Out of Box Experiences are poor when you can't even get the product out of the box...

Japanese companies have developed some terrific packaging solutions, like the o-nigiri packaging that's easy to open, keeps the rice lovely and moist, and puts a layer between the rice and the nori until the time the package is opened, thus ensuring that the seaweed stays crisp and dry:

Ministop_onigiri

After living here so long, I've started to consider it "normal" that products are so considerately packaged, albeit often over-packaged. Whatever the product, there always seems to be an obvious string or tab to pull, or a corner cut out from the plastic to make it easy to tear open.

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Dismal Retail News

Following the same path we have been on for the last many months, Wal-Mart showed strength almost singularly in the offline retail panoply. The overall results reported yesterday and today show the worst growth rate since the commerce department started tracking retail in aggregate. A decline of 2.8 percent is rough. And, even taking out auto, fuel and building supplies, the rest of retail declined by .5 percent, which in itself shows that every sector is being hit--even lux. We'll look for online third quarter results for the online retail market out soon and cross our fingers.

B2B Marketing Obsolete, Really? (Part III)

Social Network Gree to go IPO

Asiajin reports that Gree will make a public offering - following in the footsteps of Mixi. You might recall that Charlene Li calculated that Mixi's value translated into $200 per user at that time.

Young Japanese people have adopted Social Networks in a big way. (But not quite as much as Koreans).

Japanese_youth_use_sns_2

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Forrester Consumer Forum in London - Customer Experience Track report

On Thursday and Friday last week I participated in Forrester's Consumer Marketing Forum EMEA 2008. I found it to be a truly inspiring event.

On Thursday I attended some of the general sessions. And on Friday, I had the honor of moderating an afternoon track, focusing entirely on Customer Experience topics. It was awesome.

Here are a few of my impressions from the general sessions. Tomorrow I'll blog about the Customer Experience track.

>> Jaap Favier (Forrester - Research Director)

Kicking off the event, Jaap spoke about overcoming the challenges to marketers in the economic downturn. We (marketers) are among the least trusted people in the world - at the bottom of consumers list of trusted professions with lawyers. (If you want to get to the top, you'd better become a doctor, a teacher or a fireman). In the 1930s, P&G started to exploit new media (radio) to deliver content that customers wanted to hear - soap operas. Now we need to thrive in a world of Web2.0 media.

Since nobody loves us... we'd better stop talking at them and start facilitating conversations that they can trust.

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Facebook Phone Launches

3 launched their Facebook phone in the UK today. See Guardian.

I got the chance to see some early demos of the phone, but not the final version. Really liked the concept that I saw. Will be interesting to watch and see how this type of interface works on a phone. I think it's more intuitive for the consumer than the PC analogies that have been carried over. Will be interesting to watch. I'm really excited about where phones will be in a few years when more of these social networking/graphing features are incorporated into the UI as 3 has done.

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Online travel agencies, the economy and Velveeta

To say Q3 was a tough one for online travel agencies would be an understatement. Expedia and Priceline shares lost more than 50 percent each since the beginning of the third quarter, while Orbitz is down 40 percent in that period.

During Q3, it became abundantly clear that the economic slowdown was driving a serious contraction in demand.

At that time, there was an opportunity to come forward with a fresh and responsive marketing message to acknowledge the new financial reality.

Look to retail. Target has a stylish and amusing television campaign based on their "Brand new day" theme that shows how their products can help people save money as a substitute for activities they are likely to give up due to cost (i.e. a coffee maker instead of going to a coffee shop, an exercise ball to replace gym fees). Walmart has a more direct savings-focused television ad demonstrating that replacing cereal for take-out breakfast can save $900 per year.

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Windows Live Still Undefined, Needs More Two-Way Syndication

What Microsoft calls "Wave 3" of its Windows Live services shows modest steps towards its goals of integrating more social features into what still remains an odd-feeling collection of services. Users can now get a feed experience on their profile that is capable of incorporating activity reports from outside services like Twitter, Flickr, Flixster, Photobucket, iLike, and others.

I'm skeptical of Microsoft's ability to steal away users from MySpace and Facebook -- and Microsoft execs told me that's not the core objective. Rather, they hope to integrate social network features into other established activities. Microsoft's strength is its Hotmail and Messenger customer base, so this makes sense, but MSN feels absent. And though it's the original platform company, in this consumer-facing roll out Microsoft isn't emphasizing APIs and mash-up capabilities

More important, I'd like to see more two-way syndication. Users should be able to get their Hotmail & Messenger updates within Facebook if they want to. Microsoft doesn't lack that vision, but this wave is more about the reverse direction, and of course, the two big social networks are noteworthy by their absence.

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Facebook Phone Launches

3 launched their Facebook phone in the UK today. See Guardian.

I got the chance to see some early demos of the phone, but not the final version. Really liked the concept that I saw. Will be interesting to watch and see how this type of interface works on a phone. I think it's more intuitive for the consumer than the PC analogies that have been carried over. Will be interesting to watch. I'm really excited about where phones will be in a few years when more of these social networking/graphing features are incorporated into the UI as 3 has done.

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Want to know how budget changes effect you?

We are about to release our updated Internet Advertising Spending Forecast. It is broken out by category, and provides good insight into how the current economic downturn will affect different businesses. If you are interested in discussing this with us and how you should be using the numbers to plan for your own 2009, please contact your account manager to set up a call.