From Retired Brands, Dollars and Memories (New York Times)

Old Trademarks ReturnAs noted in our Product Decisions tutorial, a well-marketed, recognizable brand can often obtain financial benefits in which the name of the brand becomes a valuable commodity.  That is, the name, exclusive of the actual product, has value.  When this happens the marketer is said to possess a product with significant brand equity.  For instance, just think how much value there is in the brand name, iPod.  Because this name is so well known, anyone using this name to sell digital music devices would realize tremendous consumer awareness.

Obviously, Apple is not about to let others use their iPod brand name.  Apple, like most marketers, is highly protective of its brand names and the equity these have created.  They control these legally by obtaining trademarks and enforce their names by threatening lawsuits against potential violators.

Growth in Virtual Gatherings Offers Marketing Opportunities (New York Times)

Growth of Virtual Trade ShowsEvery few years a web-based business model garners attention for a unique offering that some believe will eventually be the next big thing.  In the last 10 years, such web businesses as Friendster (social networking), Webvan (grocery delivery) and NetBank (online banking) were all labeled as the next big thing only to crash under the strain of poor execution, lack of funding, bad management decisions, changing technology or a host of other factors.  Of course, other businesses would eventually learn from the mistakes made by these early entrants and turn these concepts into successful business models.

The Just-in-Time Consumer (Wall Street Journal)

Economy Forces Changes in Consumer ShoppingWith the U.S. economy showing only slight signs of moving out of the doldrums, many consumer products companies selling in the U.S. are still reeling and wondering when good times will return.   Unfortunately, once the economy is back on track some marketers may be in for a surprise.  The problem is the length of the slowed-down economy, along with continued high unemployment rates, is leading consumers to modify their buying behavior.

Over the last few years, a large number of consumers have changed how they make buying decisions.  These changes include altering the types of products they purchase, focusing more effort on finding smart bargains and reducing the quantity of product they purchase at one time.

Customer Value and the InternetThe Internet's dramatic impact on business is causing some to conclude that, in the long term, marketing success for many companies may be hard to sustain.  In particular, the speed at which information is exchanged and knowledge is gained makes competitive advantage a fleeting proposition – here today, gone tomorrow.  While this picture of business is somewhat dire, most executives and business owners are probably not losing much sleep over what these prognosticators envision.  But maybe they should, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining customer value.

Capturing Hearts, One Upgrade at a Time (New York Times)

Existing Customers and Product UpgradesMarketers face a difficult task when introducing products that are considered upgrades of existing products.  The key decision confronting these marketers is what to do about a potentially large percentage of customers who already own an older version of the product.  To drive higher sales, many marketers maintain the mindset that existing customers must purchase the new product if they want the latest features.  They take the position that new is new and if customers want the new stuff they need to pay to upgrade to the new product.