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10
May

Sneaky Snikers

Certainly an interesting way to get people to notice a brand. Taking advantage of the natural human faults. It would be interesting to see, however, whether or not this would make people even more upset.

http://mashable.com/2013/05/01/snickers-seo-misspellings/

9
May

Marketing Customer Value

In their 2011 article, “Shared Value: How to Reinvent Capitalism—And Unleash a Wave of Innovation,” Michael Porter and Mark Kramer suggest that companies must update their understanding of value creation by reimagining it as process through which creating economic value also creates social value; that is to say, companies must dissolve the artificial boundary between business and society. However, given the customer-centric focus of today’s business, I wish to push this reconceptualization one step further to encompass not only businesses’ perceptions of value but also customers’ perceptions of that value along the supply chain. Thereby, businesses must anticipate and cater to consumers’ dynamic value demands and desires. This consideration begs the question how can companies both create value and shape consumers perceptions of that value. In that sense, the aforementioned concept of shared value encompasses these thoughts. However, it appears to miss a critical component: marketing customer value. We see this play out in the market with companies such as Amazon. Although the company is certainly at the top of its class with regards to customer service, it also does a particularly good job at advertising that value proposition. The charge, then, is to dissolve the barriers between business and society by both creating distinct customer value and communicating that value to consumers in relevant ways. 

9
May

McDonald’s and Customer Service

I was reading through some news and I came across an interesting article that was about the “abysmal’’ service of McDonald’s. This is a follow-up article related to another blogger’s post about McDonald’s customer service last month. The article states that 20% of complaints in regards to McDonald’s is about its poor service. The writer claims that despite McDonald’s $2 billion spending on advertisements, poor customer service breaks down the ultimate experience of consumers when they enter a McDonald store. The link to the article is: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-mcdonalds-can-fix-customer-service-2013-5

From my experience, I was never really able to distinguish customer service when visiting fast food restaurants. And thus, if McDonald’s were to really improve their customer service and strive to distinguish themselves from its competitors, they might be able to attract more consumers. The article recommends creating a shared emotional experience, such as through more “smiles”.  The article also talks about how some McDonald’s have started implementing a new ordering system where customers walk down registers after ordering, instead of plainly delaying and crowding lines of customers. I think these small changes can definitely change how customers perceive customer service, and can ultimately affect one’s experience at a retail store. So as you can see from this article, McDonald’s still has improvements that it can make. Yet, it has also started to implement changes and I think this is a positive sign, especially considering that just last month, we read a blog post about customer service complaints at McDonald’s. I am greatly intrigued as to how customer service at McDonald’s might change once these small changes are implemented.

9
May

Ironically, the answer to showrooming may be to get consumers to go online. Or at least, that’s what Target thinks. According to a Brandchannel article, Target partnered with Facebook to create “Cartwheel,” a website that “combines social networking and discounts in the retailer’s latest move to lure traffic to its physical stores and away from online rivals.”  The idea behind the site is for Target customers to go on the site to find deals, then when they select a deal, it is posted to the costumers Facebook. The deals are redeemed in the store; thus, the customer has to go to the store to buy the good. Personally, I’m skeptical that this site will do anything to curb showrooming. I think, for most people, a deal would have to be VERY good to motive them to go to the physical store, rather than buy something online. However, given how cheap goods are on Amazon.com, the discounts probably won’t compete with Amazon’s prices or convenience. I think the idea of “combining digital technology with the in-store experience to bridge those worlds” is a really good one, but I don’t think that  Cartwheel is going to be the most successful implementation of that idea. Only time will tell if something more immaginative and innovative than a coupon site that links to Facebook will come along in order to save the brick and mortar stores.

8
May

Issue of convenience

As my time at UVA has come and gone, so too has a restaurant on the corner, known fondly as “Big Dawgs.” While the idea of this dining establishment was by no means novel, it was, however, a viable late night option for the UVA student. Unfortunately this place met its demise, not because of the food it served, but because of its inconvenient location and attempts to play in a saturated corner food market. 

If you don’t know where Big Dawgs, and now Two Guys Tacos, was located, then I wouldn’t be surprised. It sits across from Boylan Heights in a small nook barely big enough for a counter, with no more than 5 inside seats available. This is not the problem with this building, however, as people don’t mind taking their tacos and dogs to go. It’s the issue with location. People want to be on the corner, not off the corner. And to make it to this location, you have to pass the corner and all its wonderful food options. Very few people were and are willing to pass Little John’s, Take-it-Away, and Bodo’s to go get a hotdog, and now, it appears, the same problem is happening with tacos. 

For these places to be successful, they need to be the late night spot for UVA students, but again, they face stiff competition. It is my honest opinion that no place will ever truly be successful in this location, and this space will serve as a revolving door of restaurants trying to get their piece of the corner action. People are already at Trinity, 3, and the Virginian when they are ready to eat late night food, so naturally they head straight to the White Spot, Little John’s, and Qdoba for their late night fix. It’s not necessarily that their food is inferior, it’s just more a matter of location and convenience. 

8
May

Comcast

A few months ago, I had another bad customer service experience with the telecommunications company we all hate–Comcast. Its terrible customer service, bad quality, and price changes really turn customers off. If not for the fact that they are one of two companies in the area, they would have gone of business a long time ago. But that’s probably why they are still getting away with providing such terrible service. For most of the United States, Comcast remains one out of two or three competitors in an industry that is known for bad customer service. Since the competition is doing as bad as they are, why would they bother changing? So they think, but I believe one of these days another company with better customer service will come in take over the market. Companies like CenturyLink, which as similar customer service problems, should also watch out. As our country moves more toward a mobile world and technology becomes ever cheaper, companies like Comcast and CenturyLink who have been surviving due to location and lack of competition will find themselves in trouble.

8
May

Bill Gates has Confidence in PC

“Users are frustrated by the limitations of IPad.” said Bill Gates. And I couldn’t agree more. I got an iPad 2 two years ago, used it for 3 months, and gave it to my little cousin as birthday gift. It was so useless: you can’t open documents, edit files, or do any things that Office can do. I am now thinking about getting a new device, but iPad or any other Android tablets are never my options.

Bill Gates was right. The iPad or tablets are novel, fun, but haven’t satisfied customer needs, not to mention substitued the PCs. The convertible PC is totally a game changer. It has benefits of both tablets and PCs, and the price is reasonable for most of them. Convertible PCs use Microsoft surface, which is also predicted by Bill Gates that will be in large need by customers.

For me, I am never a big fan of Apple. However, I do hope Apple could think more about what a customer want for an iPad and how to increase its value of functionality. Read more and watch the video about Bill Gates’ comments on tablets here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57583023-71/bill-gates-ipad-users-frustrated-need-the-surface/

 

7
May

Best Buy improves customer service in attempt to combat showrooming

According to a Wall Street Journal article, Best Buy is trying to convince consumers to buy at the retail store by improving its customer service, and the man spearheading the effort is Shawn Score, the Senior Vice President of Retail, who started out as a salesman in a Best Buy store. Showrooming is a serious problem for all brick-and-mortar stores, but its especially bad for electronics retailers. Just like Radio Shack, Best Buy suffers from the bad reputation that its employees do not know anything about the electronics that they are selling. To combat this notion and to improve customer service, Mr. Score “has boosted sales training to better educate workers on the products they are selling; begun incentive pay to reward workers who increase sales and help their store sections raise customer satisfaction scores; and made sure managers schedule their most-experienced workers on weekends, when stores are busiest.” Will these changes ultimately bring Best Buy’s margins back into the black? Its definitely a difficult sell, trying to convince consumers to buy in the store rather than cheaper online. I, personally, could be convinced to pay a little bit more if I got extraordinary service in the store, but only time will tell if better customer service will be enough to get others to buy in the store, too.

7
May

Benefits of Big Data

Excited by my email update from ShopAkira, a Chicago based store selling brands similar to that of UrbanOutfitters, I immediately started my online shopping escapade after reading about their 50% special going on that day.  After filling my cart with 3-5 items, however, my conscious began to regain control of my shopping frenzied brain.  A quick glance down at the table where a copy of last month’s bank statement lay, further pushed my conscious mind to the forefront, as I regrettably forced myself to close the ShopAkira tab.  Thank goodness…crisis avoided…or so I thought.

You can image my surprise the next morning when I opened my inbox and found another email from ShopAkira.  The email not only provided a reminder of the items in my cart but further egged me on to finish my transaction by giving me and extra 10% off if I finished making my purchases with in the next 24 hours.  Needless to say online retailer 1, broke student 0… well played big data analytics…well played indeed. 

As mentioned in Precision Marketing, companies looking to take advantage of big data need to use “relevance to retain current customers, maximize revenue potential per customer, help to acquire new customers and build long-term customer loyalty.”  Gone are the days where customer loyalty could be built on mass e-mail spams and high general awareness.  In today’s fast-past, high tech world, online retailers need to send relevant, personal messages to their target segments, in order to build any credible kind of relationship that will result in brand loyalty and increased life time customer value. 

Not only can big data help drive brand loyalty and increase customer value, but it can also help to streamline retail practices/decisions and cut costs.  I recently read an article that talked about how ModCloth, another online clothing retailer, is using big data in new ways to personalize their consumers’ shopping experience.  For instance, their “Be the Buyer” program allows customers to vote on certain products with high-ranking products tagged as “Be the Buyer Picks.”  Each “Be the Buyer” poll generates an average of 6,700 votes and helps ModCloth more accurately predict what new product items will sell or what type of product should be reduced in future inventory purchases by product buyers. 

The article can be found here:

http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2263262/interesting-ways-businesses-use-big-data-to-improve-personalization

7
May

In Quest for New Revenue, YouTube Reportedly Launching Paid Subscriptions

In Quest for New Revenue, YouTube Reportedly Launching Paid Subscriptions

According to the Financial Times, YouTube is going to offer paid subscriptions for special channels, possibly starting this week. Apparently, this is part of an “aggressive push to convince the world that YouTube video content is better than TV, “but is it something that users are willing to pay good money for? This new model is expected to bring more, better content that YouTube users can enjoy.

This new strategy will also create an additional source of revenue for the company beyond its current ad-supported platform. YouTube, which currently has an audience of over 1 billion, has been toying with the idea of subscriptions for a while, calling them “incredibly important,” and the company has long maintained that “different content requires different types of payment models.”

It is believed that these new subscriptions, which could cost only $1.99 per month, may be the springboard for new content, such as original YouTube series and films. Netflix, HBO, and Hulu have all found success streaming their own original content, and YouTube may be looking to follow suit.

Is this the final stage in YouTube’s evolution from it’s user-controlled roots? Or is it just the beginning of the company’s transformation? It will be interesting to see if the website can function as a subscription channel, when it has so long survived as a free source for internet users across the globe.

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