Not enough customers were coming thru the sliding front doors.
The shopping carts were arranged in a tidy neat row,
Awaiting frenzied shoppers to spend lots of dough.
A "when" approach to scenario #2
McDonald's is taking a direct "when" tact in promoting its espresso via billboards in the Seattle area with messages such as "four bucks is dumb". The current economic climate provides an interesting "when" opportunity for McDonald's to move into Starbucks turf with a lower priced product.
It was looking a lot like Christmas.
It was November 9, 2008.
A "quiet" change
Moving the holiday shopping season earlier and earlier is a relatively newer phenomenon. Not too many years ago, Christmas shopping really started after Thanksgiving. Over the last decade, retailers have started stocking holiday decorations and gifts before Thanksgiving. It was not uncommon to see such sights prior to Halloween.
However, this was done more on the sly... with little promotion and fanfare. It just happened. Things seemingly just appears on store shelves. If shoppers bought holiday items, it would be great. If not, there was still a lot of time until the holidays for them to do so.
It is different this year
This year, there is a reason for retailers to have an earlier holiday shopping season. Economic concerns are impacting consumers' spending. The prevailing thought is that consumers will have smaller gift giving and holiday decorating budgets... and be more likely to stick to them this year. So, when the allotment is gone, consumers are done spending on the holidays. Therefore, retailers fear that, if they do not get the early Christmas spending, coal will be in their holiday sales stockings.
Key question: Do you make younger workers adapt to your culture or are you willing to adapt your culture to younger workers?
Whether small or large, most U.S. businesses are dealing with differing generational expectations, attitudes and values brought into the workplace by their employees. These differences are causing misunderstanding and strife between employees, as well as employees chafing at corporate culture and policies. The cause of such misunderstanding and irritation is that the generations currently comprising the vast majority of the U.S. workforce –from youngest to oldest: Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation – are retaining more of their generational “personalities” than previous cohorts.
The three teams remaining in the Major League baseball playoffs (Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox -- the Los Angeles Dodgers have been eliminated) offer varying approaches to building multi-generational workplaces. Consider that:
Try to change workers
or change some for workers
While the Phillies and Red Sox have taken a more traditional approach that integrates their younger players into their culture, the Rays have made more adaptations to their organizational culture to better reach, involve and maximize the performance of their younger workers.
Some examples of how the Tampa Bay Rays have adapted their organizational climate to maximize younger workers include:
No matter the outcome of the playoffs and World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays have shown organizations can benefit from examining their cultures, practices and climate and understanding that a "that's the way we've always done it" philosophy might not be the right fit for today's workers or the business environment it finds itself in today.
What do customers see in your ads?
The questions to ask include...
.....1. How could we be helped by customer involvement?
.....2. How can customer involvement be facilitated?
.....3. How soon can we get it going?
Obviously, this news is causing much uncertainty and angst among consumers.
Such times call for timely marketing responses
The newspaper advertisement (above right) is an example of a thoughtful marketing response that addresses issues on customers' minds. However, a significant portion of this advertisement's effectiveness is due to when it was in the newspaper -- in the weekend editions of the week described at the beginning of this entry.
Here is one such television advertisement:
The question is how can your business attract more purchases from current customers?
The title on the cover of the June 16th issue of BusinessWeek (see right) that arrived in the mail today highlighted the negative views some businesses have towards customers. It is sad to consider that businesses across industries look at consumers as a form of competition that need to be conquered. No wonder businesses complain of the lack of customer loyalty.
It is unfortunate that too many organizations fail to remember Business 101 and 501.
Business 101 -- customers are the only source of revenue.
Business 501 (graduate level) -- loyal customers are the most profitable customers.
When the situation gets to the point where a major business publication features your business against customers on the front cover in a replica of an old time boxing card handbill, it is time to make significant changes.
How would BusinessWeek represent your relationship with your customers?
Don't forget the customers who might come to you by mobile web access. How does your website project your brand to them?
1) The "How could Starbucks afford to do it?" perspective
.....Those with this point-of-view focus on a range of variables including the:
2) The "How could Starbucks NOT afford to do it?"
.. ..Those with this viewpoint -- and it seems to be a somewhat lonely place judging from what is currently read or heard -- wonder, even considering the possible negatives listed in #1 above, why wouldn't an organization be willing to take unconventional measures to refocus on its customers, if such methods were deemed productive?
Comparing the two sides
While those in the "how could they" camp focus on short-term negative outcomes that might result from this event, they seem to not consider the longer term negatives if Starbucks does not do something significant to counter some disturbing trends impacting their customers. One question begging to be asked is: "How much would continuing such current practices impact their profits if left unchanged". Two such practices that Starbucks reportedly focused on Tuesday night were in the areas of: (A) coffee drinks that are not prepared up to "Starbucks standards" and (B) not offering the desired consistent customer service that was a hallmark of the chain in earlier years but had been slumping recently.
Lift your cup high
Although Tuesday's closure of their locations surely had some short term negative consequences, let's hope that Starbucks customers lift their venti lattes (or espressos or macchiatos or whatever) high to toast the Starbucks management for their willingness to take a bold (and expensive) step to get the shops back to where they felt they needed to be. It will be interesting if Starbucks' customers taste and experience a difference (and for how long).
In December 2007, Kia Motors continued using the theme of parody retro music-oriented television commercials to promote their Annual KiaFest Year-End Sales Events. This was done via the takeoff of the song "Maniac" from the 1983 movie Flashdance.
Advertisements for similar sales in previous years featured playful takeoffs of the mid-1980s music scene (Styx and techno-pop).
I like the Maniac Kia commercial. It was fun and funny. Of course, I graduated from college in the early 1980s and have seen Flashdance.
My daughter didn't get it. She thought the commercial was pretty cheesy (and considered the salesman's pelvic trusts toward the car a bit "disgusting"). She has never seen the movie and would have only heard the song on an oldies radio station when I use to chauffeur her around. I don't think "cheesy" or being associated with an oldies station is a business' ideal brand position for their products.
Reading various comments on the web regarding the commercial revealed a wide array of comments about the commercial. Many asked if anyone knew the name of the song. Others wrote how funny they thought the actor was. Two things I did not see... much about the vehicles or the sales event.
Should Kia care?
Perhaps they should if they think younger age customers will be needed to reach their sales goal of 500,000 units a year by 2012 (up from just under 300,000 units in 2006). A look at Kia, from their prices, vehicles and promotions -- including a College Graduate (Sales) Program -- indicates that younger buyers are indeed a key target audience for Kia.
Including generational dependent content in ads is dicey.
If the consumers trying to be reached have a wide age range, building a commercial on a dated event, movie, personality, music, etc. runs the risk that a portion of the audience will not fully understand the intended message. Worse yet, some of that audience will develop negative (if even slightly) associations for the product by not "getting" the intended impact of the material and assigning their own interpretation to it.
Obviously, some dated material is less likely to have such unintended consequences. For example, Beatles music still transcends age groups.
Take care to understand the impact of including generational dependent materials in promotions. If your various customer groups have a significant age range, the promotion runs the risk of sending mixed (and sometimes undesired) messages.