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Black November?

November 25, 2012 Leave a comment

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As we sat down and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family this past week, many of us couldn’t help but anxiously starred at the clock, waiting for that moment when we can hop into our cars and join the chaos in a nearby mall or outlet for those door buster deals that were advertised as early as Monday. Black Friday does not necessary start on the Friday after Thanksgiving anymore. It has been creeping earlier, from dawn to midnight to Thursday evening. Wal-Mart Stores have opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. this year, two hours earlier than last year. This Thursday night has already given the infamous name of Black Friday Eve.

Ironically, “Black Friday” is actually referred to a term of the market crash of September 24, 1869, which was caused by two financiers’ failed attempt to corner the gold market. Today we know Black Friday as the country’s busiest shopping day

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But the topic here is whether consumers already have enough of these long lines, and they would rather just shop in the comfort of their pajamas in their own homes. The constant development of mobile and social media as marketing channels has turned Black Friday into an endless Black November, with marketing messages and deals ranging well beyond the shopper-friendly timeline that usually began the Friday after Thanksgiving and finished on Cyber Monday.

Internet, Mobile and Social Media

As mentioned above, the development of mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones have changed consumer-shopping behavior. It has become one of the biggest methods lengthening the Black Friday period. These tools make it a lot easier for consumers to purchase when they’re on the go. Currently, many brands and retailers still have much work to do to enhance their mobile commerce channels, particularly in the smartphone area.

Major social media networks like Facebook are increasingly cognizant of consumer activity on their mobile platforms. Evidently, FB is the number one app on smartphones. This year, brands are beginning to strengthen their Facebook advertising strategies, incorporating them more fully into company-wide campaigns and ensuring those deals are consistent across all channels.

But is this a right thing to do? Especially since consumers are overwhelmed by brand messaging across all channels during the Black Friday period.

Unique Selling Propositions 

It’s the term that we hear over and over again in this field. Black Friday is not the time for marketers to start worrying about acquiring new customers, The effort around encouraging customer loyalty needed to begin earlier, and it is definitely no later than September or October. Marketing messages around Black Friday are mostly tactical, including listing the type of deals offered, store hours, and locations. The fight is won well way before the holiday season arrives. It becomes tempting to look at the holidays as a standalone entity where there’s no history, but there’s always history. Brands need to come into the holiday season having already done good research, and then offer good deals that are comparable to what their competitors are offering.

Categories: Uncategorized

Death of Twinkies

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

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Hate them or love them, we can’t deny the fact we all have heard the name Twinkies at least once during our childhood. But it is not the only one of Hostess Brands Inc. that came to an end. Other brands under the umbrella of Hostess including Devil Dogs and Ding Dongs also filed for bankruptcy.

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While there many factors to blame, including weak management, and poor judgment by investors. An important reason is because of the union contract hit. Even if that’s the case, we also cannot deny another vital reason why Hostess is pulling the plug. It is the same problem that they have been dragging on for almost 2 decades. The company’s marketing has completely failed to innovate.

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In the 60s and 70s, Hostess products was essential parts of lunchboxes of many school kids across America. Many of us in the baby boomer generation grew up with sandwiches made from Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies, and even Ding Dongs for dessert. But over the past 20 years, most consumers moved away from these products due to changing views on healthy eating. Weighing in at 9 grams of fat and 300 calories per 2-pack, Twinkies obviously barely held on to the grocery list as one of the last items for general consumers.

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It seems like a given but many companies, such as Hostess, still run into the same problem. As times change, brands, businesses and companies must develop with them. Marketers must continue to find new ways to make their brands relevant through innovation. Hostess failed at this, it was an obvious sign since many consumers were walking away from the brand.

Oddly, Hostess’s closing of the company could have been a great marketing move. It has generated millions of dollars in free publicity for the brand and set off a public uproar  from loyal Hostess consumers as they try to buy up and even auction off remaining product.

Whoever is next in the hot seat of this brand, if he/she can put effort into creating some new and meaningful innovations for the brand. It could potentially rise up and become an icon again.

Categories: Uncategorized

Microsoft’s Surface is the iPad killer?

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

A day after debuting the first Windows 8 TV commercial, Microsoft puts out another one, but this one is for Surface. The Microsoft Surface, with real productivity apps, a clever keyboard cover and a well-engineered design stands a real chance of cutting into iPad sales, if Microsoft will throw enough money at the marketing.

Is the Microsoft Surface the next killer tablet? I know that all these “killer this” and “killer that” comparisons can get out of control. Every new challenger is hyped as the killer of what came before. But sometimes, it’s true. The iPad really turned out to be a PC killer. People bought iPads instead of buying new PCs, and that market took a pretty big hit. Apple pulled this off by building something that changed the rules for a PC, and we saw it differently.

But don’t get me wrong, I was a PC user for a very long time until I jumped into the Apple bandwagon recently with the purchase of the 2012 Mac Air. It is a beautifully and sophisticatedly designed machine. While the Mac Air is an incredible update from a dying ASUS, It still cannot beat the mobility and portability of a tablet.

Where the PC was about performance, the iPad was about portability. Where the PC was about mice and keyboards, the iPad opted for touch, and where the PC was generally about productivity, the iPad was about entertainment.

But it forced a hard choice that most of us didn’t really want to make: Tablet or laptop? This was because the iPad was really a netbook that swapped the keyboard and mouse for a touchscreen, and the iPad’s shortcomings made it a very difficult product to live on exclusively. Most iPad buyers had to keep their PCs or buy MacBooks, and that took what was already an expensive solution and increased it.Image

 

PRODUCTIVITY

This tablet comes pre-installed with Microsoft Office, most dominant desktop productivity product in the market that even Apple cannot deny it. But the productivity does not stop there. Unlike Apple, Microsoft isn’t being as restrictive of apps that the platflorm is familiar with For example, the apps can share data, so users can be looking up restaurants on one screen, and then simply click to bring up navigation simultaneously. These aren’t just netbooks with touchscreens instead of keyboards, they are fullly functional PCs. 

MARKETING IS THE KEY

Microsoft traditionally under-funds advertising even though it as one of best advertising team in the industry leader by Kathleen Hall. They do not want to follow the shadow of their previous product Zune. The initial TV ads are captivating, but they will need to enforce more marketing materials across different platforms for this “killer” product to reach its maximum potential. 

Categories: Uncategorized