Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’



June 13, 2020

THIS WEEK – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts as COVID-19 begins to make a comeback into our lives. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.


That is one of the basic tenets of public relations. The public really doesn’t have an “opinion” until an event creates one. That is why the remarkable events over the past few weeks have dramatically shifted social attitudes. As David Brooks pointed on PBS (June12th), “If you ask people, do you support the Black Lives Matter, most people said no. And now, by 29 points, they say yes. If you ask people, what do you fear more, police violence or the violence of the rioting and looting, they say, I fear police violence more by 2-1. If you ask people, are black people treated unfairly and abused unfairly by the police, after Eric Garner was killed in 2014, only 33% said that. Now 58% say that.”

A current PEW Research Study shows that Americans have been following news of George Floyd’s death and the demonstrations nearly as closely as COVID-19 news, and many are discussing it frequently with others. Six-in-ten say President Trump’s message in response to the protests has been wrong, while 57% say news organizations have done a “good” or “excellent” job covering the protests.

Why does all this matter when it comes to marketing your business? Because it shows the importance of constantly listening to your customers. Being aware of shifting attitudes. I think customer listening is more important than ever. Unfortunately, few business took the lockdown period as a research opportunity to listen to their customers. Your customers were stuck at home, with little to do, and wanted to hear from you. They wanted to share their opinions. We know this, because we conducted research in this period and that is what they told us. They also provided some feedback that is changing how our clients reopen. Now, it is not too late to listen. Make reaching out to your customers a goal for June. Contact us if we can help.


Now that businesses are reopening, most are facing a nasty truth: Their current business model may not work in a post COVID-19 world. And this may require massive investments in changing your environment or services. Case in point, Starbucks is building drive-through stores and to-go only locations faster. It is going take roll these out in 12 to 18 months, instead of three to five years, Starbucks said. The company is also rolling out ads encouraging customers to order ahead through its app. Homework for next week: Bring your team together and see what you have to do to survive long-term.


The debate over “to mask or not to mask” lead me to this research. The Washington Post reported that Italian Massimo Marchiori, a professor at the University of Padua, has done one of the first studies on the impact of a mask on social behavior. “Everyone talks about social distancing,” Marchiori said, “but no one had actually measured actual social distancing.” His findings suggest that wearing masks has a profound effect on how we perceive others, and in particular how close we are willing to get to strangers.

Unmasked, Marchiori found that fellow pedestrians actually drew closer to him as he passed them on a sidewalk, typically within a foot. But when he donned a mask, people drifted back — nearly twice as far as when he wasn’t wearing a mask — suggesting the mere sight of protective gear activated the underlying knowledge among pedestrians that keeping their distance helped keep them safe. In other words, masks appeared to make an extremely social species less social — and less vulnerable. “It’s our humanity that is actually bringing us toward the virus,” said Marchiori. “You have to take away a bit of humanity, to become a bit antisocial, to protect humanity.”


If you are marketing online, you can’t ignore the power of Google and Amazon. Google continues to dominate online search. And Amazon controls online buying. Period. That’s why it is very disturbing that Amazon takes advantage of third-party sellers. Finally, someone is doing something about this, but not in America.

The European Union plans to file formal antitrust charges against Amazon over stealing data from third-party sellers and using it to compete against them by launching similar products. A Wall Street Journal investigation published in April found that employees at the online retailer at times used data from other sellers to develop competing products.

Until next time, stay safe, stay health, stay positive.



July 23, 2014

Just read that the newly formed Medford Library District Board decided to go back on a campaign marketing pitch. They set the district’s initial tax rate at the maximum. That is $7.50 a month ($90 a year) for most homeowners. I wonder how this will fly long-term now that the Medford library has a new competitor.

Amazon just announced a $9.99 a month unlimited library plan (Kindle Unlimited) that will give book lovers instant access to 600,000 books and thousands of audio books. Is this the beginning of the end of local libraries? Well, not for a few years.

The backbone of the library system, baby boomers and seniors, still love reading real books. But Millennials (readers under the age of 34) don’t share their enthusiasm.  Millennials are totally digitally comfortable. Here’s the marketing future the new library board should be talking about, instead of going back on a campaign promise.

The U.S. physical book sales market is declining rapidly, while e-book sales are expanding eight-fold according to Forrester Research. Physical book sales will fall to $19.5 billion this year, down $6.5 billion since 2010. E-book revenue is now $8.7 billion.

The number of e-book readers is growing quickly. According to a Pew Research Center study published in January, 28% of American adults read at least one digital book in the past 12 months, 69% of Americans read at least one physical book in this same period.

Perhaps the new library district board is taking a page out of the music industry. A decade ago when CDs and music stores control access to music, they didn’t understand the power of the internet. Amazon is just about to become the biggest competitor local libraries have ever seen. Good luck.



December 19, 2012

As we head into the final days of holiday shopping, it’s interesting to compare Amazon, the e-commerce gorilla with $46.5 billion in retail sales in 2011, with the king of bricks-and-mortar Walmart, which expects only $9 billion in global e-commerce in their next fiscal year (it begins in February, 2013). Of course, $9 billion isn’t exactly chump change in the small business world.

Amazon uses computer algorithms to adjust prices in real time. Walmart can’t move as rapidly because online prices must match those in stores. Walmart and other bricks-and-mortar retailers do use their websites to draw consumers into their stores. Walmart told the Wall St. Journal that it is “channel-agnostic,” (i.e. they make marketing decisions impartially, without inherent bias for or against any one kind of channel – TV, print, online, direct mail, etc.). Walmart reports that over 50% of its online sales are picked up in stores.

The percentage of total U.S. retail sales going to e-commerce is still small, just 5.2% in the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department. But it has been growing every year since late 1999. If you are a bricks-and-mortar retailer, you need to be as pro-active as you can in 2013 to developing online strategies to protect and enhance your business.

This means finding ways to get beyond competing on price. One way is to try strategies that offer unique experiences such as pushing emails with a special collection of products and designing and selling more exclusive products. Another strategy is creating an online shopping experience that promotes browsing. But as long as the vast majority of retailers carry they same things as Amazon, they aren’t likely to dent its online dominance. Just ask Best Buy.