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, whosereturn policyis easy to use and consumer friendly, and L.L. Bean, whose return policy has received various honors and awards.
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 onEvans on Marketing. Today, we cover the topic of planned obsolescence.
As defined inEvans Berman’s Marketing: “Planned obsolescenceis 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. Instyle planned obsolescence, a firm makes minor changes to differentiate the new year’s offering from the prior year’s. Withfunctional 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?
Applehas 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?]
TheMarketing Facultyin theZarb School of Business at Hofstra Universityis proud that our programs are included in TWO new 2017 rankings byCollege Choice, which “is an independent online publication dedicated to helping students and their families find the right college. We publish rankings and reviews that make choosing the best college easier, as well as resources to help students get into, pay for, and thrive at the college of their choice.”
Top 50 Bachelor’s in Marketing Programs for 2017
“Marketing managers—as well as their close cousins, advertising and promotions managers—generate interest in products and services. They work with just about everyone in an organization to do one thing really well: getting the word out! That’s not always as easy as it sounds. In order to get the word out, marketers have to understand what their promoting as well as the demand that’s out there for it—or in some cases, isn’t out there at all!There’s also the question of competition—in order to succeed, you have to know your enemy, and marketers will have intimate knowledge of their competitors’ products and services as well in order to best position themselves for success. They are also media wizards who use all sorts of mediums and platforms to get their message out.”
“There’s good news for the future of this profession, too. Nearly all sectors of marketing are slated to grow between 5 and 9 percent over the next several yearsaccording to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and pay continues to look rewarding with median annual wages holding steady between $95,000 and $130,000 per year. Not too shabby!”
Number 36: “Through Hofstra’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business, students can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Marketing. Dual degree programs are also available, allowing students to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at an accelerated pace. Regardless of the degree program, Hofstra’s Department of Marketing & International Business provides exposure to award-winning faculty, internships with well-known companies in a variety of industries, and study abroad options.”
Top 35 Master’s in Marketing Programs for 2017
“From building an entire brand ethos to developing a network of relationships with people equally committed to innovative and sustainable progress, a career in marketing has literally innumerable possibilities. The degree can be applied to nearly every aspect of the business industry as well as the non-profit, government, health, and education sectors. Whatever your passion, marketing can be easily combined with it.”
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 19 percent growth in marketing research analysis in the next ten years, and a 9 percent growth in marketing management. On average, those with bachelors degrees in marketing make around $62,000 annually; however, for those who go on to get a masters degree—either in marketing specifically, or a MBA with specialization in marketing—thosenumbers easily double. In juxtaposing the job growth with the return on investment, it becomes clear that obtaining a graduate degree in marketing will serve you now and in the long run.”
Number 29: “Marketing graduate students, working toward a Masters of Science in Marketing, at Hofstra University take classes on distribution, internet marketing, social media utilization, marketing across cultures, analytics, customer behavior, innovation and new product marketing, business-to-business marketing, and sustainability marketing. Most notably, Hofstra students are prepared to become leaders in middle- to upper-level positions in an range of business settings. The program at Hofstra is unique in its emphasis on diversity and global perspective. Students are taught to communicate effectively, whatever the setting, to work well in teams, and to evaluate the social and ethical responsibilities of marketing in business organizations. They are also able to work and study outside of the traditional classroom and participate in several of real-world projects.”
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.”