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In the past, Hilton Worldwide, which has 4,200 hotels in 90 countries, used to look at individual consumers and decide who was a Hilton customer. It used that determination in its marketing: Hampton Inn people were targeted one way, while those who fit the profile of the Waldorf Astoria were approached in another. Then the company had an a-ha moment.

Faced with consumers who can search for information, form groups and publicly express their opinion through electronic media and social networking, goods producers and services providers will inevitably have to step down from their comfortable heights and start thinking in terms of coproduction with a customer who will become a prosumer.

Come year 2030, what will business enterprises look like? Almost every qualified answer points in the same direction, or at least provides a foreseeable trend: if as predicted instability becomes the rule and not the exception, and in a context of an entirely new ecosystem stemming from pervasive digital technologies, business enterprises will have to evolve quite considerably if they wish to remain efficient, sustainable and resilient. What factors come to bear here?

A short distribution channel is defined either by direct sale from producer to consumer or by the indirect sale, provided that there is only one intermediary. Long confined to activist circles, this alternative model is now moving out of the margins. What are its prospects? Can it prove a game changer?

Goodbye services, goodbye goods: welcome to the solutions economy

Business April 24th, 2014, Michèle Debonneuil / Senior economist, Caisse des dépôts et consignations

Enterprises are now able to collect all kind of real-time information about the needs of each consumer. They can provide innovative products that are neither goods nor services but something else, in between, that could be called solutions. Around these solutions we are witnessing the emergence of original business models, and more generally, of a new economy.

Which innovation strategy for consumer goods?

Business February 27th, 2014, Matthieu Perrier / Innovation Manager, ITW

Shrouded in the secrecy of marketing services, at the heart of the manufacturing industry, innovation has today established itself as the ultimate solution, illustrated by insolent successes despite a challenging environment. Sometimes defined as the encounter between an invention and a market segment, innovation seems to generate alternatives, growth drivers, and even crisis products that allow companies to bounce or to renew themselves. So how are the necessary opportunities to be found? Is there a recipe for large FMCG companies? A recipe? Certainly not. But some methods, yes. And also plenty of flawed strategies.

Planned obsolescence has an infamous reputation: some denounce a crime against the environment, others, a swindle. A careful examination, however, shows that this business model is not all bad - and it even came to perform, during the Great Depression, as a miracle cure against the crisis!

Social relations, buzz, leadership, popularity, reputation... at first sight, marketing and social media seem to speak the same language. But the actual value of marketing 2.0 is difficult to assess. Can social marketing become a real growth driver?

Intention economy: from the fringes to mainstream?

Business May 22nd, 2013, Doc Searls / Alumnus fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University

Vendor relationship management is on the rise. Though for the last ten years a powerful trend has driven marketers to trap consumers and collect their personal data in order to anticipate their wishes to the point the very idea of choice was questioned, disruptive ways of managing this relationship are emerging. Will consumers recover their freedom?

China's leaders called in November for average personal incomes in the nation to double by 2020, giving domestic consumption a stronger role the normally export-reliant economy and challenging often-avoided local brands to catch up with foreign rivals.

The breaking news on Lance Armstrong's decision to give up his fight against accusations of performance enhancing drug use is just the latest example of the countless popular figures, companies and brands that have found themselves at the heart of a public scandal. However, some of these entities not only survive a crisis, but thrive beyond it. In a recent research paper, Wharton marketing professor Americus Reed and two Wharton doctoral students explore the role of moral decoupling (when consumers separate out morality from other considerations) in how those companies, brands and public figures are judged in the court of public opinion.

Smartphone credit cards and card readers, prepaid debit cards and other burgeoning electronic payment systems are making it easier than ever to move through the world without carrying cash. While going cashless offers some convenience to consumers, it also comes with potential fees and penalties from banks, credit card companies and others. As observers from Wharton and elsewhere note, cash is the more expensive proposition for those who handle financial transactions. But it will be tough for firms to convince consumers that dollars and cents have become a mere curio of the past.

With its brand new millionaires and a booming middle class, China is a dream come true for major luxury brands. But it is fraught with pitfalls – and, from design to marketing, these command a revamping of many practices. In the line of fire comes a fundamental question: is the Chinese market going to overhaul our Western conception of luxury?

Does the Internet empower consumers? Or does it make them more vulnerable to manipulation? While both statements might be correct, the balance tilts definitely toward the latter, says Joseph Turow, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School. The advertising industry has launched one of history's most massive stealth efforts in social profiling. The result is an increase in intrusive practices that are eroding publishing ethics. Does the solution lie in greater self-regulation or more aggressive oversight by the government?

The video game industry is full of paradoxes. The sector is booming and prospects have never been better. However, companies live in a state of constant stress. Faced with the extreme volatility of consumer habits, their competition is merciless. To wage these commercial wars, they are developing business strategies that are as inventive as their most popular games' scenarios.

When new technologies change the world, some companies are caught off-guard. Others see change coming and are able to adapt in time. And then there are companies like Kodak – which saw the future and simply couldn't figure out what to do. Kodak's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on January 19 culminates a long series of missteps, including a fear of introducing new technologies that would disrupt its highly profitable film business.

Which future for the car industry?

Industries February 13th, 2012, Claude Satinet / Former Managing Director, Citroën

The automobile industry is over 100 years old and yet, it still isn't fully mature. While undergoing deep transformations from a technological and commercial point of view, it isn't clear who the winners and losers will be.

Bitcoin: A Universal Complementary Currency?

Business January 20th, 2012, Pierre Noizat / Chief Operating Officer, Paymium

Bitcoin is a new payment application available on the internet since January 2009. In a way, by virtue of its open source publication, it is similar to the World Wide Web, the hugely successful internet application of the internet that now enables so many others. Much like the WWW has redefined the way mankind produces and shares knowledge, bitcoin transforms the social code underlying money supply to bring about a new degree of economic freedom. Can it be seen as a new monetary reform vehicle?

Companies like Amazon or Sprint are banking on customer lifetime value (CLV), a marketing formula based on the idea of spending money up front to gain customers whose loyalty will reap rewards over the long term. As many companies turn to subscription-based business models, CLV will become a larger issue.

How businesses can benefit from the rise of gamification

Business December 12th, 2011, Daniel Debow, Rajat Paharia & Kevin Werbach / Co-founder of Rypple, Founder of Bunchball, & Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton School of Business

What exactly is gamification, what is it not, and how will it be changing the way we do business in the next few years? Wharton's professor of legal studies and business ethics Kevin Werbach talks with Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball, a tech company that enables businesses to implement gamification, and Daniel Debow, co-founder of Rypple, a social performance management company.

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