Friday, 31 October 2014

Ho Ho Ho

The Holiday’s are right around the corner with Haloween truly marking the start of the season. Although Australia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving in between like the U.S., the build up to Christmas and Hanukkah is still quite similar. Enter Westfield.

This is where you need a truly creative team to reconceptualise the idea of buying and giving gifts. Westfield is not only a property developer, but also an avid nurturer of its retailers and their customers. And this is why their new holiday campaign involves working with two internationally known YouTube stars, Sophie Grace and Rosie. Although they have been guests on the Ellen Degeneres show, they are now advocating for a bigger cause: making gift giving about the person, not about the items. A clip of their campaign can be seen below.


While Westfield has created a new way to look at shopping during this season, they have also backed it with many new ways to search for and locate the perfect gift. This is also in conjunction with their nation-wide implementation of the searchable mall technology. So, not only can you more easily navigate Westfield centres, search for certain items, and purchase them seamlessly, even the holiday shopping rush will be made less of a hassle with the help of Sophia Grace and Rosie who can help you pick the gifts. They will even be making guests appearances at 3 locations around Australia to run interactive parts of the campaign.

(www.westfield.com.au) 

As you can see above, the dynamic duo are already featured on the company’s website, soon to be followed by the Happy Giving Gift Finding Tool you can use to search you centre’s inventory. And, when you are done purchasing your Christmas gifts, and wondering why it was so easy, you’ll know it was because of the Westfield ultimate shopping experience and the help of Sophia Grace and Rosie who helped you though buying gifts for the people you love.

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

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Brandy Melville taps into the Instagram Generation

Ever since completing our Innovative Marketing Strategies unit, I’ve been on the look out for brands that have truly embraced a ‘never done before’ marketing strategy. It was only until I was trailing through my ‘cool strategies’ bookmark folder (truly innovative name, I know), that I stumbled back upon an article I had read a few weeks back. The article profiled Californian womenswear brand, Brandy Melville, and mentioned some of the strategies that the brand had adopted to engage with its predominantly teenage girl target market.

The Brandy Melville Girls (Source: Brandy Melville Spring 2012 Lookbook)

Although the brand’s strategy is quite multi-layered, what stood out most was the fact that they actually employ a group of teenage girls who not only work in the retail end of their Santa Monica store, but make up the product research team, and also act as the faces of the Californian brand. These are girls that are tastemakers in their own rights, with large Instagram followings, and a pulse for knowing what other girls their age want to wear. It therefore makes great sense for the brand to actively leverage these insights so that they are consistently developing products that resonate with the Brandy Melville girl; “let's say there's a cut of a T-shirt that's doing really well, they'll ask our opinion on it. Do we like it? Should we make more? If so, what colours? Should we do long-sleeve? Short-sleeve? Cropped? Not cropped? Would this T-shirt be better in this material? There's all kinds of things that we get asked, and we give our honest opinion.”

The ingenuity of this strategy is that they have effectively humanised the brand and made it both tangible and accessible. Fans of this brand can engage with the ‘Brandy girls’ on the brand’s Instagram (as well as the personal accounts of each girl), and then further engage with them in store. However the obvious danger of this strategy is in achieving consistency in the brand experience when dealing with the ‘Brandy girls’, as well as the risks associated with leaving your brand in the hands of a group of teenagers.

Having said this, the overall idea has merit, and the key takeaway is that you don’t have to go far to search for valuable insights; the people who deal directly with customers often have a good idea of what they want, and so it’s just a matter of being open to collaboration, and fostering the right culture within an organisation in order to leverage what your employees truly have to offer.

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

Friday, 24 October 2014

McDonald’s Australia goes Gourmet

Personalisation seems to be the focus of McDonald’s Australia’s strategy this year, as is made clear by their latest offering of the ‘Create Your Taste’ gourmet burger menu. Not long ago we spoke about a similar campaign run by the fast food chain (i.e. the ‘McMate’ burger), in which they encouraged the Australian public to design a new burger option for their national menu, and then vote for the most popular design on the company’s Facebook page. As perhaps a natural extension to this campaign, McDonald’s is now giving the opportunity for customers to actually create their own burgers in-store, and then have them personally delivered to their table.

Table service at McDonald’s Castle Hill (Source: News.com.au)

The new menu is currently being trialled at a McDonalds restaurant in Castle Hill (Western Sydney), and involves customers creating their own burger at digital kiosks installed at the store. With around 19 ingredient options, there is ample opportunity for customisation, and once customers have finalised their order, their burger is then loaded on wooden boards, and delivered by McDonald’s wait staff.

As mentioned by McDonald’s Australia CEO Andrew Gregory, the new menu seems to be a response to the changing landscape of the fast food market in Australia, with seemingly ‘gourmet’ offerings by competitors Lord of the Fries, and Grill’d gaining popularity; ‘McDonald’s is innovating and changing again to meet the needs of our customers. What we’re really doing here is simply what our customers have asked us to do.’

Although the ‘Create Your Taste’ menu is yet to roll out across other stores in Australia, it is clear that the company is looking to re-position itself as more than just a ‘fast food’ provider. It’ll therefore be interesting to see how this strategy plays out in the next few months, and whether the ‘Create Your Taste’ menu offering, in addition to the delivery service it has also been trialling, resonates with the existing McDonalds customers, and assists the brand in elevating the McDonald’s experience in a way that has never been done before.

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

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Business and Social Responsibility

Many people complain about the terrible things we’re doing to our world. But one problem that we just can’t seem to help is the fact that there are more and more people in the world population every year. Realistically, this has the largest impact on any given nation’s economy. More people means the need to create more jobs; more jobs means the need to further spread money and resources, both natural and man-made; and most of all, it means the need to monitor the changes over time. Below is a video time lapse of different parts of our world and the effects humans have had on it.



Now, I bet you’re wondering how people, global climate changes, and jobs, all relate. Well it comes down to the social responsibility every individual and business should be obligated to uphold. Social responsibility is a way to ensure mutualistic symbiotic relationships. These type of relationships are the scientific way to describe situations and circumstances where everyone involved can benefit. Making sure that more good than harm occurs throughout all of our business transactions is a tricky subject however.

For example, Nokia is rated as one of the world’s most socially responsible companies by Maclean’s, a Canadian current events magazine. This rating is because of Nokia’s efforts to eliminate harmful chemicals to the environment from their products, such as Bromine and Chlorine, as well as divert any waste they do incur away from landfills. Therefore, their transactions are beneficial to the environment and provide customers with products that are already built with sustainable technology. Featured below is a graphic from one of Nokia’s business reports on the subject.

(Source: http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/flow/item/17539_Nokia_publishes_corporate_soci.php)

Nokia is also a firm which students in our program have become very familiar with through our Innovative Marketing Strategies course by researching their new relationship with Microsoft and potential ways to build innovative strategies. Hopefully there will be ways for the two companies to maintain these sustainable efforts.

It is important when making business decisions to think of the larger impact certain products will have on both the environment and the consumers which we are targeting, another aspect of our course studies covered throughout Research and Decision Making, as well as Ethics and the Regulatory Environment. By utilizing these skills, we can practice more conscientious marketing tactics and execute more sustainable business plans.

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

Friday, 17 October 2014

Keeping Your Enemies Closer

Apparently, the airlines in Australia are avoiding confrontation; with both small regional and international markets, they sort of have to if they want to survive. What’s even more surprising than the major Qantas cuts from earlier this year, is that Qantas has finally admitted that it can’t exactly continue to keep claiming its prestige over Virgin Australia or blow their sales away, according to news.com.au. This realisation may save them in the end, however, many customers simply look for good service and convenience and don’t want to see furious marketing and advertising hostility and devious price wars - although no one minds snapping up a hot deal here and there!

The image below displays Australia’s major airport hub cities. Note: There aren't many! The second image displays America’s major airport cities. Note: There are significantly more. The pure fact that there are more cities to service in the USA is a key indicator of competitive pricing, whereas in Australia, it costs a lot more to service the fewer cities, let alone, the fact that there are fewer competitors in Australia, fewer flights per day, fewer people to potentially accommodate, flying time constraints over some cities/airspaces, and other regulations which inhibit the market from growing more significantly.

Not only do airlines in the Australian market already run into domestic problems, they also face the hardest feat of getting people to Australia in the first place, as it poses international carriers some of the longest flying legs in the world. Some people even say Australia is on the way to nowhere else.

(Image 1: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_9tS_k-d7cac/TMkX08G9L3I/AAAAAAAAA40/-2T4RazF0oQ/s1600/Australia_Map.jpg)

(Image 2: http://www.allairports.net/images/airport-map.jpg)

All of this being said, it just goes to show these big and indestructible businesses exactly how important their internal and external marketing is. Completing an environmental scan in order to find out where their business competes is crucial in understanding the types of obstacles they will face in such a demanding market. Additionally, they must then understand what they can truly offer to combe any obstacles, such as by assessing assets and competencies. In this case, Qantas has chosen to update some of their fleet; their main asset in the industry. This may be costing them quantities of seats to purchase smaller planes or those configured with less seats, as opposed to Virgin, Tiger, and Jetstar, who are all said to be gaining quantities of seats through newer aircraft. And lastly, these airlines need to begin to revise their market strategies and be strategic in their partnerships; or at least who they are going to mess with or not.

These three steps make up the foundations for a long-term and innovative marketing strategy, something we’ve recently experienced in our Innovative Marketing Strategy course in our Master of Marketing program. So, the next time you check momondo.com or skyscanner.com.au and wonder why Virgin and Qantas are no longer fighting over fares and seat classes because their prices seem to be the same, just think of the long term benefit they are trying to create instead. Maybe one day the regional services within Australia will pick up and then they can focus on those new markets and new outreach programs.

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

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Apple Watch is En Vogue

The hype surrounding the launch of a new Apple product is usually unprecedented, but for the first time in a long time there has been a much slower build-up towards the launch of one of its products. Although the technology giant unveiled the ‘Apple Watch’ back in September, it won’t actually be made available for purchase until early next year, and since the initial announcement, only small details surrounding the Apple Watch have been released.

So when it was revealed last week that the Apple Watch was about to make its sartorial debut in the November issue of Vogue China, it suddenly made sense as to why Apple had been quite mum about its new product offering until now.

The Apple Watch on the cover of Vogue China (Source: BoF)

Given that the market for wearable technologies has been heating up for some time now, with offerings by Samsung and health focused brands such as Jawbone already available to the public, for Apple to successfully enter the market at this stage of the game it would need a product that not only outshines the competition, but re-defines the product category (like it did with the iPhone back in 2007). The Apple Watch delivers on this challenge with features that many other smart watches already offer, but additional capabilities like Apple Pay, and health tracking technology, that make other products in this category quite redundant. So although Apple has clearly come up with a superior product offering, it’s the way it has decided to position the Apple Watch as a premium fashion accessory that I find most interesting from a strategic perspective.

The first inkling of the fact that Apple was targeting the fashion industry was it’s decision to launch a showcase (much like any other fashion house would) in the middle of New York and Paris fashion weeks; inviting the fashion press and key figureheads of the industry (think Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld) to experience the Apple Watch at their headquarters in California, and then later at the iconic luxury fashion boutique, Colette, in Paris. The second giveaway was the watch’s debut in Vogue China, in which it has its own fashion spread featuring Chinese supermodel Liu Wen, and was shot by noted fashion photographer David Sims.

Chinese Supermodel Liu Wen modelling the Apple Watch  (Source: BoF)

Despite the obvious reasons for debuting the watch in the Chinese market (a clearly booming economy with a pre-existing appetite for luxury fashion and Apple products), the fact of the matter is that Apple has recognised that unlike its previous product offerings, its latest product looks, functions and has been referred to as a ‘watch’, and thus automatically categorised as a fashion accessory. It therefore makes great sense that the company would need to carefully build the associations around its product as a truly fashionable watch, and what other way would it be able to do this than be featured in Vogue; the debatably ultimate source of fashion credibility.

As much as I could continue talking about Apple’s fashion debut, the key take away from their recent strategic moves is that they are no longer satisfied with just being a premium technology brand. It is clear that they’re eying the title of a fashion focused design house, and given this Vogue cover, it seems they are well on their way of achieving this.

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

Friday, 10 October 2014

Instagram Advertising About to Hit Aussie Shores

Advertising on social media platforms has been a highly contested topic of conversation for some time now, and one that continues to gain momentum as the business model of these companies evolves.

Going through my Instagram feed earlier this week, I came across a post from Instagram’s Instagram account (a mouthful, I know) explaining the upcoming changes to the social media platform’s operations in Australia. Namely, the post discussed the introduction of sponsored brand content for Australian users, a concept that has already been live in the US for a period of about 10 months (as seen in the images below).

Sponsored Branded Content in the US Market (Source: News.com.au)

In reviewing the press surrounding this announcement, it’s very clear that Instagram’s strategy seems to be heavily focused on curating ‘on brand’ sponsorship content. As mentioned by Instagram Australia’s spokesperson, Antonia Christie, ‘Instagram is about imagery over identity and creativity and craft win on Instagram. The best advertisers on Instagram will have a strong sense of the platform and how to interact with the community.’

So although it will be interesting to see with whom Instagram has partnered with in Australia, it’s reassuring to know that they are being selective with both the brands they intend to work with, and the resulting images that are being approved as sponsored content.

But despite these efforts, it is inevitable that the presence of sponsored content will appear as being disruptive for some users, especially since the whole concept of Instagram relies on the choice in the people you follow, and the content that appears in your feed. In response to these concerns, transparency seems to be key to Instragram’s approach to advertising, as each individual ad will be clearly flagged as ‘sponsored’, and also comes with an option to be later hidden by users from their feed if they are not interested in the ad’s content.

From a purely business perspective it makes sense for Instagram to develop new revenue streams, given that there  are concerns with the sustainability of providing a free service, especially one being used by almost 200 million people across the globe. So having been bought out by Facebook in 2012, it comes as no surprise that advertising has been selected as the primary revenue model for Instagram, especially given how successful this model has been for Facebook itself in recent years.

I’ll have to issue a ‘watch this space’ for now as we wait for the ads to eventually roll out, but so far it seems that Instagram has a well thought out strategy, and one they intend to implement in Australia with as little disruption to the user experience as possible.

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

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2014

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 - The time has finally come for our most recent cohort of graduates to move onward and upward to bigger and better opportunities - fully equipped with their specialised skills in marketing and innovative business strategies. We are so proud of them.

(Source: Erika Juliana Muñoz)

The graduates featured above are from left to right are: Samantha Jang, Subha Radharkrishnan, Kathryn Lindenau, Erika Muñoz Araque, JooNam Park, Navneet D’Silva, and Marco Tomaselli. Not featured, having already taken a full-time opportunity in Tokyo, Japan, is Lisa Katharina Grobien.

The lucky graduates above have all just completed their capstone projects which involved them working closely with various clients in real-time on necessary projects that often help change or shape business plans and other operations. This task has taken them months and we are so pleased to honour their hard work on the Marketing Matters blog this week.

This program usually poses as no easy feat for any student no matter which academic or working background we come from. Most of the cohort members even work full or part-time jobs throughout the duration of the course, managing their time very effectively. The collaborative group work, faculty advising, and industry experience however, gives us the challenges and motivation we need to not only survive but succeed in all that we do within the program.

Again, congratulations and well done to the October Class of 2014 Master of Marketing students. You all look fantastic in our snazzy pink and orange academic gowns!

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

Friday, 3 October 2014

Is the Business of Business, Business?

We’ve recently spent a great deal of time in various units discussing the ethical responsibilities of organisations, and in particular, looking at whether the business of business is just business, and nothing beyond this.

The arguments supporting this notion suggest that businesses already drive the economic welfare of a nation, and in doing so support employment, infrastructure, and both supply and attract investment. Whether they have any responsibilities beyond this has commonly been suggested to be something that is optional, and up to the discretion of each individual organisation.

Although I don’t want to delve into the crux of this debate, I wanted to present a campaign that I recently came across in the CBD that showcases the great opportunity that organisations have to collaborate with community and social-good campaigns in a manner that can work quite seamlessly for all brands involved.

White Ribbon’s New Banner Ads (Source: Erika Fraser Twitter @EMcFraser)

The above image is part of the new White Ribbon campaign, which is Australia’s only national, male led campaign focused on ending men’s violence against women. The banner for this campaign has been placed on the City of Sydney’s garbage collection trucks, and therefore plays up the pun on the banner that violence against women is ‘rubbish’. Although in this case it can be expected that as a completely community focused organisation, the City of Sydney has a clear responsibility to support social betterment initiatives, it’s not to say that there isn’t scope for other businesses (who are mainly in the business of doing business) to do the same.

Ian Davis, in a Mckinsey Quarterly article on this topic, suggested that the best approach for businesses that are actively looking to extend their corporate social responsibility functions is to develop clear strategies that are implemented at an executive level, and clearly communicated down the rest of the organisation. This means identifying social issues that are contextually relevant to the organisation itself, and determining how these issues relate to the overall purpose of the organisation.

Although these issues/strategies will differ across different industries and organisations, the act of clearly establishing, and then communicating an organisation’s social, in addition to economic, purpose has been suggested as the starting point for organisations looking to go beyond just being in the business of business.

To read more about Ian Davis’s thoughts on this topic, see his article, The biggest contract, in the Economist. 

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

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Travel Trinkets

I have been privileged enough to travel very many places in the world, which means, I have also been lucky enough to have saved some money to buy everyone at home little souvenirs from each of my destinations. But the gift I’m about to share with you is unlike any other I’ve ever seen – Melbourne mother and business women, Annette Chambers, officially has the most marketable travel trinket ever in my opinion, as seen below. It’s a perfect rose, and it stays perfect forever, like something right out of Beauty and the Beast.

(Photo by Christine Drpich – Peace Rose, as created by Annette Chambers)

Want to take a stab at what it’s made out of? I’ll give you a hint…it’s scent will never fade, it comes in all sorts of colours, and can be easily moulded. That’s right! It’s made from a single bar of soap! Through a crafty cutting technique, Annette is able to design and layer flower petals and later use warm water strokes to create the curvature seen in a perfect rose. Additionally, she hand paints with food dye and names every single rose to create each unique personality; the most popular peace rose is featured above. The smell is potent and captivating and they come in their own unique casing that won’t break while traveling or shipping.

Not only has Annette identified a unique niche within the travel trinkets and souvenirs market, she labours intensively over each hand crafted piece so that no two are the same. The item will literally last forever, and apparently the scent is even more potent when its casing is opened in slightly warmer areas. I could go on forever about how fantastic this product is and why it’s completely worth the money. Matter of fact, I actually bought five! I finally am not experiencing buyers remorse after buying my loved ones a travel gift because I know it won’t break, I know it does what its meant to do (look and smell pretty), and I was able to buy multiple. Marketing and decision making is a subject we talk intricately about in our Research and Decision Making course within the Master of Marketing program here at the University of Sydney Business School, and not experiencing a sunk cost after a purchase is a relieving feeling for a change.

In order to learn more or purchase your own Australian made (it is not made in China!), hand crafted, everlasting rose, visit Annette’s website.

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