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The Future of Web Design May Be Ugly

We’ve seen a variety of disastrous web design trends over the years. Remember splash pages? All-Flash sites? Frames? We may be on the cusp of a new trend: unstyled ugliness.
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By |February 4th, 2014|

Brainy Marketing at Forbes: Most Popular of 2013

I had quite a few posts at my Brainy Marketing blog at Forbes.com get shared extensively this year – here are 2013’s “biggest hits:”

Starbucks: Loyalty Program Misfire
Starbucks is great at marketing, but they did find a way to really […]

By |December 17th, 2013|

The Fatal Flaw in Loyalty Programs (And How to Minimize Damage)

Loyalty and rewards programs can be great motivators. When a business rewards the behavior they want from their customers – say, giving them a free coffee after they consume nine – they encourage that behavior. The most potent loyalty programs go beyond mere periodic freebies and confer status. […]

By |July 31st, 2013|

Starbucks Loyalty Fail

Starbucks knows a thing or two about loyalty. I’m a Gold Card member, and enjoy the free refills as well as the periodic free drinks I accrue by using it. (Green Card members get the refill benefit, but not the free beverage after every 15 purchases. In addition, Gold Card members get a personalized card in that color and, theoretically, are addressed by name by the baristas.)

Many other coffee shops offer complimentary in-store refills to all customers, but Starbucks has converted refills into a loyalty benefit. (Similarly, Starbucks has put their own spin on the ubiquitous “free wi-fi” offered at most establishments. They created their own portal with special content like free access to pay sites like WSJ.com and NYTimes.com.) So, I was surprised when normally savvy Starbucks sent a friend this message: […]

By |January 17th, 2012|

Starbucks, Your Digital Neighborhood?

Starbucks has changed a lot in the last six months, at least in the digital world. First, they finally ditched their paid-only Wifi and went to a free system that requires only one-click acceptance of their terms of […]

By |October 27th, 2010|

Trade-Off by Kevin Maney

Marketable business ideas often have two key characteristics: simplicity, and a way of categorizing products, brands, or companies. The Boston Matrix, for example, launched armies of strategy consultants who neatly fit businesses into buckets labeled, "cash cow," "star," "dog," etc. Kevin Maney's book Trade-Off has those characteristics as well.

By |December 14th, 2009|

Caffeinated Branding: Think Inside the Cup

Way back in 2005, in Can Caffeine Brain Boost Help Ad Recall?, I suggested that Starbucks could sell potent ads on their cups. This idea, though tongue-in-cheek in nature, was based on fMRI research that showed caffeine stimulated areas of the brain associated with memory:

Dr Florian Koppelstatter of the Medical University Innsbruck, Austria, found that caffeine affects distinct areas of the brain. This study is beleived to be the first to demonstrate a visible impact on the brain from caffeine. Subjects who had been given caffeine showed significantly more activity in the frontal lobe and the anterior cingulum – areas of the brain associated with memory and attention. Subjects who received a placebo showed no such impact.
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By |September 25th, 2008|

Anchor Pricing Strategies

Here’s a scenario… You decide to venture into a cell phone store despite your reluctance to deal with a bewildering number of phones, options, plans, along with a confusing price structure. As usual, you find you’ll have to wait a bit for a salesperson. The greeter hands you a card with a big “97” printed on it, and says, “It should only be a few minutes. We’ll call your number, 97, when a salesperson can help you.” You notice that a large digital display on the wall is showing “94.” You see it click to 95, then 96, and finally 97. The receptionist says, “Number 97, please,” and a salesperson appears to assist you. You thought nothing of the numeric ordering of customers, but it’s possible that the store had an ulterior motive: they could have been attempting to manipulate the price you would pay. Sound bizarre? Read on…

When a consumer is presented with an offer, a key element in the decision to accept or reject it is whether it appears to be a “fair deal” or not. We know that buying pain – the activation of our brain’s pain center when paying for a purchase – increases when the price seems too high. But how does that value equation work? The answer is anchoring – typically, we store an anchor price for different products that we then use to judge relative value. That sounds simple enough… but it’s actually not. Some anchor prices are stickier than others, and at times totally unrelated factors can affect these anchor points. The better marketers can understand how anchoring works, the more creative and effective pricing strategies they will be able to develop. […]

By |July 18th, 2008|

Coffee Smell Is All You Need

I’ve written about sensory branding, olfactory marketing, and in particular Starbucks’ attempt to get more coffee aroma into its stores. Now, it seems that all you need to get you going in the morning is a whiff of […]

By |June 16th, 2008|

Simulating the Coffee Drinker’s Nose

Is Scratch ‘n Sniff Starbucks in our future?

No industry focuses as much on olfactory marketing as the coffee business. Starbucks recently dumped its breakfast eggs because their smell didn’t pair well with the coffee aroma. Nestle unit Nespresso has not only modified its home brewing equipment to release more enticing smells, they have even launched a chain of coffee shops after finding that more than half of the coffee drinking experience came from the shop environment (see Sensory Marketing to Jolt Espresso Sales). Now, those clever coffee fanatics at Nestle have found way to analyze the components of coffee aromas that lets them predict how real human noses will respond to those smells. […]

By |February 28th, 2008|