Engaging Consumers & Reducing Costs
In this series we are zooming in on trends, brands and innovations within the healthcare space. We hope to explore new perspectives on existing structures and creative approaches that are redefining the system. By focusing our attention on singular aspects of the market we will discover that opportunities for growth are highly achievable. See our previous post here.
With buzz around Apple’s forthcoming iWatch, FitBit’s Force and the continued success of Nike’s fuel band, the celebration of “quantified self” technology is on the rise. Mobile apps, wearable tech and other products that connect users with their health is a clear sign that consumers want to play an active role in their own wellness. If leveraged correctly, the quantified self-movement could provide valuable patient insights as well as reduce long-term costs for healthcare brands.
But before talking about the benefits to brands, we must first understand their importance to the consumer. After all, it’s the customer (or in this case, patient), that should always come first. These products don’t just monitor activity or measure how long you’re at the gym. They allow users to connect their actions with the effect of those actions. Quantified self products engage the wearer with their lifestyle goals, stress levels and current healthcare regimens. This unprecedented awareness of one’s actions can provide insights into behaviors that are negatively affecting health.
To get a better sense of this feedback loop between measurement and behavior change lets look at a few examples of quantified self products. …Continue reading
Most executives like to know how valuable their brand is relative to other brands. What is its ranking, and has that ranking changed during the last year or so? Positive answers to those questions lead to accolades to the CMO, and negative answers lead to embarrassed silence, at best. The problem is that the data that appears to answer that question really cannot do so. What we actually have is an illusory quantification that means little in the context of these questions. Those that use the valuation numbers and rankings in that way are making a big mistake. Those that act on them are making an even bigger one.
To simplify, the value of the brand is based in large part on two numbers: The value of the business and the percent of impact of the intangible assets attributed to the brand. When a brand controls the business of the firm as is the case for GE, Microsoft and Ford, for example, the value of the business is its market cap. But the market cap is driven by many factors other than the brand including the economy, the stock market and competitors. So if the market cap goes up by 20 percent, maybe because the stock market surged, it is unwise to think that brand building was extraordinary during that period. …Continue reading
The past few years have seen a number of new companies enter the streaming digital music space. The old model for a digital music marketplace—which Apple arguably perfected with its iTunes platform—saw users pay $0.99 for an MP3 of a song, which could then be loaded onto a compatible MP3 player or phone. Now, with services like Spotify, Rdio and Pandora, consumers are able to stream an unlimited amount of their favorite music, for free, straight to any device. It’s becoming less important to actually own a song than it is to have the ability to access any song, anytime, anywhere in the world. Many companies have flocked to this new market, and with Apple’s recent announcement of their new platform, iRadio and Google’s recent launch of Google Play Music All Access, the streaming digital music space is already beginning to look quite crowded. …Continue reading
To start, I am an Apple fanatic. We have no less than 15 apple devices in our home, including all five of us on iPhones, four of us on MacBooks, three of us with iPads, Apple TVs and countless iPods in drawers throughout the house. We also have more than 800 apps on our devices have spent thousands in the iTunes store. So, it is with sadness and a bit of disbelief that I now have to admit something that I never thought I would: Apple is no longer a leader. Apple has become a challenger that now needs to look up to other leaders across the multiple categories it competes in and figure out what to do next. And the answers aren’t clear.
Yes, Apple has the largest market cap in the world (although it continues to plummet). And yes, the App store continues to be a cash cow. But in the war for perceptions, the war for coolness, the war for technological ingenuity, the war for who is most clever or who garners the highest degrees of anticipation, Apple is falling way short. And if Samsung, Windows, Google Android, Amazon and others have anything to say about it, Apple will never reach that leader perch again. …Continue reading
In the past few weeks, three of the top brands in the world have had to launch public apologies tied to misplaced or misguided creative, execution and strategy. Ford is in trouble for its now infamous sexist Indian ads promoting the Ford Figo, and Hyundai ran an unbelievable “suicide” ad in the UK touting the virtues of its energy efficient car. JC Penney has been discussed for a totally different reason in previous months. They’ve been accused of abandoning the consumer, their strategy and what really matters to their shoppers – a great buying experience. And now they’re practically begging their customers to come back.
Each controversy came with different reasons, different accusations, and different levels of fall-out, but they all ended with the same result: A public apology via printed word, viral video or TV ad. The apology bandwagon seems to be on hyper-drive these past few years. Apple , BP , Carnival Cruises, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, StubHub…the list goes on and on. There is no shortage of mistakes being made. And there is no easier out than to run a 30 second and wash your hands of the mistake. …Continue reading
There has been a significant amount of buzz recently about Ron Johnson, former CEO of JC Penney, and his failed attempts to turn around the struggling middle-market retailer. In a recent post, James Walker outlined how an unsuccessful SKU assortment and poor pricing and promotion decisions—not their new strategy of “everyday low pricing”—accounted for the company’s biggest losses. While this is certainly true, I believe it’s also worth evaluating the implications of these recent pricing moves and strategic decisions from an overall brand strategy perspective.
Ron Johnson and JC Penney: A History
In January of 2012, Johnson stepped in to reinvent the JC Penney brand. Drawing on his past experiences at Target and Apple, Johnson announced that Penney would do away with coupons and discounts in favor of “fair and square pricing,” while the store layouts would be overhauled to a format of curated mini-shops. A year ago, the stock price jumped at the Apple store pioneer’s bold vision, but today, Penney revenues have fallen by 25%, the stock price has fallen almost 60%, and the company has lost nearly a billion dollars.
So what happened? Within this failure story are two important lessons in brand strategy: …Continue reading
What is the worst thing you can say about a person? That they have no personality. Who wants to spend time with someone who is so boring that they are described as having no personality? It’s better to be a jerk; at least you will be interesting. Having a personality is equally helpful to brands.
Not all brands have a personality, or at least don’t have a strong, distinctive personality. Those that do have a significant advantage in terms of standing out from the crowd, having a message and supporting a relationship with customers. Personality is an important dimension of brand equity because, like human personality, it is both differentiating and enduring. Once established it will provide benefits (or harm) over a long time horizon. Creating or supporting a personality should be part of the brand vision discussion.
The power of brand personality can be seen by conceptualizing three models of how personality impacts: …Continue reading
BrandJapan is an annual appraisal of the brand equity of one thousand Japanese brands from the view of consumers (BtoC) and business managers (BtoB). Each year I provide a commentary on the results. The 2013 data just became available, and it again provides insights into what drives winning brands in Japan.
In the consumer database (BtoC), the big news is that Apple, who had advanced from 11 to number one in 2012 is not only still number one but has created a significant gap over Google, which remains at number two. The iPod and iPad brands have fallen from the top 20 but are still top forty brands, and iPhone has moved to number 18 meaning that Apple has four of the top 40 brands. Furthermore, Apple’s lead on the innovation factor over Google is now huge (132 vs. 108). The seven Apple stores and the elegant success of the iPhone helped the Apple brand achieve a leadership position.
Among the top 25 brands, 10 were retail brands led by Uniqlo (tied with Google at number 2 and with its HEATTECH clothing brand in the top 50) that included Daiso (like dollar stores), 7-11, Muji, two Internet retailers (Amazon and the Japanese firm Rakuten) and four retail food brands (McDonald’s, MOS BURGER, Haagen-Dazs, and Starbucks). There were five tech brands in the top 25 in addition to the two Apple brands with Google, YouTube and Windows in the top 10 and Panasonic and Sony following. Each tech brand was high on the “used recently’ and “being a pioneer” scales. Six of the top 25 were popular packaged goods brands such as Calbee (salty snacks), Nissin (cup noodles) and Suntory, all in the top ten. They all are very high on the friendly dimension. And two entertainment brands, Studio Ghibli (animated film company) and Disney were in the top seven brands with Studio Ghibli moving up from twelve to five.
There was a theme to these results. The strongest brands in Japan have three characteristics.
- They are visible, and most of the population is exposed to them frequently.
- They are innovative providing interest and energy.
- They are relevant in that they are widely used and capable of delivering exceptional use experiences.
I usually ask one question at the beginning of every workshop I conduct: Which brands inspire you or compel you to do something different?
This is a different ask than the stereotypical opener of “which brands are you most loyal to,” which garners the usual suspects of Apple, Disney and Nordstrom, among others. They are typical, but not overly insightful into what brands are having an impact now. I’ve been keeping track of the answers I’ve heard in recent months, and I want to share some stalwarts and surprises.
Anyone who has tried to hail a taxi in Chicago or San Francisco knows about this one. Uber has captured and compelled the public’s imagination in transforming the paid transportation marketplace. Here’s how it works. You “request a ride” through their app, which then locates nearby available drivers. The nearest driver is contacted, and once one accepts your request, you are given the name of your driver, the number of the taxi that is headed your way, and an estimated arrival time. When the ride’s completed, you are charged an “average neighborhood donation” (which is typically cheaper than the comparable taxi fare), based on time and distance. You “pay” your fee through a credit card that you have filed within the app, so there is no cash necessary, ever. Uber is different in that it features private drivers as well as dynamic pricing, which takes into consideration the usual time and distance, as well as ride demand (no one’s happy about Uber-ing at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning). Through Uber, you can request a taxi, a town car or an SUV. One of my favorite quotes from a recent workshop participant was, “I never thought it would annoy me so much to have to stand and hail a taxi in a city where Uber is not available.” …Continue reading
It wasn’t merely posturing that made this a hot issue on both sides of the political aisle in last year’s election. It’s a subject that matters to American consumers. A lot. Or at least enough that 80 percent of us, according to one study, will happily pay a premium for products we know were made here in the U. S. of A.
This isn’t a new trend. It is a re-surging one that cycles through periodically as a result of circumstances and conditions. The pro-American consumer movement last arced in the post-9/11 environment on a wave of patriotism sparked by tragedy.
More recently, the sentiment has grown in a recession-weary public that wants to feel good again about our country and do what it takes to spur on the recovery. Made in America translates into more jobs, better working conditions, better quality and craftsmanship and more wealth staying here at home. …Continue reading