Jeff Bezos: the king of content

Jeff Bezos wants Earth’s biggest online retailer to become the world’s mightiest content publisher and distributor.  In a recent interview with Steven Levy of Wired, Bezos shared how Amazon is creating a web content powerhouse through an a three-pronged, interlocking approach that encompasses the Kindle, Amazon Web Services, and publishing platforms for authors and movie makers. Bezos isn’t just CEO of Amazon or CEO of the Internet, as Wired calls him. In 2012, Bezos may very well become the king of content.

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How to smell like a man

Hey, guys, how would you like to smell like “Wilderness, Open Air & Freedom”? All you need to do is introduce your underarm to Old Spice Denali deodorant, one of the many different brands available in the increasingly crowded category of men’s personal body care products. Clearly, times have changed since Right Guard was the only game in town. Nowadays Procter & Gamble and Unilever alone have made choosing deodorant feel like sampling different flavors of ice cream. For the discerning male trying to make sense of the myriad brands filling the air with pungent aromas, I’ve simplified your choices into five categories, ranging from the sickeningly sweet to in-your-face pure macho:

1. The Sweet Smell of Success


The Procter & Gamble Old Spice Fresh Collection has cornered the market on products for men who want to smell like women. Fiji promise to make you radiate a scent of “palm trees, sunshine & freedom.” Aqua Reef “gives your armpit that fresh Caribbean feeling it craves.” But Unilever isn’t going to go down easily. Its notoriously fruity AXE deodorant line features something called “Twist,” which relies on green colored lettering and a lime colored stick to give you a “fresh burst that evolves into a smooth, sexy scent” (according to the AXE website), as if to address head-on any fear on the buyer’s part that smelling fresh and sweet is going to turn you into a complete wuss. Want to get the girl? Smell like her.

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“Do or Die”: tough medicine for the CMO

Marketers need to shift their focus from saying things about their brands to creating great products and experiences that will make people love their brands.

That’s what Clark Kokich believes. Clark, chairman of Razorfish, is the author of Do or Die, a new book that challenges marketers to rethink the way they build relationships with consumers. Recently he discussed with me the ethos of Do or Die, including how his simple premise — that marketers should stop saying things and start doing things — has a far-reaching impacts on the way marketers do their jobs, ranging from how they generate ideas to how they collaborate with agencies and their peers in Information Technology and Creative.

Do or Die, available exclusively on the iPad, argues that marketers just don’t have the ear of the consumer like they used to — not at a time when consumers have tools like Yelp to tell each other what they think about a brand. The book cites a Nielsen Company study that asked 25,000 Internet users from 50 countries, “Which sources of advertising do you trust most?” Nine out of 10 respondents said that they rely on friends and colleagues, and the next most popular source was consumer opinions posted online.

As Clark sees it, the problem is that too many marketers and their agency partners remain mired in an old model of sharing “one-way monologues” touting the benefits of a brand.

“Saying is great when people are listening,” he writes. “Saying is fantastic when people believe what you’re saying. But saying is a dud when consumers aren’t paying as much attention to traditional media and don’t find a one-way litany of sales points all that convincing.”

The solution: borrow a page from companies like Nike and Virgin America, which are finding imaginative ways to create immersive experiences for people to interact with their brands. For instance, while many of Virgin America’s rivals pour their marketing dollars into one-way advertising, Virgin famously builds its brand by transforming the laborious process of air travel into a fun experience.

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Spice Merchants: “a rockin’ cool place that smells good”

If Starbucks has taught us anything, it’s that people are willing to pay a lot more for an experience — even for a product like coffee, which many retailers perceived to be little more than human fuel until Starbucks came along. The difference between a $1.85 cup of garden-variety coffee at Denny’s and a $14 Venti White Chocolate Mocha with 12 shots of espresso, two shots of soy, extra whipped cream, toffee syrup, hazelnut syrup, extra Mocha drizzle and extra Caramel drizzle at Starbucks comes down the luxurious experience of enjoying  gourmet coffee customized the way you want it and the typically hip Starbucks environment. Spice Merchants, a new store in Downers Grove, Illinois, is counting on a sensory experience to attract the kind of people who want to indulge themselves in exotic spice flavors like Thai Coconut Rub instead of picking up a jar of Mrs. Dash at a grocery store.

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Going mobile for the holidays


As I mentioned in one of my Black Friday blog posts, holiday shopping is increasingly a mobile experience. Recently Google analyzed consumer shopping trends and arrived at the same conclusion. According to an analysis from the Google Commerce blog:

More and more shoppers are reaching for their phones to compare prices, look for store locations and inventory and find deals. In fact, searches for [mobile coupons] were up 90% over last year’s volume and mobile search volume for retail-related searches on Black Friday this year was up 200% over Black Friday last year.

According to our study, 55% of participants said they will use their smartphone’s location features on some or most shopping trips, while 47% will use a smartphone to compare prices and 42% will use their phone to search for the nearest store.

They might not fit in your pocket, but tablets are a rising device for getting some serious shopping done: 47% of study participants said they use their tablets to search for coupons or rebates and 44% use them to make purchases.

And consumers are turning to mobile apps to manage their increasingly complicated lives during the holiday season. My iCrossing colleague Dana Notman shares some examples in a December 5 post on the iCrossing Great Finds blog, “Manage Your Holidays with Mobile Apps.” On a related note, on the Great Finds blog I also provided live coverage of an iCrossing webinar regarding how brands can successfully  plan and implement mobile apps.

The day is coming soon when no one will be blogging about our embrace of mobile shopping and mobile apps for our holiday shopping. Next year we’ll be discussing how tablet devices have turned shopping (and product research) into a more immersive experience occurring well before and after Black Friday, especially as more bellwether brands adopt Google Catalogs for the iPad. Smart brands will react to consumer behavior by focusing on the mobile experience, not just the shopping transaction.