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What Happened to The Limited?

19 Jan

After more than 50 years, youth-oriented women’s apparel retailer The Limited has announced that it is shutting all of its 255 stores and will focus on its online business going forward. Some experts, the retailer will be sold or shut in the not-so-distant future.

Click the image to see the sales now available online.


What happened? As reported by PYMNTS.com:

“According to Fortune, Sun Capital Partners sent a letter to investors explaining that it had invested 1.8 times its $50 million investment in Limited stores. The disclosure outlines how the private equity firm will still be able to garner a profit from the investment, despite the fact that the equity value of Limited has been written down to zero.”

“’We have worked very hard and made significant investments over nine years to improve operations and create a sustainable business at the Limited,’ Sun Capital told Reuters in an E-mailed statement. ‘In an increasingly challenging environment for mall-based retail and women’s apparel, we are very disappointed that the company has had to make the difficult decision to close its retail locations.’” 

“All brick-and-mortar locations of the Limited were closed effective Jan. 8. The Limited’s web site continues to display deep discounts and a change in the return policy: ‘All sales are final.’ However, it’s not clear how long the retailer will continue to sell items online.”

 

Self-Branding for Professional Success: An In-Depth Discussion

10 Jan

Want to learn more about branding and its features—including the evolution of branding and brand positioning? Want to learn more about how to create and nurture your own self-brand to enhance your professional growth opportunities? If you answer yes to either question, then this article is “must reading.”

The first part of the article (pages 1-10) covers the evolution of branding concepts, brand positioning, brand equity, the role of communications (including new media), and corporate branding.

The second part of the article (starting on the bottom of page 10) focuses on such aspects of self-branding as these: the factors impacting one’s professional self-brand, steps in self-branding, personal branding SWOT analysis, a career ladder approach to self-branding, self-brand management and re-invention, and creating and sustaining an online self-brand.

To enhance the discussion, there are several practical and colorful figures that illustrate the keys to superior professional self-branding.

[Click the IN logo at the bottom of the slideshow to access and download a PDF version of the paper.]

 

 

A Customer Service Infographic

9 Jan

Last week, we wrote about one aspect of customer service — the firm’s return policy — and its impact on consumer satisfaction.

Today, we are presenting a broad-based infographic on good customer service that was developed by  Exponential Solutions (The CUBE) Marketing. Thanks to Steve Hashman, one of the company founders, for providing the infographic.
 

 

2017 Global Economics Interview with Hof Prof

5 Jan

Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business Distinguished Professor Joel Evans was recently interviewed by the award-winning Hofstra radio station WHRU about the upcoming 2017 global economy. Here is that EIGHT-minute interview. The views are those of Professor Evans and not Hofstra University.

[Please pardon all the sighs. Professor Evans is not in a state of distress, only in a state of bronchitis. 🙂 ]

 

 

Customer Service Means a Good Return Policy

3 Jan

Now that the 2016 holiday shopping season is over (except for spending gift cards), a vital question to consider from both the customer’s and retailer’s perspective is: What kind of return policy best serves my needs? For many consumers, the answer may be: an unlimited time frame to return a purchase. For many retailers, the answer may be: holding down costs as much as possible. In either case, the return policy is a key element of customer service.

These are some return practices disliked by consumers: [Note: Many good retailers do not follow these practices.]

  • An overly short time period to make a return for a full refund.
  • The amount of the refund for a gift item when the gift recipient does not have a receipt.
  • A discounted refund merely for opening the product’s box.
  • The time to process a refund for a return.
  • Items excluded from refunds, such as computer software.
  • The shipping fee to return a purchase made online.

 
Two of the acknowledged leaders are Amazon, whose return policy is easy to use and consumer friendly, and L.L. Bean, whose return policy has received various honors and awards.

As a prelude to a YouTube video about returns at L.L. Bean, Business Insider’s Sam Rega recently stated: Here’s what makes L.L.Bean’s ‘100% satisfaction guarantee’ the best return policy of any retailer.”
 

 

Technology and Planned Obsolescence

27 Dec

As we approach the end of 2016, we are going to present some of the most popular of the nearly 1,500 posts that have appeared on Evans on Marketing. Today, we cover the topic of planned obsolescence.

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As defined in Evans Berman’s Marketing: “Planned obsolescence is a marketing practice that capitalizes on short-run material wearout, style changes, and functional product changes. In material planned obsolescence, firms choose materials and components that are subject to comparatively early breakage, wear, rot, or corrosion. In style planned obsolescence, a firm makes minor changes to differentiate the new year’s offering from the prior year’s. With functional planned obsolescence, a firm introduces new product features or improvements to generate consumer dissatisfaction with currently owned products.”

In recent years, NO company has applied planned obsolescence more than Apple. Yes, this practice has led to rapid advances in the technology of music players, tablets, and smartphones. But, does Apple’s philosophy also spur consumers to buy new product versions that they don’t need?

Apple has recently been criticized for its planned obsolescence strategy. Do YOU agree with this criticism?

Consider these observations by Catherine Rampell, writing for the New York Times:

“The new software and recent app updates from Apple offer fancy new features that existing users want; maybe the battery is sealed with tiny five-point screws for aesthetic considerations. Perhaps, but this isn’t the first time that tech analysts and random crazies on the Internet have noted that breakdowns in older Apple products can often coincide with when upgrades come onto the market. Many have taken this as evidence of ‘planned obsolescence,’ a term that dates to the Great Depression, when a real-estate broker suggested that the government should stimulate the economy by placing artificial expiration dates on consumer products so people would buy more.”

“There is, however, a simple way to effectively render an old product obsolete without fleecing your existing customers. Instead of degrading the old model, companies can offer innovations in the new model that make upgrading irresistible. Apple succeeded at doing this for a while, offering new iPhones that included major improvements. In the past, consumers were so excited about the cool new features, like Siri, the voice-activated interface, that they may not have minded (or even noticed) if their old phones started to deteriorate; they planned on upgrading anyway. This time around, that’s less true. The iPhone 5S and 5C offer fewer quantum improvements. Consumers are more likely to want their old phones to continue working at peak condition in perpetuity, and to feel cheated when they don’t.”

[Note from Evans on Marketing: Many consumers still believe that Apple practices planned obsolescence with its latest lines of phones, tablets, and computers. In 2016, for the first time in years, had a quarterly sales drop. Do YOU agree or disagree?]

 

 
Click the image to read more.

Illustration by Kelsey Dake

 

Best Business Decisions Ever?

19 Dec

As we approach the end of 2016, we are going to present some of the most popular of the nearly 1,500 posts that have appeared on Evans on Marketing. Today, we cover our MOST popular post ever.

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In 2012, a book titled The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time was published. This book is by Verne Harnish (CEO of Gazelles) and the editors of Fortune.

As Fortune’s Brian Dumaine said:

“Once in a great while a leader makes a truly game-changing decision that shifts not only the strategy of a single company but how everyone does business as well. These big decisions are counter-intuitive — they go against the conventional wisdom. In hindsight, taking a different direction may seem easy, but these bet-the-company moves involve drama, doubt, and high tension. What made Apple’s board bring back Steve Jobs to the company?”

“What motivated Henry Ford to double the wages of his autoworkers, and how did that change the American economy for the next century? Why did Intel decide to spend millions to brand a microchip? The following stories, adapted from the new book The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time, provide the background to these pivotal moments. You’ll learn how these groundbreaking decisions have shaped the thinking of today’s top leaders.”

 
Click the image to read the introduction of the book. [Please note: Since the publication of the original post, Fortune has removed its excerpts. However, the book introduction may be accessed from Amazon. After clicking the book cover below, wait for the pages to fully load; then scroll down to the introduction (which starts at p. 27). It is VERY interesting.]


 
What other “big” business decisions would YOU cite besides those noted?
 

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