Friday, April 8, 2011

Guilty about unused store cards

I shouldn't be in marketing if I hate the retail experience to the point of having various store gift cards accumulating in my drawer.

How can you study and comment consumer behaviour if you don't participate? It runs against the spirit of my policy of not employing marketing communications people who declare that they only watch the non—commercial ABC television network. Even if you hate advertising, at least take enough interest to know what your competitors are doing!

It is consistent, however, that I have a growing guilt about the unused gift cards that have accumulated since Christmas and my birthday in February. All my shopping lately has been on the internet, where there is no human interaction, other than the occasional last-three-minute skirmish to outwit unknown parties to win the last bid on eBay.

Perhaps eBay could liven the process up by hooking up various bidders via skype - creating something of a cyber poker game. Imagine eBay addicts all hooked in for the final bid - all wearing reflector aviator sheds to conceal the whites of their eyes!

Ah. Forget about it. If I want that combative experience, why not just head downtown with gift cards in pocket? Cya tomorrow maybe if your down at Myer. Perhaps Jennifer Hawkins will be there to cater to myw every need - Not!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Step out and indulge in a Qwiki

Continuing the theme of my last rant about dealing with change, I have once again been surprised by a 'brand extension'. The latest version is a complete overhaul of my understanding of a Qwiki.

What's Qwiki? It's the latest plaything of Facebook founder, Eduardo Saverin, who's chipped in his share of US$8 million seed money with his YouTube counterpart, Jawed Karim, to change the face of internet search. Type in a subject and Qwiki hauls together all the videos and images it can find on the subject. Then it couples a visual palette of these items with scrolling text.

So how's this different, or better than, Google you ask? Well, Qwiki is like an audiovisual version of Wikipedia, featuring a button to "improve this qwiki". So you can add to the visual library. If you're familiar with another online toy, Tumblr, where you essentially construct a personal library of audiovisual images and texts that inspire you, you'll also see parallels with Qwiki.

Qwiki has announced plans to create links with Facebook and LinkedIn to enable you to write Qwiki profiles on yourself. It's much more preferable to build your own image online than put yourself at the mercy of Google that will dredge up every mention of you on the 'net - positive or otherwise!

The founders claim this hybrid of Google, Wikipedia, Tumblr, YouTube and social networking sites will be almost impossible to duplicate.

The opportunity for brand managers is that there is potential to 'improve this qwiki' by linking to audiovisual URLs of your own. As some readers may know, my daytime job is in superannuation so, inevitably, I entered this term into the Qwiki search last night. Believe me, based on that outcome, it's a green field opportunity for superannuation brands right now.

Qwiki may take a while to gain traction, but it's an interesting idea. And at this stage, it doesn't take much to give your brand the qwiki it deserves.

Am I just a grumpy old man?

I delved into the chocolate biscuit barrel the other day. My claws wrapped around a legendary Aussie Tim Tam and swept it upwards and out of the barrel and straight to my lips. I anticipated the smooth milk chocolate with its chokkie biscuit centre until ...

I bit into it and immediately knew something was wrong. Instead of the crispy centre, my tongue engaged with something akin to jam. Soft, fruity and ... just not a Tim Tam. Sorry, but these brand extension things often just don't work for me. The Tim Tam experience compounded a series of bastardisations of tradition - Coke with lime, vanilla and other flavours (doesn't complement Queensland's favorite mixer, Bundaberg Rum, by the way!), some sort of cream cheesed Vegemite, Uncle Toby's oats with embedded flavours.

Apparently, citrus-flavoured 'lite' Coke was very successful in Europe, cherry Coke was a hit in the UK and so on. There is green tea flavoured Coke in Japan. So clearly, I'm out of step. My reaction to 'jam Tams' is out of whack with the rest of the marketplace. My conservatism is starting to overwhelm me in my middle years, or perhaps is just poor taste.

I thought us boomers, with our discretionary spending power were the darlings of marketers. Then again, perhaps indiscretionary spending on credit card, the province of new generations, is far more appealing. They want a much richer palette to choose from. The boredom threshold with 'more of the same' is much lower and brands obviously have to respond.

So while I make a rare visit to the local store and seek out the declining shelf space dedicated to flavours of yesteryear, others are swarming like locusts over other shelves seeking out the flavours of tomorrow. I suppose there's some form of street cred associated with being an early taste adopter.

With Apple's iPad2 tucked under your arm, you have to seek out other 'flavours of the month' to go with it - something I should chew over perhaps next time I visit the supermarket! I love the new tech, yet my appetite for change obviously ends there. Yep. I am becoming a grumpy old man.