Online shopping continues to challenge traditional retailers. Less adaptable retailers like Sears lose the battle and go out of business but others, like Best Buy have found ways to adjust and enhance their value proposition to maintain relevance. The same dynamic is affecting drugstores and Walgreens and CVS are experimenting with added services to keep customers coming in. This CNBC article talks about some of those efforts. CVS is running a pilot with SmileDirectClub to fit people for invisible braces in-store. Walgreens is experimenting with opening a dental office inside a few of their stores. Walgreens is also experimenting with shifting their segmentation focus to double-down on seniors.
We love our Super Bowl commercials, especially in marketing programs, but I thought this USA Today article, “Who’s the real winner of Super Bowl LIII? Hint: It’s not the Patriots or the Rams” was a good example of a few different marketing concepts. According to the article, roughly 1.38 billion (yes, billion) chicken wings are expected to be consumed during this year’s Super Bowl – poor chickens! That number appears to be steadily increasing each year. Interestingly, women eat more wings than men on Super Bowl Sunday though men eat more food overall. The article talks about why wings are so popular and it’s a good example of a marketing opportunity to capitalize on a cultural tradition.
Our society continues to become increasingly polarized and we see that polarization spill over into marketing campaigns as well. One recent example is Gillette’s campaign, We Believe. The commercial calls out bullying and harassment, challenging men to rise above the stereotype of toxic masculinity. According to this MarketingDive article, the campaign was met with 1.1 million social media and news mentions within the first 24 hours of the ad’s launch which represented a 215% increase in brand mentions compared to the previous 24 hour period. As you would expect, not all of the mentions were positive but overall consumer impressions were very positive (79.6% of survey respondents saying they liked the ad) and the majority of respondents thought the ad was very memorable.
This can be used in a discussion about different forms of advertising (this seems to fit the institutional advertising definition best), it could be discussed in context of evaluating the social environment, and possibly even an ethical discussion – could campaigns like this be viewed as disingenuous or backfire on the company?
I frequently see students suffer from cognitive bias. They define the world based on their own observations and experiences and it can be a challenge to help them break free of their own bias and look at the market more objectively. Demonstrating this bias is pretty easy – just ask your students how Coca-cola should market a new beverage. Chances are they’re going to answer the question based on what they think will be most effective for them and their peers but they need to think about it from a corporate perspective. What’s the largest and/or most profitable target market? Should they use a segmented strategy or combine multiple demographics together?
This Marketoonist cartoon and the accompanying narrative illustrates this idea. The article says that Baby Boomers control 70% of disposable income in the US and spend ~50% of the consumer product dollars but only 5% of advertising dollars are directed at them. What do your students think about that?
United Airlines revealed the newest addition to their fleet – the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. While it’s not the largest passenger plane (the 747-400 holds 416 passengers versus 318 on the 787-10) it is the largest Dreamliner in Boeing’s product line and United is expanding consumer seating choices with the new plane. Consumers are used to the standard economy, business, and first class cabins. Years ago United added their “Economy Plus” seating which provides slightly more legroom for their frequent fliers or those willing to pay extra. Now United has added a fifth class titled “Premium Plus”. They have also upgraded their business class seats to a new “Polaris” design that includes a large entertainment display and lie-flat seats. As a side note, United is trying to build a sub-brand around Polaris with themed amenities, Polaris airport lounges, and premium service. You can read more about the new plane in this USA Today article.
Offering more seat choices to customers and upgrading amenities on the plane shows how much United is investing in trying to provide a differentiated customer experience in a highly commoditized market. You might consider having a discussion about the target market for this new plane, how United could determine if adding a fifth class of seats is a good or bad idea (remember they take up more space than a standard economy seat), and whether the experience actually affects purchase behavior or if that will be driven entirely on price.