• Malaise At The Movies

    While marketers who are successfully migrating video content onto the web are dancing in the streets, movie theaters continue to reel from falling attendance. Despite the fact that AMC has refitted hundreds of theaters with a more luxurious format and others have begun to sell beer, high-end food, and other value-adding offerings, consumers remain reticent to go to the movies. Revenue for AMC actually dropped almost 9% amidst what industry experts have called a "tough summer", and Regal Entertainment has announced that it wants to be purchased. Uh oh.

    The major culprit here is obviously the continued migration of content and consumers onto the internet, but another less talked-about reason is the low quality of the films. For years movie makers have essentially relied on what they call "tent pole" productions, which are sequels and movies based on established franchises. Original scripts are seen as too risky from a marketing perspective, and so executives would rather opt for the sure thing. And when most new movies are based on older ones, the industry will eventually run out of ideas, at least theoretically, unless the industry experiences a much-needed and long-overdue revolution. I for one, can't tolerate another Ice Age movie or another iteration of Dumb and Dumber (really?!); and disturbing, dystopian movies like Gone Girl feel too much like weird indy films that are trying to be different and shocking just for the sake of doing so. I'd like to leave those for the Sundance Film Festival with all of the other strange productions. As for the mass market, the movie industry can and must do better.

  • Less Water, Less Soap

    Sustainability has many advantages. Take washing machines, for example. The ones we make these days are far more efficient than the models of previous decades, using far less energy and water. And those familiar with washing clothes know that less water means less laundry detergent, less fabric softener, etc., which is clearly bad news for companies that make and market these products. It is true that some folks haven't figured this out quite yet and still use copious amounts of cleansing and softening agents. If your washing machine smells like dirty gym socks then you are almost certainly using too much soap.

    So what does this mean for brands like Arm & Hammer, OxyClean, Tide, and Gain? U.S. detergent sales fell 6.4% from 2009 to 2013, which isn't a terrible contraction, but it certainly looks like a fairly long-term trend. Hopefully the numbers will eventually flatten out as weaker brands exit the market and the knowledge of how much soap to use diffuses across the population, and the category will move from the decline phase of the life cycle back into the maturity phase where brands of all kinds love to sit for years and enjoy fat profits. Funds from these cash cows can, in turn, be used to fund R&D and new product introductions. For growth, these companies will have to look to satisfy existing or emerging needs in other related areas.

  • The NFL's Franchise Wars

    Lots of service companies utilize a "franchise system" wherein individual locations are independently owned, and owners follow strict rules set by corporate paying some version of a royalty fee for the intellectual property rights. This model is extremely common in the restaurant world where brands can expand much faster  if individual owners provide the necessary capital. This is how Smashburger and so many others has become such a national giant in such a short period of time. Spectator sport properties, it turns out, are not much different since franchises are owned by individual owners and the league (a not-for-profit entity, believe it or not) is the overseeing "parent corporation" so to speak. As such, any supervisory entity, like the league or Smashburger headquarters for that matter, must make sure that franchise locations aren't too close to one another where they can cannibalize each other's customers. And with the imminent expansion of the NFL into the grossly under-served, Los Angeles-area market, it looks like the San Diego Chargers are going to put up a bit of a fight before it happens.

    The team ownership (and the only NFL option for fans in southern California) has already filed a complaint to the league saying that it has made a significant investment to attract fans around LA over the past 20 years, and says that 30% of its fans come from that area. If a franchise were to be awarded in LA (and it will probably be the St. Louis Rams coming back), the action would have a huge impact on its business going forward. So much for the rumors that the Chargers might move to LA, where the team actually started. That possibility no longer seems very likely.

    The impact that an LA team would have on San Diego's customers is rather obvious, but is it a good enough reason to stop the league from expanding? No. It's a pretty lame effort actually. Do you think that Tampa Bay was thrilled when Jacksonville got a team? Or Carolina? Or Tennessee? How do you suppose Dallas felt when a the Houston Texans showed up? I'm sure the NY Giants would love for the Jets to sink into the swamps of East Rutherford (or move to San Antonio) but that isn't going to happen. Expansion is a natural and essential part of the franchise system, and the league should certainly make every effort to avoid cannibalization but the whining in San Diego, located hours south of LA, should be redirected into marketing in their own area and fielding a winning team rather than trying to fight league progress and cheat the masses in LA out of an NFL team. Twenty years is far too long. Will it be a return of the Rams or the dreaded Raiders? The above map indicates that there are still lots of Raider fans in southern California so perhaps that will figure into the final decision. Go Rams?

  • A Cronut By Any Other Name...

    ...is still a cronut, but Dunkin' Donuts won't be able to call their new breakfast offering by any such name. The company has announced that it will introduce a new, not-so-groundbreaking offering in an attempt to provide more ammunition for the much-heralded "breakfast wars", a product that will be called the "Croissant Donut". Certainly the amount of thought put into the new product development process is in question, since the "cronut" nomenclature was trademarked over a year ago by Dominque Ansel Bakery, but the product could be a big hit.

    Just because Dunkin' can't use the name, doesn't mean that it can't introduce a very similar product, and on a very large scale. Marketers at the company have opted for a "limited time" introduction to give the impression that consumers should try soon it while it's still around, a call to action, but if the product is successful, it will surely become a part of the product mix. Croissant-donut hybrids aren't really a new thing since bakers have been experimenting with these ingredients on a small scale for 20 years. So, there should be no trademark infringement issues, and perhaps Dunkin' can prove once and for all whether or not this particular hybrid is here to stay.

  • Bigger Nook For Samsung

    It is no secret that bookseller Barnes & Noble has been struggling with a shrinking product category for several years. It has been so bad that major competitor Borders exited the market a few years ago leaving Barnes as the sole large player in the industry. Recognizing the shift in consumer reading habits towards digital formats, the company smartly introduced an e-reader called Nook. But rather than continue to make the tablets itself as it has done for the past several years, the company wisely decided to partner with hardware maker and mobile phone market leader Samsung to make and co-market the devices. The result?

    Introducing the new larger screen Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, which is a rather unnecessarily complicated name for a product, but features a 7-inch screen and retails for $179. This sounds like a great product, but the problem is that tablets have recently become the latest product category to enter the decline phase of the product life cycle, and the category has become increasingly cluttered with competition. Laptops are getting smaller and phones are getting bigger, leaving little room in the market  for the intermediately-sized tablet. So Barnes & Noble continues to operate in product categories with rather bleak futures, books and tablets. For the avid reader, and there are still quite a few of those around, the device comes with $200 of free content and access to both the Nook store as well as Google Play for Android apps. Perhaps marketers at Barnes can achieve good results at least in the short run while the company figures out how to make money in the long run.

  • Search Engine Deception

    Google. Yahoo, and Microsoft, the internet's primary search engines, generate a lot of revenue by offering search-based advertising, When users conduct a search lots of information comes up on the screen. Some of it is "natural" content and some of it is paid advertising. And federal law makes it very clear that search engines must clearly distinguish ads, which are always paid, from content, which is organic. So what's the problem?

    You guessed it. For years, Google, et al. have been moving away from clear distinction and instead have opted for clear deception. The shading of the ads on Yahoo and Microsoft have become almost impossible to see, and Google has removed its color shading entirely, opting instead for a small yellow "ad" disclaimer next to paid links. Why is this a problem?

    When companies mislead consumers, whether intentional or not, the government tends to get involved. and federal regulators last year told these players to get their collective act together. The trouble is that nothing has been done. There is no point in this behavior. Do the search engines really gain fro such practices? It's clear that advertisers do. Can Google charge more for ads that get more clicks? Stay tuned for more on this.

  • Apple's New Luster

    Apple has experienced a rather rough patch since its founder, Steve Jobs, passed away. the company has struggled with innovation opting instead for offering iterative versions of existing products. Its recent iPhone products have sold beautifully both here and around the world, and Apple's borderline prestige-pricing strategy combined with excellent volume sales ensures excellent profits. Although Samsung sells twice as many phones as Apple, prices are much lower and profit margins therefore slimmer.

    While the relatively new tablet market has begun to shrink, phones have become larger and laptops slimmer. There is even a new category called "phablets". Indeed the good news for Apple should energize its often irrationally exuberant fan base and help it maintain its loyal customer base willing to pay a higher price for essentially the same product that other marketers offer for less. This is the essence of brand equity, the value of the brand beyond the product's features and benefits, and Apple has a lot of it.

    The company on the other hand, its new untested Apple Pay system notwithstanding, still struggles with innovation of late. All of this may change with the next big thing, but competition is fierce and the next new, category-busting innovation is always right around the corner. For now, Apple is enjoying a much-needed recharge.

  • Heineken's U.S. Soccer Play

    A couple of decades ago, Heineken was THE import of choice for the upscale beer-swilling crowd, having somewhat replaced the popularity of Beck's in the 80's, and having been replaced since by Stella Artois. The popularity of the beer in the U.S. has further waned in the wake of the craft beer trend, and it appears that marketers are not about to give up the fight for American market share.

    As such, Heineken USA has signed a four-year sponsorship deal to become the official beer of Major League Soccer (MLS) valued at about $40 million, which isn't chump change but it isn't exactly going to break Heineken's bank either. Not only is this a big deal for the growing MLS (not exactly the most sought-after sport property among potential sponsors) as well as for soccer in general here in the U.S., but also for Heineken since this will be the first American sport marketing platform, further deepening its commitment to marketing through soccer around the globe. So will folks be drinking more Heineken as a result?

    There will certainly be a lot more Heineken at MLS games, as the deal almost certainly includes highly-coveted distribution rights at the various soccer stadiums in the league. But will this fan exposure to the product result in more U.S. sales? Heineken thinks so, and look for the company to leverage the $40 million it is spending on the sponsorship using all sorts of other marketing activities including but not limited to a snappy national advertising campaign. This is how it's done in the world of sport sponsorship, and the brand will enjoy at least a bit of resurgence over the length of the agreement. But will the effects be long lasting? Not without continuous effort. Will Heineken be up to the commitment? We shall see.

  • The New Role of Outlet Stores

    Retailers such as The Gap and Nordstrom have long used outlet stores as a way for both manufacturers and retailers to move unwanted inventory that results when sales forecasts overstate consumer demand. These stores, which first appeared in the 1930's and offer discounted merchandise, were typically located far away from the regular stores so as to avoid product cannibalization. Unless the store is far away and reaching a different geographic target market, what is to stop a customer willing to pay the elevated regular price from going to the more-cheaply priced outlet for the same product? Times have indeed changed.

    These days, overruns only account for a minor portion of total revenues at these outlets, and in fact much of the merchandise found in the store is specifically-designed and priced for the outlet. And instead of being in the middle of nowhere, a tourist draw and tax revenue generator for places with names like Silverthorne and Berthoud, they are now commonly located within 30-50 miles of the regular stores. So what about the cannibalization concerns?

    Retailers say that there is only about 10% cross-over in customers for the two types of stores, so there is very little cannibalization. But there is little data to back these claims. even upscale shoppers hanker for discounts, and if the quality at the outlet is comparable, many may opt for the more reasonably-priced items on the rack. And outlet-center growth, which has proliferated over the years, contributes to the cycle of over-discounting, which has especially plagued retailers since the last recession. as the line between the two store formats continues to blur and stores creep ever closer to one another, it's eventually going to be difficult for the retailer to justify both models. More cannibalization is inevitable.

  • Driverless Cars For The Elderly

    By now we have all heard that Google has successfully developed and tested a driverless car, one that actually operates without a steering wheel or brake/accelerator pedals. The future is here, so just sit back and let the technology do the work. This invention, although a long time from being widely adopted on our highways, is already changing the way vehicles are currently designed, and it is possible that with every new model developed, the driver will lose a little more control over his/her vehicle. Since the vast majority of accidents and fatalities are caused by human error, the reality of making the roads much safer through technology, even if it does largely remove our very human need to control things, may eventually be impossible to ignore.

    So, if widespread adoption is decades away, what about initial niche adoption of the ready-to-market technology? After all it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Aging Baby Boomers (between 50-70 years old) and the older Depression-era generation that preceded them might be the perfect initial market for a self-driving vehicle. As older folks lose their mobility, and this will happen within the massive Boomer age cohort much sooner and in greater numbers than previous generations due to obesity, the need for a self-driving vehicle to get them around (especially in the suburbs and in rural areas) will need to be met by some sort of product. Research shows that many these older folks don't show any desire to stop going places as they age and many want a more active retirement than did previous generations, so preserving mobility and therefore independence (as well as public safety) might be facilitated with this driver-free technology. Only time will tell. 

  • Mobile Ads Coming Of Age

    Over the past few years it has become abundantly clear that advertising dollars are rapidly shifting to mobile formats, and that this trend is not likely to abate any time soon. U.S. Annual spending hit $4.1 billion in 2012 and the more optimistic analysts think that number could hit $32 billion by 2017. That's quite a ride, and with most mobile phone users on using their devices almost constantly for so many different tasks, it seems that the opportunities to reach these consumers are endless. But although 69% of brand marketers recently surveyed said they would increase their mobile advertising platform efforts in the next year, only 13% said they were satisfied with their use of mobile advertising channels. And that is a rather large gap.

    And as the English say, it is best to "mind the gap" (especially the ones between the tubes and the rail platforms), so it is clear that something must be done to make these efforts appear more successful to the advertisers paying the bills. So perhaps it is all in the mind of the advertisers themselves, and maybe these efforts really are effective. So what do the data indicate?

    It turns out that almost 70% of the campaigns in the study have either a negligible or negative effects on consumer attitudes towards these products. Ouch. That is a very poor batting average, and almost certainly the intrusiveness of these communications are a primary contributor to the problem. It is clear that traditional tactics, including product claims and repetition might not be well suited to this new medium, and it turns out that the ads that featured products that were both high-involvement and functional for the user 9such as medications, phone service, cars, and banking services) were the most effective. So perhaps short, clever messages that appeal to the cognitive side of consumer learning might be a better strategy. And maybe marketers shouldn't see mobile advertising as a stand-alone activity, but rather as a component in an integrated marketing communications mix. "Reminder ads" have been used effectively in television for many years to support large advertising efforts involving longer commercials, so this shouldn't be too big of a stretch if marketers begin to see the forest through the trees.

  • The Weather Channel's App-etite For Ads

    The Weather Channel's traditional service offering, round-the-clock news coverage hasn't really changed all that much since its inception several decades ago. Sunny days mean fewer viewers while hurricanes, tornados, and other nasty turns of the natural environment signify more viewers. And more viewers means more advertising dollars of course, so it certainly doesn't help much that the past two years have been quiet ones for weather-related events. But with more users eschewing the television channel and even the website itself, they are increasingly making use of its highly effective app, which can give the user a much more location-specific weather report as well as variety of other cool features. Many people visit several times per day, so this means that the app is not only very effective for the user but also a highly lucrative marketing tool for branded advertisers. Maybe the flagship network, as it is now, isn't long for this world. Who knows?

    To go with the app, WeatherFX, an in-house advertising agency at Weather.com, was launched recently to sift through piles and piles of weather data and match it to consumer data provided by consumer-goods giants Wal-Mart and Proctor and Gamble so that it can sell said data to advertisers who are hungry for this sort of consumer information. How about that? By crunching the numbers, market researchers can make rather fascinating discoveries in terms of how weather influences consumer behavior such as:

    *Certain weather conditions at a certain time of the morning in Miami lead to increased consumption of raspberries.

    *A particular dew point means that insect eggs hatch and so consumers in bug-infested places like Dallas race to purchase bug repellant related products on that day.

    *An accurate forecast for humid weather can influence consumers to buy anti-frizz products in anticipation of bad hair days. Pantene even offers "haircasts" on its site.

    *After several days of rain, when Seattle experiences what locals call a "sunbreak" lasting several hours, fruit cup sales go through the roof.

    The Weather Channel app tracks user locations and plans to tailor ads from almost 200 brands (so far) not only to specific weather forecasts but also specific locations. Thus, the app knows where you are and what the weather is and can tailor an ad accordingly. Walking by a Whole Foods is Austin on a humid day, it might be time for a Certified Organic, gluten-free, locally-sourced ice cream cone. Creepy? Perhaps to some, but by using the app the consumer is giving permission for all of this to happen. To marketers it is exactly the way digital advertising is supposed to work. marketers get the information they need to target consumers, the Weather Channel gets revenue so that it can continue to provide content and turn a profit, and consumers get targeted messages that are relevant to them at a particular time and place. Indeed mobile marketing is changing the whole game!

  • Of Peter, Paul and the Environment

    It is often said that with every environmental solution there is an environmental trade-off, a case of 'robbing Peter to pay Paul", if you will. Or even if you won't, and maybe this isn't really said all that often, but this 25-year green products veteran thinks it is often true. Take the development and commercialization of green energy products, such as components used to make windmills, solar panels, etc. as an example.

    A more sustainable energy future is a goal of the vast majority of Americans, and renewable energy might be the cornerstone of that future, but the technology still has quite a way to go, and so it must be heavily subsidized by taxpayers (many of whom mandated the renewable energy by vote). That aside, it is true that these renewables will eventually (and must eventually) replace non-renewable and environmentally-unfriendly sources of energy such as coal, oil, and gas. And so there are quite a lot of solar panels and wind turbines being produced in the name of a more sustainable future. The problem?

    These highly technologically complex products require minerals which are often rare and very difficult and expensive to extract. Lithium, indium, gallium, neodymium, and other mined materials must be extracted to make the stuff that generates the clean energy. But environmentalists tend to hate mining quite a lot since it causes all sorts of environmental and social problems. For example, coal, a mined material which is being rapidly replaced by natural gas due in large part to recent advancements in hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") technology, is a big contributor to global warming and pollution, both bugaboos loathed by environmentalists, due to its extraction impact as well as the pollution generated by burning it. But these high tech helping-minerals must too be extracted despite the rather large carbon footprint of doing so to make components for renewable energy-related products, which have a carbon footprint of their own. This is robbing Peter to pay Paul. All actions by industries and consumers lead to environmental damage and every action has an environmental trade-off.

    Indeed most technology products that all of us, the environmentally-inclined included, use every day have a rather large impact on the environment in terms of materials production, energy consumption during its useful life, and terminal disposal. All products have these environmental costs, but today's technology-driven devices tend to be a bit harder on the environment than products in many other categories. The effects of mining are among these costs, and many environmentalists in their passionate appeal for immediate and drastic action, often forget about the larger picture. It's best that when it comes to environmental issues, all stakeholders look at the big picture at what it takes to make and market a product and work together in the supply chain to minimize negative impact on the environment and all that dwell within it. We aren't about to return to living in trees and caves anytime soon, so mining the necessary materials is mission critical. Gas is replacing coal, and eventually cleaner forms of energy will replace gas. Without environmentally-impactful practices such as fracking and mining, none of this would be possible. 

  • Adidas Facing Challenges

    It may be nearly impossible to unseat market leader Nike, and it is true that upstart Under Armour continues to grab market share, so is there any room in the market for Adidas to grow its business? The company has been rocked over the past few years by declining golf sales (as the sport continues to lose participants) and declining interest in its Reebok line of shoes, but this isn't all that is wrong with the brand here in the U.S. Simply put, Adidas, perhaps in part due to its sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup, suffers from a "too-European" image.

    Do most American kids think of Adidas or Reebok when they are buying basketball shoes, or do they have other ideas? The company is doing fairly well outside of the U.S., but the market here does represent 25% of the company's revenue, and so it's time to advertise! As such, Adidas will be spending a pretty penny on what it describes as its biggest brand campaign ever, but what will the message be? And what creative strategies and tactics will marketers use? Will the focus be on the Adidas brand, will marketers attempt to save the Reebok brand, or will it be a combination of the two? Making a brand cool again is a tough challenge for any brand manager, since perceptions can be very hard to change, and simply throwing money at the problem isn't a good solution. proper planning and implementation will be of paramount importance, as will engagement through social media to buffer the big spend. Adidas must act to "de-Europeanize" the brand here in the U.S. or face becoming increasingly irrelevant in an increasingly hyper-competitive marketplace.

  • Apple's Strange Supply Chain Strategy

    Supply chain relationships are a big deal. Whenever a marketer decides to make an ingredient or a component change in any finished good, it can sometimes be very difficult. Apple's iPhone series, manufactured in Asia, relies on components from several different suppliers, and a few years ago product developers decided that they wanted to begin using a different type of material for their screens. Sapphire. So Apple formed a strategic alliance with a company called GT Advanced Technologies and made payments toward building a new sapphire manufacturing facility in Arizona. Sounds great, right? But Apple, without explanation, later refused to make the final payment on its investment. What happened?

    It looks like Apple decided not to use sapphire in its iPhone 6 after all, although it still plans on using the mineral in the upcoming launch of its smart watch products. And it turns out that betting on a new technology and a new business model for a single client (Apple) wasn't such a great strategy for GT Advanced. When that large and influential client decided at the last minute that sapphire screens were entirely too breakable for its iPhone screens (especially the larger screen version of the product), GT Advanced found itself without any other meaningful buyers for their product. And now the company has filed for bankruptcy protection.

    Apple is certainly not the only game in town when it comes to hardware, so perhaps another manufacturer might swoop in and save the company from its myopic decision-making, or perhaps it is too late. Bankruptcy will give the company protection from its creditors and time to get its act together, but finding customers for a screen that breaks too easily might be a rather tall order. Will Apple's smart watch business be enough to keep the reorganized company afloat? The lesson here is an easy one. Diversify your supply chain. Don't put all your apples in one basket. And if you happen to be Apple, making phones with screens that break is not a good idea, but even so it might be better for this company with billions in cash to honor its supply chain commitments in the name of goodwill and future relationships. And now it just might have to find a new sapphire supplier for its smart watch screens as a result. Why would Apple do this over what amounts to be chump change? What a mess.

  • Target Marketing Gone Wild?

    Marketing students learn about market segmentation, the act of breaking down an aggregate group of consumers into several smaller segments for the purpose of finding an appropriate target market, at a very early point in their education. And this is for good reason, since mass marketing continues to get increasingly difficult to execute effectively. But with the digital information age in full swing and consumers all too eager to share personal information, it is getting easier for data mining firms to develop profiles of consumers and place them onto very valuable lists. Addressing consumers based on their wants and needs is really the entire model for the internet, but privacy advocates think that marketers can do much more to protect consumers. Yet there is just so much money to be made.

    The "privacy thing" gets especially dicey when it comes to medical conditions, which many people consider to be very personal and the non-disclosure of which by healthcare organizations is encouraged by law.. But lists consisting of likely consumers with erectile dysfunction, for example, are going for almost 20 cents per name, and households with one or more Alzheimer's patients are worth 15 cents per. How is this so, if this information is supposed to be private? The "list industry" consists of almost 1,500 companies that sell consumer data based on information shared by consumers, and collected to be resold to marketers who then use the data to get yet more sales. Consumers willingly share this information online all of the time, and it is unlikely that many of them know the extent to which they can be profiled on all sorts of behaviors. Certainly increased regulation is in our near future, right?

    So far there has been no consumer uprising of any consequence, but most polls do suggest that privacy is a big issue for the majority of people; and perhaps collecting health data may be taking things a bit too far. The data mining practice with regard to health conditions isn't illegal as long as the consumer has shared the information with a non-healthcare third party, and it is true that many marketers firmly believe that consumers do in fact desire marketing messages that are relevant to them. Knowing about certain psychographics can help marketers develop more effective communications. So what do consumers really want? A "free" internet requires that revenue be generated by sources other than direct payments from consumers, and so advertising must drive this revenue. Remember that consumer attitudes about privacy revealed in surveys are one thing, but actual consumer behaviors are quite another when ti comes to trading data (and privacy) for largely free internet content. Given our adaptability to the changes that new technologies demand, it would seem that the privacy advocates have a tough row to hoe.

  • More Consumers Going Dry

    A growing number of people in the U.S. are scaling back on daily hair washes and some are instead opting to use dry shampoo instead. The stuff that comes from a can or bottle is not a new invention, as I recall a brand in a pink and white aerosol can called "Pssssst" from my childhood. But it seems that busy folks are not only cutting down on traditional breakfasts, as we have covered in previous posts, but also the time consuming task of washing hair, and so the category is being revitalized.

    A five-ounce bottle of Pantene's Original Fresh dry shampoo runs only seven bucks, but traditional shampoos can be priced much lower, so price isn't really much a driver here. And being too busy can't be the only market driver here. Apparently there is growing research that indicates the nation may be over-washing its collective mop to the detriment of the nation's hair health, so this might be a primary reason why women in particular are increasing the time between washes. In addition, many of these dry shampoos contain nourishing natural ingredients that tend to preserve oils, and some also have coloring agents that help consumers preserve color treatments, so functionality in addition to cleansing may be helping drive the market.

    This segment isn't necessarily taking the rather mature hair care industry by storm quite yet, but big companies are taking notice of shifting consumer preferences and have added dry shampoos to their product mixes. Rogaine has already successfully marketed its hair regrowth drug as an over-the-counter foaming product, so I wonder how long it will be until all sorts of dry powder hair and scalp-related products are on the market. Hair care is hair care, and this delivery system is likely to have a variety of useful applications. As for the dry shampooing trend among consumers, who knows whether or not it is here to stay this time? I used to wonder whatever happened to "Pssssst", but it looks like it's still around.

  • Advertising Week Has Digital Focus

    It seems that advertising executives simply can't stop talking about the migration of marketing dollars from traditional formats such as broadcast, print, and outdoor media, towards online formats. And who can blame them? It's happening very, very quickly. With this in mind, 95,000 marketing professionals descended on New York this week for this year's Advertising Week conference. The focus this year, of course, is on digital media.

    From the non-stop proliferation of social media to algorithmic ad buying, times have certainly changed for marketers, and the challenge for veterans is figuring out how to change with them. That's what educational conferences are for, and Advertising Week is a very large conference. Internet advertising across all mediums is expected to be 24% of global ad spending in 2014, and for the first time may exceed the combined revenue generation of newspaper and magazine print editions. Programmatic ad buying, another hot topic, is utterly transforming how marketers made media buying decisions, and in most cases is removing human decision-making entirely. What does this mean for the advertising industry as a whole?

    No one really knows, but it is clear that understanding the increasing role that technology plays in all aspects of marketing is becoming critical to success. Older executives may struggle with this, but fresh graduates might provide the necessary skills and new perspectives that decision-makers might need. To be sure, traditional media is not going away, so digital advertising must be considered within the framework of a cohesive integrated marketing communications plan. But its role, especially with regard to mobile applications, is becoming central to marketing strategy. Marketers take heed!

  • Yoga Wear For Men

    Lululemon, a purveyor of premium yoga-wear, has apparently weathered the storm brought on by high-profile supply chain defects (see-through yoga pants) earlier in the year as well as some comments made by its CEO regarding the appropriateness of certain-sized women wearing Lululemon apparel. Nevertheless, it looks like loyal users have stuck with the brand, and of course we all know that the activity continues to increase in popularity, plowing fertile ground for new customers to adopt the brand. But until now, the yoga industry has largely ignored the male segment of the yoga crowd (which at last count was about 20% of the total), allocating minimal space for men's wear.

    Recognizing a possible unmet need in the market, Lululemon has announced that it is opening its first stand alone men's store in lower Manhattan. And it's New York after all, so if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. Right? Well not exactly, but success in that high-end market might suggest that the company would expand to high end areas in other large cities like LA, Chicago, and San Francisco. But will it work?

    Lessons we have learned over the past decade with regard to the massive growth of personal care products targeted toward men suggest that it will indeed work if the marketing mix is right. Lululemon is a successful, vertically integrated manufacturer/retailer and so it has quite a bit of control when it comes to marketing decision-making. The market is certainly there, and addressing this growing market segment with a proper blend of product, price, and promotion sounds like a good play for a growing brand.