Marketing Dive published an article based on an interview they did with Matt Blonder, Reebok’s global head of digital, talking about a major digital facelift and loyalty program revamp he spearheaded over the past year. In the article, Blonder cites numerous issues with the previous strategy and calls their website an embarrassment. One of the issues was the fact that their website essentially hadn’t been touched in years. Another was what he called a “hyper masculine” design. Blonder said the new strategy includes a major overhaul of the site to make it faster than the previous site, include user generated content, and will incorporate a personalized e-commerce experience. They’re also launching a new loyalty program and hope the data from that program can feed into their personalized e-commerce engine. The article talks about how Reebok’s previous decisions had unintentionally excluded women and led to defection to competitors Nike and Lululemon.
Yahoo Finance recently ran the article titled “Jeff Bezos: ‘Market Research Doesn’t Help“. The catchy title makes it look like Bezos doesn’t believe in the value of market research but that’s not actually what he’s saying. Bezos’s claim is that market research isn’t always the best source for innovative product design. When talking about the development of the Amazon Echo family of devices, Bezos said, “If you had gone to a customer in 2013 and said ‘Would you like a black, always-on cylinder in your kitchen about the size of a Pringles can that you can talk to and ask questions, that also turns on your lights and plays music?’ I guarantee you they’d have looked at you strangely and said ‘No, thank you.’”
The article is a short one but it’s point is well taken. Consumers are generally great improvers but terrible innovators. If Apple had asked cell phone users in 2007 what they wanted to see in a new phone design they would have described something very similar to the existing models from RIM, Nokia, and others. Nobody would have suggested a device lets you make calls but also lets you fling brightly colored birds into a pig-infested structure. With that understanding, ask your students why bother with market research if consumers aren’t good at innovating? Maybe it’s product research that’s not valid but other forms of market research have value? Could product research still have value given the issues mentioned? The answer is yes and it depends a great deal on the process. Rather than ask people what they want or need, good product researchers will study how people use existing products, what problems they experience, and what opportunities are yet to be addressed.
In Chapter 8 of Essentials of Marketing we talk about the value branding provides to a company and how they protect those brands with trademarks. The USA Today recently ran the article, “What’s the story behind Apple’s logo, and those of Amazon, Starbucks and other companies?” The article opens with the video embedded here and then goes on to talk about some of the earliest logos used along with some history and backstories on the logos used by many large companies today including Amazon, FedEx, AT&T and more. It covers some hidden secrets students might not be aware of. For instance, did they know that the smile in the Amazon logo connects the “A” and “z” together signifying Amazon’s ability to provide everything from A-Z? Did they know there is a hidden arrow in the FedEx logo symbolizing the company’s logistics speed and accuracy? In 2007 Baskin-Robbins decided they needed to overhaul their logo to become more current but that meant throwing out the “31 flavors” identity they had built over the past 50 years. Their solution – hide the “31” in the “BR” of their new logo. How about the significance of the peacock in the NBC logo or the significance of the number of feathers in that logo? The article is a fun read and will certainly surprise students with the depth of thought and meaning behind some of the iconic logos that we know today.
“How can you help me if you are no one?” – a quote from the exasperated owner of the White Banana Beach Club in the Philippines. The quote was in response to a message from a traveler wanting to stay at his resort for free in exchange for posting Instagram stories. The owner has received over 100 similar messages in less than a year since they opened their establishment. I thought this topic was particularly timely since our last post was focused on an emerging segment of influencers – gamers.
We know that influencers provide a level of independent perspective that can have a material impact on sales. This effect has created a new income stream for product reviewers, celebrities, and other internet personalities but it begs the question, how can you quantify that influence? The New York Times Article, “No, Your Instagram ‘Influence’ Is Not as Good as Cash, Club Owner Says“, is an interesting read on the subject and presents a good topic for a class discussion.
Just in case that wasn’t enough, this Marketoonist cartoon came out almost the same time as the article linked above and hits on the same pain point.
Video games, once considered the domain of young kids and self-proclaimed geeks, are growing at an astounding rate. According to NewZoo’s Global Games Market Report, the industry was expected to reach $138B in 2018. With that growth and the emergence of esports we’re now seeing gamers stepping into the influencer role alongside traditional athletes. One of those gamers, Ninja, has teamed up with energy drink producer Red Bull.
Red Bull wants to boost brand awareness in the gamer segment who frequently rely on energy drinks to power through long gaming sessions. Red Bull’s campaign includes a contest that gives fans a chance to meet Ninja and have a gaming session with the superstar. You can read more about the campaign in this Marketing Dive article. The topic could apply to a discussion about segmentation, brand building, influencers and advertising/sales promotion.