Sunday, March 20, 2011

MBA Marketing Reflective Journal

Throughout the course, you will keep a journal with a minimum of one entry per week. Remember that each entry should contain reflections and analysis of the weekly readings and discussions. References to concepts in the textbook should be included. The journal should be written from a first-person perspective but with a level of academic writing (vs. casual “journal” tone). The journal will not be handed in until the end of the course and should contain a cover page, footnotes for references to the text, and proper paper formatting (including page numbers, date, etc.). Each entry should be a minimum of 1.5 pages.

Session 1 For this week’s entry, visit a local coffee shop or Starbucks and compare your local visit to the services provided in the opening vignette of the chapter. Does your local Starbucks or coffee shop contain wireless Internet access? What is the climate of the establishment—friendly or hurried? Is marketing prevalent in this establishment? If so, how and to what extent are they exposed to marketing messages—keep a list of every marketing message you encounter.

Starbucks, which is open on one side to Chapter’s bookstore has changed significantly since my last visit. There were fewer deep comfortable seating options and they were placed along the perimeter mostly facing inward rather than toward each other in groupings. They had removed the larger tables with many chairs surrounding them and had brought in small tables with three chairs around each. This was a significant change in decor. It is my impression that the capacity for seating had doubled and that the intimacy of the seating arrangements was significantly diminished. I sensed that this was because of the direct competition of Tim Hortons in the plaza directly across the parking lot. The point of these observations is that in order to compete in the industrial town with a small university in the heart of Tim Horton’s birth place, Starbucks seems to be less Starbucks than it used to be. That might be a mistake. The menu had also changed. There were still very few edible options and they were pricey. They had opened a second service window, which was primarily for the purchase of specialty ground coffee beans but would accommodate overflow of beverage customers. The choice of beverages had grown. They catered to exotic tastes. In addition, the consumption of tea is exploding due to its association with health benefits. This proliferation of beverages was appreciated by the customers as I observed no two identical orders. Unlike the girls in the textbook, most people were not as exposed to marketing messages during the time I was in Starbucks.

While people did still linger to enjoy their beverage many more took their drinks to go. I counted 37 different beverages and each beverage could be customized to the consumer’s preferences. Counter service remained prompt, pleasant and the process was easy to understand. I saw no evidence of up selling from staff. However, the design of the menu and the general offerings were in themselves conducive to choosing the more expensive item. In terms of other products, Starbucks has maintained a strict focus on beverage related products at this store. I did not see CD or games as I had in the past. Even the gum offered in small designer cans was tailored to meet the needs of consumers post beverage. Coffee machines were still offered for sale as were designer cups, branded travel and home cups and glasses as well as designer thermoses. They offered trays for carrying beverage related items. Every item was consistently on theme. Branding was obvious and ubiquitous.

The one additional marketing source was the proximity of Chapter’s bookstore. I remember in the past that Chapters had to put their foot down because Starbuck’s customers were using the bookstore stock as a library. They would get their favourite magazine and settle in with a cup of their favourite beverage. Still, every time they come to Starbucks they are exposed to the marketing messages and brilliant book jackets of a cornucopia of reading material. Chapters also stocks a variety of impulse items. This co-marketing is a wonderfully advantageous relationship for both companies. Starbucks benefits from the erudite association of the bookstore and Chapters benefits from the increased traffic of those who simply wanted a pause in their day and a cup of coffee but soon realized that a book might just hit the spot too.

Starbucks and Tim Hortons are fine examples of creating wants that do not satisfy physical needs. Who needs coffee? Who needs donuts? In the end though, they satisfy the compelling wants of a place to go with friends and the comfort of a warm beverage for many people of all ages.

Session 2 For this week’s entry, reflect on your experience with one of the main internet sites (Ebay,, etc). What are your experiences with these providers in terms of customization? Interview at least five other people and ask for their opinions of the same site. Analyze how the opinions differ or are similar? Does this conform to what the intent of the marketing plan? Explain.

Most of my experience with on line purchasing has been through Amazon so thatIs the

topic of this week’s entry. I like shopping online. I like the convenience and the p

process. It is convenient and in a funny impersonal way it is personal. They know my

name and they anticipate my needs and wants. I can shop at midnight. I can send my

purchase to a sick friend in Minnesota without dealing at this moment with the Canadian

exchange rate. They help me find the perfect book. When I punch in ‘inspirational’ they

remind me of other books that I have purchased in this genre and make suggestions that

I would never have known existed. They ask me if I want it gift wrapped and they give me

a choice of how quickly to get it to her. In the end, I bought a book at a reasonable price

only to pay twice as much to get it wrapped and sent to her. I was willing to pay for the

appearance of being a friend who cared enough to send a gift right now when she was ill

rather than waiting a few days for the regular mail. Amazon knew that that is a human

need and they marketed to me in a way that allowed me to fill that inner need. Pretty


When I use my home computer, the site welcomes me and takes me right to the

bookstore. When I log on from my work laptop, the experience is quite different because

it has no history with me there. I go to main site that recognizes that I am Canadian and

displays a Canadian flag (which feels a bit over the top). It reminds me of upcoming

events like Mother’s Day (I hope my kids visit the site too!) and shows me an assortment

potential gifts. I see that there are new Ipods, a new Harry Potter book coming out and

DVDs.for sale. I am surprised to be reminded of all the sorts of products that Amazon

offers. I had forgotten that they offer clothing, saunas, food and gourmet items. I see too

that they have alliances with Fidelity investments and links to Target. The uncustomized

site is busy but understandable. It is like a circus with things to look at everywhere. I can

find out the top 10 books updated hourly or specify my interests immediately by clicking

on the right category in browse or by typing in my want in the top bar. The customized site is

more familiar and rather comforting. For me it is all about books and I actually have to think

about how I would get to all of the other products if I wanted to. It makes me wonder if it has

over customized for me. Who says that someone who has only purchased books to date might

not decide on clothing or perfume next time?

I did contact my friends for an interview and learned something which

surprised me a bit. I think having kids has done me good! That may seem irrelevant but this is

the logic. All of my friends who are my age or older have very little experience with on line

purchasing and in fact are rather insecure and doubtful about the entire process. How ‘hip and

modern’ l feel in light of their revelations! Seven contacts and seven reports that it was ‘just

not their thing’, Therefore, I learned that ladies of a certain age (plus 50) have to have other

infuences (like their children in their lives) to overcome their pessimism about internet buying.

Plan B was to ask my younger friends. The women 30 to 50 had far more input. Some shop

often, some seldomly but all have done it. Some love it and some do not. Customization

seems to be an issue. Some welcome it and some do not. It seems to be in direct proportion

to their exposure to and use of computers. Tasha loves the customization but worries about

the potential for the abuse of information. Mary likes the recommendations and finds them

useful. She loves ordering gifts on-line through Amazon because of the convenience and

prompt delivery even at Christmas. Mel is the most experienced and loves Amazon’s

site. She had just ordered a book and noticed customization that included “Mel’s Store”. To

quote her: “LOL, obviously this has been customized to me and I think it’s just great.

Seriously, I am very enthusiastic- I totally fall for this kind of stuff and appreciate being treated

well by companies who want my business. There is even another option to help the site

improve your recommendations by showing you how to rate books and mark books you

already own. Totally cool”. She immediately emailed again saying “I just tried to log out and

had to use the help section to figure out how. I am much more comfortable being able to log

out and keep my personal information private even on a home computer. This site wants to

customize so much that the logging out process is not user friendly and in fact is also

discouraging. I still think the customization is terrific.”

I cannot imagine Amazon ever allowing its brand to slip with their CEO onboard. However, I have read that businesses are not so easy to pass along to the next generation so even with all of the great work being done there they still have to pass the test of time.

Session 3 For this week’s entry, read the article under Syllabus/Materials regarding The Apprentice TV show. Perhaps you may have seen the episode referred to on Microsoft Office Live Meeting. Use this article as background on the subject of "integrated marketing". There are many definitions of "integrated marketing" as you will read in the text. The definition I want you to consider is the integration of content (brands, products, etc) into this TV show's format. Many large consumer brands have participated on The Apprentice over the past two years including: Home Depot, Staples, Yahoo, Microsoft and the Pontiac Division of General Motors, etc. We don't know the fees involved to participate so don't worry about a cost/benefit analysis type of response. Question: do you think that The Apprentice provides a good forum for companies to showcase their brand/products to effectively reach and impact their respective target audiences.

I think that The Apprentice is an outstanding marketing forum for certain kinds of products as long as they do not mind playing second fiddle to Donald Trump the man and the brand. Products that are associated with luxury and an upscale lifestyle for men are particularly well suited to the association. In the first year of the show all of the products were about the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Executive jet services were featured with specific episodes on how to market such products with sexual innuendo and slick ad campaigns. Part of the show’s interest was the combination of a peek into the world of privilege, a peek into how to make it big and a glimpse of the working style of ‘The Donald.’

The man is a genius at co-marketing and or self promotion. Every show featured him and his buildings, his homes, his possessions, his opinions and tactics. He is utterly purposeful and shamelessly unapologetic that his entire focus is on his next buck. Parts of the world perceive him as the quintessential American. From his signature hairstyle to his catch phrases, no branding of an individual has ever been more successful.

Trump uses the two themes of integrated marketing which are use many different activities to communicate and to deliver value and secondly coordinate the marketing activities to maximize their joint effects. Who does this better than Trump on the Apprentice? At every turn one of his products is reinforced and every one compliments the other and everything magnifies his NAME.

Part of his co-marketing message that everyone in his company must embrace is “Its all about The Donald”. No one ever contradicts the Donald. It is clear that in the end everyone must agree with his opinion. In fact, when Caroline, one of the two leaders in his company who sat in the boardroom on the show, started to promote herself and began to use the fame she had gained from the Apprentice in the world of golf, she was fired. George, his long time friend and associate was replaced by Trumps adult children who he might tolerate in the light with him. On the show, when executives of major companies are introduced, Trump does not even appear to know their names and expects them to introduce themselves. I think they should consider that when they decide whether Trump has their products best interests at heart. I even heard him put down General Motors on their own segment for losing market share!

4 Ps of marketing are product (solution), price (cost), place (convenience), and promotion (communication). They must influence the trade channels and the final consumers. Donald certainly does this well and the products on the show should have leadership who ensure that their product fits the demographic that is likely to view the show or they will have paid to promote Donald Trump rather than their product. Not only that but the product must be in the luxury category to really get a boost. The medium of television, especially in a reality show, can show the good and the downside of anything. I think Burger King placements are misplaced on the show. Microsoft office may be fairly well placed because many who watch are hoping to learn the ropes of business.

I think there are traps in co-marketing certain products with Trump. For example, after the conflict with Martha Stewart and his name calling with her, many women who had been observing his new found television career with some reservations were no longer interested in giving him the benefit of the doubt. Advertising products of particular interest to women would probably constitute a poor fit. After his name calling with Rosie O’Donell and the firing of Caroline, not to mention his treatment of his previous wives, many women would never buy any product associated with Trump’s name. To them Trump means, self-absorbed misogynist who has no self-control or decency and any product associated with him may have the connotation of caring nothing about women or women’s needs or wishes. Many women have the impression that women are of no value to Trump who routinely calls people losers with conviction.

Session 4 For this week’s entry, product differentiation is essential to the branding process. In choosing to differentiate a product, a marketer has the choice of form, features, performance quality, conformance quality, durability, reliability, reparability, and style. Collect examples of currently produced products that have been differentiated and branded for each of these design parameters. Analyze and discuss your example.

Form: Gillette Venus razor is an excellent example of a product distinguished by form. There has been a revolution in men’s razors with one blade morphing into two and then multiple blades became the standard for the industry. Razors have been thought of as men’s tools for generations but think about the large portion of a woman’s body that is touched by a razor on a daily basis. Far more square inches of a woman’s body than a man’s body are served by a razor so it is about time that the designers considered the ways a woman holds the razor, how to reach different parts of the body and the hand positions involved. Ergonomics is the science that can inform the designer of the requirements and Human Factors is the science that helps designers understand the interaction between technology or mechanical items and human thinking. Marketing should take the logic behind the changes and the design and demonstrate to the consumer that the new and improved product is considering the consumers needs and wants in a way that is unexpected or particularly thoughtful. By designing a razor with a new form that fits the woman’s hand and maneuvers in a way that a woman’s body moves the marketer can communicate a message of advancement, of a company concerned about it consumer and simple consideration.

Features: Toyota sedans have far more features today than 10 years ago and set the new standard. In a car, almost more than any other product, features can be the deciding factor. The list of options can be almost endless and this is a place where bundling can make the sale. Some people are interested in choosing specific options but smart marketers have bundled car options tailored toward different customer profiles. Sporty packages can include hub cap styles with stereo and braking packages. Luxury packages can include seat warmers, on star, luxury interiors and finishes. Bundling can make the customer accept more add ons than they would otherwise order.

Performance Quality: Ferarri “The engine lights up over 5000rpm and revs on to 8600rpm, true, but at lower crankshaft speeds it still pulls firmly and can accelerate meaningfully from under 2000rpm, emitting a throaty gurgle from its eight intake trumpets as if it were running on a quartet of twin-choke Webers. Variable cam timing and a variable-volume intake plenum chamber are the keys here. The throttle response is electric - literally, thanks to two drive-by-wire throttle bodies under the control of a 'master and slave' pair of Bosch ME7 Motronic management systems. And the F430 sounds just fantastic, like two snorty four-cylinders screaming in unison and helped by a valve which bypasses part of the silencer system above 3600rpm. You'll be searching out every tunnel.”

I put this quote from a Ferrari site in to illustrate the issues that are of interest to Ferrari connoisseurs. Its all about performance (and perhaps appearance).

Conformance Quality: Arm and Hammer Baking Soda: Quality of Conformance" describes the extent to which the product conforms to the design. Services too may be judged for Quality of Conformance by asking the question, "How closely does performance match the promise that was made." (Arm and Hammer website) When you go to bake a batch of muffins, or your Mom’s heirloom recipe you do not even think about the baking soda but it has to be perfect if your recipe is to turn out perfectly. It cannot be one way one time and another way another time. It has to be dependable every time. That is the line that I would use to advertise baking soda.

Durability: Samsonite luggage!

Samson is a biblical character known for his extraordinary strength. It was where Samsonite derived its name. It never failed

Samson when it acquired his name because they have lived up to what he was known of – his strength.

Samsonite is the largest and most popular luggage maker all over the world. They are popularly known for providing high quality

bags and top-of-the-scale durability.

Reliabilty: Parker Pens are known for reliability. They promise that every time you reach for a parker pen it will write and write well. Reliability is the most important feature of a variety of products. It is that much more important in something that is simple and so hands on. A customer feels a deep sense of frustration if something that is needed on the spur of the moment doesn’t work. Even though they hardly notice when things go right every time, they sure do notice if it doesn’t.

Repairability: Mountain bikes must be repairable. They are used hard and used often. They are used by people who want to challenge themselves and their equipment. Consumers expect the bikes to be sturdy and strong but they know that they put these bikes through torture. When they break, the fun stops. It is vital that they be repairable and easily repairable. That is the measure of a great bike. In the midst of the forest or on the side of a steep incline, that a bike can be given first aid and the fun can continue.

Style: Women’s handbags and shoes. No quality is more important in a woman’s handbag or shoes than style. Whether it is Manolo Blahniks or Payless shoes women shop for style. Style is personal but it is also shaped by advertising. What’s in? What’s not? It all has to do with MARKETING!

Session 5 For this week’s entry, based on the chapters under this weeks review, analyze in your opinion what the key success features are of The analysis should conclude with recommendations going forward.

I think that there are several keys to Amazon’s success. They chose to have the very best in technology. “technology, technology, technology" is the key to his business, and not "location, location, location," as is said to be the case in retail. Amazon's location on the web is not only better than anyone else's, it is better by a significant degree. To illustrate, the figures below show incoming links to the respective web sites. In Amazon's case, the majority of these links are affiliate or wish-list based. In effect, Amazon has the largest sales force on earth, having enlisted millions of sites to provide virtual locations. Location, it seems, has much more of an effect on Amazon's success:

Amazon - 56,040,453

Microsoft - 29,768,089

Yahoo - 14,227,915

Ebay - 1,495,703

Expedia - 1,012,636

Napster - 337,880

They deal with the products of a whole host of suppliers and they can be the “store front” for all of them without ever having to touch or stock a single thing.

The second key is their strong focus on customer experience, which is infused throughout all levels of the company and includes all aspects of the buying process. Everyone from engineers to delivery people are trained to think about the customer experience and customer reaction to their actions. They are trained to consider what an ecologically minded consumer would think of the packing material. They use the concept of a 360 degree experience. Amazon takes listening to and responding to customers very seriously.

They do not just think about customer service, they monitor it with ongoing statistical analyses. "Metrics are super important. It's not just measuring, but measuring the right stuff and understanding it." "…we correlate our measurements with changes we've made on the site, to see what's driving what, how to position things on pages, and which features to delete." Jeff Bezos founder and CEO. They measure such things as conversion rates, visitors, purchases and even what was considered that was not purchased.

New apparel site has 400 different brands and merchants selling goods through Amazon’s platform and that even includes

Amazon also makes the delivery process easy but they could continue their branding in their delivery packaging.

Recommendations for the future:

Returns are not easy and that needs to be improved.

The site appears to be visually cluttered and that will confuse and defocus the buyer.

It is clear that Amazon takes a lot of time in training to instill the very best qualities in their customer contact people and to help people who are no where near a real customer realize that what they do ultimately matters in the customer’s experience through internal marketing.

Session 6 How does cause or corporate societal marketing affect your personal consumer behavior? Do you ever buy or not buy any products or services from a company because of its environmental policies or programs? Why or why not?

Finalize your journal and submit it by Saturday of Session 6. Include a summary of what you learned from this course and whether you believe that your writing has improved. If not, what can you do to insure on-going improvement?

I am a practical woman. I like to multi-task. As I have aged, I find that I have more time for researching and for exercising my ideals. Perhaps it is that I am the mother of 5 and that somehow I feel that in a way my residency on the planet will be unending through my progeny. As I raised my children and taught them values, my own were cemented. I think we all have not only a carbon footprint but also a contribution footprint that no one will ever measure but that will leave our world either enriched or depleted by our presence. I do believe in supporting people who are doing good where ever I can and that includes supporting businesses that are willing to link with good causes. Cause-related marketing is a powerful marketing tool that business and nonprofit organizations are increasingly leveraging. According to the Cone Millennial Cause Study in 2006, 89% of Americans (aged 13 to 25) would switch from one brand to another brand of a comparable product (and price) if the latter brand was associated with "good cause". The same study also indicated that a significant percentage surveyed would prefer to work for a company that was considered socially responsible. Studies by Cone indicate an upward trend in the number of Americans who associate their own buying habits with cause marketing as well as an expectation that companies to be "good corporate citizens". Numerous other studies have also been conducted to show that cause-related marketing has helped to increase a company's profits. For example, in the cause marketing campaign by American Express (to which the term "cause marketing" is attributed), the company saw a 17% increase in new users and a 28% increase in card usage.

If I have a choice between two products that are similar in price and quality I will always purchase the one from the company I know to be more ethical or more socially active. I know that many businesses embrace CSR as a business ploy. If I think that the social cause gains even moderately I do not care much. I want the net result to be positive. I care about all things that effect my kids, their future, the planet and the overall total level of goodness and justice on the planet. It is not religiosity. Iit is conviction that good is more likely to prevail when this woman does what she can. I do not look to see what others are doing. Their footprints are in the shifting sand just as mine are. I will however, actively work to block injustice or unkindness where I find it if it is within my power. The world I create with my actions is the world I leave for my children to live in. This world is my nest, and I feather it where I can and I will not knowingly cooperate with its spoiling.

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