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March 2017

Marriott and diversified loyalty

Loyalty programs continue to increase in complexity and major brands add more angles to capture the diverse interests of customers. And there's a lot of copycatting, too.

Travel Weekly: Marriott plans massive expansion of select-service brands, 2017-Mar-27 by Danny King

The PlacePass investment represents a point of departure for Marriott. Founded last year, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company offers listings and price comparisons for more than 100,000 "authentic local" experiences in 800 destinations worldwide, including activities such as a picnic in the Grand Canyon, a tour of U.K. filming sites for the "Downton Abbey" TV series and the chance to cook pasta with a chef in Italy's Tuscany region.

Marriott appears to be taking a cue from companies such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb, both of which have in recent years branched outside their core businesses to invest in in-destination listings services. ...

Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott's global chief commercial officer, told analysts and investors, "We want to be able to provide more value to customers so that they're more engaged with us. The loyalty program is incredibly important to driving the top line."


Reebok forms Elite community of users to promote new shoe

Advertising is not the answer to everything. Starting with influencers will help build a better story over the long term. 

Mediapost: For New Running Shoe, Reebok Steps Up Its Influencer Game, 2017-Mar-6 by Sarah Mahoney

Reebok is tiptoeing back into the elite running market with the launch of its new FloatRide Run, relying this time on a network of influencers rather than broader media efforts.

Because this $150 shoe is for serious runners, Reebok says it needed to invest in credibility, rather than the splashy advertising approach it used in launching the ZPump several years ago.

“We’re not an established running brand,” says James Woolard, brand director at Reebok. “Frankly, a brand saying it’s done all its research to create this fantastic shoe doesn’t have much impact. But using influencers to tell others about how our shoes compare is really powerful.”


Why will Whole Foods approach CRM differently?

Installing a CRM can be a wrenching experience for any established business, but it's especially challenging for a retail business with a big diverse breadth of products, such as a grocery or department store. One of the reasons is that 'category management' or deciding what items to stock keeps getting in the way. I think Whole Foods should take a page from J.C. Penney and decide to learn as much as they can about their customer before they turn to category management issues. 

Computerworld: Whole Foods illustrates the challenge of late-stage CRM integration, 2017-Mar-6 by Evan Schuman

When CRM programs don't work well, Ciancio said, "most fail because they are seen as just a marketing tool" and are not integrated into other store systems.


How Fry's reaches around Amazon and Best Buy to connect with customers

I recently subscribed to Fry's daily deals email because I want to track down a few unusual items. I could find them at Amazon but I agree with the Fry's customer quoted below. When it comes to unusual items, being able to handle them before you buy can be very valuable in time as well as money. 

Yahoo Finance: Fry's Electronics: How this tech retailer has survived the fall of brick-and-mortar, 2017-Mar-7 by J.P. Mangalindan

Fry’s serves up a deep inventory of tech products that goes beyond mass-market items. Sure, Fry’s sells HDTVs and digital cameras, but it also caters to the hardcore tech hobbyist who wants to pick and choose the parts to build an entire personal computer down to that seventh-generation Intel Core i5-7500 processor.

“Best Buy only sells a small selection of expensive goods that are mostly low-grade,” says TJ Pallas, a 30-year-old hardware developer and tech producer who splits his time between Chicago and Dallas and often travels for work. “Fry’s is real electronics. I can build new things from parts from Fry’s. If I’m working on site, I usually need something way sooner than a truck can get it.”

Sure, Pallas could shop on Amazon. But for the specialized hardware he’s looking for, he’s skeptical about shopping online. “There’s also something to be said for holding and looking at a thing before it gets integrated into a system. If we order the wrong thing off Amazon, we could be hosed. ‘Go to Fry’s and get exactly this and get back here,’ is pretty bulletproof,” he said.


J.C. Penney realizes loyalty to the customer has to precede loyalty from the customer

J.C. Penney appears to be turning the corner back into viability by focusing on a specific customer and being willing to remake themselves for her. Loyalty to the customer has to preceded loyalty from the customer. 

Loyalty360: J.C. Penney seeks dramatic turnaround in brand loyalty, 2017-Mar-2 by Jim Tierney

CEO Marvin R. Ellison: 

“Even with the tough starts in November, our new growth initiatives delivered another quarter of strong performance, particularly Appliances, Sephora, Salon, Fine Jewelry, and Toys,” Ellison said. “Toys is another great example of the power of listening to our customer and adding categories she is asking for that will enable us to drive our revenue per customer initiative. We had toys in our assortment this holiday season for the first time in many years and the response was excellent. Based on these results, we'll continue to offer toys in 100 stores during the first half of 2017 and we’ll significantly expand the toy assortment in all stores for back-to-school this year.”



How Lego, KLM, and MyMuesli use social media to improve customer loyalty

The internet is all a buzz about this article that says social media doesn't work to find new customers. If we read far enough, we'll learn that it works very, very well for improving customer loyalty. We should make it easy for our customers to become closer through their preferred social media. 

Harvard Business Review: What's the Value of a Like, 2017-March/April, by Leslie K. John, Daniel Mochon, Oliver Emrich, and Janet Schwartz

Companies pursuing this option should favor organic growth, letting customers seek out the brand. Almost by definition, the people who go to the trouble of finding a brand on social media will be its most devoted, and thus most valuable, customers. As a group, these customers are a great asset: They will enthusiastically provide feedback to improve product development, management, and delivery; defend the brand against unjustified complaints; and be early adopters of and evangelists for new offerings.

For example, Lego uses its social media channels to gather customers’ ideas for new products and to tout new product lines. MyMuesli, a German maker of customizable granola, asked customers to publish images of their own granola mixes on Instagram and subsequently sold some of the customer-created products through its website. The Dutch airline KLM clearly uses its Twitter account as a customer feedback tool; in addition to responding to customers’ tweets, the airline shows that it is listening by prominently posting its estimated response time in its Twitter header...