My last post talked about one article and interview from this issue of BusinessWeek. But the whole issue has a number of great marketing articles that deal with consumer behavior and how we may be witnessing a permanent shift. I encourage you to link through to the table of contents for the special section “How We Buy,” (BusinessWeek.com, October 26, 2009)
Retailers are trying many new strategies to deal with the economic downturn. Many are concerned that they are witnessing the beginning of a long-term shift in consumer behavior. This BusinessWeek combo includes an article (“’The Hard Sell,’ How retailers are fighting for the hearts and minds of the new consumer,” BusinessWeek.com, October 15, 2009 ) and video interview (“Retail’s New Normal,” BusinessWeek.com, October 15, 2009, 2:08 — see video below) with the story’s primary author. There are several related articles on specific retailers. The video is an interview with the story’s author primary Jena McGregor.
Consumer reviews are playing an increasingly important role in buying behavior. This means that traditional marketing communication vehicles are likely to be less influential. As a nice supplement to this article (“What Do You Think? Companies are learning to make the most out of customers’ online reviews of their products,” The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2009), pair it with the results of a July 2009 Nielsen survey that asked consumers how much they trust various sources of information. As this survey makes clear, 70% of consumers trust online opinions from people they don’t know. I copied this table (right click on graphic, choose “copy image”) and pasted it into my PowerPoints (right click on the slide and choose “Paste”). Before showing the results, I asked students which sources of information they trusted the most and the least – choosing a set of five from this list. The article and survey can lead into discussions about what marketing managers can do with consumer reviews. For a related story, see “Amazon: Turning Consumer Opinions into Gold,” (BusinessWeek.com, October 15, 2009).
Here’s another technology product that’s moving quickly from the market introduction to the market growth stage of the product life cycle. The first Kindle (Amazon’s popular e-book reader) was released on November 19, 2007. Until I read this article (“Attack of the Kindle Killers: The Boom in New E-Readers,” Time, October 11, 2009), I did not know there were so many competing e-readers – either on the market or due out shortly. The article includes a slide show with nine different readers. Only the Kindle and Sony seem to get significant publicity, but that may change if one of these other readers catches on. Might be fun to show the slide show to class and ask students to develop a marketing strategy for one of the less well-known readers.
This short article notes Safeway’s use of Facebook as a way to distribute coupons (“Safeway Delivers Facebook Users Exclusive Coupons,” Supermarket News, October 9, 2009). Many companies are trying to figure out how to use social media like Facebook. I was surprised to see that nearly 30,000 “fans” on Safeway’s Facebook page (note – now more than 30,000).