Friday, 28 October 2016

Pokemon Gone?

Many of you might remember the mobile game Pokemon Go. For those that don’t, it’s the game that made people stand still in the middle of the road holding their mobile phones up to their faces. “Charizard!”, that’s all you needed to say to get everyone's attention within a kilometer radius!

Pokemon Go is part of the Nintendo franchise released on July 6, 2016. Within weeks, Pokemon Go became the number one most downloaded game in the free-to-use app category. This app was such a huge success for Nintendo that it increased Nintendo shares by a massive 10%. Three months later and the hype is gone. I personally have not heard of a single person in my social circle talking about Pokemon Go recently. The stats also back this up: By mid-September, revenue dropped from USD16M to USD2M and daily downloads declined enormously from 27 million to just 700,000.

This raises questions on why it dropped so drastically in such a short time and what other gaming companies can learn in order to retain its consumers.


Have a clear path and capitalise quickly
When Pokemon Go was released, there was a limited number of things you could do within the game. It was repetitious and a lot of features were lacking, such as not being able to interact with real life players and shallow game mechanics when battling other Pokemon. This isn’t an issue if the aim of the brand is to get as many players to sign up as possible, but it is an issue when trying to keep them interested.
The developers didn’t release new features quickly enough to keep consumers interested. Although they have released a Pokemon Go wearable a month ago, something that I find interesting, I feel it’s a little too late to retain all the lapsed consumers.

Do your research on what consumers want
It’s bad enough that the game was repetitious and had shallow game mechanics, but the developers then went on to removing a feature that was actually received positively. This was the Pokemon Tracking, which enabled players to find Pokemon based on proximity. As you came closer to finding the pokemon, the tracker would indicate that you are on the right path.

After an update, the Pokemon Tracker was removed and players were forced to walk around in the dark (some players literally played during the night, me included) to find Pokemon, only to realise after half an hour trying to find Charizard that you found Dodrio.

So moving forward, how can Pokemon Go stay afloat? I personally think that it’s a little bit hard for them to recover. Too much damage has already been done and there are too many lapsed consumers. Maybe a potential option for them is to increase social events to raise awareness about the changes that they have made with the game to try and appeal to new, current and lapsed consumers.

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

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Appealing to independence or interdependence

A concept in psychology that is often borrowed in marketing is the dichotomy of the independent and interdependent selves. Campaigns that appeal to independence highlight how a value being promoted can help make individuals feel unique, while those that pander to interdependence focus on membership in a community.

The ‘Army of One’ recruitment campaign of the U.S. Army, which underlined the individual benefits of becoming a soldier, is a classic example of an appeal to the independent self. ‘Even though there are 1,045,690 soldiers just like me, I am my own force,’ said a soldier in the ad. It contrasted with traditional marketing slogans the U.S. Army used, such as ‘Join the People Who've Joined the Army’ in the 1970s, which took a more interdependent approach.

A more recent attempt to target both interdependent and independent selves can be seen in the slogans used by U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The interdependent-targeted ‘Stronger Together’ appears in almost all her campaign materials and is even sprawled on her campaign jet. On social media, the slogan ‘I’m With Her’ is used more prominently and repeatedly, banking on the inclination to refer to oneself when posting online.

It may be argued, however, that although ‘I’m With Her’ asserts a choice, and thus appeals to the independent self, it also points outward rather than inward. Clinton becomes the central figure whenever the slogan is used. It appears that a more effective slogan with an independent slant is one that has been coined not by the Clinton campaign but by her rival, Republican candidate Donald Trump, during their third and final debate on October 20.

‘Such a nasty woman,’ Trump said as he interrupted Clinton’s answer to a question on her policy on Social Security and Medicare funds. He was responding to a jibe Clinton made: ‘...we need to put more money into the Social Security Trust Fund. That’s part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it…’

Within hours, thousands and thousands of women in the U.S. and all over the world have used the hashtag #nastywoman. The taunt-turned-slogan seems to drive home the gender narrative that the Clinton campaign has been developing. Clinton has called Trump out for sexism in the first two debates, and her team has been amplifying this messaging on social media. All they needed was a slogan that sticks.

It is interesting to note that research suggests a relationship between the independent-interdependent clash and gender inequality, at least in the workplace. Stanford psychology professor, Hazel Rose Markus, claims that career success is often linked to qualities of independence. This benefits men, who are socially expected to be independent.

Women, on the other hand, tend to be punished for seeking independence. ‘For example, a woman may be judged “aggressive” or “cold” if she acts independently. A man acting in a similar fashion is unlikely to face the same reaction, because he is valued for his independence,’ a Stanford University blog on gender noted, citing Markus.

Following this logic, it may be argued that when Trump called Clinton a nasty woman, what he did was put out in the open the social penalty women otherwise hoped to avoid. Women took this as an opportunity to proudly display their independence: Instead of cringing at the taunt, they owned it. Clinton has Trump to thank for a marketing strategy for independent women.

Kim Patria
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

How Apple can teach us about brand equity

So the iPhone 7 has been out for roughly a month now and reception has been overall positive. In Apple’s Keynote event back on September 7, the tech giant released the two iPhone variants with the initial release to 28 different countries. This means the lucky people in these countries get to have the iPhone in the first round of release. Here in Australia, we were in the first round of release with the top of the line iPhone 7 Plus 256GB priced at AUD 1569. For countries like Indonesia that aren't in the first or second round of iPhone releases, iPhone lovers in the country have to find alternative ways to get their hand on the phone.

Many people would travel to Singapore — a part of the 28 countries in the initial round of release — and bring multiple phones back to sell back in Indonesia. Because of the effort they have gone through and also the want to gain profit, they would sell the iPhones at a price premium. Prices as high as Rp 25,000,000 (AUD 2520) have been seen on the market and received positively with sticks selling out instantly. This trend happens in Indonesia each year after the release of the new iPhone.  


This is a very interesting case where brand equity plays a significant role to a business. Here are the factors that affect brand equity:

Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is possibly the first factor to build brand equity. With consumers knowing that your brand is out in the market, they will understand what your brand is all about. With no brand awareness, consumers will disregard your brand as it has never come across their mind. Apple didn’t start out as big as they are now. They started in a small garage calling investors up to make them aware that their brand existed. Over time as people start to realise and know your brand, that’s when it becomes a “Top-of-mind” brand.

Brand Loyalty
It would be useless if consumers were to trial the brand and never come back for a second time. Customer retention and brand loyalty is essential to what keeps your business running. In the case of Apple and their iPhones, they have a very loyal customer base and as mentioned above, would pay almost twice the price to get their hands on the phone. We guess that’s how “Apple Fanboys” emerged!

Perceived Quality
A customer’s perception of the quality of the product that you are selling is crucial. No one would purchase goods that they feel are of low quality. Quality is something that you need to have from the start, especially when you are new to the market. There are many boutique brands that are out in the market today which have high quality. When you are new in the market and have little to no brand awareness, one of the things you can do to stand out is to have good quality. When you have a product of high quality it is only a matter of getting consumers to trial your product. Apple iPhones are renowned for their quality. Consumers can see and feel it, with time this gets them to trust the brand and lead to better brand equity.

Apple is a “top-of-mind” brand that everyone recognises. They didn’t achieve this overnight and it took endless hours of blood, sweat and tears to become what they are today. Stay persistent and hopefully these 3 factors can help you get that little extra edge to gain brand equity.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Marketing yourself on social media

As a marketing practitioner, you have probably been at the forefront of at least one brand’s move to social media. But have you started building your personal brand on that social space you have almost come to master?

Research suggests that in the same manner that you have taken to social media to recruit customers, more and more human resource practitioners are also using social media to recruit new talent. LinkedIn and Facebook have particularly proven helpful in scouting potential workers.

For professionals like you, however, this phenomenon can either be a boon or a bane. You may thrive in interconnectedness but falter if you overshare. Here are some tips on making sure your social media profile will help you land a job or, at the very least, make you look professional.

Be on social media. Start with LinkedIn, a platform built specifically to connect employers with potential talent. We also recommend being present on Facebook, the go-to platform for most users, including brands, because of its simplicity.

Of course there are risks to being on social media. But the alternative is worse: Researchers say absence from social media is “virtual identity suicide,” and may lead to suspicion or misunderstanding on the part of the recruiter.

Know your market. Once you are on social media, you may begin to develop the image you want recruiters to see. Doing so involves both keeping and sharing information, and tailoring such information to fit your target audience. Which companies would you like to work in? What positions are you interested in?

Feature accomplishments in your profiles, but be sure to highlight the ones most relevant to your most desired career path. Make sure that you list down results, and not simply job descriptions. Also remember to customise your posts’ privacy settings, especially on Facebook, if you really want to publish that beer pong photo.

Know your strengths. Suppose you have a burning desire to work for an international nonprofit, but you have been working for a telecommunications provider for almost your entire career. You’ve done your research, and you know you have what it takes to thrive in that role and organisation. How will you convince recruiters?

Human resource practitioners tend to look at the transferable skills of applicants for vacant positions. Therefore, in preparing your social media profile, think about the skills you have gained in your past and present jobs that will help you function in the job you want in the future.

Generate content. It’s not enough that you publish your profile, customised specifically to impress the recruiters you are targeting. You also need to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise you claim to have. There is no better way to do this than to generate original content.

If you are confident about writing blogs, both LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to do so in a few easy steps. Short but carefully crafted status updates or comments on links about your area of expertise can also be adequate signals that you know what you are doing.

Building your personal brand on social media is about projecting your best possible self, but this projection should match the knowledge, skills, and experience you have. Besides, if you pretend to be who you’re not, chances are you will not be successful.

Kim Patria
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Can Snapchat pull businesses and consumers closer together?

When Snapchat was released in 2012, many social media users stayed clear from it because they didn’t get it. They thought it was used mostly for inappropriate things due to the nature of the app--that is sending a snap or video for no longer than ten seconds. Now, four years later, more netizens understand the app. Business are also starting to utilise its unique nature. Over 400 million snaps are sent every day and there are 26 million users in the U.S. alone. The core audience are aged at 18 to 25 and 70 percent of users are women. So for companies targeting this audience, Snapchat can be a useful tool.

What exactly about the app makes it unique and worth exploring?


Connecting on a personal level
Businesses can become distant from their consumers and ultimately lose them if they don’t break the barriers. With Snapchat, businesses can utilise the impromptu nature of the app and engage more on an “everyday” level that the audience appreciates.

Raw and non-sterile
As mentioned, Snapchat can be candid and spontaneous. This unique type of social engagement can be more effective than “sterile-type” advertisements on other media such as television. An example of how a huge company like Coca-Cola can utilise Snapchat is by snapping their staff working in their factories. This takes the brand closer to consumers by allowing them to view the products and the process from an entirely different perspective.

Time sensitive
Snaps last in your “feed” for only a maximum of 24 hours. Businesses can benefit from this as it creates urgency for viewers to engage quickly. If a business were to come out with a limited time offer in a snap, viewers would go crazy and engagement would peak. When businesses have sound footprints on Snapchat, they can expect audience retention to be strong as they would be willing to view snaps as soon as possible.

Nowadays, more and more people are using social media and businesses need to adapt to different social media platforms. Social media is still in its early stage, and its growth doesn’t show signs of letting up anytime soon. Businesses must therefore adjust the way they market to consumers using social media, and Snapchat is a good way to start.

Stanley Ritz Kurniawan
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Twitter wars: Political marketing lessons from Colombia

Colombia’s recent rejection of a landmark peace accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is viewed as a letdown, considering how widely applauded the deal had been globally. No outsider who watched videos of the dramatic treaty signing ceremony would have thought that Colombia remained divided over the question of ending the five-decade insurgency. Yet when Colombians came out to vote, 50.2 percent rejected the government deal with the FARC; 49.8 percent supported it.

Analysts now say a key figure in the no vote victory is Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe, a close ally-turned-archenemy of the incumbent Juan Manuel Santos. The current government of course had the upper hand in terms of funding, influence and machinery, but Uribe was not to be outplayed. As soon as the Santos administration and the FARC had struck a deal, Uribe ramped up what the Washington Post in 2015 described as “a one-man Twitter war” that painted the peace accord as an “Agreement of Impunity.”

“We have an opportunity to stop the mockery of the FARC victims,” Uribe told his Twitter followers in Spanish after the treaty had been signed September 26. He was fuelling an already burning sentiment among Colombians that the FARC had to be prosecuted for the atrocities they have committed. The armed struggle between the government and the FARC has left some 250,000 dead and displaced some six million.

In marketing terms, it appears that the Santos government had a weak value proposition for the wider population who needed to approve the peace agreement. Santos knew that he had to appeal to swing voters—those whose sentiments about the FARC rebellion are not strong enough to make them decide just yet between a yes and a no vote. Still, he focused his campaign on the not-so-appealing “transitional justice,” a framework that will allow FARC rebels to run for office and grant them amnesty depending on the gravity of their crimes.

Uribe, on the other hand, made sure that Colombians who did not understand what the FARC deal offered knew what it took away: the opportunity to bring to justice rebels viewed as perpetrators of the war horrors Colombia had to suffer. Uribe consistently pushed this theme on Twitter, where he posts four times more frequently than Santos does. (Uribe has tweeted some 51,000 times since July 2009, Santos some 12,100 times since August 2009. They have about the same follower size: Uribe has 4.55 million; Santos, 46.2 million.)

Photo: Screengrab from the Twitter profile of former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe
The case of Uribe’s Twitter storm against the Colombia peace deal bolsters Twitter’s relevance in political marketing. “Politicians are always looking for ways to get their message across without having it filtered and potentially altered by others, such as news media,” John Parmelee and Shannon Bichard wrote in their book Politics and the Twitter Revolution. Citing previous research, they added that although Twitter’s reach seems limited in size, it is high on impact, because its users consist of opinion leaders—both on the Internet and offline.
Twitter’s role in shaping the political landscape is apparent not only in Colombia, but also in the U.S., where a Twitter war rages between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The heated exchanges arguably peaked in June, when the Republican bet Trump said, “Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama – but nobody else does!” Clinton replied using three words, “Delete your account,” a popular Internet retort for posts too preposterous or despicable to directly respond to.
It may be said, however, that Trump has been getting more media value from Twitter—that is, more of his tweets make the news. On September 30, the media reported heavily about how Trump took to Twitter early in the morning to assail Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who Clinton cited as a victim of Trump’s sexist and racist behaviour. News outfits also carried the views Trump tweeted about the vice presidential debate on October 5. Whether or not the media coverage has been to his favour, of course, is another question.
Twitter’s negative impact on a political figure is more discernible in the case of the Philippine’s newly named ambassador to the United Nations, who has run amok online. Teddyboy Locsin, a former congressman and a popular broadcaster, has been widely criticised for spewing expletives on Twitter against users who question Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war against drugs. He was recently hit for an old tweet which said “the drug menace is so big it needs a final solution like the Nazis adopted.” He has since deleted his tweet.
“The evolution of marketing in politics has reached a critical stage where politicians can no longer rely on a loyal party following but must be prepared to use any tool necessary to respond to unexpected events in a world that is changing every day,” Bruce Newman wrote in his book The Marketing Revolution in Politics. Twitter allows politicians to put out their messages quickly, directly, and widely. The fact remains, however, that social media is simply a channel; sound strategies make them effective political marketing tools.
Kim Patria
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Why is marketing important?

“Isn’t marketing basically selling stuff?”
“Marketing is easy, it’s all about persuading.”
“Why would you bother studying marketing? It’s common sense.”

Have you ever heard these questions and statements thrown around? These are common misconceptions among those who do not understand what goes into marketing and the underlying factors that impact the process. Marketing is essential to any business. It is therefore a competency that everyone in any industry needs. Here are just some of the reasons you can’t take marketing for granted:

Understanding the Target Audience
It’s like taking candy from a baby! This phrase suggests that all babies have candies on them because they absolutely love candies. This is simply misleading as not all babies like candy and not all candies are appropriate for babies! What we’re trying to get at here is you have to understand your target audience and offer them the right product at the right time. Arguably the most important step in marketing is research. So let’s use the candy for the remainder of this post as the product we’re trying to sell—liquor chocolate candy bar. This target market is for a very specific target audience where they have to (1) like chocolate candy bars, (2) like liquor and (3) like liquor in a chocolate candy bar.

Increases Brand Awareness
So your choices for a little treat of chocolate candy bar comes down to two options: A box of a random branded Irish Cream chocolate candy bar or a box of Baileys Irish Cream Truffles. We’re guessing nine times out of ten that you would opt for the latter simply because of your recognition and awareness of the brand. That’s where marketing comes in: Before and during the launch, promotion and advertising is needed to spread the word about the otherwise unheard-of brand of liquor chocolate candy bar. The brand needs hype and heat to gain any traction in the market.

Identifying the Marketplace
So you think you have such a unique product that will make you look so badass in your company and the particular candy bar is one week away from a nationwide launch. Your mum suddenly sends you a message with a snapshot of the exact same product that you were about to unveil in a local deli. You launch the product anyway; it’s a major disaster and you were made redundant. You could minimise this risk by conducting market research. Market research give you an idea of what product you ought to bring into the market. With market research, determining the gap in the market is easy. It will then be up to you to fill that gap.

Boosts Sales
At the end of the day, sales is an important metric of whether or not the product launch was successful. Conducting the right research, determining the target audience and advertising on relevant marketing channels usually results in increased sales.

The person that said that marketing is basically selling stuff has a point but there is so much more that goes into selling products or services. The instances mentioned above barely scratch the surface of what marketing truly is. But hopefully, they give a glimpse into why marketing is a skill all professionals across all industries should have.

Stanley Ritz Kurniawan
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School