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Suzuki Joins Joe Isuzu on One-Way Flight Back to Japan

Posted by Dale Buss on November 7, 2012 05:04 PM

Don't cry for Suzuki. The company's exit from the U.S. market simply eliminates its exposure to one of the world's most competitive markets for automakers, where Suzuki has been beating its bumper against a wall, and allows the Japanese company to focus on domestic and emerging markets where it's doing quite well, thank you.

In fact, the brand won't entirely disappear in America, Bloomberg notes: "Suzuki will stop the sale of new automobiles in the U.S., though it will continue offering motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and boat motors."Continue reading...

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She's Gotta Have Fit: Honda Designs Pink Car for Women

Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 1, 2012 05:15 PM

Consumer product marketers have long known that women make most of the household buying decisions. That's why mega-marketers like Procter & Gamble unashamedly target the majority of their products, and their product promotion, to moms specifically and women in general.

Car makers have discovered that women are also a key demographic when it comes to buying a new automobile, but they have, for the most part, veered away from creating a car specifically for women. 

Now Honda is looking to shake up the industry with a new sub-brand of the Honda Fit called, in a fill-in-the-blank kind of way, "She's." It's pinktastic, and has nothing to do with Breast Cancer Awareness other than an affinity for the feminine hue.Continue reading...

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McDonald's CEO Has High Hopes for McRib and Cheddar Bacon Onion Sandwiches

Posted by Dale Buss on October 22, 2012 02:23 PM

As global economic bellwethers go, McDonald's sales results probably rank right up there with oil prices and consumer-confidence measures. So its shareholders, analysts and executives aren't exactly lovin' it when the company reports lackluster results, as it did for the third quarter.

The fast-food leader reported weaker-than-expected earnings for the period as it battled a weak global economy and accommodated more budget-minded consumers from Europe to China. Both sales and profits fell during the quarter, a rarity for McDonald's.

Of course, McDonald's results aren't directly synonymous with the status of the world's appetite for quick fare. The stronger dollar hurt international sales too. Also, competitors in many markets have been upping their game lately, including both Burger King and Wendy's in the United States, and the new strains from rivals also are reflected in McDonald's results.Continue reading...

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Gap Inc. Restructures Brand Leadership for Global, Digital Growth

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 16, 2012 05:16 PM

Gap Inc. chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy announced today that it has created a new global brand management structure so that its flagship Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands will each be led by a single executive with global purview beginning in fiscal year 2013. The move also creates a global innovation and digital strategy group, a first for the apparel company.

With more than 3,200 stores across its brands, the move consolidates North American, international, online, outlet and franchise divisions in an effort to improve market share. Gap has been expanding abroad and now has stores in more than 40 countries (compared with eight in 2006), but a word of caution from NASDAQ: “The company would be following the path of other apparel retailers, like Abercrombie & Fitch Co. But the road is a tricky one, especially right now due to economic conditions around the globe. Gap would do well to take a steady-as-she-goes approach.”Continue reading...

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Study: Toyota Customers Need Reassuring in Wake of Global Recall

Posted by Dale Buss on October 16, 2012 04:19 PM

It might be a stretch to say that Toyota didn't see this coming. But Toyota Motor executives are likely stunned by how quickly the brand's latest recall fiasco has affected the standing of the once-sterling Toyota marque, at least in the minds of some consumers. And soon it could affect the breakneck pace of Toyota's sales bounce-back in the U.S. this year.

Last week, Toyota announced a recall affecting 7.4 million vehicles worldwide, the biggest number seen in the auto industry in 16 years. The recall is to correct faulty electric-window switches that could catch on fire, but Toyota had reported no accidents or injuries as a result of this problem.

Presumably because this "massive Toyota recall" of 2012 sounds too much like the "massive Toyota recall" of 2010 not to mention subsequent recalls, consumer perception of Toyota's brand "has plummeted" according to YouGov BrandIndex research. Its score slumped badly over the last few days and now occupies the bottom in a chart of 32 car brands tracked by the service, down from sixth place just a week earlier.Continue reading...

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SoftBank's "Speed Freak" CEO Sprints into US

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 15, 2012 12:53 PM

Japanese firms, fueled by a strong yen and low interest rates, have spent $75bn this year on foreign deals with no evidence of a slowing down. Now Japanese mobile operator SoftBank has agreed to pay $20.1 billion for a 70 percent stake in Sprint, marking the company's largest overseas acquisition to date.

“This transaction provides an excellent opportunity for SoftBank to leverage its expertise in smartphones and next-generation high speed networks, including LTE, to drive the mobile internet revolution in one of the world’s largest markets," stated SoftBank's billionaire founder and chief, Masayoshi Son, in a joint press release

"As we have proven in Japan, we have achieved a v-shaped earnings recovery in the acquired mobile business and grown dramatically by introducing differentiated products to an incumbent-led market. Our track record of innovation, combined with Sprint’s strong brand and local leadership, provides a constructive beginning toward creating a more competitive American wireless market.”Continue reading...

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Usain Bolt Puts Fresh Charge In Nissan, and His Olympic-Sized Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on October 12, 2012 04:58 PM

After confirming his status as one of the world's best and most charismatic athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, World's Fastest Man Usain Bolt is still on a roll — or shall we sway sprint — and more brands want to ride in his lightning-fast wake.

Nissan has re-upped with Bolt, staying in the stable of brands who have tied in with him before, during and since the Olympics, including Gatorade and Virgin Media. Nissan is developing a special "Bolt" version of its GT-R performance car.

The smiling sprinter signed a deal with Nissan to extend his role as brand ambassador for the 196-mph GT-R and to become honorary "Director of Excitement" for the company's ambitious global marketing drive, prompting a flurry of photos on the Nissan Motors Facebook page and video on its global YouTube channel.Continue reading...

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Japan's All-White Starbucks Will Change Everything You Think About Starbucks

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 11, 2012 01:11 PM

A Tokyo pop-up has taken the Starbucks retail store concept to a futuristic, minimalist place that could shake up the java giant's global development team to rethink everything they hold dear about the brand.

Inspired by coffee-lovers' penchant for reading while sipping, Japanese design studio Nendo created a "Starbucks Espresso Journey" pop-up that looks, on the surface, like a monochromatic library — until you notice the rows of tumblers and the subtle take on Starbucks' wordless logo. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves comprised the curved interior walls as customers perused custom-made books in nine different hues, each about a different type of espresso drink - lattes, cappuccinos or café mochas.

The desaturated shop was installed in September in the Omotesando neighborhood and open for three weeks. Visitors were invited to choose a book, take it to the counter and trade it for an espresso drink. They could also keep the book cover to insert into one of Starbucks’ customizable tumblers. It's visually stunning and upends every expectation we bring to the Starbucks brand experience, to be sure, but still — a library?Continue reading...

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