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.
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 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.
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.
The gap between the demands of markets and the ability of firms to meet those demands is costing firms profitability now and competitiveness in the future. Wharton School professor George S. Day and colleague David Reibstein talk about the growing flood of data, knowledge sharing technology, the socially networked and ever demanding consumer, and how some companies are successfully building their customer base.
Have you heard of Twollars yet? Maybe not, but by now you've probably heard of Facebook credits. Social networks are developing virtual currencies who could be used by hundreds of millions of consumers, with consequences whose scale we are just beginning to measure. Where will the cash flows derived from these transactions transit?
Mobile phone communications have provided fertile territory for research into the spatial dimensions of communities. Studies of calling patterns have shed new light on the complex nature of networks. The analysis of billions of calls across a number of countries has led to a surprising conclusion: telephone exchanges are still largely dictated according to administrative boundaries laid down long before the arrival of the mobile handset.
The recently-adopted smoking bans in bars and restaurants epitomize a cultural transformation. By creating an environment where smoking becomes increasingly more difficult, the bans help shift social norms away from the acceptance of smoking in everyday life and promotes public rejection of cigarettes. And this is only the beginning. New public policies such as nudging smokers are now developed, raising legal and moral issues.
The phenomenon of free has hit many businesses hard, particularly media businesses, argues Saul J. Berman, Global & Americas Leader for the IBM Strategy & Change Consulting Group. In 'Not for Free: Revenue Strategies for a New World', Berman offers lessons from successful business model innovations as well as from failures. Who pays for free content and why new models are essential for success?
Parker's guide, the Shanghai ranking, and the ratings of Moody's are all global points of reference. For dining, the bible remains the Michelin guide. How has an institution so French gained a foothold in distant climes? The example of Japan illustrates that besides universal qualities such as objectivity and independence, cultural features can be key assets for market penetration. Gwendal Poullennec, the Director of international development at the Michelin guide provided his insight on the occasion of a conference held on 1 December 2010 at the Ecole de Paris du management.
Word of mouth used to be just that - what your friends told you about a book, a movie, or a restaurant. Today, we not only have friends to turn to for such information but also thousands of strangers, who are posting their opinions online and leading the rest of us this way or that. This new public reservoir of advice and first-hand experience is leading to a major shift in the relationship between consumers and commerce, creating new opportunities for some companies - and a fresh source of risk.