Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Final Learnings

When I sat in class on the first day, I must admit I was unsure how an insight was different from an experience. I was unsure how the class would be different from the other marketing courses I have taken, and I was even more uncertain how I would learn to discover a person’s insights for a particular product or service. The structure of the course and the group project was set up so that we could learn each stage of the process and combine them all in the end. The pace of the course and project was also set up so that it gave us enough time to discuss our findings with our group members and learn from each other. For example, gaining insights sounded so broad to me when it was introduced in class. Working with my group and talking with people in our potential target market allowed me to find and understand people’s emotions and needs towards certain tasks and activities. Being able to perform research and come back to discuss it with the group was beneficial for my learning, and I believe I gained more by working in my group than if I had worked on it alone.

Prototyping was another subject I had no experience with. I also thought that the main idea behind introducing a prototype to an audience was to get an “ooo” and “ahhh” when we showed our example of our padded playpen. On the contrary, I have learned through the course and the project that prototyping is not about looks of amazement in the audience. Instead, prototyping is about understanding and supporting our findings. Similar to any other visual aid, it should support the message we are delivering and not necessarily take attention away from the presentation. Describing the features, from colors to noises, allows the audience to understand the reasoning behind our prototype and how it meets the needs of our target market. We talked about how large we should make the prototype, whether we should include the music the baby might listen to, and the possibility of placing a baby doll in the playpen prototype to make it more life like. In the end, we decided that we needed to show the basic features and thoroughly describe the benefits of Babytopia rather than take away from its main purpose by adding in distracting noise or a doll.

It was a pleasure working with my teammates this semester for this project. I have had my fair share of unproductive groups, but this group was productive. Scheduling was a challenge since we were all seniors and had other ongoing group projects and meetings throughout the semester. There were a couple of meetings that were more difficult than others because the three girls, including myself, would meet when the guys were unable to meet. Communication was also difficult at this point because progress at the meetings was at a standstill without the entire group’s input. This was also the point in the project when we were analyzing our findings and coming up with product development ideas so it was a crucial time to have the entire group meet together. Our group did not have any conflicts throughout the project; however, we did have some disagreements when discussing the final product. This is when it became very beneficial to meet with Professor Walls to discuss our findings and product ideas. By meeting twice with Professor Walls, we were able to decide on our product of a padded playpen. Professor Walls has been a very supportive professor and has continued to be there for all of his students. I regret not being able to attend the meetings with Professor Walls when my group met to discuss our product ideas, but I am grateful to have had a professor that is willing to take the time to meet outside office hours and discuss concerns and ideas. Throughout the project, I was able to learn the significance of insights and the process of product development. Working alone on a project like this one would have been an even greater challenge. The benefits of working on this project in a group were that we were able to learn from one another and bounce ideas off each other. We were also able to discuss our perspectives for the different stages along the way. Listening to my group members allowed me to gain more from this project than I would have if I had done it individually.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Marketing to Hispanics

Hispanic Marketing

I. Introduction

II. Who is the Hispanic market?

a. Basic demographics

i. Age ranges

ii. Income levels

iii. Different ethnicities among Hispanics

b. Lifestyle and behavioral characteristics

i. Religion

ii. Sports

iii. Family/friend social gatherings

c. Basic needs

i. Purchaser vs. user

ii. Necessities vs. luxuries

III. How to market the Hispanic market?

a. Language- which one do you use? and why?

i. English

ii. Spanish

iii. Portuguese, etc.

b. Setting of marketing strategies

i. Advertisements

ii. Promotions

c. Models used in promotional activities

i. Are they representative of the market?

IV. Benefits of marketing to Hispanics

a. Expanding your market

b. Diversity for your company

c. Purchasing power of Hispanics

i. Spending habits

ii. Population

V. Conclusion

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Persuaders

In The Persuaders, Dr. Rapaille is trying to crack the code on luxury. Dr. Rapaille shares his theory of the “reptilian hot button” that can cause a person to buy a product associated with a particular idea. Dr. Rapaille utilizes a focus group and a three step process to try to find the underlying “code” for luxury. Dr. Rapaille begins his process by spending an hour with the focus group in order to find out how luxury is defined according to their experiences and beliefs. The group throws out words, statements, and stories to share their definition of luxury. Dr. Rapaille has tried this approach before so he is not too concerned with the answers that his subjects are supplying. He cares more about what the results in steps two and three will show.

The next step Dr. Rapaille follows focuses on the emotions that his focus group members reveal. He tells his subjects to create a story centered around luxury that they would tell a five year-old from a different planet. Just when his subjects thought they had figured out the Dr. Rapaille’s research method, they are taken aback and become confused. Dr. Rapaille’s subjects begin to think he is crazy and taking them for a practical joke.

The final stage of Dr. Rapaille’s research focuses on the primal urges of his subjects. His subjects return from a break to find that there are no chairs to sit on, only pillows. Everyone is asked to sit on the floor and lay down. Dr. Rapaille turns the lights off and asks his subjects to relax. When the lights come back on, his subjects are asked to write words and thoughts that they would use to describe luxury. Dr. Rapaille uses this lights out method to encourage the fresh thought process. Since his subjects feel like they have just woken up from a nap, memories arise that they once associated with luxury long ago.

Dr. Rapaille’s methods are interesting and unique. He takes the use of a focus group to the next level by utilizing his lights out method and storytelling method. As a marketer, I would use his techniques to further understand why young people make expensive purchasing decisions on designer products. It is always interesting to see young girls wearing the latest designer products in Texas. Even when the heat in Texas is at its highest, young girls are still walking around in the latest Prada sweater or BCBG coat. It is always interesting to note that many people do not know why they act the way do. Most people do not know what they associate the word luxury with or why they associate it with those products or services. It would be fascinating to research why young people are so infatuated with designer brands even if the clothing or accessories do not fit their geographical locations. I would use Dr. Rapaille’s methods to find out what words, images, or experiences my peers associate with name brands and the potential benefits of purchasing name brand items. Dr. Rapaille’s techniques would help uncover many hidden interests and underlying reasons for purchase decisions.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Believe what you hear?

People do believe some very strange things. When scientists, or credible figures, tell the public what is there, people will find a way to see it or believe it. Quite often people claim that they see things such as the Virgin Mary or Mother Teresa in tree bark or glass panes because someone saw it first. As it turns out, all you need is someone to tell you what to see and then you will tell your mind to see it immediately. Sadly, the palm tree and sprinkler formed the Virgin Mary image that many people traveled thousands of miles to see on a pane of glass. Of course this faith keeps many believers happy and steady, but the images may not be what they seem. Let’s be realistic, it seems a little silly to believe that the Virgin Mary would want to reveal her image on a grilled cheese sandwich. The fact is that sometimes people want to believe strange things to keep their hope strong.

Shermer says that people often remember the hits and forget the misses. This case is true for science and even personal experiences. We always want to remember the good times and forget about the bad ones. In science, people will try to back up their findings by keeping record of the supportive evidence and disregarding any evidence that may throw the claim off track. This notion helps people to further believe strange things because they want to believe that something is true, most importantly a miracle or some phenomenon of some sort.

The songs Shermer played backwards really solidified the fact that people believe things when they are told to believe them. I could have possibly made out the Satan when he played the first song backwards, but there was no way I heard all of those words. However, when he told me the words the song said, I heard all of them word for word. It is interesting to note that many people will believe what they see or hear.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Facebook Insights

As I think about my Internet usage in comparison to that of my peers, I realized how many times a day we all check our Facebook accounts. Regardless of how many times we check our Facebook accounts, I do not know anyone who actually acts on the advertisements they see. Some of my peers had no idea that there were advertisements on Facebook at all. With the outrageous amounts of money being invested in this developing company, investors would hope that their advertisements are being viewed and acted upon. I am sure that many of us see the advertisements, perhaps out of peripheral vision at most, but I have never met anyone who responded to an advertisement they saw on Facebook.

Perhaps this problem is due to the fact that Facebook is a social network where students can log on and view updates of their friends and classmates. Facebook is known for allowing its users to send messages, find friends, view profiles, and upload pictures for all their friends to see. Recently, Facebook has been recruiting and hiring new employees to add new features for their users as well. Are these features really adding value to the service though? Many college students find these new features not user friendly and a pain to get rid of. It leaves you wondering whether Facebook really knows its customers.

If Facebook is having trouble identifying its customers needs, that would explain why many of us are not impacted by the advertisements they use on their site. It many not be the type of advertisement or even the company, but perhaps the location of the advertisement or even the format of the advertisement. If these advertisements remain on the sides of the page, Facebook users will not shift their attention from looking at friend’s love lives and updates to look at the latest iPod product. Another reason that these advertisements are not as effective as they should be is that there is no direct connection between the student viewing the advertisements and using the service. Other online services will only allow their users to move forward to view their profiles or webpages after they view an advertisement. In this case, the advertisement is forced upon the user.

In summary, Facebook has done a good job in listening to their users by adding the new applications to their service. However, some of the new applications are not what the users were expecting. When Facebook users logged on for the first time, many of us were expecting more to this simple service. Now, we have too many options and too many applications to use in one visit to the website. This paradox of choices has turned many of Facebook’s first faithful users away and has also hindered investor’s futures.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Understanding the Hispanic Market

When identifying the needs of Hispanic men and women, we are looking at an interesting topic. It is obvious that most Hispanics care about their families and often put their families first. It is publicized that Hispanics are always late and care little about time constraints or deadlines. It is also interesting to note that many people believe that Hispanics have much larger families than other races. All of these stereotypes are necessary to understand and analyze when marketing to Hispanic men and women.

I can give numerous examples to contradict each of the stereotypes; however, I would like to qualify them to understand that we can learn a lot about the Hispanic market by understanding how these needs are different or the same for Hispanic men and women. Both Hispanic men and women put their families before many other priorities. Often times, Hispanic men and women will put work, school, and well-being below family. For marketers, this means we must introduce products that benefit the family instead of the individual. Companies can almost guarantee the success of a new product if it will improve the lifestyle of the entire household rather than that of only the mother or father. Products and services that can benefit the entire household are challenging to create, but they are an important need of both the men and women of this segment.

There are characters in movies and books that portray Hispanic men and women as running late everywhere they go. This idea can relate back to the “family comes first” understanding. Hispanic men and women would rather be late to work or school if they know their family needs them. In fact, there are numerous things that are more important to many of us than arriving to a meeting on time or running 5 or 10 minutes late to class, regardless of our ethnicity. Instead of focusing on this stereotype, marketers should instead look to other themes of Hispanic’s buying patterns. Focusing on products that satisfy work-life balance may be a solution that meets both the family need and the time issues.

Finally, large families are present in all cultures, but seem more prevalent in Hispanic families. This need relates to the idea that family comes first and also to the need of work-life balance. Today, many Hispanic men and women marry and work for several years before starting a family. Marketers must find a way to promote their products to those newly-wed Hispanic men and women and to those Hispanic couples who have been married for decades. It is important to note that the men will often buy different products than women. Many times, husbands will be sent to the grocery store so that the wife can make dinner or watch the children. Still, women are always looking for that escape to shop for themselves. Considering both of these ideas, new marketing campaigns should be on the rise to satisfy the stereotypes of Hispanic men and women but also to the idea of the “new” Hispanic family.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Contract for Paper Topic

Having interned with Target Corporation for two years, I have become particularly interested in how companies target the Hispanic markets. I have always been fascinated by marketing and advertising efforts towards Hispanic men and women. Many of us have seen very effective commercials, but it is difficult to say which ethnicity they are targeting, if any. It is evident that a large majority of US retailers employ specific Hispanic marketing efforts, but these efforts can sometimes go unnoticed if the viewer can not pick up on them. Sometimes firms use Spanish at the wrong time or make the mistake of using the same strategies in Mexico as they do in Cuba, which are two separate Hispanic markets. I would also like to use my research to find out how the marketing efforts for targeting Hispanic men differ from that of Hispanic women and see what research is being used to seek insights of the Hispanic culture and their needs. I also hope that I will find a trend between many of the leading retailers in their successful Hispanic marketing strategies. My key focuses will include, but are not limited to, discovering success stories from various companies, looking at how much money different companies budget for the Hispanic markets, finding out if companies that are successful in targeting Hispanics are also successful in targeting other ethnicities, and researching how these companies track their success.

Looking at the history of the needs of Hispanics, it is easy to understand why Hispanics are a large part of the pie when it comes to consumer spending in the United States. We all know most Hispanic families are larger than the average family, and it’s no secret that Hispanics usually like to spend their money instead of save it. With that in mind, one would think that marketing to Hispanics would be a breeze because they are more likely to spend their money already. However, customer insights challenges remain in the Hispanic marketing departments of many companies. Sometimes these companies feel they know the needs of their Hispanic segment, but they are simply not addressing the need in a manner that Hispanics will respond to.

The book, Hispanic Marketing Grows Up by Juan Faura, compares Hispanic marketing to Occam’s Razor. When applying strategies to Hispanic marketing, the best approach is the simplest one according to Faura’s application of Occam’s Razor. Faura addresses the fact that many marketers today focus too much on the “Hispanicness” of their consumer instead of engaging the consumerism of the Hispanic culture. He believes that marketers are ready to move on to the next step in marketing Hispanic segments and shares primary information he attained while conducting interviews for his book. In order to understand the needs of the Hispanic market, we must also know where they came from and what kinds of challenges they are facing now. His book notes that mainstream America and assimilation are looked down upon in the Hispanic community, but many Hispanics know that some form of assimilation is necessary. Faura’s book also discusses why Hispanics often prefer advertisements to be in English and how to market to those bilingual individuals. As “the fastest growing, second largest, $600 billion-dollar buying power population in the United States1,” Hispanics are a large community to target and to discover new needs.

1Faura, J. (2006). Hispanic Marketing Grows Up: Exploring Perceptions and Facing

Realities. Paramount Market Publishing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Whataburger Experience

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, I have always been biased towards Whataburger for my choice of fast food. Every time I see a commercial or hear “What a burger!” I am taken back to my hometown and memories of hitting up our nearby Whataburger. Of course, there is a Whataburger located on almost every major street in Corpus Christi so they were always a convenient choice.

While watching Whataburger’s commercials, I have noticed their attempts to appeal to the emotional, sensory, and relational strategic experiential models (SEMs). They have always tried to illustrate the emotional experience by playing off the “at home” feel and “mom and pop start up” business. I think they have done well with this approach by using commercials that show their early stages of becoming a business. Some commercials will display black and white pictures of the first Whataburger stand in Corpus Christi and show how they have succeeded to become a fast food chain. Whataburger also uses a “Texas proud” and “Texas grown” approach to appeal to the emotional experience. They know that many of their customers were born and raised in Texas and want to support a company that shares the same roots. When focusing on the sensory experience, Whataburger constantly shows large images of their hamburgers and other menu items during their commercials and advertising avenues. The large images draw attention by advertising their fresh ingredients and listing the vegetables and condiments used to make their menu items. By listing, “fresh lettuce, four pickles, diced onions, three tomatoes, 100% pure-American beef, on a five-inch toasted bun, hot, fresh, and made to order, just like you like it,” the customer is drawn in by the visual and auditory description. Whataburger has also begun to use the sales pitch of having “over 36,864 ways to eat a Whataburger” to continue to appeal to the sensory experience that potential customers are looking to have. Whataburger also tries to appeal to the relational experience by attracting audiences of friends, families, and co-workers. Often in Whataburger’s advertisements, a customer will be seen eating a menu item with friends or family. Whataburger tries to create an atmosphere for kids to hang out after school or families to visit for a weekend getaway. They use these attractions in attempt to better relate to their potential customers because they know that most of their consumers will fit into a category that wants to please a peer or family member.

Whataburger uses a visual and verbal identity in their name by playing on the words “what a burger.” The name gives the customer a visual and verbal message of how great the hamburger tastes. Whataburger also utilizes their website to act as a communication tool between the company and its customers. A customer can find the nearest location, decide what he wants to eat by looking at the menu, inquire about a donation for his upcoming volunteer event, purchase apparel, look up some of the restaurant’s history, and even visit the Whatakids section. Whataburger also uses their people as a touching point to contribute to the customer’s experience. Their employees are referred to as “family members” and are trained to be successful. Although Whataburger does a great job with their name as a visual and verbal identity, they do not seem to have enough product presence in comparison to its competitors. Because they do not yet compete nationally, many of Whataburger’s competitors do a better job of presenting their product to the masses rather than focusing on local customers. Similar to the lack of national presence, Whataburger also struggles to communicate with their advertising and public relations to reach a larger audience. Although they might not benefit from a magalog, Whataburger could try using annual reports or newsletters to communicate to their current customers and reach new ones by sharing their current successes.

Describing Whataburger’s touching points was challenging since they are not yet a thriving national chain. Successful in Texas and a few other states, Whataburger has a lot to learn from its competitors. They also have many growth opportunities and seem to have a bright future ahead of them. Growing up in Corpus Christi has definitely biased my opinions towards Whataburger. They have always been my first choice when considering a fast food burger joint, and they will probably continue to be my first choice. I know that I have seen their advertisements on countless occasions, but I know that they still have work to do in regards to reaching out to their customers in newer territories.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Paradox of Choices

Barry Schwarz brings up many interesting points about consumer decision making. From a consumer’s perspective, I was able to think about many of my own shopping behaviors and relate them to his ideas. At first glance, the idea of having more items to choose from sounds like a great plan. The freedom that Schwarz brings up seems exactly what consumers think they are looking for while shopping. Unfortunately, many consumers find this freedom overwhelming and often return home empty-handed after a day of shopping. There have been numerous times that I make a trip to a shopping center or mall looking for clothing and return home with nothing because I could not quite seem to find what I was looking for. Schwarz’s idea seems accurate. Consumers have trouble making decisions because they simply cannot decide with all of these choices. After all, more is less.

The “official dogma” that Schwarz mentions seems to be a precise explanation of present day shoppers. At one time, we were dissatisfied because we did not have enough to choose from. However, now we seem to have too much to choose from. We thought that we could “maximize our welfare by maximizing our freedom.” Looking at consumer behavior, this has not been the case. We have always had the freedom to choose what we would like to buy. Increasing the number of choices has only led us to feel dissatisfied with what we finally choose to take home. Schwarz’s fishbowl idea seems unnecessary at first. Of course, no one likes the thought of limitations or boundaries, especially in buying behaviors. Although consumers might not want limitations, they cannot seem to handle limitless options.

The examples Schwarz gives are common problems that consumers face with choices. I have actually found myself wanting a phone that is less complicated. I have even found myself wanting a computer that is more user-friendly, and not so high-tech. Schwarz is right; there are no more easy choices to just choose the simplest option. Technology has enabled our favorite brands to provide us with more choices in hopes that we will find exactly what we are looking for. The truth is we do not all know exactly what we are looking for. The plethora of choices has actually made it more difficult to make a decision that we can leave satisfied with. His other example of the doctor giving a patient the benefits and risks of two options is also true for many people. Sometimes we just want to be told what to do or, in some cases, told what to buy which is probably why many consumers listen to commercials and use coupons. Many consumers need some suggestions or advice on what to purchase, and even on what they really want.

Experiencing cognitive dissonance is also an effect of having so many choices. Now consumers are going home and questioning whether they bought what they really wanted. Having so many options makes more than one item appealing, so you are never quite sure if you purchased what you intended to buy. As Schwarz mentions, this liberation that we expected to find in having more choices actually causes us to have more regret and dissatisfaction at the end of the day. The opportunity costs become greater because consumers begin to consider all of the products or brands that they might be missing out on. Now each of these alternatives subtract from the satisfaction after the consumer has made her final decision.

The final idea presented by Schwarz that I feel is relevant is the fact that consumer’s expectations have increased because there are now more choices. Consumers expect to arrive at their home satisfied and ultimately end up blaming themselves when they experience buyer’s remorse. By encouraging consumers to have low expectations, Schwarz is attempting to bring consumers to the reality that in decision making more is less.

Monday, September 10, 2007

7-Eleven &

When comparing 7-Eleven and, both CEOs do a remarkable job of understanding customer insights. While Jeff Bezos uses his goofy attitude, Jim Keyes capitalizes on popular trends to put his customer’s needs first. In “Mighty Amazon,” Jeff Bezos is portrayed as a silly guy while at his photo shoot. Jumping on a trampoline and posing for a picture, Bezos makes jokes and talks with the photographer. It appears that Bezos is a personable guy who would do anything to satisfy others, especially his customers. In other instances, Bezos is portrayed as “all business” with his direct reports. Although Bezos is firm with his employees, he uses technology to make sure that his customers are happy and receive their products in a timely manner. When asked about customer service, “Bezos isn’t interested in a qualitative answer.” Because Bezos has built his business on convenience, “he wants to know average customer contacts per order, average time per contact, the breakdown of e-mail vs. telephone contacts, and the total cost to the company of each.” Bezos has all of his warehouses computerized so that employees can transfer orders as quickly as possible. Bezos has also welcomed competitors so that Amazon “doesn’t have to advertise that its prices are lower because consumers themselves can now compare prices.” Bezos took two things, books and the Internet, and combined them by taking an insight and creating a convenient service for his consumers.

7-Eleven is a prime example of a company that values their customer insights. This is evident when you look at their birth in the convenience store industry. Joe C. Thompson realized the demand for convenience and chose to create “a chain of stores that would stay open from 7 am to 11 pm.” Not every company will have a pot of macadamia-nut coffee for a single customer that stops in like one of Keyes’s store managers does at a 7-Eleven in San Francisco. Keyes seems to do a great job in leading by example and letting his employees know his expectations of customer service. With the use of their NEC handhelds, 7-Eleven employees make sure that products low in stock are on the shelf the following morning. Similar to Amazon, Keyes has transformed 7-Eleven “from having no idea what we were selling to predicting what customers want even before they know it,” according to Podeschi, 7-Eleven’s senior vice president for merchandising. 7-Eleven utilizes the insights from its customers by searching for trends and then creating a product to complement the trend. An example of this can be seen by looking at the sales of cleaning wipes. Employees noticed that cleaning wipes were increasing quickly so they brainstormed to come up with a product they could sell to maximize on the cleaning wipe phenomenon. 7-Eleven also took their customer insights and turned them into an experience for the customer when they created Road Kill gummy candy. Employees knew that kids liked “things that are over-the-top gross” so they took that insight and created Road Kill gummies to please their young clientele. Keyes was also one of the early members to create a credit card reader for his customer’s convenience at the gas pump. While some argued that these card readers would decrease sales because customers would not purchase impulse items, Keyes found an increase in sales as 7-Eleven began to have more female customers because they did not want to leave their kids to pay inside.

As a customer of both and 7-Eleven, I feel better knowing that the CEOs of both companies truly care about their consumers. Keyes has been able to spot new fads and trends amongst his customers and transform them into new products or services while Bezos capitalized on convenience for his consumers. Keyes’s employees appear happier because they can individualize their stores and offer different products to their specific clientele, and Bezos’s workers could possibly face sacrificing customer service for fear of displeasing their boss. Still, both companies have managed to continue to maximize the insights of their customers.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Hi, there! :)