Monday, October 30, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 12 – Helping Stores to Sell

Paco Underhill, managing director of the retail consultant Envirosell Inc., offers the following advice for fine-tuning retail spaces in order to keep shoppers spending:

Attract shoppers and keep them in store.

The amount of time shoppers spend in a store is perhaps the single most important factor in determining how much they will buy.

Honor the “transition zone”.

On entering a store, people need to slow down and sort out the stimuli, which means that shoppers will likely be moving too fast to respond positively to signs, merchandise, or sales clerks in the zone they cross before making the transition. Make sure there are clear sight lines.

Don't make them hunt.

Put the most popular products up front to reward busy shoppers and encourage leisurely shoppers to look more. At Staples, ink cartridges are one of the first products shoppers encounter after entering.

Make merchandise available to the reach and touch.

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of customers' hands. A store can offer the finest, cheapest, sexiest goods, but if the shopper cannot reach or pick them up, much of their appeal can be lost.

Men do not ask questions.

Men always move faster than women do through a store's aisles. In many settings, it is hard to get them to look at anything they had not intended to buy. Men also do not like asking where things are. If a man cannot find the section he is looking for, he will wheel about once or twice, then leave the store without ever asking for help.

Women need space.

A shopper, especially a woman, is far less likely to buy an item if her derriere is brushed, even lightly, by another customer when she is looking at a display. Keeping aisles wide and clear is crucial.

Make checkout easy.

Be sure to have the right high-margin goods near cash registers to satisfy impulse shoppers. And people love to buy candy when they check out – so satisfy their sweet tooth.

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 11 – Supply Chain and Products

In Management Lite & Ezy 10, we learned that a supply chain can be either physically efficient or market responsive. Which type should we have for our firm? According to Fisher (1997), this depends on whether we market functional products or innovative products. The table below explains the characteristics of these types of products. (Click for larger image.)

Now, it should be clear that if we market functional products, we need an efficient supply chain. Conversely, the supply chain has to be responsive for innovative products.

Functional products <-> Physically efficient supply chain

Innovative products <-> Market responsive supply chain

Fisher, M. (1997). What is the Right Supply Chain for Your Product? Harvard Business Review, March-April 1997, 105-116.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Slogans and Ad Taglines

Adidas – Impossible is Nothing

Avis Rent-A-Car – We try harder

Burger King - Have it your way

California Milk Processor Board – Got Milk?

Canon – You can Canon

Deere – Nothing runs like a Deere

DHL – We move the world

FedEx – We live to deliver

HSBC – The world’s local bank

Indian Tourism – Incredible !ndia

KFC – Finger lickin’ good

LG – Life’s Good

McDonald’s – i’m lovin’ it

Nike – Just Do It

Nokia – Connecting People

Thai Airline – Smooth as Silk

Thai Tourism – Amazing Thailand

Volkswagon – Drivers Wanted

Wal Mart – Everyday Low Prices / Always Low Prices

YouTube – Broadcast Yourself

Monday, October 16, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 10 – Supply Chain

A few definitions of supply chain:

“A supply chain consists of all stages involved, directly or indirectly, in fulfilling a customer request. The supply chain not only includes the manufacturer and suppliers, but also transporter, warehouses, retailers, and customers themselves.”
- Chopra Sunil, Peter Meindl, 2001, Supply Chain Management: Strategy, Planning and Operations

“A supply chain is a network of facilities and distribution options that perform the functions of procurement of materials, transformation of these materials into intermediate and finished products, and the distribution of these finished products to customers.”
- Ganeshan, Ram and Terry P. Harrison, 1995, An Introduction to Supply Chain Management

A supply chain can be either physically efficient or market-responsive, or a mix of them. The table below compares the differences of these two types of supply chain. (Click for larger image.)


Fisher, M. (1997). What is the Right Supply Chain for Your Product? Harvard Business Review, March-April 1997, 105-116.

Hugos, M. (2003) Essentials of Supply Chain Management

Friday, October 13, 2006

Personnel Differentiation – Flight Attendants

In my previous post, Management Lite & Ezy 9, I described personnel differentiation strategy. Marketing gurus Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller pointed out in their book that flight attendants of Singapore Airlines (SIA) provide excellent service.

When a passenger aircraft takes off or touch down, everyone is required to be seated and fasten seat-belt. Cabin crews are no exception. Steward and stewardesses of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) usually retreat to the rear compartment during take off and landing.

However, I observe that flight attendants of SIA will simply occupy any empty passenger seats. This conveys a message that they are always with the passengers and always ready to serve. Well done, SIA.

I don’t have a very good memory with American Airlines (AA). I once flew from Los Angeles to Dallas. AA cancelled my flight and put me in a later one.

Then I noticed stewardesses of AA chewed gum. In Godzilla the movie, character played by Jean Reno chews gum in order to “look American”. I gather that gum chewing must be very common among Americans.

Unfortunately, stewardesses who chewed gum gave me an impression that they were not professional enough. I am not against gum-chewing. A police officer who chews gum is less intimidating. But a flight attendant who chews gum does not look serious.

Another point deducted from AA’s scorecard.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 9 – Market Positioning

Positioning, in the context of marketing, refers to the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the prospective target market.

The result of positioning is the successful creation of customer-focused value proposition. Here are a few examples:

Perdue (chicken) – More tender golden chicken at a moderate premium price.

Volvo (station wagon) – The safest, most durable wagon in which your family can ride.

Domino’s (pizza) – A good hot pizza, delivered to your door within 30 minutes of ordering, at a moderate price.

Companies often employ differentiation strategies to position their offerings or images. These include:

Product differentiation – in terms of form, features, performance, durability, reliability, style, design etc. as well as service dimensions (ordering ease, installation, maintenance, training etc)

Personnel differentiation – competence, courtesy, credibility, reliability, responsiveness, communication. E.g. stewardesses of Singapore Airline are courteous, responsive, speak many languages and wear traditional costume.

Channel differentiation – coverage, expertise, performance etc. Dell, for example, in known for selling PCs over the Internet.

Image differentiation – e.g. Marlboro with its “macho cowboy”

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sales Tips

Sales guru Tom Hopkins offers some tips to help close a deal:

  1. Ask questions that don’t leave room for no. “I could visit you today at 3, or would tomorrow at 9 be better?”
  2. Never use the word “price” or “cost”. Say investment.
  3. Never ask for “an appointment”. It suggests a serious time commitment. Say “I’ll be in the area, and I was hoping I could just pop by and visit.”
  4. Don’t ask, “May I help you?” They’ll reply, “We’re just looking.” Ask instead what brought them into the store today.
  5. Isolate areas of agreement. You need a lot of “little yeses” on the way to getting a “big yes”.

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Let there be Light

Look at the above two images. How do you find them? Note that first image was taken with flash ON while the second one was taken with flash OFF.

I'm sure some of you are confused. If first image was taken with flash on, why is it darker than the second one???

The reason is simple. The little flash wasn't powerful enough to illuminate the skyscraper.

But why is the second image brighter? To answer this question, we need to understand the concept of exposure. When we press the shutter button, the lens is 'opened' for certain length of time, allowing light to enter the camera and expose the image sensor (or film). The longer the exposure time, the brighter the final image will be, and vice versa. (Assuming that other factors are held constant.) In a camera, exposure time is determined by shutter speed.

I switched off the flash when I took the second image. The camera automatically selected a slow shutter speed of 1/6 sec, which means the exposure time was 1/6 sec. In contrast, the first image was shot with a shutter speed of 1/60 seconds.


When taking a night landscape picture, turning off the flash will 'normally' force the camera to select a slow shutter speed, and you get a better photo. (There are exceptions, but we will not discuss them here.)

Alternatively, use Landscape Mode or Night Landscape Mode, if your camera has one.


When you are shooting with slow shutter speed, the camera should be stabilized using tripod.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 8 – Market Targeting

In Management Lite & Ezy 7, I described segmenting consumer market. The next step a company does is to select one or more segments to enter. The targeted market segments should be substantial (large and profitable enough to server) and accessible (the segments can be effectively reached and served).

Derek F. Abell identified five patterns of target market selection:

Single Segment Concentration e.g. Porsche (sports car only, targeted at the rich and famous)

Selective Specialization e.g. Procter & Gamble personal care products (different products for different markets)

Product Specialization e.g. microscope (sold to different markets such as universities, government and commercial laboratories)

Market Specialization e.g. firms that sell assortment of products only to university laboratories

Full Market Coverage e.g. Coca-Cola

The diagrams illustrate these five patterns.

Note: P = Product, M = Market