Monday, November 19, 2012

Orchestra Loyalty Program

As some of you may know, I am on my way to embrace fatherhood. This may explain the reason why I don't spend much time on this blog anymore, even though I still have the will to get back on track, and to blog as much as I can. 

As I am preparing the arrival of my child, I spend a lot of time in baby stores. And last week I went to Orchestra, a French retailer of baby clothes. Orchestra has invented a very smart loyalty reward programs.

As most of loyalty reward programs, you have a loyalty cards, which allows you to benefit from discounts. 
But there are several aspects that makes Orchestra's card remarkable:
  • You need to pay for it: Some people may think it is awkward  but actually, I don't understand why not so many loyalty programs are payable ones. Indeed, for a customer to enter a loyalty reward programs, it needs to engage with the brand, and therefore, if it is accessible to anyone, the relationship is weaker. Paying a membership fee is a great way to engage, because it is a tangible sign the customers makes to enter into the club
  • You also need to pay every year a fee, 10 € (to compare with the 30 € you need to get in), in order to  keep the benefits. This is also a good idea, because the customers who really wants to be in the club needs to renew its "vows".
  • It offers you 50% off all your purchases years around. Of course, the prices of Orchestra are very expensive. They are far more expensive than the competition. But thanks to the discount, it becomes affordable.
Thanks to this system, Orchestra:
  • Has a loyalty reward programs including people that are really loyal to the brand. I would like to know how much is the average budget of one customer in terms of baby clothings, but paying 30 € simply to get the card is not miscellaneous. That means it is worth getting it if you buy at least 60 € of clothings.
  • The facial value of the benefits (50% off all year around) is so high that it pushes the shopper to get it at the first place, but also to purchase at least for 60 € the first time to benefit from the advantages right away. It improves the probability of a big shopping right from the beginning.
  • They must have a high % of customers that use their card. This is important when you want to make data mining, or simply to target specific customer groups for a campaign, because your transformation rates will be high
  • Because of the investment the customer make, he will tend more to make it profitable, so you will have a higher probability he will come back to your store.
I believe this is a very smart, and I believe that it is very innovative. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reverse Innovation Process: Procter & Gamble Case Study

I found this very interesting article about Procter and Gamble strategy in the emerging market. Procter & Gamble masters the worldwide market of shaver with its brand Gillette. Gillette products are very priy, all over the world, and they have succeeded in increasing the proposed value to customers through innovation. It is so pricy that in some French stores, those products have specific security measures to avoid robbery. 

But in a market like India, where people have low incomes, it is a challenged to propose an appropriate product to customers. India is a very interesting market as it is the biggest market in volumes of razors.  

Procter & Gamble had to apply a strategy I did not hear of, but which is very interesting: Reverse Innovation. For years, in its domestic market, Gillette did not stop innovating, proposing more and more complex products. But in India, Gillette needed to adapt to the level of development of the country.

Therefore they developed a specific product for the local market, with one single bladed, design for the specific needs of Indians. 

It is becoming more and more difficult to find revenue growth in our western countries market, and it is important to find new ways to conquer new foreign markets. This is somehow the same strategy Renault used with its Logan brand to get market shares in Eastern Europe countries.

What is also interesting in the article is that the author considers possible that Gillette may sell the products they defined for the Indian market in the US market. And hence, the reverse innovation process would be complete. I believe that sometimes, it is important that companies question their own business model, even when it is working and doing fine. Because someday, you will always find a disruptive competitors, which will be able to innovate where you simply wanted to keep revenues flows.

I believe it is interesting to read this article, and to see the whole process Procter and Gamble applied in order to get into the Indian market. It is especially interesting to see how they had a local approach, instead of simply focusing on selling their international products.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Looking For A Business Model For Start Ups: Freemium

I believe the economical crisis hitting the world right now has affected the social media business. Despite the fact the market still grows, and there are a lot of room for innovation, entrepreneurs have been challenged by the lower capacity to raise money, but also the aim to find a strong business model. I posted last week an article about how we could imagine someday Facebook asking users to pay for the service, as they were looking for sustainable sources of revenues.

For the longest time, the Internet companies have based their business model on the revenues of advertising. As the market was growing, it was easy for companies to get attention from brands to advertize on websites. 

Also, another very common business model strategy for Internet companies was  what iscold freemium: Propose a free service to user, attractive enough to get them hooked, and to convince them to upgrade to a version they would pay for.

But Freemium still remains a problem. 

In the oft-cited Hershey’s experiment that started the free-mania, behavioral economists from MIT tested customer preference for Hershey’s and Ferrero Rocher chocolates at two different price points. For one group, they offered Hershey’s at one cent and Ferrero Rocher for 26 cents. For another, they offered the chocolates at zero cents and 25 cents respectively. When the Hershey’s chocolate was free and the Ferrero Rocher chocolate was 25 cents, 90 percent of the participants chose Hershey’s. $0 price seems to have done the magic in driving customer adoption. The result became the foundation of the freemium school of thought — free is free marketing. First use the free version to drive adoption and build a large customer base, and then find ways to monetize that base by upselling the paid version and selling extras.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Questionning the business model of Facebook And Twitter

Would you pay for an add free Twitter or Facebook? This is the title of an article CNN published on its website couple of months ago. 

And this is a very interesting question. You know that even though I am an early adopter and strong believer in Twitter and Facebook future as a mass media, I am still wondering about how those companies are going to become profitable in the next few years. Indeed, I have always questioned the strategy of many Web 2.0 start up to focus on developping a large base of users without even thinking for a second about how to make profits out of it.

And so far, I have been right: Facebook's IPO has been a failure, I believe no one could say the contrary. Investors are worried about the revenue growth pace of Facebook, and its ability to perform as expected.

Same thing for Twitter, where most of their initiatives to implement ads to generate revenues has failed.

Now, people have been used to a free Internet, where services are paid by companies through ads. But the thing is there are way too many services on the Internet which base their revenues on ads for brands to finance all of them! And with the economical crisis, we all know that advertising budget is the first one to be frozen.

So now, would people pay to use Twitter or Facebook? The article has a good point: "If we're selling a service, our customers are our users and our job is to make our users happy,". Indeed, that is what Facebook and Twitter have been working on: Having a great product for users. But they have not integrated at an early stage of the process the way to get their "clients" (brands) involved in it. If users pay for the service, Facebook and Twitter will go on being interesting, but if now their main focus is to get as much advertising money as possible, I believe the service will deteriorate and in the end, they will never be able to become as profitable as they could be.

I would personnaly pay for Facebook or Twitter. The access to my network and to the information it allows me to get is just great, and I don't see myself living without it. Now the thing is how much am I eager to make out of it? VCs have based the value of these companies on how much money they can generate from an average user. Am I eager to pay that kind of money to use these services?

This is the answer to be asked. And let me be more precise about my thought: On the long run, to be honest, I don't see how Twitter or Facebook would be free.

Is Customer Loyalty A Myth?

Customer loyalty is a goal any companies is willing to achieve. All companies know how pricy the aquisition of one new prospect may be, and companies would rather make sure they keep a strong loyal customer base, securing their revenue flows at the same time.

Customer loyalty strategies have been set up when markets started to become mature, and as the "external growth opportunities" were starting to shrink. A bunch of strategies and tools are available to marketers in order to trigger customer retention or loyalty: Loyalty reward programs, data mining, create emotional bond with one brand...

But we all know, as marketing managers, it is tough to accomplish. 

I read a very interesting article not so long ago in French Newspaper website Le Monde, which questions the whole concept of customer loyalty. Indeed, Andrew Ehrenberg demonstrated while ago that customers tend in a natural way not to stick with one brand. On the long run, according to the article, only 5% of people remain loyal to one product on a one year basis.

Nevertheless the natural unloyalty of customers needs to be counterbalanced by the fact that loyal customers are the ones who built the profitability of one company. They are the one who counts for 80% of the business, and most of the time, for 80% or more of the profits.

The article does not really give any answers to this question. But the question is right to be set. Especially during economical crisis, customers are eager to find the best deal, more than securing quality through a brand they trust. But customer loyalty is a very complex concept. It implies several aspects, both statistical and emotional. Working on growing a loyal customer data base is something any company should go after.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No experiment should be believed until it has been confirmed by theory

This is a phrase you should meditate. I read it in a New York Times article, dealing with an experiment which you have probably heard of. Some scientists made an experimentation where they were able to make some neutrinos faster than the speed of light, which according to the relativity theory of Albert Einstein, was supposed to be the fastest speed possible. The theory of relativity is one of the base of all the physics laws.Breaking up the speed of light meant to think through all the discovers found out based on the Einstein theory. 

Nevertheless, it appeared that this results seemed to have no theory backing it up, meaning it was an abnormal results, rather than a truth. 

"No experiment should be believed until it has been confirmed by theory". Scientists should have confirmed their results through theory. What does that mean? It means that experiments results must be understood and then explained by a theory before they actually mean somethig.

This point is very interesting, and you could correlate it to the world of business. A lot of the times, you may experiment some marketing techniques, sales concept, or new products, experience success. But it is very important to get a theory (or I should say a strategy) behind in order to make sure you may turn your experiment into a success on a larger scale. Too many times, because companies implies to have results fast, managers implement fast new concept stores, or marketing techniques, even before having thought them enough to make sure they would work.

I believe this story and line is very interesting and should be thought while defining one strategy.

What do you think about it?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Thoughts About Apple vs Samsung's Trial Results: Copying Could Be Good

I know what you may say, I am a little late to give some thoughts about the news which hit all the headlines for days couple of weeks ago. Appel vs Samsung's trial result has been indeed huge, because of the amounts that were at stake. But actually, sometimes it is also good to step back in order to get a clear view of what happened.

I wanted mainly to comment an article I found during this trial on the Harvard Business Review website. Indeed, I really liked the point it was making. 

We can all agree that Apple has inspired most of smartphones manufacturers since the launch of the first Iphone. When most of smartphone was operated with keyboards, now about 90 % of them have tactile screen, have a system including applications to download. 

Now, does this imply the competitors have copied Apple? In some way, of course, the original idea comes from Apple, but having invented a cool tactile phone should not prevent anyone to be able to improve this idea. Most of the time, great innovations are built on existing one. The problem with the outcome of this trial, is that intellectual property patents have gone too far: for a good competition, and in order to emulate innovation thanks to competition, Samsung should not be considered as a copycat. Actually, because they have brought both innovation and competition, they have contributed as much as Apple to the growth of the cell phone market.

Let's also think about it, if Samsung needs to stop its tactile screen phone activities, who would be left in the market? Apple would probably be dominating the market and then they could be considered in a  monopolistic position. 

Because Samsung is in the market Apple needs to keep on innovating, and it is because of competition, even though companies dislike that, that innovation comes through.

I remember once one of my teacher in Dauphine telling me that companies dislike competitions. Of course they don't because it is costly to fight with others. But if there is no competition, one company has actually no much reasons to satisfy customers or to seek for innovation.

That is the reason why, I am not quite happy about the trial outcomes.

What do you think about it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Could Help Facebook Stock To Rise?

Facebook IPO has not been as succesful as expected. The financial world was looking forward one of the most profitable IPO, for one of the hypest company to enter the stock exchange for a long time. During these difficult times, to see such a success story would have been a great opportunity to get some of the lost money for them.

Nevertheless, there was no miracle. Hopes were too high, and the stock prices lost about 30% of its value. What could explain such a fall? Well, of course the price of the stock was way to high. It was calculated on an expected growth of revenue, whereas the company is experimenting a new business model (social media, based on several sources of revenues including advertizing, but also selling access to its network to applications company and so on). 

What could help Facebook to Rise its Stock Price? 
Well, Facebook had a great growth of its audience since its foundation. Now the audience growth is going to remain, but the pace will slow down. It is now time to find ways to generate as much revenues as expected.

The best way Facebook could improve its stock price is to match the stock market expectations in terms of growth pace. But to be honest, I don't see it happening. I believe expectations have been to high, and it is not helping Facebook to have to keep up with a revenue growth pace, while they are still luring to find the good chemistry.

I have always been frightened by companies who are focusing on recruiting new users instead of building up business model, but right now, Facebook needs to find the best way to monetize its audience.

If Facebook tries to near the gap between its entry stock price and its actual price right now, it is a lost battle. The should rather instead focus on long term revenues, the ones that they may achieved in 3 to  5 years.

What do you think about it?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why I Still Love Blackberry

Blackberry have made the headlines lately because of their downturn. Nobody knows where the Canadian company is heading and people may doubt if Blackberry will still exists in the next few years, or even few months. People blame the company for not having been able to follow Apple's lead, which defined with its Iphone the landscape of smartphones right now. 

I find very sad what is happening to Blackberry. Indeed, as a lot of you may know, I am a fan of Blackberry. You may call me a has-been, but I love their keyboard, which allows me to type in a glance, emails, tweets, new appointments or tasks.

Here are the main reasons why I love my Blackberry bold:
  • Once again, I love the keyboard. It is sharp, and I can type like crazy. I bet no one can type as fast as me on a Blackberry keyboard while using any touch screen device. However, I believe that the Bold with its tactile screen is also great, because it ads a better experience while surfing on the Internet I must admit. Nevertheless, both are key to me.
  • I love the way I can manage my schedule, my tasks, and all my pros activities. My blackberry is at the core of my Getting Things Done Strategy. The only thing I regret is that I would love to have an online web interface while sitting in front of a computer, or also a tablet application (I own an Ipad, don't plan to by their Blackberry book). 
  • The handheld is of great quality. In terms of the components, the camera is great.
Now here are where they could have improvements:
  • They could have a better battery life: I am constantly charging my phone. I must admit though I am using it like crazy.
  • The lack of applications. I have great applications. For example, the trip app is just awesome. Also, the one to deal with social media, and Twitter. Nevertheless, they have never achieved to get enough applications in their Blackberry app world to really get the most of the phone. They came to late on that market, when Iphone has been a trail blazer, and Google generate a lot of attention by creating an open market place, then for Blackberry it was hard to find its place. And to be honest, I think they will never get back.
Now that Blackberry said they would focus on tactile screen and abandon their keyboard, I have no idea what will be my next phone. But I really hope Blackberry find its way out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Great Interview Of Loic Lemeur

Loic Lemeur  may have been experiencing problems with his latest start up seesmic, he remains one of the best French entrepreneurs, an example to follow. I watched recently this video interview, which is very interesting. Loic speaks frankly about the issue he faced as the CEO of Seesmic, his mistake, and his will to keep moving forward. This is very inspiring, especially in these times, when it is so difficult to experience success.

I wish Loic good luck for the future, and I hope LeWeb 2012 in Paris will be successfull.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Comment améliorer sa DN et DV

Ce post fait suite à une question que j'ai reçue au sujet d'un ancien article que j'ai publié sur mon blog il y a 6 ans, expliquant les concepts de la DN et la DV.

La DN, Distribution numérique, et la DV, distribution valeur, sont 2 très grands enjeux dans le monde de la distribution, et particulièrement dans le domaine de l'alimentaire, et l'augmentation de celle-ci pour un fournisseur est clé pour le succès d'un produit.

Alors comment augmenter sa DN et/ou sa DV? Il faut tout d'abord comprendre les facteurs qui peuvent influer sur celle-ci

Calcul de la détention par les panels
Tout d'abord, je souhaitais faire un rappel sur la manière dont est calculée la DN et la DV par les panélistes. Les 2 plus gros acteurs sont Nielsen et IRI. Ces 2 sociétés ont accès aux informations de sorties caisses des distributeurs, et considère qu'un produit est détenu à partir du moment où le produit concerné a été vendu au moins 1 fois dans le point de vente, sur une période d'un mois. Aussi, le produit ayant des rotations faibles, va peut être avoir des chiffres de DN et DV faible, car plus la VMM (vente moyenne magasin) est proche de 0, plus un nombre non négligeable de magasin va être considéré comme non distributeur, alors qu'ils ont bien eu sur leurs étagères le produit.

Comment augmenter la DN et la DV
Voici les facteurs qui peuvent influencer la DN et la DV:
  • Référencer le produit auprès du plus de distributeur possible. Les plus gros produits sont incontournables, tels que le Coca Cola 1L, ou bien le pack d'Evian par exemple. Ces produits là sont référencés par le distributeur dans tous ses magasins. Par contre, pour bons nombres d'autres produits, ce n'est pas le cas. C'est le premier levier pour gagner de la DN et DV: convaincre le distributeur de réserver de la place en magasin et de le renseigner dans son système. D'où viennent mais 2 prochains points:
  • Avoir une bonne rentabilité du produit: Il faut que le produit ait un intérêt pour le distributeur, et qu'il s'intègre bien dans la catégorie. C'est la condition sinéquanone. Donc il faut trouver le bon produit déjà. Souvent, la DN et la DV pour un distributeur est un indicateur de la légitimité d'un produit lorsque celui ci existe déjà sur le marché.
  • Mais imaginons que le produit soit référencer. L'un des points à vérifier est la bonne détention du produit: Est ce que le produit est bien sur le planogramme, là où il devrait l'être. Est ce que le magasin le mets bien en magasin. Pour cela, il faut un suivi sur le terrain, ou bien vérifier sur les panels si la DN DV théorique = celle constatée. Cela demande un suivi.
  • Les rotations. Plus le produit a de basse rotation, moins sa DN-DV va être bonne car le calcul sera moins fiable. En conséquence, pour augmenter la détention, notamment sur le début, il faut faire de la promotion afin de pouvoir déclencher les actes d'achats, mais aussi que les réassortsse fassent bien. Il est important le plus vite possible d'atteindre les VMM (ventes moyenes magasins) ambitionnées.
  • Les problèmes de ruptures: Les problèmes de ruptures peuvent venir soit du fournisseur, soit des approvisionnements du distributeur, soit de problèmes opérationnels des magasins. Pour influer sur les ruptures, pour un industriel, c'est déjà avoir un taux de service à 100%, c'est à dire honoré l'ensemble des commandes passées par le distributeur. Par ailleurs, les grosses entreprises ayant beaucoup de moyen tel Coca Cola, va avoir une force de vente qui va vérifier en magasin que les produits soient bien détenus, et s'assurer du bon fonctionnement en magasin. C'est la raison pour laquelle, bien que les échanges commerciaux se font de plus en plus au national, les gros fournisseurs ont une force de vente pléthorique pour vérifier ces points.
  • Maintenir une bonne détention, c'est aussi voir ce que fait la concurrence, qui pourrait sortir un produit comparable, qui va peut être impacter la détention du produit existant. Pour cela, il faut être capable dêtre réactif et de proposer ce qu'il faut pour maintenir sa détention, soit par de la promotion, soit par une meilleure rentabilité du produit

Voilà, j'espère que c'était clair, et que je n'ai rien oublié. N'hésitez pas à compléter en commentaire si vous avez d'autres idées...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Walt Disney's Vision Of Disney's Business

Here is a very interesting mind map I found on the web: It has been drawn by Walt Disney himself, to picture his whole idea of the industry he will create, back in 1957. You can clearly see how everything is linked, to create the magic of Disney we all know.

Walt Disney understood perfectly how all the existing media were working, and get the best out of them (TV, movie theater, music...). It would have been fun to see how he would have used social media. By the way, I think that Disney is the strongest brand on social media nowadays.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quelques pensées sur les publicités de l'application mobile Leclerc

Depuis quelques semaines, Leclerc multiplie les publicités télévisées au sujet de son application mobile permettant de comparer les prix via son téléphone portable, en situation de mobilité. Il y a quelques temps déjà, j'avais prévu que ce type d'application sera là, et que celles-ci allaient forcer les enseignes à chercher d'autres axes de différenciations que le simple prix.

Leclerc peut se le permettre: Ils sont les moins chers, et ont trouver le moyen d'être sûr d'être les moins chers (coûts d'exploitations faible grâce à la structure décentralisée, pas d'expansion internationale à financer, moins de contraintes régalienne que des géants comme Auchan ou Carrefour). Et cela marche: Ils gagnent des parts de marché sur tous les concurrents, et principalement sûr le leader Carrefour, qui devrait se faire rattraper dans les mois qui viennent (à ce rythme avant la fin 2012).

Cette application est d'autant plus l'arme ultime, que le marché de l'alimentaire répond à des besoins primaires, avec des produits simples et comparables (un paquet de pâtes = un paquet de pâtes), et le prix est le 2ème (souvent derrière la proximité géographique) 2ème critète de choix d'un magasin (surtout le premier actionnable).

Maintenant, il y a 3 choix pour les enseignes:

  1. Se battre sur ce registre, ce qui peût avoir des conséquences terribles en terme de marges.
  2. Développer une stratégie innovante, permettant de créer de la valeur ajoutée intangible, justifiant l'écart de prix.
  3. Trouver d'autres moyens de faire gagner de l'argent au client: Proposer de nouveaux services à prix casser.
En tout cas, Leclerc réussi dans cette période de crise à gagner des parts de marché. Une stratégie gagnante en attendant le retour de la croissance.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Samsung: Une entreprise pas comme les autres

Je souhaitais partager avec vous ce documentaire sur l'entreprise Coréenne Samsung. Ils ont réussi à dépasser le monstre Sony, et domine le monde de l'électronique. Ce qui est assez impressionant dans cette société, c'est les innovations qui arrivent, preuve que Samsung n'hésite pas à financer l'innovation, qui elle seule peut assurer un futur à long terme de la société (dans ce monde qui bouge si rapidement, il faut toujours avoir la vision de dans 8 - 10 ans, même si celle-ci ne se réalise pas).

Ce qui est aussi impressionant, c'est le côté "big brother", paternaliste, mais aussi très controversé.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Employees Frist, Customers Second

This title may seem awkward for a blog which is supposed to be discussing about customer relationship management, and the old adage "the customer is king". Nevertheless, I picked this title from an article I recently read from French Newspaper "Le Nouvel Economiste". This title refers to call centers' human resources policy, and how it can impact customer satisfaction.

Call centers had the culture of effectiveness based on data: number of people reached, how long the call lasts, how good the customer data base is filled in by the employee... But with this approach, employee's job is repetitive, and is not fun. This is the reason why customers have a bad experience. Moreover, call centers have high employee turnover. Turnover has a high cost for a company, needing to hire, and educate the new employees.

Let's not forget that customers are human beings, and as human beings, they like to be in relation with other of their peers. That means that whatever is robotized is a risk of lowering customer experience. I have always considered that the first contact customers or shopper have with a brand is the human face of a salesperson, or in that case, a call center employee. And therefore, they should be the most exited people about your brands and products. They should therefore be happy. 

he 10 Zappos Core Values:
  1. Deliver Wow through Service
  2. Be Passionate and Determined
  3. Embrace and Drive Change
  4. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  5. Do More with Less
  6. Pursue Growth and Learning
  7. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  8. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
  9. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
  10. Be Humble

Zappos has a culture of delivering high customer service, which sets them apart from competition.

Hence, as a customer centric company, you should pay a close attention to the human resources policy, the management of employees.

Happy employees lead to happy customers. Employees happiness first, customers'one second.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mon débrief du salon SECA (relation client, CRM et mobile)

Je me suis rendu, comme chaque année au salon SECA qui se tenait comme tous les ans à la porte de Versailles. Le SECA est le gros salon de la relation client en France, qui réunit la plupart des sociétés du secteur. Il est toujours intéressant d'aller à ce salon, car comme le métier évolue très rapidement (je me souvient qu'il y a à peine 6 ans, la grande majorité du salon était composée d'entreprises de mailing) le salon est souvent un bon reflet des tendances.

Pour être tout à fait honnête, j'ai été déçu du salon. Voici quelques remarques que je me suis faites et que je souhaitais partager avec vous:
  • La disparition des entreprises d'emailing: Je me souviens qu'il y a encore un ou deux ans, une centaines de prestataires travaillants autour de l'emailing (routeur, société conseil, de logiciels, de locations de base, etc...) tournaient comme des vautours autour des visiteurs qui auraient eu la malchance de s'égarer. De plus, la plupart de ces sociétés avaient des techniques et approches commerciales très aggressives, flyers dans les allées, pin up aguichants le challand, etc... Cette année, je n'ai pas vraiment vu ce type de démarche, tant mieux. Car pour être honnête, si je devais choisir un prestataire pour travailler, il serait hors de question que je choisisse une entreprise pratiquant ce type de démarchage, totalement contraire à l'idée de relation client de qualité.
  • Cette disparition a laissé place à une nouvelle race de société: Les sociétés de monitoring (ou veille) des médias sociaux. Je ne peux même pas me souvenir du nombre incroyable de société qui se sont lancés là dedans. Cela marque bien l'intérêt que le monde de l'entreprise porte au phénomène. Le problème, c'est qu'il y a très peu de différences entre elles... La plupart propose de pouvoir filtrer et analyser les contenus des fans et autres followers, pour permettre à la marque de pouvoir mieux comprendre son empreinte sur les réseaux sociaux. Le réel problème, une nouvelle fois, c'est que je n'ai rien trouvé de réellement innovant, ou bien de vraiment quelque chose sortant du lot. 
  • Le salon était couplé avec Buzzmobile, le salon du marketing mobile. Réellement, l'idée est très bonne: donner une nouvelle partie importante pour le mobile, qui est le média à privilégier pour toucher le shopper. Mais là encore, je trouve qu'il manquait réellement de nouveauté, ou bien de choses innovantes. La plupart des sociétés proposent de développer des applications, ou bien de faire de la publicité sur mobile (régie publicitaire). Je pense qu'il y a tellement de chose à venir sur mobile, tel que la géolocalisation (très peu de chose la dessus), la réalité augmentée, la NFC... 
  • Je trouve que cela manquait aussi d'acteurs de poids. Il est toujours intéressant de voir des starts up apportant de la nouveauté, mais il est tout aussi important d'avoir des leaders pouvant influencer le marché. Or, Orange, Soft Computing, ou autre Publicis, ne sont pas présents. Dommage...
En bref, on voit une réelle mutation du monde du feu Marketing Direct, vers le mobile et les réseaux sociaux, ce qui est logique, car le salon suit là dessus les évolutions du consommateur. Mais on peut voir au global qu'il y a énormément que prestataires sur le salon, qui au final se ressemble, et je pense que nous assisterons dans un futur proche à une concentration des acteurs, afin peut être de voir émerger des acteurs importants porteur de réelles innovations.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Social Effects On Customers Retention

We all knows that the social community around one customer is a very important part of one customer decision making process. Depending on what friends, relatives or co workers buy, a person will be influenced and there are strong chances he will buy similar products,probably from the same manufacturer.

The social impact has been used a lot by advertisers in commercials. But social impact on customer choices has become even stronger lately as customers become more and more aware, and more and more connected, thanks to social media, like Twitter, or Facebook.

It is also true for the opposite, when people around a customer decides to switch from one brand to another, people around him may have the same reaction.

That is what this blog post is about: Researchers Irit Nitzan and Barak Libai analyzed the behavior of more than a million customers of a cell phone service provider to see how likely they were to defect to another service provider when one or more of the people in their calling network canceled their service. A year's worth of data revealed that approximately one-third of the customers studied saw at least one of their friends leave the service provider. The research reveals that after that friend or friends left, the probability that the remaining customer would also leave rose 80%.”

“Consumers who were closer to one another—defined by the volume of communications they used—were more likely to defect than consumers who spoke with the defecting friend less frequently, ostensibly because close friends share more purchase recommendations and opinions with those closest to them than with consumers to whom they speak less frequently, the authors say. The impact of these word-of-mouth opinions was less among consumers considered loyal to the carrier, as defined by how long they'd been customers of the mobile service provider and their usage level. In all instances, the impact of friends' defections to other carriers was felt most acutely shortly after they left and diminished within a few months' time.”

This should gives you extra arguments to look after what people says about your brand on social media. It also gives a very good data to look after: the volume of communications between individuals to evaluate how strong the chances are that this person will follow the decision of the other persons.

What do you think about it?

Monday, April 02, 2012

New Retail Trends From The NRF

The NRF is the National Retail Federation in the United States.Every year they host the NRF Expo, and this year, I believe it was in New York.

Thanks to Henri Kaufman's blog, we can access to this presentation (in French), which shows out the  new trends found during this event.

I am not going to comment the whole presentation  which is pretty complete. But Iwanted to share with you the results of the study showed on slide 22and 23.

Here are in 2011the ranking of the greatest influences during a product research:

  1. Retail store
  2. Search engine
  3. Retailer Website (this is something very interesting: Retailer websites seem to be a source customers rely more and more on)
  4. Familly and friends (wouldn't you have thought it would be higher?)
  5. traditionnal advertising
  6. mobile apps
  7. online streaming videos haul (like You tube)
  8. Shopping portail
  9. social media (this is what is interesting: so far social media is very low)
  10. magazines
  11. Email
I believe it is interesting to see that retails remain the n°1 source of information, and also the n°1 channel of consumption.However, ubiquity (meaning the fact that customers purchase and consume information on a vast number of media, from cell phones, to computers, to stores, to social media...) is becoming more and more important.Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that stores remain the core of business, and that companies should leverage their stores to generate more sales on line and on other platforms, like smartphones.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sandro Castaldo Trust Model

I discovered thanks to a post of Henri Kaufman the work of Sandro Castaldo on customer loyalty building process.Sandro Castaldo is an Italian professor who has worked to identify which are the components of customers trust in one brand. 

Trust is a very complex concept, and in terms of customer relationship with a company, there are many different components which can impact this trust:
  • The salespersons
  • The assortment
  • Sales promotion
  • Communication
Sandro Castaldo found out a way to analyse the interaction between those different factors in order to determine which of them has the most impact on trust.
Here is how it works:
  1. It defines the elements which may influence one customer trust.
  2. He also defines which of those elements impact either the perceived value, the store patronage, satisfaction, the behavioral loyalty intentions and the trust.
  3. He then conducts a survey on customers using the quota method
  4. He then is able, upon the survey, can set the priorities of each element
To understand better how it works, I invite you to visit this link.There is a very interesting paper about how private lable can impact store trust. The whole technique is detailed in this paper.

It would be very interesting to conduct such a survey for your company, in order to understand better the role of each of your customer relationship management components, and being able to monitor them. Sandro Castaldo wrote a book about it: Trust in Market Relationships.

What do you think about it?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

As I have been running this blog for quite a while now, I have encountered a lot of great articles, which I have discussed here. But more that those great articles (and there are a lot), there are some quotes, which I always keep in mind, as they are food for thoughts. I wanted to share them with you, and I will update as often as I find something interesting here.

Hope you will enjoy it, and feel free to give me some more.

We always make our decision based on what we know and believe. Seth Godin

You can't turn the wind, so turn the sail.Kofi Annan, to President Bashar Assad about Syrian crisis.

Monday, March 26, 2012

We always make our decision based on what we know and believe.

I wanted to share with you a blog post I found on the always interesting blog of Seth Godin.For those of you whom may not know who Seth Godin is, he is a marketing guru, which was at the center of the permission marketing concept.

"We've decided to hire someone with totally different skills than yours..." and then they hire someone just like you, but more expensive and not as good.
"We're not going to buy a car this month, my husband wants to wait..." and then you see them driving a new car from that other dealer, the one with the lousy reputation.
"I'm just not interested..." and then you see the new RFP, one you could have helped them write to get a more profitable and productive outcome.
People lie to salesmen all the time. We do it because salespeople have trained us to, and because we're afraid.
Prospects (people like us) lie in many situations, because when we announce that we''ve made the decision to hire someone else, or when we tell the pitching entrepreneur we don't like her business model, or when we clearly articulate why we're not going to do business, the salesperson responds by questioning the judgment of the prospect.
In exchange for telling the truth, the prospect is disrespected.
Of course we don't tell the truth--if we do, we're often bullied or berated or made to feel dumb.
Is it any surprise that it's easier to just avoid the conflict altogether? Of course, there's an alternative, but it requires confidence and patience on the part of the seller and marketer.
Someone who chooses not to buy from you isn't stupid. They're not unable to process ideas logically, nor are they unethical or manipulated by others. No, it's simpler than that:
Given what they know and what they believe, the prospect is making exactly the right decision.
We always make our decision based on what we know and believe. That's a tautology, based on the definition... a decision is the path you take based on what you know and believe, right?
The challenge, then, it seems to me, is to realize that perhaps the prospect knows something you don't, or, just as likely, doesn't believe what you believe. Your job as a marketer is to figure out what your prospect's biases and worldview and fears and beliefs are, and as a salesperson, your job is to help them know what you know.

I wanted to comment the bold sentence: We always make our decision based on what we know and believe. That reminds me of my customer behavior classes in the United States: One customer decision making process is a complex process, which implies several phases and factors which will impact it.And I think it is very interesting that we should not blame one customer not to have picked our product or service, but we should focus on what triggered this decision, and especially, what we have not done to influence it toward our company.

The difficult part out of it is to be able to get this information, because as Seth is explaining, most of the time, the customer will keep this information for him, not to be judged.I also believe that in some ways, the customer may not be sure that he took the right decision. He would like to have but as nowadays we have always the choice with a large range of products whatever we buy, the decision making process is becoming more difficult.This is the reason why customers are seeking for customer reviews to make sure and to comfort their choices.

As long as there is a competition, there will always be customers not buying your products, but it is important to know what information they did not have, and what they believed, in order to get as few people as possible shoppers leaving your store with empty hands.

What do you think about it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Backplane: Should Companies Create Private Virtual Communities?

It has been years now that Facebook interests companies in order to bond with their customers/communities. Marketers have understood how powerful social media could be to create brand awareness and to reach their customers in a unique way.

But Facebook almost monopoly on social communities bring some questions: Is it a good thing that companies rely on a private company's tool to connect with its customers? Indeed, it is a normal behavior for a company to want to master and control what it is doing. Indeed, Facebook can whenever it wants change its policy which could have great impact on people's community.You should see what is going on with Google's decision to charge company using Google Maps: People are moving away from Google's tool, which can have many consequences.

Also another important question is: Is Facebook really the best way to connect with my customers? Facebook has a specific way to create Facebook pages, and it is not as easy to customize the page.The main strength of Facebook is that it has already a large number of users, and it is therefore easier to grow a community quickly. But afterwards comes the will to animate this community, and maybe there are better tools than a Facebook page.

This is the reason why, a lot of companies are willing to create their own social media, outside of Facebook. And this is where comes Backplane. Backplane is a company which has built Lady Gaga's virtual community.The famous pop star is known for having a large community following her both on Facebook and Twitter. The Backplane's ambition is to leverage the know how brought by the Lady Gaga's experience to other companies willing to create a similar link with their communities.

"Backplane is exploring the possibilities for mainstream brands, from Nike to ExxonMobil, to create virtual communities that foster deeper relationships with customers. (In the case of ExxonMobil, the likeliest passion for the firm to tap is not for petroleum itself, but for the different brands of car it powers.) The trick is to find those key influencers and amplify their voices. Mr Carter says that experience with Lady Gaga has taught him that what a super fan says can sometimes have a bigger impact on fellow fans than a word from the Lady herself. "

It reminds me sort of of Tripnity, a company which has developped a long time ago now (at least 5 years) a community for Air France's passengers to connect with people taking the same flight at the same time (bluenity). The community is still on, but I am not really sure about the success.

The question is, should companies try to create their community outside of Facebook, and use the service of a company like Backplane?

I am not sure about the answer: I think it is risky to rely on Facebook, because Facebook could decide soon (as they will become more eager to generate profits as they will be in the stock exchange market) to charge professional use. We all know that, at the spike of the social commerce hype Facebook asked for huge commissions in order to use Facebook for selling purposes.

Now Facebook knows how to create powerful communities, as they have a long experience on it.Also, you have now a lot of people with the expertise of communities on Facebook (advertizing agencies, companies...) because they took part of several of them. It is therefore easier to leverage this expertise.

But I believe that the main strength of Facebook is that people are already registered in Facebook ,and entering a community is much easier for a user than to register on another service.I believe that the registering process is a real threshold, and Facebook has the chance to have people already on it.

Nevertheless, I think the question should be asked depending on the budgets and the ambitions of the brand.

What do you think about it?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Customer Experience Is Key In Ecommerce

Great video I found on the Internet about online shopper experience, while going through the paying process.

It is very true that the whole process is very complicated, and is a real turn off. It is therefore important to pay a close attention to this key part. It should be an e-commerce website know-how to make the payment process easy.

In traditionnal retailing, it is the arrival of automatic cashiers that allowed supermarkets, hypermarkets, and the whole modern retailing to spring up. Payment is a basic thing, but it does matter.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thoughts About The Non Searchable Web

The Internet is changing. And it is changing fast. Social Media is modifying the way we consume and find information online. And you can see it shifting on a daily basis. Prior to the rise of social network, especially Facebook and Twitter, search engines was the path to reach information on the Internet. Therefore websites, either information one or ecommerce websites, needed to apply the rules of Google (Mainly), Yahoo and Microsoft, in order to generate leads. 

Search engines have by the way been a key factor of the exponential growth of the information, making it simple to navigate online.

But now, people spends more and more time on social network, and hence, they tend to access information not through search engines, but Facebook or Twitter. And it is a very important part that business must take care of. 

Indeed, the old rule of search engine optimization are not the only way to get visibility. This is the reason why marketing departments are spending more and more money on Social Media in order to get exposure.

It is very different to try to get the best ranking possible on Google, with specific coding rules, and to get a great exposure thanks to Facebook. Both tools don't work the same at all. 

Here are the rules it implies:
Step 1:
  • Of course content needs to be planned for social media use.
  • Content needs to be designed to “enable” social dynamics.
  • In other words: the content must be created in a "socialisable" way from the start.

Step 2:
  • It is no longer possible to rely exclusively on the analysis of user behaviour and motivation without also considering the social context.
  • In designing social dynamics, user experience (UX) plays a very important role, so we should begin to place UX closer to [SEO] (Extension of SEO as Social Engine Optimization) than ever before. 
Social media is defenitely changing the web.

Monday, February 13, 2012

An Ode To Competition

I wanted to share with you some thoughts about several news which happened the past few months. All of them are linked with the competition concept.

 Competition is core to our capitalist society, and is supposed to stimulate low prices and innovation. Competition, as a matter of fact, is not something natural for companies. It is something that any corporation would try to avoid. Indeed, competition means that you can not master your business model. You have external factors, such as direct competitions (companies producing the same kind of products), indirect competition (companies which propose substitution products, or products which gets into the same budget for one client), customers, regulation, foreign companies getting into one market, and so on. To know more about these factors, you should look at the Porter matrix.

 Companies indeed try to escape from competition, it is the whole idea behind the Blue Ocean Strategy: Creating a space where you can not be compared, where your products/services are unique. Nevertheless, competition is something very important in business. Because competition is what drives innovation, and better prices for companies. Here is a video of Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, during Le Web 2011. He would like to see more competition in the Web 2.0 world outside of the Silicon Valley. He believes that it would stimulate the whole industry and therefore would benefit to innovation.

 There is also a very important part about competition: it forces companies to pay more attention to customers. This is when markets mature that you see companies developing customer relationship management strategy.

It also forces them to create new services. For example, when Pizza Hut proposes to deliver its pizzas in 30 minutes, then it forces the whole competition to follow the lead, and to propose the same.

 I take as an example what is going on in France, with the arrival of a new mobile network operator Free, which proposes new discounted fares. Prior to its arrival, there were three main competitors sharing the markets, with large margins, and therefore there was no real competition. But then, Free decided to enter the market, and to provide discounted prices, in order to cut the bills by half. After the arrival of this new competitor, other companies launched counter offers in order to align their fares. To sum up, we can say that competition, even though it is tough, is always a good thing, because it makes things going forward. What do you think about it?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Facebook And Profitability: Interesting Video And Some Thoughts About Potential IPO

Facebook keeps growing at a fast pace, and has matured as a strong marketing media, used by a large number of companies throughout the world.

I recently watched this video on Youtube, and wanted to share it with you.Unfortunately I am not able to upload it on my blog...

It is a CNN show where analysts discuss about the move of Godman Sachs to buy for $450 million of Facebook shares, evaluating it at $50 billions. It was on January 2011, a year ago.

At this time, Facebook was counting 600 million members, $2 billions in revenues. The analysts are discussing about the actual profitability Facebook may get. Indeed, it is very difficult, and it remains difficult now, to know exactly what kind of profitability Facebook is right now achieving. Also the fact that Facebook is not public, it does not need to give specific financial data, which could help us see how it works.

Facebook and social media company in overall is a brand new business modell. And as all new groundbreaking business modell, it is difficult to analyse the company's result and profitability in ten years from nom (which is what really matters).

Facebook has great ambition in 2012 to launch an IPO, and to enter stock exchange market. It will allow the company to raise massive money, and therefore give a lift to their effort of developping a leading advertizing hub, to attract advertizing budgets from companies and communication agencies.
This video has been published a year from now, and since then, very few information on the financial and business end of Facebook have been released. If Facebook actually really wants to enter the stock exchange market, they will have to publish some information about its profitability, and this is based on these information that the company will actually be rated.

The context is pretty tough for Facebook for a potential IPO:
  • The world is experiencing a major economical downturn, and it impacts most of the Index, including Nasdaq
  • The competition is getting tougher as Google is reaching more and more users with Google Plus.
  • A lot of regulation complains have come up with Facebook, and new laws restricting Facebook's terms of condition may hurt its will to master users' data for commercial purposes.
2012 will be a crucial year for Facebook, because even though the IPO does not happen this year, Facebook will have to prepare for it, and we will probably have more information about Facebook's actual results.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Some Thoughts About Tablets And The End Of Computers

Tablets have been the biggest success in the high tech market in 2011. We have seen tablets blossoming and most of the computer manufacturers have launched their products. The two great leaders remain Apple with its Ipad, and Samsung with the Galaxy Tablet, empowered with the Android O.S.

I remember having read couple of Loic Lemeur's about Steve Jobs considering that computers were "trucks", and that ultimately they may disappear. But I am not really into that state of mind.

Here is a very interesting video I found on Youtube, where Bill Gates give his thoughts on the Ipad.

Obviously, as Bill Gates explain, his opinion is biased. But I must agree also with one of his point: there is a lack of ability to edit things with a tablet.

I personnaly own a tablet (an Ipad 1) and I truly love it. I use it all the time, read news, watching videos. It is a great device, which actually is in a lot of cases easier to use and better than PCs, even laptops.

However, a tablet is not enough, if you have to own only one computer device. Indeed, I find it very hard to write a blog post, or to use a worksheet, or edit a powerpoint presentation. A computer remain by far the easiest way to create or edit something.

So I do agree with Bill Gates when he says there is a lot of room for improvement for tablets.

The fact is that I don't believe we will have a sole "computer device" at our hand. The tablet is the perfect example of what is happening: We did not really need a tablet, but it just expands our connection with Internet.

And computers, the ones we use to edit and create which will exist at least for the next decade and beyond, will be a slight part of our interaction with computers and Internet.

Most of our "products", or "things" will be connected:
  • We will have our smartphone, connected to the Internet, with enough computing power to play, to watch videos and so on.
  • Our tablets, to relax and have access to Internet
  • Our computers to work, to edit, for "inputs" as Bill Gates say
  • Our car, where we get more and more options to access to social media, to GPS information (traffic, restaurant yellow pages, among other things).
  • And all the things we are not aware of, but that will eventually come.

Sort of like in the Minority report film, we will have access to computers and Internet every where, and therefore, tablets will have its place, but I believe not the central place, and computer also will have an important place in it.

I believe that what will remain the core, will be the smartphones, as they are always on people, so the easiest way to get in contact with the Internet.

What do you think about it?