Friday, 24 November 2017

End of Semester, End of an Era


Each semester in the Master of Marketing program, new students are welcomed into the fold and lasting bonds are formed that will endure long after graduation. This semester, we have been blessed with a strong cohort who have wholeheartedly embraced university life, engaging each other both in and outside the classroom.

On Tuesday, we all got together at The Refectory to celebrate the end of a fantastic year. Students, alumni, lecturers and industry partners all came together for a very enjoyable evening.

Image: (From left) Alyce Brierley, Nicholas Ridis (AMI), Pennie Frow, Sarah Fletcher, Stephen Jenke, Georgia, Terrence Beed, Hilary Brainard, Lancy Zhang, Vince Mitchell, Hazel Chen, Jingsi Guo, Cynthia Lozada, Jessica Xiong, Nida Somboonphon, Emma Taviani, Bowie chen, Rebecca Sodicol, Lizette Lee, Kenneth Reid, Geoff Fripp, Mike Joyce, Andres Novoa, Vassilis Mistillioglou, Ray Welling, Colin Farrell, Chris North.
Image: MC Chris North talks with Sarah Fletcher about the Careers & Employability Office’s services.


Although the general vibe was relaxed and informal, there was still time to hear from a few special guests. Among the speakers, Sarah Fletcher from the Careers & Employability Office, gave a friendly reminder to students about the services available to help them prepare themselves for the job market. Job Smart and Employable You are two such programs that each Master of Marketing student should take advantage of. Making an appointment is easy, just email Business Careers and set up a consultation in person, over the phone of Skype.

Image: MC Chris North with Director Australian Marketing Institute, Nicholas Ridis speaking about the AMI’s value offering.

While it may be a little late for some to take advantage of the services offered by AMI for all students enrolled in the program, it’s never too late to consider renewing membership in 2018. AMI Director, Nick Ridis, gave a fantastic presentation explaining the AMI’s benefits for students and the importance of being a certified practicing marketer. Thanks to the University of Sydny’s accreditation with the AMI, each Master of Marketing student is granted student membership in the AMI, along with two years credit towards accreditation. For more information about the AMI and the services available to you, visit their website.

Image: Guest speaker, Georgi Chan(Second right) discussing her experience as a marketing consultant with students Lyzette Lee (left), Hazel Chen and Quibou Fu.

University of Sydney alumni students, Georgi Chan, Director at Blue Planet Research & Consulting came along to share her professional experience in the years since her time as a MoM student. Georgi has had a very interesting career working with a broad spectrum of brands in Australia.
Image: Stephen Jenke from AMSRS speaking about big data and the future of marketing.

Stephen Jenke from the AMSRS, a non for profit Australian Market & Social Research Society highlighted the role of market researchers when looking at how big data can be used in the future of marketing. Traditionally, market research involved identifying consumers awareness, behaviour and attitudes. Nowadays, the role of a data scientist has become more complicated, with researchers from a range of disciplines constantly analysing data to better understand the consumer.

Image: Student Panel discussing their external projects. (From left) Emma Taviani, Cynthia Lozada, Alyce Brierley, Mike Joyce and Lyzette Lee.

Finally, the night ended on a high note, with a panel of students sharing stories about their own projects outside the course. It was fantastic to hear how they have applied the learning of the course differently. For example, Emma Taviani has partnered with her sister, a literature influencer, to start her book merchandise business called, Bottled Books. Drawing on the ethics principals learned in Ethics, Emma has managed to overcome many copyright and patent law barriers. Cynthia Lozada leveraged her consulting project client to help her kick start her own dental marketing agency ‘Innovative Dental Marketing’- a very niche agency that implements internal marketing practices as a key differentiator. Mike Joyce spoke about how his experience as a market researcher has changed since since taking Decision-Making and Research. While Lyzette Lee described how her role in Incubate inspired her to choose a startup for her consulting project that would enable her to continue her passion of empowering women in business.

Image: Jessica Xiong, Quibou Fu, Bowie Chen, Colin Farrell and Hazel Chen almost succeeding in getting Colin to come to the pub.

Once again the sun sets on another great year for the Master of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School. The semester may have ended but the journey to a successful career will continue into 2018 and beyond. Thank you to all for making the year a memorable experience!

Image: Instagram. Photo courtesy of Terry Beed. Sunset on another great year for the Master of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School. A great place to celebrate "Business Not as Usual"!
Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Do You Have Soft Skills To Be In The Workplace Of The Future?

As the workforce moves deeper into a the age of automation, why is it so hard to find the right candidates with the right skills? While many graduates have adequate technical skills, a large percentage lack soft skills like innovative and critical thinking, change and stakeholder management, and a drive for results. 


As graduation approaches for Master of Marketing students at the University of Sydney, for many, finding a job that’s the right fit has become the number one priority. According to research from recruitment company Hudson, when it comes to hiring for technology and digital jobs in 2017, almost half of the job market is open to new opportunities. Even more  sobering for employers is the fact that only a quarter of employees are content to stay in their current roles. Do you see a connection?

PwC reported in their 20th CEO Survey that when seeking value, there must be a stronger focus on a business’ ‘human system’, because it’s the human skills that can’t be automated, such as emotional intelligence, creativity and adaptability.

Similarly, PWC’s Workforce of the Future report noted that in an ever increasing automated world, human skills will still be valued. “Businesses are advised to strengthen innovation, creativity, empathy and leadership capabilities in your business alongside critical technology skills”.


Do you know what are soft skills are?

Soft skills relate to your personal characteristics and traits, and also have a very important role in the company’s decisions who to hire for a particular job position. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are much more difficult to measure and quantify. Good examples are communication, leadership, adaptability and problem-solving abilities, but they can also be things like conflict management, human relations, making presentations, negotiating and team building.

As the hard skills are much more evolved, it is easier for the companies to compare job candidates according to their hard knowledge and abilities. Both hard and soft skills are equally important to employers, so it’s important to communicate all of your qualities, certificates and other documents that prove your hard skills. Here is a handy infographic comparing the most common and valuable soft vs hard skills required in a wide number of job descriptions:


Is there a connection between soft skills and value?

This is a serious hiring challenge for recruiters when it comes to finding candidates with the right technical skills, who fit the organisational culture and who also possess the relevant soft skills. It’s not always easy to find the right people, especially when you consider the competition. According to Hudson, 90% of hiring managers are recruiting to either maintain or grow their headcount.

Image: Hudson

On the other side of the table, candidates are looking for a good working environment, work/ life balance and a role that is also challenging. If for some reason these needs aren’t met or sufficient value isn’t provided by employers, employee job satisfaction falls. 

Developing soft skills for success. 

A good work ethic, optimism, high emotional IQ and the ability and willingness to collaborate with others are just a few of the soft skills that employers look for when hiring. So if you think that these are a few areas  you need to work on, look no further than TED Talks.

Amy Cuddy’s "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are"

Cuddy explains how your body language affects not only the people around you but yourself as well. By striking certain stances or making certain gestures, we can make ourselves feel confident or passive, happy or sad. Cuddy’s talk will help with your non-verbal communication skills.


Julian Treasure’s “5 Ways to Listen Better”

“We’re losing our listening. This is not trivial. Because listening is our access to understanding. Conscious listening always creates understanding.” -Julian Treasure
Treasure teaches us that if we listen closely to each other, we can understand each other better. Soft skills—particularly listening—creates mutual respect. We respect those who respect us. If you respect people by listening to them, they will in turn reciprocate. 


Tali Sharot “The Optimism Bias”

Optimism can change your mindset and body. It can affect real life outcomes, keep you motivated and lower stress levels. In this talk, learn to develop the soft skill of remaining optimistic. 


Kelly McGonigal “How To Make Stress Your Friend”

In her Ted Talk, Kelly discusses how to turn stress into a positive, opening up the conversation of “looking for the silver lining”. Stress can be seen as a positive thing- a moment of courage that can help with productivity and positivity. 


Just like hard skills, soft skills can be learned. Developing these skills can help in all parts of your life, both professional and personal. So if you think you are someone who is lacking in these areas, don’t tell yourself that they don’t matter. When automation in the workplace becomes ‘the norm’, chances are, a little bit of humanity will go a very long way.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 20 November 2017

Australia says, ‘YES!’ to Same-Sex Marriage!

I’ve never been so proud to be an Aussie. After a hard slog of heated debates and intense rallying, finally the postal vote survey results have given LGBTI+ Australians the right to same-sex marriage with a majority vote of 61%. As a student in the Master of Marketing Program, my mind automatically wonders, ‘What’s next?’. How will same-sex marriage affect people’s perceptions of brands? What will be the effect on the economy? And will there be changes in the workplace environment?
Image source: ESSA

At the University of Sydney, students are encouraged to ‘unlearn’ old thought processes and open their minds to a world of openness, empathy and tolerance. Finally, Australia has decided to take a similar stance by choosing to ‘unlearn’ the previous notion of love. An incredible, 80 per cent of adult Australians participated in the voluntary postal vote that started hitting Australian letterboxes back in early September.

Now the future of LGBTI+ Australians is in the hands of the federal parliament and will require federal politicians to agree with the voice of the majority of Australians. So with the battle won and the fight still far from over, will the greater society choose to accept this change in culture? And will brands choose to change along with them?

Photo source: Bandt. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (middle) with two Marriage Equality supporters in Prince Alfred Park.

Supporting the cause is set to pay off.
During the campaigning, many brands who decided to publicly show their support can now rejoice because they aligned themselves with the winning cause. Prominent ‘YES’ supporter, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, gave the keynote address at a results reveal party in Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park, asking Malcolm Turnbull to “get on and do it”. The Irish-born Joyce said, “I was so proud of Ireland when they were the first country to vote for marriage equality, but today I’m proud of Australia its an amazing outcome.”

Qantas has been a staunch supporter of marriage equality for some time, going all out by furnishing the exterior of a plane in rainbow regalia for Mardi Gras. Joyce even personally donated $1m to the ‘Yes’ campaign.

Image: The official Qantas Twitter page

The benefits of the pink dollar.
There’s no doubt that marriage equality will do wonders to boost the bottom line for brands who supported ‘YES’. But what about the benefits to the Australian economy? The economic activity that will be created by gay weddings is sometimes called the pink dollar. From increased spending in the Australian economy, improved labour productivity to betterment in social and mental health, not to mention expenditure on weddings, the new legislation will bring a range of positive benefits.
Image: Facebook

The proof is in the pudding. Just look at the USA, where same-sex weddings resulted in a boost of $111 million over five years in the economy of the American state of Massachusetts alone. If only 50% of same-sex couples choose to tie the knot and then half of those couples get married within twelve months of the marriage equality legislation being passed, ANZ calculated that expenditure on weddings alone could add at least $500 million to the economy. Assuming that a wedding costs $51,000 on average, expenses include; venue hire, catering, waitstaff, alcohol, decorators, dress and suit shops, photographers, receptions, wedding planners and florists, just to name a few.

Cherelle Murphy & Mandeep Kaura, Co-head of Australian Economics & Economic statistician from ANZ, take a more optimistic view of the benefits to the economy, claiming, "If half of the population of same sex couples chose to marry within one year, the benefits to the economy in the first year of the legislation would be over $1bn."

Image: A wedding cake with Lego men was part of an advertising campaign pitched at Australians wanting to get married in New Zealand. 

In addition to the benefits for a wide range of industries, state governments will also receive a new source of revenue with more marriage licence fees and secular wedding ceremonies.

In fact, all the local businesses that have previously missed out on earning the pink dollar due to same-sex marriages being conducted overseas will now be able to share a piece of the pie. Commonly, Australians who are in a same-sex relationship often go abroad to tie the knot. Now we should see a drop in Australians travelling overseas for marriage purposes, giving way to a rise in reinvesting funds into industries at home.

Is this the end of irrational social discrimination in the workplace?

The knock-on effects of marriage equality could also benefit Australian businesses through increased productivity, higher talent attraction and decreased chance of consumer backlash. Marriage equality is a step towards overcoming irrational social discrimination against LGBTI+, which according to UBS economist, Paul Donovan, acts as an inhibitor to increased labour productivity and labour potential.

“At least part of the growth of income inequality in recent years has been about the higher rewards to higher skills — the market place more value on maximizing skills than in the past,” writes Donovan for Australian Business Insider. “This is why any form of prejudice is bad economics. Irrationally discriminating against a section of society will deny an economy the full value of that group’s skill set.”

“Legalizing same-sex marriage is a means of reducing prejudice and through so doing should help to raise productivity in an economy,” concludes Donovan.

According to Donovan, legalizing same-sex marriage helps to promote trend growth in the following three ways:
  • It removes the limits on labour mobility that come with states not recognising gay marriage. If someone’s marriage is not recognised in a certain state, then that person’s desire to move to that state is weakened by the prospect of economic and legal disadvantages.
  • It helps to overcome the problem of “irrational” social discrimination — specifically at work. Since marriage is as much a social thing as it is a legal institution, denying this social rite-of-passage to one group suggests that that group is somehow socially inferior. In the workplace, this nurtures “irrational discrimination,” according to Donovan.
  • It helps overcome the problem of economic underperformance resulting from the mental strain of being an inferior group. Donovan writes that there’s strong evidence that creating an “inferior class” negatively impacts the economic performance of that group.
Considering that 1% of all couples are same-sex couples in Australia, the passing of this legislation is huge in comparison. There is no price that can be put on the economic benefits, decrease in discrimination, and overall improvement to the lives and well-being of same sex couples. I hope, with all my heart that with the results in, this bill can be passed quickly so that we can leave all the ugliness of the debating from the last few months behind, working together to build a better future for all Australians.


Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Stranger Things: From Content to Merchandise

Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to is losing their mind for Stranger Things. There’s just something about the nightmare nostalgia that millennials can’t get enough of. Which is why it makes sense that Netflix are following in the footsteps of Disney and Lucasfilm to bless the world with Stranger Things merchandise.

Image Source: Marketing Mag (Topshop)

Netflix is cashing in on the release of Stranger Things season two by partnering with Hasbro and Topshop to bring the world merch like Monopoloy and vintage-style apparel. For Netflix, merchandise looks as though it will be just the beginning of a lucrative revenue source.

After a quick search on google, I found a array of figurines, card games, T-shirts and ‘what about Barb?’ memorial paraphernalia on sale with a range of vendors, from Etsy and Ebay to Target. Not all of them are official though, which could explain why Netflix decided to break with tradition, instead deciding to explore the realm of consumer products.


Image Source: Christmas sweater from Target. Marketing Mag


A new distribution model
If you are one of the few people who hasn’t watched the show, the retro sci-fi hit, which is soon to go down in history as a cult favourite, plays on nostalgia to combine storytelling entwined with numerous references to popular culture from the early eighties.

Starring 80s actors like Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine, the narrative begins on 6 November 1983 in a small Indiana town called Hawkins, where a 12-year-old boy disappears in the woods while out cycling past a secret government research facility. Following the disappearance, Indiana suffers visitations, monster sightings and the sudden appearance of a strange young girl called Eleven, who looks to be the victim of either scientific or supernatural interventions.

According to data provided by the US media measurement company Symphony AdvancedMedia, during the first 17 days following the program’s release on Netflix, Stranger Things averaged 8.2m viewers among millennials aged 18-49.

Netflix may a long way off from becoming a merchandise empire, but they are certainly making a significant investment in their new distribution model. The success has seen a rise in cross-media friendly projects, hiring Jess Richardson, formerly of World Wrestling Entertainment, to take charge of licensing shows for books, comics and toys. There has been the acquisition of comic book publisher Millarworld, the adoption of young adult pop culture franchise Chambers and popular video game franchise The Witcher.

Image Source: What’s on Netflix?

It’s a simple case of supply and demand.
Netflix's top content executive, Ted Sarandos, said the decision to start selling merchandise for Stranger Things was because of the "huge demand for people who want a T-shirt with Eleven on it."

Merchandise has always been a cash cow for certain media companies like Disney, but for Netflix the focus has always been focused on video content. However, since Netflix became the leading global OTT television provider, it has ventured into genres like reality TV, late-night-style talk shows, and live-audience sitcoms.

Only now have they also transitioned into merchandise because unlike may of their other titles, Stranger Things is title is free of any outside ownership complications. As the first original series Netflix developed and produced entirely in-house. Other Netflix's originals have been developed with outside production companies or studios, meaning that those production companies get the rights to the intellectual property.
Image: Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos. Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty

Here are three lessons, as described by Forbes Magazine , that show that Netflix are leading the way with strategic customer experience:

1. Content is now the opiate of the masses: “super-users of Netflix care more about storytelling and experiences than things, and a great way to deliver these experiences that take you somewhere else is rich content and storytelling.”

2. Lead with storytelling, follow with product creation: “it’s much easier to test different content and later create a community around the content. After an understanding of the viewer, Netflix can figure out what products customers will enjoy.”

3. Bring great user experiences to everything you do: “Netflix knows a lot about you, and it cares about your seamless experience. Now it will use that knowledge to seamlessly sell you products.

So what kinds of shows can we expect from Netflix in the future? Well, your guess is a good as mine, but I can tell you that they will continue to make shows and movies that their audiences will fall in love with. And so they should! With the amount of information that Netflix knows about their audience, we can expect nothing less than ‘awesomeness’.

The “nostalgia strategy” in Netflix’s fiction, will bring us back in time to revisit remakes of Ghostbusters, Twin Peaks, Fuller House, an 80s family sit-com, and The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s drama set in New York in the late 1970s.

Whether the fascination with nostalgia has to do with extended adultification for millennials, or simply embracing the ‘inner child’, Stranger Things resonates with its audience on a deep level because of its ties to pop culture, toys and growing up. What can we learn from Netflix is that nostagia has the ability to go much further than content. Stranger Things’ entire storyline is founded on toys, so it makes sense that their merchandise should be too.


Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Making a statement at the Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup. It’s the race that stops the nation. Celebrated by Australians both young and old, the Cup is as a big a part of Aussie culture as Vegemite and Pavlova at Christmas. Although it’s come under criticism for many reasons in recent years, it still remains a huge opportunity for big brands and small businesses alike, to tap into the race-time celebrations with marketing and promotions.


If you aren’t an Aussie, you’re probably wondering what the big deal is. It’s just a race, right? Wrong! The Melbourne Cup is traditionally the one day of the year where employers actively encourage their employees to excessively drink and get dressed up to the nines. Even in schools, teachers enlighten children as young as three years old how to gamble, by betting on horses to win icy poles. In my school, I remember letters going home asking parents to allow their children to come to class with $2 to participate in sweepstakes. Those were certainly different days...

There are a lot of mixed feelings surrounding the Melbourne Cup Day, but for the most part it’s seen as being just a bit of harmless fun. Every single business in the country takes part in the promotions that target customers who’ll be entertaining, as well as guests bringing something to a friend’s or workplace’s event. It’s an opportunity for everyone to get involved including fashion retailers, hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, restaurants, pubs and bars, cafes, patisseries and caterers, bottle shops, pharmacies, dry cleaners, supermarkets, delis and even grocery stores.

Welcome to an era of everyday luxury.

Why am I talking about the Melbourne Cup? From a marketing perspective, the Cup is an interesting choice for brands, especially those sponsoring marquees in the Birdcage. For those who have been living under a rock, or are from another part of the world, let me explain that the Birdcage is the ultimate luxury experience, available to an exclusive audience. Tickets cost around $2K and unless you are on the list, there is no way you are getting in.

Earlier in the semester, in Innovative Marketing Strategies, Margaret highlighted the importance of having a strategy when selecting partnerships sponsorships and influencers and ensuring that they share the same values and essence of a brand. So cashing in on the celebrations may not be the right move for everyone, but for premium brands like Mumm, the Melbourne Cup is an attractive event.

Image source: Financial Review

According to the Financial Review, ‘The Birdcage is considered a sort of barometer of how well corporate Australia is travelling. Although this year's 28 marquees is down from 34 in 2009 and 53 in 2007, the marquees have become multi-storey and grander than ever in an ever increasing art of one-upmanship.’

Take for example the 59-foot yacht at the Melbourne Cup Birdcage. What does this say about the Mumm brand? A few words come to my mind, but I will let you make up your own minds.


Image Source: SMH. Elyse Taylor in the Lexus Design Pavilion in the Birdcage. Photo: Karon Photography


To Bryan Fry, the managing director of Pernod Ricard Australia, the millions spent by the 28 brands in the birdcage including Emirates, Lion Nathan, Sensis, Tabcorp, Myer, Kennedy, Lavazza and Lexus might appear excessive but there is a marketing strategy at play. Signing up high-profile influencers like celebrities, politicians and CEOs are also part of the plan.

Fry talks about his experience in the luxury space to the Financial Review. According to Fry, Australians are eating and drinking better. They are looking for more experiences, and are willing to spend more for special events.

"There has been a real premiumisation in terms of beer, wine and food," Fry says.

"When I left (Australia), champagne was quite expensive and considered rarefied air. Now you have more people enjoying it more regularly. It is still premium, but it's a taste of everyday luxury."

Everyday luxury? That sounds like an oxymoron if I ever heard one. In fact I’m seriously confused. As someone who is serious about fine dining, wine and the occasional luxury purchase, Mumm’s choice to ‘make a statement’ at the Melbourne Cup kind of puts me seriously at odds with the brand.

Some say exclusive, others say excessive.

The excessive displays that can be seen at The Birdcage weren’t always this way. In 1986 the first corporate marquees were established and for a decade it remained an exclusive event. Apparently, less was once more, when it came to entertaining in The Birdcage. Now it’s a circus display of bourgeoisie mixing with cashed-up bogans. The Sydney Morning Herald accurately puts it as ‘the place to be- to see this decadent scene while being seen.’


Image source: SMH. Last year’s Mumm marquee incorporated a swimming pool. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Deeta Colvin, a long-time premium brand strategist, who organised marquees at the event for 12 years spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald of how things have changed since setting up for, Louis Vuitton back in the day.

"Single-storey, fresh flowers, antique furniture," she says. "Beautiful bar, great food. Simple, elegant – like a very upmarket picnic races. The guest list went from the PM to the top CEOs and chairmen, and our French visitors. It was the AAA-list – a very sought-after ticket."

"We set the scene. Little did we know what would happen," she said. "They jammed marquee on top of marquee. You don't even see a blade of grass anymore."

"We had a fantastic decade," says Colvin, "but the dynamic and target audience totally changed. For our clients, we felt, sadly, it was time to go. For our last one we just served Krug and caviar on the lawn, then we left."

When you consider the expense of an investment in a marquee, it’s important to consider whether it is indeed the right strategy for your brand. In 2011 Emirates reportedly spent roughly $1500 per guest, totally around $1.5 million. To get a marquee on the front row, a brand practically sponsors a race.

It’s a big risk when you consider all of the potential PR catastrophes that might occur which could potentially damage a brand sponsoring the event.

Public opinion of the event is falling.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has some issues with the event. In the article, Melbourne Cup: Here's what you don't like about the race that stops the nation, the ABC asked punters at the races what their thoughts were on the event.

Image Source: ABC. Everyday luxury at the Melbourne Cup

For some it highlighted everything that was wrong with humanity:

"I worked for a few years as a bar attendant within the corporate 'birdcage' [which] represents all the most noxious parts of colonial, consumerist, corporate, misogynist and small-minded Australian culture. If an alien came to Melbourne and wanted to understand the where we need help as a culture, I would take them to the Melbourne Cup. Excessive consumption. Sexist beauty standards and rigidly policed gender boundaries. Class divide and corporate culture. Binge drinking. Animal abuse and exploitation. Sexual harassment. Anti-intellectualism and attention-seeking. Littering and total disregard for the environment. And I haven't even mentioned the gambling yet." — Jodie K
Others just didn’t see the point:

"It all seems to be a money grabbing scheme to the detriment of the horses and the consumers." — Hannah L-S

Personally, I have mixed feelings. And I’m speaking for myself here. After living in Paris for many years and attending the races at Longchamps, I really noticed the difference in approach to race day in Australia, I really think that the excessively vulgar displays hurt certain luxury more than help them. Everyday luxury? I’m sorry, but that just really isn’t for me.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School


Friday, 3 November 2017

A Graduate's View: The Master of Marketing Capstone Project's Role in Transitioning from Study to Work

A Conversation with 2017 Master of Marketing Graduate Chris North

Image: Chris North (left), recent graduate of the Master of Marketing (Beta Gama Sigma) with his father and brother. 

The graduations for the recent 2017 Master of Marketing cohort have now ended for another year and it is time catch up with the graduates as they make the next step in their career journey.  The Master of Marketing ends their degree on a very practical note by requiring all students to complete a capstone project.  In this project all students procure their own business client, identify a strategic marketing issue to investigate, complete their own research and then devise marketing recommendations to best address the issue. Students say it is the most rewarding part of the degree as they get to apply the skills they have learned throughout their degree into a real business life situation.  Chris North has just graduated from the program and talks about his experiences in his complex project for the Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer Program

MoM: How would you describe the overall experience in completing the capstone's project marketing audit, project proposal, completing the research and then presenting the final report to your client?

Overall, it was exciting, like an amusement park ride. I could see the track, just not all the loops and turns! Some of the challenges I did not expect initially were around the depth of research required for the original project proposal. I had to uncover and then work through the complex issues impacting the Velocity program. I underestimated this at first. However, as students are working with an academic supervisor, I was guided deeper into the research to find more data that explained both the Velocity program, and the consumer trends in their market. Another hurdle was my own bias. I was not just a student, but a customer to Velocity. I have gold status with both Velocity and their main competitor (Qantas), so I was being swayed by my own views. Therefore the challenge with my research was to use my personal insight to my advantage as background knowledge, but at the same time be conscious and aware of my personal biases and not allow them to limit my information search and analysis.  The research really opened my eyes to the size and complexity of the loyalty market. I could see real opportunities for Velocity to better engage with its members and stand out in a very cluttered marketplace.

Image source: Mumbrella

MoM: What challenges did you find in your client's business that had to be overcome to get your project enacted and then communicated to Velocity's management team?

The main overall challenge was that Velocity is going through a period of extraordinary growth with many new members joining the program because of the many benefits they added to the program.  Velocity has been so successful in acquiring members and working on getting them integrated into the program that they had not had a moment spare to stop and evaluate what has happened and see if this was the best way to grow.  My research evaluated this period of growth and gained deep insights from a wide range of customers on their value perceptions and experiences with the program.  As you can imagine, the research revealed both problems and opportunities. The main challenge was putting all the insights together in a manner to distinguish the underlying causes of customer problems and then devising recommendations that aimed at improving member engagement with the program as a basis for future growth.  After a period of extraordinary growth, it was a challenge to deliver my project as a new way to perceive Velocity’s current situation and to increase their customer’s relationship with the program. 

MoM: We could describe your project as an arduous yet rewarding journey. You completed extensive customer research including both in-depth interviews and a broad-based customer survey to inform your recommendations. You had a plethora of findings showing a great depth of understanding of the customer's mindset. How challenging was it to deliver such deep findings to your client in a succinct way to support your recommendations?

This presentation was confronting, on a number of levels. I was presenting to an established and ongoing business, with people far better qualified than me to tell them about their customers. At the same time, I wasn’t walking in only to walk out as a student. I’ve worked in senior roles in media and investment banking, and only once have I seen a student present to a group of senior leaders in an organisation. I spent weeks crafting my presentation so they saw me, not as a student, but as an asset. Slides and text content was kept to a strict minimum (15 slides, no more than 20 words on a slide), and I spoke to them in their language. The delivery needed to challenge their current way of thinking, to shift their paradigms to show them their business faced ongoing challenges. 

MoM: The business environment changes more rapidly now than it ever has, so changes to the scope of works in the consulting project do happen.  That’s life!  What were the key things you focussed on that allowed you to consider your client’s instructions, and then quickly devise a realistic and achievable project that was in accordance with their instructions?

I went back through some of the old lectures, especially those around Brand Loyalty and Customer Lifetime Value. I knew they were the two main areas to focus on in this project. The business wanted to improve its internal marketing, while providing a more relevant product to the customer. I researched the Business Canvas Model, it provided me with a succinct representation of the customer experience, and what the customer wanted from their interaction. The Bain and Co Elements of Value Pyramid was the most valuable. It exposed the true touch points of the Velocity brand to its membership base. The strategy for Velocity over the next couple of years is to be Australia’s most loved loyalty program. But what is love? And what do customer’s actually love, and not just put up with? The models helped define the disparity between the aspirations of the customer and the aspirations of the business. The Value Pyramid is exceptionally good in showing how valuable it is to step into the customer’s shoes.

Image source: Bain

MoM: Your report was very illuminating for your client with telling marketing implications.  Can you tell us about how some of the main findings (even unexpected findings) that was valuable to the business?

The real eye opener was to see where the customer relationship with the brand was not necessarily in line with their long-term strategy. There were some members that loved the brand, but many who weren’t engaged, or weren’t given what they consider to be tangible benefits. The main takeaway was that all members need relevant benefits, not just the valuable top tiered members. The research uncovered an interesting insight whereby a recent marketing initiative designed to grow Velocity members had unintended consequences.  That is, comments saying “I’m now loyal to Brand X, thanks Velocity,” were most telling – the Velocity campaign provided more customer attachment to a partner brand, and not for themselves.

MoM: You have talked about the benefits to the business, what were the main benefits you received from completing the capstone project?

This project required a lot of preparation. Every subject in the course was used in creating the final report. In particular, the Evaluating Marketing Performance, Decision Making & Research, Contemporary Consumer Behaviour and Marketing in the Global Economy subjects were very valuable. I went through the subject revision notes and read the articles again. I wanted to be sure I could support any of my recommendations to the client. That to me is worth more than anything: being disciplined and researched well enough to make an informed marketing decision about a consumer’s behaviour in the global economy. 

Finally I was able to learn from my contemporaries and the academic staff. I was in constant contact with my mentor, and I formed a small group where we supported each other, and helped maintain perspective on the workload. We’d meet once a week to share the challenges and wins, and we walked away with learning outcomes that helped shape a better individual project. 

Photo: Lise Lehto, Master of Marketing Graduate October 2017

MoM: What advice can you give those students who are about to commence their projects or are now working through their projects?

  1. Be led by the overall business challenge and not nuances of a single marketing campaign. If I was to anchor my work to an idea, instead of a business challenge, then it would end in disaster. Focus on the challenge to the business, provide them with what they need. The Super Bowl as can always come later. 
  2. Be a solutions person, not a problem person. Put each challenge into the sentence “you know the problem with this company? (insert problem here)” and then imagine being the CEO listening to that. Your marketing career will go nowhere fast if you’re the ‘problem person’.
  3. WWALT? (what would a layman think?). This seems weird but it makes perfect sense because it forces you to use everyday, simple language, and not get hooked up into management speak. Does the business face disconnected and imbalanced mission synergy? What does that even mean? If you want to say “the business needs to become more customer focussed”, then just say that.
  4. One thought per slide. What? Really? Yes. It’s an old radio adage “one thought per microphone break”. It forces me to be succinct and relevant. I put every slide, every recommendation, and every info-graphic through the filter: what is the one thing I want them to remember? If I’m asking them to remember too much, they’ll lose interest. 
Colin Farrell
Industry Specialist Lecturer in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Chris North

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

OTT: When TV and Digital Video Worlds Collide

OTT is a bit of a buzzword in entertainment right now and it’s more than just a passing trend. If you’re not sure what it is, ‘Over-the-top’ is a term used for streaming film and TV content without having to subscribe to satellite pay-TV services. Why does it matter? Well, we’ve known for a long time that live TV viewing time dropping steadily over the last few years which is why TV networks like Seven are jumping on the OTT bandwagon. 


In the University of Sydney’s Master of Marketing program, students learn the importance of staying on top of trends as well as the necessity of identifying technologies that have the ability to disrupt entire industries. Marketing Matters explores the impact of OTT on the future of entertainment.

TV audiences are fragmented
These days, when it comes to entertainment, we really are spoiled for choice. We have more screens, platforms and channel choices than ever before so it makes perfect sense that Australians engage with broadcast television differently. The latest edition of Australia’s multi-screen report for July to September shows ‘traditional’ television viewing habits remain dominant, but the number of devices and program options is fragmenting audiences.

In an article by Mumbrella, the report describes the changes in viewing behaviour as being most notable during prime time, when the TV is increasingly being used for other purposes beyond just broadcast television during these hours.

“The gradual decline in time spent viewing live and playback TV over the past five years follows the spreading behaviour that screen, content and platform choice enable. ‘’ the report said.

The time Australian TV viewing audiences are spending watching broadcast television in Q3 2016 compared with the same time last year.

The collision of television and digital video

I can almost hear your mind working over the details of how it all works. Trust me, I was wondering as well.

Essentially, OTT can largely be broken down into three different revenue models:

1. SVOD (subscription-based services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu);

2. AVOD (free and ad-supported services such as Crackle); and

3. TVOD (transactional services such as iTunes, Vimeo On Demand and Amazon Instant Video that allow users to pay for individual pieces of content)

Australian subscriptions for Over-the-Top (OTT) TV services such as Netflix and Foxtel Play have shown major growth since 2015, with the proportion consumers subscribing to OTT surging from 26 percent last year to 40 percent in 2016, according to new research from subscription, billing and CRM specialist, Paywizard..

Image source: Paywizard

The success of Netflix and other SVODs has prompted TV competitors to adapt. At first, TV networks and studios were happy to make some short-term gains by licensing their older programming to Netflix. But in retrospect, the move probably played a major role in the erosion of linear TV ratings as viewers switched over to on demand instead of the live broadcast. Fun fact: Netflix now has 93.8 million subscribers globally.

Is this the end of the Foxtel monopoly?

Well, no. Not just yet. OTT is much different from pay-TV providers ,whose business model centers on selling customers bundles of popular channels with less popular ones and still make a profit. According to Digiday, traditional satellite TV providers (like Foxtel) will still play an important role in the growth of OTT as they excel in areas that TV networks don’t have an expertise in. Eg. sales, marketing and customer management.

“Part of the reason OTT didn’t develop more quickly than it did is that for a lot of content owners, they were able to solve the tech challenge, but they didn’t have the DNA to sell directly to consumers,” said Simon Jones, vp of marketing at Conviva, a video analytics company.

Finally Seven is venturing into OTT video content delivery

Image source: Yahoo

At the core of Seven’s strategy for Total Video and TV Everywhere lies their new OTT product, 7plus. Encompassing live and on demand, as well as an extended content library from some of the world’s largest studios, exclusive original commissions and binge-watching features, Seven’s newest addition to TV viewing platforms is a total game changer.

“7plus is a cornerstone of our strategy, leveraging our content creation, our marketing strengths and our partnerships to deliver content to our audiences on their terms. Taking our content beyond broadcast television has moved to a new level with the streaming of our market-leading video content live or on demand, on any device.” said CEO Tim Worner.

According to Bandt, 7plus was developed in partnership with many of the world’s leading OTT technology companies to deliver an exceptional user experience for both consumers and advertisers. In addition to the extensive library of premium, brand-safe content and an enormous back catalogue, the service delives Australians live broadcast sport, live streamed and on demand for free.

Besides the fact that it’s free (for now), it’s actually pretty exciting for advertising too. When television is consumed on a live stream, OTT’s addressable TV replaces broadcast ads with targeted digital video ads targeted to the individual user. Described by Bandt as a more personalised and immersive advertising experience Addressable TV combines the scale and engagement of TV with the targeting of digital.

Kurt Burnette, Seven’s chief revenue officer, said: “7plus will take Seven to a new level of content, innovation and engagement. Over the coming months, consumers and advertisers will see Seven dramatically expand the delivery of Australia’s favourite content in new and exciting ways. Addressable TV at scale is a game changer which will deliver marked improvements in targeting and ROI. We’re delighted to be the first Australian network to make it available at scale on all our brands.’’

This just demonstrates the ability of a disruptive technology like OTT to completely redesign the entertainment landscape. The result? A superior user experience that is personalised, targeted, offering much more value than ever. Can you remember life before Netflix? I can’t. And I can also tell you that I can’t remember the last time I watched live broadcast television. Perhaps I’ll give 7plus a go.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 27 October 2017

Finding The Key To Brand Meaningfulness

Source: Brand Meaningfulness, Havas Media, 2017

Millennials expect more from brands than any other generation. If you are a Millennial, it probably doesn’t surprise you that 77% demand useful, interesting or meaningful content from brands that go above and beyond their core product. We know that it’s all about the experience (and cool new things). So why does brand meaningfulness matter?

Havas Media’s second annual Meaningful Brands Index,  involving over 134,000 people in 23 countries and their impressions of more than 400 brands confirmed that meaningful brands outperformed the stock market by 120% last year. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it was also found that 74% of consumers wouldn’t care if the brands they use on a daily basis just disappeared. At the University of Sydney Business School’s Master of Marketing, students have studied the evolution of consumers’ relationships with brands and understand that meaningfulness is directly linked to value.

Source: Brand Meaningfulness, Havas Media, 2017


Brand meaningfulness matters.

Brands that go above and beyond their core product/service have the ability to make a positive, tangible impact on their customer’s lives. Currently only 27% of the brands we use today make an effort at improving lives. These brands are rewarded with stronger loyalty and deeper audience connections, which promotes trust. Of all the brands in the world, only 57% are trusted. In Australia, that number is even lower with only 25% of brands earning their consumers’ trust. Surely that’s something that needs to change?

"Instead of putting up another campaign of billboards with celebrities saying 'Buy our shoes, they’ll turn you into a master runner,' Nike+ actually helps makes you a better runner. That’s a constructive way to build a meaningful brand." Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Labs


So what exactly is the best way to engage an audience?

Yes, you guessed it. It turns out that engaging audiences through meaningfulness is directly linked to content. The role of content is to educate, inform, entertain, inspire, reward and help customers. Not only that, if it’s meaningful, it can also be a driver of personal well-being.

The numbers don’t lie. There is a direct correlation  of 71% between how a brand performs on improving personal wellbeing and the strength of its content. These days  84% of consumers expect brands to provide content. And that’s not just limited to social media. Associated brand content also includes experiences, entertainment, stories and even solutions which can be broken down into six categories:
  1. Inspire
  2. Educate
  3. Reward
  4. Inform 
  5. Help 
  6. Entertain 

Creating a brand that matters. 


According to Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Labs, we should stop selling ‘stuff’ and instead bridge the product to the consumer by being useful with tangible human benefits. Haque explains that it means companies must stop thinking in terms of short term gains and instead rethink the entire organisation:

"That requires rethinking organisation, strategy, and especially marketing. It means rebuilding organizations to measure and track human well-being. It means crafting a human strategy, to deliver higher levels of well-being across a company’s constituencies, at two, five, and 10 year intervals. And it means investing in marketing which doesn’t merely promise shinier stuff to people--but ignites higher levels of human potential in them."

Understands what matters to your audience.
There are personal benefits that tangibly improve people’s lives, collective benefits that contribute to the economy, environment and society as well as functional benefits such as developments in product and service such as quality, price, innovation and craftsmanship.

Take for example IBM’s ads with purpose, ‘Smart Ideas For a Smarter City’ which was  designed to help improve people’s daily lives.


Know the types of benefits that your brand delivers.
Nivea's inherently useful solar advertisement charger goes straight to the heart of what Nivea stands for: encouraging staying safe in the sun while encouraging active and healthy lifestyles. This simple and meaningful act equates to growth in trust and business performance.


Define the type of role you want to play in people’s personal or collective wellbeing.
This all come back to brand archetypes. Is your brand a teacher who educates and connects, a coach who motivates and encourages a healthy lifestyle or a protector?  For the 4th of July, Ancestry.com released a thought-provoking ad about equality to teach the idea that we are all more alike than we think.


Activate through the right mix of touch-points, content and experiences.
In GE’s commercial, “What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like a Celebrity,” the company celebrates Dresselhaus, one of the world’s most accomplished female scientists, who died on Feb. 20, 2017. GE uses content to their advantage, engaging with audiences through social experiences and storytelling. Provoking the audience to question why celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Lady Gaga are in the limelight while scientists, inventors and doctors are rarely celebrated.


Brands who understand the benefits of going beyond product differentiation to actually making a difference are the ones that gain their audiences’ trust. Creating meaningful content has the ability to bridge the gap between brands and customers, communicate value, drive affinity and emotional connections that engage audiences and  propel a brand’s values and messages and most importantly, sales. 

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

What’s All This Buzz About Cause-sumption?

As brands are becoming more and more comfortable with supporting causes, the question arises as to when or whether it’s okay for them to get involved or simply stay on the sidelines. The wider trend whereby brands use morality as marketing means that corporate social responsibility (CSR) has now become a mandatory and mainstream practice.


Why you ask? Well it turns out that a whopping 91% of Millennials have indicated that they would switch brands to one associated with a cause, according to a 2015 study by Cone Communications. Are Millennials that different from the older generations? Answer? Yes. There are generational differences in the value drivers. For Millennials, over 70% donate to charities based on their passions. Conversely, 60% of Gen Xer’s and 59% of Baby Boomers, it’s about supporting the local community.

Master of Marketing students at the University of Sydney Business School, learn that in the new model of business, value is co-created with both customers and suppliers. So it makes sense that brands are finally listening to their customers and realising that for most of them, value comes from feeling good about their purchases.

How feel-good purchases are driving cause-sumption. 

Brands allow consumers to express their values by advocating for causes and incorporating CSR schemes into their business models. Feel-good purchases of self-expression have been dubbed cause-sumption. Not just a buzzword, there are real insights supporting the term. "Millennials often use their spending power to express who they are and cause-sumption makes it accessible," says Kirk Olson, VP of Trend Sights at Horizon Media.


Nowadays, it’s largely expected that brands commit to good corporate citizenship. "It used to be that companies would align with charities that shared their same values," says Olson. "Now brands are taking these do-good values and baking into their corporate identities.

Image source: Nonprofit Tech For Good

Do the benefits of cause-sumption outweigh the risk?

The benefits of engaging in cause-sumption marketing can’t be denied. Just take a look at the numbers. In the first ten years of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, from 2004-2014, sales reportedly grew from $2.5 billion to $4 billion, and the award-winning “Evolution” ad spot earned an estimated $150 million worth of media time. The campaign started a conversation about the diversity in beauty, inspiring women to be comfortable in their own skin. Consumers have been rewarded by feeling good about their choice to support a company that promotes body positivity. While Dove’s profit margins continue to soar. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

While this style of marketing makes for memorable brand messages that connect well with consumers, brands should know that playing the cause-sumption card is not without its own reputational risks. Take for example TOMS One for One program that promises to help a person in need for every pair of shoes purchased. Sounds great in theory, right? Turns out, it’s not easy to please everyone. Recently, TOMS have been criticized for replacing local markets and hindering economic development.

Image source: TOMS

Not even Dove is safe from criticism. The Real Beauty campaign has often received scepticism, as you might remember from earlier this month when Dove was forced to apologise for their latest ad blunder. The ad sparked outrage because of its depiction of a black woman turning herself white, resulting in #BoycottDove to spread on Twitter.

Image: Twitter user, Chastity tweets about Dove’s whitewashing campaign.

Around the same time, Dove’s parent company, Unilever, simultaneously produced Axe ads that seem to endorse misogynist commercials for men. Now Unilever is sparking further outrage in Australia with their application to the Fair Work Commission to terminate an expired enterprise agreement covering Streets Ice Cream factory workers in the Western Sydney suburb of Minto.

You have to ask the question, ‘Do they think we’re so easily fooled?’ In the past we may have been duped but these days, consumers are far too connected and involved to ignore brands transgressions. 

Image source: Huffington Post

From cause-sumption to political activism
Today’s political climate is turbulent at best, which means that brands who meddle in politics risk alienating a huge portion of their consumer demographic. Take for example the profound effect of President Trump’s controversial and polarising policies on the US economy.

For the second time this year, following the opposition of Trump’s immigration ban, 162 Silicon Valley tech companies united to file another legal brief against the President’s executive order to restrict the country’s visa program. They argued that the ban, which prohibited migration from seven Muslim-majority countries, was unlawful, discriminatory, and harmful to the economy.

For tech companies who regularly hire highly skilled immigrants, the impact would affect a significant segment of the workforce. In this scenario, lack of public opposition to the ban could be interpreted as implicit support. For those immigrant workers, the silence from their company would ring loud and clear.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Coca Cola announced their support for same-sex marriage. The Kings Cross Coke sign will be lit up in rainbow colours until the results of the marriage equality survey have been announced.

Image source: The Daily Telegraph

In a statement by Coca Cola, the company said it believed in the power of bringing people together.

“Whether it was the struggle for human rights in the United States in the 1960s to a group of young people from many nations on a hilltop in Italy in the 1971, around the world we’ve always stood up for diversity, inclusion and equality. We proudly strive for these qualities in our own business and support these rights for all in society.’’

“We understand that not everyone will agree with our stance and we respect people’s right to hold a different view. We hope they’ll respect our right to support our staff, their family and friends, and our customers and consumers so that all can share the simple happiness of being together.”

So what do you think? Is it better for brands to stay on the sidelines or take the risk of alienating consumers by standing for something? Or is the real risk alienating them by standing for nothing? Whatever the case, the fact still remains that for Millennials at least, there is always a cause worth fighting for and brands have the opportunity to capture their loyalty by offering them the chance to unite. Who knows? Maybe they can actually bring about real change.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School