Tag Archives: business model

Rogue One: May the Force Still Be with You

1 Dec

Last December, we wrote about the smash holiday sales of Star Wars toys, tied in to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

This year, on December 16, 2016, the latest Star Wars (Rogue One) installment will hit theaters. So, this post takes a look at some of the milestones the series has achieved — and at the new movie.

Here are some pre-Rogue One cumulative data for Star Wars, compiled by Statistics Brain:

  • More than $30 billion of revenue has been generated.
  • The global movie box office has reached $6.25 billion.
  • VHS/DVD/Digital revenues have hit $5.5 billion.
  • TWELVE billion Star Wars toys have been sold.
  • Book sales have exceeded $1.8 billion.
  • $3.5 billion worth of videogames have been sold.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the tie-in blitz (yes, these items are ready for you to buy!) for the upcoming Rogue One, reported by Erik Kain for Forbes [Note: This list is NOT a commercial; that’s why there are no product links. The list is only intended to show the mania surrounding any new Star Wars release.]:

  • LEGO Sets — “LEGO has been at the forefront of all things Star Wars for ages. This year is no different. LEGO has released some truly awesome sets to celebrate the new film.”
  • Rebel U-Wing Fighter — “If you’re looking for something a bit more heroic, look no further than the Rebel U-Wing Fighter. This is a nice twist for Star Wars fans, since we’re all pretty used to X-Wings by now. The set is a bit less complicated than the previous one, with an 8-14 age rating and just 659 pieces.The U-Wing may be the main attraction, but the characters it comes with are awesome.”
  • Video Games — “Star Wars: Battlefront is an online multiplayer shooter that pits the Rebels vs the Empire in maps on planets from across a galaxy far, far away. There’s content from Episode VII like Jakku, and there’s content from the original trilogy, including the moon of Endor. On December 6th, the final DLC pack drops, and it includes content from Rogue One. The Rogue One: Scarif pack will let gamers experience battles on the film’s planet Scarif a full ten days before they can on the big screen.”
  • Books — “Most of the books coming out about Rogue One won’t release until after the movie (because of obvious things like spoilers). Still, here are some options for die-hard Star Wars fans looking for some art and literature tie-ins to Rogue One.
  • Action Figures — “The larger ‘Black’ series figurines are especially great both for kids and collectors. You can get the 6″ Jyn Erso figurine for $12.50, Rogue One pilot Cassian Andor for $15.49; and the sleek Imperial Death Trooper for $15.99.”
  • Figurines — “An alternative to action figures, Funko’s POP figurines are as cute as they are addictive. Be careful when you start buying POP characters, because there always seems to be another one that’s even cuter. In any case, there’s tons of characters from Rogue One to choose from, ranging from a little over $5 to a little over $8.”
  • Razors — “A little off the beaten path of toys, books, and video games, we come to very sharp blades. Razors, to be precise.Gillette has some pretty cool razors available with some Rogue One branding. The boxes are cool because they have some great artwork, but the insides are also pretty neat.”

 

 

10 Tips on How Companies Can Be More Customer-Centric

17 Nov

A while back, Professor Joel Evans of Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business wrote an article about “Customer Centricity” for Promo Magazine (now part of Chief Marketer.)

The essence of that still rings true today — even more so given the level of competition faced. Here is that article (with only slight edits).

We are now in an era where the marketplace is so cluttered that it is more difficult than ever for any one firm to stand out from the competition—or even be recognized. As a result, a customer-centric approach is imperative.

Most firms promote as fact that they are customer-centric. Many even believe they are. But, one of the most abused terms in business is customer-centric. Here are three true examples to illustrate the point: (1) A leading department store branch is busy. In the women’s apparel section, the checkout line is long. In the shoe department (which is not leased), no one is waiting on line. The sales clerk refuses to ring up any apparel sales. The department store prides itself on outstanding customer service. (2) A customer buys a $100 gift card from a leading consumer electronics chain. The gift recipient spends $90 at the chain and asks for the balance to be remitted in cash. The request is refused. The chain prides itself on outstanding customer service. (3) A local bookstore promotes a policy to “beat any prices.” The policy is good for only three days after a purchase. The bookstore prides itself on outstanding customer service.

There are several things that firms of any type or size can do to truly be customer-centric. Here are 10 ways to facilitate the process:

ONE — Be your own customer. Interact with salespeople. Visit all your facilities. “Think like a customer.”

TWO. Be proactive. Use mystery shoppers to engage your employees in various types of situations. Do customer surveys. Adjust practices as necessary.

THREE — Encourage employee empowerment. A number of firms have cut back on employee flexibility in “bending the rules” for fear of hurting profitability. Yet, research shows that customers are more loyal when they feel the company listens to them.

FOUR — Small gestures can be big. Take a look at “Simple Truths of Service” and see how.

FIVE — Be as honest and informative as humanly possible. Don’t run a full-page ad with the word “SALE” if not all the items in the ad are actually on sale.

SIX — Every firm should offer a meaningful loyalty program. There’s no better way to be customer-centric than to reward continued patronage.

SEVEN — Match your sales staff requirements to your positioning. It is okay for Walmart to have a limited number of sales workers on the floor because of its low-price, self-service approach. Likewise, it is proper for Best Buy to have a lot of staff on the floor since it promotes more personal service.

EIGHT — Use customer-friendly signage. I once addressed a group of supermarket executives and made what I thought was a rather non-provocative suggestion: Have a large sign at the entrance depicting the full layout of the items in the store. My reasoning: With more men starting to shop in supermarkets, better signage was needed. The intense negative reaction to this suggestion was stunning. The supermarket executives thought this would cut down on impulse shopping. My response: If shoppers feel more comfortable and knowledgeable, there will be more impulse shopping—not less, I lost that battle. Supermarkets (and many others), for the most part, still do not have enough customer-friendly signage,

NINE — Run special-themed promotions throughout the year that are NOT price-oriented. Too often, firms view promotions only as “sales,” and run them frequently. However, promotions do not have to just focus on price. (Such tactics typically encourage customers to wait for the inevitable sale and not buy on full price). Examples of good promotions: Contests don’t only have to coincide with special events, such as the Super Bowl. Similar activities can be done at other times. Be creative!

TEN — Encourage employees to be more customer-centric. All those who personally interact with customers should have name tags—from the sales staff to senior executives. Every person who answers the phone (or makes calls) should state his or her name. Employee photos should be prominently placed. Recognition of good employee performance should be posted. One nice thing that I always observe is when a company has a parking space designated “employee of the month.” This is a signal that the company cares about people.

 

Can You Personalize Marketing without Shopper Participation?

16 Nov

One of the toughest issues for marketers to deal with in this high-tech world is how much to personalize their communication and offerings. On the one hand, marketers need as much customer information as possible to target individual shoppers more specifically. On the other hand, many customers want their privacy and do not appreciate it when they think they are overly tracked.

What do YOU think is the proper balance?

Here the thoughts on this subject by Louis Foong, the founder and CEO of ALEA Group Inc., (a B2B demand generation specialist):

“You want to give your prospects and customers a seamless, personalized, and sublime experience, and you know that you can’t do that without collecting their personal data. The trouble is, a lot of your customers don’t like the idea of sharing their information with you – what exactly are they so afraid of?”

“Findings by Boxever show that attitudes toward personalization and privacy are complex, and there are a few reasons why many of them are so against sharing their personal information with companies. The infographic below shows the trickiness of balancing privacy concerns and effective personalization.  Customers are also wary about receiving spam mail or offers that aren’t relevant to their interests. Only 14% of people say data collection through connected devices will improve their life.The other 86% either aren’t sure or don’t think it will improve their life.”

 
Here is the challenge.


 

A Post for iPhone Loyalists

4 Nov

Over the years, Apple has revolutionized the smartphone industry — sometimes, with great advances from model to model; and other times, with more modest changes.

According to Statista:

“Since its introduction in 2007, Apple’s iPhone sales have consistently increased, going from around 40 million units sold in 2010 to more than 230 million iPhones sold in 2015 alone. iPhone sales worldwide generated more than 155 billion U.S. dollars in revenues in 2015. As sales increased, the iPhone gained space within the company, and has become the most successful Apple product to date. “

“The iPhone’s share of the company’s total revenue has jumped from about 25 percent in the beginning of 2009 to around 70 percent in the first quarter of 2015. As of the first quarter of 2016 (4Q ’15 calendar year), iPhone’s share of Apple’s revenue was at 68 percent, the third highest figure to date. Much of the iPhone’s success can be attributed to Apple’s ability to keep the product competitive throughout the years, with new releases and updates.”

 
Here’s an interesting video that shows how the iPhone has evolved over the years across several attributes.


 

Can You Start a Business in Your Garage?

1 Nov

Forty years ago, Apple was founded by 20-something young guys– some say, in a garage (Steve Wozniack disagrees with that depiction 🙂 ). Despite a number of ups and downs over the years, we know that Apple has emerged as the most valuable company in the world. Here is a video on the history of Apple.

 

In today’s post, we want to show that other small startups have also been very successful and remain so today. So, the answer to this question — Can you start a business in your garage? — is a resounding yes. And this remains true today.

As Matthew Anderson recently observed for TheSelfEmployed.com:

“For many people, the idea of just starting their own business lies somewhere in the realm of fantasy. It’s something for someone else to do, something that requires investors and business know-how, or something an average person could never think of doing. The truth, however, is that starting your own business requires only one thing – determination. Well, if history is any indicator, a garage might help as well.”

  • Amazon — “At one time, Amazon was simply an online bookstore; and founder Jeff Bezos ran the company out of his garage in Bellevue, Washington. Needless to say, the Amazon of today is just a bit bigger – the world’s largest online retailer. In keeping with its bookstore beginnings, the Amazon Kindle is widely regarded as the best E-reader on the market.”
  • Disney — “Walt Disney and his brother Roy moved to California and set up the first Disney studio in a one- car garage behind their uncle Robert’s house in Los Angeles in 1923 to film and sell his Alice Comedies, which combined a live-action actress with an animated cat. Nearly a century later, Disney is one of the largest media corporations in the world.”
  • Harley Davidson — “William Harley and his friend Arthur Davidson worked in a shed to make the motorized bicycle a reality. In 1903, Harley-Davidson was founded. Today, it is one of the most well-known motorcycle brands in the world; and you can buy  anything from aprons to clocks and outdoor oil-can-shaped lights with the Harley-Davidson logo.”
  • Maglite — “In 1955, Tony Maglica  bought a lathe and set up a tool shop in his garage. After operating his business for 25 years, the innovative Mag-Lite was released in 1979. It is now the standard-issue flashlight for U.S. police officers and was referred to by the Wall Street Journal as the ‘Cadillac of flashlights.’”
  • Yankee Candle Co. — “Sixteen-year-old Michael Kittredge created his first scented candles out of melted crayons for his mother in the family’s garage in 1969. When neighbors showed interest, he began producing the candles in larger quantities. With help from two high school friends, Yankee Candle Company was founded. Fast forward to 1998, Kittredge sells the firm that began with a gift for his mom to a private equity company for $500 million dollars.”

 

Click the image to read more from Anderson.

 

Walmart Finally Gets It: Employees Matter

19 Oct

For years, Walmart has had tough labor practices and been heavily criticized for them. For example, it has been sued by many women for unequal pay and promotion opportunities, fought hard against employees unionizing, paid low wages, etc. But, now Walmart is loosening up; and it realizes that happier employees can mean happier customers due to better customer service. It has even brought back store greeters in many locales where they had been eliminated to reduce costs. Yes, this comes at a time when U.S. revenues have been weak.

As Neil Irwin reports for the New York Times:

“A couple of years ago, Walmart, which once built its entire branding around a big yellow smiley face, was creating more than its share of frowns. Shoppers were fed up. They complained of dirty bathrooms, empty shelves, endless checkout lines, and impossible-to-find employees. Only 16 percent of stores were meeting the company’s customer service goals. The dissatisfaction showed up where it counts. Sales at stores open at least a year fell for five straight quarters; the company’s revenue fell for the first time in Walmart’s 45-year run as a public company in 2015 (currency fluctuations were a big factor, too).”

“To fix the situation, executives came up with what, for Walmart, counted as a revolutionary idea. As an efficient, multinational selling machine, the company had a reputation for treating employee pay as a cost to be minimized. In 2015, Walmart announced it would pay its workers more. Executives sketched out a plan to spend more money on increased wages and training, and offer more predictable scheduling. The results are promising. By early 2016, the proportion of stores hitting their targeted customer-service ratings had rebounded to 75 percent. Sales are rising again.”

“An employee making more than the market rate, after all, is likely to work harder and show greater loyalty. Workers who see opportunities to get promoted have an incentive not to mess up, compared with people who feel they are in a dead-end job. A person has more incentive to work hard, even when the boss isn’t watching, when the job pays better than what you could make down the street.”

 

Click the image to read a lot more from Irwin.

 

A Walmart trainee perfecting a cereal display in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Credit Melissa Lukenbaugh for The New York Times

A Walmart trainee perfecting a cereal display in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Credit Melissa Lukenbaugh for New York Times.


 

Is Yahoo a Good Buy for Verizon?

17 Oct

When it began in 1994 and for many years thereafter, Yahoo was a Web dynamo with tons of viewers, a leading search engine, lots of content, multiple points of contact, and more. But in recent years, Yahoo has fallen on really tough times. Hopefully, it will still have something to offer Verizon after the latter’s recent purchase of Yahoo (click here to see the current URL).

Consider the title of this Forbes article by Brian Solomon — “Yahoo Sells To Verizon In Saddest $5 Billion Deal In Tech History”:

“Yahoo was once the king of the Internet, a $125 billion behemoth as big in its time as Facebook or Google are today. Now it’s being sold to Verizon for comparative chump change. But the biggest story is how Yahoo squandered its massive head start and let each wave of new technology in search, social, and mobile pass it by. Yahoo remains largely the same company it was a decade ago — a portal that hundreds of millions of users rely on for everything from news and weather to key functions like E-mail and games like fantasy football. Yet Yahoo missed the opportunity of a generation to convert its early lead and millions of users into more than just a portal. As the attention of the world shifted to smartphone apps, Yahoo’s last advantage in the desktop world has faded.”

“The one thing that kept Yahoo afloat for this long is Jerry Yang’s risky $1 billion bet on Alibaba in 2005. That bought 40% in what would become China’s E-commerce king. Yahoo sold parts of that holding over time, but its current stake is still worth more than $30 billion at today’s prices. However, the investment was so successful that it became worth far more than Yahoo’s flagging core business.”

 
Now, eMarketer reports still more bad news for Yahoo and new parent Verizon:

“Yahoo is looking at sizeable decreases in ad revenues according to eMarketer’s latest forecast of worldwide ad spending. And recent news about issues with the company’s E-mail service, including both hacked passwords and news of an undisclosed surveillance program, isn’t helping. eMarketer expects Yahoo’s ad business to decrease in size this year—and not for the first time. After a 3.5% drop in worldwide ad revenues in 2015, in September, eMarketer predicted a further 10.2% decrease for 2016. We expect growth of under 1% next year, and 1% in 2018.”

 

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