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].