Category Archives: Marketing

SAP Hybris encourages its partners to be bold when it comes to digital transformation.

Last month, SAP Hybris hosted a number of analysts, clients and prospects in Forth Worth Texas for their North American Customer Days event. The major discussion point for the event was the impact digital has had on the relationship with the customer. How does the continued disruption created by the digitization of our indexeconomy impact the manner in which retailers and brands interact with their customers? SAP Hybris emphasized that due to this digital revolution, retailers and brands that employ a “one size fits all” viewpoint is passé. We at Constellation Research couldn’t agree more. On the contrary, retailers and brands in their continued efforts to tailor experiences to the customer of one – lean on the technology and business processes that will permit these contextual experiences for the customer.

There were two points of emphasis at the event that reinforce the evolution of the retail – customer relations:

  • CRM is dead, long live CRM. CRM as we knew it, is most definitely gone. The days of the CRM systems we saw arise in the late 1990s, such as Seibel and Onyx, addressed a very specific need – a linear repository for organizing customer touch points. Originally these systems were created to organize and keep track of a limited number of touch points between a sales force and a prospect or client. This sufficed when most of those interactions were in person, over the phone or via email. A finite number of touch points. Increased digital growth has given rise to an ever growing number of dynamic communication points between customer and brand. This evolution requires the systems being employed to keep pace. Traditional CRM systems and the mind set behind them are dated. Of course the notion of customer relationship management remains important, maybe more so than ever. Maybe not the term “management” since the customer has more influence in the relationship. Retailers are no longer driving the relationship, but working to understand and anticipate customer needs. In this light, the solutions are truly dated. As the number of communications points between customers and brands is ever shifting, growing and constantly evolving the necessary systems are asked to do more and do so faster and more efficiently. Brands and retailers, more than ever, must have systems in place that properly track, store and provide inputs into customer relationships. Legacy CRM systems are dead; the goals of CRM are more than ever vital for brands.
  • Data is the new fuel. Data is the new oil that drives the digital business; those retailers and brands that will strive in this business environment are the ones that turn this oil into fuel. The importance of data is by no means a news bulletin, but it is the importance of transforming this data that remains the challenge. We all know that retailers and brands have an unprecedented access to data. But, as SAP Hybris points out, it is not about extracting the data it is about being able to transform this raw material, in the form of data, into insights. This transformation is multi-faceted. It must be done quickly, efficiently and intelligently. For example, the NHL (the North American professional ice hockey league, National Hockey League) worked with SAP Hybris to determine which data sources to focus on, how to leverage the data sources and what growth plan to adopt with regards to adding new data sources. With a large and various number of data lakes – individual team data, assets and even fantasy hockey sites – there was no shortage of information for the NHL to choose from. With SAP Hybris, the NHL took a structured and disciplined approach – always keeping the customer at the center of the efforts. Which data pools were the most applicable to start with, and which could be brought in to build on the insights that were being drawn out? This approach has allowed the NHL to create a more efficient customized customer experience – being more contextually aware of the customer’s needs and possible experience with the NHL.

SAP hybris understands that it’s more than technology that will help your business, on the contrary the technology becomes less important. The need for new business processes, through the usage of the data is what distinguishes the leaders from the laggards. The technology needs to support, not lead these efforts.

At the core the focus continues to be on the customer, but it always has been. The nuance is that the focus is on the contextual customer interaction, which continues to be honed in more and more down to the individual. Retailers and brands need to be more nimble and willing to experiment with new technologies and allow for new applications – all with the changing business processes in mind. As SAP Hybris customer Loblaw stated from main stage – brands and retailers need to own digital, they have to think big, take risks and learn from these efforts. If companies don’t they will be left behind in this ever changing digital economy.


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Filed under Current Events, Marketing, Retail

Customer loyalty goes beyond a plastic card in your clients’ wallets.

Customer loyalty is the holy grail for retailers, consumer product companies (CPG), airlines, credit cards, media, and so on and so on. Companies across the majority of industries are striving to understand why their consumers are willing to hand over their hard earned income for goods and services. Why or will these consumers continue to purchase from the same source? And how can these companies keep these customers coming back and hopefully spending more and more.

Companies have created and leveraged many creative means to gather and nurture information from their customers – whether it be loyalty cards you have at CVS or Shaws

How many of these are in your wallet or on your key chain?

How many of these are in your wallet or on your key chain?

grocery store or Vineyard Vines or Barnes & Nobles or Starbucks. These vendors know that for the most part they need to give you something for you to give over some information – usually they give you discounts, early views of new product lines, reward points etc. Airlines, of course, were one of the first movers to give you what was a highly sought after reward for your business – miles and status. Hotel chains were quick to follow. Anyone who spends time on the road, knows how vital is it to have “status” on an airline. While it still doesn’t beat flying private…so I have been told…having that status can usually make the drag of travel a little more tolerable.

All this information has added fuel to these supply chains – an insight into the most profitable client and demand. A view into a data source that can potentially drive the most profitable and desirable side of the supply chain. But are our supply chains getting a less than complete picture of what is really happening?

Looking at our consumers’ buying patterns for just our products is far from a complete picture. Grocery chains and drug stores are very aware of this. They work with vendors like IRI, Neilson, Orchestro or RSi to get a more complete view of the consumer basket. These software vendors will aggregate data across a category or across an entire store or region. This allows a more complete view of what is truly happening. But is that enough? No. Not if our supply chains want to be even more finely tuned when it comes to servicing our clients.

The reality is that our supply chains are no linear and they do not exist in a vacuum. They are all intertwined. The way to make sure our customers stays loyal to our supply chains is to understand how the interact with all the supply chains that are connected. This type of visibility cannot occur if we are only looking at that data that comes in from the loyalty program specific to my business. I need to understand how that customer interacts with tangential goods, potential substitute goods, services and even items that might not appear to be in the same cohort.

Companies need to step away from the loyalty card table…okay they still need to take in and leverage that information. But the data that needs to be added to the supply chain is information of how consumers behave when they are not giving you their information – meaning when they are doing other things with their time and money. Credit card companies have a leg up on this, they already have all that data. Smart supply chains will find ways to get access to that information. Just think about how much wiser your supply chain could be with true demand.

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Filed under Consumer Product Goods, Marketing, Supply Chain

Be wary of how you navigate the store – someone is watching you!

Another great story about big data and Big Brother. This one discusses how some stores are using your own mobile phone and the wifi to track your movements within the store. Click here for article. After reading how my child’s diapers might be providing data to doctors and potentially marketers, now I read that I could be watched when I am in my favorite store. What in the name of Big Brother is going on out there??? Well really nothing new. Before we start clamoring that our privacy has been violated and how this is a treat to our civil liberties, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that this type of tracking is something new. Whenever we are online…someone is tracking our clicks, understanding what is the path to purchase or the path to information we take. You don’t think that someone is not leveraging your purchase patterns to determine what item you may purchase next or which item you will need to replenish? I remember one year where I was making large purchases, on my credit card. It was a “life event” year. And surprise surprise, I started receiving very different marketing offers both in the mail and online. Wonder if anyone had noticed my new spending habits? No surprise, when that spending style did not continue, the marketing offers soon disappeared.

It should come as no surprise then that some retailers are using your own phone to track your physical behavior within a store. With the ability to gather and analysis the data, the retailers and suppliers are looking to better understand what makes us tick when we walk in the store. Does something catch one’s eye and make them more likely to purchase? Does placing the ties near the dress shirts near the suits mean someone who was only looking to buy a suit, might leave with a new tie and shirt as well? Store lay outs and merchandise placements are both a science and an art. You want customers to find what they are looking for, but you also want them to “discover” what they did not know they needed but once they find it, cannot leave without it. Retailers are masters at understanding what makes sense in their lay outs – ever notice that toys for younger children are always on the lower shelves…make sure that target customer actually sees the new toy and makes sure they then tell their parents they want it. I have even noticed stores like Target place small “impulse” buy toys like mini legos, at eye level (for kids) at the check out counter. They know that you are most likely going to be standing still at that point, unloading your cart, what better time than to put an “inexpensive” $5 toy right in front of your kid!

Don’t be surprised as more retailers leverage technology such as wifi, face recognition software, store video cameras or even motion sensors to track your behavior and movements within a store. From a supply chain stand point, think about how you could leverage all this real time behavior and demand data. Could supply chains leverage this extra piece of consumer data into their engines?

End of the day we go into to stores, usually, to buy or look for some merchandise. If the retailer can make that experience a little better for us and potentially more profitable for them, who are we to complain?

As the line goes – A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy – Glen Garry Glen Ross

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Filed under Consumer Product Goods, Marketing, Retail

Salesforce acquires ExactTarget more tools to manage the larger funnel

Sales is responsible for executing on the now, Marketing is responsible for preparing for the tomorrow.


Anyone who has worked in either sales or marketing knows that there is always an underlying tension between the two organizations. At times this can be amusing and at times it can be down right counter productive. The reality is the two need to work together and the two need to understand that they each have specific and equally important roles to play. Sales needs to close business now…and generate revenue. Marketing needs to get things lined up so that when the tomorrow becomes the now, Sales can be successful.

Today’s announcement by to acquire ExactTarget for approximately $2.5b is an indication that vendors are realizing the importance of providing an end-to-end tool for marketing and sales. This follows on the heals of Oracle acquiring similar marketing automation firm Eloqua in December of 2012. Both Salesforce and Oracle are looking to integrate these marketing automation companies into their existing CRM offerings and beyond. Really starting to move towards being able to provide a “funnel to funnel” view of the customer acquisition journey. Companies, small and large, need the ability to clearly understand and measure how they target, acquire and convert their leads. Marketing automation tools are a natural extension of what Oracle and Salesforce have developed with their own CRM offerings.

The question becomes, for clients who may have had ExactContact for marketing automation and Oracle or another vendor for CRM, will they be “encouraged” to migrate to a Salesforce offering? Same goes for Eloqua. The other burning question is who targets Marketo? They would appear to be the next domino to fall. Will SAP or Microsoft potentially start sniffing around Marketo?

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Filed under Current Events, Marketing

McDonalds – crossed a line or being savvy?

The big story that has been on the North America airwaves has been the incredible story of 3 women who disappeared for years had finally been found. Kidnapped and held hostage for a combined 30 years. News is trickling out to the despicable conditions these women were forced to endure. A tragedy for the victims, we must not forget that. Because of this reality, there are a lot of mixed reactions to McDonald’s reaction to getting a plug from the now famous eye witness interview. See below…

Right off the bat…around 9 seconds in…he mentions he was eating his McDonalds when everything started. The video has gone viral and Mr Ramsey has been doing the speaking tour. Ah the beauty of watching someone’s 15 minutes of fame. Even on his interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, McDonalds comes up again – click here for video. In reaction to all this free advertising, the folks at the golden arches decided to go to social media to chime in.

McDonalds hails their new spokesperson

McDonalds hails their new spokesperson

Was this appropriate or taking advantage of a terrible situation? There has been much discussion as to whether or not McDonalds crossed a line. Unfortunately when it comes to communications and public relations, any event or news is seen as an opportunity to push one’s message. While the saying – there is no such thing as bad publicity – might have been true decades ago, when the message could be “controlled,” it has some limits in the current communications environment. Click here for a good piece on this axiom. For McDonalds the situation is not about anything they have done or been part of, but they are being involved in the story by a witness. So should they be “taking advantage” of this? I say…yes.

Maybe their tweet should not have included “we’ll be in touch” that gives the impression they are thinking of how to exploit Mr Ramsey for promotional needs. But the fact they tweeted about this and mentioned Mr Ramsey is to be expected. Why not? They are capturing some of the discussions and grabbing some exposure. Of course, and maybe they will, rather than insinuate some “reward” for Mr Ramsey, why not use this opportunity to call attention to domestic violence or violence against women. Make a donation, public or quietly to some charity. Could this also be seen as exploiting a situation for publicity? Sure. But at least it would also be doing some good.

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Filed under Current Events, Marketing, Social media

Burger King – the double edge sword of social media and being hacked

During Presidents Day were subjected to who was the greatest President (my ranking – Lincoln, FDR, Washington, Jefferson and TR), were bombarded by deals on cars and watching a large brand’s Twitter account getting hacked! All good fun. Well not really for Burger King…


Slightly embarrassing for the burger giant. Of course it also drew a tremendous amount of traffic to the handle, but some accounts it added 5000 followers in the first 30 minutes it was hacked! It also drove all kinds of news and discussions across all media – I was listening to 98.5 The Sports Hub spend a good 5 minutes discussing it today. Clearly Burger King got some unintentional bump from this hack. But based on some of what was being said in cyber world it was mostly ridiculing the King!

My favorite from @jorcohen“Is the Hamburglar behind this?

This incident is a great reminder for all those who are plunging into social media (which you should be doing!) keep an eye on your social channels. But also have a plan in place in case you do get hacked.

  • Shut down the hacked account quickly: Hacking is not a new thing, but when your social channel is hacked it becomes viral and public very quickly…and embarrassing! You need to have ways to ensure you can shut down an offensive tweet or facebook post quickly. What adds complexity is the 24-7 aspect of social media.
  • Action plan while you are containing the hack: While are you trying to control the situation, you need to leverage your other social media channels to communicate YOUR message, ensure that you are dealing with the hacking and that you will be back to usual in all channels.
  • Your message after the hack is controlled: Once the channel is back in your control, what will you communicate? Burger King was simple in their reaction – Interesting day here at BURGER KING®, but we’re back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around! – Good reaction, addressing the issue and acknowledging that they gained followers due to the hack. Here is another idea, Tweet out a coupon for a free french fry or whopper or soda. Use the opportunity to drive some traffic to your stores…make lemonade out of the lemons.

Hacking will always be around. Now with social media, the hackers have a great place to target where  your brand can be quickly embarrassed and made to look less than professional! Be prepared, have a reaction plan and think of ways to turn the situation into a positive.



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Filed under Current Events, IT, Marketing, Social media

LinkedIn – strokes our egos and gets free marketing

Some of you might have received an email from LinkedIn recently stating that your profile was in the top 5% or … gasp 1% of all LinkedIn. Congratulations! You are either a one in 10 million or one in 2 million! Putting this in perspective, if you are in the 5%, it is as if you were congratulated for living in New York, actually living in NYC is more “prestigious” since there are about 8.2 million residences of NYC. If you are in the 1% then it is as if you were just one more person living in Houston. Whoohoooo…

Not exactly the same as being the holder of the winning power ball ticket. But hand it to LinkedIn, they have tapped into a basic desire – where do we rank. This gets more showcased with the openness of social media. We know exactly how many friends we have on Facebook and how many people are following us on Twitter. LinkedIn tells us what percentage we are as well as what our “number” is…Klout gives us a number and a ranking amongst our social sphere.

What LinkedIn has done, better than the others, is made our number something to talk about. They send us emails thanking us for being one of the first 250,000 users or million users. They give us a percentage of viewership. And what do we do? We post it on Facebook, Tweet about it or blog about it (like right now). This gives LinkedIn a long tail of marketing buzz. Kudos to LinkedIn and their marketing.

So when you think about a new marketing campaign, think about the numbers and how you can appeal to our desires to always be ranked higher than the next.

If you are curious…I was in the top 1% so as if I was living in Houston.

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Filed under Marketing, Social media