Friday, January 28, 2011

Hybrid Words

I think it is very clever when marketers merge two words to coin a new concept – portafuel; a portable and nutritious meal or snack. The hybrid word that has piqued my interest of late is “merchantainment.”

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At the close of 2010, Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation was named Luxury Marketer of the Year. They won the award based on their multichannel marketing strategy that resulted in double-digit growth. The company consistently delivered creative messaging and effective call to action to maintain their luxury aura. CMO David Lauren indicated: “We operate on the principle of “merchantainment” – the blending of culture and commerce. The key concept underlying our philosophy is that the luxury shopping experience is not just about the transaction, but immersion too.” The company’s well crafted, integrated “merchantainment” campaign was further enhanced by their use of the latest technology in digital channels including mobile.
Today’s query: Is the principle of “merchantainment”, the blending of culture and commerce only applicable for luxury products? Answer: Not really. Polo Ralph Lauren will get credit for coining the hybrid word “merchantainment”, but we are beginning to witness the concept evolving in other industries. One example is CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s) launch of Happy Star Rewards, a GPS-enabled loyalty program that rewards users for checking in at the restaurants' locations across the U.S. Now their guests will be able to download the rewards app from an iTunes App Store or Android Market to check in. Four check-ins earns the user a spin on “The Wheel of Awesome” for discounts, gift cards, prizes, etc. A consumer who orders Hardee’s 2/3 lb. Monster Thickburger® (two 1/3 lb. charbroiled 100% Black Angus beef patties, 4 strips of bacon, 3 slices of American cheese and mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun) for 1,320 total calories, 860 calories from fat, might not subscribe to the culture of luxury, but definitely to the culture of fast foods.

The principle of “merchantainment”; sounds like smart marketing to me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Social Media Hyperbole

Back in November I confessed to being a networking junkie. My habit has gotten more addictive thanks to LinkedIn. Conversely, as a result of my engagement in Discussion Groups and Q&A, I am experiencing LinkedIn fatigue which I credit to social media hyperbole.

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Disclaimer: Before becoming a Business Catalyst and starting my own company, I was classically trained as a CPG marketer by some highly respected Fortune 500 companies – Unilever, Quaker Oats and the Campbell Soup Company. In total, I have been marketing numerous brands/products for 27 plus years, primarily in the food business. However, marketing is morphing with the advent of social media. Candidly I am learning about these new tools, just like everyone else in the business universe since social media is constantly evolving, even as I write this post. However, it never ceases to amaze me when I engage on LinkedIn, how everyone claims to be a marketing guru and promotes their expertise, especially when it comes to social media. As I stated above, LinkedIn fatigue is setting in due to online social media hyperbole.

Let me share two examples.

• In my Philadelphia Group, an individual advocated the value of Foursquare to drive Retail sales. He indicated that McDonald’s ran a Foursquare promotion in April 2010 and witnessed a 33 percent lift in foot and click traffic for a total investment of $1m. Fact: McDonald’s only ran a one day Foursquare experiment at 100 select restaurants out of their vast empire of 31m plus restaurants. When I challenged his post, I fielded a “get your head out of the sand” comment, social media is the way to go, look at Coca Cola, Victoria Secret, Groupon, etc. Valid point, but we are not all Dell, Best Buy, Comcast, etc., I realized that some local business was going to read his dubious post and reach out to this self acclaimed social media guru for potential consultation based on McDonald’s success. For the record, when I conducted an archeological dig on Mr. Philadelphia Promoter, he had an impressive IT background, but had only been consulting in social media for less than 2 years. Social media hyperbole!

• When it comes to social media, I advocate that you need to work the platforms that work best for you taking the following factors into consideration: identify your community, develop relevant content, calculate your time management, etc. As a result, I have made Facebook a low priority. Because I am currently working on my Facebook strategy I posted a question. An event planner/social media consultant out of Boston provided me with her doctoral thesis on how Facebook has helped her business including her ability to track coupons redeemed that come directly from Facebook. My apologies, but I do not coupon and this individual has only been in social media marketing less than one year. Once again, an example of social media hyperbole!

Are you experiencing social media hyperbole? Please share your stories.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LinkedIn A.D.H.D.

Engagement is the Buzz du Jour among social networkers on LinkedIn. Interesting, as I begin a new year and review my LinkedIn connections, especially those that I made online, I am beginning to recognize the occurrence of
LinkedIn A.D.H.D.

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A.D.H.D. is the psychiatric term for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. So how does that relate to LinkedIn? Think about how many new people you connected with via LinkedIn a year ago with whom you are still actively engaged. I can only think of a handful, all of whom are great people. The remainder of my 2010 connections have evaporated. Otherwise, to my point, online connections appear to have a different engagement shelf life than engagement with people we meet in the real world – neighborhood, associations, church, synagogue, mosque, health clubs, etc.

Are you experiencing LinkedIn A.D.H.D.? Please share your stories.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On The Twelfth Day of the New Year

“Change demands a temporary surrender of security.” - Gail Sheehy

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The Philadelphia Sports Club was packed this morning. Made me realize it is that time of year when everyone begins adhering to their newly formulated New Year’s resolutions. I have been good for 12 days. However, being a marketing geek, when I got home, I decided to call some friends to survey what their top New Year’s resolutions were. Here is this year’s list of 12 resolutions to break:

1. I will start a new diet and this year is the year I stick to it 24/7/365.
2. I will go to the gym a minimum of three times a week.
3. I will finally quit smoking.
4. I will finally get my colonoscopy this year.
5. I will not bad mouth anyone.
6. I will remember all significant birthdays and anniversaries this year.
7. I will return all emails and phone calls on a timely basis.
8. I will not work on my computer after dinner.
9. I will not incur any late fees on my charge cards.
10. I will finally keep track of and utilize all my frequent flier miles

and credit card rewards.
11. I will get my car inspection on time.
12. I will not spend more than $100 a month at Starbucks.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shift Happens

Last month, I read about two business records being established. The first was for corporate profits and the other for Internet advertising revenue. I predict both records will be broken in 2011. As a result, American lifestyles will be impacted significantly. Why?
Shift happens!

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Disclaimer: I am not an economist, I am a marketing geek.

Today I am going to focus on the record corporate profits for American companies in the third quarter in 2010; $1.659 trillion. This was the highest figure recorded by the Commerce Department in the 60 years since they have been tracking annual corporate profits. The next highest corporate profit levels on record was back in the third quarter of 2006; $1.655 trillion. I also want to point out that despite the recession; profits have grown seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history. One factor that has been fueling this accelerated pace has been strong productivity growth – companies have been able to produce more with less. What impact will this have on American lifestyles?

For starters, people will continue to work longer hours. Back in February of 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average work day (and related activities) for employed persons ages 25 to 54 with children was 8.8 hours. Candidly this figure appears understated, especially if the related activities involve commuting. Another reliable source, the National Sleep Foundation indicated that the average employed American works a 46-hour work week, 38% of the respondents in their study revealed that they work more than 50 hours a week. This sounds more realistic. Now throw into the equation the growing trend that Americans are not taking vacations, a topic I addressed early in July 1st 2009 in a post titled No Vacation Nation ( Consequently, the organization Take Back Your Time projects Americans on average work 350 more hours than their peers in Europe. Sounds stressful! As a result, will there be an increase of medical problems on the horizon for America?

More work hours will also fuel the need for convenience, both for products and services. Bodes well for the food industry; not just “grab & go”, takeout, frozen & nuke foods, but people will also continue to eat out more since they will need to socialize as a result of working longer hours. New services will continue to evolve, everything from those we are already familiar with like daycare, dog walking, at home personal trainers, etc., to personal assistants, people who will help individuals organize their personal lives.

What will be the end result? A stressed out, time starved, 24/7, wired, no vacation nation in desperate need of a real timeout. Remember, shift happens!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


When is enough, enough?

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Wall Street bonuses.

Salaries of University Presidents.

Friends pictures – Club Med, Wedding, Honeymoon, etc.

Baby pictures – According to the AVG Internet security survey, 92% of U.S. children under the age of 2 have some kind of online digital profile or footprint starting with parents (34%) uploading their prenatal sonograms.

Mutliplex Theaters.

Mobile Applications.

Christie’s in London auctioning off to anonymous bidder a Barbie doll with a 1-carat pink diamond necklace October 20th for $302,500. Oh yes, the previous record for a Barbie was $17,091 in 2006. A bargain!

LIONs on LinkedIn with 500 + connections.

Lady Gaga’s 7.6 million plus followers on Twitter.

Your January credit card bills.