Market Research at 30,000 Feet

Posted by Joe Cannon

This article/video combination offers some great examples to show or talk about when you cover market research or new-product development. In “This Cross-Country Flight is the Future of Flying” (Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2014, non-subscribers may need to click here.)  The article and video describe a competition that American Airlines staged to support entrepreneurs with ideas for improving the flying experience. Twenty-two teams submitted ideas in June, with four of those teams selected for a final competition. The competition takes place on a San Francisco-New York cross country trip where the teams pitched their ideas to six “road warrior” elite American Airlines travelers. The fliers voted for their favorite app, which received development support from a San Francisco incubator.

You might consider assigning the article to your students or simply show the video in class. It could be used to stimulate a discussion on other new product ideas for airlines.


Product-Market: Breakfast Food in the U.S.

Posted by Joe Cannon

downloadyellow_shadow2_v3All kinds of big-name companies are battling for our breakfast dollars. This market is one that our students typically understand and provides some insights relative to competition, product-market definition, market research, product line management, and other marketing concepts. Reading a few recent articles will give you a great deal of knowledge about the current state of the breakfast food product-market in the U.S.:

The series of articles offer a pretty in-depth look at the breakfast market (the first article has a lot of great data). Cereal makers are fighting social cultural trends — eat less carbs and more protein. One of the strategies has been to promote cereal for dinner or late evening snack (as described in the second article). And the last article adds competition at a different level by looking at Dunkin’ Donuts and its fast-food rivals.

These articles might help you talk about competition, consumer behavior, and product management. The last article provides a bit more context on Dunkin’ Donuts, the chapter opening case study in our marketing research chapter.


Should we advertise to kids?

Posted by Joe Cannon

Advertising to kids is a controversial topic. I regularly enjoy Slate’s daily podcast called The Gist (click here for a listen — start listening at 2:55 and it finishes up at 11:11). Recently the show’s host Mike Pesca, interviewed professor of pediatrics and researcher James Sargent. Sargent, an opponent of advertising to kids, has done some research to back up his opinion. For instance, Sargent found advertisements for fast food that target kids focuses significantly less on food (more on movies, premiums, or characters), while ads targeting adults emphasize the food. See example of a recent McDonald’s Happy Meal ad below (to read more about McDonald’s latest Happy Meal ads, see this article in the Atlantic).

You might show this ad in class and ask students about whether they believe advertising to kids should be regulated. It might generate an interesting discussion and the podcast might help you give the students something to think about.


“Whole Foods takes over America”

Posted by Joe Cannon

Image: Whole FoodsWhole Foods is a remarkable success story. While you wouldn’t think a company nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” would fare well in a down economy, since 2007 the grocer has seen revenues double and profits triple! This article, “Whole Foods takes over America” (Fortune April 10, 2014) provides a deep dive into the alternative grocery store’s strategy.

The article provides some background and examples to use when you cover segmentation or retailing. You might ask students “Who is Whole Foods target market?” You may have thought you knew (I did) and was surprised by what I learned. Also, ask “How Whole Foods’ strategy compares with that of the larger regional grocery stores in your market (or Trader Joe’s or Walmart)?


Rory Sutherland – “Life lessons from an ad man”

Posted by Joe Cannon

I am not sure how it took me so long to see this TED Talk (it came out at least four years ago). in this talk, Rory Sutherland describes how advertising can add value to goods and services by changing our perceptions.

This would be a great video to show on one of your first days of class — it will help you demonstrate how effective marketing adds value.


Selling Tips from the Guru of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini

Posted by Joe Cannon

I (Joe) recently attended The Thought Leadership for the Sales Profession Conference at Columbia University. It was a great conference and one of the highlights was a presentation by psychology professor Dr. Robert Cialdini who is probably the world’s most renowned expert on persuasion. At the conference, Cialdini was interviewed for an article to appear in Selling Power magazine and this video was recorded. The audio quality is not the best, but the content is excellent. Cialdini offers some great tips.

This 10:27 video would be great to show when you cover personal selling.


Technology Is Changing Our Relationship With Driving

Posted by Joe Cannon

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.18.05 AMSome technological and social cultural trends are beginning to have an impact on how Americans drive. Think about smartphone based services like Uber and Zipcar — which may make car ownership much less necessary. Google’s self-driving car is on the horizon. And people are more and more interested in city living. This Fortune article “The end of driving (as we know it)” (June 12, 2014) highlights these trends.

I like to encourage my students to anticipate trends and think about the future. I will have them read this article and ask a series of questions:

  • What industries could see these trends as threats?
  • What industries might see these trends as an opportunity?
  • What new goods or services might leverage these opportunities?

Encourage your students to move beyond the immediately obvious examples — automobile manufacturers — and encourage them to consider other industries (say hospital emergency rooms that do a lot of business from automobile accidents — which should decline significantly with self-driving cars).  These questions are designed to help them recognize and anticipate change. You might use this when you cover the external market environment, demographics, consumer behavior, or marketing strategy planning.


Can new packaging and a new logo stimulate sales?

Posted by Joe Cannon

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 3.33.21 PMDoes the subconscious influence our purchasing behavior? And if so, can we understand how that works? A U.K. based design firm, Elmwood, believes the answer to both these questions is “yes” — and it has applied its expertise in this area to package design.

Gressingham Foods decided to see if Elmwood’s ideas could boost sagging sales of its duck breasts. Whereas most meat products were using rectangular logos and packaging, Elmwood suggested a curvy new package and logo — theorizing that customers subconsciously feel more comfortable with rounded shapes. Gressingham attributes a startling turnaround in duck sales (from a decline to 47% growth with no additional spending) to the changes. This article in AdWeek How Package Designers Use Science to Influence Your Subconscious Mind” offers more details.

This article might fit well when you cover packaging, product, or market research.


We call it scrambled merchandising

Posted by Joe Cannon

Scrambled MerchBest Buy calls it “floor optimization” and Staples calls it “Beyond Office Supplies” — we call it scrambled merchandising. In our text books we define that as “retailers carrying any product lines that they think they can sell profitably.” This Wall Street Journal  article “Home Depot, the Place to Go for Toilet Paper” (June 5, 2014, non-subscribers may need to click here) describes some of the changes in consumer behavior that are driving growth in scrambled merchandising.

We cover this topic in our retailing chapter. It might provide you with some examples to use. You might share the strategy with your students and then ask them why they think these companies are using the strategy before sharing contents of the article.


Is it a “game changer”?

Posted by Joe Cannon

The advertising industry can sometimes laugh at itself. Here you can join in on the joke…

Maybe you show this in an advertising class — possibly following a crazy example of creativity.