Consumer Products

65 Results

 

Innovation Is Magic. Really

When Stefan Thomke teaches students how to manage innovation and creativity, he turns to an unexpected source: Magician Jason Randal. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Pay Attention To Your ‘Extreme Consumers’

Jill Avery and Michael Norton explain what marketers can learn from consumers whose preferences lie outside of the mainstream. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

The Manager in Red Sneakers

Wearing the corporate uniform may not be the best way to dress for success. Research by Silvia Bellezza, Francesca Gino, and Anat Keinan shows there may be prestige advantages when you stand out rather than fit in. Open for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Does Internet Technology Threaten Brand Loyalty?

Internet technologies may not kill off brands, but they certainly magnify both the bad and good decisions of marketers. Jim Heskett's readers weight in on this month's question. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Why Companies Should Compete for Your Privacy

Consumers are sometimes willing to trade personal data for lower prices. How should companies compete for that valuable information? A discussion with Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Andrés Hervás-Drane. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

The Alibaba Effect

Alibaba's $200 billion mega-IPO is history-making in a number of ways. Bill Kirby and Warren McFarlan discuss what the deal says about Chinese entrepreneurship and American markets. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Entrepreneurship and Multinationals Drive Globalization

Why is the firm overlooked as a contributor when we identify the drivers of globalization? Geoffrey Jones discusses his new book, Entrepreneurship and Multinationals: Global Business and the Making of the Modern World. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Busting Six Myths About Customer Loyalty Programs

Low-margin retailers argue they can't afford customer loyalty programs, but is that true? Rajiv Lal and Marcel Corstjens make the case that such programs are profit-enhancing differentiators. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Price Coherence and Adverse Intermediation

In modern markets, buyers can often buy the same good or service directly from a seller, and through one or more intermediaries, all at the same exact price. Buyers respond by choosing whichever intermediary offers the greatest benefit - perhaps a rebate, some kind of "points," or superior service. Importantly, buyers ignore the fees that intermediaries charge to sellers. The resulting outcomes can be distortionary and welfare-reducing. In particular, as intermediaries compete to attract buyers, they can set benefit levels so high that no net value is created and, sometimes, that buyers and seller would be jointly better off without intermediaries. The study examines six markets in which intermediaries are prominent: travel booking networks, credit and debit cards, insurance brokers and financial advisors, malls and marketplaces (such as Amazon Marketplace), cashback and rebate services, and search engine advertising. In each instance, a law, norm, intermediary policy, or similar rigidity prevents sellers from passing an intermediary's fees to the specific buyers who choose to use that intermediary. Read More

Mechanisms of Technology Re-Emergence and Identity Change in a Mature Field: Swiss Watchmaking, 1970-2008

According to most theories of technological change, old technologies tend to disappear when newer ones arrive. As this paper argues, however, market demand for old technologies may wane only to emerge again at a later point in time, as seems to be the case for products like Swiss watches, fountain pens, streetcars, independent bookstores, and vinyl records, which have all begun to claim significant market interest again. Looking specifically at watchmaking, the author examines dynamics of technology re-emergence and the mechanisms whereby this re-emergence occurs in mature industries and fields. Swiss watchmakers had dominated their industry and the mechanical watch movement for nearly two centuries, but their reign ended abruptly in the mid-1970s at the onset of the "Quartz Revolution" (also known as the "Quartz Crisis"). By 1983, two-thirds of all watch industry jobs in Switzerland were gone. More recently, however, as the field has moved toward a focus on luxury, a "re-coupling" of product, organizational, and community identity has allowed master craftsmen to continue building their works of art. The study makes three main contributions: 1) It highlights the importance of studying technology-in-practice as a lens on viewing organizational and institutional change. 2) It extends the theorization of identity to products, organizations, and communities and embeds these within cycles of technology change. 3) It suggests the importance of understanding field-level change as tentative and time-bound: This perspective may allow deeper insights into the mechanisms that propel emergence, and even re-emergence, of seemingly "dead" technologies and industries. (Read an interview with Ryan Raffaelli about his research.) Read More

Technology Re-Emergence: Creating New Value for Old Innovations

Every once in a while, an old technology rises from the ashes and finds new life. Ryan Raffaelli explains how the Swiss watch industry saved itself by reinventing its identity. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Should Men’s Products Fear a Woman’s Touch?

Recent research shows that loyal customers often get upset when a brand associated with men expands to include products perceived as feminine. Senior Lecturer Jill J. Avery discusses the problem of "gender contamination." Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Do Mergers Hurt Product Quality?

Albert W. Sheen finds that while mergers lead to product price decreases, they generally have little effect on product quality over time. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Is Your iPhone Turning You Into a Wimp?

The body posture inherent in operating everyday gadgets affects not only your back, but your behavior. According to a new study by Maarten Bos and Amy Cuddy, operating a relatively large device inspires more assertive behavior than working on a small one. Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Creating the Perfect Super Bowl Ad

Professor Thales S. Teixeira says TV viewers lose purchasing interest when ads get too caught up in entertainment. His advice for the perfect pitch: tie together a good story and a compelling brand. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Book Excerpt: Judgment Calls

In their book Judgment Calls, Visiting Professor Thomas H. Davenport and independent consultant Brook Manville share the tales of several organizations that made successful choices through collective judgment. Read our excerpt on growing pains at Tweezerman. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

10 Reasons Customers Might Resist Windows 8

Has Microsoft become too innovative? Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a leader in the field of change management, discusses reasons that people might not rush to embrace Windows 8. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

Better by the Bundle?

Video game companies do it, fast-food restaurants, too. Why don't more companies bundle products and services together in one package at a bargain price? Research by Assistant Professor Vineet Kumar. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

What Neuroscience Tells Us About Consumer Desire

It's easy for businesses to keep track of what we buy, but harder to figure out why. Enter a nascent field called neuromarketing, which uses the tools of neuroscience to determine why we prefer some products over others. Uma R. Karmarkar explains how raw brain data is helping researchers unlock the mysteries of consumer choice. Closed for comment; 22 Comments posted.

The Dynamic Effects of Bundling as a Product Strategy

This paper investigates the practice of bundling as a product strategy, and identifies how consumers make choices between products and bundles in a dynamic environment. Authors Timothy Derdenger and Vineet Kumar look at the handheld video game market to study bundling in a platform setting with the goal of investigating several key questions of interest to practitioners who make product decisions: First, do consumers value bundles over and beyond their component products, indicating a synergy, which some researchers have hypothesized? Second, have there been differing opinions on whether mixed bundling, that is offering both the bundle and individual products for sale, is more effective than offering only pure bundles or even compared to offering only the products for sale? Given the prevalence of bundling in technology markets, it is critical to understand whether bundling is more effective in environments with strong network effects or with weak network effects. Read More

Platform Competition Under Partial Belief Advantage

In platform competition in a two-sided market, a platform's ability to attract consumers depends not only on the consumers' beliefs regarding its quality, but also on consumers' beliefs regarding the platform's ability to attract the other side of the market. For example, in the market for smart-phones the recent introductions of Apple's iPhone 4S with the improved operating system, and Samsung's Galaxy II with the improved Android 4, open a new round in the competition between the two platforms. The ability of each platform to attract users depends not only on its perceived quality, but also on users' beliefs regarding the number new applications developed for the platform. Likewise, the ability to attract application developers to the platform depends on their beliefs regarding the number of users that will join the platform. In a competitive market, some platforms may enjoy more favorable beliefs of the market (about their ability to attract ``the other side) than other platforms. Such a belief advantage may be source of a competitive advantage. In this paper, the authors look at how the belief advantage helps the platform to compete in the market, and also how a platform may create the belief advantage. The authors find that the degree of the platform's belief advantage affects its decision regarding its business model (whether to subsidize buyers or sellers), as well as the access fees and the size of the platform. Moreover, the paper looks into the optimal advertising strategy that leads to creating belief advantage. This paper contributes to scholarship on economics and business strategy. Read More

Kodak: A Parable of American Competitiveness

When American companies shift pieces of their operations overseas, they run the risk of moving the expertise, innovation, and new growth opportunities just out of their reach as well, explains HBS Professor Willy Shih, who served as president of Eastman Kodak's digital imaging business for several years. Open for comment; 32 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: Clocky, the Runaway Alarm Clock

There had not been an innovative breakthrough in alarm clock design since the snooze button until entrepreneur Gauri Nanda created Clocky. Her runaway hit has been the inspiration for several cases written by Professor Elie Ofek. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Creating Online Ads We Want to Watch

The mere fact that an online video advertisement reaches a viewer's computer screen does not guarantee that the ad actually reaches the viewer. New experimental research by Thales S. Teixeira looks at how advertisers can effectively capture and keep viewers' attention by evoking certain emotional responses. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

What Loyalty? High-End Customers are First to Flee

Companies offering top-drawer customer service might have a nasty surprise awaiting them when a new competitor comes to town. Their best customers might be the first to defect. Research by Harvard Business School's Ryan W. Buell, Dennis Campbell, and Frances X. Frei. Open for comment; 24 Comments posted.

From SpinPop to SpinBrush: Entrepreneurial Lessons from John Osher

At a panel discussion on entrepreneurship, professor William A. Sahlman and several successful start-up veterans discussed the case of John Osher, father of Dr. John's Products, Ltd., and the wildly popular battery-powered toothbrush, the SpinBrush. Read More

Clay Christensen’s Milkshake Marketing

About 95 percent of new products fail. The problem often is that their creators are using an ineffective market segmentation mechanism, according to HBS professor Clayton Christensen. It's time for companies to look at products the way customers do: as a way to get a job done. Closed for comment; 114 Comments posted.

The Devil Wears Prada? Effects of Exposure to Luxury Goods on Cognition and Decision Making

Gandhi once wrote that "a certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but above a certain level it becomes a hindrance instead of a help." This observation raises interesting questions for psychologists regarding the effects of luxury. What psychological consequences do luxury goods have on people? In this paper, the authors argue that luxury goods can activate the concept of self-interest and affect subsequent cognition. The argument involves two key premises: Luxury is intrinsically linked to self-interest, and exposure to luxury can activate related mental representations affecting cognition and decision-making. Two experiments showed that exposure to luxury led people to think more about themselves than others. Read More

The Surprisingly Successful Marriages of Multinationals and Social Brands

What happens when small iconic brands associated with social values—think Ben & Jerry's—are acquired by large concerns—think Unilever? Can the marriage of a virtuous mouse and a wealthy elephant work to the benefit of both? Professors James E. Austin and Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard discuss their recent research. Read More

Connecting with Consumers Using Deep Metaphors

Consumer needs and desires are not entirely mysterious. In fact, marketers of successful brands regularly draw on a rich assortment of insights excavated from research into basic frames or orientations we have toward the world around us, according to HBS professor emeritus Gerald Zaltman and Lindsay Zaltman, authors of Marketing Metaphoria. Here's a Q&A and book excerpt. Read More

Radical Design, Radical Results

Consumers appear increasingly willing to make purchase decisions based upon their emotions about a product—how it looks, or sounds, or makes them feel using it. But the traditional design process based on user experience goes only so far in creating radical innovation. Harvard Business School visiting scholar Roberto Verganti is exploring the new world of "design-driven innovation." Read More

B2B Branding: Does it Work?

Does it make sense for B2B companies to take a cue from consumer companies and invest in brand awareness? Many B2B CEOs say no, but HBS marketing professor John Quelch disagrees in his latest blog entry. Read More

How Marketing Hype Hurt Boeing and Apple

In his latest blog entry, professor John Quelch looks at the examples of Boeing and Apple to investigate why shareholders have little patience for companies that hype high but deliver low. Read More

“Blank” Inside: Branding Ingredients

When Intel launched the Intel Inside campaign in the 1990s, many marketers thought the chip giant was nuts. Who cared about the microprocessor inside their PC? Turns out Intel created a branding sensation and raised awareness of the importance of ingredient branding, says professor John Quelch. Today's best example: The Boeing Dreamliner. Read More

The FDA: What Will the Next 100 Years Bring?

With the possible exception of the Internal Revenue Service, no other governmental agency touches the lives of more Americans than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which ensures the safety of $1.5 trillion worth of consumer goods and medicines. Harvard Business School professor Arthur A. Daemmrich discusses the impact and challenges of the agency and his new book, Perspectives on Risk and Regulation: The FDA at 100. Read More

How to Profit from Scarcity

This past summer's launches of the iPhone and final Harry Potter book were textbook examples of companies profiting in part by creating the illusion of scarcity. Professor John Quelch explains the advantages of this strategy when executed well, and tells how to recover from a real product shortage. Read More

Mattel: Getting a Toy Recall Right

Mattel has been criticized heavily for having to recall not once but twice in as many weeks 20 million toys manufactured in China. But Mattel also deserves praise for stepping up to its responsibilities as the leading brand in the toy industry. Harvard Business School professor John Quelch examines what Mattel did right. Read More

The Promise of Channel Stewardship

For many companies, distribution channels serve neither customers nor channel partners well. In a new book, Harvard Business School professor V. Kasturi Rangan outlines the concept of channel stewardship. An excerpt from Transforming Your Go-to-Market Strategy. Read More

Managing Alignment as a Process

"Most organizations attempt to create synergy, but in a fragmented, uncoordinated way," say HBS professor Robert S. Kaplan and colleague David P. Norton. Their new book excerpted here, Alignment, tells how to see alignment as a management process. Read More

Lessons from the Browser Wars

The first-mover advantage is well chronicled, but it didn't help Netscape when Microsoft launched Internet Explorer. What drives technology adoption, and do browser upstarts such as Firefox stand a chance? A Q&A with professor Pai-Ling Yin. Read More

Winners and Losers at the Olympics

We know which athletes won and lost in Turin, but what about the companies and individuals looking for business gold? Professor Stephen A. Greyser looks at the results—and the possibilities ahead in China. Read More

Oprah: A Case Study Comes Alive

Writing a business case on the icon of daytime television and chief executive of a major media empire was challenge enough for HBS professor Nancy Koehn and colleagues. Oprah Winfrey's visit to campus to talk with graduating students made it ample reward. Read More

Turning High Potential into Real Reward

Transforming high-potential ventures into high-performance ventures, says professor Joseph Lassiter, depends on combining what, how, and who you know. From New Business. Read More

What Customers Want from Your Products

Marketers should think less about market segments and more about the jobs customers want to do. A Harvard Business Review excerpt by HBS professor Clayton M. Christensen, Intuit’s Scott Cook, and Advertising Research Foundation’s Taddy Hall. Read More

Unilever: Transformation and Tradition

In a new book, professor Geoffrey Jones looks at Unilever's decades-old transformation from fragmented underperformer to focused consumer products giant. This epilogue summarizes the years 1960 to 1990. Read More

Is Less Becoming More?

Americans these days have a lot more choices in products and services. But do consumers and suppliers suffer from choice overload? If so, what does this abundance mean for companies? Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

When Product Variety Backfires

Consumers like choice—but not too much of it. Presented with too many options, buyers may run to a competitor, says professor John Gourville. Here's what new research says about "overchoice." Read More

Selling Luxury to Everyone

Few retailing segments have been as hot in the past several years as luxury goods. Even as middle-priced stores have struggled, luxury goods and luxury brands have, in many cases, outperformed the rest of retail. How? Read More

Prosper with Multi-Channel Retailing

Reps from Abercrombie & Fitch, the Gap, and Bath & Body Works traded pointers in a panel session at the HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference on April 3. The upshot: Keep your brand message consistent both in-store and online. Read More

Luxury Isn’t What It Used to Be

The $60 billion global luxury goods market’s most recognizable brands—Thomas Pink, Steuben, Godiva, among them—are refreshing products and creating lower-priced lines. Read More

Ground-Floor Opportunities for Retail in India

India is overcoming tradition and poverty to create opportunities for retailers ready to take a chance on a new playing field. Read More

Loyalty: Don’t Give Away the Store

Loyalty programs are profitable—if used correctly. HBS Marketing professor Rajiv Lal discusses how grocery stores get it wrong. But you can get it right. Read More

Marketing Wine to the World

From consolidation to the growing clout of mass retailers, structural changes have hit the wine industry. Professor Michael Roberto discusses the move from elitism to mainstream appeal. Read More

Gaps in the Historical Record: Development of the Electronics Industry

There is plenty of history to be written about the birth of consumer electronics and the computer, says HBS professor emeritus Alfred D. Chandler Jr. Read More

Peeling Back the Global Brand

The global brand is a hard nut to crack. In a session devoted to these seemingly all-powerful brands, professors and practitioners exposed the fault lines. Read More

Unilever—A Case Study

As one of the oldest and largest foreign multinationals doing business in the U.S., the history of Unilever's investment in the United States offers a unique opportunity to understand the significant problems encountered by foreign firms. Harvard Business School professor Geoffrey Jones has done extensive research on Unilever, based on full access to restricted corporate records. This recent article from Business History Review is the first publication resulting from that research. Read More

In the Virtual Dressing Room Returns Are A Real Problem

That little red number looked smashing onscreen, but the puce caftan the delivery guy brought is just one more casualty of the online shopping battle. HBS professor Jan Hammond researches what the textile and apparel industries can do to curtail returns. Read More

How a Juicy Brand Came Back to Life

"Some brands just want to have fun, and from birth Snapple was one of them," says HBS professor John Deighton. As he explains in this excerpt from Harvard Business Review, the odyssey of the fun-loving beverage contains smart lessons for managers on branding and company culture. Read More

Alfred Chandler on the Electronic Century

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alfred D. Chandler Jr. examines the development of two pivotal industries in post-World War II America—the consumer electronics and computer industries. Read More

Why E-commerce Didn’t Die With the Fall of Webvan

The Internet grocer Webvan died a nasty death along with many other online delivery services—or did it? HBS professor John A. Deighton describes how the forces that propelled it are here to stay. Read More

Control Your Inventory in a World of Lean Retailing

"Manufacturers of consumer goods are in the hot seat these days," the authors of this Harvard Business Review article remind readers. But there is no need to surrender to escalating costs of inventories. In this excerpt, they describe one new way to help lower inventory costs. Read More

Building a Powerful Prestige Brand

Leveraging ambition, customer input, intuition, and a keen commercial imagination, a daughter of immigrant shopkeepers created a leader in the global prestige cosmetics market. HBS professor Nancy Koehn examines the genius of Estée Lauder. Read More

More Than the Sum of Its Parts: The Impact of Modularity on the Computer Industry

The "power of modularity," write HBS Dean Kim Clark and Professor Carliss Baldwin in their new book, rescued the computer industry from a problem of nightmarish proportions and made possible remarkable levels of innovation and growth in a relatively short period of time. Read More

Cable TV: From Community Antennas to Wired Cities

The cable television industry has long outgrown its roots as a source of better TV reception to achieve its present place as a key player in the emerging telecommunications infrastructure. That change, writes HBS Professor Thomas R. Eisenmann in Business History Review, amid different managerial respondes to the twin—and sometimes competing—objectives of stabilty and growth. In this excerpt, Eisenmann looks at the formative years of the industry, from 1948 to 1975. Read More

Rapid Response: Inside the Retailing Revolution

A simple bar code scan at your local department store today launches a whirlwind of action: data is transmitted about the color, the size, and the style of the item to forecasters and production planners; distributors and suppliers are informed of the demand and the possible need to restock. All in the blink of an electronic eye. It wasn’t always this way, though. HBS Professor Janice Hammond has focused her recent research on the transformation of the apparel and textile industries from the classic, limited model to the new lean inventories and flexible manufacturing capabilities. Read More