Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mother Approved Fashions?

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about retailer Areopostle catering to the customer (Mom with the checkbook) rather than the consumer (the Jonas Brother loving teenager). The complete article can be read here.

At face value it seems like a great tactic. Wider aisles for a stroller. More places for mom's to plop down while the wait for their kids and staffers are being trained to target mom.

However this tactic could work against them. I want you to think back to your teenage years and how going to the mall with your mom was the lamest activity of all time. Be seen with mom- forget about it. Shop at the stores that mom likes and thinks are cool? Simply out of the question. After all, you are the one who had to wear that to school. While Areopostle has never been the coolest store in the mall in the eyes of teens, catering to the tastes of the 'rents will not score it any more cool points with teens.

As a teenager is there anything more important than the opinion of your peers? I applaud stores like Abercrombie for sticking with their teen-centered store experiences despite the retail cash-crunch.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back from a blogging break

I took a short break from the blog for a few days to work on some other things I have going. I want to thank my friend and digital marketer Dan for putting me on to a great new website about digital marketing and all things viral. I added it to my favorite links on the side of the page.

During my break I had a couple interviews with some public relations people that went really well. I only bring this up because it was a big week for foot in your mouth moments with Kanye and the congressman, followed by President Obama getting "caught" off the record saying Kanye is a Jackass.

By the age of 10 everyone knows not to say or do anything that you wouldn't want printed in the newspaper or spread virally over the net. It's become so ingrained it's a cliche. Yet, somehow we still have these crawl-under-a-rock PR moments all the time.

We are all human. Everyone will at some point in their life make a decision they regret, it happens. The solution is another cliche. It's not how you act, but how you react.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's not just the best Pizza Pizza! that wins.

An odd thing has been happening lately. Rarely do you ever see a prominent brand disappear, then come back and be successful. However, national brand Little Caesars (remember them?) disappeared and is now returning from the brink.

As a little boy there were three pizza places near my house: a small local chain, a Pizza Hut and a Little Caesars. The local pizza place, Pontillo's, had the best product and was the only survivor in that local pizza battle.

Then Little Caesars and Pizza Hut both disappeared around 1995 or 1996 and was missing in action for at least a decade. I didn't see a Little Caesars outside of a Kmart until 2007 when I was living in South Bend, Indiana. Then more and more started popping up all over and last month a Little Caesars opened in the exact location that it occupied back in the day. However, today they're now seven pizza places within three blocks of their door.

Even though competition among pizza places has grown, Little Caesars has been able to make a comeback because of an intense focus on their convenient $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza pick-up operation. Therefore, even though Little Caesars does not have the best tasting pizza, this focus on convenience, speed and price has brought the brand back from the brink.

My point is that one item can have many different benefits and one brand cannot own all of them. Different companies can accentuate certain benefits of the product and still own the category. Domino's built an empire on delivery. Little Caesars rediscovered success with convenience and price. Nowhere did either of them talk taste- they were too busy selling you the invisible.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Source of Brilliant!

Great idea... Where did it come from?

To me, the best thing about a brilliant idea that can impact the world is that you don't need a Ivy-League education, any special background or even a resume to have one. Truly revolutionary ideas can come from any person walking the planet. I think the only real qualification may be believing that your ideas are great.

A company that believes this is Kodak. Kodak recently held an open audition for great ideas on their blog and the CMO's twitter page, asking for help naming their latest camera, a pocket sized video camera that shoots in high-definition, currently tagged the Zi8. Thousands of believers answered their call.

I found this really cool. Some marketers, who are filled with incredibly outstanding ideas themselves, have trouble recognizing that ideas can come from anywhere. This is only natural. All of us are consumed with our industries, and inevitably end up looking in those commonly visited places in our minds. However, they often come when we step outside of our cluttered minds. Similarly, when one believes they have a great one, it's hard to look at it as anything but. Once an idea is ours, we become immediately partial and ready to defend it.

In this sense I am no different. I entered the name the "Kodak Vita," which by definition means lifelike or a biographical sketch, which in my extremely bias opinion is a perfect for an HD camera.