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.
Tom Fishburn recently ran this Marketoonist comic which hits close to home, particularly during holiday season. We teach students the importance of making market-based decisions and getting direct consumer feedback is an important part of that process. However, companies now inundate consumers with surveys. The volume of surveys increases which leads to surveys being ignored which only leads to reminder messages and more aggressive survey tactics.
Marketing week ran a recent article by Tom Goodwin talking about this issue. In the article, he talks about this dynamic and suggests the issue is rooted in a desire to gather easy to measure KPIs rather than really digging in to understand customer needs. Electronic addiction is making it easier for marketers to gather information on consumers but we don’t always know how to properly interpret that information. Marketing data analytics is an emerging need for companies to learn what information is worth gathering, how to interpret that information, and how to use that knowledge to drive strategy.
Facebook has been plagued by negative publicity for the past couple of years but according to this article from AdAge, they don’t appear to be losing any advertising dollars. From all appearances, Facebook seems immune to issues resulting from high-profile hacks, Russian political interference, privacy issues, negative press, and more. Perhaps Facebook’s plethora of problems stems from their long-time motto: Move Fast, Break Things.
The lack of impact in advertising dollars to Facebook seems to fly in the face of a consumer society (primarily millennials) who value transparency and social responsibility. According to the AdAge article, many industry executives are urging caution and suggesting the tide might turn against Facebook if they can’t get a handle on their business.
I find the situation interesting, especially considering the fact that Facebook is now considered “old person social media” (at least according to my students). Perhaps the millennial desire for social responsibility won’t have an impact if advertisers aren’t focusing on that demographic.
As a side note, the article also talks about efforts made by a firm with ties to the Republican party that have tried to push lawmakers off of Facebook and onto Google and Apple. This can provide a good example for students of how the political/legal environment can potentially influence the business environment.
MediaPost recently published this article reporting that Amazon’s viewership of live-streamed Thursday night NFL games is up 22% to 14.7M viewers so far this season. For reference, this averages to ~2M streamers per game as compared to ~13M TV viewers per game. These streams are differentiated from traditional TV broadcast by offering alternate audio commentary from an all-female duo. Amazon is streaming these games on their Twitch platform which is primarily used for eSports streaming. Amazon has already signed a deal with the NFL for streaming rights for the 2019 season. This should represent a win-win for the NFL and Amazon. For the NFL, this helps them stay relevant in an increasingly mobile viewing world and adding these viewers should help Amazon strengthen their Twitch platform and provides additional opportunity for new advertising revenue.
Sports marketing tends to be inherently popular with students but it might be worth talking about how this illustrates distribution channel strategy. While we often think about the channel in terms of retailers, wholesalers, and warehousing, channel decisions apply just as much to digital services as they do to physical goods.