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GM Shuffles Its Cards Overseas In Hopes of Finding Balance in Europe, Asia

Posted by Dale Buss on November 18, 2013 04:57 PM

For decades, the "old" General Motors lived uncomfortably with the evident overlap between its Buick and Oldsmobile brands in the US market, a counterproductive overlap that encompassed product segments, dealers and, of course, many customers. But it took the company until just before the 2009 bailout to finally end the brand confusion by vanquishing Oldsmobile.

GM faces a similar conflict in Europe between the Chevrolet and Opel brands, and CEO Dan Akerson has said, "Something has to change" about the arrangement. What isn't clear at this point is exactly what will change. But the whole problem is pretty consequential for the company.

Opel is to GM in Europe what Chevrolet is to GM in the United States: the big, bellwether, crucial brand for the company in that market. That remains the case despite the woes of the European auto industry that have affected every company, brand and segment, and would seem to favor a further incursion by budget-priced Chevrolet. But Opel outsells Chevy five-to-one there despite GM's efforts to grab a significant foothold for Chevrolet over the last several years, including shared Opel and Chevy showrooms and some similar product lines.Continue reading...


The Week in China: Single's Day Sham, Only-Child Law Loosened, GM Jumps Ship and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 15, 2013 05:25 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: Single's Day's billion dollar buyer's remorse… Lego boom… KFC less terrible… Moutai goes French… JPMorgan in hot water… stolen Rolls-Royces… GM going to Singapore… MomentCam app boom... Tesla sold a car… your garbage is gold… GOLD! and more.Continue reading...

start your engines

Formula One's Glitzy Night Race Extends Outreach into Local Community

Posted by Adeline Chong on September 24, 2013 11:41 AM

After the dust settled on the street circuit of the Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix Sunday, which saw Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel dominate from start to finish, diehard race fans joined other revelers in a packed standing-room only concert headlined by pop superstar Rihanna. 

The F1's only night race has consistently earned rave reviews from fans, the drivers and teams alike. The New York Times calls it "a showcase like no other," while F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone labelled the Singapore Grand Prix the "crown jewel of the F1," right from the start in 2008. 

Indeed, the sport spectacle that attracts over 260,000 visitors to the Marina Bay Street Circuit and nearly 90,000 race patrons continues to grow and leave a mark on the Asia-Pacific nation. But beneath the glitz and the glamour, the pop concerts and the corporate hospitality events is a growing outreach effort by race organizers to support the nation and communities directly affected by the race, which causes an outright shutdown of the city center, among other inconveniences. This year, the race organizers have increased their efforts, especially to schools.Continue reading...


Kellogg's Hopes to Create New Breakfast Habits in Asia from New Base in Singapore

Posted by Dale Buss on September 18, 2013 06:37 PM

Kellogg's helped create the American breakfast habit. And brand executives believe they've got a good shot at helping recreate breakfast habits in their crucial but underdeveloped markets in Asia.

The Michigan-based cereal purveyor increasingly has broadened its repertoire over the last several years to include a huge variety of grain-based products beyond breakfast cereals (including Keeblers and Pringles), some healthful proteins (Morningstar meat analogs) and even services (Special K weight-loss apps). Now the company is positioning itself for geographic diversification that could be just as significant.

That's why Kellogg's, echoing moves by other American CPG giants such as Procter & Gamble, recently moved its Asia-Pacific headquarters into the heart of the region. Kellogg's move was to Singapore from Sydney.Continue reading...

brand revival

Borders Bookstore is Reborn in Singapore

Posted by Adeline Chong on August 14, 2013 04:49 PM

Just like the beloved snack cake Twinkies was rescued from the depths of its owner's bankruptcy, Borders, a longtime staple among US retail bookstores, is getting a new chance at life thanks to a few global bookstore lovers that snatched up trademarks and intellectual property rights at auction after the brand went bust in 2011. 

When it was announced recently that Borders would resurface in Singapore before the year's end, book lovers and sellers alike greeted the news with cautious optimism. After all, Borders Singapore—which had operated under the independent Borders Asia Pacific—quickly became one of Singapore's most iconic and loved bookstores when it opened in 1997—even emerging as the group's best performing outlet in 2006—but it quickly met its demise in September 2011 after its owner, Australia's Redgroup Retail, fell to a similar fate as its US counterpart. 

In Singapore, the store's demise then seemed inevitable, bankruptcy or not, as loyal customers became disgruntled at the deep discounts offered to non-members and customers at large were baffled by the store's poor book selection and foray into non-book items like toys and cookware. The frequent sales also created a discount mentality amongst customers, eating into margins. Globally, the group's late foray into e-books and its big push into sunset product categories such as music CDs were also cited for its demise.Continue reading...

creative snack

Magnum Takes Ice Cream on the Road to Find Pleasure Seekers

Posted by Adeline Chong on August 7, 2013 11:42 AM

Magnum Ice Cream is riding the pleasure train 'round the world. The premium treat company just opened its latest Magnum Pleasure Store in Singapore's Clarke Quay, after openings in Sydney, Toronto, Bangkok, Shanghai, New York, London, Paris and more. The campaign brings pop-up style stores to locations for about a month at a time before picking up and heading to a new spot. The current Singapore store will close on August 26 and eventually reopen in a still secret location. 

Conceptualized by Magnum's global brand team, Magnum Pleasure Stores provide novel experiences for customers, who get to create their own custom Magnum ice cream at the shops. Consumers are served by Magnum's staff, dubbed Pleasure Makers, and can top their ice cream creations with untraditional toppings such as goji berries, gold flakes and rose petals.Continue reading...

health fallout

Kanebo's Goodwill Pays Off as Skin Lightening Industry Shrugs Off Scare

Posted by Adeline Chong on August 5, 2013 05:45 PM

Kanebo's voluntary recall across Asia of its skin-whitening product range in early July was a wakeup call for consumers as well as the skin lightening industry. Kanebo, the second largest cosmetics company in Japan after giant Shiseido, sells products in over 50 countries across Asia, Europe, and the US, with its whitening products comprising nearly 30 percent of its skincare range. 

Nearly two months before its July 4 recall, a clinic reported to Kanebo that three patients had complained of skin damage following use of a Kanebo whitening product. The company withheld the information for over a month before notifying the government and issuing a recall, a move that garnered worldwide criticism. The products, which gradually lighten the skin, are a part of a $13 billion industry in Asia alone, where fair skin has long been associated with an elevated social class.Continue reading...

traveling brands

Uber Enters Asia Slowly—And with On-Demand Ice Cream

Posted by Adeline Chong on July 29, 2013 02:42 PM

In many Asian cities, a wait for a taxi during peak hours can seem interminable. Uber, an app-based private car service, which aims to become "Everyone's Private Driver", has begun its rollout in Asia to hopefully end that.

The luxury car service, which was launched in 2010 and counts Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Goldman Sachs as investors, enters into a market awash with private cab companies and luxury mobile services that cater to Asia's business elite. Uber is no different, as it has entered Singapore, as well as Seoul and Taipei with premium priced services like UberBLACK, which shuttles passengers around in luxury sedans and SUVs. 

In Singapore, for example, the S$7 base fare is double the S$3.00 to S$3.50 flag-down rate of taxis, with a minimum fare of S$12. The eventual fare can be three times that of a taxi fare, compared to a premium of 20- to 50 percent for Uber car rides in the US. However, the ride is typically in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan, a far step above the economy vehicles that are available for typical taxi rides. However, Uber is not the only one offering luxury jaunts, as it faces competition from Comfort and Premier cab companies. The competition is only greater in other Asian cities, especially those in China and Japan.Continue reading...

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