Walmart, Deliv and August Home: The Golden Age of Innovation in Silicon Valley

Retail giant Walmart (WMT) announced a tertiary partnership with same day delivery leader Deliv and security innovators August Home to create an efficient household of the future. A safe, clean, and well-stocked home so customers have the freedom to do more of what matters. The company plans to pilot an innovative customer experience in Silicon Valley that saves them time and money when it comes to delivery and grocery shopping.

As Walmart puts it, “These tests are a natural evolution of what Walmart is all about – an obsession in saving our customers not just money but also time, making our customers’ lives easier in the process.” Delivery network creator Deliv enables their retail partners to shift their perspective on what is possible when it comes to providing convenience for customers. Same day delivery solves the retail challenge of getting products and services to customers faster to meet their evolving needs. Deliv’s experience creating an innovative delivery solution for the meal kit industry (called Deliv Fresh) lends a unique expertise to Walmart’s strategic partnership.

With a values driven perspective that focuses on innovating solutions that solve industry challenges, Walmart is gearing up to power the household of the future. Security innovator August Home asserts, “We believe that the door to the home isn’t just about keeping the bad guys out. It’s also about letting the right people in—at the right times, on the right terms, and always under the homeowner’s control.” Walmart’s trinity of innovation marks a Golden Age in Silicon Valley that has yet to impact stock trading behavior; investment strategy may evolve with new dynamics at play. Growing concerns for the cost of service is put into perspective by Tech Crunch writer Sarah Perez, “The company didn’t say what this new service would cost, instead noting that pricing is something that the experiment will focus on. In other words, Walmart will try to determine what price a customer is willing to pay for this added convenience.”

With a Trump Administration promise that middle-class income taxes will see a sizable reduction, Walmart’s service may become a necessity that working individuals will be able to budget. American business owners like Walmart are providing consumers with a unique opportunity to, “help us shape what commerce will look like in the future.”  Working hand in hand with customers, innovators, and political leaders will restore American business so that consumers are getting more value for their money.

August Home promises that this entire experience is under the customer’s control, and Walmart commits that consumers will have input as to how much the service costs them long term.

Welcome to the future!

#samedaydelivery #siliconvalley #tech #startups #futureoffood #goldenageofinnovation

Sources:

http://blog.walmart.com/innovation/20170922/why-the-future-could-mean-delivery-straight-into-your-fridge

Walmart partners with smart lock maker August to test in-home delivery of packages and groceries

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To Offend or Embrace?

The social climate of 2016 was a volcano slowing bubbling beneath the surface and now we are seeing its eruptions.  Where does that leave advertisers?  Do they offend some customers while embracing others, or do they continue to market smiling faces across generations and races.  What can retailers learn from the success and failures of political figures?  There is a book by Donald Green titled, “Get Out the Vote”, which details candidates as products and gives advice on how to advertise them to potential voters.  Since this books release in 2004, the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies have ended, and now we are experiencing the presidency of Donald Trump.  Regardless of what you think of his posture and policies, Trump defied odds as he racked up win after win in the primaries and pulled off the largest political miracle of all time when he was elected president with no military or political experience under his belt.

Barack Obama was a very popular president for all of the things he embodied from his life story to governing style, but why didn’t that translate into additional seats in congress and the senate?  Were voters product loyalists when it came to Obama, but not brand loyalists when it came to the Democratic party?  Both Trump and Obama came into their presidencies with their party in control of congress and the senate, but as time went on we saw Nancy Pelosi replaced by John Boehner as Speaker of the House.  With Trump we have to ask ourselves, did voters buy his product in response to the results they experienced with Obama or because they genuinely believed in his message.  Currently Trump is experiencing a political free fall unlike anything we have seen since Richard Nixon, and that is effecting his ability to govern.

The reality is, his internal members of the republican party are not endorsing his message and that limits his power.  Before these members of congress decided to distance themselves from Trump, they calculated two things; the voting of their own constituents and whether or not they would be in office past a Trump presidency based on their current term.  For example, if a newly elected or re-elected Senator distanced themselves from Trump there is very little harm he can do considering he will run for re-election before they do.

https://youtu.be/43QTjFCPLtI

Retailers are making these same calculations when it comes to their marketing campaigns.  Nike is a retailer that has taken a bold stance when it comes to bringing people together regardless of their differences with the “Equality” campaign.  Nike was pushed to address and potentially profit from the current social circumstances with stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James speaking out against things they perceive as injustices.  As a brand, Nike caught a lot of criticism for the ad and its authenticity, but when you compare it to the failed Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad it was a hit.

While some retailers are taking a quasi-stand, most are waiting for the volcano to cool over.  This may seem like a cowardly thing to do, but brands are trying to stay on message as much as possible all while they are looking to outlast the issues of today.  Similar to trends of any kind, new products may emerge to fill the immediate need of consumers, but they will be faced with same transitional challenges when the need of consumers for that product is no longer present.  To answer my own question, I would advise advertisers, politicians, and consumers to be an authentic, but truthful individual regardless of who they offend, because what do we have left if that is not who we are.

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The benefits of Eclipse Day

Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure everyone heard about the solar eclipse that occurred yesterday, but how many of you noticed the “eclipse deals”. My coworker placed an UberEats order for a dozen of Krispy Kreme’s Eclipse donuts, a special edition original glazed donut covered in chocolate glaze only available for a limited time at participating stores (Krispy Kreme, 2017).

After sharing his excitement with most of the office, UberEats notified him that the store was sold out.  To avoid further disappointing the rest of the office he settled for 2 dozen of their regular donuts instead. This had me thinking, how many retailers used events like this to their advantage. USA today posted an article listing several retailers offering deals in honor of the celestial event (Meyer, 2017). Does this form of creative marketing really build business? Danziger (2017) shares that if you give people a reason to shop, make it exciting and make it a way to create memories then people will shop. A retailer selling washing machines may have found it difficult to use the eclipse as an exciting motivator but other retailers sure used it to their advantage. Do you find yourself making purchases during “special events”? What retailers have done this well?

Krispy Kreme. 2017. Retrieved from http://www.krispykreme.com/menu/Doughnuts/EclipseDoughnut

Meyer, Z. (2017, August 21). MoonPies and more: Eclipse food, fun deals abound Monday. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/08/20/moonpies-and-more-eclipse-food-fun-deals-abound-monday/579642001/

Danziger, P. (2017, August 17).Solar Eclipse Marketing: How Retailers Can Use Special Events To Grow Business. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/pamdanziger/2017/08/17/solar-eclipse-marketing-how-retailers-can-use-special-events-to-grow-business/3/#55f32b2452d7

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Is the Mayweather McGregor Fight, at its core, nothing more than black vs. white?

In the words of the late great Ned Stark, “Winter is Coming”.  Saturday, August 26th brings the possibility of delivering a spectacle in the fighting world not often seen.  Two controversial figures, neither of which has any intention of losing to the other, an undefeated record, and enough hype to get people to stop fuming over Washington, if only for a minute. But at its core, particularly in today’s environment, what is it that “fans” are really hoping to see? Simple poll results are hardly difficult to imagine should black and white fans be asked to proclaim a future winner and that in itself is a true shame. This fight seemingly represents a boiling point in American society – or maybe I’m giving it too much credit, or just thinking to darkly.  I hope I’m wrong, I truly do.  But take a look at your newsfeed if you think so.

In the midst of that grim reality is the fact that regardless of the outcome, both Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor have already won. From a marketing standpoint, anyway. Or in the words of Wetpaint:

“The fight isn’t really what’s being sold..  What’s being sold here is the experience – the press conference face-offs, the back-and-forth arguments between boxing and MMA fans, the one-liners exchanged between McGregor and Mayweather.  All this and more.  What’s being sold is everything surrounding the product.  In this case, the product just serves as an excuse for its own marketing, because the marketing is where the real action is”, (Wetpaint, 2017).                                   

Mayweather’s previous fight with Manny Pacquiao grossed nearly $624 million dollars (USD), (Crosby, 2017) and current projections would suggest that the final numbers on this fight would “eclipse” that, (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Regardless of the outcome, not are only are both of these fighters going to be in for a major payday, but so too are the many sponsors.  Should the fight be a good one, it could even do much for moth boxing and the world of mixed martial arts, the latter badly needing some good news after Jon Jones once again wound up on the wrong side of a performance-enhancing drug test, today (Okamoto, 2017).

The racism discussion is one that has already even been called into question, (Marroco, 2017), after McGregor was heard making controversial remarks at one of the press conferences. Great.  As if the world was missing that.  But it’s the controversy that has also helped lend a hand in the marketing of this event.

Time will tell as to who will come out victorious in the ring on Saturday, but in the eyes of the world, the marketing of this event has built a monster.  Whoever wins, here’s to hoping the rest of us can channel are inner- Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa to one day become trusted friends.

References

Mayweather vs McGregor: 4 Content Marketing Lessons “The Money Fight” can Teach You. (n.d.). Retrieved August 23, 2017, from http://www.wetpaint.co.za/mayweather-vs-mcgregor-4-content-marketing-lessons-the-money-fight-can-teach-you/

Crosby, C. (2017, June 15). The Fight Is On: Mayweather, McGregor And Sponsors Look To Cash In Big. Retrieved August 23, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/chasecrosby/2017/06/15/the-fight-is-on-mayweather-mcgregor-and-sponsors-looking-to-cash-in-big/#7bc3d1c379e7

Okamoto, B. (2017, August 22). Dana White: Jon Jones failed UFC 214 drug test; title not stripped. Retrieved August 23, 2017, from http://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/20422093/jon-jones-failed-drug-test-ufc-214-ufc-president-dana-white-says

Steven Marrocco July 13, 2017 10:40 pm, & By: Steven Marrocco | July 13, 2017 10:40 pm. (2017, July 14). Conor McGregor strikes different tone on racial remarks after bombing on stage in New York. Retrieved August 23, 2017, from http://mmajunkie.com/2017/07/conor-mcgregor-explanation-racial-remarks-floyd-mayweather-new-york-world-tour

 

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Get Off My Lawn Ya Crazy Kids!!!

At some point in time, every generation is the thorn in the side of the older stuffier folks who preceded them: the “I had to walk ten miles to school each way with no shoes on, over sidewalks strewn with shards of glass and hot coals” folks. The “get off my lawn ya crazy kids!!!” folks. You get the point. We’ve all been there and it is truly a rite of passage growing up in this society. In any event, now it is the Millennials’ turn as the proverbial punching bag for their older stodgier predecessors.

Marketers, advertisers, social scientists – everyone under the sun is trying to discover what makes Millennials tick, what they buy, political persuasions, social issues, you name it. After poking, prodding and dissecting, everyone seems to have the answer right? Maybe…maybe not.

That is why the 2016 article by the Economist and the subsequent reactions made for a bit of fun and entertaining reading. Millennials had plenty to say after the Economist posed the critical question “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?” back in June 2016. See original the Tweet here: https://twitter.com/TheEconomist/status/748670361840009216.

The post by the Economist stemmed from the failed auction of a $70M diamond, then it spun into an analysis of the decline of diamond sales and why millennials aren’t interested in diamonds, etc. (Bergstein, 2017; The Economist, 2016). However, nobody wants to talk about Gen Xers who actually are more established in their careers, who have more money, and why they aren’t buying diamonds.

According to Bergstein (2017) diamond sales for 2016 actually rose by 4.4% and she elaborates on how some of the negative sentiment surrounding Millennials and diamonds is overblown. Even though the Economist is a reputable publication, this entire scenario is precisely why advertisers must do thorough demographic research before making claims or drawing conclusions that ultimately prove to be unfounded. That is also why the snarky, biting and at times even-tempered responses from Millennials to the Economist’s tweet were thoroughly entertaining and hilarious. To read the reactions to the Economist’s tweet, please click on the following: https://twitter.com/i/moments/749764884984803328?lang=en

References

Bergstein, R. (2017, June 9). Millennials reject diamonds? Prepare to start hearing a new story. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachellebergstein/2017/06/09/millennials-reject-diamonds-prepare-to-start-hearing-a-new-story/#204cf8e96620

The Economist. (2016, June 30). A diamond is for ever. But its allure comes and goes. Retrived from https://www.economist.com/news/business/21701497-diamond-ever-its-allure-comes-and-goes-rough

Twitter.com. (2016, July 5). The best answers to why millennials don’t buy diamonds. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/i/moments/749764884984803328?lang=en

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When Advertisers Influence Coverage

We all read about it on one platform or another. We’ve witnessed it during the course of the current Administration and with celebrity endorsement contracts. I’m talking about advertising and coverage in the media. How ethical is it for a publication to avoid covering certain people, institutions or brands all because the brand is a large supporter? While it seems like a straight forward answer – in theory – the reality is that it is not as straight forward in practice.

I recently came across an article that asked the same question in the context of government – which resonated with me because not only do we see it in action with certain publications, but I’ve been witness to it. Especially on a local level. Certain publications will not cover stories on controversial subjects to avoid the backlash it could have for the business. The article, linked above, covers a small Mexican publication that had funding pulled after a series of stories ran that were critical of the administration and pointed out many conflicts of interest within the administration. Which makes me wonder – how much should publications be allowed to take from public figures who want to advertise with them? Should there be a cap? While I understand that owning and running a newspaper publication is costly, I wonder if development can be done that separates funding from government figures and other sources of advertising dollars.

Having been in the industry in several capacities, it is common practice to make it clear that certain stories are advertorials, and not in any way a reflection or position of the publication. But when the advertiser is riddled with controversy and/or unethical practices – should publications put criteria in place to filter them out in order to avoid the risk of losing the funding they so deeply rely on to stay in business?

I’ve struggled with this notion throughout this administration’s term thus far and also in personal experiences. I still haven’t come to fully understand how to get around the conflicts of interest that exist in the media and how to filter out those that are genuine. But this doesn’t just go for advertising and government or public figures. This even goes with brands. Documentaries like Forks Over Knives uncover controversial connections that make one wonder if our American diet is actually making us sicker – and organizations that are tasked to combat diseases associated with poor diets are funded in large part by the suppliers of the very items that are making us sicker.

Maybe this is too much to think about at the end of the semester but as a student of USC, a critical thinker, and seeker of information I prefer transparency in everything I consume or do. It’s the worst feeling to find out I’ve been duped. I do my best to make informed choices and contribute to brands and causes and publications that are transparent and ethical – even if that means spending more. Does anyone else go through this and question everything we consume? Thanks for your time. Have a great break!

-Eren Cello

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Eclipsing the competition through consumer engagement

Integrated marketing is a constant battle for finding ways to connect with audiences and learn how to connect and drive engagement and eventually sales.

Connecting with family or emotions is often the touchstone brands use to build an association with a brand, but that’s not the only way to connect with an audience. Sometimes cultural events are a prime opportunity for a brand to help bring enhanced meaning to people and create a connection to a meaningful and memorable event that will build the brand’s relevance.

The 2017 solar eclipse was a special moment that connected people across the United States as the Moon blocked the Sun’s rays from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21, 2017. Thousands, and perhaps millions of people traveled to see the eclipse and be a part of this shared event.

Many brands used this opportunity to be a part of the event and help build brand awareness and boost sales. Chattanooga, Tennessee, based MoonPie cookie company was able to boost sales and consumer engagement in the days leading up to the eclipse because of its lunar connection, and the company took advantage of the notice by creating eclipse survival kits (featuring two MoonPies and two pairs of eclipse glasses) and hosting special events associated with the eclipse.

MoonPie even wound up getting into a bit of a social media battle with a competing brand looking to claim the title as the official snack cake of the eclipse.

The snack-cake showdown generated buzz for both brands online throughout Eclipse Day. Perhaps MoonPie’s social media managers put it best the morning after the eclipse when they posted:

Snack cakes weren’t the only brands looking to get into the eclipse excitement. Denny’s restaurants — a company familiar to USC graduate students studying integrated marketing — also got into the eclipse action with a special on pancakes (aka mooncakes) on the day of the eclipse at select locations.

These two examples are some of many attempts by consumer brands trying to take advantage of the 2017 eclipse to build brand awareness and cultural connection with consumers. Some of these concepts were better than others, and certainly care should be taken by brands considering these gimmicks.

However, when successful, using meaningful cultural moments can help brands build awareness and goodwill with audiences looking for enjoy and share these historic events.

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How you exercise without knowing…

I am sorry to disappoint you if you thought this was going to be a blog about how you are becoming the next cover model for sports illustrated. Because it is not.  It is actually about working in groups! YAY!

Many students complain about “group projects”. And sometimes, business and communication students get teased because there is a lot of group work the program. The teasing comes from the idea that group work is “easy” or not “real” work.

Well, if you are one of those students that constantly have group work, you know it is no walk in the park; it’s more like a sprint through The Amazon. That is a metaphor, of course, we are still not becoming swimsuit models. Back to group work, which can bring a lot of complaining and whining about how “miserable” it is and how you can’t believe your faith is not just in your hands, but also, in the hands of strangers.

I am not here to bum you out, so here are 6 concepts that are exercised in groups that you may not realize:

  1.  People skills. Think about all the personalities you’ve had to learn to work –or at least tolerate– with. Think about all the different styles of work ethic, communication, writing, presenting, and thinking. How many of these people would you have actually chosen to work with on your own? But realize how much you learned about those people –that you might have never met– and their differences from yours.
  2. Trust. Because group work doesn’t give you a choice. Your grade depends on the group effort as a whole, so whether you like it or not, you have to trust these people– or at least pretend to.
  3. Malfunction. Yes, unfortunately, projects don’t always go as planned, actually, they almost never do. Whether it is “technical issues”, “people issues”, or if you still have a dog who eats your homework, you learn you have to accept that things did not turnout as planned.
  4. Dependability.  Yes, after the malfunction, you realize that people are still depending on you… which introduces…
  5. ” The Bounce Back”. You and your group have deadlines. So, after the malfunction and realizing you are being depended on, you learn you have no time to cry into a bowl of ice cream. Instead, you turn into a mixture of Usain Bolt and Einstein to come up with that part of the project that took you 6 hours to do, in 1.
  6. Flexibility. Let’s face it: group members never have the same schedule and sometimes not all members are in the same time zone. So you learn to wake up a little earlier to join a group call, through Bluetooth, in your car, on your way to work, squeezing in breakfast and listening to the news.

And As frustration heightens, time ticks and teammates burn out, you finally get it together and you turn in your group project. In a perfect world, you have revised it 3 times, but realistically, you got lucky if you went through it once. At the end of the projects there are all these things you wish you would have done or great ideas you think of after and most of the times you don’t believe it was not your best work, but “it is something”. And strangely, you find you are still happy and even a little proud. Maybe it is because you are done and you don’t have to talk to those people again. Maybe because you learned how to create a survey or uncovered great research. But maybe, it is also because you learned to overcome a whirlwind of experiences. In which case you find that even your “not the best’ work, might just be the work you are most proud of!  And maybe, you also find that person you could not wait to never talk to again, is not so bad after all.

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Wendy’s “Mean Girl” of Social Media

Fifteen years ago, nobody could have ever predicted that “Tweeting” would become a verb used by brands and politicians for that matter all over the world. Brands have found ways to create direct conversations with customers around the globe. Twitter has also transformed customer service and the expectations of customers (Macmillan, 2016).  There is one “Mean Girl” on Twitter that is flat out “Savage” (Hicks, 2017).  Wendy’s has developed a following not necessarily for their products rather their approach to Twitter. Here are a few great examples:

Wendy’s as a brand has taken pride in its Twitter wars and seems to dominate each exchange. Two twitter users were debating the best “4 for $4” deals when one said Hardee’s was better, Hardee’s chimed in with an “Amen”. Another user then tagged Wendy’s to join the conversation and that’s when it got really beefy!:

As we continue to discuss big ideas and what truly cuts through the noise, Wendy’s has established its brand as one that does not hold back on Social Media. They say what many of us probably would like to say to customers if our organization adopted that type of personality. Social media has been able to bring together people that were once isolated by geography and increase collaboration (Holt, 2016).

When McDonalds announced that they will use real beef in “some” of their burgers, Wendy’s didn’t hesitate to reach out.

Social media overall has revolutionized how brands approach consumers and helps identify what types of the personalities of each brand as they continue to focus on social media and overall engagement.

 

(2016, March 21). Retrieved August 10, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/marketing/en_gb/a/en-gb/2016/how-brands-have-changed-marketing-through-twitter.htmlHicks, S. (2017, February 21).

Wendy’s Twitter Page Is Savage. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from http://www.craveonline.com/mandatory/1217929-wendys-twitter-savage

Holt, D. (2016, June 09). Branding in the Age of Social Media. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2016/03/branding-in-the-age-of-social-media

 

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Marketing to the Connected Consumer

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You can’t get away from the sheer volume of articles on LinkedIn, popular media sites, and even here on ‘Buy the Way’ about how to reach the millennial market; and now a sub-segment called Xennials that claim to own a … Continue reading

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