Thursday, June 28, 2012


Beware of the marketers who believe there is no consumer they cannot conquer.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Tide Truck Needs A Fix-Up

If you live in a major American city like New York City, you may notice a large vehicle resembling a food truck parked around town town this summer.  The difference is that this truck, which is the brainchild of consumer products company Procter & Gamble and retail giant Wal-Mart, will be packed with soaps, detergents and toiletries.   

The purpose of this joint marketing experiment is to capture greater share for P&G products and Wal-Mart's online ordering within big cities, as Wal-Mart is still not a city resident.  Further, marketers have discovered that online ordering is prefered by city dwellers because going to store and lugging bulking items like paper towels and laundry detergent home is a real pain.  The problem according to this article in AdAge, that Amazon dominates online ordering like Wal-Mart dominates retail.

Alas, the strategic partners have cooked up the @PGMobile truck, which is strategically parked around the city to save nearby residents some of the hassle involved in purchasing their products.  Or people with smartphones who pass the @PGMobile truck can scan the QR code on the side of the truck and be automatically directed to Wal-Mart's online shopping site where they can buy the products.    

The story published in AdAge about the P&G-Wal-Mart joint marketing effort strongly emphasizes its similarity to the food trucks that have recently risen in popularity and stature in inner cities.  But is taking their cue from the food truck trend the best tactic for increasing share? I wonder.

What's really driving the food truck trend is convenience.  Despite all the stuff that people credit for the food truck craze, like more options, better tasting food and social media marketing, it's still all about convenience.  A convenient location is really their only advantage over restaurants who also have plenty of options, trained chefs and yes, even Twitter accounts.  But unlike most restaurants, the food truck can be waiting for you when you head to the park on your lunch-hour or when you leave the bar at two in the morning.

Is the P&G-Wal-Mart marketing effort really making life any easier for consumer in the city?  If they pick up the items from the truck (once they find it), the still need to carry them home, and most likely up a couple flights of stairs too.  And if the bulky items are the same size found in the store, finding a place to store them in a cramped apartment is also a challenge.

They could order online with the QR code.  But finding a truck in a city of 8 million people for a link to a website isn't as practical as reordering from the retailer they already use.  Unless they unleash hundreds of trucks on the city streets, the @PGMobile truck isn't any more convenient than stopping by the Duane Reade that exists on every corner of Manhattan already or ordering online from Amazon.   

If the food truck really was their inspiration for this experiment, I think they overlooked one critical point.  The food purchased on the street is consumed within steps of the truck and often without utensils, and absolutely without plates.  If they want to make buying convenient for people in busy cities like New York, put the product at the point of consumption.    

A couple thought starters using the Tide brand for example.  Through vendor agreements with laundromats and housing managers, put detergent dispensing machines where people do laundry.  If people have their laundry sent out, a tag on the bag lets them know that Tide was used.  This tactic would also work for fabric softener.           
Second, create city friendly packaging for bulky space-consumer products.  They will be easier to carry home and store away in the tiny apartments of the big city. Perhaps a more streamlined package with a plastic handle attachment on the outside of package would help consumers carry bulky items like paper towels home.        

What are your thoughts on how consumer goods companies like P&G or retailers like Wal-Mart could improve design products to be used by people in the inner cities?  Please reply with your suggestions in the comments section.                  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brand Brief

Stuff I read that just had to be re-said. 

Interesting battle between Sodastream and Coca-Cola currently going on via Forbes.  Raises questions about what marketers can do with garbage of competition. 

I agree with the analysis by Simon Dumenco of AdAge that Facebook could find trouble catching on with advertisers.  There are limits to people's attention.  Also, it's earning it is probably a better strategy than trying to buy it.

Twitter logo redesign is said to symbolize "freedom, hope and limitless possibility."  I find it crazy that someone could say this with a straight face and not be fired.

Finally, I have more thoughts about this article from David Teicher of AdAge about P&G and Wal-Mart partnering to sell laundry detergent to the people of New York City coming soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Love To Succeed

How can you succeed at something you don't love doing?  Passion always exists before anyone actually makes a commitment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Social Network Addictions

A couple hours or days without our social networks feels like a long time.  It feels as if we're missing out on everything that's gone on.  Yet, the more hard wired people are into their social networks, the more likely it will be that they actually miss out in the real long term. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Just Say Taco

I've spent a lot of time discussing Taco Bell on this blog and frankly, I don't really want to spend much more.  However, I want to juxtapose two news items coming from Taco Bell this week.

The first is that their Doritos Locos Tacos have been extremely successful to this point.  The second is that Taco Bell is rolling out upscale menu items like the burrito bowls found at Chipotle.  The two strategies are obviously at odds.  One is classic Taco Bell. The other is not. 

It's a easy to see which one to choose.  The problem for Taco Bell and a lot of brands is that it takes a disciplined brand to avoid choosing both.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Scapegoating Soda

I must confess: I absolutely love the bubbly sugar-rush I get from that first sip of a soda.  It taste great.  But the final swig of your soda never tastes nearly as good as the first, which just might be your body's attempt to tell you something, like, it's awful for your health.  Consequently, I have weaned myself  away from drinking soda, slowing moving from a major consumer of the drink ten years ago as a high-school student to a very occasional consumer.  I still want it; but I know I cannot have it.  

Last week, details of city government regulations on the sale of soda in New York City sparked a debate on whether government should take a stand on the ever present drink.  The NYC soda ban is one more hit to the beverage industry that's already struggling to return the drink to popularity.

Without getting overly political, it's my opinion that scapegoating soda is more about perception than reality.  Regulating, or even outright banning the sugary drink will not solve America's obesity problem.  It's not that simple.  

Consuming soda certainly has an affect on public health. Small steps have already been taken to regulate its consumption by youths by taking it out of schools.  Although some may see this as government overreach, schools are government buildings, so I believe it's rightfully the choice of their administrators.

When should the government step in to regulate adults' consumer habits?  They often do when they affect others, such as the case with smoking and drinking. Yet, unlike smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, two industries highly regulated, drinking a pop only affects your own health - not your neighbors.  It's personal health not public.  Obviously, inhaling second hand smoke is just as harmful as smoking the cigarette yourself while drinking can impair one's ability safely operate a motor vehicle on shared roads.

I understand public spending on medical bills makes obesity a shared problem; however, as the video comically points out, they're are a lot of other products contributing to America's obesity along with soda.  So why simply draw the the line at soda, if taxpayer is going to flip the bill for obesity, shouldn't they go to even greater lengths to save the public money?

Yes, soda is bad when it's abused.  So is alcohol.  So are over-the-counter and prescription drugs.  Cell phones pose a major threat to public health.  Perhaps ice cream, with all it's loveable innocence, can be bad if it's abused.  Shouldn't these items also be regulated in the name of public health and who decides where the line is drawn?      

I really don't know the answer to that question. But I do know that even during our much skinny days as a nation, soda was widely consumed.  That's been a constant but the reading on the scale has grown.  So, it's logical that soda is not the only culprit for America's weight gain, but appears to be the easy scapegoat.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Introducing...Shirts I Proudly Made

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.
- Jerry Seinfeld 
I would include myself in the group that would rather just be in the casket than give the eulogy most days because, like a lot of people, I also fear public speaking.  But what is it about this activity that is so frightening?  It's not the actual act of speaking that's scary but putting yourself out there to be judged by a group.  It's really the fear of publicly humiliated.  That's why public speaking is so scary.

I also believe this is why entrepreneurship is rare.  Even though the world is filled with intelligent with great ideas, entrepreneurs are rare. That's why it's so profitable.  Why is their such a big disconnect being having a great idea and actually executing them?  Like public speaking, starting a business is scary because of our fear of public humiliation.

I most certainly share in this fear.  But when you realize some things are worth it, you can overcome your fear.  So, regardless of my fears, I want to share with my readers a project I've been working on.

I've spent a fair amount of time and some money working on designing and producing prototypes for a clothing line.  My nugget of an idea is extremely basic.  I put city names or nicknames on shirts using the cut and sew technique.  While I still have a lot of work to do before I can sell a single shirt, but I wanted to share my work and hear feedback. 
Please take a look at the photos and share your thoughts and critiques.  If I have failed, I've only failed small.

Buckeye Shirt

Flour City Shirt

Hoosier Shirt

Motor City Shirt

Steel City Shirt

Phila Shirt

Cleveland Shirt

To avoid public humiliation in your all of your endeavors, I recommend two things.  First, understand that you're going to fail along the way.  So fail small and learn from it.  I've already learned so much that I need to do differently as I continue on.

Secondly, remember that if you stay humble, it's impossible to be humiliated.