Monday, December 13, 2010

Selling a service

Selling education, like selling any service, is difficult because it is an intangible.  However, unlike other services, education institutions must paint a picture of their service in a way that helps people to understand the value of their service in comparison to other institutions that can provide you with the exact same service.  This commercial from Wichita State University sells the idea that at their university, dreams can become reality, and people can alter the world.  They differentiate their engineering degree from other universities appealing to peoples' fantasy of making a reality out of a far fetched idea or childhood dream.  In reality, they are selling a four year degree.  As all students know, you don't go to class one day to find that suddenly your dreams have become reality.  A four year degree is a lot of multiple choice tests, classes taught by TAs with dubious English skills, and late night study sessions fueled by coffee.  Wichita State may have a good engineering program, but the image presented in this commercial likely is unreflective.  However, they sell the school in a way that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.  I want to go there and become a leader.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Guerrilla marketing

When I studied abroad in Switzerland, I took a weekend trip to Milan, Italy.  We rode the train into their main station and then used their underground to get to the Piazza Duomo.  Coming up the stairs from the station to the Piazza, you walk up a flight of stairs that has piano keys on it that play the tone you are stepping on.  This is a really interesting way to advertise a music store.  However, the one draw back is that most people going to that station are likely tourists who won't be buying musical instruments.  Also, many people will be so excited by the how cool the experience is and won't pay attention to the company promoting their product.  Even when I searched google for photos of the musical stairs, I could not find even one picture with the name of the company who paid to install the stairs.  


Product Placement

I've been thinking a lot about product placement because we seem to get asked a lot of questions about it during the research sessions for our marketing research requirement.  I began to wonder how openly and honestly people could actually answer questions like, "when you see product placements in TV shows or movies do you ignore them?"  I do not think I noticed product placements nearly as much as I do after taking Marketing 360.  They are so prevalent in TV and they often times seem so natural that it is hard to even notice them at all.

I decided to watch an episode of Weeds to see how many product placements there are in one episode.  There were several very obvious placements for the Toyota Prius (it was mentioned by name several times), Diet coke which the main character and her family drink regularly and Apple computers which are in every episode several times.  However, when I watched this randomly chosen episode from season 3, and actually looked for placements I found many more than I expect.  In one scene in the main character's garage, for example, there was an Old Navy bag, a case of Corona Light and several FedEx boxes.  In another scene at a drug dealer's house there were many boxes for LG TVs, a kitchen aid box and a case of Heineken.
When I asked my fiance whether or not he noticed a lot of product placements in the show, he said that there were some that he noticed.  Prius was the most noticeable for him, followed by diet coke.  Then after thinking for a while longer he could also recall seeing Apple computers.  I was surprised that it took him so long to remember Apple computers because every character uses one, I would say they are pictured between 2 and 5 times per episode.  That's a lot considering that they episodes are only 25 minutes.  When I showed him scenes at the drug dealers house, he was shocked by how many product placements there are that we both never noticed when we watched the episode for the first time.  I was very surprised as well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Product Placement

The new computer science Barbie carries an iPhone.  Mattel, the parent company of Barbie also has an iPhone app for Barbies called "I can be".  This is an interesting marketing tactic to get younger girls interested and excited about Apple's iPhone.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


There is a condom distributor, "Condomman", that sells on,  that buys Durex condoms in bulk from the company and then breaks bulk to sell them to customers through Amazon.  Since the condoms that he sells do not come in small boxes like 12 or 36 packs like condoms you would buy at the supermarket, he can offer them at a deep discount.  In this screen shot of Amazon, you can see that the 12 condoms MSRP is $9.99, yet Condomman sells them from $0.89.

Condomman's prices are so low because he is the only middle man in the supply chain.  Further, there is less packaging which also creates a savings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Free-Sample-MM-Pretzel.pngWhen the Mars Company first release new Pretzel M&M's they were using a penetration pricing strategy to entice consumers to try their new product.  I was reading the Sunday paper this summer at my parents house, they are old fashion and still get a physical copy of the paper each day, and there was a coupon for a free package of Pretzel M&M's.  In this case, you did not even need to buy anything to get a free package of their candy.

This is a great way to encourage people to try the new product.  However, it could also lead to cannibalization because most people who decided to try the new M&M's would not also buy an old variety at the same time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Target Marketing

I already had a post about Facebook's ads a few weeks ago, but I have more to say...

My boyfriend proposed to me last week.  Last night we changed our relationship status on Facebook from "in a relationship" to "engaged".  As soon as Gavin changed his status, an ad popped up on his side bar for engaged people in Lewiston.  This is a hot air ballon company that offers a variety of different balloon riding options, including the option to be married in a hot air ballon.

This Facebook ad is a great example of Geodemography because it targets people in a certain region, near Lewiston, who are in a particular category, engaged.  Companies can very easily use Geodemography to target very specific target markets by paying Facebook for information on its users.  This company, Adventurist Air, probably pays Facebook a certain fee for use of information on users who are engaged so they can use geocoding in an even more targeted manner.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chapter Eight: Managing Products

Last weekend, I was walking through Sears with my boyfriend when we walked past he appliances section we saw some red washing machine/dryer sets.  He became infatuated with the machines saying, "wow, that washer is so sexy.  It's red and curvy.  They stack on top of each other."

Whirlpool's brand manager was probably trying to make their brand appeal more to a younger generation.  If this was their intent, then clearly, it worked.  By making their new washing machines a bright and fun color they make their machines exciting and fresh.  It also gives them the ability to charge double for their product, the red machine sells for $899, but plain white machines from other companies sell for as low as $360.

Another aspect of this washing machine and dryer that sets it apart is the fact that it can be stacked or set side by side helps it appeal to people who have a limited amount of space.  Often people who live in apartments lack extra space for a full washing machine, but using a stackable washer/dryer set allows them to have a washroom in their home.  Further, people who are younger tend to live in apartments because they cannot afford their own home.  These machines are thus, directed at young people in two ways.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chapter Seven: New Products and Innovations

I found this really interesting article online about a new kind of car key that Ford's releasing.  It is like a traditional key remote that unlocks your car and a TV remote control that let parents control the channel their children can watch.  This key allows parents to set the top speed their childrens' car can drive as well as a lower max volume for the stereo system.  This type of product is an example of a specialty product because, as I far as I know, it is the only one on the market that allows for parental controls.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chapter Six: CRM - Geocoding

The idea of geocoding is a really cool opportunity for companies and for individuals.  Consumers benefit from geocoding because ads are customized to their geographical location.  This type of targeting has been used for a long time through print and radio ads.  However, the use of geocoding on the internet is very simple and can use both geocoding and other types of demographics to target very specific, and usual, ads to consumers.

 I was on a recipe blog to find something to cook for dinner and it's advertisements were using geocoding to tell me about opportunities available in Spokane.  The service it was offering is call Groupon, it is a discount offer emailed to you each day.  The way it works is that a certain number of people must agree to buy the service/product at a discount and then everyone who agreed to buy it gets the discount.  If the requisite number of people do not buy it, you are refunded your money.  For the company featured on Groupon, it is essentially a bulk discount, but for the individuals get a discount without having to buy in bulk.

This advertisement benefits the Groupon company as well as the consumers who are on the recipe blog because it is a service that might actually interest them and be useful.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chapter One: Target Marketing

I was thinking about how target marketing can help companies sell essentially the same product to two distinct target markets.  The example that I came up with was mini vans.  We all know that mini vans aren't the coolest cars, or the fastest cars.  They represent a loss of freedom, they are the epitome of being a "family man" or a soccer mom.  They are the station wagons of today.  So how can companies market these vehicles to people who don't want to fit into these stereotypes?  They have to find a way to show people that minivans are very functional, versatile, and practical vehicles.

The two examples I found target men and women of about the same age group with separate ads.

The first video is the Nissan ad targeting moms.  It plays a Modest Mouse song and shows pictures of "cool" mom's who surf and do all sorts of fun activities.

The second video is for the dads.  It shows rugged men out in the Wild West driving a mini van, it actually uses the word "rugged" to describe the Pontiac mini van it it features men saying "I've never seen a mini van do that."

Ch. 6 Target Marketing and CRM - Demographics

For some reason, Facebook seems to think that I need an engagement ring.  They use demographics to help people who want to advertise on their website to find consumers to target their products to.  I have been in a relationship for 2 years and since Facebook knows that, they sell my information to engagement ring company's who advertise on my page so they can plant the idea in my head that I need to get engaged.  This could also be seen as an example of market fragmentation, as they divide the college age market into people who are single and in serious relationship, but not yet engaged so they can market their products to people who might actually want them.  Two years ago, before I was identified as "in a relationship" on Facebook I never saw ads for rings.

Facebook also has me labeled as a student, as you can see, VISA is marketing a student credit card to me they've even colored pink because I'm a girl.  Based on the design of the credit card, it looks like VISA's segment profile has college girls pegged as all being in a sorority and thus wanting a pink and silver credit card.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chapter Five: B2B - B2B e-commerce

When individuals need to buy everyday clothes or an outfit for a special event, they often turn to the internet to find the biggest selection and the best deals.  Businesses can do they same when they need to find uniforms for their employees.  Cintas is a well know uniform company that now allows businesses to view and buy their products online instead of having to use a catalog and call-in or mail an order form.  Online ordering is faster for the person in charge of ordering and for the company receiving the orders, they need fewer employees to process information, as computers can handle it instead.

Cintas has uniforms for many different business needs. Their website is straight forward and easy to use.  The person in charge of ordering simply picks the type of uniform they need for example "health care" or "food service high end" and then different options within the category are presented.
It is very similar to how an individual would pick and order their own clothing. However, unlike an individual buyer, when a company orders in a B2B interaction, they can get a volume discount.  On the sellers' side, selling many units in one transaction cuts down on the paperwork and orders to keep track of. 
Conversely, there is a big risk from the company ordering because if their items aren't delivered on time, they are essentially out of luck. 

Chapter Four: Consumer Behavior - Status Symbol

There are many different types of status symbols here in the US and around the world.  A Status symbol is a "product or service which sends a message to others, perhaps that the consumer is affluent."   There are many examples of this that can be found in everyday life.  In the US, status symbols can represent one's status in many different arenas:
  • Private school for your children.
  • Having a maid.
  • Owning a boat or a country club membership.
  • The type of watch you wear.
  • The brand of the Purse you carry.
  • For many women, having a ring on your left ring finger is a huge status symbol.  It conveys your martial status telling people that you are taken, wanted, desired.  But for some women, not just any ring will do, a ring that comes in a little sea foam green box from Tiffany & Co. is the only thing that will do. 
  • According to an article I recently read, having a stay-at-home spouse is now considered a status symbol because it conveys to others that you are important enough to make enough money to support your whole family.
  • For professional, career driven women, having a stay at home husband can be the ultimate status symbol.  It representatives that she is capable of being independent, powerful, and the sole provider, in a way that, until recently, only men could.  An article from Marie Claire describes this: Stay at Home Dad's a Corporate Woman's Ultimate Status Symbol.

Chapter Three: Market Research - Focus Group

A focus groups is group of similar consumer (in the same target market) that are paid to look at a product and give their reaction to the product.  The discussion usually centers around: the product, price, placement, and promotion.  I found an ad for the Doge Caliber that features a focus group of cute little cartoon characters who find the car dark and scary rather than cuddly and cute.  The marketers watching the focus group through a two way mirror are please with these findings because they do not want their product to be viewed as cute. 

Doge Focus Group Ad

Chapter Two: Grwoth strategies - product development

At Safeway yesterday, a woman was handing out samples of a new Wheat Thins product.  It's called Crunch Stix, instead of being a traditional cracker, these snacks are like bread sticks.  At the store, they were handing out two varieties, "honey wheat" and "sun-dried tomato".  This is an example of product development because the Nabisco company is focusing on selling a new product in an existing market.

As a side note, handing out samples is a great idea for this product.  It convinced me that they are a tasty snack.  I don't like wheat thinks, but I do like this product, without the free sample in the store, I would never have tried their new product. So maybe this counts as market development as well, but that seems like a stretch.