Category Archives: Marketing

Male Cosmetics Communication : Losing their bearings?

How lame ! Selling skin care products by talking about “engineering” and showing gears and ball bearings. Good for Androids perhaps.

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TUMI needs DASH not SPLASH

Tumi is a brand which built itself on truly superior and differentiated product i.e substance. Early adoption by celebrities, associated PR , premium pricing and selected distribution gave the brand enough sizzle for it to become reasonably aspirational especially for business travelers. For a while it was a bit like the Ford model T- you can have it in any color as long as it is black.

The brand clearly needed some more ‘dash’. There have been some good “dash” initiatives like Add an Accent on the core Alpha range (shown below). This is in line with the brand architecture ( black and a touch of red) and exactly what was needed- a touch, an accent.

However some other initiatives ( shown below) have perhaps gone over board. They are likely to confuse the core consumer and dilute the brand core.

Inspiration to do it right exists within the category in RIMOWA. They have stuck to their core – the grooved (corrugated aluminum) exterior and a product anchored around toughness and strength -but added bright colors, accents and lighter materials via the LIMBO and SALSA range to complement the core TOPAS range.

Desperate STARBUCKS !

Instead of enhancing the core in-store coffee experience STARBUCKS is dissipating its energy ( and brand equity) trying to max out sales per square foot by pimping overpriced Instant brew coffee (in-store as well as in that purveyor of fine goods-Walmart)  and Tea. Beginning of another round of poor results, if not the end. They should have learnt from Nespresso on how to boost consumption as well as premiumise the brand. Mr Schultz, what happened to authentic quality??

Hotel search made simple

I wonder how much time people in the hotel industry spend on designing the physical properties.

Little bit of time on the front of the virtual property might not be missed.

Why don’t  we have a homepage like this yet from any of the major Hotel brands?


Infact the aggregator sites ( Hotels.com, Hotzebra etc)  do much better and Holiday Inn is not bad either.

P&G : Getting Men ?

The action in male personal care market keeps hotting up. Dove’s  Men range : Men+care , launched 2 months back in US , Europe and Australasia. Vaseline (from Unilever) launched a Men’s range in India in March. Now P&G’s OLAY has launched Olay Men solutions in China, riding on its mega brand status in the country.

While DOVE  and VASELINE are  attempting to stretch a specific equity – Care and moisturization- across genders, OLAY is  riding on a broad equity- skin care expertise, which it can claim via its dominance of the female skin care market in China. All packs in the OLAY Men solutions range feature “Refreshing energy” as a common line, which is clearly a new thought as it hasn’t been used before in brand communication or packaging.

However the brand which should have been first off the blocks in this segment- Gillette- is still struggling to be a serious player in men’s face care. It is frankly stunning that they still don’t have a Globally consistent face care range . The UK site has pre-shave wash & scrub  and post-shave moisturizer but  I couldn’t find anything on the Gillette US website. They test marketed Gillette COMPLETE skin care range in US in 2005, and it didn’t work. Instead we saw the launch of a hair care range in 2008 which is already de-listed in UK.  Gillette’s equity is in men’s skin care not hair care. What are they thinking ?

Clearly, P&G is still trying to “get” Men !

Starbucks: Big bucks in China

If you hold Starbucks stock, I suggest hold on to your shares. With the margins they have in China and the huge potential to increase the store density this is a 1 way ticket to print money. While prices are 10-15% higher than Hong Kong and London, the labor and real estate costs are almost half.  Even with the import duty on coffee beans the margins are clearly VENTI size. The table below says it all. Should we drink to that?

Visual thinking

I hear talk in the communication business around the increasing importance of the key “verbal”, given the growth of consumer communities, social media, word of mouth etc. Having worked in a category where the “visual” is banned in most countries, the key verbal was bread and butter for most marketers in the company. There are enough books on the topic ranging from ones written by academics (Robert Cialdini is a leading one in the area) to those written by people from the communications industry (copywriters and DM gurus). NLP, Linguistics, Psychology all come into play here.

But don’t count out the key “visual” yet!

It is perhaps going to conquer new frontiers and move up the value chain in organizations. As we become more inundated with data and information, the ability to elegantly visualise data, information, problem, situation and solutions is going to be a very important skill. And this is not about software and technology, as this quote from an article in Businessweek says  : “Ultimately, data visualization is more than complex software or the prettying up of spreadsheets. It’s not innovation for the sake of innovation. It’s about the most ancient of social rituals: storytelling. It’s about telling the story locked in the data differently, more engagingly, in a way that draws us in, makes our eyes open a little wider and our jaw drop ever so slightly. And as we process it, it can sometimes change our perspective altogether”

Personally, I largely think and communicate in words and frameworks filled with words. This never worried me when I was on the client side. Everyone was doing decks filled with words, charts and tables. After all, even McKinsey articles and decks are replete with templates, frameworks etc. This was “the” way to do it.  Sharp, analytical, conceptual, loaded with facts and words. They represent the best of right brain thinking.

All this changed, 6 months back when I discovered Dan Roam, his books and the concept of “Visual thinking”. Brilliant Right brain thinking to turn a complex problem, situation, information/data set, solution into an elegant left brain type expression. How cool is that ! Imagine how powerful this can be in any business situation, where you have to land your point with clarity and impact in a short span of time. Don’t we all have to, all the time?

In his 2nd book, “Unfolding the Napkin”, which is the companion workbook to the 1st book “The back of the Napkin”, Dan walks the reader page by page (of course in a visual manner) on how anyone can develop these skills. The highlight to me was a case where his company summarized a 100 slide presentation in 1-2 simple diagrams for a strategy meeting for the board of one of their clients. Simply brilliant! The book is worth it just for this case.

My professional goal for 2010 is to become a better visual thinker and communicator.  I am some distance away, considering I needed “words” to explain “visual” thinking.

Out with the 40 slide strategy set up in a pitch deck. Are you wondering what implications this has for the presentation software market? I am. Steve (Ballmer or Jobs), are you listening?