers and make them feel special—they already love you and it often takes minimal effort and/or cost on your part to sweeten their experience from time to time.
3. Make yourself available—in the age convenience it’s not difficult to forward calls from the office to your smart phone and take a call during “off hours” now and then; the resulting positive customer satisfaction growth can be exponential.

In a recession as deep as the US and global economies have experienced these last 5+ years, the long and the short of it is this—not only must your product or service be compelling enough to capture attention and gain business in the first place, it must also provide an exemplary level of on-going benefit to the customer.

With this in mind, one approach is for companies to track their customer satisfaction scores through in-house surveys as well as non-commissioned studies of multiple competitors in a single industry both of which are conducted by third-party vendors such as CustomerSat.com. In the case of ShoreTel, a multi-national, telecommunications manufacturer based in Sunnyvale, CA, they rely heavily on their highly rated customer satisfaction scores (sent 60-90 days after product/service implementation) as part of a key positioning strategy.

Their use of the Net Promoter Score in sales demonstrations provides a persuasive visual of the commitment to building relationships rather than simply turning a profit. Focusing on a 60+ NPS score (50 is considered world-class on the -100-+100 scale) in comparison to well-known brands helps the client to categorize ShoreTel as a trusted name as well as, again, emphasizing the importance of their customer experience.

As a next step, a slide composed of non-commissioned data gathered by Hart-Hankes offering ShoreTel’s placement against their industry competitors drives home the dedication to a customer-centric partnership.

In hyper-competitive, rapidly changing environments companies cannot afford to rely solely on their past successes or future technological advancements as a strategy for long-term profitability. ShoreTel and other businesses recognize the value of an exceptional customer experience and have taken steps to not only ensure the initial interaction between customer and company representative, website, and product/service is effectual but also that their target markets are informed of the positive engagements. A fully integrated, customer focused approach that factors the savvy consumer into the equation is critical.

*Team C–Josh Hobgood and Stacey Moynahan

Cross Cultural Marketing Mishaps

Good afternoon EMBA class of 2014. After going with many of my fellow classmates and spouses this weekend to South Coast Repertory to see the play Chinglish it inspired me to create a blog on cross cultural marketing mishaps.  For those of us that have seen Chinglish the examples below reinforce the importance of working reputable firms that have a great understanding of both their own cultural as well as the one they are interpreting for.

Please read the ten examples below and let me know think!

  • Locum is a Swedish company. As most companies do at Christmas they sent out Christmas cards to customers. In 1991 they decided to give their logo a little holiday spirit by replacing the “o” in Locum with a heart. You can see the result..


  • The Japanese company Matsushita Electric was promoting a new Japanese PC for internet users. Panasonic created the new web browser and had received a license to use the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker as an interactive internet guide.The day before the huge marketing campaign, Panasonic realised its error and pulled the plug. Why? The ads for the new product featured the following slogan, “Touch Woody – The Internet Pecker.” The company only realised its cross cultural blunder when an embarrassed American explain what “touch Woody’s pecker” could be interpreted as!
  • The Swedish furniture giant IKEA somehow agreed upon the name
    “FARTFULL” for one of its new desks. Enough said..
  • In the late 1970s, Wang, the American computer company could not understand why its British branches were refusing to use its latest motto “Wang Cares”. Of course, to British ears this sounds too close to “Wankers” which would not
    really give a very positive image to any company.
  • There are several examples of companies getting tangled up with bad translations of products due to the word “mist”. We had “Irish Mist” (an alcoholic drink),
    “Mist Stick” (a curling iron from Clairol) and “Silver Mist” (Rolls Royce car) all flopping as “mist” in German means dung/manure. Fancy a glass of Irish dung?
  • “Traficante” an Italian mineral water found a great reception in Spain’s underworld. In Spanish it translates as “drug dealer”.
  • In 2002, Umbro a UK sports manufacturer had to withdraw its new
    trainers (sneakers) called the Zyklon. The firm received complaints from many
    organizations and individuals as it was the name of the gas used by the Nazi
    regime to murder millions of Jews in concentration camps.
  • Sharwoods, a UK food manufacturer, spent 6 million pounds on a campaign to launch its new ‘Bundh’ sauces. It received calls from numerous Punjabi speakers telling them that “bundh” sounded just like the Punjabi word for “arse or ass”.
  • Honda introduced their new car “Fitta” into Nordic countries in 2001. If
    they had taken the time to undertake some cross cultural marketing research
    they may have discovered that “fitta” was an old word used in vulgar
    language to refer to a woman’s genitals in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. In
    the end they renamed it “Honda Jazz”.
  • A nice cross cultural example of the fact that all pictures or symbols are not interpreted the same across the world: staff at the African port of Stevadores
    saw the “internationally recognised” symbol for “fragile” (i.e. broken wine glass) and presumed it was a box of broken glass. Rather than waste space they threw all the boxes into the sea!



Consumer Research: Is there an algorithm for that?

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 1.58.55 PM

How does a company know what consumers want? In the case of Nexflix, executives simply look at the selection of videos that consumers choose to watch.

Last year, NPR produced a segment on the importance of algorithms as a critical aspect of Netflix’s consumer research. The company uses algorithms to analyze consumer choices, and armed with that consumer research, the company then personalizes an individual’s Netflix queue.

Netflix is banking that this personalized strategy helps maintain high consumer satisfaction.

“Every time a Netflix member streams a title from us, we learn a little bit more about what’s interesting to them,” said John Ciancutti, vice president of engineering at Netflix, in the NPR article.

Netflix is not alone in its use of algorithms.  Facebook also uses algorithms to moderate sponsored posts that appear in an individual’s news feed.

But Netflix has taken it to another level—but using consumer research to create shows of its own. Consider the series $100 million “House of Cards” series featuring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright: Netflix reports the series is the most popular show on its streaming service.

One can argue that Netflix needed to innovate and create House of Cards to stay ahead of the pack, given competition from companies such as Amazon. It seems to be working: Netflix’s strategy has resulted in revenue growth, and the company reports an increase in subscribers for its streaming services. Given this growth, perhaps Netflix’s algorithms will help the company maintain its competitive advantage.

–Team D (Bobby Hangar and Rachanee Srisavasdi)