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Monday, 25 May 2015

A week without Internet: Are our basic needs changing?

Oh what a week!

University deadlines, group meetings, work commitments, moving to a new apartment, building furniture to name but a few. I would have to say this week has been my busiest since joining the Master of Marketing.  It took a whole week without any Internet connection in my new apartment to realise just how important a commodity it is to my daily life.

The Internet meme of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with ‘WIFI’ scrawled underneath the base came to mind on many occasions as I pondered life after the Internet. No Facebook, No Instagram, No Podcasts, No Skype and No Blackboard for my assignments - nothing, nada, zip!


After a whole week of thinking time without the Internet, here are my two thoughts I would like to share.

Firstly, have our basic needs changed? We will always require the physiological needs of food, water, shelter and warmth, as these are all basic functions of the body. So where does Internet fit in to the picture? It has become a commodity I now regard a utility in the same way I would electricity or gas, and without it, my life becomes infinitely more difficult to navigate.

I don’t believe it is a basic need or a desire to be safe and secure in the knowledge that the basic needs will be fulfilled in the future. But for me personally, having Internet access unquestionably plays a role in every other category. Tools such as video chat with family and friends can certainly fulfil a sense of belonging and love. The next stage of the hierarchy is all about social recognition, which could be argued, is one of the key drivers of Facebook. The final stage at the top of the triangle is self-actualization, which is a sense of fulfilment. This means that you are doing on the planet what you are meant to do, to ultimately be happy in life. Without Google, how can I search for what I am meant to do in my life? If like me you can remember life before Google, you will know just how hard it was to find information.

My second thought was about Maslow and his theory of motivation. I remember having just started high school when I was first introduced to this mysterious pyramid of human needs, yet today, as I study at Masters level I am still looking at the same pyramid. I think that is testament to the strong influence that a 70-year-old theory still has on the world.  As a marketer, one of the insights I have gained is how we can shape the conditions that create peoples' aspirations. The model proposed by Maslow is able to explain this very complicated idea in a very simple way. In the years since it was first published, the Maslow triangle has been flipped upside down, pulled apart, chopped up into numerous diagrams, but again still remains today in many textbooks as it did in 1943.

So as much as my life wouldn’t be complete without the Internet, my understanding of human behaviour wouldn’t be the same without Maslow and his hierarchy of needs.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 22 May 2015

Gucci Online – Where tradition meets modern digital marketing

Despite the fact a French company owns Gucci, the notorious global brand is still seen as the epitome of “Italian luxury”. Looking past the opulence the brand radiates, Gucci has been able to successfully combine old world tradition with a profound understanding of modern technology and marketing techniques. In relation to the digital capability of companies in the luxury market, Gucci was ranked number one and labelled a “fashion genius”. The development of their online presence through the use of e-commerce, social media, digital marketing and the integration of a smartphone app puts them in an advantageous position.

Lets take a step back and think about why a global company like Gucci, rich in heritage and richer in reputation, feels the need to be skilled at digital marketing and social media.

These days consumers are using the Internet along with other browsing platforms to research the products prior to purchasing their “must have” luxury item.  While a marginal 5% of luxury sales take place online, the 'digital browsing' signifies the birthplace over almost 50% of sales. In more recent times, the profit aspect for Gucci has been on a decline as “high-end” customers are switching to brands they perceive as more exclusive. Even with Gucci’s pursuit to find wealthier clients, their sales continue to decline.

Gucci was one of the first luxury brands that saw the significance of having a well-defined and well-branded digital presence. Part of Gucci’s success lends itself to their belief in providing all customers with a “Gucci Experience”, in both the real world and the virtual one. Gucci has achieved this presence by providing a broad selection of products both in its boutiques and its online store. Taking advantage of future growth, Gucci has further felt the need to invest in their e-commerce infrastructure. Even though Gucci’s digital commitment has not yet improved its global revenue, it has definitely enhanced its profile. In addition, the smartphone app has provided users with a customized experience, resulting in a 150% increase in online traffic.

The digital marketing strategy Gucci has implemented involves a
multi-faceted approach using a variety of social media platforms. In the past, Gucci has been known to combine their excessively opulent window displays with beautifully designed online video advertisements. Gucci has cleverly tied promotional campaigns to the anniversaries of some of it's iconic products. A prime example was the 60th anniversary of its legendary “Horsebit” loafers, when famous fashion bloggers were asked to show off the celebrated shoes. A large percentage of the success of these cross-promotions lends itself back to the involvement of consumers on social media, which can be seen in the size of Gucci’s online community.

As consumer trends continually change, even global companies such as Gucci need to start looking into how they can adapt, acquire new customers and potentially enter new markets. Gucci’s partnership with Fiat began with bringing out a limited edition version of the popular ‘Fiat 500’, all ensconced in trademark Gucci leather. However, it should be known that Gucci is extremely discriminating when it comes to working with others. “Partner carefully,” warns Nicole Marra of Gucci, and so they should I say! Gucci’s aim in maintaining constant conversation with its customers, as well as its marketing partners, at the end of the day all relies on their digital strategy. Whilst digital marketing campaigns and projects are important, so are building long-term relationships.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Elon Musk: A new world of marketing opportunities

I have been a long time admirer of the serial entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and investor Elon Musk. As the cofounder of Paypal, he has amassed a personal wealth of approximately $13.3 billion and currently sits at number 100 on the Forbes World’s Billionaire list. Like a real life Tony Stark from the Iron Man comics, Musk is every bit the superhero, just without the suit. But do not let his cartoonish ideas fool you, with his vast personal wealth his ideas are quickly changing the world in which we live.


As CEO of Tesla Motors he has already achieved a significant milestone by becoming the third largest selling luxury car company in California. To reach this level of success in such a short time with a petrol engine car would have been quite a feat, but this is an electric car company! Then again, there really is nothing ordinary about Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk.

Typically you would find most car dealers along busy public roads with large extravagant showrooms. Tesla on the other hand takes a very different approach and meets with customers in public shopping malls. Next to your traditional clothes and food outlets you can find their small showrooms that typically house one or two model cars. You might be out for a spot of shopping when you walk past a show room and casually drop by to talk with a Tesla representative about the benefits of electric cars. Moving in to the mainstream shopping outlets has gained Tesla a significant amount of exposure by breaking from the traditional way of marketing and selling cars.


Last week Musk made the very exciting announcement of the Tesla Powerwall. The wall mounted energy storage unit can hold 10-kilowatt hours of electric energy. The traditional problem with renewable energy such as solar panels is that you need to store the energy for even distribution through out the day. For the small cost of $3,500, you no longer need to fully rely on getting your power from the traditional utilities providers. How long until we see the Tesla Powerwall being sold in shopping centres alongside their electric cars?

As if Musk didn’t have enough on his plate, he is also the founder of the SpaceX programme. This ambitious project was set up to bring down the costs of space travel using reusable rockets with the ultimate goal of colonising other planets. This is not as far fetched as it might sound. The SpaceX program was awarded $1.6 billion by NASA in 2008 to deliver twelve payloads of supplies to the International Space Station. The significant investment in commercial space travel could make it as common as flying on an airplane in less than a century.

I for one am excited by the possibilities a new future ushered in by entrepreneurs like Elon Musk might have to offer. With change comes opportunity, so as a marketer, I will be watching his business ventures closely to see what future opportunities they may bring. 

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 15 May 2015

“Service Revolution” Drives Customer Growth at Westpac

In the digitalised world we are living in today, we can definitely see a shift to more digitalised platforms in which more powerful and newer technologies are changing the way consumers live their lives. It is important that companies are taking hold of this shift by implementing more customer-centred strategies to ensure their position within the marketplace. With this being said, the expectation of services has increased and particularly been felt within the baking sector. Consumers are expecting things to be much quicker, more seamless, easier and more personalised.

The Westpac Banking Group has realised the changing needs of their consumers and the need for their company to be radically simplified, particularly through the compression of their many processes into world-class digital platforms. In simpler terms, Westpac is reinventing their brand network along with their customer experience by simplifying their products and processes.

The service focused strategy Westpac has implemented has been reflected in a growth in customer numbers, high customer satisfaction among both consumer and business customers, and improved growth and increased return. 

According to the earning results that were released at the beginning of May, the Westpac banking group made a large $84 million dollars from digital sales in the financial first half of 2015. To put it in perspective, digital sales currently makes up 13.3 per cent of total retail sales, including digital transactions and online loans. The bank is continuing to move away from manual transactions, such as phone services, to online and smart ATM’s.

Westpac has revealed it has over 4 million digital customers, proving to be an increase from the 3.97 million in the second half of 2014. 3.1 million consumers have migrated to the banks online banking platform, Westpac Live, while 300,000 businesses were migrated to the platform.

What strategies have Westpac implemented that is driving their consumer growth?

Firstly, the banking giant has initiated and installed video conferencing services to their Australian branches in the hope of improving the services available to their customers. Through the use of technology, particularly their online lending application called LOLA, Westpac has made $30 billion dollars worth of pre-approved lending available to their SME customers. 

The next stage of Westpac’s digital transformation is a customer service hub that will aim to improve efficiency and support the service focused strategy. Westpac’s CEO, Brian Hartzer, also mentioned the bank’s Asian digital transformation. “We have completed technology foundations including global trade platform and core banking systems. We are now offering faster end-to-end processing,” he said. Westpac is building capabilities and capacity in Asia to “seamlessly connect” its customers to the increasing flows of global trade, capital and people between A/NZ and Asia.

I am sure from this we can see and will continue to see many companies like Westpac implement digital platforms and services within their business strategy to ensure both their position within the market and to ensure that there is a drive within consumer growth.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 11 May 2015

End of an era: Sex no longer sells for Abercrombie & Fitch

The winds of change are blowing through the department stores of the clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch. Established in 1892 in New York by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, the brand was originally a purveyor of sporting goods as well as shotguns, fishing rods and camping equipment. After filing for bankruptcy, A&F was revived in 1978 as a mail order company specialising in hunting clothing. By the early 90’s the company’s direction changed once again, this time by focusing on the youth market and targeting aspirational “casual luxury” buyers. 

Sexualised advertising has become synonymous with the retailer Abercrombie & Fitch and its offshoot brands, Hollister and Gilly Hicks. Shirtless models adore the shop front for each new store opening. Inside the store attractive All-American looking staff make the brand come alive by serving customers with shopping bags featuring the latest fashion pin ups. For almost a quarter of a century, the provocative use of advertising has helped to establish A&F as a leading fashion brand. The problem is, this tactic is no longer working.

Abercrombie & Fitch share price is in free-fall and dropped 39% in the last 12 months alone. Its merchandise appears to have lost its uniqueness and has been labelled as stale and unappealing by the millennial generation they are targeting. The company has also been criticised heavily in the media after comments made by the CEO that the brand is only for "the good-looking, cool kids".


As part of a major rebranding, the executives at Abercrombie & Fitch are looking to reposition the company and the way they interact with customers. Last week they announced that they would no longer hire employees based on their body type and physical attractiveness. Rather than be known as models, the in store staff will now become “brand representatives”. By the end of July, all sexualised images will be replaced with new advertising designed to portray a more wholesome image.

So where did it all go wrong?

As with so many other successful companies that fell on hard times, A&F simply failed to adapt to a changing marketplace. You could say they fell asleep at the wheel of a billion dollar multinational company and hoped that their reputation alone would sustain their success. They didn’t follow consumer trends or insight gained from market research until it was almost too late. It will be interesting to see if this radical change in direction can help to transformation the fortunes of their flagship stores.

Abercrombie & Fitch has already had several major changes in direction since its creation; this may be just the latest one. To be successful again they must listen to their audience and redefine the brand's image without loosing its history and legacy. If they want to continue selling to a younger audience, they must understand what is “cool” to this segment and find ways to connect to them with effective marketing. Building a better picture of their audience through gaining meaningful insights and foresights is essential in defining the brands image going forward.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Forefront of Co-Creation

How can we as marketers work with consumers to co-create brand innovation ideas?

Based on the S&P 500 index of leading US Companies, Professor Richard Foster from Yale University is of the understanding that the average lifespan of a company in today’s contemporary society has decreased more than 50 years in the past century. As a comparative, companies in the 1920’s saw a healthy average lifespan of 67+ years, opposed to today’s companies averaging on 15 years.

What we as marketers need to understand is that as consumers move more rapidly, businesses must become more agile to compete, or they will die. With this being said, businesses are now taking a conscious effort to understand just how important innovation is in order to survive in the marketplace.

Founder of Melbourne based company, Brandhook, Pip Stocks, is of the belief that innovation is the key to drive growth. With that being said, innovation itself needs to be anchored in the undiscovered needs or “pain points” of consumers, and the corresponding solutions need to then be rigorously tested. As barriers fall away between brands and consumers, Brandhook encourages their clients to commit to a co-creation program.

So how can businesses quickly gather insight in a cost effective way and still have the rigor needed to build confidence in the ideas generated?

Brandhook promotes the idea of spending time with your consumers in an “online community”, where you can “hang-out” with a good representation of people who buy your product or service. Over a period of time, you gain an understanding of your consumers' lives, their needs and their attitudes and perceptions to various brands and experiences. Through observing, probing and getting your consumers to undergo a variety of tasks, Pip believes you can quickly and cost effectively gain insight that will kick-off the innovation process.

Head of Category and Insights at H.J. Heinz Company says “ Understanding our Consumers helps us to ensure big innovation is successful, which provides a key platform to deliver sustainable category growth”.

As part of the Masters of Marketing program, the Contemporary Consumer Insights class has the pleasure of listening to the inspiring Managing Director of “House of Brands”, Bryony Ranford. A concept that was discussed was the importance of research in provoking information that will generate innovative ideas. Due to the influx of technology, engagement these days has become highly fragmented and saturated, so the ability to adapt is always paramount. A key factor that resonated with me was that good consumer insights was attained by having the ability to find touch points where someone is receptive to the message you are trying to convey. It is not so much as to the “what” in marketing anymore, but the “how” and “when”.

There is a menu of different approaches we can take to build consumer knowledge, however it’s the innovation, rigour and context we need in ensuring future success.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 4 May 2015

The importance of personal branding

Chances are, if you don’t cultivate your own brand these days you won’t be noticed. Worse still, failure to manage your own brand could result in someone else determining it for you!

Branding has come a long way from its initial meaning as a mark of ownership, such as the branding mark you would find on cattle. It later became a guarantee of quality, as people would burn branding marks into boxes of wine. In the 1870’s trademark registration first came to prominence in America. As brands started to be trademarked, they began to signify quality and other functional benefits which could demand higher prices. 

With the invent of the mass media in the 1920’s, brand became more familiar with what we see today by giving products desirability and emotional attachment to build brand loyalty. In the 1980’s, the world began the process of globalisation that ushered in a new era of brand as a sense of identity. Everything can be branded, from companies to countries and even people.


Personal branding is so important in the modern world as it can help to build credibility and showcase your skills. Building a strong personal brand is also a useful way to connect with your target audience and leave your mark. It can help to distinguish yourself from your competition and focus your energy to help understand what you do best.

To build a personal brand, you might begin by considering what you are passionate about: what are you good at and what does the world need. By defining your brands purpose you can use it to focus your career and life and help it to become alive in the minds of others. Brands are so powerful because they exist in all of our minds, but they can change and evolve over time.

Once you have defined your brand purpose, you need to make it come alive. This could be visually through the clothes you wear or your physical appearance. How you present yourself online is incredibly important in the modern world in which we all live. However, even your choice of ringtone can influence what people think of you and your brand. So think carefully about how you want your brand to be represented and who you would like your brand to speak too.

The Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, believes “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. If a gap exists between the perception of your personal brand and the image you want to represent, you may have to consider rebranding yourself to reach your desired audience. But remember, in life you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, so make sure your brand says the right things about you.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The “Special” Anzac Centenary Issue – Will this be the end for Zoo Weekly?

Blonde cover model, Erin Pash is featured on the cover of ZOO Weekly’s most recent issue marking the centenary of Gallipoli. Bauer Media publication released the issue on the Monday ahead of the Anzac Day weekend, which included a 10-page feature, an interview with Ms. Pash and a list of “100 things every Aussie should know about Gallipoli”.

In the interview, Ms. Pash was asked if she likes a man in uniform. “Yes, I do like guys in uniform. They’re bad arses, they have guns and they’re really fit and well built”, the model said. The cover, along with its inside features, have been met with criticism from both Facebook and Twitter users describing the magazines marketing as “disgusting”. It was further labeled by Mumbrella as the most unlikely tribute to the Anzac Legend in the media this week.

The Department of Veteran Affairs said ZOO weekly did not seek consent to use the word “Anzac”, which is protected by regulations that date back as far as 1921, for a “commemorative issue” of their magazine. Misuse of the term can incur penalties including imprisonment and fines of up to $51,000. According to Crikey, the department had called and emailed the men’s magazine to request that the advertising be removed.

ZOO’s controversial cover comes after Woolworths was forced to pull its online “Fresh in our Memories Anzac Day Campaign”. Target was also forced to pull three Anzac-branded products after the Department of Veteran Affairs deemed them “inappropriate”. 

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 27 April 2015

Pret A Manger CEO reveals truth behind free coffee

Something interesting is happening in the stores of the coffee retailer Pret A Manger. Customers are being given drinks for free. Yes, you heard correctly, FREE coffee for customers!

Shoppers have been left puzzled by the apparent generosity of the fastest growing coffee chain in the UK. After placing an order, some customers have been able to walk away without payment for no apparent reason. On the face of it this sounds like all business sense has gone out the window. But in the ultra competitive world of retail coffee, Pret’s CEO Clive Schlee believes this is a great way to gain customer loyalty.

Image Source: 

"We looked at loyalty cards, but we didn’t want to spend all that money building up some complicated Clubcard-style analysis," said Schlee. Instead, Schlee has given permission to staff in all 288 outlets to give away free food and drinks to the customers they like the most. The curious freebies have been puzzling Pret A Manger customers for some time. It turns out that 28% of people who have purchased a coffee in their outlets have been given a free item.

This random act of kindness has caused quite a buzz on social media with much speculation as to what criteria you need to get a free drink. Schlee clarified that Pret staff can decide, "I like the person on the bicycle" or "I like the guy in that tie" or "I fancy that girl or that boy". So far the publicity has mostly been positive, but you can’t help but wonder how a paying customer might now feel after seeing another customer get their coffee for free because "they look hot".

By not adopting a traditional loyalty system, Pret A Manger would certainly be less able to collect valuable data about their customers and their spending habits. Analysis of this data can help to devise new strategies for increased profitability for the company. Breaking from the traditional mould has helped Pret to be seen as special and unique. However, they run the risk of not necessarily rewarding all of their customers equally for their loyalty.

While this certainly isn’t a traditional approach to gaining customer loyalty, it will be interesting to see if it is successful and if other companies follow this rather bold approach.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Marketing the biggest fight of the century

When Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao face off on the 2nd of May, it will go down as the biggest fight of the century. Not since the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” where Mohammad Ali beat George Forman has a fight been more anticipated.

The on-off saga between the two fighters has lasted over five years, but finally we are about to see a boxing spectacle between two of the undisputed all time greats. This fight will likely go down as the highest grossing boxing event in history.

What makes this super fight so special is that it almost never happened. Major issues have arisen in the negotiations between the two camps for drug testing, the venue for the bout and the fighter’s split of purse. But one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the marketing of this blockbuster event.

Source: HBOboxing Twitter

While Mayweather was signed to an exclusive multi million dollar PPV deal with TV broadcaster Showtime, his opponent Pacquiao held an exclusive deal with cable rivals HBO. After lengthy negotiations, the two parties were able to reach an agreement to finally make the fight happen. With two networks promoting the fight, it will be interesting to see how the marketing differs for the two boxers who are backed by the different parent companies, CBS and Time Warner. 

Not only is the self-professed promoter Floyd Mayweather the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, but he is also a marketing genius. His flamboyant spending and egotistical personality have helped to define his brand, “The Money Team”. Through his outlandish behaviour, he has become one of the best self-marketers not just in boxing, but also in all of sport. No wonder last year he was named the highest paid athlete in the world.

In contrast, Manny Pacquiao couldn’t be more different to his ultra-cocky opponent. From his humble upbringing in the Philippines, he has developed a reputation as being a generous philanthropist and ambassador for his home country. In 2010, Pacquiao was even elected to a congress position in the Philippine House of Representatives. No slouch, himself the PacMan comes in at number 11 on the Forbes list of highest paid athletes.

In the world of boxing branding is big business. This goes beyond simply name recognition of a fighter, but what they stand for in the eyes of their fans and critics. I think both men promise an all-action big time event that will be unlike anything we have ever seen before.

I, for one, can’t wait for this fight. But what I am most looking forward to is seeing how the two fighters position themselves with the support of their cable network backers.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 20 April 2015

McDonalds Australia transforms fast-food experience

Would you like a brioche bun, caramelized onion and fried in a wire basket with that?

The idea of inventing an inspiring a creative dish leads itself back to the food programs that have taken Australia by storm. With shows such as Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules, society is increasingly becoming more experimental with “gourmet” foods and starting to be more health conscious about what ingredients are going into the food they are eating.

Fast food giant McDonalds has recognised the changing needs amongst their consumers and have developed their own build-your-own gourmet burger service, delivered by “McWaiters” on wooden boards. Lovers of the infamous burger are now able to select their “ideal” meal from a large digital screen featuring more than 20 ingredients. With an introduction of gourmet buns, multiple cheeses and extra toppings, consumers have the opportunity to create flavor combinations that suit their palate.

At a starting price of $8.95, the burgers eat more of your budget than a basic Big Mac or Grand Angus. This innovative concept by McDonalds is the beginning of transforming the fast-food experience in Australia. On top of this, McDonalds is introducing table service, allowing customers to relax with a drink while they wait for their customised burger to be freshly cooked and brought to their table.

Will this idea prove to be successful? Who knows- we will just have to wait and find out!

(Image: Herldsun)

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 17 April 2015

Living in a world of Consumption

Today's contemporary society lives in a culture full of consumtion where one must consume in order to survive. However, if you love fashion and consuming carbohydrates, you will love this article!

New York designer Chloe Wise exhibits her artistic interests in her new collection “ Pissing, Shmoozing and Looking away”, of sculptures that look good enough to eat! Through the duality of the word consumption - defined as both an indulgence of food and a surplus of spending - Wise has created a number of sculptures based on the notions of luxury and consumptuon by recreating some of the fashion industry's most notorious merchadise with a diverse range of breads.

Wise states that she “wanted to show the parallels between the idolatry for luxury items in fashion with the equivalent importance of the commodity in the art world”.  Reimagined in pancake, toast, bagels and pastries, Wise recontextualises the pricey products as art objects intstead of purchasable goods, where food and fashion are rid of their value and become soely symbolic of the frivolity of excess.

(Source: Artnet)
Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mergers & Acquisitions – Brand Building 101

In the past month or so there’s been a lot of talk about different brands in the fashion industry being taken over, or merging with other companies. Although it’s not an unfamiliar occurrence in any industry, two big names have come up in the conversation so far; the first of which is Karmaloop (an online retailer specialising in street wear), and the second is Net-a-Porter (an online retailer stocking luxury womenswear).

Having recently filed for bankruptcy, many different investors have shown their interest in purchasing the cult street wear retailer Karmaloop, but it’s Kanye West’s name which has attracted the most press. Those of you who have been paying attention in the fashion-sphere will know that West has recently been collaborating with super-brand Adidas, as part of what seems to be an on-going clothing, footwear and accessories collection. The Adidas x Kanye West Season 1 show was the most viewed fashion collection of the Fall/Winter 2015 season (beating out Chanel for the first time), and was a line that was positioned at the lower end of the ready to wear market (with Yeezy Boosts only setting you back $350).

Kanye West x Adidas Collection (Source: HIphopdx)

Although the purchase of Karmaloop by Kanye West and business partner Damon Dash has yet to be confirmed, it seems like a match made in heaven as West has previously declared that he’s looking to make his brand of fashion available to the masses, and having his own shop seems like a step in the right direction.

Despite the fact that controversy follows West wherever he goes, he has an undeniable passion for fashion, and a respect for branding that may turn Karmaloop around in a short span of time. When it comes to re-branding, the options are varied, but most of the time it involves stripping all the old associations away from the brand, and building it anew. For West, this could involve bringing in his Adidas for Kanye West line as an exclusive, and then curating the stock-list to support up and coming designers, as well as a complementary list of well-known street-wear brands.

Natalie Massenet – Founder of Net-a-Porter (Source: The Australian)

Putting the sale of Karmaloop aside, Net-a-Porter has also confirmed that it’s merging with rival online retailer Yoox, which has a unisex product offering, but a slightly less ‘luxury’ positioning in the market. Given the combined sales of these two online retailers (US $1.4 billion), the merger makes great business sense, as it aims to bring about greater efficiency in the online luxury sector by grouping resources and leveraging each brand’s strengths and assets. Yoox has been known for its logistical prowess, whereas Net-a-Porter has strong industry ties, and an unmatched stock-list of the most luxury of luxury brands. As mentioned by Net-a-Porter founder, Natalie Massenet, the merger results in the formation of “the world's biggest luxury fashion store…a store that never closes, a store without geographical borders.”

It’s going to be an interesting few months ahead for the online retailing sector in the fashion industry, so for now we’ll have to issue a ‘watch this space.’

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 13 April 2015

Apple’s great leap in to wearable technology

The much-anticipated Apple watch has almost arrived with pre-orders being accepted online this week. Smart watches are no longer a new phenomenon, with rivals such as the Samsung Gear and the Pebble already hitting the shelves over a year ago.

However, this week marks a significant milestone for Apple in to the world of wearable technology. Following the success of both the iPhone and iPad is no small challenge for a company who has a history of innovating and changing the way customers interact with their products.

With more power on your wrist than the NASA computers that propelled man to the moon, wearable tech could be a game changer for marketers to promote their products and services. Some of these changes can already be seen in the tactics used by companies through relatively new platforms such as smartphones and tablets.


Wearing a device on your wrist is an even more intimate experience for the user, as it quite literally connects them physically to their technology. This brings a whole host of potential opportunities and possible pitfalls for companies looking to reach out to customers. The challenge for aspiring marketers is to take advantage of this new platform by creating new ways to connect using the small but ever present screen. The most effective communications will be short, concise and easy to consume while on the go. Marketing communications that fail to adhere to this criteria could be seen as intrusive and a disruption to the user.

The new Apple watch is able to collect a whole host of data on everything from the user's heart rate to even how many steps they have taken in a day. The wealth of data available to marketers offers a fantastic insight in to consumer habits.  This new platform could give rise to a whole new ecosystem of apps for monitoring health and fitness.

The limitations of such a small screen with no keyboard poses problems of how to best utilise smart watches for marketing purposes. Companies who simply try to port their existing apps to such a small device will likely be unsuccessful. It might be better to think of wearable tech as an extension or companion of existing smartphones and tablets rather than a stand-alone device.

While companies like Apple may find it more difficult to convince us we need a smart watch on our wrist than a computer in our pocket, I am in no doubt that wearable tech is here to stay. Apple has a fantastic track record of success and this launch could be the rocket fuel needed to launch wearable devices to the mainstream. The question is, are we ready for the vast amounts of data that users are willing to share with us?

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 6 April 2015


If only Australia knew what Publix was….the best and freshest supermarket ever! I will admit that Woolworths provides a close rivalry, both in design and services, but for some reason, Publix just makes me want to buy food, and here’s why:

Publix is host to fresh, New York style deli's, even though the chain is typically operational in the South and Midwest of the US. Additionally, these deli’s offer many services, from cold cuts to freshly made sandwiches. When living in the Orlando, Florida area, I began to time my shopping trips around meals, so that I could easily grab a fresh and customised lunch while I ran my errands: completely effortless. Less driving around, more efficiency. I’m sure some marketers spent a great deal of time studying shopping behaviour in that area to find how much people hated driving in the crowded city.

(Source: The305)

Seen above is the outcome of a typical deli order. You can create a meal including a sub, a drink and chips. Sounds familiar right? Well, rumour has it, Publix is about to create stand alone deli services to rival Subway. Talk about a disruption and expansion strategy! Lucky for Subway, previously there were minimal fast food chains pitching health food items, or at least, healthier options. Whereas McDonalds offers a crispy chicken wrap and calls it healthy, Subway always let people customise their wraps to their own taste and health level, such as Whole Grain bread options, or Spinach Wraps, etc.

But now, since us Floridians have been buying our lunch and dinner deli items at Publix anyway, we can plan food stops separately from our normal shopping and spend some more time enjoying it, since Publix Products are made in front of you, instead of coming out of the freezer or fridge, clearly visable.

Interestingly enough, Publix plans to do the majority of its testing with this chain in Florida. But Publix plans on implementing the concept on a more global basis, given that Subway has the most locations of any fast food store (in league with McDonald’s here), and it will be hard to compete on convenience. This is a beautifully tailored disruption strategy, offering a premium fast food option, and the exclusivity should even aid them even more in this instance. I just hope they can come to Australia and everyone here can start loving deli sandwiches - No more Pies!

This semester, our newest cohorts of Master of Marketing students are enrolled in a course known as Marketing in the Global Economy. There, they will learn how to break through such boarders/barriers with products of their own choosing. Strategising and implementing local information will be able to aid them in truly finding a need for their product in certain markets. In this instance, Australians may really not like deli sandwiches, or alternatively, there could be the capacity for the idea to take hold - just make sure you all do your homework before making the jump!

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 2 April 2015


Apparently, everyone is up in arms about a new law in Australia being passed which will allow Telcom companies within Australia access to tracking-type information produced by mobile devices and internet usages for personal users.

MetaData is typically known to give up information, such a specific location, particular views, searches, phone calls, text messages and more. The reason why everyone is so up in arms about it is because people want to keep their private life, private. Australians wonder why their government needs to read their text messages in order to provide safety? Additionally, they wonder why they have to pay taxes to the government which will possibly fund the Telcom companies to produce and monitor this data.

The following video explains, in a very funny, yet serious, way, how this very small matter has been made very big, and exactly how it could impact you:

At first, I was listening along, and getting into it. I was feeling kind of angry. Why do they need to know who I call and potentially read my messages in order to keep me safe while temporarily residing in Australia? It was a valid question, until the news cast continued to explain the similar, if not more aggressive, pathways the USA has already implemented for a very long time to elicit the same data from people residing on its soil. Basically, we’re left between a rock and a hard place: Its understandable purely to help keep us safe and pin point people who are not using certain technological resources with ethical/moral intent. But on the other hand, if the Telcom companies are responsible for it, they could simply sell out our information to the highest bidder.

Enter marketing firms, advertising agencies and big businesses who want new moves. This is the exciting stuff. Personally, I even love data mining. It’s way better than reading a story. It’s like reading a story about a bunch of people who are completely real and who can lead you to an incredible amount of new ideas to help make you and your company a whole lot of money! As hypocritical as that all sounds, marketers aren’t the bad guys here. Marketers will simply just want to use the data, should it exist, but also have other means of capturing relevant information about their consumers for the time being.

So what do you think? Should metadata be for sale? Should it be collected in general? And, where do you draw the line between private information and relinquished rights under terms of usage? If you don’t do anything questionable, don’t trigger any red flags, then what do you have to hide anyways? Honestly, there are probably bigger things to worry about then some company checking your search history to identify child pornographers or terrorists who pose potential threat to the greater community.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

#Foodporn re-defined

Ok, I admit it. I am a self-confessed foodie! If you have a passion, infatuation or yearning for all things food like I do, and have a secret obsession with Instagram, you would have definitely heard of the notorious hashtag #foodporn. For those that have not, Food Porn is an image or video of irresistible looking food that is created to make you desire what you’re seeing. San Francisco based Lingerie Company, “Naja”, has come up with a new juicy lingerie line that puts the “porn” in “Foodporn” – a cheeky, naughty collection of panties with prints of hamburgers, fries and milkshakes, as well as sushi and sake at the front. If you want the all in one package, your wish is their command. Naja has called their pantie package “the Happiest Meal” for $50! Pretty clever I say.

Source: Naja

What is even better is that a portion of each pair that is sold will go towards the Golondrinas foundation that aims to educate single mothers in Colombia. So not only will you be satisfying your cravings for those meals that are “so bad they’re good”, but you will also be helping a great cause! A win, win I say.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 30 March 2015

Big Bands & Branding – What lies ahead for One Direction?

From left to right: Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik & Harry Styles (Source: Sugarscape)

In news that had teenagers all over the world gasping for air, Zayn Malik announced his departure from One Direction after spending five years as part of the chart-topping British boy band. As a low-key fan of the group (and dedicated marketer), what I was most concerned about was the impact Zayn’s departure would have on the One Direction brand going forward - especially considering it was up until now one of the most lucrative musical acts to have ever existed.

In 2013 Business Insider estimated the worth of One Direction as close to US$1 billion, with earning sources ranging from concert ticket to record sales, movie tickets, DVD sales, and a wide range of memorabilia and merchandise (including an official fragrance). Forbes also estimated that the group earned $75 million in 2014, and listed them as the 7th most powerful celebrities on social media, 17th in terms of earnings, and 44th in terms of overall press coverage.

So given all these stats, I was left wondering how the departure of one member of this group would impact the overall longevity of ‘One Direction’. If history were any indication, I would predict that like many other bands before it (Spice Girls, Take That, Boyzone etc.), One Direction are headed towards an eventual disbanding, perhaps with one last album and tour under their belts.

Part of the charm of a boy (or girl) band is the togetherness and chemistry between the members, and so to loose a vital player leaves an unforgettable void, and one that will always be referred to with scrutiny and comparison. They’ll never be just One Direction anymore – it’ll always be One Direction before/after Zayn – and this is perhaps the crux of the problem, as although the band isn’t just one person, the balance in personalities is what lies behind their success, and so it’ll be incredibly difficult to fill this void and to carry on without fans feeling like something (or someone in this case) is missing.

Aside from the overall branding concerns, the process of removing one band member from the picture may prove to be an extremely costly exercise – and one that the band may not want to repeat if another member leaves. Not only will all official merchandise need to be updated without Zayn’s signature or face on it, so will the external licensing deals that have proved to be cash cow’s for the band, and will now need to either be renewed, or changed to account for Zayn’s departure.

I would compare this whole situation to someone losing an arm or leg (as graphic as that comparison is), because at the end of the day you can still function to some degree, but your movements will always be limited, and that’s something One Direction will no doubt experience in the years (or months) to come.
Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School