When traveling over the holidays my wife and I were surprised (and, frankly, irritated) by the number of animals traveling in the passenger cabin of our plane. This topic has been in the news a fair amount over the past year as people tried to bring squirrels, peacocks, and other animals on board under the guise of emotional support. Popeye’s has launched a seasonal marketing campaign capitalizing on the recent press. Their “Emotional Support Chicken” was available to passengers going through the Philadelphia airport. You can read more about the campaign in this Forbes article.
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?
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.