Wii or not to Wii

22 09 2009

One of the most interesting brand developments in a long time is the Nintendo Wii.  The video game market has been hot for some time now, but the story was the same.  Better graphics, better visuals, better reality and gore filled titles.  How do you break out of the crowd?

Look no further than the Nintendo Wii for a great story.

How about finding a different tact all together?  By starters, let’s take away a barrier to purchase – parents that don’t want their kids just sitting in front of their TV.  Let’s add an element of physical activity into the game.  Then let’s market family styled competition.  This is nothing less than brilliance.

  • What can you do to change the market parameters?
  • When was the last time you had a meeting of your best minds to challenge status quo?
  • Are you playing leap frog with your competition?
  • What would happen if you did something radically different?
  • When was the last time you came up with a brilliant idea and pushed it forward?




Survival of Innovation

31 08 2009

In 1988 Pinnacle Brands broke into the baseball card market.  The market had long been dominated by a couple of players (Topps,  Donruss, and Fleer) and the market was doing fairly well.  It catapulted onto the scene by throwing in new features to the market, more colorful cards, full edge bleeds, more information, etc with their Score brand.  Over time they added in brand variations that were targeted at very specific markets:

  • Score:  Lower price point, more kid friendly
  • Select:  Mid price point, geared for the beginning collector
  • Pinnacle:  Higher price point for the more serious collector

If you followed the baseball card market at that time you will remember it as a rather unique time.  It was perfect example for economists.  The value of each card, pack, box was independently valued by third parties.  Card shops popped up in nearly every neighborhood to trade cards, and serious collectors were following the distribution trucks buying entire cases at a time before they even hit the shelves.  The catch was that you could not make all the cards you wanted.  The more you made the less you sold, and vice versa.

One of the main things that happened was the wrong sales mentality.  What made them successful, new  innovation, also hurt them.  They tried to stack the cards to the ceiling and create a consumer good mentality, not realizing the principal that the card would really only sell if they kept product very limited.

Hindsight being perfect (still a good lesson none the less) they should have kept production runs low, elevating the brand and looked for other ways to extend the brand.  As a last change, they started to get into other types of cards.  I think in the beginning they had the brains to come up with demand creation card games like today’s Pokeman genre.

Upper Deck came along in the same year and appears to be the leader in the field today.  Usually someone is going to survive, are you doing everything you can to make sure it is you?





Mulligan

23 07 2009

If you were given a corporate mulligan, how would you use it? What would stop you from doing it over?

Or think of it a different way…

How would your competition use your product platform, your assets, your customers to take advantage of you?  What happens if you push all of your unprofitable customers over to your competition?  Let them deal with the headache, the loss of time and money.

One of the most interesting thing about this current economic environment is that there is a new entrepreneurial spirit.  With this brings new technologies, new business models, etc.  Would GM and Ford take a mulligan when Toyota entered the US market?  Take a look at Blockbuster.  Did they see Netflix coming?  If they did how could they have reacted?

Can someone do this to you?





Why, Ask Why

1 06 2009

I recently watched the 2005 documentary Enron: The smartest guy in the room.  What struck me more this time was the tagline “Ask Why”, yet it appeared more like “Why, Ask Why” in the animation.  

Most organizations promote “yes” men and women.  They want people to just agree and move on.  Part of this is that we lack a mechanism to challenge conventional wisdom or leadership opinion.  While this is dangerous on a few levels, it also stiffles innovation and ultimately performance potential.

  • When was the last time you found a new way to value a customer?
  • When was the last time you found a way to measure process improvement on a key process?
  • When was the last time you specifically assigned a trusted advisor to attack business assumptions?
  • What happened to the last really good change agent in the organization?

All to often we answer requests with “yes, we can do that” when we should on occasion ask “why do you want to do that.” We need to break old molds and challenge ourselves to create a culture of action, a culture of 5% better everyday.





Blue Ocean, Red Ocean…

21 04 2009

If you have not read the book on Blue Ocean Strategy, I would highly recommend it.  No matter what industry you are in or how competitive your market is, it should make you think about innovation.  Most companies I have worked with find it difficult to integrate innovation into their management cycle, and therefore innovation is done in an ad hoc manner.  

While a Blue Ocean (Red Oceans are competitive markets where everyone has spilled blood) market play may not be for everyone, you can think of new ways to measure the business, process improvements, compensation plans, marketing tactics, etc if you create a more formal manner for innovation.

Additionally, you might find a great deal of value of reassessing the competitive landscape.  It never hurts to discuss how would a new competitor attack the market.  All great businesses find themselves under threat from unseen ideas – this may just give you a more proactive manner to see the ideas coming.