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?
We have all seen our fair share of unethical or misleading marketing campaigns in the world. In the quest to win customers, companies will often do whatever they can to woo consumers to their value proposition. Unfortunately, that involves blurring the lines of right and wrong far more than it should or needs to. A few companies have decided to take a stand in the opposite direction. Dove made headlines over a decade ago when they decided to use more natural models and CVS Health is following suit with a new set of standards for imagery associated with beauty products. This article talks about the details of that move. The article also has a good illustration of what an untouched photo looks like compared to a digitally altered image looks like. CVS says they want to portray more realistic body imagery and will start appending a “beauty mark” to images that have not been altered. It will also ban any alteration for imagery associated with CVS-brand makeup marketing.
Ask your students if they think this is a good move or a bad move by CVS. Will authenticity help them sell more product or are consumers more likely to buy from competitors if those competitors continue to use altered imagery?
Most industries report a decline in the effectiveness of advertising as a means to tell customers about their product. As we note in chapter 16, customers tend to place more faith in what real people say about goods and services they might buy. Apps, including the online review site Yelp and social media site Instagram, offer customers an easy and fast way to hear about other customers’ experiences.
Restaurants have long benefited from word-of-mouth (telling a friend about that “great meal you had at the new bistro”). Today, some restaurants are looking for ways to be more “Instagrammable.” Read more at this trend in “Instagram is pushing restaurants to be kitschy, colorful, and irresistible to photographers,” The Verge, July 20, 2017.
This article could be discussed at many different points in the semester. It offers an interesting example of customer value (chapters 1, 8 and 17); for some target customers, improving the “shareability” of an experience enhances the experience. For many young people, sharing the experience is part of the experience. It also suggests how consumer behavior (chapter 5) with social media (chapter 16) can impact new product development (chapter 9). After sharing this example in class, students could be asked: why are these businesses doing this? They are likely to immediately get that it fosters word-of-mouth, but may not readily connect with other benefits.
The website brandchannel has launched a series of short case study articles. A team of Yale MBA students evaluate a purpose-driven startup and offer some marketing strategy recommendations. In “Hugo & Hoby – Quality, Sustainably Sourced Furniture,” (April 27, 2016) you learn about a startup furniture maker that needs to move from making sustainably sourced furniture for friends and family to a wider market.
Read this article and review the recommendations made by the team of Yale MBA students. What concepts from chapter 1 do you see demonstrated in this case study? Can you think of any other ideas for improving Hugo & Hoby’s marketing?