Amazon vs. All Other Retailers: Is It Really An Unfair Fight?

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Amazon, Digital Strategy, innovation, Leadership, Loyalty, Online Grocery, Online Marketing, Personalization, Retail Disruption, Strategy, Target, Technology, Walmart | 1 comment

              I have been pondering this quote from famed author James Patterson, which you may have seen: “Amazon seems out to control shopping in this country. This ultimately will have an effect on every grocery and department store chain and every big box store and ultimately put thousands of mom and pop stores out of business. It sounds like a monopoly to me. Amazon also wants to control bookselling, the book business and book publishing. That’s a national tragedy. If this is the new American way, it has to be changed by law if necessary.” While I understand the frustration that Patterson and his publisher must feel about their lack of leverage against Amazon in negotiating retail price, it would be a greater national tragedy for government to step in and legislate – any more than they already have – an unnatural competitive advantage for brick and mortar retail. Yes, Amazon is out to control shopping in this country. The only way they can do it is by finding better and better ways to serve consumers. Yes, “we” shouldn’t allow Amazon to control shopping in this country. But brick and mortar retailers have an advantage, and should not allow a lack of creativity or fear of failure to serve as an excuse to go whine to Mom & Dad (er’ the government) that someone isn’t playing fair. We should prevent Amazon’s dominance by… (revolutionary thought)… GETTING BETTER AT SERVING CONSUMERS! Brick & Mortar retail has the advantage of proximity (75% of all retail spending occurs within one mile of the consumer’s home, not online), the advantage of “I want to see it before I buy it”, the advantage of “I want to take it home with me now”, and – theoretically at least – the advantage of human touch. Amazon  (and Google Shopping Express and eBay Now and others) are investing aggressively and thinking creatively about how to erode the first three advantages – but what about the last one? How important is the human in retail? It used to be very important, before the age of Big Box and Discount Retail. Before chain retail the shop owner and his family – they were the brand. They gave personal, knowledgeable service. They were the epitome of personalization and high touch. This is what actually got me hooked on marketing technology – the possibility that technology held to make that epitome of the shop keeper/consumer relationship actually efficient. I wonder now, if we marketing technologists and our love of data and analytics have created  more distance than we’ve closed – especially when I read that 52% of consumers believe that shopping is too impersonal (mediapost)....

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Big Data Says The Answer is 42!

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Big Data, Consulting, Consumer Data, Digital Strategy, innovation, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Technology | 0 comments

It’s been a long, long time since I read Douglas Adam’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“. But I’ve been trying to dive deep into understanding this “big data” craze more…pragmatically. At present, my brain feels pretty scrambled on the topic – but lots of associations and analogies keep coming to mind – a riff on “Maslow’s Hierarchy”,  Hitchhiker’s Guide… So I did some searching to try and figure out why these things were coming to mind, thought I’d share this tidbit. “O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us….” he paused, “The Answer.” “The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?” “Life!” urged Fook. “The Universe!” said Lunkwill. “Everything!” they said in chorus. Deep Thought paused for a moment’s reflection. “Tricky,” he said finally. “But can you do it?” Again, a significant pause. “Yes,” said Deep Thought, “I can do it.” …… [Seven and a half million years later…. Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their ancestors continue what they started] …… “Good Morning,” said Deep Thought at last. “Er..good morning, O Deep Thought” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have…er, that is…” “An Answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes, I have.” The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain. …. Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children. “And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonsuawl. “I am.” “Now?” “Now,” said Deep Thought. They both licked their dry lips. “Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.” “Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!” “Now?” inquired Deep Thought. “Yes! Now…” “All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable. “You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought. “Tell us!” “All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…” “Yes..!” “Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought. “Yes…!” “Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused. “Yes…!” “Is…” “Yes…!!!…?” “Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Pretty funny, huh?  Get it?  I laughed out loud. I’m a fan of data (love, love, love it … the more the better). But in this passage above, can’t you imagine that “Deep Thought” would be the poor, unfortunate team you’ve hired to make sense of your big data  – so many times without a...

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Is Your Strategy Scaring Consumers? General Mills Online Legal Policy.

Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Big Data, Brand eCRM, Brand Value, Branding, Consumer Data, Consumer Privacy, CPG, Digital Strategy, iBeacon, innovation, Retail Disruption, Strategy, Technology | 0 comments

Seems to be a lot of tension in the relationship between consumers and marketers these days. As I re-read  an article from my April 17th AdAge  (General Mills Legal Policy Could Threaten Consumers’ Goodwill), I was reminded of something that happened the summer between my 4th and 5th grade year. It was my first time at sleep away summer camp.  We were all swimming and having a great time in the large camp pool, but suddenly – it seemed – every time I would come up for air this little boy named David would splash water in my face. I would duck underwater, hold my breath and swim as far away as possible – but again, he would find me, and splash water in my face and laugh. This happened three times when finally I got out of the pool, tears of frustration streaming down my face. Why was he being so mean to me? Later, around the campfire, it turned out that David has a crush on me. He “liked” me, and actually wanted me to be his girlfriend (remember, this was 4th grade, although I’m pretty sure it works the same way today). Marketers want so badly to connect with and engage consumers, yet so many of the techniques and attempts have the exact opposite effect. I don’t know, maybe it’s time we grew up a little? Susan O’Neal Gear has over 20 years of experience at the intersection of consumers, marketing and technology. Passionate about all aspects of a consumer’s relationship with brands and retailers, we’re spending the next year looking for new, groundbreaking thought leadership  – if not disruptive solutions – with the potential to redefine the parameters of consumer loyalty. If you also want to see some game changing happen -then follow Upstream Insight, contribute your voice, share this post…do something! ...

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WMT Doubles Down on Commitment to Solar

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Brand Purpose, Brand Value, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Technology, Walmart | 0 comments

An interesting consideration here about how to leverage your core strategic asset(s) to diversify your consumer value proposition and appeal. If you were head of strategic planning at Wal-Mart, what would you count among your core strategic assets? One of the first and most obvious you might list is your size. Because you are so big, you can secure better pricing for your customers …Everyday Low Pricing…check, one of the most powerful and popular retail strategies to-date. How can you be anything else to anyone else?  It’s not so easy to then become relavant to fashionista’s and HGTV-star wannabe’s – for many reasons – but mainly because your most significant strategic asset is a liability to a consumer segment that values uniqueness and individual expression. A more productive, and defensible and synergistic approach might be to look for opportunities where your core asset – in this case Wal-Mart’s size – meaningfully advances a cause your target consumer segment cares about. In this case, Wal-Mart’s commitment to the use of solar takes what could be a liability to a particular segment of the population and turns it around to be a showcase for the cause. I don’t know if it will drive sales at Wal-Mart, but it does diversify who thinks about the company and what they feel about them. And it reminds me of some core strategic principles, namely that it is so powerful to  “own” who you are  – and build off of that – than to copy another company, another person, another strategy. Walmart Doubles Down on Commitment to Solar Susan O’Neal Gear has over 20 years of experience at the intersection of consumers, marketing and technology. Passionate about all aspects of a consumer’s relationship with brands and retailers, we’re spending the next year looking for new, groundbreaking thought leadership  – if not disruptive solutions – with the potential to redefine the parameters of consumer loyalty. If you also want to see some game changing happen -then follow Upstream Insight, contribute your voice, share this post…do...

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Consumer Data Acquisition: What’s the difference between a ‘bribe’ and a ‘value proposition’?

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Big Data, Brand Value, Consumer Data, Consumer Privacy, Digital Strategy, Learning, Online Marketing, Personalization, Retail Disruption, Technology, Vulnerability | 1 comment

Do you think this value proposition is uniquely of interest to high-end consumers? They claim that it’s their lack of affiliation with any particular brand that builds trust.  What does that say about brands, are they inherently untrustworthy because they want to market to the customer?  What other characteristics are important to building trust between consumers and the companies they do business with? Is 150,000 customers a lot? Why is paying consumers for their personal data called a “bribe”? Want Your Customer’s Personal Data? Bribe Them. (via Inc.)   Susan O’Neal Gear has over 20 years of experience at the intersection of consumers, marketing and technology. Passionate about all aspects of a consumer’s relationship with brands and retailers, we’re spending the next year looking for new, groundbreaking thought leadership  – if not disruptive solutions – with the potential to redefine the parameters of consumer loyalty. If you also want to see some game changing happen -then follow Upstream Insight, contribute your voice, share this post…do something! ...

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