Vers un nouveau marketing...(Towards a new marketing approach...)

Vendredi 10 Mai 2013
Extreme couponing experience
When you have a researcher background you cannot be happy only watching or hearing about stuff, you want to experiment by yourself and drive your own conclusions. I had been following the program on TV showing these extreme couponers, impressive! Yes but in reality what does that mean? For 2 months I did the experience. I gathered all coupons I received in my mail box, I bought the Sunday newspapers (per 2 or 3), I signed up to to print the coupons, I went on some brand websites to retrieve their coupons. I looked at the store circulars and matched the store offer with the coupons very carefully. I prepared my list in advance marking the original price, the sale price and the coupons reductions.

I bought couple of times combining both coupons and store offers and yes you can do some significant savings. I did some 57% savings and even once got to the store and paid nothing. Like in the program, I could get stuff for free too.

Now, let’s tell the story from behind the scene:
  • You can get this if you buy very specific products and not necessary your usual products.
  • This strategy works well for personal care products like toothpaste (I got them for free) but less for grocery products as there are very few grocery coupons. I buy more often grocery than personal care products so after a while you are limited.
  • Once you got your blast of toothpaste then you are done. I personally do not need to stock for 10 years ahead. I think I already have enough for a year.
  • Coupons sites ask you to download a toolbar on your browser that is full of spywares and does slow down the computer.

It does work, it is exciting but it is also limited and I do not believe a family can live with this only (unless they have access to coupons that did not come into my radar) as we are not eating toothpaste and shampoo. This was a great fun experience. My kid also loved participating. I keep looking at the coupons as there might always be some opportunity for some products I might be more interested in.

Also I did discover this extraordinary behavior that coupons are for sale! On eBay you can buy/sell all sorts of coupons. This was the most impressive part for me that free coupons can be traded and that there are buyers for these. The customer is ready to pay to make savings and this is a very interesting marketing concept.

It also made me understand that Mr and Mrs America are not about high end brands but about price first. In the case of the extreme couponers, they have no loyalty to the brand, they go for the product that offers the best price. They want the price mainly. If they can get the brand for a very cheap price, they want it and this is one of the component of eBay’ success. Most of the very successful items are branded items at extremely discounted price. All the private sales sites, Fab, LivingSocial do work well because they do give the perception to customers that they offer better prices than retail prices and that for this price they will get high end brands. People feel happy because they saved money even if the product is old, used and more expensive than another product at the end of the day. The brand perception brings the trust, the price brings the trigger and rules the world and this is the new consumption behavior.

Grocery Glee: a great iPad shopping experience
Shopping on iPad can be a great and easy experience! We need to think more and more out of the box. With the millions of apps customers have available, they will not just use your app because it is you. They will use it because it provides them a great experience. On mobile, even more than online, it is all about experience. How fun and easy is it to buy my product?

Grocery Glee is offering a white label solution that recreates virtually the store aisle and enables the customer to browse the products as if he was in the store. From here, the customer can add the product to his basket and get recommendations associated to the product. This is a functionality that the store cannot provide but that the virtual space can.

I like the sleek experience. It is easy and does perfectly the job. The limitation I would see is that in a world where we expect online to provide a larger inventory than the store, if we put too many products for the customer to browse, then we would lose the benefit of the experience.

It has a lot of power when coupled with the shopping list so therefore it does reduce the amount of products and it would be even more powerful if pushed with coupons (only my shopping list that has coupons for example).

Mercredi 20 Mars 2013

Jeudi 14 Mars 2013
Lean In: an interesting fact…
Here is an interesting analysis, based on research, that is stated on the new Sheryl Sandberg’s book and that I extracted from this article.

In 2003, Columbia Business School professor Frank Flynn and New York University professor Cameron Anderson ran an experiment. They started with a Harvard Business School case study about a real-life entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen. It described how Roizen became a successful venture capitalist by using her “outgoing personality … and vast personal and professional network … which included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector.” Half the students in the experiment were assigned to read Heidi’s story. The other half got the same story with just one difference—the name was changed from Heidi to Howard.

When students were polled, they rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent. But Howard came across as a more appealing colleague. Heidi was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” This experiment supports what research has already clearly shown: success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.

…let’s think about it.

Mercredi 13 Mars 2013
It defines the interrelationships between people, technologies and products.

  • A person has her believes, moral, references, history that will have her attracted by a product or by another one. For example, if the person is sensitive to environmental issues, all ‘’green’’ message or products related will have more impact on her than others. If a person is about large American legacy, his interest will turn to such brands.

  • The technology is about how the person experiences the product in such a seamless way she does not even realize that she is using technology. The technology should blend.

  • The product is about the functionalities, the price, the color and all the attributes.

Once the 3 come together we can talk about eCommerce anthropology. If you miss one, you miss them all.

Too often retailers look at one component at a time. They focus on the promotions or they decide that they will launch some ‘’innovative’’ technology in the store. What about there are these people who relate to my brand and who are my biggest buyers of this product and I will create an experience for them to buy even more of this? Or there are these people and based on what I know about them, I am sure they will love this new product so I am going to push it to them in a way that will just make them buy it?

As represented in my article La processus d’achat 2.0, customers have deeply changed their behaviors and relationship to their purchase cycle.
eCommerce anthropology

Mardi 12 Mars 2013
Stop to bullies in schools and in professional lives...

Lundi 11 Mars 2013
Leadership  and sport coaching
It is one of my interests: the relationship that exists between sport coaches and leaders. I already wrote on the subject on my article Coach sportif, manager d’équipe…mêmes pratiques ?.

It is really funny how those who claim having a ‘’sport’’ spirit are sometimes the worst at applying the basic principles in their company. Sport spirit is neither a marketing message nor words, it is an attitude in every day’s life.

Sport spirit is not only about competition, it goes much beyond this. The competition is sound but what makes success is much more important.

A coach implements a self confidence environment and not a fear atmosphere. He creates a team spirit by bringing people together and not putting anybody on the side.

As leaders it means staying next to our people and protecting them to give them time to become every day better. It is about accepting failure and helping overcome the obstacle without judging. The leader does not finger point.

As team members, it means following the coach and applying what he says. It means being behind him and trusting him. It means respecting him. It also means respecting each member of the team and valuating what he brings to the picture. Everybody is here for a reason. A team is a family where we help each other. In hard times, we are all together facing the challenges.

I wrote in another article The Winning attitude: Winners stand firm on values but compromise on petty things; Losers stand firm on petty things but compromise on values. I believe this applies to leaders. It is not about looking at my people weaknesses that are not changing the world; it is about looking at their strengths that are going to have a great impact on the organization and the project.

Coaches John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski tell you in their books: They call me coach and Beyond basketball about the rules they live by and that they transfer to their teams.

As a leader, I will live by those principles no matter what.

Mercredi 21 Mars 2012
There are hundreds of running shoes models and new ones for each season. It is like fashion, you need to follow the trend. Runners are recommended to change shoes every 400 miles so at least 2 to 3 times a year for a normal runner.
The running shoes war

So for the choices, there are the minimalists, the cushioned shoes and the Newton. The minimalists are the big trend lately. I love them, have 3 pairs, but I personally do not rely on them for my long runs. Each specialist goes with his own advice. Some believe the cushioned shoes are better for injuries prevention, others believe the contrary. Then there are the Newton which makes you land on your forefoot. Some again believe this is a revolution, some research are also showing that it is not necessarily improving.

What is interesting in all this is that you can really watch a battle going on between the brands. Runner’s World is publishing a user guide each season and speaking about shoes is always a big topic.

The foot being the base for a runner, I do understand the importance of the subject. At least it makes it tricky for us to choose which pair of shoes to pick and makes it even trickier that when you found them, there is a new model coming up.

RoadRunner Sports understood this and based most of his strategy on it. First of all when you enter for the first time in their store, they offer you a free running diagnosis. You jump on a treadmill, you run, they analyze your foot and they create custom soles for you. Of course they then direct you to buy a new pair of shoes that fits with your running type. I tried this but I am not convinced by their soles at all.

Now the wonderful part is that when you go to register, they offer you to become VIP for a small price and what it means is that you have 90 days to try your new shoes on and return them if they do not fit. No matter how much you soiled them. You can run under the rain, in the mud and still return them. You can then choose another one. In addition you will get 10% off all your purchases and an extra 25% on any second, third and following products you will buy. Wonderful! The risk you are taking buying your new pair of shoes is then minimum. I believe this is a great loyalty system.

So now the new season of shoes is coming. Asics will launch their Nimbus 14 in April, Brooks just launched their last Pure Project model. New models, new colors, you want to have always more and spend always more. Who is going to seduce you this time? Who will make you dream that you will realize your best PR this summer? Who will offer you this sensation that you are invincible? Pick yours…

You order fashion designers’ cloths like if you were in a Runway show. The product does not exist, it is going to be created just for you!

The good thing is that products are only created on demand which prevent creating an unnecessary inventory. Only the exact number of products is created so no issue for storing, ordering, depth of inventory…it is creation on demand!
Moda Operandi: The online Fashion Runway Show

The principle is not extraordinary but it is solving a supply chain issue. With e-commerce, the margins are being reduced and therefore we need to be every day more innovative in order to be profitable. With the cost of free shipping that is eating even more the margin, you can only be profitable if you reduce the maximum number of intermediaries and costs. As I mentioned on my article about Modcloth where they offer the customer to be the buyer, this trend is great for solving one of the biggest cost of retailing.

Vendredi 9 Mars 2012
Word of mouth! It all resides there…What does that mean? Belief and a lot of chance!

The story started back in 1996 when the brand got created. Today, it is everywhere, probably one of the main brands being featured at Dick’s and also one of the brands that big kids tend to like a lot. From basketball shoes to hoodies, the kids have them all.

The Under Armour success story

The Under Armour brand grew mostly by word of mouth, when the founder started distributing his products to several dozen players he knew from his post-high school. Still not enough tho to launch the brand and create a sustainable business. One day it caught a major break when Under Armour was featured in Oliver Stone’s football movie Any Given Sunday.

Today the brand is focusing on innovation and has seen a faster growth than Nike, Puma and Adidas, putting her at the same level as the larger brands. All brands have a stamp and this is one is the one of the warriors.

Mardi 28 Février 2012

I looked at this site as a customer but also as an internet professional. It is not Amazon, it is not Target, but Runningwarehouse has it all!
Runningwarehouse: the small site that has it all!

All the relevant functionalities for customers are here: outfitbuilder, product finders, free shipping, paypal billing, brands search, community, videos, international, good product imagery, product attributes, gift cards.

Let’s be a little more critical, the only functionality I would see missing is the live chat.

This is the beauty of HTML5, you can create responsive design templates, which means it adapts to the device on which it is displayed. You build it once and you reuse it on all your devices!
Responsive design: the answer to the ever changing sizes of interfaces

The content stays the same and does adjust to the size of the interfaces. With this method, you can build only one page and it will adjust automatically to the size of a website, ipad and iphone. In the past, we would have created 3 different interfaces.

What it means, is that we now need to think about common patterns across the interfaces. When I wrote What does iPad bring to web design was the beginning of what our interfaces are going to become.

Responsive design is not only good for coding but also for communication, brand management and customer experience as the customer will keep again and again the same image wherever he is. He will truly have his content on the go and will not be disturbed.

Samedi 18 Février 2012
When you ask customers what is the most important for them for e-commerce, they respond search first, followed by free shipping.

This is a big challenge for retailers to offer free shipping to their customers and still retain their margin. Indeed this eats up the margin and nobody wants that. However, the customer is tired of paying for shipping, he has the expectation this to be free. Either you eat up the margin or roll it into the original price. With the current fight over pricing on the internet, the second seems difficult. Indeed customers are always looking for the best price and will just look up online which retailer is providing the best price for the same product.

Does that mean that online margins are going to shrink even further? It is likely. I would feel weird for customer to roll up the shipping cost on the product right now. We might be able to do it for new products and overall but it can only happen gradually and partially.

In the customer constant quest to get the best price, free shipping plays a big part of this equation. Free Shipping. Org is updating every day the free shipping offers. Free shipping has become a commodity for customers and retailers do need to understand this.

Customers want free shipping!

Vendredi 17 Février 2012
Jet Blue is redesigning his interface. More fun, easier to navigate and cleaner. Redesigning an interface is not only about colors and visual, it is also about functionalities. How do we make it easier for the customer? How can we decluster the interface to remove what is useless and keep only what is important to the customer.
Jet Blue new design

There are 2 approaches to redesign:

  • We keep adding stuff to the site and one day we realize that it is too much to the customer and that he is maybe using only 20% of the proposed functionalities.
  • We define a max number of functionalities that we are putting on the site and any new functionality should be more important to the customer to a previous one before going to production.

A sure thing, is that everybody wants always more and more ‘’stuff’’. We slag new functionalities, new buttons, new whatever, until we get a Christmas tree and that customer cannot find what he wants anymore. I am for slick interfaces. The functionality should serve a purpose. However, I am not for keeping the same years over years because habits evolve, market changes and customers expectations are becoming more specific. It is always an interesting decision that we, as management, need to make when it comes to add new features. What is driving it? Innovation: try and see? Customer: I want this? A good blend of this is always necessary and once in a while we all need to go and do a big spring clean up on our interfaces.

Lundi 6 Février 2012
People love their tablets!

We all know how social is trendy lately. Every retailer is currently trying to crack the code on what social would mean for them and the customer. For me the key is: ENGAGEMENT. How can we manage to create an experience that is not asking too much to the customer and that is rewarding to him? Right now the big driver of social is the coupon or the special offer. Indeed, what would trigger somebody to participate to a community is that he will get special offers that no other will get. The challenge is that what do we ask to the customer in return? Of course the value is in content and we do want them to share content and to create new types of content in order to show their belonging to the brand. However one number that all tend to forget is that only less than 5% (I would say 3%) are really creators. The content creation promise is therefore not as huge as expected. How can we therefore still get customers engage and benefit from the experience?
RNKD: the new social site from Zappos’ founder

RNKD at this point is not answering the questions. I still feel like most of the retailers are still running in circles to find the solution but do not get it.

I believe that the social component should be fully embedded into the shopping experience. It should not be disruptive, it should be part of what the customer does every day. The social component should build return frequency and engagement. Not immediate engagement in term of content creation but engagement to the brand. Once the customer is engaged then he will be the brand advocate and will be likely to contribute more than the average customer.

Therefore, in my mind the social experience should not be created in separate sites, it should be embedded. It should not require customer to do, but customer to receive. We unfortunately often start with the wrong assumptions or not willing to address the true business need. Creating a product means bringing a value. What is the value for the customer and is what I am asking him to do in exchange interesting to him? The best social and easy feature that is working is ‘’Share’’. Customers are willing to share to get some benefits but I do not believe they are willing to upload videos, photos, create articles and other bunch of things in a large proportion but if each customer does create something it is already a lot.

Customers are willing to ‘’Like’’ within the experience, customers are willing to give feedback within the experience, customers are willing to ‘’share’’ to get rewards.
RNKD: the new social site from Zappos’ founder

Zappos does have a site with very powerful customers who are sharing reviews. Also within the site, we can ‘’favorite’’ some brands. So now that I am ‘’fan’’ of a brand why don’t you engage me directly from there and ask me to do ‘’something’’ right there to get a special offer from the brand I like?

I think retailers, not knowing how to crack the code of social, are just timid. They should not be afraid of putting social right in there, where their customers are. The same we offer them reviews, videos, comparison tools, why don’t we offer them social? Because of the fear that some customers might not use it, we prefer to put it in another side and are reluctant from embedding it directly. Do we search on a separate site? Do we checkout on a different site? So why would we engage on a different site?

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