Yes, we know that there are differences between a dedicated e-reader and a tablet. And if absolutely forced, consumers will acknowledge the differences too. But ultimately that's not really what consumers focus upon. In the hearts and minds of consumers it works out to a kind of 'meet-my-expectations-stupid' paradigm, and articulated or not, shrinking sizes and prices of 'full-featured tablets,' are managing to better meet customer expectations and are, thus, raising questions as to the viability of devices upon which one can only read a book.
Corning – the 'glass company' that came up with the telescope mirror for the Palomar Observatory, lighter and tougher windshields, and with Gorilla Glass for the first iPhone (GG now in its 3rd generation) – has showcased their new, ultra-thin, 100-micron thick, flexible glass.
Let's be clear, we're talking about glass, not plastic. It's called "Willow Glass" and it bends. By "it bends," we mean it's supple and bendable like plastic. But it's glass. And it could change the shape and form of how next-generation electronics are ultimately designed.
It was American President Eisenhower who famously spoke of "unwarranted influence." At the time he was talking about the military-industrial complex. But if he were around today, we suspect he would have included the aviation business, specifically passenger airlines, especially in light of the spate of recent mergers.
Mergers are not new, of course, but consumer and economic trends have accelerated those in the airline industry in recent years. We measure airlines in our annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, and can't have helped but notice that there are fewer National carriers showing up in the survey now than a decade ago. Ten years ago there were 10 airline brands, this year there are only six. American Airlines merged with U.S. Airways, Northwest merged with Delta, United merged with Continental, so fewer airlines and, perhaps, consumers fear, "unwarranted influence" on the parts of those that remain.
Real fishermen have a saying: "a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office," but perhaps not at McDonald's. Not this month, anyway. It turns out that Fish McBites – offered in three different sizes and a new Happy Meal – didn't lure enough customers into the chain to help U.S. sales last month.
The paltry catch cast a pall over the brand's headquarters because the company hadn't netted a monthly decline in global sales for nearly 10 years. Until last October. And this January. And again in February. So whatever strategic bait they think they're using, it isn't working as well as the corporation hoped. Their profits have floundered, a situation that must have more than one shareholder carping at McD's CEO, Don Thompson.
Looks as if Office Depot is going to buy OfficeMax. That purchase would combine the #2 and #3 office supply retailers, leaving only the new entity and Staples (currently #1), in an industry that has been pretty much undifferentiated and, in the industry's terminology, "overstored."
We'd like to give you some engagement and loyalty facts about these category players, but we can't. We stopped measuring them as a Retail Category in our annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index last year. First, because there were only three national chains left, and second, because the expansion into the category of previously non-traditional, now more and more becoming more and more consumers' default channels, of online retailers. (Amazon) and price clubs (Costco), have created problems for the three (soon-to-be 2) brick-and-mortar chains.
For those of you who missed it, we announced the results of our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI) last week. There were actually some seismic shifts in how consumers view categories and brands, and products and services that used to be brands and now aren't.
The biggest finding though, was if you wanted to be successful as a brand generally, and end up high on the loyalty list specifically, which comes with a raft of really good stuff including sales and profitability, you needed to establish a high degree of emotional engagement. What "emotional engagement" is depends upon the category in which your product or service competes. "Emotional engagement" is different category-to-category. You don't buy a soft drink the same way you buy a smartphone, and emotional engagement relates directly to "brand" and what the brand stands for or is able to stand for in its category.
It looks as if US Airways and American Airlines are going to merge very soon. That merger would put them ahead of Delta (that purchased Northeast, then merged with Western, bought Pan Am routes, and finally merged with Northwest) and United (that kept it simple and just merged with Capital with Continental).
This new, combined airline would create the US's biggest airline, bringing the number of major airlines down to only 3 main carriers and a handful of budget carriers. And a bunch of regionals. And while the consolidations have resulted in service cuts in certain markets, the airlines have also become more profitable.
If you watched the commercials on the Super Bowl this past Sunday it won't come as a surprise that consumers desperately need greater levels of emotional engagement, if marketers want to – not just entertain – but actually sell products and build real brands. That fact was confirmed by findings from the Brand Keys 17th annual 2013 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI).
Yes, consumer empowerment and the internet and social networking and consumers' never-ever-ending experiences with price promotions and discounting have finally reached a saturation level, which triggered a tipping point in the branded world, and now emotional engagement is the dominant driver of brand purchase decisions and brand loyalty.
American Airlines jettisoned its old "AA" tail-wing signature logo and unveiled its new logo this week. It's the first time they've had a new logo in 40 years, so they're really emotional about it. It's an updated eagle inside a blue and red stripe. It's a nice enough logo, and, apparently, it comes surrounded by a whole lot of rational explanations.
American, just emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, had ordered a whole lot of new planes, so they decided to reassess their look. Fair enough. But then they took more than 2 years with IPG's Futurebrand to end up with their new logo, which might seem a long time for a nearly-bankrupt airline to spend (not to mention the money) on a logo, and according to reports, it all started with a question.
The New Year, 2013, approaches. And as everyone knows, the number thirteen has lots of symbolism. For the religious among us there were the 13 guests at the Last Supper and the 13 tribes of Israel. Scientists know the Universe is governed by 13 fundamental constants of physics, and the relationship between the volume of the Earth and the Sun is 1310. For shoppers there’s added value of 13 items that comprise a “baker’s dozen.” Anthropologists study the 13 skies of the Aztecs.
But for those marketers and brand managers who want to look beyond the horizon, luckily our validated predictive loyalty and engagement metrics have identified 13 critical trends for 2013: