Posted by Abe Sauer on May 20, 2013 10:54 AM
The "Live Free" logo on the back of a jacket or the big, red "自由" ("Freedom") on the sleeve of Harley-Davidson riders in China may seem a wild bit of irony. To those who buy into China as the brutal 1984-like state dry of any freedom, it may seem like a bold, almost rebellious political statement but to the riders displaying them, it's neither.
The idea of freedom through consumption is exploding in China. More and more brands—both foreign and domestic—are using the message every day. While the concept of consumer choices and products offering "freedom" is global, the idea of "freedom" in China is very unique.
A recent Reuters photo essay showed the world what a China Harley-Davidson rally is like. There were more than a few cultural differences. While the Sturgis Rally is held in the dusty backwater of South Dakota, China's recent Harley rally was at a private lake resort just outside of Shanghai. China's Harley enthusiasts tend to be CEOs or the very wealthy, but Harley-Davidson ownership is booming in China for some of the same reasons as in the west. "For me [Harley] represents freedom, total freedom,” a rider named Phillip Chu told Reuters.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 20, 2013 09:17 AM
Yahoo agrees to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion, but questions already arise about how new native ads will affect cachet.
Buick Motor Co. celebrates 110 years.
P&G launches major review of its advertising ROI.
Actavis acquires Warner Chilcott in $5 billion pharma deal.
Billabong sees brand value drop after failed buyout attempts.
Campbell Soup meets high earnings hopes.
Chrysler quality now rivals Toyota, exec claims.
DirecTV considers bid for Hulu.
Domino's debuts DVD that smells like pizza.
GM accelerates financial and operational streamlining, CFO says.
Google may allow branded apps for Glass.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 17, 2013 07:30 PM
Ford is facing a lawsuit that threatens to tarnish the carefully nurtured image of its EcoBoost engines as a way to get big improvements in fuel efficiency without giving up driving performance.
Some Ford owners in Ohio alleged in a suit filed in federal court in Columbus that Ford vehicles containing the 3.5-liter, V6 EcoBoost engine are "subject to sudden shuddering, shaking, rapid loss of power, and inappropriate transition to limp mode." The allegations echo complaints that Ford addressed last year in a non-public bulletin to dealers and by making changes on its engine assembly line.
At the same time, there are more reports from reviewers who maintain that EcoBoost engines don't deliver their promised fuel efficiency in real-world driving performance.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 17, 2013 07:10 PM
While Apple has had some good news lately (it reached 50 billion downloads from its App Store, signed a deal with CW to have the network’s content appear on Apple TV, and its UK retail locations received the top customer-service rating in Britain), it also is going through some tough times as a brand.
A recent poll from Bloomberg notes that, “71 percent of poll respondents say the Cupertino, California, company has lost its cachet as an industry innovator, which includes 28 percent who say it is permanent and 43 percent who say it may be a temporary hiccup.” While some Apple loyalists remain dedicated to the company that has brought the world such innovations as the iPod, iPhone, and iTunes, plenty of folks in the general population aren’t as high on Apple as they used to be, with some turning to competitors like Google and Samsung. “Google plays offense while Apple has recently settled for playing defense,” Forbes reports. “Apple is struggling to maintain its position in the market, while Google is expanding its position.”
Google’s shares have gone over a record $900 while Apple’s are now just above $400 after being over $705 in late September. While it can be difficult to keep up with its own track record of innovation, Apple apparently has got to keep pushing in order to keep the masses satisfied. “Where Apple went wrong is they began to confuse version releases and feature improvements with innovation,” Forbes reports. “What Apple is learning the hard way is even the most loyal base of consumers will jump ship when provided a valid reason to do so.”Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 17, 2013 06:40 PM
There can be a lot of stress associated with working at Walmart these days: Financial results aren't improving, and there are a lot of haters, such as critics of the chain's strategy for improving working conditions at factories in Bangladesh that supply Walmart garments.
Good thing that Walmart employees have a new way to engage themselves more productively in their work: "gamification." In a move that echoes what other major employers are doing, the nation's largest retailer is working with a Boston-based marketing and consulting organization to improve more of its internal processes by lending them a digital-gaming aspect. In turn, greater "employee engagement" is supposed to lead to improving the experiences of Walmart customers.
Walmart executive Kurt Templeton, director of workforce planning, and executives of Inward Strategic Consulting were presenting their findings on the effectiveness of gamification at a Conference Board gathering this week in Chicago.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 17, 2013 06:16 PM
Cheap Beer Disappearing Thanks to PBR
The main reason plenty of people have ever even tasted a Pabst Blue Ribbon is because they come cheap. However, its price has been rising in New York City thanks to the hipster population that has been consuming it, according to food and beverage sales analyst Restaurant Sciences.
The word is that PBR’s price increase has affected all the other “sub-premium” brands in the city and they’ve collectively gone up 9.4 percent in the last seven months, the New York Daily News reports. "I believe the single biggest driver in sub-premium beer price increases is indeed specifically PBR," said Chuck Ellis, the research company’s chief. "It has become quite fashionable."Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Alicia Ciccone on May 17, 2013 05:47 PM
It turns out that angry consumers aren't the only ones that American retailers need to worry about. In a joint statement published Thursday, a group of investors sought out to express their dissatisfaction with US retailers that have refused to sign the Bangladesh fire and safety agreement.
The release, undersigned by Amalgamated Bank Longview Funds and 14 others said, "We expect companies in our portfolios to ensure the integrity of their supply chains." The group, which reportedly holds a combined $1.35 trillion in assets, called out both Walmart and Gap, two major US retailers who spoke out against the accord, advising them to act swiftly and effectively in agreeance with the legally-binding proposal, which was signed by over 30 international companies by its May 15 deadline.
The response is a reaction to the late-April factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh that has now claimed over 1,120 lives. The accord, which is a version of a previously proposed agreement that was in effect turned down by several US retailers in 2011, hopes to protect the millions of Bangladeshi people that work in the country's 5,000 garment factories, for as little as $38 per month. The industry, now the second largest garment producer next to China, has seen a surge in recent years, resulting in the creation of faulty building sites and poor labor conditions. The circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory highlight the shortcomings of an industry built on loose ethics and fast, inexpensive turnaround. While the agreement looks to enforce independent building inspections and fire and safety training, it also hopes to create a more open administrative atmosphere for workers to present their concerns.Continue reading...
week in review
Posted by Michael Waltzer on May 17, 2013 04:30 PM
Our most-read blog posts of the week:
#1 Why A&F's 'Cool Kids' Stance Will Damage the Brand Now More Than Ever
#2 Coca-Cola Gets Personal in Europe with "Share a Coke" Campaign
#3 Target's Stance on Gay Rights Takes Ironic Turn as Home State Passes Equality Bill
#4 Sears Says 'No Credit? No Problem!' with New Lease-To-Own Program
#5 Andre Agassi Goes "Home" to Nike
#6 Dannon Turns Yogurt Marketing On Its Head with Men's Health Oikos Ad
#7 Jaguar Says It's 'Your Turn' for F-Type with New Campaign
#8 Calvin Klein Sheds the 'CK' for Platinum Line Rebranding
#9 Earnings Show JCPenney Still Has Problems Even Another Logo Can't Fix
#10 YouTube Jumps into Retail with Shoppable Videos for Brand Channels