Archive for the ‘Mktg – Positioning’ Category

A pink car that prevents women’s wrinkles … really?

November 14, 2012

Punch line: Honda releases a new car targeted at Japanese women, boasting features that will prevent wrinkles.

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Excerpted from’s, “Honda’s Car For Women Prevents Wrinkles”

Honda released a new model designed especially for women, the Honda Fit ‘She’s.’

Available only in Japan, the make targets the nearly 50% of Japanese women who have decided to stay out of the work force.

The car sports a pink exterior, pink stitching on the interior, and shiny pink chrome covers on the dashboard. They have even put a heart in place of the apostrophe in “She’s” to bring the point home.


The first “designed for women” automobile since 1955′s Dodge  La Femme goes beyond a superficial color treatment.

With a new type of windshield said to block up to 99% of UV rays, women can drive to the grocery store confident that they are not increasing their chances of wrinkles.

With the model’s “Plasmacluster” AC system, women can pick up their children knowing that the specially-treated air is improving their skin quality as they drive.

Whether the claims are substantiated or not, the model will be sure to provoke conversation around the age-old question, “What do women want?” and open more than one can of worms for the Japanese automaker.

Edit by BJP

Amex offers co-branded Wal-mart prepaid card … say, what?

October 17, 2012

Punch line: Wal-Mart and American Express take aim at the traditional credit card model to offer an alternative to lower-income consumers.

The new card will expand AmEx’s customer base while offering Wal-Mart another foray into financial services.

Blubird today, platinum tomorrow … I guess.

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Excerpted from Reuters’, “Wal-Mart, Amex team up on card for lower-income shoppers”


Wal-Mart Stores Inc and American Express Co. have teamed up to provide financial services to customers who often do not have traditional bank accounts by offering a prepaid debit card called Bluebird.

The move will give American Express … a 4,000-store gateway to tens of millions of so-called “underbanked” households and … Walmart will get to extend its mantra of “every day low prices” to yet another sphere and come closer to achieving its years-long goal of offering banking services.

The Bluebird will allow for deposits by smartphone and mobile bill paying, with no minimum balance or monthly, annual or overdraft fees, the companies said on Monday.

“Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currently may be poorly served by traditional banking products,” said Dan Schulman of American Express. “In an era where it is increasingly ‘expensive to be poor,’ we have worked with Wal-Mart to create a financial services product that rights many of the wrongs that plague the market today.”

Edit by JDC

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Maybe sex doesn’t sell … yeah, right.

September 11, 2012

Punch line: Sex no longer sells for traditional teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. 

Faced with new consumers who want unique, affordable fashion, the clothing giant is seeing sales decline and shutting down US stores. 

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Excerpted from Businessweek, “At Abercrombie & Fitch, Sex No Longer Sells


Abercrombie & Fitch’s skin-filled ads and nightclub vibe once delighted American teenagers and infuriated parents.

Today, many aren’t even paying attention.

The once-edgy retailer has lost a third of its market value in the past year as it grapples with falling sales in Europe and the U.S.

While Abercrombie blames the economy for its woes, brand consultants say it also has failed to change with the times.

Today’s teens are underwhelmed by the half-naked models and blaring, dimly lit stores.

They’re also less inclined to wear Abercrombie’s longtime uniform of pricey denim and graphic T-shirts.

Sales at non-U.S. stores open at least a year plunged 26 percent in the second quarter.

Abercrombie shuttered 71 U.S. stores in its most recent fiscal year, and in February said it will close another 180 through 2015.

Today’s teens are “radically different” from other generations … and have a bevy of options thanks to the boom in fast fashion from Forever 21 and H&M. 

Abercrombie is “positioned well to take advantage of this group’s desire to be rebellious and indie and different, because that’s what the brand is about … but right now the product mix doesn’t communicate that or facilitate it.”

Edit by BJP

Chihuahua turning over in grave … Taco Bell heads upscale.

June 7, 2012

First, the bad news … you may have missed it, but Ginger the Taco Bell Chihuahua died a couple of years ago … 2009 to be precise … here’s the obit.

The bug-eyed dog who pitched 2 tacos for 99 cents  must be turning over in her grave.

     click to view Ginger pitching


Well, according to the APTaco Bell, is going upscale.

The chain plans to rollout “gourmet Mexican” menu additions created by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia … venturing onto the turf of Chipotle  and Qdoba which are known for higher-quality ingredients.

It’s a departure from such standards as tacos, burritos and chalupas that Taco Bell’s core young-adult customers crave.

But, the Cantina Bell line could find a niche between Taco Bell’s less-expensive core items and the more-expensive fare at Mexican restaurants such as Chipotle and Qdoba.

The menu additions are bigger than the chain’s regular burritos … and will  take a bigger bite out of the wallet: The Cantina Burrito Bowl and Cantina Burrito, offered with chicken or steak, will sell for nearly $5 apiece.

Taco Bell executives acknowledged that the push for quality will draw some skepticism. … especially following a yearlong sales slump stemming from a  lawsuit that raised questions about its meat filling.

Ken’s Take:

(1) C’mon man, you’re Taco Bell!

(2) Next, they’ll start using real meat.

(3) No quiero, Taco Bell … if it’s going upscale.

I’m taking the under on this repositioning.

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Target the targeter becomes the target … very predictable.

February 27, 2012

This is going to be hard for Target to shake.

The NYT revelations that Target has been mining its data bases to early-identify pregnant women and “change their buying behaviors when they’re vulnerable to marketing initiatives” has gone viral.

Now, Target has become a target …

Here’s a funny piece from the Colbert Report:

click to view

Thanks to RG for feeding the lead

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Toyota targets new hybrid launches at young buyers …

January 20, 2012

Question: How many total hybrid cars or trucks sold in the US are Toyota Priuses?

Answer: Nearly 50%.

Toyota hopes to grow its share of the hybrid market with new product launches, such as the Prius C –  “c” for city, to attract young buyers.

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Excerpted from, “NAIAS Action: Toyota Woos Younger Buyers with Hybrids

Toyota and Honda …  have been gearing up new products they’re hoping will begin attracting Americans back to their brands this year …

Toyota  showed off its new Prius c — the “c” in the name is for city — a small entry in its growing “family” of Prius hybrids, and bowed its NS4 concept plug-in hybrid that should see the market around 2015.

… Toyota is  reaffirming its commitment to the long-term future of a type of propulsion that it pioneered with the Prius hybrid.

Toyota also plans to introduce a “plug-in” Prius, a la the Chevrolet Volt, sometime this year, as well as a Scion iQ EV and a second generation of its Toyota RAV4 EV, an SUV, in small volumes.

“Young buyers on a budget have seen hybrids as out of reach… The next three years … will be a critical period for gauging consumer interest in other advanced technologies.

Cost and convenience will remain the key challenges during this period. [Also], refueling infrastructure remains a distinct challenge”  …

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An apple a day is so yesterday … now, “go bananas” every day !

January 19, 2012

Takeaway: Forget the old adage, “An Apple a Day,” Dole wants you to make it a banana a day. As part of its “Go Bananas” campaign, Dole aims to drive more usage occasions with Americans, while making us all a bit healthier…

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Excerpted from, “Dole Dares Consumers to ‘Go Bananas’ in 2012

… Although nearly 90 percent of U.S. households already buy bananas on a regular basis, Dole wants all Americans to make bananas part of their daily routine in 2012. The year-long initiative aligns with Dole’s long-time goal of bettering the public’s nutritional health through greater consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

As the world’s largest provider of fresh produce and the top banana brand in North America, Dole is building upon the success of its “Go Bananas” campaigns in 2009 and 2010 to take America’s love for bananas to the next level. The “Go Bananas Every Day” initiative from Dole Fresh Fruit offers recipes, promotions and partnerships with 366 ways (2012 is a leap year, after all) to enjoy the ubiquitous fruit this year …

Among the ways consumers can show their banana love throughout 2012:

  • Day 78 (Mar 18): Treat your post – St. Patrick’s Day hangover with a banana, nature’s Vitamin B6-rich hangover cure.
  • Day 238 (Aug. 25): Observe National Banana Split Day. The famous dessert celebrates its 108th birthday in 2012.
  • Day 285 (Oct. 11): Trade in the nicotine gum or patch for a banana to help stop smoking

The initiative will be supported by a 12-month-long multimedia marketing effort encompassing a campaign-specific microsite, traditional and digital advertising, a sticker program, public relations, social media, a blogger and other third-party partnerships. Dole will visit select cities throughout the year to meet with food bloggers, registered dietitians, retailers, the media and other influencers to discuss the health, versatility, affordability and convenience benefits of bananas …

Edit by KJM

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Chasin’ the ladies … ditch the wine, pour the whiskey.

November 10, 2011

Take Away: Jim Beam looks to boost its market share by diversifying its product portfolio with lighter, fruiters drinks aimed at women. Jimmy hopes to drive new in-home occasions with females, tapping into the ‘ladies night-in’ concept.

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Excerpted from, “Jim Beam pulls a gender bender

… After 216 years of catering to guys’ guy, with tattooed singer Kid Rock as a pitchman — Jim Beam whiskey is now chasing women.

Two years ago, 100 percent of our marketing was geared to men,”

Beam  is now touting women-friendly Courvoisier cognac infused with red wine, tart Pucker vodka, and low-calorie Skinnygirl-brand cocktails … trying to reach female consumers with lighter or fruitier quaffs they can consume outside of bars and restaurants.…

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The gender-bending marketing shift happened almost by accident.

In 2009 the distiller introduced a black cherry-infused version of Jim Beam called Red Stag and signed Kid Rock to pitch the product.

As sales took off, Beam discovered that women were buying the sweeter concoction at almost three times the rate at which they typically bought bourbon.

Further research revealed what the company marketing executives came to call the “girlfriend connectionWomen tend to drink with other women or in a very social setting.”

“We wanted to understand the emotional reasons why women drink wine or spirits.”

While women make up almost half of spirits drinkers, they consume just 25%  of the spirits sold — far less than their 58% of wine consumption,

“We started to understand how to move that wine occasion to a spirits occasion”

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Sales of Beam’s Sauza tequila also benefited from the women’s focus.

About 57 percent of the tequila sold in the U.S. is mixed in margaritas,

Two-thirds of those margaritas are consumed by women. Yet tequila marketers always targeted men.

Sauza began marketing itself around the notion of a ladies’ night in,” hosting 1,000 in-home margarita parties and advertising on Food Network (SNI). …  the company teamed up with restaurants to brand so-called “Sauza-Ritas.”

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The bottom line: Beam is rolling out drinks targeted at women to fuel sales in the $19.2 billion spirits business, which grew 2.3 percent last year.

Edit by KJM

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Sticking it where the sun don’t shine …

November 3, 2011

TakeAway: UK children get too little sunshine and, thus, have a vitamin D deficiency.  Kellogg sees  a market opportunity to boost sales by lacing their cereals with sunshine vitamin D

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Excerpt from AdAge: “Kellogg Sticks Vitamin D Where the Sun Don’t Shine”

In the cloud-filled U.K., children are apparently getting less sunshine than ever before as they spend more time inside.

Kellogg  with plans to fortify Rice Krispies, Coco Pops and other cereals in the U.K. with vitamin D, touting the addition of the “sunshine nutrient” as a way to combat rising incidents of rickets.

The company will boost its entire kids cereal line-up with vitamin D by the end of the year. Kellogg already put vitamin D in Corn Flakes, marking it with a brightly colored label on the top of each box, including a message that vitamin D “Helps to Build Strong Bones.”

“Parents who are worried about the risks of sun exposure are failing to encourage their children to spend time outdoors in the sunlight with a third not getting enough sun exposure to give them sufficient vitamin D.”

UK health experts are calling attention to the nation’s rising vitamin D deficiency problem. “Children are also spending more time inside on the computer, with 29% playing outside less than twice a week.”

Edit by ARK

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Unilever: “We can make your arm pits sexy …”

April 7, 2011

TakeAway:  Since practically everybody uses deodorant, marketers need to devise new features or grab sales from rivals. 

Winning over new customers is particularly difficult, however. Some 50% of deodorant buyers reported using the same brand in the last 12 months.

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Excerpted from the WSJ, “Unilever Tackles the Ugly Underarm By Ellen Byron, March 30, 2011

Unilever’s new angle on selling deodorant to women is a product that claims to make underarms not only odor-free but prettier. 

Dove Ultimate Go Sleeveless, which hits U.S. stores this week, claims its formula of specialized moisturizers will give women better-looking underarms in five days.

UGS was inspired by Unilever research that found 93% of women consider their armpits unattractive. 

Magazines and talk shows pour out the tips on how women can improve plenty of body parts, from legs to midriffs to fingernails. But little attention — or advice — has been brought to armpits.

Some 62% of the women surveyed said they suffer underarm skin problems like breakouts, discoloration or itchiness, according to research at Unilever. Nearly half said they have been embarrassed enough by the condition of their underarms that they have changed clothes.

Promoting a problem that consumers don’t necessarily realize they have is a frequently used but risky approach.

“Any marketer has to be careful of appearing to create a problem that doesn’t really exist  … You can suffer a backlash if you do that.”

Edit by AMW

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Pepsi (and everybody else) goes retro …

April 4, 2011

TakeAway: Many brands are finding that the best way to come up with a new product is to make a retro version of the old product.

Pepsi, Heinz, Hostess have all incorporated “throwback, retro” design and products into the line up. 

Studies shown that Millennials relate particularly well to retro items as it gives them a feeling of authenticity.

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Excerpted from MediaPost, “More Retro Action: Heinz, Hostess Follow Pepsi” by Karlene Lukovitz, March 22, 2011

Everything old is new again in the world of marketing — although these days, “old” can sometimes mean the 1990s.

One week after PepsiCo made retro versions of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Doritos a permanent part of the brands’ lineups, Heinz Ketchup is readying a collector’s edition glass bottle with a retro label, and Hostess is featuring ’70s brand characters and bringing back Twinkies’ original banana filling recipe.

These developments come a week after PepsiCo announced that it is making sugar-formulated (no high-fructose corn syrup), retro-packaged Throwback versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew … permanent, year-round parts of the brands’ portfolios.

The retro phenomenon — also being seen in a wide variety of nonfoods categories (think Nike’s Playoff Air Jordan 13 Retro athletic shoe and Disney’s revival of the “Tron” franchise) — is being driven primarily by marketers’ realization of the power of “authenticity” among Millennials, in particular.

Retro is very cool with 20-somethings, because it ties in with their desire for simpler, cleaner, more authentic lives. … they see nostalgia as a way to differentiate themselves.”

“Millennials thrive on interconnectedness, but highly value authenticity, particularly ‘real’ ingredients as opposed to ‘chemical stews.’

At the same time, boomers feel a rose-colored yearning for the days when life was less complex.”

Edit by HH

Marketers Return to “Good Ole Days” Strategy

March 18, 2011

TakeAway: With the economy still a long way from recovering, marketers are turning to an old strategy to reconnect with consumers.

Recent ads from automobile and even bourbon companies aim to reach the average Joe via the theme of shared values 

Advertising that makes an emotional appeal to consumers is by no means a new trick to advertisers or their agency partners, but it’s easier said than done. 

One of the classic, textbook examples of marketers who excel at this is Coca-Cola, which isn’t selling bottles of Coke, per se, but “8- and 12-oz. bottles of happiness.” 

In tough times, the strategy may be even more critical as cash-strapped consumers are more likely to spend money on brands that closely align with their personal values.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Marketers Embrace ‘Values’ Pitch in Tough Times” By Elaine Wong, February 17, 2011

The two-minute Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” commercial is full of values-laden phrases. There are the obvious descriptors like “hard work” and “conviction” as well as adages that inspire awe and determination, such as: “It’s the hottest fires that make the hardest steel.” Or, thought-provoking questions like, “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know about the finer things in life?” All statements that are meant to encourage consumers to take a second look at Chrysler by prompting them to reconsider their values.

Another one of Detroit’s Big Three, General Motors, which also advertised in the Super Bowl, has been running a campaign for the last four months to promote its new lineup of Chevrolet vehicles, including its Volt electric and Cruze compact cars. A 60-second “anthem” or anchor television spot takes viewers through Chevrolet’s historical past, as well as a brief look into its future. “One hundred years ago, Chevrolet sprang bolt by bolt, car by car, out of the very best America had to offer: ingenuity, integrity, optimism,” the voiceover says.  There is also a subtle plug at Chevy’s “deep” history: “This isn’t just any car company. This is Chevrolet. And the strength of our nation can be found in every car and truck we make. That’s why today, tomorrow and on into a bright future, we can proudly say, ‘Chevy runs deep.’”  The strategy is a bit different from the past, when Chevrolet marketed its vehicles via a “hard sell” kind of approach–i.e., “We’re an American brand, you’re an American consumer, therefore, you should buy our products.”

The shift stemmed from this insight: “While consumers want us to succeed, they don’t want to spend their hard earned money on us just because we’re made in the U.S. and are a U.S. company.” A better approach was to focus on the emotional reasons behind why Americans buy Chevrolets.

Edit by AMW

Battle of the titans: Miracle Whip calls out mayo…

March 10, 2011

TakeAway: Kraft kicked off a new, potentially risky campaign for its sandwich spread brand that embraces both Miracle Whip “lovers” and “haters.” 

The campaign comes at an interesting time for Miracle Whip.

Consumers are still packing lunches after last year’s recession, and sales of sandwich spreads and other “brown bag” ingredients are still holding up in a relatively weak economy.

At the same time, mayo and sandwich dressings have also gotten competition from healthier alternatives such as avocados and hummus, which can also be used as substitutes.

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Excerpted from Forbes, “Kraft Shows “Polarizing” Side of Miracle Whip In New Campaign” By Elaine Wong, February 22, 2011

Miracle Whip, which comes in varieties like Light and Free, is targeted towards low-fat consumers and doesn’t think of itself as a mayonnaise. New ads ask bluntly, “We’re not for everyone. Are you Miracle Whip?”  And the lineup of celebrity spokespeople is just as polarizing.

Miracle Whip’s latest campaign is indeed provocative (after all, reaching out to the “haters” of a brand does carry risks), but Kraft sees it as a logical progression from two previous efforts the brand previously ran. One was a campaign that spun mayo, er, sandwich spread advertising on its head with spots that showed punk/rock consumers championing the brand. That effort, which carried the slogan, “We are Miracle Whip and we will not tone it down,” was meant to get younger consumers to take a second look at the brand.

The insight stemmed from the observation that “Miracle Whip has a unique flavor that tends to inspire a polarizing reaction in consumers. So, rather than deny this truth, we’re embracing it and owning up to the fact that we’re not for everyone,” said Miracle Whip’s senior brand manager.

In some households, the debate even went as far as the point where parents had to decide whether to raise the kids as Miracle Whip or mayo consumers, a phenomenon Kraft referred to as the “dual condiment household.”


Brand lovers may certainly help reinforce Miracle Whip’s positive attributes, but “negative” comments affirming the brand’s “poor” side can also easily get out of hand

Edit by AMW

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Don’t Discount the Men!

February 23, 2011

TakeAway: It seems like no matter where you turn today, there’s a fascination with the idea that women are taking over – their receding unemployment rates, increased number of college degrees, etc.

However, the true growth—even in categories that courted female shoppers for years—lies with the guys.

So, while the buying power might be moving toward women in purely fiscal terms, marketers should not lose sight of the fact that it’s increasingly men who are writing up the shopping lists, hitting the stores and doing the actual spending.

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Excerpted from Brandweek, “Women Are Wealthy, but Guys Mean Growth” By Kathy Oneto, December 5, 2010

The “everyday Joe” has been taught that it’s OK to look good, smell nice and dress well. The motivations (while varied) for this new man’s grooming activities are less about vanity than instilling confidence and creating a feeling of success. Then there’s the growth of the full-time dad. Since 2007, 6.3 million American men have lost their jobs, which has among other things served to redefine their household roles.

What’s significant about this from a marketing perspective is that as fathers assume traditional “mom” jobs such as packing lunches and doing laundry, their interest in the brands associated with these activities—from convenience foods to fabric softener—has increased proportionally.

Some brands have been prescient enough to capitalize on this gender-role drift already. Nutrisystem, for example, has defied industry norms in the weight-loss market by directing its messaging toward men. The move not only gave the brand a new base of consumers, but it also furnished Nutrisystem with an alternative to slugging it out with competing weight-loss plans for share of the same female demo.

Similarly—and after years of soft-focus commercials full of soft-skinned women—the Dove soap brand made a play for the masculine market with a new suite of products called Dove Men + Care, which emphasizes deep-cleaning over softness and signed spokesmen like the Yankee’s Joe Girardi to make clear that Dove was no longer your wife’s beauty bar.

A broadened strategic attention is necessary for any company or any brand that hopes to stay competitive and relevant in a marketplace as lean and mutable as this one is. As one target demo (women, in this case) has moved to the economic forefront, the other (men) may have been inversely impacted. But opportunity often arises from disruption. The sooner that the marketing community catches on to men as a market for goods that previously weren’t aimed at them, the sooner they’ll reap the rewards.

Edit by AMW

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Looking for whole grains? Well, follow the signs.

February 14, 2011

TakeAway: To help consumers sort through myriad of cereal options, General Mills is using social media as part of a new campaign to promote its cereals’ whole grain content.

The company expects this presence to  give consumers a shortcut or identifier to direct them to whole grain cereals.

The company will include special banners at the ends of aisles, more displays, including on pallets and in Spanish, colorful balloons and information at the checkout, as well as pointing out the check marks for whole grain content from the Whole Grains Council, an industry group that encourages eating whole grains.

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Excerpted from NYTimes, “And Down This Aisle, Many Whole Grain Options” By Elizabeth Olson, February 2, 2011

General Mills began adding whole grains to its cereal in 2005, after federal dietary guidelines recommended daily food intake include whole grains. Its products, which include Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fiber One and Total, each contain at least eight grams of whole grains per serving.

General Mills competes with Kellogg in the $6.5 billion cereal industry. It has slightly less than the one-third of Kellogg’s market share.

General Mills is moving to close the gap by spending 20 percent more on its whole grains advertising in 2011. The company spent nearly $245 million on all cereal marketing in the first nine months of last year.

The company advertises the whole grain content of its Big G cereal lineup, including Cheerios and Wheaties, separately from its advertising for individual cereal varieties.

For years, cereal makers have been battling with bread and pasta makers over which product has the higher whole grain content.

To help the baffled consumer, the General Mills campaign was reaching out to bloggers, including the MyBlogSpark network of people who review new products and other “influencers” — people who set a buying example for others. Consumers can sign up with the company’s Web site,, to receive and review products and host get-togethers to try new items with friends.

The whole-grains campaign is planning to give away one million servings of its whole grain cereals to needy families to spur consumption, although the company has not yet announced specifics of the giveaway. The campaign also created a series of pro-whole grain videos with a company nutritionist and Dr. Travis Stork, a host of “The Doctors” daytime talk show.

Edit by AMW

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Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cereal: it’s not just for breakfast any more … say, what ?

February 9, 2011

TakeAway: Adult cereal is rarely advertised primarily on the basis of taste (e.g. Special K as a dieting aid, Wheaties as “fuel” for athletic performance, etc.).  However, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut is going “radical” and claiming great taste, on which most children’s brands do focus.   

Trivia point Kellogg’s may need to message around: its sugar content (maybe part of its “great taste”) is on par with Frosted Flakes – yikes!

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Did We Mention That It Tastes Good?” By Andrew Adam Newman, January 26, 2011

With nearly all American households already buying cereal, there are few people to initiate, so cereal marketers often focus on increasing so called “usage occasions,” like incorporating cereal into an every-meal diet plan, as Kellogg does with Special K, or featuring non-breakfast recipes on boxes, like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes-coated chicken, Chex Mix and Rice Krispies treats.  A  Leo Burnett creative director said that the campaign aimed to reinforce that Crunchy Nut “really is a breakfast cereal,” but “baked into our tagline and concept that ‘It’s morning somewhere,’ is that we’d like to extend usage occasions.’”

A publicity stunt to encourage eating Crunchy Nut round-the-clock is being organized, fittingly, around a clock. In Los Angeles on Saturday, the brand hopes to break the Guinness world record for the largest cuckoo clock, with a timepiece that is 66 feet tall and 28 feet wide.

At the top of the hour for 24 consecutive hours, emerging from the innards of the clock will be not a mechanical bird but an actor, Brad Norman, who will perform as characters from countries where it is morning. Videos from the performances will be uploaded to the Crunchy Nut Facebook page and to YouTube.

Additionally, scanning a quick response code printed on the back of Crunchy Nut boxes with smartphones, which can recognize users’ location and local time, prompts a video of an exotic locale where it is morning.

In a survey by Mintel of American adults who eat cereal, respondents rated the importance of cereal attributes, and taste ranked highest, followed by price, wholegrain content, familiarity of flavor, fiber content and sugar content.

Edit by AMW

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Appeasing the ‘greenwashing’ cowboys …

February 7, 2011

TakeAway: Today’s consumer speaks out against those companies they feel are falsely marketing themselves as ‘green’  … some companies have stopped trying, so that they don’t get called out.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “Don’t let Greenwashing fears hold you back. Transparency is key as companies move towards sustainability” by Ian Yolles, January 20, 2011

Accusations of greenwashing are rampant right now, and many are well-founded. … consumers are more likely to purchase products from a brand perceived to be more “sustainable”; that is, if faced with a choice (and price being relatively equal), they would select the “greener” product. To capitalize on this trend, some companies have cobbled together feeble marketing programs that have gotten them called out for greenwashing.

Yet today’s consumer speaks out against those companies they feel are falsely marketing themselves… Social media give anyone the ability to immediately amplify and propagate their dissatisfaction, and serves as a forceful greenwashing deterrent.

On one hand, policing by industry and consumer forces is positive, weeding out those that are talking the talk but not walking the walk. …but is the fear of being labeled a greenwasher is preventing brands that are earnestly looking to do something positive from doing so for fear of a massive backlash? …hindering us from making real progress in moving toward a more sustainable future?

When it comes to the notion of a purpose-driven brand and being green, …there’s no such thing as a truly green or truly sustainable product or company. It’s about a journey, a continuum. …everyone is somewhere along the continuum of becoming more sustainable. The key is to be transparent about where you are.

… those that have green DNA intrinsically embedded in their businesses. the foundation, core of their company, service or product. Others integrating sustainability attributes into their products and brands in a way that is meaningful and makes a difference. Moving along this continuum …can be costly and time-consuming and sometimes is even fundamentally impossible. The shift often happens in small steps, especially regarding large brands, and each step needs to be taken one at a time.

So amid this climate of skepticism, how can companies move along this spectrum? Two ingredients can authentically translate corporate responsibility into a positive impact and help avoid accusations of greenwashing and a subsequent social backlash:

  1. Take action: The process of change should reflect an “inside-out process.” By that I mean start with your own house and take steps that move your business practices toward more sustainable solutions. …it gives you permission to engage in a dialogue with your consumers. …the internal transformation inspires a shift in consumer behavior, moving individuals along the green spectrum as well. It’s the “give a man a fish” strategy, and it can be accomplished through education or motivating action.
  2. Make that action measurable and trackable: If you attach goals to your efforts, both internal and external, and are able to measure and track those goals, your efforts become more credible; the impact, more tangible. …showing consumers the impact that their individual actions have in the context of the collective action of others.

To appease the greenwashing cowboys and weary consumers—and to authentically align your brand with a larger social or environmental purpose—you should focus first on measurable internal actions and use those as a basis to engage your consumer audience in a dialogue that inspires them to act in accord with your brand.

Edit by HH

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May I speak with the man of the house?

January 28, 2011

TakeAway: In line with its history of unusual marketing, P&G wants its new website to take advantage of an untapped marketing opportunity with the family man.  Its top rival Unilever took a raunchier approach in its Axe campaign, while P&G’s site focuses on what’s happening outside of the bedroom.

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Excerpted from NYTimes, “As the Web Turns” By Andrew Martin, January 12, 2011

The P&G site offers tips on grilling burgers, cleaning toilets and disciplining children. It promises, “We’ll make men out of you yet,” while also promoting Gillette razors, Head & Shoulders shampoo and other company products.

“What we are trying to do is speak to the whole man,” said Jeannie Tharrington, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble Productions. “Certainly, relationships and sex are part of an adult man’s life.”

More and more big companies have discovered the how-to genre as a marketing tool.  In the years since was created, Procter & Gamble has started several other lifestyle Web sites, including one that is directed at women, David Germano, the general manager of, said consumer data showed that 10 percent of the visitors to the women’s site were men. has brought on several writers who had established father-focused blogs.  So are men drawn to a PG-rated Web site when so much R- and X-rated competition is out there? Procter & Gamble says that so far it is pleased with the number of visitors. The site was started in June, and by December it had topped a half a million monthly unique visitors.  By comparison,, a site with similar, if more titillating content, had 5.5 million unique visitors in December, according to comScore, the market research firm.

Jonah Disend, chief executive of the brand strategy firm Redscout, questioned whether would generate a big following. He said men tended to be more interested in specialized publications about a specific hobby or sport.

“Just because no one’s doing it doesn’t mean there’s a real market for it,” he said.

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again … unless it’s not working, that is.

January 27, 2011

TakeAway: If what you’ve done in the past isn’t working, understanding why and communicating changes to consumers is imperative. 

But if what you are offering is not what the consumers want, no amount of restaging will solve the problem. 

It’s also important to understand where in the PLC your product is and what are the feasible alternatives for stretching maturity out as long as possible.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “Pantene set to try again to reverse slide,” by Jack Neff, January 17, 2011

After a second restage in three years failed to take hold with consumers last year, the Procter & Gamble Co. brand is preparing another course correction later this month for what remains the leading brand in U.S. and global hair care.

P&G believes it’s identified and will soon fix problems with the latest restage. … problems included consumers being more loyal to discontinued products (particularly two-in-one shampoo-conditioners) than the brand, and restrictive policies at Walmart that kept the brand from communicating changes to consumers

But some say the problem goes deeper to the basic premise behind the restage. Traditionally hair-care products touted what they do for your hair — be it volumize, smooth or add shine. Pantene took a different approach — organizing into ranges based on hair types, not solutions.

One hopeful sign is that the midcourse correction following Pantene’s last restage, which included more readable packaging and more focus on value positioning vs. salon brands, ended a similar skid.

Even so, the restages and tweaks have engendered skepticism among analysts. Pantene may be facing consequences of line extensions that aimed to blunt advances by competitors leaving Pantene with a complex product lineup and growing distance from its “healthy, beautiful hair that shines” equity.

To be sure, the U.S. hair-care business has been brutal for big players and design firms beyond P&G — though the mass business did begin growing again last year after two years of decline. Unilever last year discontinued Sunsilk in the U.S. four years after its launch and little more than two years after a 2008 Super Bowl ad for the brand created by design firm Desgrippes Gobe (now BrandImage) and positioning specialist BrandThinkTank. L’Oréal Vive, launched in the 1990s, is hanging on in drug and grocery stores, but is off shelves at Walmart and Target.

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Kraft Tells Kids and Adults Like to “Say Cheese!”

December 9, 2010

TakeAway: Kraft continues to build on the momentum of its Macaroni & Cheese , which is enjoying a sales boom as a result of consumers’ focus on economical comfort foods. 

The latest news is the rollout of a new logo and contemporized package designs featuring a “noodle smile” intended to elicit positive emotions and memories associated with the iconic, 73-year-old brand.

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Excerpted from Marketing Daily, “Kraft Mac & Cheese Gets New, Unified Look” By Karlene Lukovitz, Dec 6, 2010

The smile is the key element in a new, cross-portfolio visual identity. The new look began to appear on Kraft’s new Homestyle mac and cheese line and smaller-volume products within the brand’s portfolio over the summer, but is just starting to be seen on the flagship Blue Box line. The new package design will be fully rolled out by first-quarter 2011.

Both the noodle smile and its use as a unifying element in the logo now being used across the brand portfolio reflect consumer research. “Smiles, joy and happiness” were consumers’ key associations for the brand, and they also made it clear that in their minds, the three product lines then within the portfolio – Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, Deluxe and the microwaveable products originally named Easy Mac Cups – as a single mac and cheese brand.

“We had been treating them separately, but we recognized through consumers that there was a huge opportunity to accelerate the long-term, sustainable growth of this key Kraft brand by treating it as an iconic mega-brand,” said Kraft’s North America senior marketing director of meals.

In addition to the logo, this unified approach spurred a name change for the microwaveable cups, to Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner Cups. Those products, launched in 2006, are now generating over $100 million in sales, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The consumer branding research also ultimately helped inform the current “You know you love it” integrated campaign that was launched in May and focuses on tapping the sales potential for adult consumption of the brand’s products.  The Homestyle line launched this past spring, which includes breadcrumbs and is more akin to the “home-made”-like mac and cheese versions served in restaurants, also emerged from this broadened strategy.

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Manly Men Drink Coke Zero and Pepsi Max

November 18, 2010

TakeAway: Coke and Pepsi’s rivalry is the stuff of legend in the ad business.

Coke Zero and Pepsi Max are chasing a burgeoning market of men who don’t want “diet” soda. 

Coke Zero launched five years ago and commands a healthy lead in sales. Pepsi, however, launched a new positioning over the summer. 

Below is a comparison of how each managed its media programs.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “Coke Zero vs. Pepsi Max: Which Media Plan Had More Fizz?” By Antony Young, November 3, 2010

1.  Creative executions

Coke Zero’s ‘Four S’ Strategy: Coke Zero centered its brand media strategy on four key pillars: sports, social media, schools and Spanish language media. To build brand discussion, Coke Zero also implemented several clever social media and college programs. Lastly, Coke Zero shifted just under a fifth of its budget into Hispanic media in 2010.

Pepsi Max: Zero Calories, Maximum Taste: Pepsi Max went with a more multimedia plan across television, print and online display to launch its new positioning, “Zero Calories, Maximum Taste.” The new creative dropped diet from its messaging and went after Coke Zero with a comparative ad.

2.  Paid media strategy

Coke Zero’s paid media plan this year so far has been essentially 99% broadcast. It also focused almost solely on sports programming.  It also made a very significant shift in targeting among the Hispanic market by placing 18% of its total budget on Univision. Last year it did not buy any Spanish Language television

Pepsi Max employed a broader range of media. It put 72% of its media plan into broadcast television, contrasting Coke Zero’s 51% in broadcast, 28% in cable and 21% in spot. Pepsi Max’s sports buy included auto racing, but its purchase spanned a wider variety of programming to deliver higher reach. Its top two programming genres were reality and comedy.  In print, Pepsi Max ran a series of advertorials in Maxim.

3.  Owned media strategy

Both brands’ owned media strategy smartly leveraged content on Facebook.

4.  Earned media strategy

Coke Zero posted a clever video and developed an excellent college advocate program dubbed Coke Zero Agent. Essentially a recruitment program at major colleges around the country, students pitched to be a Coke Zero Agent, a role that involved promoting the brand in their colleges through marketing and social programs on campus.

The Super Bowl is still some three months away, but Pepsi Max kicked off early buzz for its planned promotion with Doritos. It launched the promotion at an event in Los Angeles with Betty White, the breakout star of the 2010 Super Bowl commercials with her spot for Snickers.


While Coke Zero had the benefit of a bigger budget, it made clear choices about where it wanted to play in what looked like a more deliberate and distinct strategy. It made a clear decision with its television plan to single-mindedly chase the young male audience through sports programming events. Its substantial investment in Hispanic media gave the brand one edge over Pepsi Max. It also intelligently employed branded content online.

Pepsi Max‘s plan had a more traditional media flavor to it, delivering strong audiences for the advertising and smartly leveraged Doritos’ early buzz for the forthcoming Super Bowl.

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Under Armour tries to play in Nike’s sandbox

November 16, 2010

TakeAway: Just a small piece of the $2.5 billion U.S. market for basketball sneakers would meaningfully add to Under Armour’s $856 million annual sales.

Never mind that Nike owns 95% of that market and spends $2.4 billion annually on marketing to defend it.  CEO Kevin Plank has set his sights on being the number one basketball shoe manufacturer.

That’s a quite lofty goal for a company that has already failed in other types of athletic shoes.

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Excerpted from Bloomberg Businessweek, “A Half-Court Shot for Under Armour,” by Matt Townsend, October 28, 2010

… Under Armour  launched a basketball shoe line, called Micro G, to take on the longtime ruler of the court, Nike. …

In the $2.5 billion U.S. market for basketball sneakers, Plank confronts more than just Nike’s 95 percent share and the billions it spends on marketing. Sales of basketball shoes in the U.S. have slid for the past three years as fewer people play the sport …. And Under Armour’s earlier disappointments in cross-training and running shoes suggest its hoop dreams may be tough to realize.

If Plank harbors doubts about taking on Nike in its stronghold, he isn’t showing it. “Our goal for getting into basketball is to be No. 1,” he says. …

Despite the trash talk and Baltimore-based Under Armour’s fast growth (sales at its core apparel business have tripled in the past five years), Plank has had difficulty climbing the learning curve in sports footwear. In 2008, Under Armour spent big on a Super Bowl ad for a line of cross-training shoes—months before the shoes actually reached stores. Many shoppers had forgotten the ad by the time of the shoes’ debut. Meanwhile, tepid sales of the line of running shoes it introduced in 2009 have led the company to allow retailers to discount them or simply send them back to clean out inventories. …

As Plank prepared for the Micro G launch, he told employees to start thinking of Under Armour as a footwear brand, not just an apparel maker. “I called our marketing team and said, ‘Go through this building and find anything that says we are only an apparel brand and throw it away,'” Plank says. …

Plank expanded Under Armour by identifying profitable market niches, such as its namesake undergarments that pull moisture away from athletes’ skin …. Getting into basketball shoes, however, is “a whole other level,”…

One reason: Nike spent $2.4 billion on marketing in its last fiscal year, or almost three times Under Armour’s annual sales and 20 times its marketing outlays. Perhaps that’s why the Beaverton (Ore.) sports giant isn’t exactly running scared. “While our main focus is on fulfilling our own potential, which is unlimited, we thrive on competition of any kind,” says Nike spokesman Derek Kent when asked about Under Armour’s foray into basketball. “We expect to further expand our leadership position.”

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Kraft Wants Philly to Flex from Bagels to…Chicken

November 11, 2010

TakeAway: Kraft Foods is repositioning Philadelphia Cream Cheese as a versatile cooking ingredient, spending big to introduce a new product, Philadelphia Cooking Creme. 

The reduced-fat, creamy and spoonable version of the iconic brand will hit stores early next year and be accompanied by one of the largest ad campaigns in company history.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “Kraft Puts Big Bucks Behind Philadelphia Cooking Creme Launch” By EJ Schultz, October 26, 2010

The ad budget for this will consume half of all spending in the cheese and dairy division, which also includes Velveeta and Kraft Singles. Those two brands alone accounted for more than $38 million in measured media spending in 2009.

The refrigerated creme will come in four flavors: original, Italian herb, savory garlic and Santa Fe. The campaign will promote the product as a sauce for chicken, vegetables or just about anything else you can put in a pan. Commercials will focus on solving the “dinner dilemma.”

Philadelphia brand cream cheese was first distributed in 1880 by a New York businessman and acquired by Kraft in 1928. The brand was marketed as a versatile cheese in the early years, but Kraft began positioning it as more of a bagel spread in the 1980s. Sales later flattened, as consumers began favoring low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins Diet.

The push to return the cheese to its versatile roots gained steam this year with an online campaign called “Real Women of Philadelphia.” Consumers submitted cream cheese recipes and celebrity chef Paula Deen hosted a cook-off. Kraft hopes to build anticipation for the creme by first sending it to 2,000 consumers who sign up on the Real Women website. Users can submit pitches for an online commercial.

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Give It to Me Straight…about Toilet Paper

November 10, 2010

TakeAway: Quilted Northern’s self-identification as “bath tissue” demonstrates the toilet paper segment’s fondness for euphemism, but a new campaign for Soft & Strong aims for straight talk.

It’s a change in messaging for a brand that ran ads for most of this past decade showing cartoon “Quilters” talking about its products. 

However, some people still don’t think it’s candid enough.  Exactly how candid do they want to get!?

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Excerpted from Brandweek, “Quilted Northern Ads Try New Approach: Candor” By Elaine Wong, October 3, 2010

Ads for Quilted Northern Soft & Strong show women against a white backdrop speaking their mind. “It’s time to get real about what happens in the bathroom,” says one woman. “Stop all the cutesy stuff,” another adds. A third woman states, “Feeling clean is so important.”

Campaigns for brands in this space often tout that a particular product is “soft” or “strong,” but those happen to be the basic “prices of entry” into the category, said Quilted Northern’s senior marketing director.  He claims that people buy toilet paper to get clean.

In the last year, ads from consumer product companies like Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark have opted for straight talk relating to topics like feminine hygiene and adult incontinence.

Nevertheless, rivals in the category are also moving toward a more frank approach. Ads featuring a family of bears for Charmin show what happens when toilet paper “leaves pieces behind.” Kimberly-Clark is encouraging consumers to spread the word about the “freshness” one can achieve by using its Cottonelle Fresh Flushable Moist Wipes.

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Naked Juice makes a splash

October 27, 2010

TakeAway: Sales of super premium juices have held up relatively well in a downturn, despite the products’ high price points.

PepsiCo launched the first national ad campaign for Naked Juice, its premium bottled juice brand.

Acai-based juices are competing on authenticity about their products, while up-and-coming brands deride mass market brands.

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Excerpted from Brandweek, “Naked Juice Ads Tell ‘Naked Truth’” By Elaine Wong,October 1, 2010

The campaign kicked off on digital properties and Naked Juice’s Facebook page. It highlights the brand’s promise—”no added sugar or preservatives”—and invites consumers to submit their own “naked truth.” Digital banner ads show live conversations consumers are having about the brand.

Print ads, which break in magazines such as Fitness and Shape, target consumers ages 25 to 35, who are “health-conscious, active and balanced in their food choices,” said Naked Juice’s marketing director.

Naked Juice was one of two pioneers (its rival is Odwalla) in the super premium juice category. But over time, the category’s original positioning and heritage became diluted, mainly, competitors coming into the marketplace are now introducing products with added sugar and extra water.

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Goya looks beyond Latinos …

October 22, 2010

TakeAway: For decades, Goya has been at home in Latino households. 

Now, it’s going after a broader, general market with a new advertising campaign, and for the first time in its 75-year history, Goya is using mobile technology in its efforts.

Goya Foods’ biggest general market effort runs counter to those of many other food companies, which are focusing their efforts on the growing Latino population in the United States.

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Excerpted from NYTimes, “Goya Aims to Expand the Neighborhood” By Tanzina Vega,September 23, 2010

 After conducting focus groups in New York and Houston in June, Goya learned that non-Latinos were looking to “spice up” their everyday meals.

 So, Goya is talking to general market consumers.

Rather than teaching the general population “to cook Latino,” the campaign encourages general market consumers to include Goya products in their everyday cooking (e.g. casseroles, salads and meatloaf) and not just for the occasional taco night.

As part of the effort, Goya worked with the Food Network’s Web site,, and bought a one-day home page banner ad that resulted in more than 700,000 views.

The campaign will not appear on social-networking sites like Twitter and Facebook because Goya’s ad agency hasn’t seen ROI on them.

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Buy me, I’m the underdog …

October 15, 2010

TakeAway: Americans love to root for the underdog.

New research shows that this tendency is applicable to marketing.

In a difficult economic environment, marketers have been leveraging underdog brand perceptions where feasible to gain consumer favorability.

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Excerpted from HBS Working Knowledge, “The Consumer Appeal of Underdog Branding,” by Martha Lagace, September 13, 2010

Picture the Jamaican bobsled team going for the gold at the Winter Olympics.

Or competitors in what seem fundamentally unbalanced battles: the Chicago Cubs versus the New York Yankees, Apple versus Microsoft, and Southwest Airlines versus United.

In the public eye, the weaker party is often more attractive. Why?

The reason might be an increasing willingness on the part of consumers to identify with the underdog. In today’s economically difficult times, it appears, underdog brands are gaining psychological, and real, power in the marketplace. …

“Today, underdog brand biographies are being used by both large and small companies and across categories …. Even large corporations, such as Apple and Google, are careful to retain their underdog roots in their brand biographies.” …

“Through a series of experiments, we show that underdog brand biographies are effective in the marketplace because consumers identify with the disadvantaged position of the underdog and share their passion and determination to succeed when the odds are against them.”

Marketers can use underdog narratives to positively affect consumers’ perceptions of and purchase of brands …

The common themes that link … underdog biographies are

  1. a disadvantaged position in the marketplace versus a “top dog,” a well-endowed competitor with superior resources or market dominance, and
  2. tremendous passion and determination to succeed despite the odds.  

Brand managers need to consider the credibility of the underdog narrative for the firm.

Many brands emphasize their underdog roots, but if they are later acquired by large corporations, it diminishes the credibility of their underdog brand biographies.

Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Snapple have been criticized by consumers once they were acquired by large corporations. …

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Sierra Mist Goes Au Naturel

October 13, 2010

TakeAway: PepsiCo has renamed and repackaged its lemon-lime soda to Sierra Mist Natural and introduced a new campaign to reflect the beverage’s more natural ingredients.

The new tagline: “The soda nature would drink if nature drank soda.”  Perhaps, a bit of a stretch …

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Excerpted from Brandweek, “PepsiCo Pitches Sierra Mist Natural” By Elaine Wong,September 21, 2010

According to PepsiCo, the reformulated soda contains no preservatives or artificial flavors and is now made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

 The commercials communicate Sierra Mist Natural’s new positioning by showing a variety of “nature experts” – rocks, trees and a rainbow – craving for the product.

 Major beverage companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have traditionally spent more marketing their cola brands, but now they’re turning their attention to growing consumer demand for natural products.

In fact, “natural” is a top priority when it comes to carbonated soft drinks.

The campaign aims to get the message across by positioning Sierra Mist Natural as the “hero” in each of the scenarios and using humor.

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Registers Are Ringing … at the Dollar Stores, that is.

October 8, 2010

TakeAway: As people make fewer costly shopping trips to stock their pantries and increasingly can only afford inexpensive items in small quantities, stores are scrambling for the once-ignored low-end customer.

Some customers at Wal-Mart and the major dollar chains have such modest budgets that the retailers report upticks in spending at the beginning of the month, when government benefit checks and many paychecks come through.

Some of the stores have even managed to reach some middle-income shoppers, by increasing products from well-known brands such as Hanes, Quaker Oats and Nabisco. 

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Excerpted from the New York Times, “Stores Scramble to Accommodate Budget Shoppers” By Stephanie Clifford,September 22, 2010

Dollar stores have shown the biggest gain in shopper visits over the last year out of all the retailers that sell basic consumer goods. Manufacturers are racing to package more affordable versions of products common at those stores, and other budget retailers, feeling the loss of customers, are trying to duplicate their success.

 Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is adding thousands of items to its shelves, including inexpensive ones, and is asking dollar-store suppliers to create small, under-a-dollar packages for its stores, too.

 In areas with high unemployment, Wal-Mart is grouping together its less than $1 items in a clear challenge to the dollar stores. About a quarter of Wal-Mart’s stores are beginning to offer items for under $1, such as a four-pack of toilet paper, boxes containing just a few garbage bags and single rolls of paper towels.

The dollar stores have best been able to capitalize on the downmarket trend because of strategies they embraced during the recession, when the stores kept things cheap and expanded their merchandise.

During the recession, Wal-Mart pulled back on very inexpensive products, suppliers said, to make the stores look less cluttered and to appeal to shoppers who might be testing out that retailer instead of, say, Target. That decision has it now playing catch-up.

The dollar stores have found creative ways to keep their prices low. When commodity costs rose for suppliers, for example, the dollar stores asked them to decrease the number of sandwich bags in a box or pushed them to come up with a cheaper version of the products.

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Pizza Hut searches for (internal) stars …

September 30, 2010

TakeAway: Pizza Hut has created a new ad campaign that moves from a pricing war with rivals Domino’s and Papa John’s to differentiation purely based on branding through employee spokespeople. 

There is no mention of deals or new-product offerings, and the ads seem to be working.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “Pizza Hut Makes Its Staff the Stars in Brand-Focused Campaign” By Rupal Parekh,September 20, 2010

There are signs that Pizza Hut is beginning to gain some ground on category leader Domino’s, which has 18.4% of the market compared to Pizza Hut’s 15%. Domino’s marketing strategy – something akin to “our pizza was gross, but we fixed the recipe” – was working to some degree. Domino’s posted historic same-store sales increases earlier this year of 14.4% vs. Pizza Hut’s 6%, but in the second quarter, Pizza Hut led same-store sales with an 8% lift.

Pizza Hut’s CMO said: “We just need to incite the consumer to pull up the emotional side of the brand and the high-quality products we provide…Our brand stands for quality already…we have no need to denigrate the brand in order to get people to engage with it.”

That Pizza Hut is turning employees into spokespeople makes it one of several brands (including Nationwide Insurance, Best Buy and BP)

in the past year that have tried to personalize their companies by using homegrown marketing talent, perhaps not coincidentally, while struggling with the recession.

While it’s not a goal of the campaign, the youthful skew could help connect with what Kurt Kane, VP-brand advertising at Pizza Hut, earlier this year told Ad Age is one of two of Pizza Hut’s core consumer groups, families and young adults.

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McDonald’s: Getting minorities to "love it"

September 24, 2010

TakeAway: Years ago when McDonald’s niche offerings to Hispanics on the west coast overperformed with the general market, the company realized it was on to something. 

Now, rather than develop ads and menu choices geared towards the broad, general market, McDonald’s has developed a strategy of appealing to minorities and hoping the message will catch on with a broader demographic

While this is a very different approach than most companies take, as the demographics of the U.S. continue to change, this strategy is sure to be copied. 

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Excerpted from Bloomberg Businessweek, “Ethnic Marketing: McDonald’s Is Loving It,” by Burt Helm, July 8, 2010

The music industry has long sold black culture to white Americans. Now McDonald’s is doing much the same. It’s taking cues from African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians to develop menus and advertising in the hopes of encouraging middle-class Caucasians to buy smoothies and snack wraps as avidly as they consume hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll.

The ethnic consumer tends to set trends,” says Neil Golden, McDonald’s U.S. chief marketing officer. “So they help set the tone for how we enter the marketplace.” Golden says preferences gleaned from minority consumers shape McDonald’s menu and ad choices, which are then marketed to all customers.

The fast-food giant’s strategy is a departure from the way companies typically market to American households. Usually, a company works with an agency to develop advertising aimed at the general market, then turns to boutique multicultural agencies to create versions tailored to blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. McDonald’s still creates ads specially tailored to minority groups, as it has for over 30 years, but minorities exert an increasingly influential role in its mainstream advertising as well. The company thinks they provide early exposure to new trends. …

Its low prices have helped fuel McDonald’s recent strong performance, even as the rest of the restaurant industry struggles to recover from the recession. But Golden says his minority-shapes-majority marketing strategy is paying off, too. U.S. sales rose 1.5 percent in the first three months of the year

Golden says he first discovered how dramatically minority tastes can influence mainstream preferences when he oversaw McDonald’s marketing in the U.S. West in the 1990s. His team had developed products aimed at Hispanics called the “Fiesta Menu,” … “But [the Fiesta menu] overperformed in the general market.”

Golden went on to create a strategy for the U.S. business that he calls “Leading with Ethnic Insights.” … marketers are asked to imagine how they would sell a product if the U.S. population were only African American, Hispanic, or Asian. They look for differences to McDonald’s general market plan.

That sensitivity has already influenced new products. The fruit combinations in McDonald’s latest smoothies, for instance, reflect taste preferences in minority communities. And when the company started heavily advertising coffee drinks last year, the ads emphasized the indulgent aspects of sweeter drinks like mochas, a message that resonated with blacks, says Golden. …

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It’s time to upgrade your Gatorade

September 21, 2010

TakeAway: Since its inception, Gatorade sales have increased every year.  However, with a tough economy and intense competition, sales have decreased for the first time in Gatorade’s history.

To right the ship, Gatorade is introducing a revamped product line closely aligned with a versioning strategy

Not only will there be three different types of Gatorade for the main product line, but there will be a similar “pro” series for serious athletes. 

It’s been a winning strategy for software, but will it work for sports drinks?

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Excerpted from Brandchannel, “Gatorade Focuses Brand on Athletes with G-Series Pro,” by Dale Buss, August 14, 2010

Gatorade took a huge step in the revitalization of its brand today by revealing a new structure for its mainstream product line, the G Series … and … “G-Series Pro” products … for serious athletes.

Gatorade’s chief marketing officer, Sarah Robb O’Hagan, shared the rationale behind the new brand architecture …

Gatorade “is a formidable franchise,” … “But we haven’t had the right performance the last few years.” …

Despite being one of PepsiCo’s most profitable brands, Gatorade lost significant sales volume last year for the first time ever because of financial pressures on consumers — most of that loss … going to lower-priced carbonated soft drinks and even to tap water. Gatorade also had lost market share over the years to a proliferation of other better-for-you beverage types and products, and to its own shift in emphasis to “lifestyle” rather than hard-core athletic consumers. …


Gatorade’s new product-line structure carries the “G” branding in the next logical step with the G Series. G Series 01 Prime is positioned as “pre-game fuel” and an “energy to start” beverage for consumption before athletic activity; 02 Perform drinks include the brand’s pre-existing Gatorade Thirst Quencher line and G2, a low-cal Gatorade for hydration during activities; and 03 Recover drinks include 10 to 20 grams of protein per serving to help body recovery from exertion.

The G-Series Pro line, which is to be carried exclusively in the U.S. in GNC’s 5,500 stores, uses the same functional logic. “But this is a line that has only been available to elite athletes in pro locker rooms for the last 15 years,” O’Hagan explained to analysts. “For the first time we’re choosing to commercialize them and take them to the consumer.” …


The brand’s presentation today to analysts went a long way toward answering questions about Gatorade’s future. The crucial next step: executing the new rationale so that consumers develop a thirst for Gatorade — and keep coming back.




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Xerox to Its Clients: “Lend Me Your Icons”

September 20, 2010

TakeAway: Xerox takes a risk with borrowed-interest advertising. 

What if people who see their new ads featuring some of their clients remember Marriott’s customer service pitch rather than Xerox? 

Xerox says, “We think because these clients are being seen in an unusual space that it will make people look twice. We think the risk is offset by the power of the creative and the relevance of the message in the marketplace.” 

Time will tell…

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Excerpted from, “Xerox Hopes Other Brands Help New Ads Shine” By Melanie Wells,September 1, 2010

It can be difficult for B-to-B companies to create lapel-grabbing advertising. Xerox hopes to get around that in its biggest ad effort in decades by featuring clients, such as P&G and Target. Some ads feature their well-recognized brand icons shown doing Xerox-related work, such as invoicing or digitizing documents. The campaign tagline: “Ready for Real Business.” The campaign will feature 20 companies that use Xerox products or services by the end of 2011. Companies featured in the initial TV and print ads include Marriott Hotels & Resorts; Ducati, the motorcycle maker; and the University of Notre Dame. Xerox admits some companies it approached weren’t comfortable lending their brands to this campaign, other executives liked the idea of having their icons appear in media where Xerox advertises but consumer-focused companies do not. CEO Ursula Burns “picked up the phone [to fellow CEOs], saying ‘Would you be interested in being in this campaign?’” Edit by AMW* * * * *

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Repositioning: Making the Old New Again at Ethan Allen

September 17, 2010

TakeAway: Ethan Allen has launched a new ad campaign, which aims to convince consumers that they don’t have to splurge on lots of furniture to create a stylish home. 

The home furnishings retailer is introducing a series of TV, print, online and direct mail ads with a recessionary pitch. 

Ads position Ethan Allen as an “aspirational” and “attainable” brand through slogans like:

A great room starts with a great piece.” And: “Relax. You don’t have to do it all at once.”

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KEH Note: Is it just me or are those slogans a bit ‘odd’? 

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Excerpted from Brandweek, “Ethan Allen Pitches ‘Attainable’ Furniture” By Elaine Wong,September 9, 2010

The new campaign is part of the company’s strategy to reposition itself with younger consumers.

Americans in their 40s, 50s and 60s currently make up the brand’s core demographic.

But Ethan Allen is looking to connect with consumers in their 30s and 40s, who also have some discretionary income to spend.  Market research revealed that many consumers previously thought of the brand as unaffordable.

A 30-second spot, titled “Falling,” shows a woman falling slowly backwards in a bare room. As she leans back—as if to sit—a comfortable cushioned chair appears and she takes in the moment. A voiceover coaxes, “Get that one piece right, and the rest of the room will just fall into place,” as other furniture appears in the room.

The ads give Ethan Allen a contemporary twist. “Like a lot of classic American brands, [Ethan Allen has] become so well known that people’s perceptions of them become somewhat out of date,”

The campaign positions the brand as “elegant, yet approachable . . . and a little more modern than you might have thought.”

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What the 2010 Census May Mean for Marketers

September 14, 2010

TakeAway:  The 2010 Census results will likely reveal the Hispanic market’s growing influence and help marketers understand they need to start focusing on this huge demographic change.  Few people realize that Hispanics are influencing the general market more than vice-versa.

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Excerpted from AdvertisingAge, “A Look at the Numbers Behind America’s Huge Demographic Shift” By Chiqui Cartagena, August 31, 2010

With the arrival of Hispanic Heritage month, people in the media and marketing worlds have already started to talk about what the new Census results could reveal next year.  This is the key point: It’s not about the Hispanic market, it about how these demographic shifts are affecting the so-called general consumer market.

 It wasn’t really until the 2000 Census that the dominance of Hispanics became a “new phenomenon.”  By the end of 2010, there will be 30% more Hispanics (50 million) than there will be African Americans (38 million) in this country. 

 Hispanics will continue to be a driving force behind America’s changing face, not so much through immigration but rather by births, with 60% of the U.S. Hispanic market growth coming from the natural births.

So, what does this mean to you?

  • Any marketing plan targeting youths must take into account Hispanics.
  • Marketing plans must take into account that Hispanics live in multi-generational households, therefore it is critical to understand how different generations influence each other.
  • The influence of the Hispanic market goes beyond the traditional states. Over 30 markets saw the Hispanic population increase by more than 100,000 persons in the past 10 years.
  • U.S. born Hispanics will require marketing campaigns that take into account their unique cultural background. It is critical to develop marketing campaigns that go beyond language and place of birth.

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Adults Only: A Trojan horse or a Trojan for horses ?

July 19, 2010

Hate to drag HomaFiles down to this level, but this one is too good to pass up.

Punch line: Since introducing its Magnum line of plus-size condoms,  industry leader Trojan’s market share and profits have surged.

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From Psychology Today …

Few marketers are as fortunate as condom makers, whose customers are glad to pay a premium for a product that isn’t really much bigger or better.

Trojan markets its Magnum line of condoms as “Bigger than most condoms …  designed to fit those that find normal condoms too constricting.”

Oh, yes, and then there are Magnum XL’s … an upsell version.

It’s easy to see why men fall for this particular sales pitch.

“The Magnum brand is viewed as a positive lifestyle badge and positive symbol … men are proud to show they carry a Magnum condom — the large size carries a certain cachet.”

The economics:  A box of 12 regular Trojans retails for around $5.99; a box of 12 Magnums or Magnum XLs is $7.99. That’s a 33 percent premium.

Trojan confesses that it’s hard to imagine Magnum buyers doing the math … and since Magnum condoms are only 3/10 of an inch longer than regular Trojans – and since XLs are the the same length as Magnums … all of the condoms cost about the same to make, so the Magnum’s price premium is pure profit.

As an academic observer notes: “I think the concept of having more sizes is a step forward for the industry … But you could never market them as small, medium and large, because no one would buy the small.”

Excerpted from Behavioral Economics: Monetizing the Male Ego, April 28, 2010

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Trojan, including Magnum, commands 75 percent of the condom market, with No. 2 Durex commanding 14 percent.

The company claims Magnum is the most popular condom among African-Americans, citing internal research that indicates they account for 22 percent of all condom purchases but 40 percent of Magnum purchases.

Gatorade before, during and after … the game, that is.

May 17, 2010

TakeAway: After three years of declining sales, PepsiCo wants to regenerate the product life cycle by designing a three-step system for Gatorade consumption and targeting a niche market of elite athletes.  Particularly after a failed makeover dubbing the drink “G” last year, PepsiCo needed to find a way to regain profits for a mature product.   


Excerpted from WSJ, “Gatorade: Before and After — PepsiCo’s New Ad Campaign Touts Three-Drink System for Sports Beverage” By Valerie Bauerlein, April 23, 2010

The campaign promoting the new lineup of “G Series” drinks for athletes, aims to demonstrate that Gatorade isn’t just a sports drink that replaces nutrients sweated out during the game, but a system with three steps: a carbohydrate-loaded “Prime” concentrated liquid before play; the traditional “Perform” sports drink during; and a light, protein-rich “Recover” drink after.

Gatorade’s basic “thirst quencher” message of hydration hasn’t changed much in 45 years. But PepsiCo wants the G Series to expand the Gatorade message to broader sports performance.

Teens are Gatorade’s main target.  To create the G Series line, Gatorade interviewed more than 10,000 teen athletes, parents and coaches. Many said they already ate something with carbs before a game (candy, chips), a sports drink during and something with protein afterward (sandwiches).

The three products — Prime, Perform and Recover — together will cost about $7. A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade costs about $2.

The company also plans to reach out to adult athletes. Gatorade is launching a separate new line next month called G Series Pro, aimed at marathon runners, personal trainers and other elite athletes. The products will be sold in specialty stores such as GNC and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Gatorade is PepsiCo’s third-biggest selling global beverage brand after Pepsi-Cola and Mountain Dew, so its 14% sales volume decline in the U.S., its biggest market, last year was a concern for executives, analysts and investors.

PepsiCo’s first-quarter earnings, released Thursday, showed that the company has yet to turbo-charge Gatorade, although sales are improving. The company posted a 26% jump in first-quarter earnings, boosted by the February acquisition of its two biggest bottlers. While quarterly revenue in the company’s Pepsi Americas Beverages business, including North America and Latin America, rose 32%, beverage volumes fell 4%.

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Mercedes, BMW … and Lincoln?

May 14, 2010

TakeAway: Just because Ford calls Lincoln its luxury brand doesn’t make it so.  Luxury is in the eye of the beholder and Ford faces the challenging task of changing customer perceptions of its stodgy, “upscale” brand.  So far, the results have been disappointing.

The less-than-luxury perception of Lincoln is not just the result of a communications gap.  Ford has been slow to update the Lincoln product line with original designs not based on middle-market Ford-branded models.

Training Lincoln dealers to offer “high-touch” service is important for the luxury segment, but shouldn’t Ford first figure out how to get customers to the dealerships?  The new models launching this summer will tell us if they got it right.

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Excerpted from Bloomberg Businessweek, “With Lincoln, Ford Isn’t in the Lap of Luxury,” by Keith Naughton, May 6, 2010

Business is booming in Jack Kain’s Ford dealership in London, Ky. Not so much, though, at his Lincoln showroom, where new models … go begging for buyers …

Ford is on a roll, as mainstream car buyers embrace the American brand that didn’t go bankrupt. Now that CEO Alan Mulally is unloading Volvo, however, Ford’s upscale ambitions are riding on Lincoln. Sales at the unit are down 64% from its 1990 peak and buyers average an industry-high age of 62 … “To younger generations, that’s grandpa’s car,” says auto analyst Jesse Toprak … “That doesn’t help when you’re going up against Mercedes and BMW.”

Ford is trying to give Lincoln a hip implant. It’s outfitted four new models with more-dramatic design and installed high-tech features including a voice-activated phone and entertainment system …

The new look isn’t helping much. Lincoln’s U.S. market share is stuck at a paltry 0.8% this year, while the Ford nameplate grew at its fastest rate since 1977 … Lincoln is still defined by the black Town Car that has ferried generations of business travelers to the airport,

Ford long ignored Lincoln, in part because … it bought a stable of European luxury brands that seemed to hold more potential: Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Volvo. But … Mulally began dismantling what he called Ford’s “house of brands,” selling off the European lines at fire sale prices. The idea was to first fix its largest franchise, the middle-market Ford brand … Lincoln, whose models are based on Ford’s mechanical platforms and built in Ford plants, would be kept and fixed later.

Ford is retiring the Town Car next year and launching new models aimed at younger buyers like the MKX sport wagon this summer. It’s infusing Lincoln advertising with Gen X-friendly music from the 1980s. And Lincoln dealers are being trained to offer the high-touch service given by some European manufacturers …

The bottom line: Ford dumped its luxe brands to focus on its core vehicles. Now it’s left with aging Lincoln just as luxury demand is set to take off.

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In response to smart phones, LG says ‘keep it simple, stupid.’

April 28, 2010

Takeaway: It’s a classic strategic response: when the competition goes left, you go right.

As Apple, RIM, and Google race to make the smartest phones, LG hopes to connect with customers looking for simplicity and style.

Though smart phone usage has grown exponentially, these devices capture less than 20 percent of all US cell phone users.

LG believes there is tremendous opportunity in focusing on the larger portion of the overall market. LG’s strategy also reduces dollars required for R&D that can instead be redirected to design, branding, and…oh yeah, shareholders.

Will LG prove that less is more? Or, will the market develop to expected more and drop LG’s call?
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Excerpt from Advertising Age, “Style Over Smarts: LG and Sprint Pitch Simpler Phones” by Andrew Hampp, April 8, 2010.

Even as Apple promises new features for the iPhone, the industry anticipates the iPhone’s arrival on Verizon and Palm retools its marketing strategy, LG and Sprint are starting a campaign aiming for the vast swath of consumers still choosing among simpler phones largely on the question of style.

The campaign and an accompanying MTV miniseries called “LG Fashion Touch” pair two LG phones being introduced April 19, the Lotus Elite and Rumor Touch, with Victoria Beckham and Eva Longoria Parker, respectively. The Lotus Elite is an edgier, more colorful flip phone that suits Ms. Beckham’s bombshell look, while the Lotus Elite is a more sleek, classic phone that complements Ms. Longoria Parker’s daily style.

The smartphone wars still don’t apply to a large group of women, said a VP of marketing and innovation at LG.

“Although there’s a large percentage of consumers going to smartphones, there’s still another segment who are saying, ‘I want phones that reflect my personal style’ without all the bells and whistles of a smartphone.”

Indeed, only 19.4% of U.S. mobile phone subscribers were using smartphones in the three months ended Feb. 10, compared with 80.6% using simpler devices, according to ComScore.
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Used to be "enhanced water" … repositioned as "hangover cure" … now you're talking !

April 13, 2010

TakeAway:  Vitaminwater is prepared to put age-old Markstrat advice …you can bend perceptions but, ultimately, if the product does not deliver, the consumer backlash will be extreme … to the test. 

Cleverly listening to its consumers, Vitaminwater is leveraging a common use of the product – a hangover cure – for its latest advertising push.  But the lack of hard proof behind this claim has brought the ads under scrutiny from the FTC and others.  It will be interesting to watch this new usage occasion for Vitaminwater playout.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Vitaminwater Tries Winking,” By Valerie Bauerlein, April 5, 2010

The new ad campaign for Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater hints at a use for enhanced waters and sports drinks that is part of conventional wisdom among many college students and young professionals: hangover relief.

The ads debuted during the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, and are part of Coke’s effort to revitalize the brand … After a decade of fast growth, Vitaminwater’s sales volume slipped 22% last year as price-conscious consumers traded down …

One of the new spots … asserts that Vitaminwater’s purple “Revive” flavor has B vitamins and potassium, and will help rehydrate you after “apparently epic nights.”

Vitaminwater’s head of marketing says that the ad never says the young man has been drinking … “He’s just had a big night … You can take away from that what you wish” …

In these ads, Vitaminwater is tapping into the idea that it’s good to replenish fluids and nutrients, no matter the reason for losing them.

Mass retailers sometimes display enhanced waters or sports drinks beside hand sanitizers and thermometers during cold and flu season. Convenience stores regularly ring up bottles of sports drinks alongside cases of beer.

Alcohol researcher John Brick says there is some science behind the idea that drinks like Vitaminwater improve hangover symptoms

Some sugars help metabolize alcohol, and ingredients such as potassium and electrolytes help re-establish healthy body function …

The FTC, in at least three cases, has brought complaints against companies touting unproven hangover cures in ads …

A spokeswoman for Gatorade, which dominates the sports-drink niche, says Gatorade doesn’t advertise itself as a cure for ailments, even in a tongue-in-cheek way. “We are focused on athletes and fueling athletic performance only,” …

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Ball Park Franks turned Oscar Meyer into just another dog

April 6, 2010

Key Takeaway: Sometimes taking advantage of a deep consumer insight is all a brand needs to do in order to be the top dog in a category.

Ball Park Franks, which focused for years on linking their product to the outdoor grilling experience, realized that mom is the one who does the vast majority of hot dog purchasing in the family.

By concentrating their marketing efforts on mom’s ability to satisfy their family’s cravings for flavorful, high-quality food, Ball Park was able to appeal to both the purchaser and end-user of its product.

There is no doubt that Ball Park’s profits plumped when they cooked up this strategy.

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Excerpted from Brandweek, “How Sara Lee’s Ball Park Brand Became the Top Dog” by Elaine Wong, March 28, 2010

For years, Ball Park was the No. 2 player in hot dogs. That is, until parent company Sara Lee—maker of Hillshire Farm meats and Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches—turned to insights, backed by innovation, to take share from and ultimately usurp the lead spot from Kraft competitor Oscar Mayer…The brand’s ascension was informed by research which showed that moms were the primary buyers of the product, but that teenage boys, too, enjoyed eating it.

Brandweek: At a recent industry conference, you spoke about how Sara Lee is using insights to drive innovation. Give us an example of how that worked for a major brand.

Philippe Schaillee:

For many years, we communicated Ball Park through traditional TV and print, primarily to a male audience. We had this character called Frank, and we’d talk about the grilling occasion and that great experience you’d get from [cooking with] Ball Park hot dogs.

Looking back, I’d say that was [both] intuition and research-based, but it wasn’t really insights- based.

As we dove much deeper into an understanding of the consumer and shopper, we learned a few things.

One was that the brand was overindexing with males. They are looking for the heartiness and real quality of a Ball Park hot dog. But [the brand] was also overindexing more with teenage boys than with adult males.

Once we learned that, we started to look into the shopper of this [brand] and learned that she was really looking for a hearty solution for her teenage son and husband.

She [wanted something that wasn’t] just a lower quality snack or that would get them into this mindless eating behavior, but something that was solid, yet still fast and convenient. That [discovery] was a breakthrough.

BW: And then what?

PS: We decided we had an opportunity to build this platform around “guy foods.”

However, the person we had to reach out to and that we had to convince from a purchasing behavior perspective was mom.

So, from an activation perspective, we shifted our spending radically from what, before, was 80 percent against a male target, to 70 percent [to reach] this female shopper, and the other 30 percent was spent against [targeting] teenage boys.

Our communication to teenage boys, [meanwhile,] was a radical departure from the past.

Teenage boys watch TV, but they are absolutely not loyal. That is not where we should be spending our money, [nor do they] really read any magazines or newspapers. Where we have to be to reach that target is in the individual gaming and online action sports [arena]…

We teamed up with a couple of sports spokespersons to build credibility and really ensure that the Ball Park brand would be [engaged in and participating in] the action sport, versus just advertising at [the event].

As for business results, after having eternally been the No. 2 brand in the hot dog category, we overtook Oscar Mayer about two years ago, and we’ve been growing our share advantage every year.

When looking at equity parameters like awareness and household penetration, our loyalty metrics are inching up, and we’ve seen that with teenage boys, especially. We’ve moved from being not on their radar screen to more on their radar screen.

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“But my product is a commodity” … Stop whining, start repositioning

March 10, 2010

How can you reposition your own brand when the entire product category is seen as a commodity? Here are five successful strategies:

  • Identify. Ordinary bananas became better bananas when a small Chiquita label was added to the fruit. Dole did the same for pineapple, and Foxy did the same for lettuce. Of course, you then have to communicate why people should look for these labels.
  • Personify. The Green Giant character became the difference in a family of vegetables in many forms. Frank Perdue became the tough man behind the tender chicken
  • Create a new generic. Tyson wanted to sell miniature chickens, which doesn’t sound very appealing. So it introduced Cornish game hens.
  • Change the name. Sometimes your original name works against you. For example, no one wanted to eat a Chinese gooseberry until the name was changed to kiwi fruit
  • Reposition the category. Sales of pork increased when its producers repositioned it as “the other white meat.”

Source:  Repositioning: Marketing in an Era of Competition, Change, and Crisis by Jack Trout with Steve Rivkin, 2010

How do you say “Mmm, Mmm, Good” in Russian ?

November 5, 2009

TakeAway:  As the simple meals category grows, soup faces greater competition for a share of your plate.  Campbell’s is making important changes to its products to adapt to consumer needs and win your loyalty (when your budget is not your key decision factor).

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Excerpted from BusinessWeek, “Campbell’s: Not About to Let the Soup Cool,” By Matthew Boyle, September 17, 2009

In tough times, comfort sells. And few brands evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling more than Campbell’s … The cost-conscious climate has been a boon for soup sales, which rose 5% in the U.S. in fiscal 2009 … That performance launched Campbell Soup into the ranks of the top 100 brands, where it joined food giants Kellogg, H.J. Heinz, and Nestlé.

But as the recession recedes, Campbell’s will need to prove that its name still resonates with American consumers, many of whom will venture back into restaurants once the economy improves. To stay on top, Campbell’s is launching new products, recasting old favorites, and aggressively pushing into emerging markets …

Consider Campbell’s Chunky line of soups. Last year the company neglected the brand, focusing instead on Select Harvest … Select Harvest became one of the top food launches of 2008. But Chunky suffered as a result … Now Campbell’s is revamping Chunky … the company wants to make the soup more nutritious without sacrificing its perceived heartiness …

China and Russia present a bigger opportunity and challenge for Campbell’s. The two countries account for more than half the world’s consumption of soup. But nearly all of it is homemade. If the company can capture just 3% of the at-home consumption … the size of the business would equal that of the U.S. …

To break into those markets, Campbell’s has been conducting extensive on-the-ground research over the past few years, interviewing thousands of consumers in Russia alone … Their findings led them to develop a broth-like product that Russians can use as a base for their own soups. Next year the company will sell 14 different soups in the country, up from three this year

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Boys will be boys … and that can be very profitable

October 16, 2009

TakeAway: Can anybody keep the attention of young males today? Maybe not, but that won’t stop us from trying.

Disney’s acquisition of Marvel is just the latest case of a company going after this fickle and easily-distracted segment.

You can’t blame Disney, however, as this segment has the potential to contribute greatly to overall profitability.

That is, as long as they finish their chores.

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Excerpted from BusinessWeek, “Disney’s Marvel Deal and the Pursuit of Boys” By Tom Lowry and Ronald Grover, September 10, 2009

The U.S. has 30 million males aged 5 to 19, and capturing their attention with a TV show, movie, or magazine article is a boon to advertisers. Boys (or their parental proxies) are ravenous consumers who spend billions each year on apparel, toys, and video games.

Big Media, faced with the loss of auto and financial advertising, is charging hard at this elusive demographic.

Exhibit A: Walt Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and all its superheroes.

Besides attracting more boys and balancing out Disney’s big following among girls, the Mouse House believes the Marvel acquisition will bolster Disney XD, a channel it is now using to target boys.

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Trenchcoat marketing … it’s not what you think.

October 8, 2009

BrandChannel, Can BurberrySpace Help Reposition A Luxury Fashion Brand?, September 17, 2009

Burberry, intent on holding onto its recently upgraded cutting-edge image, will launch its own social networking site.

The site, Art Of The Trench, will feature user-submitted pictures of people sporting the brand’s famous trench coat.

Burberry’s goal is to strengthen ties with existing customers while attracting new faces — younger consumers they hope will be inclined to spend disposable income on luxury items.

The premium site is another step in Burberry’s campaign to reclaim its brand as a classic label with a twist of cool, after years of knockoffs and thuggish associations had morphed it into “checks for chavs.”

But do the kids really want Facebook for trenchcoats?

Burberry hopes so.

If the brand’s Facebook page — currently boasting over 666,000 fans — is any indication, their updated, traditional-meets-hip brand may turn out to be a good social networker.

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Apple set to compete with Nintendo and Sony

September 30, 2009

TakeAway: MSBers: Remember back in MarkStrat when we learned that a “Direct Hit” targeting strategy was better than a “Tweener” strategy?

Apple seems to feel the same way about the iPod touch.

Kind of caught in no man’s land (not as cheap as the iPod nano, not as awe-inspiring as the iPhone), Steve Jobs and his crew have decided to position the touch against Nintendo DS and Sony PSP as a portable video game player.

Their advantage? How about competitive prices on hardware, cheaper games with a wider selection, and, oh yeah, that delicious-looking fruit with a bite taken out of it.

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Excerpted from Forbes, “Steve Jobs Takes Aim At Competitors” By Brian Caulfield, September 9, 2009

Steve Jobs was there . A tablet computer was not.

Jobs, however, did drag out a big bag of pain for Nintendo, Sony and Cisco from wherever he has been hiding this year.

The nastiest move: tacking a video camera onto Apple’s iPod nano.

Cisco’s Flip camera, by contrast, starts at $149 for a device with half the storage and no music player. In short: “We’re going to lower the price from $149 to free,” Jobs said.

Jobs also slashed the price of the iPod touch to $199 as he unveiled a new ad that positions the tiny touch-screen tablet as a Nintendo DS killer. The new tag line for the commercial Apple will soon be using to carpet bomb the competition: “next-level fun.”

Apple was eager to make unflattering comparisons between the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS.

Apple’s  pitch: Apple’s games are cheaper; the iPhone and iPod touch’s built-in App Store makes buying games more convenient; and Apple has more of them. Apple now offers 21,178 games, compared to 3,680 available for the Nintendo DS and 607 for Sony’s PSP.

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What’s your core value? Take your choice: fidelity or convenience.

September 17, 2009

TakeAway: In this adaptation from his new book, Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t author Kevin Maney explains the tension between two key qualities — fidelity and convenience — and how a great brand fell into the trap of becoming too familiar got caught in a no-man’s-land between them.

For a brand like Starbucks, familiarity and ubiquity are deadly.

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Fortune, How Starbucks lost its ‘fidelity’, September 16, 2009

We constantly, in our everyday lives, make trade-offs between fidelity and convenience.

Those trade-offs, and how they affect business, help explain why Starbucks  hit a wall in 2007 — and why CEO Howard Schultz is still struggling to get his company’s mojo back.

Fidelity [as in high-fidelity] is the total experience of something.

At a rock concert, for example, it’s not just the quality of the sound, which often isn’t as good as listening to a CD on a home stereo, but also everything else going on, like the crowd around you and the social cache of later telling people you saw the band live.

Convenience is how easy it is to get what you want. That includes whether it’s readily available, whether it’s easy to do or use, and how much it costs. If something is less expensive, it’s naturally more convenient because it’s easier for more people to get it.

Consumers are willing to give up convenience for great fidelity, or ditch fidelity for great convenience.

But anything that offers just so-so fidelity and so-so convenience falls into a no-man’s-land of consumer apathy that I call the fidelity belly. That’s where music CDs, newspapers, and desktop Windows-based PCs find themselves today.

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Remarkably, the most successful products and services tend to be either high in fidelity or high in convenience — one or the other, but not both. In fact, products attempting to be both typically end up with a confused brand, like if McDonald’s tried to do gourmet meals.

This impossible place of both fidelity and convenience is something I call the fidelity mirage. And Starbucks chased it big-time.

After a decade of stupendous success, Starbucks ran into trouble in 2007.

Starbucks, during its heyday, was all about fidelity.

It was all about creating a high-fidelity experience that was greater than just the coffee … “a taste of romance” and “an oasis — a small escape during a day when so many other things are beating you down.”.

And the products Starbucks served?  Once Starbucks arrived on the scene, it suddenly seemed boring to walk into a deli or a Dunkin’ Donuts and just order coffee with cream and sugar.

Starbucks had a special aura. The green label on a cardboard cup made the coffee it held seem better. Holding that Starbucks coffee cup, being seen in a Starbucks, and being enough of a regular that you knew your favorite complex beverage combination off the top of your head conferred a bit of identity. And for all of this, Starbucks charged premium prices.

As coffee goes, there was essentially nothing convenient about Starbucks. You had to travel to a store, wait in line, and pay exorbitant prices for a product you could make at home or in the office for relatively nothing.

Then. Starbucks launched aggressive expansion plans.

If you build fidelity, the temptation is to then pursue growth. But that growth can lead to the very thing that can kill a high fidelity brand: familiarity.

“Once Starbucks became ordinary, it was committing suicide.”

Starbucks carpet-bombed the world with its franchises. In 1998, the world was populated with 1,886 Starbucks stores. Ten years later, there were 16,226.

The Starbucks brand was extended to ice cream, packaged beverages, and a record label. 

Starbucks Schultz blessed it all, convinced that Starbucks could be everywhere and still be special.

Starbucks started with high fidelity — a unique, a feel-good experience that conferred upon its customers a sense of identity.  

But the expansion plans went in the opposite direction, toward high convenience — making Starbucks  available at every moment.

Convenience acts like anti-matter to fidelity. The more convenient something becomes — the easier it is to get — the more its aura dissipates.

The more convenient something becomes, the less that item identifies its owner as someone unique and special.

For Starbucks, excessive convenience dragged down the brand and made it commonplace.

On the flip side, Starbucks could not achieve genuine convenience.  

The prices of Starbucks’ products were too high, and the lines were toolong, too slow moving. Making fancy customized drinks like frappuccinos tied up the baristas, causing back-ups. Customers realized that if they were looking for a quick, good-enough cup of coffee, it was easier to go to McDonald’s or 7-Eleven, and save a few bucks.

Starbucks’ customers reacted predictably.

Despite more Starbucks around than ever before, people started veering away. 

People looking for convenience saw less reason to pay Starbucks’ prices.

People looking for aura and identity turned back to smaller chains or independent local coffee shops.

When anything — a brand, a rock band, a style of clothing — becomes popular with a huge mass market, the cool people increasingly find it uncool, and look for something new.

In February 2007, founder Howard Schultz deplored “the watering down of the Starbucks experience” and “the commoditization of our brand.”

He immediately began reaching backward, toward Starbucks’ high-fidelity core to “go back to our roots and reaffirm our leadership position as the world’s highest-quality purveyor of specialty coffee.”

First, he shut down 7,000 Starbucks stores for three hours so 135,000 baristas could learn how to correctly make a Starbucks espresso.

Second, Schultz announced that 600 Starbucks outlets in the United States would close — the first time Starbucks backed away from its drive for convenience.

This year, Starbucks got so desperate to win back its premium position, it started opening “stealth” stores — Starbucks-owned stores minus the Starbucks name, meant to mimic small, independent, high-fidelity coffee shops.

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For a brand like Starbucks, familiarity and ubiquity are deadly.

The aura and identity Starbucks once had is gone for most Americans.

It doesn’t mean people will stop going to Starbucks. But it does mean people will be less inclined to seek out Starbucks.

Coffee purveyors that are more convenient (like McDonald’s or 7-Eleven) or are perceived as higher fidelity (independent coffee shops or smaller chains) will have an easier time competing against Starbucks than they used to.

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Blue Nile starts chasing women …

September 4, 2009

Ken’s Take: I watched with interest as my sons and their friends shopped for engagement rings online – all from Blue Nile.  Struck me – an old-schooler — as a risky online purchase.  But, they had great experiences – nice rocks (I think), secure delivery, and fast turnaround for resizing.  Blue Nile seemed to be gaining some traction twenty-something guys, and an acceptable brand image with the ladies.

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WSJ, Blue Nile Gets Makeover to Please Ladies,  Sept. 2, 2009

Blue Nile – an online jeweler founded in 1999 and IPO’d in 2004 — sold $295 million in jewelry last year, in a recession ravaged jewelry industry.   While data on the diamond industry is incomplete, Blue Nile estimates  its market share is roughly 4.5% to 5.5%.  

Retooling to combat slowing grow, the company is unveiling a major overhaul of its Web site to broaden its appeal, especially to women.  The changes are intended to make the experience more akin to window shopping.

But, it faces the tricky task of trying to make improvements without losing core customers.

The vast majority of those who buy rings and necklaces from Blue Nile are men, drawn to the extra information, control and discounts — they get by shopping online instead of at a high-pressure jewelry counter.

Yet most Blue Nile purchases are given to women, whom the retailer would like to have a more premium view of its brand.

Blue Nile also rebuilt a system for shoppers to create custom engagement rings — its largest business — based on criteria they can adjust with sliding scales while watching an image of the product evolve on the screen.

Shopping is now largely contained within a single page, to cut down on the confusion and tedium of clicking back and forth.

Blue Nile says that it has taken on a redesign now because of the market’s relative weakness, which has made competitors less likely to expand.

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A car company that knows how to create value …. hint: not based in Detroit

April 22, 2009

Ken’s Take: In marketing, there’s a concept know as “product augmentation” —  adding features and services to a “core product” in order to deliver more differentiating benefits to target customers.  Hyundai seems to have hit the target with its assurance program.

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Excerpted from Brandchannel, “Marketing Strategies that Build Value” by Barry Silverstein, April 6, 2009

Value building is not a new concept. In good times and bad, smart brand marketers have always recognized the need to build value and differentiate—to make their brands a little better than competitors by adding a new feature, creating a special promotion or forging a unique alliance with another brand.

What’s different today is the targeted relevance of value building. Faced with a protracted global economic recession, established brands are searching for ways to add maximum value without cheapening their image or undermining profits. Some brands are out-smarting and out-performing their competitors because of value-building strategies.

One breakthrough example of value building is occurring in, of all places, the automotive industry. While most car manufacturers and dealers are slashing prices and offering deep discounts, one car maker is leveraging the impact of the economy on consumers by offering something simple yet powerful and timely: peace of mind.

In early 2009, the Korean auto company Hyundai introduced a program called Hyundai Assurance in the US market. It made a bold promise: “Finance or lease any new Hyundai, and if in the next year you lose your income, we’ll let you return it.” Hyundai recently enhanced the offer, renamed Hyundai Assurance Plus: “If you lose your income, we’ll make your payments for 3 months while you get back on your feet, and if that’s not enough time to work things out, you can return the car with no impact on your credit.”

Hyundai built additional value into Hyundai Assurance by broadly defining the ways in which loss of income might occur. Hyundai included the following “life-changing events” in its promise: involuntary unemployment, physical disability, loss of driver’s license due to medical impairment, international employment transfer, self-employed personal bankruptcy and accidental death. Obviously the company thought carefully about the current economic environment and consumers’ potential misfortunes.

Ironically, when Hyundai cars first entered the marketplace, they were not well regarded; in fact, Hyundai was perceived as a lower-quality brand in its early days. But following in the footsteps of the Japanese automakers, Hyundai kept making its cars better and better. Ten years ago, Hyundai stunned the industry by introducing the best automobile warranty in the US—a “safety net” that gave customers the confidence they needed to purchase a vehicle from Hyundai. Hyundai Assurance is essentially a thoughtful extension of that original value-building strategy.

In January 2009, after the introduction of Hyundai Assurance, Hyundai’s sales were up more than 14 percent over January 2008. “Hyundai had the largest sales increase of any automaker, and it was one of only three with any increase at all,” reported 

In March 2009, Hyundai started offering low-rate loans on three car brands, in addition to cash-back incentives. Dave Zuchowski, vice president of sales for Hyundai Motor America, told Automotive News, “We’re looking for [Hyundai] Assurance to drive traffic and then the new rebates to help close the deals” (“Hyundai Piles On Incentives,” March 9, 2009).

Another way brands can practice value building is to promote exclusivity and offer consumers something of unique value for a limited time. The recent introduction of the 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition of the Disney movie Pinocchio typifies the category.

The Pinocchio release is just the latest in a series of Disney Platinum Editions—part of a larger value-building strategy by Disney to release original movies from the “Disney vault” for limited time periods, thus increasing their perceived value. 

Disney is already one of the world’s most recognized brands, so why do they need to issue Platinum Editions? Because Platinum Editions reinforce the image of the brand. Once the limited-release time period is over, the Platinum Edition movies are no longer available through traditional retail channels—they become “out of print” collector’s editions—and the Disney brand maintains its aura of exclusivity.

A third path to value building is more conventional but just as effective: using add-ons that enhance the value of a brand and reinforce the brand purchase decision. Apple’s iPhone stands out in this area. While it was a legitimate breakthrough brand in its own right, the iPhone was high priced and, by some standards, a risky and unproven technology. Apple rapidly overcame those early objections by opening up the iPhone to developers. The result was an iPhone “App Store” with thousands of applications for the iPhone, some of them free. In March 2008, more than 100,000 developers had downloaded the iPhone Software Development Kit in a period of just four days. By the end of 2008, Apple had recorded over 100 million application downloads.

Still, Apple succeeded in demonstrating that it was once again a pioneering technology brand, and that the iPhone was an added-value platform—one that could provide a mind-numbing quantity of applications unlike any other communications device on the market. 

These brand marketers know that value building is an important means of keeping their brands fit—and creating strong bonds with customers who are seeking the best value…especially in these economic times.

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Money’s important … time is dear.

April 1, 2009

Excerpted from Stanford GSB News, “Focus on Time Sells More Products” by Cassie Mogilner and Jennifer Aaker, March 2009

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“It’s Miller Time.” “Live Richly.” What do these vastly different marketing campaigns—one selling beer, the other financial services—have in common? They both focus on experiencing, rather than possessing, products… both are vastly more effective campaigns as a result.

“Because a person’s experience with a product tends to foster feelings of personal connection with it, referring to time typically leads to more favorable attitudes—and to more purchases,” says Jennifer Aaker, the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Very little research has been done on whether the focus on time actually changes consumers’ purchasing decisions or overall satisfaction with what they buy. Mogilner and Aaker hypothesized that marketers themselves weren’t aware of the value of stressing time. “What our work contributes is that they can trigger very different attitudes and behaviors just by mentioning time rather than money.” she says.

One explanation is that our relationship with time is much more personal than our relationship with money. “Ultimately, time is a more scarce resource—once it’s gone, it’s gone—and therefore more meaningful to us,” says Mogilner. “How we spend our time says so much more about who we are than does how we spend our money.”

Previous research had demonstrated that mentioning money makes people more self-sufficient, physically withdrawn, and less likely to help others. “On the other hand, when you refer to time, there’s a big social component that integrates the products you use with the people in your life, which makes the product experience more meaningful and richer,” says Mogilner.

In their first experiment the authors set up a lemonade stand—operated by two six-year olds, to make it appear authentic—for which they used three different signs. The first sign read “Spend a little time and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”; the second one, “Spend a little money, and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”; and the third, neutral one said simply, “Enjoy C&D’s lemonade.” Only one of the signs was displayed at a time. Customers were told they could pay between $1 and $3 for a cup of lemonade; the exact amount was up to them. After they made their purchase, they were surveyed to determine their attitude toward the lemonade.

The results were instructive: The sign stressing time attracted twice as many passersby—who were willing to pay almost twice as much—than when the money sign was displayed.

In a second experiment college students who owned iPods were either asked: “How much time have you spent on your iPod?” or “How much money have you spent on your iPod?” Students asked about time reported more favorable attitudes toward their iPods than those asked about money. “We were very surprised at how strong the differences were,” says Aaker.

But Mogilner and Aaker were interested in investigating even more complex ramifications of the time-money relationship. One theory is that references to money will always be negative because consumers are reminded of the cost of acquiring a product rather than the pleasure of consuming it. To explore this possibility, Aaker and Mogilner surveyed attendees at an outdoor music concert in San Francisco. Although the concert itself was free, people had to wait in line for long periods of time to get decent seats. Aaker and Mogilner asked random individuals: “How much time will you have spent to see the concert today?” or “How much money will you have spent to see the concert today?” Even in cases where the real cost of the product was time rather than money, asking specifically about time increased participants’ favorable attitudes toward the concert.

Even more strikingly, people who stood in line longer—who actually incurred a higher cost in terms of time spent—rated their satisfaction with the concert higher. “Even though waiting is presumably a bad thing, it somehow made people concentrate on the overall experience,” says Aaker.

The exception to all this: When marketing products that consumers buy for prestige value, stressing money spent seems to be more effective. Designer jeans, expensive jewelry, and high-status cars all fall into this category. “With such ‘prestige’ purchases, consumers feel that possessing the products reflect important aspects of themselves, and get more satisfaction from merely owning the product rather than spending time with it,” says Mogilner.  

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