It’s the start of a new semester and the newest freshman at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA is Pepsi’s new Snackbot. Developed in partnership with Robby Technologies, these self-driving robots will make snacks and beverages available to college students (and presumably staff!). Pepsi envisions this new channel of distribution as a way of capitalizing on changes in student dining as packed schedules push students to quick, on-the-go options. You can read more about this new project in Pepsi’s press release.
When traveling over the holidays my wife and I were surprised (and, frankly, irritated) by the number of animals traveling in the passenger cabin of our plane. This topic has been in the news a fair amount over the past year as people tried to bring squirrels, peacocks, and other animals on board under the guise of emotional support. Popeye’s has launched a seasonal marketing campaign capitalizing on the recent press. Their “Emotional Support Chicken” was available to passengers going through the Philadelphia airport. You can read more about the campaign in this Forbes article.
Welcome back, I hope everyone had a restful and relaxing holiday with friends and family! When I saw this Marketoonist cartoon I thought it was very topical for the start of a new semester. Marketing should be all about informing and enabling consumers but there’s always the risk (and temptation) to push ethical boundaries. As we welcome a new batch of students, talk with them about where those boundaries lie. Is it intrusive if consumers give permission to track information? What if they didn’t opt-in but instead you utilize an opt-out strategy? Are we doing a disservice to customers if we don’t utilize available tools and technology to optimize our messages?
In Chapter 9 of Essentials of Marketing we talk about the new product development process. In the article “Facial gestures can move this AI-motorized wheelchair“, many elements of this process are covered when discussing a new motorized wheelchair that uses a 3D camera and artificial intelligence to recognize facial expressions and control the wheelchair based on those expressions. The new wheelchair is designed by Brazilian-based Hoobox Robotics in partnership with Intel. The article covers the target market for the new chair and also talks about some of the interesting findings discovered during user testing. It also talks about incentives to get customer feedback and an interesting pricing model (they’re planning on using subscription pricing rather than the traditional asset sale model). It’s a good reminder for students that even products that are highly technical require well managed marketing efforts if they want maximize their chance at success.
We generally focus posts on clever, interesting, and/or effective marketing news but this post is all about marketing failures. Marketing Dive recently posted an article titled “Relive the year’s 6 biggest brand fails — they carry important lessons for marketers” that covers failures from Facebook (via Cambridge Analytica), Papa John’s, McDonald’s, Heinekin, Snapchat, and the digital media ecosystem.
The causes of these failures are varied but the impact is significant. For instance, following a redesign of the Snapchat app, influencer Kylie Jenner tweeted that she didn’t use the app anymore. That tweet erased $1.3B of Snapchat’s market value overnight. McDonald’s tried to show support for Women’s Day by flipping their golden arches upside down but it wound up being perceived as a publicity stunt and drew attention to some of McDonald’s own issues related to it’s female employees. The article covers these issues and more as well as talking about some of the lessons to be learned from each case.