- Published: January 6, 2014
After a delightful sunny and warm 2-week holiday, we have returned to the blogosphere with a news item that may be unsettling to many who still enjoy print publications.
Since the Internet rose to become a dominant communication platform, print publications, such as newspapers and magazines, have experienced a tremendous plunge in subscribers. This has resulted in numerous publications, and especially trade magazines, closing their doors. To give an example, in the early 2000s when KnowThis.com first listed marketing publications in our Weblinks Collection section, it included nearly 60 print publications that had a marketing emphasis. Today only about 30 remain on our list. Gone are such publications as Chief Marketing Officer, Promo Magazine, Industry Standard (Internet business focus), Purchasing, and Tradeshow Week, to name a few. As the titles suggest, most of these were highly targeted publications that appealed to a relatively narrow group of marketers. These also were publications whose revenue model relied heavily on businesses advertising in their publications. While as the Internet grew and the information in many of these magazines became readily available through other online sources, the real death knell came when advertisers fled to the Internet, which offered stronger targeting options and also provided powerful methods of tracking those who were interested in an advertisement.
The impact of the Internet on print media is clearly demonstrating how an industry can be disrupted by innovation. Many years ago, the automobile did the same to many industries, such as horse saddle and whip manufacturers, while television put a serious dent into companies providing products to the radio industry.
Now, according to this story, another marketing magazine is suffering. In this case, it is the well-respected Advertising Age magazine, which has been publishing weekly since 1930. AdAge has announced it is moving its print cycle from once a week to once every two weeks. While the magazine is not dead, this is certainly not a good sign that the print version will be around much longer. In fact, it is becoming more and more likely that a printed version of almost any publication is likely not going to be an option in the very near future. In essence, this product category has entered the decline stage of the product life cycle.
- Published: December 20, 2013
If you are someone who celebrates Christmas, then decorating a tree is likely a regular part of your celebratory routine. For many, tree decoration is the final stage of a potentially lengthy process requiring the identification, possible cutting down, transporting and, finally, mounting of a chosen tree. In some cases, this process takes several hours, involves significant travel and requires a lot of money before the purchaser sees the tree standing in their home. Yet, millions of people around the world look forward to undertaking this task. Millions of others, however, consider the acquisition of a live Christmas tree to be pure drudgery and look to get in the Christmas spirit in ways requiring a lot less effort.
As with any industry, the live Christmas tree business has learned that if there are unsatisfied customers then competitors may enter the market with products and services targeted to unmet needs. Years ago, companies marketing artificial trees addressed these issues by offering a simpler solution that not only reduced customers’ involvement in acquiring a tree but did so by showing how, over time, customers can save money. Their message has been highly successful, and today, in the U.S., artificial trees account for nearly 80% of all household Christmas trees.
Now live tree companies and retailers are trying to stave off customers’ flight to artificial by developing their own solutions that they hope will keep customers buying live trees by reducing much of the purchasing hassle. As described in this BusinessWeek story, the live tree industry has turned to e-commerce to help customers overcome their displeasure with the purchasing process. Several sellers, including retailer Home Depot, now make it easy for customers to shop for trees online and pick it up at the store. Other retailers have gone further by delivering online purchases right to the customer’s home.
It should be noted, the online option does not address the price issue, which for live trees is now quite high. So the selling point of the e-commerce option is likely not going to be about price savings. Instead, it is all about convenience and selling a tradition.
This is our last blog post for 2013 as we will be taking a few weeks off. We will return with new posts at the beginning of 2014.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone at KnowThis.com!
- Published: December 18, 2013
It is hard to believe that a major U.S. commercial television network can be successful without investing heavily in sports programming. Of course, the number of commercial networks that are classified as major is rather limited, with only four achieving that distinction – ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. So being pretty much shutout on televising sports means a network has likely made the strategic decision not to invest in sports programming.
This is where Disney’s ABC network finds itself as they have very few deals with the top sports leagues, aside from its cable sports network ESPN, which drips sports programming. But this is about commercial networks, those that are freely available with an antenna-connected television (though most households access these through their subscription TV service).
From ABC’s perspective, since ESPN is so dominant in sports programming, why bother with getting into serious bidding wars with the other networks over the broadcast rights for professional, college and other sports. Instead, ABC has decided to shift its product strategy and focus on original scripted programming. But in taking this path they have, in some ways, alienated male viewers, who are the primary target market for televised sports. So this strategy would seem to be a risky one, right? Wrong!
As discussed in this New York Times story, ABC has figured out the key target market for non-sports programming is women. And to attract this market they have adjusted their product mix (i.e., programming) to appeal to female viewers. The result is that 62% of ABC's audience is female and, more importantly, their female viewers skew toward higher income categories, which is attractive to many advertisers. While ABC is certainly not viewed as appealing only to women, which seems to be the strategy of the decidedly female-targeted Lifetime cable channel, their targeting strategy appears to be paying off in the form of higher ratings and higher profit margins.
- Published: December 17, 2013
Sometimes a marketing story comes along that one needs to read closely to make sure it is actually saying what is in the headline. One example is when the headline suggests a company or industry is changing a business practice that has become so widely adopted that any alteration from how things are done just does not seem right. For anyone familiar with pharmaceutical marketing, this story fits that category.
According the New York Times, two of the most common methods used to promote pharmaceutical products are being dropped by one of the world’s leading drug makers, GlaxoSmithKline. One promotional method being discontinued is the practice of paying doctors to promote products. The usual example of this is when companies compensate doctors for talking about their products at company-sponsored conferences, which are attended by other doctors. The second change is the announcement that compensation to Glaxo’s sales force will no longer be tied to how many prescriptions doctors write. Many companies use prescription totals as an important measure in the effectiveness of each member of the sale force. These changes, which to some degree Glaxo already put into effect in the U.S. a few years ago, will now apply to all markets they serve around the world.
Both promotional methods have been used for decades and represent practices that are generally not well-known to consumers. Instead, these fit under business-to-business promotional approaches, where most drug industry promotion is directed to businesses in the health care sector including health care providers, such as doctors and nurses, and health care facilities, such as hospitals and treatment centers.
While in recent years there has been an increasing shift in promotional spending to the business-to-consumer market where drug companies direct consumers directly, as discussed in the story, the real motivation for the change may have more to do with potential legal issues facing this industry.
- Published: December 13, 2013
In the world of professional soccer (or football as it is called outside the US), everyone knows that scoring does not come easy. And when a goal is scored, well it is time for a big celebration. Often goals are followed by players screaming with delight as they run wildly around the field.
While this display of behavior has become the norm, another growing method to celebrate a goal is to lift up or take off and wave the team jersey. According to this story from NBC News, computer chip giant Intel is betting players will include shirt lifting and waving in their goal scoring celebration routine.
The company has announced they are paying Spain’s top soccer team, FC Barcelona $34 million over four years to include the company’s logo on the inside of the shirts. Yes, the inside. Thus, until the shirt is removed, no one will see the logo. So it would appear Intel is counting on the celebratory practice of shirt lifting and shirt removal to catch on in a big way.
Of course, the idea of placing the Intel logo inside of something is not new. In fact, the "Intel Inside" promotion campaign has been the center of the company's promotions for over 20 years. If this new campaign is successful expect to see Intel brands appear inside other products.