Tag Archives: market share

consumer behavior

Consumer Behavior Sparks Ideas For New Products, Expanding Markets

Marketing turns something old into something new: Consumer behavior sparks ideas for new products, expanding markets.


Introducing a new product to market can take years of research and expense. Or it can be as simple as taking something already in existence and marketing it for a different purpose. Creating or discovering a whole new use or new market for a product can be all you need to generate increased sales and growth. Observing consumer behavior is often the catalyst for new ideas.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal outlines Hidden Valley Foods’ plan to expand its market penetration for its premier product, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. By repositioning the ever-popular salad dressing as the “new ketchup,” the company believes it can expand its market share and increase revenue. Updating the recipe to make the dressing thicker and creamier in order to stay atop a burger and creating new packaging and labeling, the new version will be called Hidden Valley for Everything. The company will introduce the product to the restaurant industry and grocery sales as soon as they finalize the recipe, so it can safely remain on the table as a nonperishable item, like ketchup and mustard.

The idea for repositioning the top selling salad dressing came about when a company executive observed his daughter pouring it over her salmon dinner. While ranch dressing is said to be “the most often used salad dressing in the U.S.,” the executive saw his daughter’s behavior as an opportunity to expand to a new area. Research shows that 15 percent of ranch dressing consumers use it on something other than salad, which supports the company’s move to make a play for market share in the condiment category.

Similarly, when Google learned that its customers were enjoying Google Translate more for its musical attributes than to translate words and phrases, the company saw a demand for this service with a new purpose. Customers type in a string of consonants as English for the system to translate into German, and then the computer “speaks” the phrase in rhythmic beat. The result is music to the user’s ears.

Then there is Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, who was recently credited with reviving the business by introducing a variety of new products and services. One of those ideas is a light roast coffee — a first for the coffeehouse chain that built its business on rich, dark roast flavors. When the company’s market research uncovered that “40 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers prefer a lighter, milder roast,” the product development team went to work creating their new Blonde roast.

Business owners and managers at small companies can learn from these industry leaders. Watching and listening to your consumers can often uncover the potential for new sources of revenue. Conduct a review of current products and services and think about how you might promote them to a different target market or how they may be utilized differently. By repositioning or refocusing your marketing, the potential for growth can be accomplished by just looking at the situation from a new perspective.

For more information on observing consumer behavior, or marketingworx and its services, visit www.marketingworxpr.com.

close up of broken control key on keyboard

Microsoft Needs To Get Moving Or It Could Get Lost

If you’ve been following the chatter among the techno-literati, it’s become almost fashionable to predict Microsoft’s demise. We see headlines like: “The Odds are Increasing that Microsoft’s Business Will Collapse.” At first blush that seems ludicrous to me. But could there be some truth to it?

Not so long ago, Microsoft seemed unassailable. Even now, the Windows operating system exceeds 90 percent market share. Internet Explorer owns 60 percent of the browser market. And Office — where Microsoft really makes its money — still owns over 95 percent of its market.

But Microsoft has become synonymous with “slow” and “stodgy.” Which brings to mind a possible precedent: IBM. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, IBM was by far the dominant player in the computing world. It felt like they had invented the category and they certainly were a marketing juggernaut. IBM was so dominant that there was a well-known catch phrase that went, “no-one ever lost their job choosing IBM.” In fact, it was more than a catch phrase. It was the commonly accepted wisdom.

But by the early 1990s IBM was in crisis. The world around had changed and they’d been unable to keep up. There was speculation that they wouldn’t be able to survive. They did, by radically changing their strategy to one that is largely based on services. Now they’re still huge and successful. But also largely irrelevant.

Could the same thing happen to Microsoft? In the late ‘90s I did some work with them. They were top dog but acted like they were running scared. They said it was an essential part of their corporate culture and was critical to them remaining on top. But now I can say from personal experience that the healthy paranoia is completely gone, replaced with an attitude that Microsoft can’t truly be threatened. The only thing that truly matters is hitting the numbers that determine your annual bonus, and it’s OK to do that at the expense of other parts of the organization.

Now, I don’t believe for a second that there isn’t a level of paranoia building at the highest levels of Microsoft. But it’s going to be a massive undertaking to do at Microsoft what Steve Jobs was able to do at Apple, meaning completely turn the company around. Microsoft’s incredible financial strength gives them a lot of breathing room, but without wrenching changes, they’re in danger of becoming just another IBM. Huge. Successful. And irrelevant.

merger

The Wave Of Bank Mergers Has Changed The State’s Financial-Services Landscape

The banking industry has plenty of troubles, but in Arizona, the least of its problems is the aftermath of recent mergers. Bankers and industry observers say the state’s financial-services landscape hasn’t significantly changed because of the consolidations. Other than the usual branch closings and potential employee layoffs, they don’t see a big shakeup looming. One expert, however, wonders if continuing mergers nationally will lead to a banking system dominated by giant institutions that no one can afford to have fail.

There have been five bank mergers in Arizona since last summer. JPMorgan Chase & Co. acquired Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo & Company acquired Wachovia Bank and National Bank of Arizona absorbed Silver State Bank branches in Arizona. Mutual of Omaha entered the local market with its acquisition of First National Bank of Arizona, and US Bank acquired Downey Savings & Loan branches in Arizona.

“If you take a look at Phoenix and compare it to other communities, we have a large number of financial institutions,” says Lynne Herndon, Phoenix city president of BBVA Compass, formerly Compass Bank. “If you paint it with a broad brush, while there have been a significant number of mergers, this does not necessarily have the impact one might think.”

The impact would have been much greater in a smaller market, where the number of financial institutions dropped precipitously, Herndon says. But the mergers have generated a few ripples.

Herndon and Doug Hile, chairman and CEO of Meridian Bank, note that the elimination of a handful of players perpetuates the return to more traditional lending standards recently prompted by Arizona’s real estate meltdown and the ensuing recession. Hile also sees a higher concentration of retail deposits flowing into larger banks and shrinking market share for smaller banks.

“Most of the smaller banks are not in a position, or even have an opportunity, to acquire those deposits,” Hile says.

Dwindling market share is somewhat detrimental to community banks because it means Arizona’s large banks are just getting bigger, he notes.

While large banks rule the retail banking realm, community banks are the backbone of commercial banking and likely will remain so, Hile says.

“Business customers often want to have contact with the decision makers at their bank and that’s how small banks operate,” Hile says. “In that regard, the (small) banks that are healthy will have an opportunity to acquire new commercial customers.”

Alex Wilson, senior lecturer at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, has a different point of view. “Your number of choices in commercial banking is disappearing,” Wilson says. “And creativity is lost as it becomes more corporatized.”

Wilson laments two potential outcomes of bank mergers — the weakening of a sense of community and the loss of institutional knowledge when middle and senior management are laid off. “

Well-run big banks know enough to try to reinstate that as quickly as they can,” Wilson says. “Badly run big banks lose that.”

Customers more concerned about fees, interest rates and having a variety of banking products to choose from are assured that competition is alive and well despite the mergers.

“There are still plenty of banks in Arizona and there is still plenty of competition,” says Marshall Vest, an economist at the Eller College of Management. “I don’t think we’re at the point where we have just one or two major players that will dictate fees and rates.”

Felecia Rotellini, superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, agrees: “We have a lot of competition. We always have. This is a very popular place for banking.”

Mergers probably have strengthened Arizona’s banking industry, Rotellini adds. “The banks that remain are healthy because of the merger-and-consolidation process and are a testament to our federally insured banking system,” Rotellini says. “Banks that were not healthy were acquired by healthier banks and that was done without any disruption in business.”

But as Wilson watches mergers roll out coast-to-coast, he wonders about the ultimate outcome. “

We’re probably heading for a world of three super national banks and probably a handful of little community niche banks,” Wilson says. “The good-sized regional banks are disappearing from the spectrum very quickly. As a result, (Bank of America) will be there, Wells (Fargo) apparently will be there and there will be Citi (Citigroup). I don’t know who will be left standing. The only ones left may be those little community banks.”

Citigroup, a global behemoth with multiple lines of business in financial services, is struggling and Wilson points to it as an example of the kind of risk that comes with an ever-expanding corporate waistline.

“In normal times, I would say (getting bigger) deepens the balance sheet and creates more international presence,” Wilson says. “But in the face of what is happening … I’m not sure you can make that statement. If one of these biggies falls, the ground is going to shake severely. Bigger is more efficient, but it is not necessarily better.”

| www.azdfi.gov | www.compassbank.com | www.ebr.eller.arizona.edu | www.meridianbank.com |