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    It has been 3 months since our first COMM 296 lecture. During the 3 months, I learned a lot from this interactive and interesting course. COMM 296 did help me shape my thinking in a number of ways:

    1. Think about the whole picture. During the course, we learned a couple of ways to see the whole picture of the market environment: Intermediary environment analysis, CDSTEP framework, market research. Business-wise or nonbusiness-wise, we should always use these “magnifiers” to gain insight into the general environment before making any decisions.

    2. Always have a long-term orientation. I learn from COMM 296 that a good marketing strategy always plans for the future. Therefore, it is crucial to engage in relationship marketing (maintain good relationship with consumers) and prepare for changes in the future (such as repositioning). While making decisions (not only marketing decisions), we should always consider the impact of the decision in the long run.

    3. Be creative and practical. While our team was doing our marketing assignment, we came up with many creative ideas from the perspective of Starbucks. We examined these ideas carefully and many of which are dropped because it is difficult for consumers to accept such ideas. In reality, creativity and feasibility should be equally important. A fancy idea would be useless if it is never going to work out.

    Comm 296 is not an easy course, for sure. We have to learn to use twitter in class, update blogs regularly, take part in various marketing studies. Our team also went through stages where we lack understanding of each other but eventually we achieved our goals by working cohesively with each other. On the very last day of presentation, when we sent E-mails to each other saying how we enjoy being a part of this team, I know all efforts are worthwhile. Yes, COMM 296, where amazing happens.

    Last year around this time, there were two serious crises: Toyota’s recall and Tiger Woods’ infidelity. Both crises shocked the world, and both failed to manage crisis in terms of public relations. In my opinion, however, marketers could learn how to improve public relations from Toyota and Tiger’s mistakes.

    1. Respond quickly.

    It takes a week for Tiger Woods to respond to his affair (well,we should take into account the fact that he was in the hospital after the crash). The more time people had tp wait, the more suspicious they would be.In their recall crisis,  Toyota failed to respond immediately too. A late response usually means that the firm should make greater effort to deal with more difficult issues later on.

    2. Clarity matters

    At first, Woods refused  to clarify the incident by stressing the importance of privacy:” But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.” Yes, privacy should be protected, but Woods also should have given an open, candid explanation of what’s going on.

    3. Meet the public’s expectations

    Toyota’s first press conference after the recall is criticized for not meeting people’s expectations: There is no detailed, factual information, no presence of the president, and no ” deep bow” as Japanese enterprises ususally do in making apologies. Therefore, customers’ anxiety was not relieved.

    In a word, public relation is important because when a crisis occurs, consumers not only focus on the crisis itself but also pay attention to how the firm deals with the crisis. Sometimes, it is easier to forgive the firm for doing something wrong than dealing with their problems inappropriately.

    In 2010, the world cup was hosted in South Africa. It was the first world cup that took place in the Africa continent. Yes, south africans are excited when they knew their country would be the host for 2010 world cup. But how did the world cup turn out? Nay…Not so great for Africans, since only 2 % of tickets are bought by Africans.

    Well, the low sales were not caused by African people’s lack of passions for football. Most of African people loved that sport. Also, the income was not the big issue here because South Africa’s GDP per capita is greater than $ 10,000. The world cup ticket is definitely affordable.

    So, who is to be blamed for this situation?  For me, the answer seems to be the inefficient distribution channel for tickets.

    There are two ways of getting tickets in general: 1. You have to register in or 2. you can apply for a ticket over the counter First National Bank branches. It appeared to be a great way to sell tickets since an internet channel could enable people all over the world to purchase tickets.

    Yes, all over the world, except Africa.

    (This aint right!)

    The two distribution channels are insufficient in Africa because most countries in Africa are limited in Internet access. Also, bank accounts are not popular in Africa. The truth is that the old way to distribute tickets is most sufficient for African people.

    Although our textbook is a huge fan of Internet channel, we need to take into account the accessbility before we make the decision!

    Predatory pricing is considered to be one of the most horrible weapon in pricing strategy. Once a firm uses this pricing strategy, its competitors’ sales are expected to stagnate. Meanwhile, the firm’s own profitability might also suffer if the low price can not even cover the manufacturing cost. Although predatory pricing usually leads to a lose-lose situation, it is always adopted by existing  large companies in a certain industry. In their perspective, a temporary loss is worthwhile so long as new entrants are kept out the market.

    Which brand of microwave oven do you use? If you ask this question in China, most of people will refer to Galanz. For me, this is the only type of microwave oven in my retrieval set. Galanz is one of the first companies to produce microwave oven in China, and it is notorious for adopting predatory pricing strategy each time a new company is ready to enter the microwave oven market. By doing so, it successfully ruled out almost every single competitors in the industry, and enhanced its leader position.

    But years later, Galanz decided to enter the air conditioner market. Although the predatory pricing strategy was powerful when Galanz was the leader in the industry, would it still be powerful when Galanz is the entrant into a new market?

    From my observation, the answer is clearly no. Ever since it entered the air conditioner market, Galanz continued to use aggressive predatory pricing. A famous example is ” if you buy an air conditioner for 2680 Yuan, you can get a 2880 yuan watch for free”. Even though this promotion is judged to be legal, it did not work out very well. The main reason is that all existing companies are using consumer-oriented pricing, and focused on quality.

    Therefore, my conclusion is simple: you may have an edge by using predatory pricing if you are the leader in this industry. For an entrant, however, using predatory pricing is suicidal!

    The strategy of co-branding is widely used in the business world. As a consumer, I am always interested in observing how the “chemistry” between two brands turn out. I have to admit that if the “chemistry” really works out, both firms benefit greatly from this “marriage”.

    First of all, co-branding helps provide better value for consumers, therefore increases consumer satisfaction.  Who would believe that shoes and MP3 will become complement? But that’s the way Nike + iPod works! Traditionally, shoes are for running and MP3 players are used to play music. While maintaining these basic functions, Nike + Ipod sports kit measures distance of running and gives runners a sense of achievement when they finally see the real numbers. As a result, consumers have a great benefit and will be more loyal and satisfied.

    Also, co-branding helps one firm to establish itself among specific segments. For example, when Crocs chose to target their children consumer segements, the firm decided to co-brand with Disney. In this way, Crocs enhanced its brand image and therefore was more accepted by children consumers.

    Lastly, co-branding could be designed to influence consumers’ attitude. In 1984, Nike announced that it would co-brand with Michael Jordan, which marked the birth of Air Jordan. Two decades later, it proves that this co-branding strategy turns out to be a huge success. In this way, Nike influenced consumer’s affective attitude and took advantage of Michael Jordan’s stardom.

    To conclude, I would say that co-branding is not without risk. One potential disadvantage resulting from co-branding would be the brand dilution. Therefore, firms should always keep an eye on its brand value while maintaining trust with their co-branding partners. A successful co-branding definitely makes amazing happen!

    When I decide to write something about product life cycle, I began to ask myself: what kind of product has a short life cycle? Then it suddenly occurs to me that these little black pagers were once very popular when I was a child, but now they almost vanish from the mainstream market.

    The introduction stage of pagers occurred in 1950s, and the earliest innovators are hospitals which use pagers as a means to sending messages to nurses. At that time, pagers are not available for the general public.

    In 1980s, the pager industry enters the growth stage. During that period, there were 3.2 millions pager users all over the world, yet most of them are medical users. The pagers gained popularity mainly because of their portability and timeliness (when delivering messages.)

    The early 1990s is considered as the maturity stage of pagers. By 1994, there are 64 million pager users all over the world, which is 20 times than ten years ago. On one hand, the competition in pager industry became intense. Main brands such as Motorolla and Apollo competed against each other to gain greater market shares. On the other hand, using pagers became a fashion. I can still recall how jealous I was when I heard the beep from my friends’ pagers.

    In late 1990s, however, the advent of mobile phones totally ruined the pagers industry. When direct talk was available, people soon stopped using pagers. The decline stage did not stay long until pagers exit the mainstream market. However, one of the most famous company in pager industry, Motorolla, successfully established itself in the cell phone industry. I think it clearly shows how important it is to be innovative and reposition yourself.

    It is a little bit sad that the tween generation probably never heard of pagers. But the beeper sound was all over here in the time when I grew up. It makes me feel so old….

    Space tourism might be one of the industries that target at smallest segments of consumers. Up to date, only 7 tourists all over the world have been to the space. Apparently, space tourism companies use a highly concentrated segmentation strategy. In my opinion, this concentrated strategy is reasonable since the segement consumers are very profitable and attractive despise the fact that there are not many of them.

    Here are some of the segmentation variables for space travellers that I come up with.

    Geographic segmentation: Mainly North America.

    Demographic segmentation: Extremely high income, most male

    Psychographic segmentation: risk-loving people (self image) with adventrous life style

    Benefit segmentation: People who seek the benefit of exploring the nature and looking for thrills in their lives.

    Although space tourism is traditionally characterized as high-end and not reachable for ordinary people, space trip providers now began to reposition themselves recently. Several year ago, it might take travellers millions of dollars to travel in space, but now some companies offer a low price of $100,000(still seems really expensive to me). I think the reason for repositioning is to gain more popularity and reach out to a wider base of customers.

    3 years ago, when I got my Macbook air, I can’t describe how excited I was! It looks really cool, and the laptop is so thin that I can put it in the envelope. My expectations of the new laptop was extremely high, and I was really satsified since it is really eye-catching—-my friends kept telling me how they like my laptop.

    When I started using Macbook Air, however, I encoutered lots of problems.First, it took me weeks to figure out how to type Chinese Characters in Mac. Then, I realized that there are imcompatibilities between Apple Operating System and Microsoft Office (such as PPT) . So I purchased iWork, the “Apple version of Office”, but the problem was still not thoroughly resolved.  It seems to me that Apple did not give clear instructions in terms of how to use their OS system.Since then I questioned why I bought the laptop, but I kept telling myself maybe it was just because I set the expectations too high. And I tried to reduce my buyer’s remorse by seeking information from my roommate at that time, who was a complete Mac-lover.

    But my battle against laptop was not over yet. Eight months ago, my recharger fell apart. And I got shocked when I tried to recharge the Mac (First time in my life). Soon after I spent 100 bucks and bought a new recharger, my Apple system stopped working. Then I switched to Windows system using Bootcamp, until a month ago, the Windows system was down too. My laptop completely broke down!

    Then I swore that I will never ever purchase a Mac in my life. And  I could not resist to tell my friends how bad my experience with Mac was. Oops, I probably spread negative word of mouth for your product, Apple!

    (Too bad I can’t type these myself since my MAC broke down)

    There are hundreds of reasons that can explain Coca Cola is such a successful product: unique taste, brand image, commercials  that  are starred by celebrities…Apparently, packaging should be added on this list since it did help Coca Cola to attract millions of consumers.

    Packaging is an important situational factor which can influence buyer’s decision. If a product stands out in packaging, consumers will easily notice the product while shoppinf, and then they are more likely to buy products with attractive packaging. For example, people might buy a bottle of coca cola just because of its intriguing Christmas packaging. Therefore, companies constantly look for ways to design their packages to be more appealing.

    In my opinion, Coca Cola succeeded in packaging by:

    1. Paying attention to family and cultural values.

    Coca Cola paid special attention to cultural and family values, especailly those that are related to holidays. No matter on Christmas or Chinese New Year, Coca Cola could always come up with special design in packaging.


    2. Boosting National Pride

    Coca cola always tried to evoke our patriotic feelings. Just take a look at these “Congratulation Gold Coca Cola”  cans which are introduced to the market when Canada won the Olympic Hockey Final last year.

    3. Sticking with fashion

    Coca Cola also made effort to design fashionable packaging for its products. For example, many James Bonds fans rushed to stores to get these limited 007 bottles.

          As  the  Academy Award is coming soon, Fox Searchlight recently announced that it will release Screen Actors Guild screeners on Itunes Stores. They will give a code to 100,000 SAG members, which allow these members to download the HD version of 127 hours, Convictions, and Black Swan from Itune Stores. By doing so, the company hopes that these films (produced by Fox Searchlight) might have an edge in the upcoming  SAG Award (an important indicator of Oscar).   (Source:

         I think this is a smart move from marketing’s perspective. It shows that Fox Searchlight considers about the macroenvironmental factors in the movie industry. First, the company paid special attention to the increasing number of young members in SAG member’s demographics. Downloading movies from Itunes Store is largely appreciated by these young members. Also, the popularity of Itunes Store has become a major social trend.This tactic caught up the trend by partnering with Itunes Store. Finally, this is a good example of how company could use technology (online downloading tools) to market more efficiently.


    Although it is unknown whether this tactic will be successful, Columbia, Sony, and Weinstein, you better watch out!!

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