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.

Brands Without Borders (Brand Packaging)

Global Marketing and Packaging IssuesWhen it comes to product decisions, many consumer products marketers do not devote enough attention to elements of the package that will contain the main product.  In particular, they fail to consider the importance of the outer or second-level package that may be the first experience a customer has with the product.

The lack of attention to packaging decisions is particularly an issue with products sold on a global scale.  For some marketers, there is not much thought placed in whether a product should be packaged differently for each market.  Instead, apart from using the local language on the package, product design is pretty much the same for all global markets in which the product is sold.