Consumer trust is hard won, and easily lost

Consumer trust is something that every business owner strives for because it is a surefire way to ensure their loyalty to your business. However, trust is not something that is easy to establish, and it can be lost in the blink of an eye. Customers need to believe three things about a company for them to fully trust it. They need to believe that: the company has their best interest in mind, the business can and will deliver its promises, and the business is honest and authentic.
Many businesses worry too much about whether or not they have the customer’s trust. What they should be doing instead is focusing all their energy in delivering the best products and/or services possible. There is no better way to gain trust, than to put forth high quality goods and services that the consumer expects. Unfortunately, mistakes are made from time to time. The right thing to do, though, is not to conceal the errors, but own up to the mistakes. If you try to hide your mistakes, then that only gives consumers another reason to mistrust your business. Once you have the trust of the customers, you have to focus on maintaining that trust by continuing to deliver the best products and/or services you can. Don’t think that once you have their trust, that consumers will stay with trust you forever.  Trust needs to be maintained to keep the relationship between the consumers and the business strong.
You can read more in the article on

Congratulations to CRS Board Member Gaetan Giannini

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Center for Retailing Solutions, I would like to congratulate board member Gaetan T.Giannini Jr. on his appointment to Dean of the School of Adult and Graduate Education at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA.  Gaetan was formally chair of the Department of Business, Management and Economics at Cedar Crest.  Prior to Cedar Crest Gaetan taught advertising and marketing at East Stroudsburg University as an adjunct professor.  He was named one of the TOP 20 Business People (Under 40) by the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal (2003) and is currently the owner of a public relations and marketing firm located in the Allentown area.  Congratulations Gaetan…knock their socks off.

Create Creativity

"The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense."
-Pablo Picasso

Creativity is something we are all blessed to possess.  Some of us embrace it every day, while others struggle to use it whenever they do.  If you're involved in business, then your creativity can help address some problems you do or could have.  To solve certain problems, you must determine how to approach them.  There aren't always tried and true methods to solving everyday problems; sometimes you have to create your own.

As it turns out, whether we realize it or not, we use creativity not only to express ourselves and our ideas, but also as a problem solving mechanism.  Think about it.  When was the last time you were creative and didn't accomplish something?  Once you can understand this, then you can utilize your creativity  more effectively.  To do so, it just takes a few simple steps, according to an article from Entrepreneur.

You can read more here in the article from Entrepreneur.

Simmer Down Now

Let’s face it.  We can’t all be like Burger King, where the customer has it their way.  Likewise, no one is perfect, and sometimes, mistakes happen, but we can all learn from them.  Customers can and will get upset, possibly even angry, whether it’s your fault or not.  Therefore, you want to take these situations seriously, not just to avoid losing customers and a good reputation, but to also show your customers that despite any mistakes that may occur, you care about them.  After all, if you got upset or angry at a business, would you want to stay like that, or would you want your grievances resolved?
An article from Inc. provides some essential phrases to say to unsatisfied customers that can not only help change their mood, but also change their opinion of you and your business.  Like Bill Cosby once said “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”  No, you can’t please everyone, but you can at least try.

Know Your Logo

Creating a logo for your company can be easy if you want a simple logo.  If you want one that will stand out, and get your business noticed, then that might take a little more effort, and possibly money.  According to an article from, even though we can't all as lucky as Nike, with a simple 'swoosh' receiving global recognition, there’s nothing stopping us from trying.
A logo is your way of saying to the world "Here I am!"  So, make your appearance known.  Whether you design it yourself or you hire an outside firm, a logo can sometimes make or break the success of your business.  Think of some popular logos.  What do they have that you need?  A signature text?  A certain shape?  It doesn't have to be flashy or vibrant, but as long as it’s noticeable, then you can safely say that your business has a definitive logo.
Also, a logo doesn't have to be permanent.  Some have stood the test of time, like McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Apple.  Others, such as Pepsi, Comedy Central, and some professional sports teams change logos every few years or so.  These makeovers could be due to a need to reintroduce themselves, or simply because their current logo has lost its luster and a new logo is in order.

Make Sales in Zero Seconds Flat!

Okay, that sounds a bit far-fetched, and perhaps too good to be true, but think about it:  What if you could sell to your customers almost instantaneously?  Pretty cool, right?  Well, how do you do it then?  It's simple, really- your website.  According to an article from Entrepreneur, your website is crucial for any and all prospective customers.  While what you sell is what makes you money, what keeps your customers coming back is actually how quickly and easily they find it.  If your website takes more than, say, ten seconds to load, that customer you almost have becomes the customer you almost had.  Ten seconds may not seem like a lot, but when you're shopping, ten seconds can mean the difference between "only a few left" and "sorry, we’re all sold out."

If you want to gear your customers toward the 'checkout' link, then make sure you know what they want, and advertise it on your website where they can see it.  For example, if you're a clothing retailer, don't advertise a winter coat sale during the summer.  Yes, the coats are on sale, but that's only because not a lot of people will buy them in the summer.  Put shorts and short sleeves on your homepage so people will take notice; think of your homepage as a display window, and anyone who visits it as a window shopper.  Once they start clicking, they'll keep clicking until they've clicked 'confirm your purchase.'

An online presence is essential for any retailing venture, so it only makes sense to give customers a website they can navigate through with little to no effort.  This can be a fun and creative process for you.

Bring Out the Best In Your Employees

To be a business, you need employees.  To be a great business, you need employees that will work hard, not just for their paycheck, but for the company as well.  If your employees perhaps aren't as determined or hard working as you'd like them to be, then it's time to either make them change their ways, or show them the door.  And if you're in the hiring process, make sure you're not only hiring the most qualified, but the most determined.  Anyone with an impressive resume can apply for a job and get hired on the spot.  However, there's always that slight chance that they'll give less than 100% because since they've earned their job, they know they have too much experience to get fired.

Linda Dulye, President of Dulye & Co., an award-winning employee engagement and workplace communication consultancy, recently held a webinar titled "How to Engage Employees to Give Their Best."  In an article from Fox Small Business, she answers some of the submitted questions, and provides her professional insight to addressing her viewers' problems.

If you want your business to exceed your competition, just remember to make sure you're doing all you can to get the best out of your employees, even if it's only one at a time.  One employee's hard working habits can easily have an influence on their colleagues.  It only takes one to get the ball rolling.

Uh Oh...

Here they come:  Your customers... and their complaints.  Don't you wish you could just snap your fingers and make all their troubles go away without any further effort on your part?  Well unfortunately, it's not that simple, especially if the complaints are over the Internet.  At least you don't have people screaming in your face, but at the same time, that's no excuse to take their complaints less seriously.  According to an article from Inc., that's why you're only hurting yourself and your business by letting customer complaints go by the wayside.

We all have something to complain about, even you, but if your complaints go ignored, wouldn't that just give you something else to complain about?  The Internet is no different.  Complaints should all be treated equally, regardless of where they come from.  They should also be addressed as soon as possible to save your company's reputation, and hopefully retain your customers.

You can read more here in the article from Inc.

You've Got Mail... Right?

Even in the wake of social media, email marketing is still alive and well.  We've come a long way since electronic mail burst onto the scene, and by no means is there anything wrong with it, right?  Well, too many of them could potentially crowd one's inbox and go ignored, or get deleted before even be given so much as one second of attention.  However, according to an article from Entrepreneur, there are few ways to combat such an epidemic.

Emails are great ways to show your customers what you have to offer.  They can also help bring in new customers, whether by word of mouth, or one of your emails getting forwarded.  Not to worry- there are a variety of ways that can make email marketing work, but it's up to you to take advantage of them.


Though not an easy thing to come by, success is the ultimate goal of any franchise, whether it’s successfully pleasing your customers, or successfully blowing your competition out of the water.  Therefore, it requires a lot of work, and it’s up to you and your team to do that work.  Success doesn’t just knock on people’s doors, it must be achieved.  An article from Entrepreneur can show you how.

While you may think achieving success is harder than it sounds, all it requires are a few basic qualities that you may or may not already possess.   As a result, they can determine whether or not success is in your future.

Breaking News: What CISPA Means for Your Business

Remember SOPA and PIPA?  Well, they were vetoed a few months back, so now they’re no longer a concern.  However, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), has passed in the House of Representatives and will be taken up by the Senate in May,” according to an article from Inc.  Why should this concern you?  Well, if passed, CISPA would allow businesses and the government to share information so they could collectively “combat, investigate, and prosecute cyber attacks; protect people from threats of death or injury; and protect minors from harm and protect national security.”

This sounds like a great idea, but here’s the problem:  businesses would become immune to Internet privacy laws.  This means that they can simply “hand over such data, effectively opening a backdoor through which the government can profile Internet users.”

Know Your BoD

Wait, what?  Your Board of Directors.  They are the governing body of any business, and if that business is yours, then it's up to you to determine who your board members will be, and what qualifications they'll need.  An article from Entrepreneur will help you do just that.

It's hard enough running a business, so why not invest in some help?  After all, you've got enough work to do running a business.  A board of directors won't necessarily do any work for you, but they'll work with you, which can certainly help, especially if you're looking to cement your business among your elite and established counterparts.

You can read more here in the article from Entrepreneur.

Walmart Collegiate Challenge Winners Announced


Contact: Dr. James R. Ogden
The Center for Retailing Solutions
Kutztown University

4/24/2012 Walmart Collegiate Challenge Winners Announced

Picture: Grand Prize Team (Penn State – Lehigh Valley): From left to right: Scott Hansman, Sandy DeLeon, Advisor, Dr. Denise T. Ogden (Advisor), Juland Kilpatrick, and Chelsey Kaiser

Kutztown, PA – April 24 - You’ve heard of The Apprentice television series. The Management of the Southeastern PA Walmart Region took that same concept and applied it to a collegiate competition in retailing. The competition involved area college students. The challenge was for the teams to create a plan that focused on sales, profits, and overall, customer experience, and was judged based on the written plan, a store visit, and the presentation of the plan. Students prepared the project during the fall and/or spring semesters and presented their plans at the competition held at Kutztown University on April 18. The competition was co-sponsored by The Center for Retail Solutions (CRS), a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring together retail academicians, students, and practitioners.

“The next generation of business leaders and retail leaders… are in this room,” exclaimed James R. (Doc) Ogden, President of CRS, noting the talent and determination of the participants. The judges of the competition were Tim Smyer, Walmart Market Manager, Jack Gottlieb, President and CEO of Total Solutions Group, Ashish Patel, Walmart Market HR Manager. According to Smyer, “We think presenting students with real business problems and having them develop solutions to those problems will help them bridge the gap between academics and the business world.”

Each winning team received a plaque. The grand prize winner was the Nittany Group from Penn State Lehigh Valley, who received a ‘traveling’ trophy to be housed at their campus until next year’s challenge. These winners also received a $250 Wal-Mart gift card and a personalized coaching and training session for the team from The Total Solutions, Group, Inc.

While the judges deliberated, Walmart representatives spoke to students about their presentations and about opportunities at Walmart. Presenters for this session were Gerrit Bandison, Walmart Regional HR Director, Steve Lauthers, and Britt Roberts-Faulk, both store managers.

The winning teams were as follows: 1st place and grand prize winners – Penn State Lehigh Valley:  Sandy DeLeon, Scott Hansman, Chelsey Kaiser, and Juland Kilpatrick

1st runner up – Kutztown University:  Steve Aadsen, Ashley Anderson, Nicole Hawxhurst, and Brett Kichline

2nd runner up – Penn State Lehigh Valley:  Ashley Meng and Rodney Santiago

3rd runner up – Penn State Berks:  Eric R. Augustine, Xin Yu Bi, Scott Caldwell, Chia Y. Wyu

Upon conclusion of the awards ceremony, it was announced that the Collegiate Challenge will run every year with a different sponsor.


Maximize Your Feedback

In order to distinguish your good ideas from your bad ones (face it- no one’s perfect), you have to be able to do so in a cost efficient manner. How? Well, according to an article from Inc., there are a few ways to capitalize on what your customers have to say.

Gathering customer opinions can be a helpful process for keeping your business afloat. By taking your customers’ feedback, you can use it to make the changes they’re asking for while keeping the things they like exactly how they are. After all, some customers are more than happy to tell you what you’re doing right and wrong, so you should be wise enough to listen.

You can read more here in the article from Inc.

Pricing Proficiently

When you come up with a new product, it’s imperative that you focus on its price.  After all, if it’s something that a lot of people want, then you want to make sure you maximize your profitability.  According to an article from Entrepreneur, there are a few essential things to remember when determining the price of any product.

Pricing shouldn’t be difficult, especially if you are familiar with the market your product is targeting.  However, it is important find a good balance between what you’re willing to ask for, and how much customers are willing to pay.  Also, remember that making a product that everyone will want doesn’t mean that everyone will buy one.

You can read more here in the article from Entrepreneur.

Service with a Smile, and Then Some

As with any business, especially in retailing, your service methods are an integral part of your business plan that can make or break the relationship between you and your customers.  Therefore, it's up to you to do everything in your power to ensure that they are getting what they want, and when they want it (within reason).  Perhaps this article from Inc. can serve you some guidance.
Without customers, you'd probably go out of business very quickly.  By treating your customers the right way, you can avoid such an inevitable fact.  Remember- first impressions are crucial in any business environment.

Reward Your Customers

With the economy in its current state, some companies are taking it upon themselves to create reward programs or bonus cards for their customers to keep them coming back.  For instance, some groceries stores offer exclusive deals to customers with their bonus cards.  Gas station bonus cards can offer a few cents off per gallon of gasoline.  Airlines have frequent flier miles.  The possibilities are endless.
Well, why not you?  Maybe you think you don’t need one, but when your customers hear or read the word ‘rewards,’ then they’re bound to give you the time of day.  However, if you’re going to create a rewards program, just make sure you do it correctly.  This article from Mashable can help you do so.

Facebook Friendly

Even though you may run a small business or store, there's no reason why you shouldn't try to reach out to a larger audience.  According to an article from Entrepreneur, one way to do that is with Facebook.  Even though it's been around since 2004, and while you may or may not have one, it's important to realize (and remember) that Facebook gives small business owners a chance to engage in customer service matters.  Whether you're sending or receiving a message, Facebook is an excellent platform on which you can do both.  With Facebook, you can easily get your customers involved, and give them a voice of their own.
It’s important in any business to be willing and able to communicate with your customers.  By giving them a method which they can easily use to communicate questions, comments, or concerns, you also give yourself a chance to establish credibility, and build and improve your reputation.
You can read more here in the article from Entrepreneur.

Lead the Way to Sales

Finding sales leads isn't always easy.  It can be a difficult process that amounts to satisfying results.  With so many ways to branch out to new customers and hold onto current ones, such as numerous social media outlets, it's still the results part that is often in question.  According to an article from Entrepreneur, there are a few steps you might not have thought of that you can take to increase your sales.  Some of the steps you may have already taken, while others may surprise you.
By following these steps, you allow and encourage current customers to stay, and give new customers opportunities to support your business.  As with anything you do in life, you never know what to experience when you try something new, and the business world is no different.  Therefore, it would be in your best interest to leave no stone unturned.  Your business will thank you.
You can read more here in the article from Entrepreneur.

Customer Insight

Customers know best when it comes to getting what they want out of a product.  What they may not know, however, is what products to invest in, especially when several different products all offer the same thing (ex. all cars get you from A to B).  This is where you come in.  According to an article from New Frontier, if you want your customers to choose your business over the competition, then you must utilize your customer's needs, and convey them in a way that will make your customers not only buy your product, but give them a reason to as well.
Therefore, you must market your products in a way that will make them appeal to unsuspecting customers.  By simply exploiting your customers' expectations of their desired products and services, they're getting what they want, and so are you.  It's a win-win.
You can read more here in the article from New Frontier.

Students Win Big at Walmart Challenge

Kutztown, Pa – The Center for Retailing Solutions (CRS) in conjunction with Walmart sponsored the 1st Walmart Collegiate Challenge.  Student teams from area colleges came to Kutztown on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 to deliver their presentations and find out if their team made it to the winner’s circle.  Dr. James Ogden, a business professor at Kutztown University and President of the CRS emceed the event.  Teams from Kutztown University, Penn State Berks, and Penn State Lehigh Valley competed.  Each school was allowed a maximum of three teams.  The challenge was for the teams to create a plan that focuses on sales, profits, and overall, customer experience, and was judged based on three categories:  the written plan, the store visit, and the presentation of the plan.
Each winning team received a plaque.  The grand prize winner was the Nittany Group from Penn State Lehigh Valley, who received a ‘traveling’ trophy to be housed at Penn State Lehigh Valley until next year’s challenge. These winners also received a $250 Walmart gift card and a personalized coaching and training session for the team from The Total Solutions, Group, Inc
The 1st runners up were from Kutztown (Team 3).  2nd runners up were from Penn State Lehigh Valley (Nittany Lion Consulting).  Finally the 3rd runners up were from Penn State Berks. 
“The next generation of business leaders and retail leaders… are in this room,” exclaimed Ogden, noting the talent and determination of the participants.  The judges were Tim Smyer, Walmart Market Manager, Jack Gottlieb, President and CEO of Total Solutions Group, Ashish Patel and Walmart Market HR Manager.  While the judges deliberated, Walmart representatives spoke to students about their presentations and about opportunities at Walmart.  Presenters for this session were Gerrit Bandison, Walmart Regional HR Director, Steve Lauthers, and Britt Roberts-Faulk, both store managers.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Regardless of what business you're in, there's one skill you need to thrive and survive:  sales skills.  Now, "sales skills" doesn't strictly apply to selling products and services.  It also applies to how you conduct yourself on a daily basis.  You must be able to 'sell' yourself, that is your skills and personality, to prospective employers, coworkers, and customers alike.  Otherwise, they won't know what you offer, what you're capable of, or what you can do for them.
If you can't sell yourself, then you probably can't sell anything else for that matter.  You must be able to pitch yourself before you attempt anything else.  If you can, several opportunities will arise, and all you have to do is be yourself. 
You can read more in the article from Inc. here.

Please Hold

Customer service is an essential component of any business, but it’s often one that isn’t taken very seriously, mostly because we just hope and/or assume that our business is perfect, and nothing can or will go wrong, right?  Wrong.  Sure, you may have a great product or service, but to achieve perfection would take an insurmountable miracle.  Therefore, customer service is something you want to develop and expand, if you haven’t already done so.  If a customer has a problem, question, or even a comment, why would you make them wait so long to hear it?

Putting someone on hold for more than say, one minute, is not only annoying and disrespectful, it also reflects on a company’s communication skills (or lack thereof).  On the other hand, talking to someone directly means you must put on your happy face, even if no one will see it.  You can’t appear miserable and expect to solve other people’s problems; in turn, it will only create more problems.  Also, you can receive feedback online, you just have to make sure that you attend to it weekly, daily, or even hourly.  Sure, you might run your own business, but in your own right, aren’t you a customer too?  You can’t forget about customer service.  After all, since you have customers, they didn't forget about you.

Here is an article from Lifehacker that features some helpful tips for all your customer service need.

Money Via Mobility

Since the UPC (Universal Product Code) first hit shelves in 1974, we have been looking to develop more and more ways to easily track finances, including sales and expenses alike.  An article from Retailing Today emphasizes that electronic payments are on their way to becoming a mainstay in today’s retail market.  With the new mobile payments found on most smartphones, it’s no surprise that electronic payments have become much more convenient than dollar bills and coins, and paper checks.  Nowadays, you can just swipe your card through the card reader on your vendor’s smartphone, such as Square, or PayPal Here.  You can take 2 pictures of a check (front and back) using check deposit apps, and the money gets directly deposited right into your bank account.  My, how far we’ve come!
Yes, cash and paper checks work just as well (though some purchases are far too large for you to be able to pay in cash), but with the ever-evolving demand for quicker ways to do anything and everything under the sun, and our constant need to go, methods such as these should not go ignored.  Plus, if your customer needs to just go, then helping them get on their way sooner can also help bolster your customer service, as well as your reputation.
You can read more here in the article from Retailing Today.

Psych Sales

Earning revenue can be tricky sometimes.  On the contrary, sometimes it can be easy if you trick your customers.  Don’t worry- you’re not ripping them off, rather, they’re getting a good deal, they just don’t know it yet.  An article from Inc. discusses a few simple yet ingenious steps to alter your customer’s thought process to becoming more willing to do business with you.  These steps can mean the difference between another person who’s “just browsing,” and one who’s ready to become a new,
reliable customer.

Giving customers what they unknowingly want can be a very successful venture (ex. Taco Bell’s Dorito Locos Taco).  It can take just a few aesthetic yet subtle changes to make a big difference, and your customers will thank you without even realizing it (which was your plan all along).

You can read the entire article from Inc. here.

Employee Engagement

In retailing, it’s essential to connect with your customers.  Social media seems to be the way of the future, but face to face interactions shouldn’t be left out in the cold.  However, though less common, connecting with your employees is just as important.  The problem is that your employees don’t always have access to their phones or computers; they could very well be doing their jobs.  Therefore, not everyone will be able to read or respond to a message you’ve sent them, so it’s up to you to find a way around that.

Studies have shown that employee interaction can prove beneficial to any business, and in retailing, that translates to increased sales.  You just have to figure out how to do it effectively, and when you do, your employees will thank you.

You can read more about it here in an article from Retailing Today.

Welcome to the New World of Retail Marketing – 6 Revolutions in Retail That Are Changing Business

And new insights about how businesses connect, communicate, and converse with their customers

Presented in partnership with Kutztown University’s Center for Retail Solutions

Change. It’s inevitable in the retail business. Social networks, apps, and mobile marketing are quickly changing the way customers interact with retail brands. How do businesses balance traditional marketing methods with new technology, new competitors, and changing customer expectations? Are these new technologies right for their customers and their brand? How do businesses choose which ones to use? Is there really a first-mover advantage or is it better to wait until trends and technology go mainstream?

Learn about the 6 revolutions that are taking place in the retail industry and how businesses can adapt their marketing strategy to include the right balance of traditional tactics and new technology. Hear about retail success stories (and some failures) along with insights that are changing the way businesses market in today’s dynamic environment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
6:30 PM
Cedar Crest College, Allentown, in the Tomkins College Center - 1867 Room on Level 3

Cost: Greater L.V. Ad Club Members - FREE,
Non-members $10.00
Students - FREE with student ID
About our speaker…
Kim Richmond is a marketer, thought leader, author, speaker, and professor in the marketing arena. She is currently a Principal at Richmond Marketing + Communications, the marketing consultancy she founded.

She is a senior marketing executive with over 25 years of marketing and branding experience and has held senior marketing positions at major companies, including FAO Schwarz, Sears, Zany Brainy, The Right Start, Charming Shoppes and Kraft Foods.

Ms. Richmond is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University. She is the Chair of the Department of Marketing Advisory Board and a member of the Thought Leaders Panel for the Center for Consumer Research at Saint Joseph’s University. 

Big box stores are applying technology to help provide customer with immediate information for product searches

Bar codes are being added to certain products that give consumers on-the-spot access to product reviews, rating and even how to guides and videos.

For example, plants sold at Home Depot and Lowes contain these “quick response” or QR codes. Customers with smarphone scanners can check out the growing conditions of the plant, assisting them with the search process. According to Tom Sweeney, Home Depot’s director of online strategy, the bar code pilots further the “anytime, anywhere” marketing strategy. The QR codes will be placed on items that lend themselves to “how to” information. Home depot is also experimenting with newspaper circulars carry QR codes that link to a video about their new Martha Stewart Living Kitchens.

More than 25 million people in the U.S. already have the ability to scan with their smartphones. Last year mobile bar-code scanning increased 1,600 percent.

[Source: Olson, E. (2011). “The Bar Code That Tells You How Much Water, Light and Fertilizer,” (May 5), The New York Times,]

The new focus of top fashion school is zero-waste design

This type of design strives to create clothing patterns that leave no fabric scraps on the cutting room floor, eliminating millions of tons of garbage. The challenge is to create zero waste clothing without compromising style. According to apparel industry professionals, about 15 to 20 percent of the fabric used to produce clothing winds up in the nation’s landfills because it’s cheaper to dump the scraps than to recycle them. Parsons the New School for Design, famous for the “Project Runway” reality show, is offering the world’s first course in zero waste. There will be an exhibition of zero-waste fashions in New Zealand in Spring 2012 and in New York in Fall 2012. In March 2012 the exhibition, “No Waste/Zero Waste” will open at the Averill and Bernard Leviton A+ D Gallery in Chicago (Columbia College).

The class will also teach student to make jeans more sustainable in their post-retail life. Students will rethink how jeans are used and eventually disposed of. New products may be created from the jeans to prolong life of the fabric. Campaigns may be developed to educate people of the importance of zero waste.[Source: Rosenbloom, S. (2010). “Fashion tries on zero waste design,” (Aug. 13), New York Times,]

In order to tap into emerging consumer markets, Western marketers must expand internationally

Questions marketers must consider are as follows:

Should companies try to localize their brands in consumers’ minds?


Should brands maintain their Western messaging?

Even the biggest retailer in the world has struggled with these questions. Walmart’s challenge is to meet local needs and tastes while keeping costs down. After a few missteps, catering to regional differences has now become Walmart’s strength. What Walmart discovered is that even their most successful ideas don’t always translate in an international context. For example in Sao Paulo, Brazil, big stores are not popular because there is too much traffic, making it difficult to navigate to a parking lot.

Walmart has been trying to meet the need of poorer consumers in Brazil. The company funded a community center which includes a gynecologist’s office, an Internet cafĂ© and a bank offering microloans. The center offers free computer classes for teenagers as well. These actions have helped improve Walmart’s reputation in the community.

According to Walmart’s 2010 annual report, Walmart International, their fast growing division, surpassed $100 billion in net sales for the year, representing 24.7% of the company’s total sales. There are 4,263 stores and 660,000 workers in 15 countries outside the United States, including Japan, India, Brazil, UK, Mexico and Canada. [Source: Bustillo, Miguel, “After early errors, Walmart thinks locally to act globally,” Wall Street Journal, Aug 14, 1009, pp. A1, A10.] The idea that a company adapts to the local market is called glocalization.

Think Pink...

As millions of people are making decisions to remodel their bathroom, there are many people who are consciously deciding not to. These people have pink bathrooms. In fact there is a campaign called “Save the Pink Bathrooms” and website dedicated to influencing this decision. According to the website, “This little website grew out of mid-century home lovers’ concern that pink bathrooms were being ripped out of post-war American homes way too hastily. …I believe that to know pink bathrooms is to love them. Pink bathrooms are a wonderful part of our home design heritage. And, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that they are poised for a comeback — starting here, starting now.” (

Pink bathrooms were common in homes built in the 1950s, by the 1970s the Pepto-Bismol pink color was out and more muted tones in. The efforts of Save the Pink Bathroom seem to be working. Within the last five years, pink has come back into vogue and more people are embracing their vintage pink bathrooms rather replacing them. Interior designers are even recommending rosy hues for new or renovated bathrooms and manufacturers of bathroom tiles and fixtures have been introducing more pink options. Pantone, the color authority even declared that hot pink will be the “it” color of 2011.

[Source: Murphy, Kate (2010), “Bathrooms, Pretty in Pink Again,” Dec 29, New York Times,]

Lifestyle marketing seems to be a hot topic in the world of marketing

Lifestyle marketing is having marketing communications centered on consumer’s activities, interests and opinions (AIOs). These communications have promotional appeals centered on values and “way of life” consumers. Harley-Davidson is a strong example of a brand that was built on lifestyle marketing. Companies try to connect with consumers by developing effective marketing strategies that fit their way of living. The benefits are customer’s who are more likely to be enthusiastic about the company’s products. This provides the company a competitive advantage.

Products that improve one’s self-concept are also big business. For example, according to a study form the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), plastic surgery procedures went up 9% in 2010 compared to 2009. There were about 9.5 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed in the U.S. during 2010. During that time, Americans spent almost $10.7 billion on cosmetic procedures.

The top five surgical procedures were:

1. Breast augmentation: 318,123
2. Liposuction: 289,016
3. Eyelid surgery: 152,123
4. Abdominoplasty (tummy tucks): 144,929
5. Breast reduction: 138,152

The report states that women had nearly 8.6 million cosmetic procedures (92% of the total). Men had more than 750,000 cosmetic procedures performed (8% of total).

The top five surgical procedures for men were:

1. Liposuction
2. Rhinoplasty (nose surgery)
3. Eyelid surgery
4. Breast reduction
5. Cosmetic ear surgery

According to Felmont Eaves III, MD, president of the ASAPS, growth in demand is likely to increase as we come out of the recession and baby boomers and their children are turning more to plastic surgery.

[Source: Hendrick, Bill (2011). “Cosmetic Surgery on the Rise in the U.S.” WebMD website obtained at].

Deal of the Day

In the article, 10 Things Daily Deal Sites Won’t Say, Kelli Grant exposes some of the practices that can have an effect on postconsumption behavior:

1. "50% off? Not really." - People may not get the steep discounts they expected once they factor in taxes, tip and any un-covered portion of the bill. If enough people don’t sign up for the offer, the offer is gone. There is also evidence of price manipulation , like paying $10 for a $20 FTD voucher before Valentine’s Day, when the prices at the special voucher-redemention page was $5 to $10 more expensive than what other visitors to the site saw (Groupon says this was a mistake and gave customer refunds).

2. "Good luck cashing in." – When consumers wait to cash in their vouchers, the item they want may no longer be available. This results in an unhappy customer experience. Sometimes Groupon will sell more vouchers than a store can handle and the retailer will have to turn them away.

3. "We're above the law." – Is the deal a coupon, voucher or gift card? It’s unclear and that leaves the legal status of the transaction unclear as well. For example, if it is a gift card, federal law requires that it can’t expire for at least five years. But if it’s a voucher, the same rules don’t apply. There are two class-action lawsuits against Groupon that allege the company’s policies don’t comply with federal and state gift card laws. When customers can’t cash in a voucher, they may defect, complain or switch users.

4. "We'll be out of business by Christmas." - Competition in the group buying sites has intensified and there are now over 600 sites and counting. Many sites don’t survive. When this happens, it’s up to the business to honor the voucher.

5. "You won't use this coupon." - Businesses say about 40% of vouchers purchased don't get redeemed. Buyer’s remorse is a key factor in the failure to redeem coupons. Sometimes it’s just a bad gift idea. Other times people just forget.

6. "The 'deals' are dwindling." - As more group deal companies get started and the daily deal model gets stale for business providing deals, consumers will see more limits on the number of vouchers that can be purchased. Businesses will start to offer vouchers to pull in business during slow times, further limiting customer access.

7. "You're a cheapskate..." - The price-sensitive consumer is more likely to buy a one-day trial. They are more difficult to deal with because they want special deals and don’t want to play by the rules. The customers are often the complainers. The price-sensitive customer is more likely to defect, with retention rates at 12%.

8. "... but you're still overspending." – The deals on sites like Groupon seem irresistible. Consequently many people end up with purchases made on impulse that they don’t need. Single deals with an expiration date force customers to assess whether they want to buy and for some the deal seems too good to resist.

9. "Limited-time offer? Not really." – Consumers can find similar discounts as those found on group discount sites if they really search for them.

10. "We can't vouch for that local shop." – Sometimes unscrupulous retailers will offer vouchers through Groupon that take advantage of the customer. According to Groupon they put business through a thorough check and turn about seven for every one accepted. Nevertheless, a bad experience can harm the relationship and cause the customer to complain or defect.


Can your cellphones prevent you from learning?

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that when rats have a new experience their brains show new patterns of activity. In order to create a persistent memory of experience, the rats have to take a break from their exploration.

 According to Loren Frank, assistant professor at the university, the research may apply to humans. “Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” When the brain is constantly stimulated, you prevent this learning process. University of Michigan researchers also discovered that people learned better after a nature walk in comparison to an urban setting with many distractions. Scientists believe that even though people feel entertained while checking out an app or video clip on their digital device, this may cause fatigue. Playing games or constantly checking e-mails can take a mental toll. The stress of staying in contact with people can interfere with learning. (Source: Richtel, Matt (2010).

“Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime,” 8/24, New York Times,