Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Microsoft Markets the Launch of Windows 10

Not known for giving much away, Microsoft is introducing the long-awaited new Windows 10 operating system as an upgrade freebie (for now). Ultimately, Win 10 will be in place across platforms, so users don't have to learn new systems for each product.

One obvious result is that current Windows users are more likely to upgrade to Win 10, a major consideration at a time when some PC users are considering changing to Apple products because of their good experiences with the iPhone, the iPad, and other well-known products. Another result is that PC sales--currently stalled while users await reviews of Win 10--should begin to edge upward for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.

Free means users have an opportunity to experience all the bells and whistles without financial risk. And Microsoft is playing up the user-friendly aspects of Win 10, including Windows Hello (facial recognition as a security feature) and Microsoft Edge (a new Internet browser that could reignite the browser market-share wars).

Microsoft thoroughly tested this new OS with more than 5 million beta testers, and decided to roll it out around the world, with launch events on every continent. From Beijing to Berlin, New York to Nairobi, engineers who worked on Win 10 will meet with fans and discuss the new features and benefits. Of course the 20 million Windows fans on Facebook already know some of the details from frequent posts.

Will Windows 10 gain rapid acceptance and diffusion among users? Will it polish Microsoft's reputation for user-friendly innovation? We'll have to give the new OS time and see how reviewers and users react in the coming months.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Read About Marketing Around the World

Interested in the latest news of marketing from around the world? Here are a few selected publications you can check with a click:
  • Marketing Magazine (Canada) - covers the range of marketing throughout Canada, including goods and services . . . retailing . . . advertising . . . mobile marketing and payments . . . and more. Always new content posted, so check back often.
  • Asahi Shimbun Business (Japan) - English-language site with top business news of Japan and the region, including the latest on brand marketing and management by Sony, Brother, Panasonic, and other leading companies. 
  • BBC Business News (global) - International coverage and analysis of marketing and business trends, brand news, opportunities and challenges in the worldwide economy.
  • Sydney Herald (Australia) - Reports on business and marketing in Australia and the Pacific, with spotlights on retailing, economic influences, branding, and more.
  • London Evening Standard (England) - News updates on businesses, brands, marketing, economic conditions, regulatory changes, retail trends, and other key news affecting marketers in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Aftermath of Amazon Prime Day

Seems that reaction to Amazon Prime Day was mixed: There were some big bargains, but not as big as on Black Friday. Naturally, Amazon put its own products front and center, and the limited quantities of promo-priced Kindles and other items sold out quickly.

Although social media lit up with Prime Day mentions, the number was far lower than Black Friday mentions on the day after Thanksgiving. Just as bad, sentiment was mixed--with a lot of posts expressing disappointment at the "garage sale" nature of many products featured for sale. Some social media mentions used the hashtag #PrimeDayFail to describe their disappointment.

Yet sales were definitely higher for Amazon, and the full-day promotion sparked higher awareness of Prime. One analysis shows that nearly half of Amazon's customers are Prime members--an estimated 44 million people who can click for the special deals, the free video streaming, the free Kindle library, and more.

So all in all, no matter what the critics say, Prime Day turns out to be a win for the now 20-year-old pioneer of online retailing. And you can be sure Amazon will learn from this year's experience and boost its bargains to a higher level next year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amazon vs Walmart on Prime Day

Amazon is running an exceedingly clever promotion for its 20th anniversary: For its Prime members only, special deep discounts will be offered throughout the day on July 15th. Think how many consumer behavior hot buttons this marketing tactic pushes:
  • "I'm a member of an elite group" entitled to special privileges not accorded to outsiders--which reinforces the positive associations of paid-up Prime membership.
  • "Limited time only, act now" call to action increases the urgency to click and buy--on Prime Day. And some research indicates that many Prime members will do just that.
  • "Like Black Friday only more bargains" has little competition in the middle of July, when others are running summer clearance sales or back-to-school deals--so Prime Day gets a lot of attention and differentiation.
  • "Members have privileges" as long as they continue to be members--so loyalty increases.
Walmart is going head-to-head with Amazon by aggressively promoting its own special deals on July 15th, intensifying the message that the day is for bargain hunting. "Dare to compare: Top products, lower prices" is Walmart's theme, encouraging consumers to confirm that Walmart's price on featured products is lower than Amazon's price on those same products. Walmart's deals are open to all, whereas Amazon's deals are for Prime members only (Prime membership can be sampled for free for a limited time, of course).

If Prime Day catches on, other retailers may follow (by promoting their own "members only" day or by hitching their wagons to Amazon's day, the way Walmart is doing). Consumers will be the big winners, no matter which retail giant they buy from.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What's Happening in Marketing at P&G

P&G cites five core strengths as its key to marketing success in consumer products. Shown above, from its website, the core strengths include understanding consumers, innovating based on consumer desires, building brands, building on go-to-market capabilities, and leveraging scale for efficiency.

The company continues to pare its brand portfolio so it can concentrate on its most powerful products and categories--the two dozen, in particular, that generate annual revenue over $1 billion. A deal is in the works to sell beauty brands including Cover Girl to Coty, for example. 

Yet in the quest to innovate, P&G may make changes that freshen up the product within P&G's product line but don't necessarily resonate with the target market. The result: product proliferation that confuses the customer without adding to the top or bottom lines. In fact, the CEO recently said: "New isn’t the best product in the store, the best product in the store is the one she or he wants, purchase more often, uses more often and comes back to," he said.

In addition, the company is streamlining marketing communications and pushing deeper into digital. As a result, P&G is looking to shrink its roster of marketing agencies and save money in the process.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Polaroid Swinger and Other Game-Changers of Yesterday

Today's New York Times has an article about the popularity of the Polaroid Swinger "instant" camera, which debuted 50 years ago--and became a game-changer in the mass-market for cameras.

Before the Swinger, instant photography was expensive and geared to relatively affluent adults. The Swinger was designed and priced specifically for baby-boomers who were, at the time, in their teens and early twenties and eager to conveniently snap photos of daily life.

Remember the Flip digital video camera? It, too, was a game-changer, pocket-sized and affordable and easy to use without having to insert tapes or other media. Point, shoot, and upload. Once Cisco Systems bought it, however, its life was limited because the new parent really didn't understand the consumer product world. The product was discontinued in 2011 and support was discontinued in 2013.

Not fads, the Swinger nor the Flip, just handy, timely, and innovative products for the mass market. Both achieved rapid adoption after they were launched and both were successful in their day, if short-lived. Now they're only memories because of advances in technology and changes in consumer behavior.