Category Archives: Management

BMGT 411: Assignment #2, Positioning Statement (Due 10.6.14)

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In Chapter 9. we went over in detail the importance of developing a positioning statement for a brand.  A good positioning statement helps a brand clearly define who they are and who will benefit from their product or service.  From class, the outline for developing a positioning statement is:

For (Target Audience), (Brand Name) is the (Frame of Reference) that delivers (benefits/point of difference).

Pretty simple, yet very powerful.  For assignment #2 – I want you to:

  1. Develop a positioning statement for AlthleteTrax
  2. Develop a positioning statement for Point Park University
  3. Develop a positioning statement for your favorite brand

Like always – include your response in the comments section, and we will discuss in class next week.

Chris Lovett








Career Advice: Ignore Everything Everyone Ever Told You

On test one, I gave the example of Gary Vaynerchuk as an example of a sensor in regard to personality types.  Gary is an industry leader and thought leader because he hustles and is not afraid to say what he believes.

gary-vaynerchukAs a college student nearing the end of your college career, you have probably received a ton of advice – from your parents, teachers, advisers, etc.  Gary’s advice is to ignore a lot of the advice you have received.  In his speech to NYC interns, he delivers a 20 minute career presentation that probably is unlike any advice you have ever been given.  Take a look at the video, and ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do you agree with Gary’s advice and positioning for soon to be graduates?

2. Do you think you have been given bad advice in the past in regard to your career and your future?

3. Did the video change the way you think about your future career and goals?  Why?

4. What are your career goals?  What do you want to achieve in the next 3-4 years?

Leave comments below and we can discuss next class.

Chris Lovett

BMGT 205: Assignment 1, Amazon Fresh

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For Assignment #1, I want the class to read an article from the August 18th issue of Fast Company:



After reviewing the article, please take some time to answer the following questions.  Please answer them numbered, in the comments section of this blog.

1. Why is Amazon Prime so important to Amazon?  What metrics did they talk about to show this importance?

2. Do you think a Amazon Fresh will be successful?  If so, why?  If not, why?

3. Out of the 4 p’s of marketing discussed in week one, which one do you feel is the most important to Amazon Fresh’s success (Price, Product, Place, or Promotion).  Why?

4. If you were a competitor of Amazon, how would you prepare to compete against Amazon Fresh?  How would you position your experience vs. Amazon (Include which competitor you are, and how you would position against this new competition).

I look forward to a good discussion on this next week.

Chris Lovett









Customer Experience and a Fish Sandwich

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Yesterday I decided to get out of the office and grab lunch at one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh, Wholey’s.  I have been going to Wholey’s for years, and I truly love the experience.  Fresh fish is what they are known for and at reasonable prices.  I love everything about Wholey’s – the atmosphere, the smell, the Pittsburgh grit.  Most of all I love how no matter how much in the world changes, when I walk through those red doors, it’s still the same.  It’s about the food and nothing else.  Wholey’s is everything that is great about Pittsburgh.

I grabbed a Big Whaler Fish sandwich, of course, and I went upstairs to eat away from the crowd.  When I got up there one of the owners was there, a member of the Wholey family.  He introduced himself then asked a question I was not quite ready for:

“Can I taste a piece of your fish?” He asked me.  So without hesitation, I broke him off a large piece of the fish and he took a taste.  He confirmed it was good, and stated, “I’ve worked my whole life for that sandwich, and I hope you like it.”  He continued to tell us that it’s an entire pound of fish sourced in British Columbia, and they are proud of the price point of $6.99.  It was a good discussion.  He walked away, and I finished my lunch.  It was clear customers and customer satisfaction meant everything to him.

I did question why an owner of Wholey’s would ask a customer for a bite of their fish sandwich like I was a member of their family.  Why didn’t he just get his own fish sandwich?  He owns the place right?  I shrugged it off then went about my day, catching the bus back to the office.

Then two things came to me:

1. He did in fact consider me family.  They treat their customers like family – and that is why they have been in business for over 100 years, because their customers are family to them.  I gave him a piece of my sandwich, and he would have done the same if I had asked him.

2. He was testing the experience in a real environment.  If he asked for a sandwich from the kitchen, the staff would have used the best fish, the best batter, clean oil, etc.  He wanted to see what the experience was like for a real customer.  He wanted to experience what his customers experience and wanted to ensure it was up to his standards.

This reminded me that when we are designing experiences for our customers to make sure they are designed with the customer in mind, and when they are tested to test them in as real of an environment as possible.  Amaze, delight, and surprise.  It’s the Wholey’s way.  And I am betting they will be around for another 100 years if they make sure that experience stays amazing.

You can learn a lot if you get up from your desk every once in a while and take a walk to Wholey’s in the strip.

Chris Lovett



What I Learned This Week, 9.7.12

This one is late, late, late!  But I am still posting.  Still learning.  So here are a few items I learned this week.

1. Others Share My Views on Groupon: I knew I was not alone.  I also saw daily deals as a trend, and not a platform.  Companies have goals of growing profitable, returning, and loyal customers.  While Daily Deals drive trial, they do very little to meet the long term objectives of many companies.  My friend here agrees.

2. Responsive Web Design is Coming: Responsive Web design is much more than optimizing a site for a mobile device – responsive design optimizes web pages by how you are viewing it, on a tablet, a smartphone, even the size of your browser window.  Responsive web design is coming – and it’s a truly customer friendly feature.  Learn more about responsive web design here

3. Coke is Selling Convenience: Coke is getting ready to launch Dasani Drops.  I find this fascinating because of the price concept here.  These drops are probably 4 oz at most, and sell for $4.00 each, a huge premium from the $1.89 cost of a 20 oz. drink.  My guess is they cost less to make too.

True – Coke is not the first player here – but I find it innovative and amazing that a category can be reinvented, often selling convenience over an actual product (Flavor in your purse).  Other companies have been in this space for years (think cereal bars) – but it seems soft drink companies are finally catching up, and will profit from your water even if its not theirs.

Chris Lovett


What I Learned This Week: August 17

I learned a few things this week.  Look – I kept this theme going to weeks in a row.  Here are a few of the things I learned this week.

Streaming audio is finally being noticed:* I have been a fan of streaming audio for awhile now, and it is finally getting noticed as a viable media alternative to TV and traditional radio.  Advertisers are finally starting to take notice, and I expect this planning season for media to be very interested in services like Pandora, Spotify, and to some extent, iHeartradio.  Here is why:

  • It’s not just online.  It’s a truly mobile and audio solution.  You can advertise on Pandora using traditional audio ads during drive times when customers are streaming to their cars, target with online ads during the workday, and mobile in between.  While most social companies are struggling with monetizing mobile (Facebook, etc) Pandora and it’s peers are grounded and are delivering mobile solutions today.
  • It’s on Demand: Sometimes, I am in a Leonard Cohen mood.  Other times, it’s 2-Pac.  You never know.  I could never download enough cd’s for my random tastes, and streaming music helps me get my fix.  Traditional radio = push.  Streaming = pull.  I am in charge, and I and many others like it.
  • It’s in your car.  Any car with Bluetooth streaming audio can stream Pandora or Spotify wirelessly.  It’s genius.  And some cars like Toyota and Ford are building it right into the cars, making accessing the service easy at any age.
  • It’s local.  No – it’s really local.  Using the GPS in most smartphone’s, services like Pandora can target in a much smaller area.  Below is an example of a local ad served up on my ride.  This will redefine local targeting.

* Disclosure: I am a stockholder in Pandora Media.

I work for a great company: We have total visibility at my organization, with access to regular updates from our CMO, who has an ability to speak to each of us 1:1, even in a crowded room.  She has the ability get everybody excited about change, and realize change is necessary at every level in today’s marketing environment to be successful.  I love working where I do, and I think that we are in the begining stages of becoming a world class marketing organization.  Led by marketing at every level.

At any time, you may be asked a question in a meeting, and expected to know the answer: This happened to me this week, and while I gave an ok answer, I did not give a great answer.  This is just a reminder to me – never settle, and always be ready.  An ok answer is not okay, when you are doing great work.

The company I used to work at had a very passionate CEO.  Sometime’s he would walk the halls, and ask questions about the business.  I used to prepare a cheat sheet every morning, just in case he asked.  I knew what sales were in every market, every week, every day.  He never asked.  However, I don’t regret preparing, because it made me understand our business at every level.  This week I wasn’t.  It will not happen again.  I don’t accept ok answers from myself.

And lastly, Kohl’s is ridiculous.  And everybody loves it: Kohl’s implements a pricing strategy where they over deliver on savings.  I went back to school shopping for my kids, and spend $202 – yet my “total” savings, with coupons and deals was $325!  Now – when you spend $200 on kids gear, you don’t feel so hot.  When you leave and realize you saved $325 – you just feel giddy – like you are a genius.  I thought, I saved $325!  I pretty much robbed that joint!

Thing is – I did not save $325.  Koh’s has their pricing strategy baked into margins, so they over deliver.  It’s a really genius approach, and one that is working for Kohl’s, as they continue to grow and gain value while other retailers struggle.  These people, and millions of people, are feeling pretty solid about their Kohl’s savings too!

That’s what I learned this week.  Some good stuff, and I will continue to learn more each week.

Chris Lovett

Thoughts on Brand Segmentation and Data

There used to be a simple way for a company to target different segments, and that was to create a brand that was customized to the preferences of each segment.  I think a great example of this is Gap, Inc. three core brands developed specifically for their customer segments:

Gap: This is the core brand, and targets the widest variety of segments for Gap.  The other two brands were developed to help reach other segments that Gap could not reach in one store.  So they created a few other brands.

Banana Republic: This brand is targeted to the young urban professional.  Probably without kids, and most likely very healthy, because I never met a pair of BR pants I could fit into.  The price point is higher, but the designs are much sharper.  The target here is clearly a more affluent customer.

Old Navy: This brand is clearly targeted to folks with a lower income, due to their lower price points.  It is also family friendly, with more kid choices.  This brand has thrived in the recessionary environment, giving Gap a secure revenue source even in difficult times.

Gap also has a few other brands with specific targets, Piperlime, a brand focused on style and trend, and Atheta, a brand focused on the active crowd, sort of a Lululemon competitor.  

Developing multiple brands to target specific segments is an expensive proposition for most.  It requires separate stores, separate brands, and separate advertising budgets.  While it can be done successfully, it probably won’t be cheap.  And a lot of companies are doing this, and doing it well.

Another approach is leveraging your internal data to market to customers on a 1:1 level, without redefining the brand experience overall.  It requires a robust CRM system to identify targets, and a delivery system to reach those targets at a personal level, through direct marketing or in store experience.

A recent article in the New York Times showed how retailers like Safeway and Kroger are using their customer data to target customers to the point of different customers paying a different price, based on their segment and past shopping behavior.  The article explains how one customer could pay one price for the same product another customer pays a higher price for, all in effort to get them to buy more or “build the basket.”

Retailers have been recieving robust data for years, but have been slow to use it to their advantage.  Kroger, one of the few grocery retailers reporting positive STS sales, reports in the article that customized direct mail coupons, with a redemption rate of up to 70% (The article notes this is a high result.  I would like to report – this is a HUGE UNHEARD OF RESULT) is directly driving higher sales and more loyal customers.

I agree with this approach, and think there is a huge upside opportunity when a brand presents offers that speak directly to their target market.  A key approach is building a program that is automated, leveraging data to deploy customized offers targeted to various segments through direct mail, email, and even inside the store.  Capturing data is easy.  Using data to create a customized, ongoing marketing program that drives sales, repeat visits, and higher transactions is the hard part – but worthwhile if you can do it.

Data.  It’s what’s for dinner, if you can find it, leverage it, and deploy it.

Chris Lovett

Here Come the Millennials

There has been talk for some time about the emerging millennial generation, and how they are impacting the marketing and retail environment.  I recently came across a great research report that outlines the market potential of millennials: Trouble in Aisle 5.  While many companies have been waiting for this demographic to emerge, there is data to support it is finally happening.

While the report focuses on grocery shopping – this report also clearly shows companies that are focused on this generation now are probably going to reap the rewards in the future.  While many millennials are just starting their careers, many companies and brands have not fully realized the economic potential from this group to date.  However, some key stats are going to change this very soon.

Why the chart above is significant: research has shown that median incomes for households 25+ jump 60% to $45,000 from $28,000.  In 2010, there were 5.5% of millennials in the age bracket of 25+.  By 2020 – that number will increase to about 20%.  Having a population increase in size of over 15% in 8 years, while also growing incomes around 60% is a huge shift companies cannot ignore.  Those who are capturing this demographic now are probably already being rewarded, and will be rewarded even more so in the future.

The report outlines some key trends for Millennials:

  • Millennials are less loyal to specific brands/retailers: it appears they buy what they want, when they want, wherever they want: Building loyalty now will be key to sustained growth in the future
  • Millennials appear much more focused on lowest price rather than brand loyalty, but at the same time are much more willing to pay for specific attributes: If not a price leader, focus on positioning and perceived value
  •  Millennials place high value on convenience in shopping for food: If convenience is a key selling point of your product or service, highlight it often
  •  Higher income and education levels, driven by the emergence of the YEMMie (Young, Educated, Millennial Mother)
  •  Brands do matter more for top-earning millennials — these just might not be their parents’ brands: If your brands are showing declining sales and low acceptance by millennials, it may be time to re-position your brand

These trends were also highlighted in a recent NPR Report.

Good insight for the project’s this semester!