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August 2018

July 2018

How Apple, Samsung, and Starbucks met the Pepsi Challenge

Pepsi finally succeeded in challenging Coke by NOT using a taste test but instead using a personality test. Sometimes the job our product needs to do is make the person feel empowered. As long as our products deliver on that promise, our customers will be very loyal. 

Medium: People Don't Buy Products, They Buy Better Versions of Themselves, 2018-Jul-7 by Zander Nethercutt

In 1963, Pepsi hired a young advertising executive named Alan Pottasch to address the issue. Pottasch’s task was, to put it gently, difficult. He was to reinvigorate a brand competing against one of the most successful of all time, a product that not only outclassed Pepsi in every consumer-driven category, but was also — chemically — nearly identical. And so Pottasch made a decision that would later become iconic — as he put it, “…to stop talking about the product, and start talking about the user.”... 

Apple employees will never show you how a product works, rather they will let you use it, forcing you to familiarize yourself with the product, yes, but more importantly, yourself in its presence.... 

Samsung even reworked Pepsi’s initial genius, realizing that it is as powerful to portray the person people aspire to be as it is to portray the person they aspire not to be — in Samsung’s case, the brainwashed Apple user who never makes the switch.... 

Similar to how Pepsi understood they would never compete with Coke on product alone, Starbucks understands that in 2018, it is less about the drink itself than it is about who the drink makes you — on Instagram, and thus in real life.


How Target is leveraging a special connection with its most discriminating customers

Some customers are special. We should all be working to identify, recruit and support the customers that will help us build our business. 

Fast Company: Target has a secret app for superfans, and it looks like Instagram, 2018-Jul-11 by Mark Wilson

[It's] Studio Connect, an app developed inside Target in 2016. It’s used to connect the Target design team to the customer they’re designing for, informing projects like its ambitious new Made by Design line of housewares. 

Not just anyone can join the service. Target keeps the group at roughly 600 members (that’s 0.002% of its 30 million weekly shopper base). Each member is personally invited to take part, and they’re recruited via online research and receipt polls. They are not paid for the service, but can earn points toward discounts and gift cards. The larger incentive is that these fans get to be part of a feedback loop, seeing and sometimes trying products early, while encouraging Target to develop products that they will love to buy. They get to help shape Target into the Target they want.

Target launched Studio Connect for a simple reason: Products are being developed faster than ever, but conventional consumer insight research methods–like running official polls, or coordinating in-person focus groups–takes several weeks at best.... 

[The] feedback loop doesn’t just happen after a product comes out. It happens at any moment during the product development process. And Target’s products should be better the first time around as a result.


How companies including Office Depot and Joann keep local retail relevant

Today, brick-and-mortar stores have to be more than a place to buy something. They have to become places where we do things such as learn and connect. 

Forbes Online: Retail Revival: How Joann, Office Depot And Even Nordstrom Are Staying Relevant, 2018-Jul-3 by Bryan Pearson

The sewing and fabric chain, once a fixture at strip centers, has made a sharp turn on the path to what many might have thought was obsolescence and is remaking itself. New technology, new creators’ studio, new target market.... Following 18 months of intensive research, the chain has unveiled its concept store in Columbus, Ohio, combining elements of community building and technology. 

The store offers rentable sewing machines and crafting tools for the crafting curious and a service called Sew & Go, through which customers can hand off their projects to seamstresses. There are personal shoppers and a no-wait fabric “cut bar,” where shoppers can drop off their pre-measured orders and selected fabric and receive mobile alerts when they’re ready to be picked up.

Among the key features is a creators’ studio, with a Starbucks counter, for classes and social events such as birthday parties and Girl Scout activities. Also featured are touchscreen kiosks showing Pinterest craft projects, with instructions, that can be personalized by user.... 

Office Depot identified its emerging core market in new business owners and entrepreneurs, many of whom seek the expertise of “Biz Pros.” Its BizBox concept, at 14 locations in Texas, is an all-in-one-box suite of services and networking opportunities where visitors can work, build and collaborate.

The stores, in Austin, include flex workspaces where customers can seek face-to-face expert advice from BizBox professionals in “consulting hubs” and network with fellow entrepreneurs and business owners. There also are designated “Tech Zones” where professional tech support staff can help with computer snafus, smartphone repairs and other common challenges.

The service-led concept, which is planned to expand to other locations, is designed to free up business owners from workaday hindrances so they can focus on innovation and growth. 


How Walgreens and CVS can fend off Amazon

Stop and imagine for a moment that you could no longer dart over to the drugstore to choose the right kind of bandage for that fresh cut on your hand. Suppose you had to order online, and maybe you could get one-hour delivery but what if that bandage didn't fit... 

We don't think that allowing Amazon to close down all the neighborhood drugstores is a good idea. We hope those drugstores can crank up the in-store experience and keep contributing to healthier neighborhoods for a long, long time. 

The Wise Marketer: How does CVS ExtraCare stack up against Walgreens Balance Rewards? The Tale of two Tapes, 2018-Jul-6 by Bill Hanifin

[The CVS] pharmacy keeps the value of ExtraCare squarely in front of its members at the point-of-sale and actively serves up a large volume of manufacturer coupons. It also delivers twice the rebate at a base level, while Walgreens is allowing its differentiating set of lifestyle rewards to slip further into the fine print of its program benefits.

The bigger question is whether either program packs the punch to serve as an Amazon/Pillpack vaccine. In both cases, the communication of program benefits could be sharpened to heighten the perceived value of the program to its members. Points could be offered more extensively in the aisles to give the daily shopping experience a “treasure hunt” feel, something that is difficult to replicate online. And, the role of the neighborhood pharmacy as vital to our ongoing health is something that can be communicated and supported through the rewards program.

On this note, much more could be done by both programs to make the reward program a more vital part of the daily shopping experience and remind customers the unique value of a brick and mortar pharmacy. Adding this aspect of value to both programs could prove to be the treatment needed to stave off customer defection to the newest online competitor.