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Laura Lee Designs

In light of our recent presentation, I did a little internet surfing to see what mobile strategies Laura Lee was using to market her handbags. We have been talking a lot about how customer behavior is being affected more and more by social media, and I was curious how Laura Lee was capitalizing on this channel. In looking at Laura Lee Design’s facebook page, I saw that she had 1500 likes. For a small company, that is a pretty good fan base. The site uses a lot of images to capture attention and display the product in a atheistically please way. There is also a TON of positive word of mouth on the page, from people who have purchased her handbags and are extremely satisfied with them. We have talked about how word of mouth is a great marketing tool because it is very genuine and consumers usually trust other consumers. Laura Lee Designs is also using twitter to promote her brand. Satisfied customers can tweet at her, and twitter also allows her to interact daily with fans in the hopes of encouraging rebuy from already satisfied customers. Overall, I think Laura Lee Designs is captializing in the social space for a small company. I didn’t find much on pinterest and I think that this could be the next platform for her to market her product.


Down 150 Points in 140 Characters

Yesterday a rogue tweet from the hacked AP’s account sent markets spinning. The Dow dropped nearly 150 points when the tweet suggested that the White House was under attack. In a week of reflection on the role of the media in covering events this tweet shows the major role the media plays in shaping public opinion.

The AP as a brand holds well-earned cache in journalism, but the hacking disruption shows how easily damage can happen. This event showcases the intersection of finance, marketing and consumption–all issues we learn about in this program. It shows how quickly automated finance markets respond to PR and marketing information. As future marketers we need to understand the ethical issues that underly our work. We have a responsibility to be accurate.

As an avid twitter user, I certainly am concerned about maintaining my own account on the social network (not that my account move markets). This issue concerns both Twitter as a service and a marketing tool. If you are similarly concerned check out Mashable’s rundown of the AP tweet controversy here and get your password analyzed. 




Hospital Customer Service

Today in class we watched a short clip on the Henry Ford hospital, and got me to thinking, why is it the poor customer service is not only a given in hospitals and doctors offices but is almost expected? Most of us probably equate our experiences with long waits, brief consultations with doctors/nurses who often seem to busy to ask the right questions or take into considerations our own opinions. We think of bleachy sterilized smells and cold stark rooms, and perhaps if you are lucky a background of elevator music.  

But it is important to note here that these terrible experiences are not purely an annoyance they actually are physical and mentally detrimental!  Last year, I took a 500 level seminar on Health and Well-being (a psychology class) and my professor spent considerable time talking and have us read about hospitals. While I no longer have my notes from the class,I can tell that the laundry list of items hospitals could improve upon is quite extensive. Ill list some of the factors i remember below, but I want to mention that patients who went to hospitals that embraced the research and implemented it reported happier level of well-being, were more likely to have friends and family visit and stay longer lengths of time, recovered quicker and to a higher level of standard patients and were less likely to get sick again,  
So some of the changes:
-natural lighting. Every hospital room and doctor room should have natural lighting.
-better views, that include greenery or water! dont design a room with views looking onto the neighboring ER.
-friendlier nurses… that actually talk to the patient like a person, not a disease to be cured and then get rid of
-better signage – why are hospitals notoriously confusing?
-friendly waiting rooms with access to food, water and natural lighting
-private rooms. we know hospitals want to maximize space, but patients recover better when they arent separated by a thin sheet of fabric
-rooms with paintings that feature natural landscape (no modern art!
-hospital equipment that keep children in mind – ie are painted to be fun, and not scare children away! 
_The Emily Couric cancer center right next to us has actually tried to embrace these findings, take a look if you have a chance.!
And finally, new gown designs. these were actually just released this month by the henry ford innovation center and feature patient gowns that have backs! they look like robes

Learning from W.E. Deming’s Management Expertise

 Today in class we talked about W.E. Deming’s expertise regarding management and went over his 7 deadly sins. One of his 7 deadly sins is the mobility of management. He was concerned about the issue of mobility of management in the 1980s and it has become increasingly more prevalent in today’s business world. The mobility of management refers to the phenomenon of workers frequently “job hopping” around and not staying with the same company for a long period of time. This is especially common today among large corporations where high-level executives are constantly moving around various c-suites in the executive realm. The reason Deming states this phenomenon as a sin is because workers fail to hold a long-term viewpoint for the firm and focus on short-term benefits. Short-term employees’ brief period of stay can inhibit their desire to contribute extra efforts to the company which discourages innovation.

 There was an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about a couple of key retiring board members at Coca Cola. These two board members have been with the company for a substantial amount of time and have had immense impact on the company’s strategy. Given Coca Cola’s tremendous success under these board members’ leadership, I’d say their consistent management has paid off. The WSJ article goes on to discuss how Coca Cola is undergoing a “changing of the guard” because new and younger board members will soon enter into the picture. These younger, newer figures have ideas for taking on different strategies to tackle changing consumer preferences and other challenges in the marketplace. I agree that changing consumer preferences must be addressed but I think Coca Cola needs to be very careful in averting “a changing of the guard” attitude in order to avoid a rift between the old guard and the new guard. The company has been successful with their steady management practices and should be wary of the dangers of mobility of management.

 Bess Hundley 



Pizza Hut Breaks into Xbox Gamers’ Homes, Microsoft Delivers

In retrospect, the recent move by Pizza Hut into the world of video gaming seems like an obvious alignment of connecting a particular target demographic to products that they enjoy. The details of this collaboration are outlined in this BrandChannel article:

Pizza and video gaming go together naturally, especially when the consumer’s credit card information is already stored in the Microsoft archives. Placing a Pizza Hut app within the Xbox platform makes access to hot, cheesy pizza all the easier for teenagers and young adults who plan on spending the next few hours on the couch enjoying the newest Xbox release. Both Pizza Hut and Xbox understand the pervasive tendencies of their target market and identified the great overlap between the two brands in the context of the gaming experience. With the integration of Internet capabilities to the Xbox platform, connections between digital content and more tangible goods were inevitable. Being the first such collaboration, this joint enterprise opens the door for Microsoft to leverage Xbox further as a portal for sales of other products relevant to the gaming experience, and increase the overall relevance of the Xbox to its customers. Competitors like Nintendo’s Wii have provided access to the Internet, but have not yet succeeded in making the consoles into comprehensive media  platforms that retain customer engagement across activities beyond gaming and provide additional value beyond quality gaming experiences.


Target Men via Mobile Devices

I found this incredibly interesting and actually useful. This is food for thought for businesses that target a male (particulary younger male) audience. Essentially, according to the study done in this article, younger males are the most apt to use their mobile phone to make purchases. That being said, businesses can utilize this knowledge by creating better mobile apps or making online purchasing via mobile phones easier for these men.


Someone at RadioShack must be reading “The Apple Experience”

A few weeks ago, I actually did go out to a RadioShack to buy something. I wanted a cable to hook my laptop up to my television, which only has an RCA hook-up (the one with the red, yellow, and blue connectors), so that I could watch the season opener of “Game of Thrones” on my TV. Although RadioShack’s business model has attracted a lot of skepticism lately, it is a testament to the enduring strength of their model that when I thought about my need for an uncommon electronic component, RadioShack instantly came to mind.

Still, I had fairly low expectations coming in, and not just because our class had had to write a report about how bad RadioShack was doing and how it needed to improve. I remembered the old RadioShack near my home in Northern Virginia, with its uninviting grey interior, surly staff, and poorly-organized jumble of products. I figured I would be writing a CVA post about my negative experience as I drove up. To my surprise, though, it seems like RadioShack has made some improvements since I last visited.

The store up Route 29 was well-lit, had a brightly painted green interior, and actually seemed very well organized, with a kiosk in the middle where the staff was waiting to take questions. I walked in to try to look around for the cable I needed without even making eye contact with the staff, but a staff member immediately walked up to me and asked me what I needed. As I described the kind of cable I needed, I couldn’t help but think that someone at RadioShack must have read The Apple Experience and taken it to heart.

As it turns out, they didn’t have the cable I needed; although it is possible to hook up my old cathode ray television to my laptop, the staff members explained why it would be bad for my laptop. Considering that I got my TV out of a dumpster around my apartment at the beginning of the year, I was not entirely surprised or unhappy. Even though I did not get the component I wanted, I was impressed with the improvement in my experience since the last time I had visited RadioShack. If they can replicate it in all of their stores, perhaps the company can stay competitive despite everything Wall Street says.


Confusion at the gate

I can genuinely say that I enjoy traveling – all facets of it (including the airport). Over spring break I had the opportunity to fly from BWI to Ft. Lauderdale via AirTran, the budget airline within Southwest (the original budget airline).

It was Monday morning and our flight wasn’t until 3 pm; however, my mom could only drop my friend and I off at BWI around 8:30 am. So, we get there incredibly early and look forward to our flight at 3. There was another flight leaving for Ft. Lauderdale at noon. We quickly realized that the noon flight had been delayed and, in the back of my mind even though there was no way this could happen; I was thinking they better not put those noon people on our flight.

Luckily, we were boarded around 2:50 pm. And I had literally just settled into my seat, when in a twist of events, was ordered off of the plane. Guess what happened. They put the bastards from the noon flight on my plane AND canceled our flight all together.

However, I wasn’t fazed like most of the passengers who bombarded the customer service counter. I just sat back because if I know Southwest, I know they’ll find a way to fix this terrible mistake they made. I was right. We made it to Ft. Lauderdale at midnight that night, but were also given roundtrip tickets and a $100 voucher for any flight. Relationship saved … at least for me.


M&A bad for customer value?


The article above takes a very cynical stance on the impact of mergers and acquisitions on customer value.  While I agree that the customer is not always at the center of planning when considering an M&A deal, I do not agree that M&A is always bad for customers.  If you think about it, when two companies merge resources, they can combine best practices of customer relationship management in order to improve their customer service and enhance customer value.  While I realise that this is an optimistic stance to take, I am playing devil’s advocate against the idea that the customer always suffers as the result of M&A.

In particular, the article points to the American Airlines/US Air merger arguing that the customer experience will be different for an AA customer on a USAir flight.  While this is true that the experience might be different in the sense that the food might be different, or the seat that you’re sitting in could be slightly different, different isn’t necessarily bad.  Particularly when it comes to airlines, who are not known for having outstanding customer service as is, I find it pessimistic to say that a “different” customer experience is a bad one.


“Expectations drive behavior”

Earlier today I read the tweet from Stanford Business, “Expectations drive behavior. The higher your expectations, the better you tend to perform.”  Through our readings we’ve seen plenty of examples with this, most notably from the Apple Experience where Steve Jobs held his employees to rigorous design standards for the iphone that created a paradigm shift in the way we use our phones.  

However I thought a little more about it and it’s not just about having high expectations for yourself, but making sure others have high expectations of you too.  I would hypothesize that having customers with high expectations forces you to deliver products of superior quality.  Again Apple comes to mind; there is so much buzz out there about how Apple’s watch is going to revolutionize the wristwatch.  Apple doesn’t need to just meet this unbelievably high expectation, it needs to surpass it by leaps and bounds.  For a company that has turned out game changing products in the past, new products have to totally blow all preconceived notions out of the water.  While some might view this pressure as overbearing or creating a high-stress environment, I think Apple has accepted it and has thrived in it.

Only time will tell if Apple can do it again but expectations and history indicate something amazing is in the works.

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