Monday, April 30, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Diamonds Are Forever; Copyrights, Not So Much As Amazon Acquires Sole E-Publishing Rights To James Bond
Okay, so Amazon has the largest slice of the digital bookselling pie. And for the next decade, Ian Fleming’s legendary Bond novels will be exclusively available from Amazon publishing. How did they beat the spectre of Apple and other online publishers? Says Corinne Turner, Managing Director of Ian Fleming Publications, “The reason we’re going with Amazon is we believe that their online abilities will bring our books to a much broader audience than we’ve had before.” Turns out sometimes bigger is better.
This is obviously quite a coup for Amazon, who has more than one horse in this race. Not only will Amazon use Bond to power book sales and brand cred; Amazon also happens to currently sell the crowd-favorite device for the digital viewing of that content: the Kindle e-reader.
For your eyes only, the 2012 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Index e-Reader Rankings:
1. Amazon (Kindle)
2. Barnes & Noble, Inc. (Nook)
3. Apple (iPad)
5. Sony (Reader)
The e-reader customers Brand Keys surveyed identified brand value as the #1 driver of loyalty in the category. Just as Ian Fleming Publications are buying Amazon, the brand platform, with the Bond book deal, so customers also buy the brand as much as the e-reader device. Because according to readers, Amazon, with its online convenience and massive inventory, is truly the brand that loved them. The Kindle is not just a device, it’s an Amazon brand extension, backed by Amazon brand equity.
And until competitor brands can rouse these kinds of Amazonian levels of brand delight, the Kindle will remain on the top of the e-reader rankings, neither shaken nor stirred.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Everything the light touches this year is rapper Nicki Minaj’s kingdom. From the Billboard Top 100 to the Super Bowl half-time show, and her reign is about to expand to a major role in a new ad campaign for Pepsi.
The campaign, tentatively taglined “Live for Now,” seems to be aimed at a bubbly, younger generation – Pepsi’s traditional target market (remember their successful “Pepsi Generation” campaign of yesteryear?) So Nicki Minaj makes a great choice for this audience; every aspect of her persona, from her buzzy lyrics to her collection of candy-colored wigs, resonates with youth zeitgeist.
Bringing Ms. Minaj on board to pinch-hit for Pepsi is clearly a strategic move, and a reaction to the drop that Pepsi took this year in the marketplace. The results of 2012’s Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Index reveal that both Pepsi and Diet Pepsi fell flat this year, trailing Coke and Diet Coke for the first time in years. Loyalty is, alas, not a forever thing if you don’t know how best to engage your audience.
Given this evidence, we’re not too surprised to find out that Pepsi’s sales have fizzled too. As we’ve found in our many years of research, consumers buy where their loyalties lie. So the hard-hit soft drink desperately needs to win back the consumer loyalty-linked-to-brand-equity they’ve lost. Depending on its execution, Ms. Minaj’s “Live for Now” campaign may help restore that equity, but until then, when it comes to loyalty, the regular soda brands rank as follows:
- Mountain Dew
- Dr. Pepper
Back in the 1980s, when Pepsi announced that they had “won the Cola Wars,” CEO Roger Enrico proudly declared, “It gives me great pleasure to announce that after eighty-seven years of going at it eyeball to eyeball, the other guy just blinked.” The recent loss in Pepsi’s brand equity – and attendant loyalty and profitability – proves that, while history may be written by the victors, the future is anyone’s story.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
What’s in a name? A Rose-Gold Alloy Mostly Made of Copper Wouldn’t Smell As Sweet Coming From Anywhere But Tiffany’s
Tiffany & Co. celebrates its 175th anniversary this year with a little brand alchemy. Press releases trumpeting Tiffany’s posh “new jeweler’s metal,” coined and trademarked Rubedo (Latin for “red”), continues unabated. But many specialists have taken umbrage with both the “new” and the “metal” portions of Tiffany’s claim.
Rubedo, a beautiful blush-gold, is actually composed of small parts silver and zinc, 55% copper, and only 31% gold; in fact, Rubedo has no actual karat value, or too low as to not matter. As specialists point out, it’s an alloy, not a new metal, and it turns out it’s not all that valuable (despite the $7,500 price tag attached to their “Ultrawide Rubedo Cuff”). From a brand whose sumptuous tagline was “diamonds by the yard,” Rubedo might seem like the tarnish on a once-gilded brand.
What Rubedo jewelry actually demonstrates, however, is the value forged in a name. Specialists aside, consumers love Rubedo, because they love Tiffany. After all, Tiffany diamonds were Marilyn’s best friend in the famous song that mentions the company not once but twice. Audrey ate Danishes with studied concentration while parked in front of the brand’s 5th Avenue stronghold. The name Tiffany, like that of any other storied brand, is actually short-hand for meaning – what the brand represents in the consumer’s mind. And with that meaning comes value beyond gold.
Tiffany & Co. fully understands what’s in the famed name, as evidenced by the fact that the Rubedo pieces are stamped with Charles Lewis Tiffany’s timeless signature. This signature essentially backs the pieces, ensuring that customers will be willing to pay for the luxury of worth beyond actual price value.
It’s not every brand that could turn copper into gold. Tiffany shows us the alchemy a brand can work with the right mettle.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Amazon, competitor colossus, caters to the desire of many consumers to order electronics online (read: with convenience, without sales tax). Your newest laptop only a few keystrokes away, materializes on your doorstep in two days. Consumers really only tend to leave home when they want to sample the product before they, you guessed it, buy it online, which has turned Best Buy into Amazon’s showroom. Not ideal.
Brick-and-mortar competitor Apple, on the other hand, plays to the consumer desire for a niche buying experience. The Apple Store is slim in dimension (how much space do you need for an iPod, really?) with a clean, white design scheme and trendy consumer hooks like the “Genius Bar.” Best Buy, in contrast, is bulky, sporting an explosion of primary colors down every cavernous aisle. Really not ideal.
What’s an ailing retailer to do? Well, according to Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn, “We are evolving our retail store strategy. We are increasing our points of presence while decreasing our overall square footage.” Okaaaaaaay. Not being sure what that strategy means precisely, we really can’t comment. We can note, however, that Electronics used to be a category we tracked in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, but no more. The category got smaller and smaller, and quieter and quieter, until all that was left was Best Buy. But in the face of Amazon-like strategies and Apple-like tactics that singularity, alas, may not last.
In the absence of any specific consumer insights regarding the Best Buy brand, unhappily, we can’t offer up a solution. But we can offer up some wisdom voiced by Sun Yzu which may be of some help to Mr. Dunn: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn resigned as chief executive this morning, and plans to step down from the board. Director Mike Mikan was named interim CEO. Shares rose more than 3% after the announcement. Coincidence?
Thursday, April 05, 2012
The 2012 MLB season started yesterday with the christening of a new ballpark for the Miami Marlins and a 20th-anniversary park celebration for St. Louis. Yesterday’s openers will be followed by an additional six today.
The official cry of ‘play ball’ was accompanied with fan cheers and the release of Brand Keys 2012 Sports Loyalty Index, our 20th annual fan survey conducted to help professional sports teams measure precise fan loyalty rankings in home and national markets. Beyond the rankings, the diagnostics provide the kinds of insights that enable league and team management to identify areas where strategic coaching of the brand is required.
For 2012, MLB top-5 and bottom-5 brand-standings are:
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. New York Yankees
3. Boston Red Sox
4. San Francisco Giants
5. St. Louis Cardinals
In the Cellar
26. New York Mets
27. Seattle Mariners
28. Kansas City Royals
29. Baltimore Orioles
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Sports Loyalty Index provides an apples-to-apples, cross-league comparison of the intensity with which fans in the team’s home market support one team – versus fans of the other teams in the market.
It turns out that fan loyalty is more than people screaming for a hit, a goal, a touchdown, or a basket, or even teams getting them. Yes, everybody loves a winner, but a win/loss ratio on its own does not command fan loyalty.
There are three other factors that have to be taken into account, and they count no matter which league is your favorite. More importantly, real fan loyalty correlates very, very highly with broadcast viewership, merchandise purchases, and ticket revenue. And, ultimately, happier fans. Here’s the four ways fan loyalty is driven:
• Pure Entertainment: How well a team does, but more importantly, how exciting is their play?
• Authenticity: How well they play as a team. New stadia and new managers can lift this driver.
• Fan Bonding: Are players respected and admired?
• History and Tradition: Is the game and team part of fans’ and community rituals and institutions?
Ultimately, teams want to migrate fans from Pure Entertainment all the way through to History and Tradition. History and Tradition alone may get a fan’s blood boiling, but you need all four in place to see the benefits of increased viewership and merchandise sales. Rankings can be influenced depending upon how loyalty drivers are managed, so it’s critical that team marketers do accurate scouting regarding the strategic ball they intend to pitch to their fans.
And whether you’re a baseball, basketball, football, or hockey fan, The Brand Keys Sports Fan Loyalty Index measures all the teams in the four Major Leagues. If you want to see if your favorite team made the top-5 (or bottom-5) in their league, click here.
The final score? All teams can benefit from increased loyalty levels, but as baseball is America’s ‘National Pastime,’ there are very few fans that don’t get excited about seeing a game, especially on Opening Day. After all, as the great Yogi Berra said, “A home opener is always exciting whether it’s home or on the road.”
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
NBC and Matt Lauer, long-time host of the Today Show, will face a pretty unique branding conundrum by year’s end. By 2013, Lauer’s contract as the host and first-face of the most popular AM News show in America will expire, and both NBC and Lauer will have to determine how valuable the brand relationship is to their respective success.
It’s a tricky issue. The Today Show is truly a co-branded product – one part NBC peacock and one part hotshot hosts, with Matt Lauer’s personal brand currently accounting for that lion’s share there. For the past fifteen years, the benefit for both sides was fairly clear-cut. NBC lent Matt a platform and Matt imbued it with the kind of “Good Host” emotional values that successfully engage viewers and bond them to television news brands.
Lately, however, The Today Show bulwark has shown signs of a new vulnerability. In the first place, Good Morning America is pulling in fresh waves of viewers, and the net viewership sometimes surpasses even the high water mark left each day by The Today Show. In the second place, Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index rankings reveal both Fox & Friends and Good Morning America are within striking distance of The Today Show in terms of brand equity and consumer engagement per the current 2012 rankings for Morning News Shows listed below:
1. Today (NBC)
2. Fox & Friends (FOX)
3. Good Morning America (ABC)
4. American Morning (CNN)
5. This Morning (CBS)
(CUE ORGAN MUSIC) For now, The Today Show rides out the storm, but for how long will that continue? Will substantive changes be required to save Ann and Natalie? Will those changes include replacing Mr. Lauer? Will hot guests be reluctant to appear on NBC if Matt’s not there to greet them? And with content being accessed from less-traditional sources, can Matt meaningfully make a move to another medium? And think back of poor Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric and what happened to them when they traded show equity for show business? Should Lauer leave and Ryan Seacrest take his place, will loyal viewers cry, “Where in the world is Matt Lauer?” (SFX: NBC Sting)
Tune in over the next few months to this blog and find out whether it’s the medium, the messenger, or a little bit of both that drives engagement, loyalty , and profitability around the dial.