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31
Jan

The Unnecessarily Long Road to NFL Redzone

Last class, we talked a little about whether or not it would benefit cable companies to invest more in building relational value with customers, considering this is often their weak point.  This made me think back to a somewhat annoying, but funny interaction I had with a Comcast service rep a couple months ago.

Sometime in the fall, midway through the NFL season, my roommates and I decided on a whim to subscribe to NFL Redzone. For those who don’t know, NFL Redzone essentially allows you to watch highlights from all NFL games that are happening on Sunday in real time. Anyway, we saw that it only added another $5 to our cable bill so we figured, why not? I hopped onto Comcast’s Xfinity website to sign us up, naively thinking that it would be a simple one-click process.

I was quite mistaken. For whatever reason (that only Comcast knows), I had to chat with a Comcast service rep prior to activating Redzone. Again, I thought it would be a quick, “would you like to purchase NFL Redzone – Yes”, kind of interaction. Not Quite. I was bombarded with questions about why I was purchasing it, if I would like it activated today (vs. tomorrow?), with a little bit of small talk sprinkled here and there. I’m pretty sure I lost count of how many times I asked, “could you please just activate it?” After about 20 minutes of talking, he finally set it up and asked if he could help with anything else.  I had grown a bit impatient by this point, so I jokingly typed out “No, I appreciate you too.” He offered his thanks and ended his message with “May the Almighty Father guide and bless you always” which took me off guard, because of all the people who could have possibly blessed me on a Sunday, a Comcast customer service rep was probably last on my list.

Going off of my personal experience and the countless complaints I’ve heard from friends, I believe that a cable company could greatly differentiate itself within the industry simply by being more customer focused. Considering it’s a given that cable company = poor customer service, there is a huge opportunity for a company to step up and be the cable company that truly cares about its customers.

Screencap from the interaction with Comcast service rep, Victor

Screencap of chat with Comcast service rep, Victor

31
Jan

In Asia’s trend-setting cities, iPhone fatigue sets in

This article is also key in light of the discussion last class. According to Statcounter, Singapore once had the highest count of ios devices per a capita in the world,  with approximately 72% of mobile devices being Apple products.   Yet in the past year alone, Apples share of mobile devices has decreased to 50% and Andriod has doubled to over 40%. Consumers contribute turning away from  the iPhone  due to iPhone fatigue, a desire to be different and a plethora of competing devices. Apple  is world renowned for having one of the highest brand loyalty of any company, which makes this new trend in Asia quite surprising.   Apple needs to begin to aggressively campaign for brand loyalty again by establishing  what consumers want from Apple products that they are now finding elsewhere. If not, Apple faces the possibility that this trend will spread and loyalty will be a decade low.

31
Jan

Consumer Data Privacy Concerns

http://www.emarketer.com/newsroom/index.php/digital-privacy-dilemma/

I thought the above article offered an interesting complement to last class’ discussion of customer loyalty and services such a Belly and FrontFlip. The piece acknowledges that consumer actions belie expressed privacy concerns, yet cautions that companies would be remiss to consider it an insignificant issue. Significantly, it notes that “moreover, they [consumers] tend to conflate issues like identity theft with marketers’ collection and usage of data about their daily activity.” Nevertheless, the article also indicates that few individuals are aware of ways to restrict sensitive information collection by sites they visit. With increasing technological immersion and accompanying data leakage scandals, it may behoove companies to take a preemptive approach to assuring customers of their data’s security. If not, some companies may perhaps suffer backlash from overwhelmed and wary consumers confronted with increasing demands for their information.

31
Jan

“Measuring Social Currency”

“Measuring Social Currency”

I thought that this article about the relationship between social media and marketing was pertinent to our discussion about relevance. Many companies have a difficult time figuring out how to get social media to work for them. The author of this article believes that these companies misunderstand the purpose of social media: “Social media are not about people having relationships with brands. Social media are about people relating to other people. It’s a social interaction between people, not an exchange with brands.” I think that this is a very interesting explanation of why so many of the social media marketing efforts fail. By following the author’s advice, companies may find more relevant ways to connect with people through social media.

31
Jan

Tokyo Newspaper App makes it more than black and white

Tokyo Newspaper App makes it more than black and white

An interesting new app that adds value to the user experience. The app also helps to capture audiences while they are still young which could lead to lifelong relationships.

31
Jan

The end of daily deals?

LivingSocial just reported a net loss of $650 million in 2012. Is this the end of the deal-providing company?

I had the opportunity to contact LivingSocial once to discuss a potential deal listing for a local recording company here in Charlottesville. After about 10 minutes on the phone, I was pretty appalled by the business model since it basically handed the short end of the stick to local businesses wanting to get the word out about their product or service. In case you are not familiar with how it works, LivingSocial asks you (the business) to shave 50% off whatever you want to offer and then provide LivingSocial with approximately 30% of your earnings from coupon redemption. These local businesses (some also very small) have to weigh the trade-offs between getting the word out there about their product/service and bleeding out cash to LivingSocial. Many businesses opt in to the LivingSocial scheme one time and can never afford to do it again. After I came to understand how LivingSocial’s partnership with businesses play out, I quickly thanked the salesperson for their time and hung up the phone.

Honestly I really like LivingSocial and the deals they provide, but I always wonder how sustainable their relationship is to all the businesses they interact with. With major acquisitions and Amazon as an important backer, LivingSocial will probably be around for awhile longer. But then again, how much net losses can a company take before becoming obsolete altogether?

Read the short article here.

30
Jan

The Value of Super Bowl Ads

The Value of Super Bowl Ads

http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/data-points-ad-play-146829

It’s no question why advertisers are eager to get their commercials ran during the Super Bowl, as the event draws one of the biggest viewing audiences than any other event of the year. Thus, despite the fact that prices have skyrocketed to over $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, advertisers are still willing to pay up.

However, as we all know, viewership doesn’t necessarily translate into purchases. Think of how many commercials you watch, but aren’t driven to buy the product. It makes you wonder how much value these million-dollar spots actually bring back to the company, whether in sales or brand equity. Is it really worth the price tag? If the ads really are more memorable and better liked as the data suggests, could they have brought in the same value without being played on one of the most expensive platforms, or do they rely on the massive audience size to get the word out effectively?

30
Jan

Ron Johnson Acknowledges J.C. Penny Isn’t Apple

Ron Johnson Acknowledges J.C. Penny Isn’t Apple

We talked about J.C. Penny very early in the semester and some of the concepts they are testing with their redesign, but the core mission of their turnaround is making J.C. Penny a true customer experience in retail. Despite his vaulted reputation coming out of Apple, Ron Johnson, now CEO of J.C. Penny, admits the obvious: “Instead of hawking cool, high-margin tech products for the hipster fan base of Apple, Johnson has to deal with busy moms, screaming kids, and the the broad swath of humanity that just wants a cheap pair of pants.” J.C. Penny’s brand became synonymous with a bland shopping experience with generic merchandise- not the best competitive position to stake out with fierce structural competition coming from online retailers. With the low-end of the market staked out by players like Dollar-Tree and Wal-Mart, Ron Johnson’s next act is to try and replicate the kind of design and integrated customer experience that made his previously employer a consumer products icon. Whether J.C. Penny ascends to new heights or goes down in flames like a pair of these jeans remains to be seen. 

29
Jan

Robin Williams pairs up with Snickers

 

This commercial was released this past Sunday during the SAG awards.  It’s interesting to see one of America’s iconic candy bars and one of America’s iconic actors pair up together.  It will be interesting to see whether or not this addition to the “you’re not you when you’re hungry” ad campaign will boost Snicker’s sales in an increasingly health conscious society.

29
Jan

A Personal Stylist in your Email

Casually wandering around the vast information-scape that is the internet I stumbled across an interesting service. Trunk Club (http://www.trunkclub.com/) is a website dedicated to enhancing the wardrobes of men around the country. Founded in Chicago, the internet start-up offers a unique value proposition: They will buy your clothes for you, if you tell them what ballpark to look in.

The model is designed to simplify shopping for men, who traditionally have not been fans of the activity. They have a staff of individuals that will scour the fashion world to find you exactly what you’re looking for upon your request. It seems an intriguing proposition, though admittedly nothing truly groundbreaking, since sites like Gilt have been bringing high quality fashion products to discerning consumers over the internet for years now.

What I believe separates them from companies in the e-high-end-clothing business is three principles they proudly display on their website.

No Commitment

We only ship trunks at your request, and you will never pay for an item that you don’t keep. It’s all up to you.

No Fees

There are no membership fees, minimums, or long-term commitments.

Try Then Buy

Break out the mirror and give yourself a fashion show. Don’t be shy about trying anything on.

 

I personally think the high level of service that these three principles afford will be the key to the success of this business. They effectively create a real and personal relationship with their customers that is catered specifically to that customers needs at that specific point in time. By mirroring all of the beneficial qualities that an actual personal stylist gives a customer and making it more affordable, I believe the Trunk Club’s membership will be on the rise.

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Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things--Theodore Levitt