Thursday, 24 September 2009

Idea for gathering consumer insight

"Shopper critique - Have a consumer follow you around a store while you shop for them. Afterward they critique you and tell you what you did wrong."


Yokmok - customer co-creation of holidays

"A Spanish travel agency called Yokmok develops adventure trip ideas by first holding a beta-version exploratory trip at a reduced price. A group of their customers participate in the trip to help build the idea. This in turn builds loyalty though a key group of brand enthusiasts."


'The Local' blogs from New York Times

Seems like a good ideas: NY Times enters local news market by bringing together relevant bloggers etc.

Looks a bit dull in practise, but then so much local news is.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Ritz-Carlton - empowering employees to give good service

After decades of demanding that employees strictly adhere to a 20-point list of customer service basics, the company's management realised that the specific routines weren't adequately addressing the widely ranging expectations of the luxury chain's customers, who had become younger, more diverse, more tech savvy, and more likely to travel with family.

The company's leaders also saw that expanding the list to address every possible situation that an employee might encounter would be futile. As a result, they shifted to a simpler 12-point set of values that allowed employees to use their judgement and improvise.

Tightly defined process dictums (like "always carry a guest's luggage", "escort guests rather than point our directions to another area of the hotel", and "use words like good morning, certainly, I'd be happy to, an it's my pleasure") sometimes felt stuffy and out of place. Management replaced them with loser value statements (such as "I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life" and "I am empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences for our guests"). The change encouraged employees to sense customers' needs and act accordingly. Customer satisfaction improved.

Source: "When Should a Process Be Art, Not Science?", J.M. Hall & M.E. Johnson, HBR, Mar '09.

From my time at What If ( I also know that they backed up these values statements with actions that let people know they were really meant, like giving employees discretion to spend up to $2k to put right problems without prior authorisation. And they used stories of how other staff around the world put the values into practise by sharing stories at the daily 'line-up'.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Perfume spritzing at Hollister flagship store, New York

We've all gotten over being shocked by Abercrombie & Fitch stores by now. The Hollister flagship in SoHo, New York pulls most of the same tricks. Half-naked models, loud music, clothes in no discernible order. Yet somehow it's still an amazing, intense experience.

A few reasons:
- It's incredibly dark, breaking the fundamental rule of retail that people actually have to be able to see the product.
- The fit-out, as somewhere between an opulent beach house and a pier, is to an unbelievable level even by today's flagship store-meets-Disneyland standards.

Perfume spritzing - I also happened to be when someone walked around spritzing everything with perfume. That'll be why a nice smell wafts out when you just walk past. And when you get the clothes home I bet the smell has a sub-conscious effect on satisfaction.

Bored models are a problem - a few models were dancing, laughing and enjoying themselves. It worked - you wanted to be part of their gang. But many, understandably, looked bored. This totally breaks the spell.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Emotional Compatibility (brand mergers and acquisitions)

When 2 brands are merged into one, or 1 brand is rebranded as another, 'emotional compatibility' needs to be considered.

For example, if one brand is seen as adventurous and another is seen as safe they are not emotionally compatible in this respect and this contradiction needs to be managed carefully. They may be emotionally compatible on other dimensions, e.g. both seen as clear. And they may or may not be functionally identical in terms of what they actually offer - that's a separate consideration.

Lloyds TSB Save the Change account - Nudge in action

Lloyds TSB have an account called Save the Change that rounds up each debit card to the nearest pound and deposits it in a savings account.

Copied from a US account? In any case, nudge economics in actions.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Rebranding & Renaming - useful examples

Someone has helpfully scanned this Marketing Week article from 2007 with good examples from successful and unsuccessful brand renaming. Including Powergen to E.on, Switch to Maestro, Jif to Cif, Coco Pops to Choco Krispies, Go to Easyjet, NTL Telewest to Virgin Media, and Andersen Consulting to Accenture.

Key lessons:
  • engage staff with the rebrand and explain what it means for them
  • make sure customers are clear on the benefit

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Stew Leonards

Just visited US retailer Stew Leonards' store in Yonkers, New York.

Two iconic actions jump out:
- Giant 'stone' at the store entrance with 'The customer is always right!' engraved
- “Up the Ladder” posters above the checkouts. They show an employee's name and photo, and all the positions they have held in the store as they move up the ladder. Great idea showcasing their employer brand.

Loads of other interesting ideas:
•Webcam showing the cows in their farm
•Huge mirror above the bakery shows them baking fresh products
•As previously mentioned, they showcase recommendations of their food from local rather than national press
•Sign: “If you wouldn’t take it home for you mother don’t put it our for customers”
•Sign showing chickens and cows standing up and wearing nothing but a barrel with “Get Naked” on it (i.e. chicken and beef contains no additives)
•By the cheese counter a screen shows employees making fresh mozzarella, as they do every day. Next to it is a sign explaining the steps of the process.
•Huge banner (at least 2 storeys high) near store entrance shows cover of Fortune in which they were named amongst the top 100 best places to work.
•Want to order from the deli? A computer allows you to select what you want (e.g. sliced meat, cheese etc) and then collect without waiting a few minutes later.