Recently I have been following the MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog (, and have encountered a post that is very relevant to what we have been learning about Branding Strategies and Supply Chain Management.

The post talks about how private label store brands are starting to employ quality graphics and simple brand communication in their packagings in order to distinguish themselves from other products as well as to attract more customers, just as manufacturers do from each other. The post then talks about a recent article in Greener Package titled “Safeway brings a custom package shape to private label—with cost savings” which suggests how store brands packaging could drive corporate initiatives –

“Always a ground-breaker, California grocer Safeway Foods has debuted a new 48 oz. package structure for its signature ice cream brands. The new poly-coated paperboard containers reduce transportation, inventory, and warehouse costs because of their slimmer, tapered design. Upshot: It’s cheaper to ship Safeway’s ice cream brands to its distribution centers and stores.”

According to the blog post, there are several benefits for retailers to have their own private label brands along with increasingly sophisticated packagings:

  • A marketing tool
  • Drive corporate initiatives
  • Could possibly reduce transportation, inventory, and warehouse costs if carefully designed
  • Cutting in-bound transportation costs

However, there is undoubtedly a down side for having retailers to design unique and attractive packagings for their own products. I believe that the biggest disadvantage is that they would need to hire engineers as well as graphic designers to help design the new packagings, which may incur significant costs.

Posted by: | 17th Mar, 2011

Brand Elements

The Logo Quiz

Do you recognise the following logos?

I’m sure it was an easy job for you guys to identify the companies that these logos represent. (In case my assumption was wrong, answers are posted at the end of this post.) Logos are visual branding elements that stand for corporate names or trademarks, and it is one of the most important brand elements that distinct one firm from another. A successful logo provides a great way to make a company recognisable, which in turns increases profit by facilitating consumers’ purchasing. Therefore it is important to find a logo that is simple and easier to recognise.

A successful slogan is as important. Some examples would be Nike’s “Just do It”, KFC’s “finger lickin’ good, and McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”. Slogans are short phrases used to describe the brand or persuade consumers about some characteristics of the brand. What makes a memorable and representable slogan?

1- They are Catchy and Recognisable: A successful advertising slogan is always memorable and always seems to have a way of sticking in your head.

2- Brandname Recall: It is so important that the slogan helps consumers to remember the brand name, so it is useful to incorporate the company’s name into the slogan.

3- Focus on Benefits over Features: It is often beneficial to make a clear statement to the customer that a company’s product will be made better than competitors’ products out there.

Successful brand elements will undoubtedly help companies in building their brands.

[Answers to the logo quiz: Starbucks, Nike, Adidas, Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Cathay Pacific Airways]

Zune Microsoft

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First released in November 2006, the Zune was Microsoft’s “me too” answer to Apple’s MP3 player, iPod. While it had some nifty product features that the iPod lacked e.g. sharing music from player to player, the Zune, despite an expensive marketing effort by Microsoft (viral marketing, campaigns, creating a Millennial-friendly website), never really caught on. During its launch week, the original Zune was the second-most-sold portable media device with a 9% unit share in the United States, which was still way behind the market-leading iPod’s 63%.

Why did it fail? Perhaps the most important factor was that the Zune could not be used with Apple’s iTunes program, which was a dominant product in its market. For a new innovation to quickly diffuse, it must be compatible with people’s past behaviours and needs. The Zune has failed to do this.

Kitchen Entrees Colgate

Brand extension is the use of the same brand name for new products being introduced to the same or new markets, and can be highly successful. The new extension would likely benefit from the existing brand name that is already well established. Think Apple’s iPhone. However, it can also fail miserably. Think Colgate’s Kitchen Entrees.

In 1982, Colgate, the toothpaste company, launched a line of frozen dinner. There was simply no connection between branding toothpaste and branding frozen dinner. The product was a complete bust, and was pulled from the shelves shortly after. Such product would not only affect a company’s profit, but would create the possibility of brand dilution. It is always wise for companies to carry out market tests to test the reactions of consumers before launching a new product.

Posted by: | 10th Mar, 2011


The Japanese are well known for their creativeness and their inventiveness, and I’m going to show you some of their bizarre inventions called Chindogu. Chindogu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem.


The biggest problem facing anyone who sleeps on the subway is, of course, missing his/her stop. Taking this into consideration, someone has invented this device that has a message board attached in order to inform other passengers to wake you up at your stop. Other than that, you could also relax your head while sleeping.

Butter Stick

The use of this invention is pretty self-explanatory. I personally think this is a very practical invention.

Napkins for Anytime Purpose

This will certainly help when you have a cold… only if you don’t mind looking a little bit stupid…

Hair Protection

This invention will protect your hair from falling into the food when eating. Is this really necessary though?

Umbrella Tube

With this umbrella, you will never have to worry about getting wet when going out in a heavy rainy day! I just wonder how portable this umbrella would be…

Unfortunately, these inventions have been considered as useless due to their poor actual functionality and usability, as well as the social embarrassment that result from the utilisation of these devices. However, if these creative and innovative ideas were to be put through a proper product development process encompassing concept testing, product development, market testing etc., I am sure that at least one of these Chindogus will be successful.

Posted by: | 24th Feb, 2011

Kinect Xbox 360

A friend of mine has recently bought the new Xbox 360 game – Kinect Adventures. In order to play this game, a “Kinect” would need to be added to the original Xbox 360, which is a “controller-free gaming and entertainment experience” by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, it enables players to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need of using a game controller.

Kinect is undoubtedly an innovation in the game industry, but how successful has this innovation been? According to a poll done by, Kinect is the “second in popularity only to ipad” in the past holiday season. It was only launched in North America for no more than 4 months, what factors have caused this innovation to diffuse into the market in such a short period of time?

First of all, it has a relative advantage compared to other similar products. Kinect, in fact, could be considered as a superior substitute for the Wii. Although Wii is able to integrate body movements into the gameplay using game controllers, Kinect is a even bigger step forward that requires no game controllers at all. Secondly, the idea of using body movements to control the games is well ingrained in the health-oriented culture nowadays – playing Kinect games is actually quite an intense workout! Last but not least, the Kinect games have a relatively high trialability – the friend of mine who has recently bought the Kinect Adventures has actually tried it out for a several times in BestBuy before actually purchasing it!

This is a demonstration of how you should play a Kinect game 😛

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Posted by: | 10th Feb, 2011

Dine Out Vancouver 2011

On the last day of this year’s Dine Out Vancouver, I went to have dinner at a restaurant in downtown with a few friends of mine.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Dine Out Vancouver is a yearly promotional period  in Vancouver featuring more than 200 restaurants throughout the city to serve a 3-course dinner to customers at prices that are much less than the original prices – it provides food lovers a chance to enjoy a good quality meal for prices of either $18, $28, or $38, which are very good deals. This year is already its 9th year, proving its success over the last few years.

Even though restaurants would be charging a much less price than normal, increasing business is in fact one of the major benefits for the participation in this event. New customers would be attracted and would be more willing to try out new restaurants. If they are satisfied with the service and the food quality, the restaurants might be able to turn them into regular customers, which would greatly benefit them in the long term. Also, participating restaurants would receive marketing and PR from the Dine Out Vancouver management team that allows them to carry out marketing campaign on radio, television, internet etc., which increases the visibility and popularity of the restaurants in turns.

Marketing is all about entailing an exchange that benefits both the seller and the buyer and Dine Out Vancouver has successfully helped achieve this – restaurants are better off by being profitable in the long run, and consumers are better off by having meals of great value. I am really looking forward to next year’s Dine Out!!

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“We Do Chicken Right” is a famous slogan of the KFC  Corporation to promote their fried chicken. If English is your first language, perhaps it would be easy for you to interpret that the slogan has a meaning of  “we cook chicken the right way”, or “we make chicken tastes good.” This slogan has been used for KFC in all around the world, yet it has not been translated – or at least, translated correctly – in some of the countries.

I can recall that this slogan has been used for a period of time in Hong Kong when I was in primary school, but was soon replaced by another slogan. The reason behind this was pretty obvious – the phrase “We Do Chicken Right” could mean something very inappropriate and wrong if translated directing into Chinese. The Chinese word for “chicken” is a slang in Cantonese that represents “prostitute”. The word “do” could mean “become” or “make love to” if translated into Cantonese. Therefore, if this slogan is to be translated directing into Cantonese, it could mean “it is right being a prostitute,” or “we make love to prostitutes correctly”, which are complete misinterpretations of its original meaning. Other than promoting their fried chickens, KFC has made a huge joke of itself through the use of this slogan.

It is very true that marketers have to think about their macroenvironment when they make decisions. By using the same slogan for marketing all over the world, KFC has not taken cultural factors into consideration. They must understand that different cultures have different understandings towards the same thing, and the differences in languages could greatly affect consumers’ interpretations of any advertisement. As the society is becoming more diverse than ever, marketers should also take cultural factors into consideration even when marketing in one country.

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So yesterday I went to the bookstore to pick up the book “Buyology: Truths and Lies About Why We Buy” after Elaine (our Marketing prof) has recommended it to us.

The book attempts to answer questions such as How much do we know about why we buy? What truly influences our decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? An eye-grabbing advertisement, a catchy slogan, an infectious jingle? Or do our buying decisions take place below the surface, so deep within our subconscious minds, we’re barely aware of them?

By gauging neurotransmitters in the brain of more than 2000 volunteers from around the globe, scientists rated the effectiveness of certain types of sensory branding.  The volunteers were shown ads, logos, commercials, and products through the course of the study and the scientists measured their responses to them.

One finding in the book that shocked me the most was that health warnings on cigarette boxes seemed to have no effect on smokers – in fact, they have stimulated an area of the smokers’ brains that is known as “the craving spot.” In other words, cigarette warning labels not only failed to reduce the number of smokers, but it appeared they actually encouraged more smokers to smoke.

After reading this section of the book, I tried linking it to the concepts that we learned in class. We know that marketing mix, psychological factors, social factors, and situation factors are all affecting why consumers choose to buy something. Now, I also learn that biological factors affect consumer behaviour as well. The smallest and the most unrelated thing that you perceive could stimulate certain parts of your brain unconsciously, triggering a change in your purchasing pattern.

This book will really change the way I see things. I just can’t wait to finish it!

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Posted by: | 19th Jan, 2011

Buy Nothing for £6!

You can now buy nothing for £6! Not making any sense? Well for about £6 plus shipping from the UK, you can now buy nothing in a box. What would it look like?

To gain a better understanding of the logic behind this product, let’s look at what the product page says –

“What better present for the person who has everything than a poignant reminder that they want for nothing? This lovingly crafted vial of emptiness is filled to the brim with unfettered nothingness. Free from the burden of possessions, the weight of responsibility.”

This product has received an average customer rating of nearly 5 stars (out of 5 stars) on I Want One of Those. What makes “nothing” so popular?!

In value-based marketing, consumers make explicit and/or implicit trade-offs between the perceived benefits of a product and its cost. Therefore, for “nothing” to be sold at a cost of £6, consumers must perceive that it possesses the same level of benefit. Clearly, there is no way that a box containing literally nothing would be worth £6; the company would have to increase its perceived value through marketing.

The marketing of “nothing” has been successful. It has done well in the Four Ps, especially Price and Promotion.

£6 is relatively cheap and is affordable by most people. This price is also about right for a gift for friends. Since there is a relatively big chance for this product to be perceived as an absurd idea to purchase for consumers, it is best for the company to set it as a price that most people can afford.

Promotion wise, the company has communicated the idea of this product very well. It has persuaded people that it is good to learn to have nothing when you already have everything.

Life is best kept simple!

Posted by: | 11th Jan, 2011

Hello world!

I am a 2nd year Commerce student at UBC. This blog is opened for the Marketing course that I am currently taking. Enjoy!


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