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Are Microsoft and Minecraft a Good Fit?

17 Sep

Mojang, the maker of the highly popular Minecraft video game, has reached an agreement to be acquired by Microsoft. The purchase price is $2.5 billion. The deal is important to both Mojang and Microsoft, the maker of Xbox.

As Mojang posted at its Web site:

“Yes, we’re being bought by Microsoft. Yes, the deal is real. Mojang is being bought by Microsoft. It was reassuring to see how many of your opinions mirrored those of the Mojangstas when we heard the news. Change is scary, and this is a big change for all of us. It’s going to be good though. Everything is going to be OK. Please remember that the future of Minecraft and you – the community – are extremely important to everyone involved. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be that. We can only share so much information right now, but we’ve decided that being as honest as possible is the best approach. We’re still working a lot of this stuff out. Mega-deals are serious business.”

And in this YouTube video, head of Xbox Phil Spencer discusses Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft and Microsoft’s respect and admiration for the Minecraft community.
 

 
But, when the acquisition  is completed, the hard part starts — blending the Mojang culture with that of Microsoft. As Evelyn M. Rusli and Shira Ovide write for the Wall Street Journal: 

News that Microsoft is acquir[ing] Swedish company Mojang AB up a clash of cultures between the corporate giant and Minecraft loyalists — spanning from middle-school children to video-game diehards. To many of its fans, Mojang’s antiestablishment swagger has always been part of Minecraft’s mystique. Mojang, which has only about 40 employees, is run by programmer Markus Persson, who has gained a cult following by publicly blasting big tech companies, including Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Facebook.  Microsoft, pushing 40 and worth about $387 billion, is seen as the software industry’s Goliath.”

“Already, there are signs that a Minecraft game under Microsoft will be different. According to people with knowledge of the matter, Mr. Persson is expected to leave Mojang if Microsoft completes a deal. The company’s game-development office in Stockholm isn’t expected to move or close, a person familiar with the deal negotiations said. On online forums such as Reddit and Twitter, many players questioned whether a sale would destroy the game’s indie spirits. ‘Why pay $2.5 billion for something just to alienate all the fans?’ wrote a Reddit user who goes by the handle Joebovi.”

 
 What do YOU think?
 

A Professional Etiquette Quiz: How Do You Fare?

14 Sep

As defined by businessdictionary.com, general etiquette encompasses “behaviors and expectations for individual actions within society, group, or class.” Professional (business) etiquette “involves treating coworkers and employers with respect and courtesy in a way that creates a pleasant work environment for everyone.”

With this in mind, Careerealism has devised a quiz: “How Good Is Your Professional Etiquette?”

Take this quiz and find out where YOU stand.
 

 

Sensory Marketing – Strengthening Brand Perception by Appealing to All the Five Senses

5 Sep

This guest post was written by Ram Kumarasubramanian. After working for several years,  Ram graduated from Hofstra University’s Zarb School in 2012 with an MBA in Marketing and membership in the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society. He is currently a Master of Science in Information student at the University of Michigan School of Information specializing in Human Computer Interaction. You can connect with him via Twitter or LinkedIn.

Ram
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Sensory marketing or sensory branding refers to the attempts made to indulge and appeal to the senses of the customers while promoting a product, by adopting a multi-sensory brand experience approach.

While brands have always placed an emphasis on providing cues that are geared towards creating the intended perception in the consumers’ minds, multi-sensory marketing aims to step up the experience by engaging all of the five senses or at least a majority of them. Sensory marketing (SM) has come into focus in recent times because of the increased competition for consumer attention. It is yet another weapon that brand strategists are looking to add to their arsenal to keep their products on top on the consumers’ consideration set.

Sensory Marketing is particularly relevant in segments such as luxury goods, retail, and food to name a few.

Take the example of Abercrombie and Fitch that uses a strong masculine scent in its stores, a particular type of lighting that is not too bright, store associates who look like model,s and loud music to resonate with its target market of young consumers.

Australian supermarket Coles uses multi-sensory marketing to induce customers to shop more. Here is a video explaining the techniques adopted by the supermarket to engage all the senses. These include an open layout for the store, access to watch the bakers and butchers in work, allowing customers to handle products without any barriers, and,use of specific scents as well as free product sampling.
 

 
Heinz Beans Flavor (launched in 2013) espouses sound, taste, and smell, touch and sight in unique ways. Food architects Sam Bompas and Harry Parr walk us through the creation of the product that leverages the idea of multi-sensory marketing in this video.
 

 
Applications of sensory marketing can be found in the most unexpected of products. Take the case of tennis balls. Holland-based Vennootschap onder Firma Senta Aromatic Marketing is one of the pioneers in this area and registered the “smell of cut grass” for tennis balls.

A Harvard Business Review study notes that retailers such as Apple have designed stores that allow customers to touch products to enable them to experience a feeling of ownership. The study also notes that the tactile sensation provided by something as trivial as the hardness of the chairs in which shoppers are seated alters the tendency and extent to which the consumers negotiate.

Examples of multi-sensory marketing in food industry are fairly common. Oxford University professor Charles Spence worked with British Chef Heston Blumenthal to create a dish called the “the sounds of the sea.” The dish served at British restaurant ‘The Fat Duck’ is best enjoyed when accompanied by the sounds of ocean waves. Professor Spence also recently noted that global FMCG companies are looking to leverage mobile applications to improve taste perception of their products in addition to changing the color, shape and size of the products without altering the actual formulations.

Although the notion of appealing to the senses to sell products is not new, it is evident that the future belongs to companies that create more than just products or services. It lies within the grasp of brands that are willing to innovate and create buying experiences that take advantage and charm for all of the five senses – touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound.

 

How Healthy Are We? Perceptions Vs. Reality

2 Sep

In this era of consumer self-awareness, marketers are interested in health-related questions such as these: Do you think YOU are healthy? If yes or no, what criteria are you using? Are you being truthful or rationalizing? How would you describe your eating patterns and level of physical activity?

Recently, Nielsen conducted in-depth research on this subject. Here are some meaningful conclusions:

“Despite the recent explosion of the health-and-wellness industry, one-third of American adults remain clinically obese. According to findings in the Nielsen/NMI Health and Wellness in America report, we literally want to have our cake and carrot juice — and eat them, too. For example, while 75 percent of us say we feel we can manage health issues through proper nutrition, a whole 91 percent of us admit to snacking all day on candy, ice cream, and chips. So, why is there a disconnect between our what we know is healthy and what we actually do? What are the perceptions around ‘health foods’ that prevent us from making better choices? And how can retailers help bridge the gap?”

Click the image to access the Nielsen health-and-wellness report.
 

 

Amazon Versus Hachette, Amazon Versus Disney, Etc.

18 Aug

As the world’s largest book seller and online retailer, Amazon is never afraid to flex its muscles with regard to suppliers. So, these questions come into play: Is Amazon acting as an advocate for lower consumer prices (as the retailer claims)? OR is Amazon an unrestrained bully trying to increase its margins at the expense of its content providers (as critics claim)? WHAT IS YOUR CONCLUSION?

For several months, Amazon has been  battling with publisher Hachette. Consider this observation in Catey Hill’s report for MarketWatch:

“Amazon and book behemoth Hachette — along with some publishers’ groups and writers — are at one another’s throats, in a fight that’s escalated just within the past week. Amazon, which accounts for about 60% of the digital-book market, wants to use its market power to get Hachette to lower E-book prices, while Hachette says that this is ‘punitive,’ hurts authors and bookstores, and doesn’t take into account the costs — like royalties, marketing and expenses — that go into creating books. Hachette also notes that 80% of its books are already selling online for $9.99 or less, which is the price at which Amazon hopes to sell many of its E-books. For its part, Amazon has used its leverage against Hachette by delaying shipping and stopping pre-orders on some Hachette books.”

Now, Amazon has also decided to do battle with the Walt Disney Co., another behemoth content provider. Consider this observation in Greg Bensinger’s report for the Wall Street Journal:

“When Amazon.com Inc. wants to fight, it turns to a familiar playbook. The latest to feel the Seattle retailer’s sting is Walt Disney Co. Amazon isn’t accepting pre-orders of forthcoming Disney DVD and Blu-ray titles including Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Maleficent. As Amazon continues its well-publicized battle with Hachette over E-book costs, it has now engaged in a battle with Disney. It is the same tactic Amazon has employed in a bitter four-month spat with Hachette Book Group over E-book pricing. To press its point, Amazon suspended pre-orders for physical copies of many Hachette titles and lengthened shipping times or pared discounts for others. The tactics underscore Amazon’s unusual sway in E-commerce, where it is by far the dominant player, particularly for books and media.”

Click the image to see a Wall Street Journal video on this battle.

Photo by Associated Press

 

Be a Smarter Tourist: Avoid These Scams

13 Aug

It is currently the height of the tourist season in many countries. As such, smart tourists must be aware of — and protect themselves against — the numerous scams that are out there.

As UK-based Just the Flight puts it:

“Tourists are often the most vulnerable to scams; they are probably unfamiliar with the surrounding area; they are often in need of help and information and tend to be trusting of locals; they are likely not to question what they see or are told; they often cannot speak the language where they are; and they are probably carrying large amounts of cash and credit.”

“Most scammers are smart. They know how to cheat money out of tourists in ways that make identification difficult, if not impossible. Some scams are quite obvious once they have occurred, with the victim realizing they have been cheated but only after it is too late. Others are more subtle, where the victim may never realize that anything went wrong, and they rationalize that they have either lost of miscounted their money. Tourist scammers and pickpockets take advantage of weak laws and law enforcement, thereby allowing them to effectively operate indefinitely while nothing is stopping them.”

Take a look at this infographic from Just the Flight and avoid the worst tourist scams.
 

 

Marketing Art at the J. Paul Getty Museum

24 Jul

The J. Paul Getty Museum, located in Los Angeles, Clifornia, is world renowned. Its mission is to: “inspire curiosity about, and enjoyment and understanding of, the visual arts by collecting, conserving, exhibiting, and interpreting works of art of outstanding quality and historical importance.” It “builds collections through purchase and gifts, and develops programs of exhibitions, publications, scholarly research, public education, and the performing arts that engage our diverse local and international audiences.”

The Getty Museum appreciates the importance of marketing. One interesting, marketing-oriented initiative of the Museum is its interactive online discussion of The Life of Art: Context, Collecting, and Display, which is on exhibit at the physical museum:

“Look closely at a work of art and you are likely to uncover clues to a fascinating past and present: an object’s intimate connection to people, places, institutions, and cultures. This exhibition takes four objects from the Museum’s decorative arts collection—a silver fountain, a wall light, a side chair, and a lidded bowl—and encourages you to explore their ‘lives’ through an interactive presentation.”

Click the image to access the interactive online show-and-tell.
 

 

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