Marketing

274 Results

 

The Nobel Prize: A ‘Heritage-based’ Brand-oriented Network

This study examines the Nobel Prize as a true heritage brand in a networked situation and explores its identity, reputation, and stewardship. It is the first field-based research on the Nobel Prize as a brand. The authors define a heritage brand as one where its past is leveraged into its positioning and value proposition for the present, and the future. A networked situation is one where several organizations join together to create a new entity with its own strategy and identity. Overall, the authors develop and articulate a new approach to and framework for examining and analyzing corporate brand identity and reputation, and apply it to the Nobel Prize. Read More

Apple Pay’s Technology Adoption Problem

Apple wants to convert your iPhone into a digital wallet with Apple Pay. Professors Benjamin Edelman and Willy Shih assess its chances for success and wonder if consumers have a compelling reason to make the switch. Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Lifting the Veil: The Benefits of Cost Transparency

Most managers think about cost transparency in terms of a supplier-firm relationship: when there is a two-way sharing of cost information between a firm and its suppliers, with the goal of collaborating to reduce costs. What does cost transparency do, however, in customer-firm relationships, when firms voluntarily disclose their variable costs explicitly and directly to consumers? This is the question the authors examine in this paper. Results of several experiments indicate that one-way cost transparency enhances consumers' attraction to the brand, in turn increasing their willingness to buy. Overall, marketers can potentially improve both brand attraction and sales by revealing costs. Read More

Why Do Outlet Stores Exist?

Created in the 1930s, outlet stores allowed retailers to dispose of unpopular items at fire-sale prices. Today, outlets seem outmoded and unnecessary-stores have bargain racks, after all. Donald K. Ngwe explains why outlets still exist. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Has Apple Reinvented the Watch?

Will the Apple Watch reinvent wearables the way the iPhone did smartphones? Ryan Raffaelli shares his insights. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a Social Media Blockbuster

Most companies should envy the financial and brand awareness brought about by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The campaign's key ingredient, says John Deighton, is that participants enhance their personal capital in performance of a good deed. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

The Business of Behavioral Economics

Leslie John and Michael Norton explore how behavioral economics can help people overcome bad habits and change for the better. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Marketing Obamacare

HBS Professor John Quelch contends that the success of the Affordable Care Act depends more on marketing than it does on policy. And in Connecticut, he's got just the state to prove it. Open for comment; 4 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; 5 Comments posted.

World Cup Soccer: 770 Billion Minutes of Attention

FIFA stands to generate $23 billion in revenue from World Cup soccer over the next few weeks. Clearly the organization understands "Attention Economics," says marketing expert Thales Teixeira. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

In the Future of Sports Investing, Media Is the Best Bet

Sports investing is no longer just about buying teams and selling beer. Bob Higgins discusses why media, digital devices, and invention of fan-friendly sports are driving next-generation investors. Open for comment; 2 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; 13 Comments posted.

Secrets to a Successful Social Media Strategy

Misiek Piskorski explores the secrets of successful social media tactics in his new book, A Social Strategy: How We Profit From Social Media. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Excerpt: ‘A Social Strategy’

An excerpt from A Social Strategy: How We Profit From Social Media by Mikolaj Jan Piskorski Open for comment; 1 Comment 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.

Football Stars Debate ‘The Social Capital of the Savvy Athlete’

NFL players Richard Sherman, Arian Foster, Larry Fitzgerald, and Domonique Foxworth discussed Twitter pros and cons on marketing and race relations at Harvard Business School. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Are Electronic Cigarettes a Public Good or Health Hazard?

A new case study by John Quelch charts the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes and how tobacco companies and regulators are responding. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Encouraging Niche Content in an Ad-Driven World

Research by Feng Zhu and Monic Sun explores how advertising drives bloggers to shift their writing to subjects that will grab more eyeballs—namely, the stock market, celebrities, and salacious behavior. But surprise: Ads might also help generate more niche content. Closed for comment; 0 Comments posted.

A Brand Manager’s Guide to Losing Control

Social media platforms have taken some of the marketing power away from companies and given it to consumers. Jill Avery discusses the landscape of "open source branding," wherein consumers not only discuss and disseminate branded content, they also create it. Closed for comment; 9 Comments posted.

How Grocery Bags Manipulate Your Mind

People who bring personal shopping bags to the grocery store to help the environment are more likely to buy organic items—but also to treat themselves to ice cream and cookies, according to new research by Uma R. Karmarkar and Bryan Bollinger. What's the Quinoa-Häagen-Dazs connection? Closed for comment; 13 Comments 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.

The Art of American Advertising

Harvard Business School's Baker Library is hosting a historical exhibit that examines the advertising industry in a bygone era. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Can Putin Score Olympic Gold?

With billions of dollars on the line at this year's troubled Winter Olympics, Stephen Greyser breaks down what's at stake for the brands of NBC, key corporate sponsors, Russia—and Vladimir Putin. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Has Listening Become a Lost Art?

Summing Up: Managers may have ears, but do they use them? Jim Heskett's readers offer opinions on why listening might be a lost art. Closed for comment; 30 Comments posted.

The Tricky Business of Managing Web Advertising Affiliates

Advertising through numerous website affiliates potentially helps marketers get more bang for their buck. But the far-flung systems can also lead to fraud, says Ben Edelman. What's the best way to manage your advertising network? Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

The Rising Cost of Consumer Attention: Why You Should Care, and What You Can Do about It

Attention is the allocation of mental resources, visual or cognitive, to visible or conceptual objects. Before consumers can be affected by advertising messages, they first need to be paying attention. As Thales S. Teixeira writes in this paper, the quality of consumer attention has been falling for decades. Consumers have lost interest in the information content of ads because they can access more and better information on‐demand on the Web. In addition, the price of marketers' acquiring high-quality attention has increased by as much as nine‐fold in the past two decades. To compensate for these circumstances marketers have typically responded by advertising more or by pursuing other means, such as price promotions, to acquire customers. However, these tactics risk eroding current profits and future revenues. A better solution, argues Teixeira, is to find cheaper attention or increase its conversion into sales. Novel approaches described in the paper, such as Lean Advertising and Viral Ad Symbiosis, can help to mitigate the rising cost of attention. Ultimately, in order to effectively manage the valuable resource of consumer attention, marketers will need to tailor their advertising strategies to the attention contingently available to them. This paper shows how to achieve this through Teixeira's Attention‐Contingent Advertising Strategy. He also lays out the fundamental principles of the economics of attention, an emerging field. Read More

Super Bowl Ads for Multitaskers

With more than half the Super Bowl audience using smartphones or laptops at the same time they watch the big game on TV, Thales S. Teixeira says advertisers have to step up their game. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com

To build trust and facilitate transactions, online marketplaces present information not only about products, but also about the people offering the products. Many platforms now allow sellers to present personal profiles, post pictures of themselves, and even link to their Facebook accounts. While these features serve the laudable goals of building trust and accountability, they can also bring unintended consequences: Personal profiles may facilitate discrimination. Benjamin G. Edelman and Michael Luca investigate the extent of racial discrimination against hosts on the popular online rental marketplace Airbnb.com. They construct a data set combining pictures of all New York City landlords on Airbnb with their rental prices and information about characteristics and quality of their properties. The authors use this data to measure differences in outcomes according to host race. Nonblack hosts are able to charge approximately 12 percent more than black hosts, holding location, rental characteristics, and quality constant. Moreover, black hosts receive a larger price penalty for having a poor location relative to nonblack hosts. These differences highlight the risk of discrimination in online marketplaces, suggesting an important unintended consequence of a seemingly-routine mechanism for building trust. Read More

Separating Homophily and Peer Influence with Latent Space

People are often more willing to try new things when they see others doing so. This phenomenon, which academics call "social influence", has a profound impact on many aspects of customer decision-making and marketing. For example, social influence affects consumers' willingness to take up new technologies, adopt and use social networks, and ask their physicians for particular prescription medicines. Marketers are thus eager to understand how and to what extent social influence affects people's consumption decisions. To date, however, it has been difficult to pinpoint the effects of social influence, as researchers have struggled to separate it from a simple fact that like-minded people tend to enjoy the same things, per the adage "Birds of a feather flock together." The authors use the field of mobile app adoption in Japan to examine this problem. Japan is an ideal testing ground because approximately 80-85 percent of all page views occur through mobile. In addition, mobile apps are often social in nature, especially those that are linked to a social network platform. The authors devise a new method to assess social influence by controlling for other factors that usually complicate the picture. Overall, the findings show that peer usage accounts for more than a quarter of all mobile app adoptions. The paper also highlights a risk that firms could overestimate social influence by 40 percent on average, even up to 100 percent in certain cases. The authors' method helps overcome this risk. Read More

How Government Can Restore the Faith of Citizens

Would we like government more if we could see what it was doing to help citizens? Research by Michael Norton and Ryan Buell. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Information and Incentives in Online Affiliate Marketing

Compared to historic advertising methods, online marketing invites advertisers to attempt a sharply increased quantity of partnerships. Online relationships reduce the transaction costs of buying ad placements. In many advertising marketplaces, standardized contracts let an advertiser accept a proposed placement with a single click, and ad networks widely sell bundles of hundreds or thousands of placements. Meanwhile, many advertisers find they can get valuable leads and favorable pricing from the Internet's myriad small sites. These numerous relationships entail costs, too, such as selecting, compensating, and supervising the sites, making sure each site is suitable to show the advertiser's offer, and making sure sites in fact deliver the promised benefits. Advertisers thus turn to specialists and outside firms to handle important aspects of advertising-buying. In this paper, the authors evaluate advertisers' chosen management structures by measuring the relative prevalence of advertising fraud targeting advertisers engaged in online "affiliate marketing," a performance-based compensation system increasingly common in online ad campaigns. Specifically, the authors identify the vulnerabilities best addressed by outsourcing marketing management to external specialists, versus the problems better overseen by keeping management decisions in-house. They find outside advisors most effective at enforcing clear rules, but in-house staff excel at preventing practices viewed as "borderline" under industry norms. While the results apply most directly to advertisers considering the management structure of their online marketing programs, the analysis also speaks to broader concerns of outsourcing and the boundary of the firm. Read More

Is Walmart Defying Economic Gravity?

Summing Up Can Walmart sustain its half-a-trillion-dollar enterprise much longer? Jim Heskett's readers see a conflict between the company's immense size and its business model. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Surfacing the Submerged State with Operational Transparency in Government Services

Research shows that Americans' trust in government is near historic lows and frustration with government performance is approaching record highs. While debates rage about how effective government is in providing basic services, one explanation for these trends in public opinion is that, independent of effectiveness, many voters may simply be unaware that government provides any services at all. Previous research by the authors reveals that seeing the labor in which firms engage improves customer satisfaction. In this paper, the authors design and test an intervention targeted toward increasing citizens' awareness of the services provided by government. Specifically, they present the results of an experiment in which Boston-area residents interacted with a website that visualized the service requests submitted by members of the public and the City's efforts to address those requests. Does seeing the work of government—fixing potholes, repairing streetlamps, removing graffiti, collecting garbage—lead citizens to express more positive attitudes toward government and increase their support for maintaining and expanding the scale of government programs? The study shows that providing greater operational transparency into government's efforts to address citizens' needs can improve attitudes toward government. Read More

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.

A Smarter Way to Reduce Customer Defections

Companies can't afford to lose hard-won customers, but in truth some are more important to keep than others. Recent research by Sunil Gupta and Aurélie Lemmens explains how to find them. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

How Major League Baseball Clubs Have Commercialized Their Investment in Japanese Top Stars

Japanese money flowing from broadcasting rights, sponsorships, and merchandise contributes substantially to the prosperity of Major League Baseball (MLB) in America. This market growth depends on wide exposure of and good performance by Japanese major leaguers. Acquiring and signing these stars can become a passport to get in touch with the Japanese market directly. The authors examine how the MLB clubs have tried to commercialize their investment in Japanese top stars and assesses whether the clubs have succeeded. Seven factors attract revenues from Japanese companies and fans: pitcher or position player, player's popularity, non-stop flights from Japan, distance from Japan, non-sport tourist attractions in a city, size of Japanese community in the city, and player's and team's performance. The most important factor, however, is the player's talent and popularity in terms of performance in both Japan and the US and his media exposure in Japan including endorsement contracts. Read More

Blockbuster! Why Star Power Works

Anita Elberse discusses her new book on the benefits of a blockbuster strategy—investing big money into a few top products. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Managing Churn to Maximize Profits

Customer defection or "churn" is a widespread phenomenon across a variety of industries. As customer acquisition costs continue to rise, managing customer churn has become critically important for the profitability of companies. This paper provides a novel method for determining which customers to target in order to maximize the profit of a retention campaign. The authors developed a binary classification method that uses a gain/loss matrix, which incorporates the gain of targeting and retaining the most valuable churners and the cost of incentives to the targeted customers. Results show that this approach leads to far more profitable retention campaigns than the traditional churn modeling approaches. In addition, the additional profits come at no cost for companies. The implementation of the retention campaign is unchanged, only the composition and size of the target group changes compared to traditional approaches. Read More

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.

To Buy Happiness, Spend Money on Other People

In a new video, Michael Norton shows that spending money on others yields more happiness than spending it on yourself. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

What Went Wrong at J.C. Penney?

J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson went bold in his attempted rescue of the fading retailer, but his top-to-bottom makeover failed. Marketing expert Rajiv Lal explores what went wrong and why JCP has an even more difficult road ahead. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

Advertising Symbiosis: The Key to Viral Videos

Creating an online ad that goes viral requires more than mere entertainment. Thales S. Teixeira discusses the key to creating megahit marketing through "advertising symbiosis." Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

How Numbers Talk to People

In their new book Keeping Up with the Quants, Thomas H. Davenport and Jinho Kim offer tools to sharpen quantitative analysis and make better decisions. Read our excerpt. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

From McRibs to Maseratis: The Power of Scarcity Marketing

In the new book Happy Money: the Science of Smarter Spending, behavioral economists Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton describe how money can buy happiness—but only if we spend it the right way. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Exclusive Preferential Placement as Search Diversion: Evidence from Flight Search

Measuring the net effect of search diversion is important for understanding the extent to which search engines and other intermediaries may act to influence consumer behavior. This paper makes two contributions. First, the authors develop a theoretical model to establish conditions when a search engine chooses to divert search to a less relevant service. Results indicate that search engines have a larger incentive to divert search when they are able to alter the consumers' perceptions of the difference between non-paid and paid placements, and when search engines place a large weight on revenue. These results are consistent with instances where some search engines have labeled paid links with confusing euphemisms or not at all, and where some search engines have mixed paid and non-paid links in the same area of the screen. Second, the authors measure the impact of a diversion mechanism where a search engine exclusively awards a non-paid preferred placement slot to its own service. Specifically, they examine Google's preferred placement of Flight Search. Analysis indicates that there was an 85 percent increase in click-through rates for paid advertising and a 65 percent decrease in click-through rates for non-paid algorithmic search traffic to competing online travel agencies. Both changes are statistically significant, providing evidence of Google's ability to influence how consumers choose services after they search. Read More

Diagnosing the ‘Flutie Effect’ on College Marketing

Boston College, after one of the most dramatic plays in collegiate football history, benefitted with a dramatic upswing in applications. Other colleges have experienced similar upswings from sports success. In a new study, Doug J. Chung demonstrates the reality behind the "Flutie Effect," named after BC quarterback Doug Flutie. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Competing with Privacy

Personal consumer information has become a valuable asset in the marketplace and an important element of firm strategy. While consumers are unable to control the disclosure practices of services that collect their personal information, they can decide which services to trust and how much information to provide. How do these choices shape competition? The analysis in this paper explains how firms engaging in disclosure choose to share the benefits with consumers by subsidizing them, and firms charging positive prices choose not to engage in disclosure. Competition is likely to increase the supply of both subsidized and no-disclosure services. Moreover, subsidized services have the potential to remain highly profitable under competition despite the fact that disclosure generates consumer disutility. Overall, these findings are particularly relevant to the business models of Internet firms. Findings also contribute to inform the regulatory debate on consumer privacy. Read More

Solving the Search vs. Display Advertising Quandary

Internet advertising was supposed to make it easier for marketers to measure the impact of their ad buys. But a basic question remains: Do search ads or do display ads create more customers on the web? Research by Professor Sunil Gupta. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Do Display Ads Influence Search? Attribution and Dynamics in Online Advertising

The introduction of online metrics such as click through rate (CTR) and cost per acquisition (CPA) by Google and other online advertisers has made it easy for marketing managers to justify their online ad spending in comparison to the budgets used for television and other media. However, these metrics suffer from two fundamental problems: (a) they do not account for attribution, since they give credit to the last click and ignore the impact of other ad formats that may have helped a consumer move down the conversion funnel, and (b) they ignore the dynamics, since they only account for the immediate impact of ads. As firms spend more of their ad dollars on online search and display, managers and researchers alike recognize a need for more careful attribution adjustment that takes into account the journey consumers follow before conversion as well as account for the impact of ads over time. In this paper, the authors use time series models to infer the interaction between search and display ads and also capture their impact over time. Examining data from a bank that used online advertising to acquire new customers for its checking account, the authors found that display ads have a significant impact on search applications, as well as clicks. The majority of this spillover was not instant, but took effect only after two weeks. On the other hand, search advertising did not lead to an increase in display applications. However, search ads showed significant dynamic effects on search applications that made them very cost effective in the long run. Read More

Do Bonuses Enhance Sales Productivity? A Dynamic Structural Analysis of Bonus-Based Compensation Plans

Personal selling is a primary marketing mix tool for most B2B firms to generate sales. Yet there is little research on how the compensation plan motivates a sales force and affects performance. This paper develops and estimates a dynamic structural model of sales force response to a compensation plan with various components: salary, commissions, lump-sum bonus for achieving quotas, and different commission rates beyond achieving quotas. Overall, the analysis helps assess the impact of (1) different components of compensation and (2) the differential importance of periodic bonuses on performance on different segments of sales people. Read More

Neuroeconomics: Eyes, Brain, Business

At first glance, a neuroscientist and a business school might seem an odd fit. But in fact economists have been paying increasing attention to how the brain works. Christine Looser discusses her research on how the brain detects aliveness and the possible implications for organizations and advertisers. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

The Dynamic Advertising Effect of Collegiate Athletics

The primary form of mass media advertising by academic institutions in the United States is, arguably, through its athletics program. This study investigates the possible advertising effects of intercollegiate athletics. Specifically, it looks at the spillover effect and the magnitude and divergence that athletic success has on the quantity and quality of applications received by an academic institution of higher education in the United States. Overall, findings show that athletic success has a significant impact on the quality and quantity of applicants to these institutions. However, athletic success has relatively more importance to the students with lower ability. Students of higher ability have a stronger preference for the quality of education compared to their lower-ability counterparts. Read More

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.

Helping Yelp Create More Accurate Reviews

Over time, Yelp's reader rating system of restaurants can make or break an operation, but professor Michael Luca shows the program has flaws. Can a more accurate, fairer system be created? Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Sharpening Your Skills: Understanding Customers

In these previous articles, professors discuss a range of topics about customers: why they are not always right; understanding their motivations; providing them dramatically enhanced services; and making things right when you don't meet their expectations. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Want People to Save More? Send a Text

What's the most effective way to encourage people to save their money? The answer lies in a combination of peer pressure and text messages, according to new research by Assistant Professor Dina D. Pomeranz. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Digital Technology’s Profound Game Change for Marketers

Within a few years, chief marketing officers will spend more on technology--digital marketing--than CIOs. Jeffrey Bussgang says it is clear that technology is radically transforming the marketing function and the role of the marketing professional. Closed for comment; 6 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.

The Unexpected Link Between Cadavers and Careers

Illustrating the strange socializing power of our occupational pursuits, a new study by professor Michel Anteby and colleagues finds a strong association between jobs and corpse donations. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: Branding Yoga

As yoga's popularity has grown into a $6 billion business, a cast of successful entrepreneurs has emerged with their own styles of the ancient practice. Yet yoga's rise underscores a larger question for Professor Rohit Deshpandé: Is everything brandable? Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Advertising: It’s Not ‘Mad Men’ Anymore

Three major forces have changed advertising since Don Draper last prowled the corridors of Sterling Cooper. Professor Emeritus Alvin J. Silk's decades of research finds an industry that, while evolving in fundamental ways, is healthy and creative. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Off and Running: Professors Comment on Olympics

The most difficult challenge at The Olympics is the behind-the-scenes efforts to actually get them up and running. Is it worth it? HBS professors Stephen A. Greyser, John D. Macomber, and John T. Gourville offer insights into the business behind the games. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Charitable Giving When Altruism and Similarity are Linked

This paper presents a model to help explain several aspects of charitable giving. First, individuals do not appear to reduce their contributions to a charity significantly when they learn that the government or other individuals have increased the funds that they devote to the charity's beneficiaries. Indeed, sometimes people increase their contributions when they hear that others have contributed more. Second, there are often several distinct charities that contribute to the same beneficiaries, and these charities frequently differ by the donor population to whom they target their appeal. Lastly, the extent to which individuals contribute to charity differs greatly, even among countries that appear otherwise quite similar. Rotemberg's model shows that two assumptions grounded in evidence from psychology are helpful in explaining these regularities. Specifically, the combination of (1) letting altruism be larger towards like-minded people and (2) having self-esteem depend on the number of people that agree with oneself is consistent with small reductions in one's own giving in response to larger giving by others. Read More

Why Good Deeds Invite Bad Publicity

Many executives assume that investments in corporate social responsibility create public goodwill. But do they? Felix Oberholzer-Gee and colleagues find surprising results when it comes to oil spills. Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

How to Brand a Next-Generation Product

Upgrades to existing product lines make up a huge part of corporate research and development activity, and with every upgrade comes the decision of how to brand it. Harvard Business School marketing professors John T. Gourville and Elie Ofek teamed up with London Business School's Marco Bertini to suss out the best practices for naming next-generation products. Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Do Online Dating Platforms Help Those Who Need Them Most?

The $2 billion online dating industry promises the possibility of a priceless product: romantic love. Associate Professor Mikolaj Piskorski investigates whether these sites are helping the lonely—or just making life easier for young singles who are popular already. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

An Exploration of Luxury Hotels in Tanzania

Tanzania is justly famous for its incredible natural landmarks such as the Rift Valley, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and, above all, the Serengeti and the Great Migration. Why, despite being so richly endowed in touristic resources, does Tanzania receive relatively few tourists and little revenue from tourism? Diego Comin explored the drivers and influencing factors on the size of the tourism sector, using as a starting point the abnormally high prices of upscale hotels in Tanzania, especially in the safari areas. Findings suggest that the cost of supplying upscale hotel services is not sufficient to explain the abnormally high prices, and the more likely candidate is high markups. Interviews with hotel managers supported this conclusion. In addition, while cross-country differences in demand are large, once we control for these differences, discrepancies in upscale hotel prices account for a significant share of cross-country differences in demand, and cross-country differences in demand are very persistent. On the basis of the role of word-of-mouth, learning by doing, and pecuniary externalities in driving differences in demand, there may be room for the Tanzanian government to induce lower hotel prices and to try to independently increase the foreign perception of the country's attractiveness. Read More

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.

Is JC Penney’s Makeover the Future of Retailing?

The stuffy department store chain has become emboldened under new CEO Ron Johnson, with plans for an innovative store upgrade, simplified prices, and a brand polish. Professor Rajiv Lal discusses whether Johnson can repeat his previous magic at Apple and Target. Closed for comment; 45 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

Sharpening Your Skills: Online Marketing

In this collection from our archives, Harvard Business School faculty discuss the latest research on online marketing techniques, including consumer reviews, video ads, loyalty programs, and coupon offerings. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Break Your Addiction to Service Heroes

In their new book, Uncommon Service, coauthors Frances Frei and Anne Morriss show it is possible for organizations to reduce costs while dramatically enhancing customer service. The key? Don't try to be good at everything. Interview and book excerpt from HBS Alumni Bulletin. Open for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Expectations, Network Effects and Platform Pricing

In markets with network effects, the value that users gain from platforms depends on the number of other users of the same type who join the same platform (direct network effects) or the number of users of a different type that join (cross-group network effects). Examples include social networks like Facebook or Google+, payment systems like PayPal or Visa, videogame systems like PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, smartphone platforms like Apple's iPhone or Google's Android, etc. Users typically rely on the media, market reports, or word of mouth to form expectations about the total number of other users that join a given platform. However, most of the time these users are unable to calculate the effect of platforms' prices on adoption by other users. In other words, they do not take price into account when forming expectations. To analyze platform profits, Andrei Hagiu and Hanna Hałaburda model different degrees of user sophistication in forming price expectations in markets with network effects. They show that firms have different preferences regarding the average sophistication of their user base depending on market structure. Read More

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.

The Yelp Factor: Are Consumer Reviews Good for Business?

In a new study, Assistant Professor Michael Luca shows just how much restaurant reviews on Yelp affect companies' bottom lines. The more difficult question: Are these ratings reliable as a measure of product quality? Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Getting the Marketing Mix Right

Marketers have a wide array of selling tools at their disposal, but lack an effective method for predicting their success. Associate Professor Thomas J. Steenburgh and collaborators offer a new model for guiding their marketing investments. Open for comment; 2 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.

Retailing Revolution: Category Killers on the Brink

Mass-market retailers, particularly big-box "category killers," are under critical pressure from online competitors. For retailers that can react quickly enough, this upheaval is survivable. But those slow to see the tsunami wave on the horizon stand to be swept away, according to professors Rajiv Lal and José B. Alvarez. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

How Will the ‘Moneyball Generation’ Influence Management?

Sum-up Nontraditional performance measures, as highlighted in the movie 'Moneyball', will become an increasingly important part of the young manager's toolkit, Jim Heskett's readers say. Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com

In just six years, Yelp.com has managed to crowdsource 20 million reviews of restaurants and other services by creating and leveraging an impressive social network of people who enjoy writing reviews. But can a bunch of amateur opinionators working for free really transform the restaurant industry, where heavily marketed chains and highly regarded professional critics have long had a stronghold? To answer this question, HBS professor Michael Luca combined Yelp reviews with revenues for every restaurant that operated in Seattle, WA at any point between 2003 and 2009. Applying a new method to tease out the causal effect of reviews (separate from the effect of underlying quality), the study shows that a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue. Yet Yelp doesn't work for all restaurants. Chain restaurants —which already spend heavily on branding —are unaffected by changes in their Yelp ratings. This suggests that consumer reviews present a new way of learning in the Internet age, and are fast becoming a substitute for traditional forms of reputation. Read More

Salience in Quality Disclosure: Evidence from the U.S. News College Rankings

Why are the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings so influential? According to this paper by Michael Luca and Jonathan Smith, it's at least in part because U.S. News makes the information so simple. While earlier college guides had already provided useful information about schools, U.S. News did the work of aggregating the information into an easy-to-use ranking, making it more salient for prospective students. The authors show that these rankings matter in a big way: a one-rank improvement leads to a 0.9 percent increase in applicants. However, students tend to ignore the underlying details even though these details carry more information than the overall rank. Read More

HBS Cases: Lady Gaga

What goes into creating the world's largest pop star? Before her fame hit, Lady Gaga's manager faced decisions that could have derailed the performer's career. A new case by Associate Professor Anita Elberse examines the strategic marketing choices that instead created a global brand. Closed for comment; 28 Comments posted.

First-Party Content, Commitment and Coordination in Two-Sided Markets

Two-sided platforms face a challenging coordination problem that consists of attracting both buyers and sellers. Participation by both depends on their expectations of participation on the other side of the market. To improve such coordination, many platforms provide "first-party content," such as games (e.g. Microsoft's Halo on Xbox), objective search results (Google and Bing) or, in the case of Amazon and eBay, product information and payment systems. First-party content makes participation more attractive to one side (typically, users), independently of the presence of sellers. Importantly, first-party content may be either a complement or a substitute for third-party sellers' products. For instance, Halo is a substitute for games provided by Electronic Arts on the Xbox; on the other hand, the Xbox Live online playing system is a complement. Similarly, Amazon's shipping services complements its third-party sellers' offerings, but the products Amazon sells under its own name compete with them. Professors Hagiu and Spulber examine the incentives that two-sided platforms have to invest in first-party content in order to coordinate adoption by both sides. The authors show that the incentives for firms to use first-party content depend crucially on the nature of buyers' and sellers' expectations and the relationship between first-party content and third-party seller participation (complements or substitutes). Read More

A New Model for Business: The Museum

Looking for a new model to think about business? Look no further than your local art museum, says Assistant Professor Ray Weaver. Some of the most profitable Web businesses and retailers such as Apple succeed by acting like museum curators: providing a very limited amount of choices at a time; offering a brief, engaging description of each choice; and classifying products honestly. Closed for comment; 47 Comments posted.

To Groupon or Not to Groupon: The Profitability of Deep Discounts

For consumers, online discount vouchers (like those offered by Groupon.com) have obvious appeal: discounts as large as 90 percent. But for retailers offering the deals through the site, does the publicity compensate for the deep hit to profit margins? This paper sets out to help small businesses decide whether it makes sense to offer discount vouchers. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, Business Economics PhD candidate Scott Duke Kominers, and by Sonia Jaffe of the Harvard University Department of Economics. Read More

Customer Loyalty Programs That Work

Thanks to ever-improving technology, customer loyalty programs are proving extremely popular among retailers—but merchants are not getting all they should out of them. The reason? Professor José Alvarez says retailers need to see customers as partners, not transactions. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

Search Diversion, Rent Extraction and Competition

Retailers, search engines, shopping malls and other intermediaries often deliberately design their physical layouts or e-commerce sites in order to divert customers' attention away from the products they were initially looking for, with hopes that they'll buy a bunch of other products, too. This paper explores various incentives for so-called "search diversion" in a couple of scenarios—when stores internalize their affiliation decisions with intermediaries, and when competition is introduced among intermediaries. Research was conducted by Andrei Hagiu of Harvard Business School and Bruno Jullien of the Toulouse School of Economics. Read More

Mobile Banking for the Unbanked

A billion people in developing countries have no need for a savings account–but they do need a financial service that banks compete to provide. The new HBS case Mobile Banking for the Unbanked, written by professor Kash Rangan, is a lesson in understanding the real need of customers. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

Empathy: The Brand Equity of Retail

Retailers can offer great product selection and value, but those who lack empathy for their customers are at risk of losing them, says professor Ananth Raman. Closed for comment; 15 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. Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Casino Payoff: Hands-Off Management Works Best

Micromanagers beware: Research of casino hosts by Harvard Business School's Dennis Campbell and Francisco de Asís Martinez-Jerez and Rice's Marc Epstein makes the case that hands-off management can work to improve employee learning and decision making. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

When Smaller Menus are Better: Variability in Menu-Setting Ability and 401(k) Plans

Economists love menus, which can be used to help understand people's choices. For example, do we prefer more choices (larger menu) or fewer (shorter menu)? But the menu itself has to be pre-selected. Research by David Goldreich (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto) and Hanna Halaburda (Harvard Business School) focuses on the menu setter's decisions about what to include, and how large a menu to construct in the context of 401(k) plan choices. Read More

The ‘IKEA Effect’: When Labor Leads to Love

Companies increasingly involve customers in the design and assembly of products, from Converse allowing customers to design their own shoes to IKEA asking customers to assemble their own furniture. In this paper researchers Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School), Daniel Mochon (University of California at San Diego), and Dan Ariely (Duke) use the "IKEA Effect" to explain the increase in valuation we place on products we build ourselves. The researchers discuss the implications of the IKEA Effect for marketing managers and organizations more generally. Read More

Do Not Trash the Incentive! Monetary Incentives and Waste Sorting

Many cities encourage residents to sort their domestic trash into separate bins, for the sake of recycling some of it and thus reducing the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills. The problem is that sorting waste is not a fun activity, and not everyone is willing to do it. Using data from 95 municipalities in Italy, this paper discusses whether and how monetary incentives can encourage people to sort their trash. Research was conducted by Alessandro Bucciol of the University of Verona and the University of Amsterdam, Natalia Montinari of the University of Padua and the Max Planck Institute of Economics, and Marco Piovesan of Harvard Business School. Read More

How Do Incumbents Fare in the Face of Increased Service Competition?

Companies that compete by offering a high level of service are particularly vulnerable to lose customers—even longtime customers—when competitive entrants offer increased service levels, according to new research in the retail banking industry by Ryan W. Buell, Dennis Campbell, and Frances X. Frei, all of Harvard Business School. The good news for providers of high-touch service is that if they can sustain the service advantage over time, they could be rewarded with higher value customers. Read More

Are We Thinking Too Little, or Too Much?

In the course of making a decision, managers often err in one of two directions—either overanalyzing a situation or forgoing all the relevant information and simply going with their gut. HBS marketing professor Michael I. Norton discusses the potential pitfalls of thinking too much or thinking too little. Open for comment; 44 Comments posted.

A Behavioral Model of Demandable Deposits and Its Implications for Financial Regulation

Depositors are overconfident of their chances of recovering demandable deposits in a bank run. In a recent research paper, professor Julio J. Rotemberg reviews various government regulations available to be imposed on financial institutions—minimum capital levels, asset requirements, deposit insurance, and compulsory clawbacks—to understand how much they can help protect investors. 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.

Is Groupon Good for Retailers?

For retailers offering deals through the wildly popular online start-up Groupon, does the one-day publicity compensate for the deep hit to profit margins? A new working paper, "To Groupon or Not to Groupon," sets out to help small businesses decide. Harvard Business School professor Benjamin G. Edelman discusses the paper's findings. Closed for comment; 59 Comments posted.

Sponsored Links’ or ’Advertisements’?: Measuring Labeling Alternatives in Internet Search Engines

In processing a search for a particular phrase, Internet search engines generally offer two types of results: the algorithmic results, which a search engine selects based on relevance, and the "sponsored links," for which advertisers pay. The latter often occupy prominent screen space. But does the average web surfer realize that they are advertisements? In an online experiment, Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman and doctoral candidate Duncan S. Gilchrist show that "sponsored link" is too vague a term for some users to understand, and that "paid advertisement" is a label that better clarifies the nature of the link. They call on the FTC to compel search engines to improve their disclosures. Read More

United Breaks Guitars

A new case coauthored by HBS marketing professor John Deighton and research associate Leora Kornfeld offers an object lesson in the dangers social media can bring for big, recognizable companies and their brands. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Open for comment; 26 Comments posted.

Connecting Goals and Go-To-Market Initiatives

In some respects, developing strategy is the easy part. Executing that strategy in alignment with strategic priorities is where real mastery of management takes place. Harvard Business School senior lecturer Frank V. Cespedes shows how it is done. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

The Unbundling of Advertising Agency Services: An Economic Analysis

From 1982 through 2007, U.S. advertising agencies increasingly "unbundled," or disaggregated, services such as copywriting and media placement, moving away from the industry's traditional one-stop-shop model. At the same time, agencies began to charge clients based on a fee-for-service system, rather than collecting commissions on media placements. The researchers analyze this trend and consider how it may be interpreted by the economic theory of bundling. Read More

Tesco’s Stumble into the US Market

UK retailer Tesco was very successful penetrating foreign markets—until it set its sights on the United States. Its series of mistakes and some bad luck are captured in a new case by Harvard Business School marketing professor John A. Quelch. Read More

The Consumer Appeal of Underdog Branding

Research by HBS professor Anat Keinan and colleagues explains how and why a "brand biography" about hard luck and fierce determination can boost the power of products in industries as diverse as food and beverages, technology, airlines, and automobiles. Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

HBS Introduces Marketing Analysis Tools for Managers

The tools can help managers inform decisions on market analysis, breakeven analysis, customer lifetime value, profit and pricing, and analyzing the competitive environment. Interview with Tom Steenburgh. Read More

The Influence of Prior Industry Affiliation on Framing in Nascent Industries: The Evolution of Digital Cameras

Firms entering a new product market face tremendous ambiguity and competitive uncertainty, particularly when the new market is sparked by radical technological change. Potential customers have little or no experience with products, and during this period of turbulence, firms experiment with alternative product configurations, functions, and technologies. By studying the emergence of the consumer mass market for digital cameras, Carlson School of Management professor Mary J. Benner and HBS professor Mary Tripsas explore what factors influence a firm's initial introduction of product features during the nascent stage of a product market, and how the process of convergence on a standard set of features unfolds. In particular, they assess how a firm's prior industry affiliation influences its conceptualization of the product. Read More

What Is Customer Opinion Good For?

Summing Up: Are customer wishes irrelevant when creating a new product? Jim Heskett's readers say it depends on the product, on market goals, and where you are in the development cycle. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens September 2.) Closed for comment; 73 Comments posted.

Modern Indian Art: The Birth of a Market

Before 1995, there was little market for twentieth-century Indian fine art. That's when artists, auction houses, critics, and others defined a new product category—modern Indian fine art—resulting in worldwide demand and soaring prices. Professor Mukti Khaire explains the dynamics behind new market categories. Read More

Yes, You Can Raise Prices in a Downturn

If you and your customers understand the value represented in your pricing, you can—and should—charge more for delivering more. An interview on "performance pricing" with researchers Frank Cespedes, Benson P. Shapiro, and Elliot Ross. Read More

Improving Brand Recognition in TV Ads

Advertisers pay millions of dollars to air TV ads that are subsequently ignored by a third of viewers. New research by HBS professor Thales S. Teixeira offers a simple, inexpensive solution for marketers to retain brand recognition. Read More

Platforms and Limits to Network Effects

Why do platforms that restrict choice and charge higher prices seem to prosper alongside platforms offering cheap or free unlimited choice? In the online dating market, for example, eHarmony deliberately limits the number of candidates available to its customers. Headhunters show only a few candidates to the companies, and even fewer companies to the candidates. In the housing market, brokers limit the number of houses they show to potential buyers and sellers. In this paper, HBS professors Hanna Halaburda and Mikolaj Jan Piskorski challenge conventional understanding of platform competition and network effects by describing a two-sided matching environment and studying the indirect network effects in this environment. They show that the interplay between more choice and more competition influences the strength of network effects and attractiveness of a platform. Some agents may opt for a platform with few choices to avoid higher levels of competition. The researchers' model helps explain why platforms that limit their choice set coexist (and thrive) alongside platforms that offer greater choice. Read More

When Other Companies Compete Like Crazy, Dare to Be Different

Eye-catching colors and gee-whiz features aren't enough for successful products and services today. To rise above the "sea of sameness," companies need to be different in a way that is elemental—and game-changing. HBS professor Youngme Moon shares highlights and insights from her new book, Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd. Read More

Tragedy at Toyota: How Not to Lead in Crisis

"Toyota can only regain its footing by transforming itself from top to bottom to deliver the highest quality automobiles," says HBS professor Bill George of the beleaguered automobile company that in recent months has recalled 8 million vehicles. He offers seven recommendations for restoring consumer confidence in the safety and quality behind the storied brand. Read More

The Outside-In Approach to Customer Service

Is your enterprise resilient or rigid? In this Q&A, HBS professor Ranjay Gulati, an expert on leadership, strategy, and organizational issues in firms, describes how companies can evolve through four levels to become more customer-centric. Plus: book excerpt from Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. Read More

The ‘Luxury Prime’: How Luxury Changes People

What effect does luxury have on human cognition and decision making? According to new research, there seems to be a link between luxury and self interest, an insight that may help curb corporate excesses. Roy Y.J. Chua of Harvard Business School discusses findings from his work conducted with Xi Zou of London Business School. Read More

Tracks of My Tears: Reconstructing Digital Music

Record labels have depended on album sales to boost profits. But in the digital music era, consumers prefer single songs over music "bundles." The result? Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse says it is time for the industry to rethink its products and prices. Read More

Customer Feedback Not on elBulli’s Menu

The world is beating a path to Chef Ferran Adriŕ's door at elBulli, but why? In professor Michael Norton's course, students learn about marketing from a business owner who says he doesn't care whether or not customers like his product. Read More

Why Are Web Sites So Confusing?

Just as bread and milk are often found at far-away ends of the supermarket, Web sites that match consumers with certain products have an incentive to steer users to products that yield the highest margins. The result: a compromise between what users want and what produces the most revenues, say HBS professor Andrei Hagiu and Toulouse School of Economics researcher Bruno Jullien. A look inside the world of search. Read More

Understanding Users of Social Networks

Many business leaders are mystified about how to reach potential customers on social networks such as Facebook. Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski provides a fresh look into the interpersonal dynamics of these sites and offers guidance for approaching these tantalizing markets. Read More

Quantifying the Economic Impact of the Internet

Businesses around the advertising-supported Internet have incredible multiplier effects throughout the economy and society. Professor John Quelch starts to put some numbers on the impact. Read More

Social Network Marketing: What Works?

Purchase decisions are influenced differently in social networks than in the brick-and-mortar world, says Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta. The key: Marketers should tap into the networking aspect of sites such as Facebook. Read More

The Return of the Salesman

Salesmen have received a bad rap over the years, but increasingly the profession is drawing scholarly interest. Business History Review coeditor Walter A. Friedman discusses the publication's recent themed issue on salesmanship. Read More

Crafting Integrated Multichannel Retailing Strategies

The past fifteen years has been a period of rapid growth in the practice of multichannel retailing, mirroring the rise of the Internet as a nearly ubiquitous tool that firms use to interact with customers. More than 80 percent of a broad cross-section of U.S. retailers now report that they sell merchandise through multiple channels. This practice seems to be on the cusp of a new era in which firms start demanding even more from their investments, with particular emphasis being given to financial performance in light of the current economic crisis. These circumstances present a great opportunity both to firms that are looking to gain a competitive advantage through multichannel retailing and to researchers who are interested in helping them make more informed decisions. This article provides a broad discussion of these issues, synthesizes current knowledge, and suggests directions for future research. Read More

Monopolistic Competition Between Differentiated Products With Demand For More Than One Variety

How and when is price competition most significant among firms? This paper develops a theoretical framework for studying price competition between multiple firms. Two examples of markets that fit the description for study are software applications and videogames: There are thousands of software applications as well as games, and different users are interested in different applications and/or games. A given software or game user's tastes may overlap with another's, yet they may have nothing in common with a third's. Thus, although there is a sense in which competition is localized (any given firm competes only with firms whose brands are similar to its own), it is not clear how the fact that consumers are generally interested in purchasing multiple products affects the type of competition waged among firms. Read More

Improving Market Research in a Recession

At the same time that marketers must pare research expenditures, they face added pressure to secure high-quality data and insights. What's a CMO to do? Ask HBS marketing professor John Quelch. Read More

Do Friends Influence Purchases in a Social Network?

In spite of the cultural and social revolution in the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace (and in South Korea, Cyworld), the business viability of these sites remains in question. While many sites are attempting to follow Google and generate revenues from advertising, will advertising be effective? If friends influence the purchases of a user in a social network, it could potentially be a significant source of revenue for the sites and their corporate sponsors. Using a unique data set from Cyworld, this study empirically assesses if friends indeed influence purchases. The answer: It depends. Findings are relevant for social networking sites and large advertisers. Read More

Quantity vs. Quality and Exclusion by Two-Sided Platforms

It is common for two-sided platforms to deny participation to some potential customers, who would otherwise be willing to pay the platforms' access and/or transaction fees. Videogame console manufacturers such as Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, for example, restrict access to a select set of game developers and exclude many others by including security chips in their consoles, even though the latter would also be willing to pay the per-game royalties levied by the manufacturers. Apple routinely excludes certain application developers from its highly popular iPhone store. Professor Andrei Hagiu builds a simple model formalizing profit-maximizing two-sided platforms' choice of exclusion policies, which is fundamentally determined by a tradeoff between quality and quantity. Read More

What’s Next for the Big Financial Brands

Some of the great financial brands such as Merrill Lynch built trust with customers over decades—but lost it in a matter of months. Harvard Business School marketing professor John Quelch explains where they went wrong, and what comes next. Read More

Cheers to the American Consumer

The willingness by American consumers to adopt new products, processes, and services more rapidly than those in other countries may be the most important enabler of entrepreneurship and innovation in America, says marketing professor John Quelch. Read More

Marketing After the Recession

This downturn has likely changed people's buying habits in fundamental ways. Professor John Quelch discusses why marketers must start planning today to reach consumers after the recession. Read More

CPC/CPA Hybrid Bidding in a Second Price Auction

How should online advertisers measure and pay for advertising deliveries? Options include pay per impression (CPM), per click (CPC), per action (CPA), or in proportion of the dollar value of merchandise sold. The advertisers who choose to pay one way may differ, systematically, from those who choose to pay in some other way. HBS professor Benjamin Edelman and doctoral student Hoan Soo Lee present the problem in an algebraic model in anticipation of measurement to follow in future work. Read More

In Praise of Marketing

Marketers do a surprisingly poor job of marketing Marketing, says professor John Quelch. "They do not appreciate, let alone articulate, the economic and social benefits of marketing." Here is the story that needs to be told. Read More

10 Reasons to Design a Better Corporate Culture

Organizations with strong, adaptive cultures enjoy labor cost advantages, great employee and customer loyalty, and a smoother on-ramp in leadership succession. A book excerpt from The Ownership Quotient: Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work for Unbeatable Competitive Advantage by HBS professors Jim Heskett and W. Earl Sasser and coauthor Joe Wheeler. Read More

Concentration Levels in the U.S. Advertising and Marketing Services Industry: Myth vs. Reality

How concentrated is the U.S. advertising and marketing services industry? Over the past several decades, the effects of deregulation, globalization, and technological innovation have reshaped the advertising and marketing services industry as they worked their way through the economy. Estimates from the existing literature are typically based on data from trade sources and present a picture that emphasizes rising concentration over time and domination by a handful of holding companies. These estimates are suspect as they suffer from a number of conceptual and measurement limitations. This paper analyzes changes in concentration levels in the U.S. advertising and marketing services industry, using data that have been largely ignored in past discussions of the economic organization of the industry. Read More

‘Ted Levitt Changed My Life’

Many students say legendary Harvard Business School marketing professor Ted Levitt changed their lives inside his classroom and out. "Ted Levitt was the most influential and imaginative professor in marketing history," HBS professor and senior associate dean John Quelch eulogized on the occasion of Levitt's death in 2006. Colleagues and students remember a life and times. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

The Marketing of a President

Barack Obama's run for the White House was a model of marketing excellence, argues Professor John Quelch. Here's why it worked so well. Read More

How Much Can You Ask of Your Customers?

Think of IKEA and eBay. Some popular companies make it easy for customers to become "volunteers" in the organization's success, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Is there a downside? Or will customer-fueled strategies provide competitive advantage in the future? Online forum now closed. Closed for comment; 28 Comments posted.

Selling Out The American Dream

The American Dream has been transformed from an embodiment of the country's core values into a crass appeal to materialism and easy gratification. One result: the current economic crisis, says professor John Quelch. The federal government isn't helping. Read More

The Next Marketing Challenge: Selling to ’Simplifiers’

The mass consumption of the 1990s is fast fading in the rearview mirror. Now a growing number of people want to declutter their lives and invest in experiences rather than things. What's a marketer to do, asks professor John Quelch. Read More

Should You Bring Advertising Expertise In-House?

Advertising agencies have traditionally offered services to firms that couldn't afford or didn't find value in having that expertise in-house. But a recent study indicates more firms than previously thought are developing internal advertising units. Q&A with HBS professor emeritus Alvin J. Silk. Read More

How Much Time Should CEOs Devote to Customers?

Every corporate mission statement pays lip service to respecting customer needs, but actual customer expertise is typically a mile wide and an inch deep, says Harvard Business School professor John Quelch. Here's why every CEO should spend at least 10 percent of his or her time thinking about, talking to, and steering the organization to the customer. Read More

Long-Tail Economics? Give Me Blockbusters!

Although the Long Tail theory might argue otherwise, HBS marketing professor John Quelch believes in the power of blockbusters to excite consumers, motivate salespeople, and attract top talent. Read More

Indulgence vs. Regret: Investing in Future Memories

Good news for makers of $20,000 watches and other luxury goods and services. Recent research from Harvard Business School professor Anat Keinan and a colleague suggest that we often regret not indulging ourselves earlier in life. Read More

Solving the Marketing Resources Allocation Puzzle

Television spots, word-of-mouth, viral ads. Marketing managers have more options at their disposal than ever before. But how to decide? Harvard Business School professors Sunil Gupta and Thomas Steenburgh offer a way for managers to conceptualize the most effective approach. Read More

Starbucks’ Lessons for Premium Brands

After building a great franchise offering a unique customer experience, Starbucks diluted its brand when it overexpanded and offered too many new products. Harvard Business School professor John Quelch thinks the trouble began when the company went public. Read More

Seven Tips for Managing Price Increases

Consumers get hit with the price-increase hammer every time they drive past a gas station. Harvard Business School professor John Quelch offers tips on how marketers can cope with inflation and consumer sticker shock. Read More

Going Negative in Political Advertising

Companies rarely run negative ads against competitors, but political candidates often do. Why the difference? It's a byproduct of our political system's winner-take-all approach, says professor John Quelch. 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

The Marketing Challenges of the China Olympics

The Olympic Games are normally a marketer's dream. Not so much this year, given widespread protests against the Chinese government. Professor John Quelch outlines the branding challenges posed by this year's Games in Beijing. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Brand Management

Should I trust my brand to a sports endorser? Does B2B branding work? What does mystery writer James Patterson know about branding that I don't? Here are some recent Working Knowledge articles on issues that keep brand managers up at night. Read More

The New Math of Customer Relationships

Harvard Business School professor emeritus James L. Heskett has spent much of his career exploring how satisfied employees and customers can drive lifelong profit. Heskett and his colleagues will soon introduce a new concept into the business management literature: customer and employee "owners." Read More

Who Owns Intellectual Property?

Online forum now closed. Is intellectual property becoming community property? While the impact of change on the valuation of IP is of concern to some respondents, others wonder whether the issues are overblown. HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up responses to this month's column. Closed for comment; 40 Comments posted.

Four Companies that Conquered America

Any self-respecting global company needs to compete in the United States, but many have floundered on its shores. Professor John Quelch spotlights the strategies of four that succeeded: Royal Bank of Scotland, IKEA, ING, and Dyson. Read More

JetBlue’s Valentine’s Day Crisis

It was the Valentine's Day from hell for JetBlue employees and more than 130,000 customers. Under bad weather, JetBlue fliers were trapped on the runway at JFK for hours, many ultimately delayed by days. How did the airline make it right with customers and learn from its mistakes? A discussion with Harvard Business School professor Robert S. Huckman. Read More

Optimal Deterrence when Judgment-Proof Agents Are Paid In Arrears—With an Application to Online Advertising Fraud

It is commonplace for large entities (both advertisers and ad networks) to enter into relationships with numerous small agents such as Web sites, blogs, search syndicators, and other marketing partners. For example, one well-known affiliate network boasts more than a million affiliates promoting offers from the network's hundreds of merchants, and Google contracts with numerous independent Web sites to show Google's "AdSense" ads. Although these advertising agents are often small, they can take advantage of technology to claim payments they have not earned. In practice, the legal system cannot offer meaningful redress to an aggrieved advertiser or ad network. This paper argues that delayed payment offers a more expedient alternative—a sensible stopgap strategy for use when primary enforcement systems prove inadequate. Read More

Reducing Risk with Online Advertising

Fraud is fairly easy in the world of online advertising, particularly for determined adversaries. In this Q&A, HBS professor Ben Edelman, who designs electronic markets, explains how contract terms can be managed to both reduce advertisers' risks of being defrauded and reward good suppliers. "The idea here is to make everyone better off, except of course the fraudsters," Edelman says. Read More

Finding Success in the Middle of the Market

Let's face it—the middle market isn't sexy. Sears isn't Victoria's Secret. But it can be very profitable to know how to play "midfield" adroitly, says professor and soccer enthusiast John Quelch. Read More

Modeling Expert Opinions on Food Healthiness: A Nutrition Metric

Despite an increased standard of living in the United States and other developed countries, health problems attributable to poor nutrition persist in part due to consumers' inability to translate the dietary advice of nutrition experts into anything actionable. Citing the improvement of public health as a primary objective, numerous studies have highlighted the need for a nutritional scoring system that is both comprehensive in its coverage of food products and easily understood by consumers. In this paper the researchers advance this objective by proposing a nutrition metric that is based on the current views of leading experts in the field. The metric can be used to score any food or beverage for which several component nutrient quantities are known. Read More

An Investigation of Earnings Management through Marketing Actions

Earnings management behavior may be divided into two categories: 1) the opportunistic exercise of accounting discretion; and 2) the opportunistic structuring of real transactions. This paper focuses on the latter by providing evidence that managers use retail-level marketing actions (price discounts, feature advertisements, and aisle displays) to influence the timing of consumers' purchases in relation to their firms' fiscal calendars and financial performance. The results will be of interest to practitioners negotiating with suppliers as well as those responsible for setting price and promotion strategy in response to competitor actions, and practitioners responsible for designing incentive-based compensation as well as regulators monitoring reporting of fiscal period-ending promotion. Read More

Allocating Marketing Resources

Deciding how to allocate marketing resources is particularly difficult because decisions need to be made at many different levels—across countries, products, marketing mix elements, and different vehicles within elements of the mix (e.g., television versus the Internet for advertising). With the increasing availability of data and sophistication in methods, it is now possible to more judiciously allocate marketing resources. In this paper, HBS professors Gupta and Steenburgh discuss a two-stage process where a model of demand is estimated in stage-one and its estimates are used as inputs in an optimization model in stage-two. The researchers propose a matrix with three approaches for each of these two stages, and discuss the pros and cons of these methods. They highlight each method with applications and case studies to present rigorous yet practical approaches to making marketing resource allocation decisions. Read More

Marketing Your Way Through a Recession

In a recession, consumers become value oriented, distributors are concerned about cash, and employees worry about their jobs. But a downturn is no time to stop spending on marketing. The key, says professor John Quelch, is to understand how the needs of your customers and partners change, and adapt your strategies to the new reality. Read More

Does Democracy Need a Marketing Manager?

It's more than coincidence that we feel more association with our favorite consumer brands than with our elected politicians or government institutions. Can the power of marketing be used to promote public participation in politics? Harvard Business School professor John A. Quelch and research associate Katherine E. Jocz discuss their new book, Greater Good: How Good Marketing Makes for Better Democracy. Plus: book excerpt. Read More

If Marketing Experts Ran Elections

Most Americans seem indifferent about the political process, judging by lackluster voter turnout historically, although the primaries so far seem to be bucking the trend. Professor John Quelch discusses what politicians can learn from consumer marketing. Read More

When Your Product Becomes a Commodity

Like death and taxes, commoditization of your products is a given. Marketing professor John Quelch offers tips for delaying the inevitable and dealing with it once it arrives. Read More

Authenticity over Exaggeration: The New Rule in Advertising

Advertisers thought technology was their friend in identifying and creating new customers. Funny thing happened along the way, though: Now consumers are using the Internet to blunt traditional commercial messages. Time for companies to rethink their strategy, says HBS professor John A. Deighton. 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

The “Fees → Savings” Link, or Purchasing Fifty Pounds of Pasta

Discount membership clubs have a large and growing presence in retail—one recent survey reported that Costco sells to 1 in every 11 people in the United States and Canada, and warehouse clubs are estimated to be a $120 billion industry today in the United States alone. As a result, many people have had the experience of entering one of these popular clubs and leaving hours later with more goods than can fit in their car. One rational reason for such behavior is that membership clubs do offer lower prices than other retailers. However, Norton and Lee offer a counterintuitive explanation for such buying behavior. They propose that the presence of membership fees alone—independent of the actual savings on any given product—can lead consumers to infer a "fees → savings" link, leading them to spend more than they otherwise would to capitalize on these perceived "great deals." Norton and Lee explore this phenomenon by setting up their own "membership clubs" and comparing profits across stores with varying membership fees. 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

Marketing Maria: Managing the Athlete Endorsement

Million-dollar endorsement deals will be made and broken by how baseball players on the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies performed in the just completed World Series. HBS professor Anita Elberse discusses her research on sports marketing and her recent case on tennis powerhouse Maria Sharapova. Read More

Why Global Brands Work

Japanese automakers create single products and brands for worldwide consumption, while Ford customizes products for local markets. You know who won. Why do global brands work? What makes them work? Professor John Quelch provides some answers. 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

Digital Interactivity: Unanticipated Consequences for Markets, Marketing, and Consumers

For digital marketing practice and theory, the last decade has brought two related surprises: the rise of social media and the rise of search media. Marketing has struggled to find its place on these new communication pathways. Old paradigms have been slow to die. This paper reviews early beliefs about interactive marketing, then identifies 5 discrete roles for interactive technology in contemporary life and 5 ways that firms respond. It concludes that the new media are rewarding more participatory, more sincere, and less directive marketing styles than the old broadcast media rewarded. Read More

How to be a Customer

Sure, most marketing efforts aim to influence consumer behavior. But consumers can also market themselves to influence vendors, says Professor John Quelch. Want to get a little extra whipped cream from your neighborhood barista? Here are tips to become a valuable customer. Read More

How Brand China Can Succeed

A series of recent setbacks including the Mattel toy recalls threaten China's new and improving image, says Professor John Quelch. There is just not enough preexisting brand equity among the world's consumers to inoculate Brand China against the current tide of negative publicity. What should the country do to polish its image? Read More

Broadband: Remaking the Advertising Industry

Evolving from the Marlboro Man in the 1960s to the Subservient Chicken in a recent Web campaign, advertising is undergoing a radical transformation. Harvard Business School professor Stephen P. Bradley, who is cowriting a book on how broadband technologies are remaking many industries, discusses how advertising is responding to the challenges. 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

Understanding the ‘Want’ vs. ’Should’ Decision

Pizza or salad? Consumers use different approaches to buying things they want (pizza) versus items they should buy (salad). In their research on online grocery-buying habits and DVD rentals, Harvard Business School's Katy Milkman and Todd Rogers, along with Professor Max Bazerman, provide insights on the want-should conflict and the implications for managers in areas such as demand forecasting, consumer spending habits, and effective store layout. Read More

Extremeness Seeking: When and Why Consumers Prefer the Extremes

When can variety be helpful and when can it be harmful? Conventional wisdom suggests that a product provider enhances the overall attractiveness of a set of options by adding more alternatives to the mix. By contrast, Gourville and Soman's research indicates that in certain, predictable cases, adding more alternatives to an assortment leads consumers to choose either the most basic or the most "fully loaded" product or service, be it a camera, car, cable TV service, laptop, or vacation package in Italy. Read More

Fixing the Marketing-CEO Disconnect

In many companies, the marketing function has wandered far from the company's overall strategy. The result: lower margins and declining productivity, says Professor Gail McGovern. She discusses what executives can do to repair the split and introduces a new diagnostic tool for measuring marketing performance used in HBS executive education programs. Read More

An Empirical Approach to Understanding Privacy Valuation

What do consumers value and why? Researchers on privacy remain stumped by a "privacy paradox." Consumers declare that they value privacy highly, yet do not take steps to guard it during transactions. At the same time, consumers feel unable to enact their preferences on privacy. Clearly, scholars need a more nuanced understanding of how consumers treat information privacy in complex situations. To test the hypothesis that there is a homo economicus behind privacy concerns, not just primal fear, Wathieu and Friedman conducted an experiment based on a real-world situation about the transmission of personal information in the context of car insurance. Their experiment was based on a previous case study about marketing processes that use membership databases of trusted associations (such as alumni associations) to channel targeted deals to members through a blend of direct mail and telemarketing. Read More

How Magazine Luiza Courts the Poor

Brazilian retailer Magazine Luiza has developed an innovative strategy for selling to the poor, combining technology with great service that please both customers and employees. The question of how the company can grow without sacrificing the special qualities that have made it successful is at the heart of a case study developed by Harvard Business School professor Frances X. Frei. Read More

How Do You Value a “Free” Customer?

Sometimes a valuable customer may be the person who never buys a thing. In a new research paper, Professor Sunil Gupta discusses how to assess the profitability of a customer in a networked setting—a "free" customer who nevertheless influences your bottom line. Read More

Adding Bricks to Clicks: The Effects of Store Openings on Sales through Direct Channels

Consider a retailer who operates both brick-and-mortar stores and direct channels such as direct mail catalogs and an Internet Web site. What effect does the opening of a new retail store have on direct channel sales in the retail trading area surrounding the store? Does the existence of more opportunities for consumer contact with the brand increase the retailer's direct sales, or does intra-brand, inter-channel competition erode the retailer's direct sales? Does consumer response to the retailer's brand evolve over time, perhaps as consumers go through some process of trial-and-error learning about the relative merits of stores and direct channels, or is the impact of the new store relatively discrete? Does the answer depend on whether consumers in the retail trading area have had the opportunity for previous experience with the brand's stores? This research used a proprietary longitudinal dataset from a multichannel retailer to understand what happens and to probe the implications for channel management strategy. Read More

Business and the Global Poor

Companies have more or less ignored 80 percent of the world's population—the global poor. The new book Business Solutions for the Global Poor, created from research and a conference at Harvard Business School, shows how both business and societal interests can be served at the base of the economic pyramid. A Q&A with co-editor V. Kasturi Rangan. Read More

Neuro Economics: Science or Science Fiction?

The growing use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) devices for studying decision making means that in 2007 we may hear a number of striking conclusions based on studies involving a small number of brain scans, says Jim Heskett. What are the more general implications of this trend? Will it have strong explanatory as well as manipulative potential for us as consumers, managers, and citizens? Closed for comment; 61 Comments posted.

Fixing Price Tag Confusion

"Partitioned" price tags that include a main price plus additional charges (Lamp: $70, Bulb, $5, Shipping: $15) may be confusing your customers at best or even causing them to reject the product, warns HBS professor Luc Wathieu. When is an all-inclusive price the best bet? Read More

Will the “Long Tail” Work for Hollywood?

The "long-tail phenomenon" is well documented: Amazon.com makes significant profits selling many low-volume books. But can the long tail work for video sales as well? A new working paper by professors Anita Elberse and Felix Oberholzer-Gee suggests that it may not bring the same benefits to Hollywood. Read More

HBS Cases: Porsche’s Risky Roll on an SUV

Why would any company in the world want to locate in a high-cost, high-wage economy like Germany? Porsche's unusual answer in a globalizing auto industry has framed two case studies by HBS professor Jeffrey Fear and colleague Carin-Isabel Knoop. Read More

Is MySpace.com Your Space?

Social networking sites such as MySpace.com have demographics to die for, but PR problems with parents, police, and policymakers. Are they safe for advertisers? A Q&A with Professor John Deighton. Read More

What Happens When the Economics of Scarcity Meets the Economics of Abundance?

The "Long Tail," a term coined by Chris Anderson—and the title of his new book—describes the item popularity curve. Does the Long Tail represent a paradigm shift for business and consumer behavior? What are its implications for management going forward? Closed for comment; 36 Comments posted.

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

The Framing Effect of Price Format

How do consumers evaluate different pricing scenarios? This study looks at different pricing models to see which is more likely to result in positive customer perception. Specifically, the authors look at all-inclusive pricing (e.g., the price of a chair is $85.95 including shipping) versus partitioned pricing (e.g., the price of a chair is $81 and shipping is $4.95). When consumers are presented with a partitioned price, they place an exaggerated weight on their evaluation of each individual component. 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

A Survey-Based Procedure for Measuring Uncertainty or Heterogeneous Preferences in Markets

People who buy retail prescription drugs, invest funds, or participate in auctions rarely have complete information about the product they are buying. Often the only auction information participants have is the number of bidders, observed bids, and product characteristics. If data from an auction, for instance, is a function of bidder behavior, then external survey data may help in testing hypotheses about bidding behavior. Researchers often avoid using surveys because they consume time and effort, but Yin presents a survey design technique and econometric tool to deal with a general population of survey respondents. Her application tested eBay online auctions selling personal computers. Read More

Information Dispersion and Auction Prices

How can auctions be used most effectively? Government and industry traditionally use auctions to price and allocate assets and contracts with high but unknown value. Millions of people use Internet auctions for goods that are often of unknown value (e.g., used goods, unknown brands). This paper asks: Do bidders behave in the way auction theory predicts they should? And, what are the effects of different types of information on prices? To answer these questions, Yin combined theory, econometric modeling, and survey data. Read More

Empirical Tests of Information Aggregation

While neither buyers nor sellers may be certain of the worth of used goods, both may possess private information about the value. Do prices become more informative as the number of bidders grows? Using data from a sample of eBay auctions for computers, Yin looked at how and under what conditions auction prices converge to the common value of a given item. Read More

The Case of the Mystery Writer’s Brand

A look behind how professor John Deighton developed a case study of mystery writer James Patterson. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. 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

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.

The Box Office Power of Stars

Just how much do movie stars contribute to box office success? HBS professor Anita Elberse researched the notion of "star power" to better understand how A-list players contribute to Hollywood's bottom line. Read More

Advertising and Expectations: The Effectiveness of Pre-Release Advertising for Motion Pictures

This research examines how advertising affects market-wide sales expectations for pre-release movies. The authors use data on advertising expenditures and an online stock market simulation, The Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), to track more than 280 movies released between 2001 and 2003. Their findings show that advertising affects the updating of market-wide expectations prior to release, and that this effect is stronger the higher the product quality. Read More

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

A Balanced Scorecard Approach To Measure Customer Profitability

Happy customers are good, but profitable customers are much better. In this article, professor and Balanced Scorecard guru Robert S. Kaplan introduces BSC Customer Profitability Metrics. From Balanced Scorecard Report. Read More

Should You Outsource Your Marketing?

Few companies own all the marketing expertise they need, especially of the left-brain, analytic variety. Professor Gail McGovern outlines the pros and cons of turning over your marketing activities to outsiders. Read More

The Power of Stars: Do Stars Drive Success in Creative Industries?

The importance of star power is evident in creative industries from music and film to fashion and architecture. Star actors are paid millions of dollars, but is star talent critical to product success? What determines the value of stars? In the context of the movie business, Elberse calculated the returns in a study comparing 1,200 casting announcements on trading behavior in a simulated and real stock market setting. In a separate study, she also looked at the stars' impact on expected revenues. Read More

Rescuing Products with Stealth Positioning

You may have a great product, but the category turns off potential customers. Think household robots. In this Harvard Business Review excerpt, professor Youngme Moon looks at how Sony and Apple broke consumer prejudice. Read More

Where is Consumer Generated Marketing Taking Us?

There is a kind of "always on" communication system shaping up between the most committed of tech-minded users and those who supply them. Is the close monitoring of developing trends always in our best interests as marketers and customers? Closed for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Measuring Consumer and Competitive Impact with Elasticity Decompositions

Do marketing actions expand the market or steal business from rival firms? One research method suggests that all of the demand created by an incremental advertising investment would be generated by market expansion; another suggests that the same increase would be stolen from rival firms. Steenburgh explains why these seemingly contradictory results actually are complementary and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the investment's impact. 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

Tips to Reinvent the Department Store

The world of multi-category retailing—much better known to customers of Filene's, Macy's, and Hecht's as simply "department stores"—has been under assault for what seems like ages. How can big retailers not just survive but also thrive? 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

The Tricky Business of Nonprofit Brands

Coca-Cola, move over. Many of the world's best-known brands belong to nonprofits, but the brand management issues these organizations face can be quite different. A conversation with professor John A. Quelch and collaborator Nathalie Laidler-Kylander. Read More

The Motion Picture Industry: Critical Issues in Practice, Current Research & New Research Directions

This paper reviews research and trends in three key areas of movie making: production, distribution, and exhibition. In the production process, the authors recommend risk management and portfolio management for studios, and explore talent compensation issues. Distribution trends show that box-office performance will increasingly depend on a small number of blockbusters, advertising spending will rise (but will cross different types of media), and the timing of releases (and DVDs) will become a bigger issue. As for exhibiting movies, trends show that more sophisticated exhibitors will emerge, contractual changes between distributor and exhibitors will change, and strategies for tickets prices may be reevaluated. Read More

Rethinking Marketing’s Conventional Wisdom

Making advertising hard to find is just one way companies are rewriting conventional marketing strategies, says Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon. Read More

Side Effects: The Case of Propecia

Selling Propecia was a difficult marketing task for Merck & Co., and was recently the subject of a case study debated by Harvard Business School alumni. Read More

Bypass Marketing: Are Docs Influenced?

Although they are prescription drugs, Viagra, Prozac, Allegra and many others are pitched directly to consumers. Do physicians take notice? HBS professor Alvin Silk and Harvard's Joel Weissman discuss a recent study. Read More

How Consumers Value Global Brands

What do consumers expect of global brands? Does it hurt to be an American brand? This Harvard Business Review excerpt co-written by HBS professor John A. Quelch identifies the three characteristics consumers look for to make purchase decisions. Read More

The IPS Property

This paper is about discrete-choice and econometric models. The "invariant proportion of substitution," or IPS, property comes into play when, for example, a consumer faces a choice among three laptop computers with slightly different attributes. How will improvements to one laptop's attributes affect how the consumer chooses to substitute one alternative for another? Steenburgh looked at probabilities based on assumptions about consumers' utility-maximizing behavior. Read More

Your Customers: Use Them or Lose Them

Companies can differentiate on service profitably, says HBS professor Frances X. Frei. Here's how a new-thinking bank, insurance provider, and software company are using customer power to win. Read More

How to Avoid a Price Increase

Consumers hate price increases, but what is a company to do when material costs skyrocket? One answer: Think small. Professor John Gourville considers the alternative in this Q&A. Read More

The Presentation of Self in the Information Age

In the past, we knew a lot about the seller of a product (through ads, marketing, or reputation) but little about the individual buyer. Times have changed. From the Internet to store loyalty cards, technology has made the marketplace into an interactive exchange where the buyer is no longer anonymous. The future market will likely be one in which personal information is shared and leveraged. Consumers who are willing to share their information will be more attractive to sellers and more sought-after than those who have bad reputations or refuse to participate. Read More

Birth of the American Salesman

Modern sales management is a uniquely American story, says Harvard Business School's Walter A. Friedman, author of Birth of a Salesman. PLUS: Book excerpt. 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

Are Customer Loyalty Initiatives Worth the Investment?

What are the loyalty rules? Have managers been led too far afield with customer loyalty management programs? Closed for comment; 37 Comments posted.

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

Where Does Apple Go from Here?

Macintosh market share continues to decline, but the iPod and iTunes are hit products. Where does Apple Computer’s future lie? An interview with HBS professor David Yoffie. Read More

Why Europe Lags in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech

Governmental, cultural and academic differences are hurting Europe’s chances of gaining on the U.S. Can anything be done? Read More

Making Money Making Movies

HBS professor Anita Elberse talks about the state of the international motion picture industry, movie piracy, and how to capture screens in foreign markets. Read More

Should You Sell Your Digital Privacy?

Regulation won’t stop privacy invasion, says HBS professor John Deighton. What will? What if companies paid us to use our identity? A market approach to privacy problems. Read More

Don’t Get Buried in Customer Data—Use It

Don't blame your CRM technology. Be smarter about collecting and using your data, says Jean Ayers in this article from Harvard Management Update. Read More

Keeping Your Balance With Customers

Using the Balanced Scorecard approach, Robert S. Kaplan, of Harvard Business School, and David P. Norton analyze the four essentials of customer management: customer selection, acquisition, retention, and growth. Read More

Building a Better Buyer-Seller Relationship

How do you turn short-term transactions into long-term relationships? Harvard Business School professor Narakesari Narayandas finds answers in mature industrial markets. 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

Why Have Marketers Ignored America’s Man-of-Action Hero?

The man-of-action hero has been the central myth in American culture for twenty years. So why have only Budweiser and Nike tapped into this story? Professor Douglas B. Holt explains. Read More

What Your Competition is Telling You

Your competitors, closely analyzed, can help you influence your own customers and help grow the market for your products and services. Here’s how. Read More

Is This a Golden Era for Marketing Productivity?

This should be a good time to be a marketer and a consumer as well, suggests Jim Heskett. More focused sales, less waste in advertising, an industry in tune with its best customers. Is this your experience? Do you think marketing has hit its stride? Can it? Closed for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Will American Brands Be a Casualty of War?

Does your U.S. brand play well overseas? If so, heed the words of Harvard Business School professor John Quelch: A swelling anti-American tide could wash away the international popularity of U.S. brands. Read More

How Your Employees and Customers Drive a New Value Profit Chain

Thinking of your customers and employees as key creators of value can produce profitable results. Harvard Business School professors W. Earl Sasser and James L. Heskett discuss their new book, The Value Profit Chain. Plus: Book excerpt. Read More

The Basics of Consumer Marketing in Asia

Confronting a per-capita income in China that varies from as low as $380 to as high as $5,000, brands face a special challenge gaining headway. At this panel, experts discussed the secrets of price competition and market research. Said one, "Our best tools are our two legs." Read More

Commodity Busters: Be a Price Maker, Not a Price Taker

Too many businesses are price takers, not price makers. That means they are willing to lower prices to capture market share or to sign up a marquee customer. But Harvard Business School professor Benson P. Shapiro says don't let your ego get in the way of good business sense. Here are seven steps toward naming your own price. Read More

The Subconscious Mind of the Consumer (And How To Reach It)

Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95 percent of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind. But how does a marketer reach the subconscious? Zaltman explains in this Q&A. Read More

Want a Happy Customer? Coordinate Sales and Marketing

In today's hyper-competitive world, your sales and marketing functions must yoke together at every level—from the core central concepts of the strategy to the minute details of execution. Harvard Business School professor Benson Shapiro on creating the customer-centric team. Read More

Use the Psychology of Pricing To Keep Customers Returning

When to charge for a product or service can be more important than how much to charge, says Harvard Business School professor John Gourville. If you want to build long-term loyalty with customers, you better understand the difference. Read More

Is Performance-Based Pricing the Right Price for You?

Not every industry or company can benefit from performance-based pricing. But where there is a fit, PBP can be a powerful tool that merges the interests of buyers and sellers, says Harvard Business School professor Benson Shapiro. Read More

Building ’Brandtopias’—How Top Brands Tap into Society

What are "identity brands" and why are they so powerful? HBS professor Douglas Holt explains how some top brands—including soft drink Mountain Dew—deliver imaginative stories that are perfectly attuned to society's deep desires. Read More

A Toolkit for Customer Innovation

It seems almost counterintuitive. But this Harvard Business Review excerpt by Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke and MIT's Eric von Hippel suggests that you stop listening closely to your customers—and instead give them tools for creating their own products. 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

Don’t Lose Money With Customers

Executives talk a good game about managing customer relationships. But then why do many companies persist in money-losing arrangements? Time to become proactive, says Harvard Business School professor Narakesari Narayandas.
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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

How Marketing Can Reduce Worldwide Poverty

Marketing to the world's poorest customers? There's no contradiction, say HBS professor V. Kasturi "Kash" Rangan and research associate Arthur McCaffrey. In fact, the marketing profession can play a huge role in alleviating global poverty. 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

Let Customers Call the Shots

Opt-in advertising, interactive TV, group buying clubs—these are all examples of cutting-edge intermediaries that are changing the rules for both marketers and consumers. HBS professor Luc Wathieu and research associate Michael Zoglio explain what they mean for you. Read More

Is There Help for the Big Ticket Buyer?

Buying a house, buying a car, investing for retirement. These are among the most important purchasing decisions people make. But who is there to advise them? HBS professor Max H. Bazerman has some ideas. Read More

E-Commerce Unplugged

Clearly "mobile commerce"—shopping with wireless devices—is a powerful new way to grab consumers. But don't think of this as business as usual, says HBS professor Nitin Nohria and collaborator Marty Leestma. Read More

Big Companies, Big Opportunities—Big Questions

Markets that were once protected in Latin America are suddenly open to competition from all sides. For large companies, this new playing field presents wonderful opportunities—but great risks, too. Read More

Brand Power from Wedgwood to Dell: Part Two

How do you make the jump from leading a small team in the proverbial garage to heading a multibillion-dollar business? HBS professor Nancy F. Koehn has answers. Second of two parts. Read More

Market Research Meets the “People Factor”

Great market research doesn't always lead to great results. Why? After a close look at sources of friction between managers and market researchers, HBS professors Gerald Zaltman and Rohit Deshpandé have ideas on how the two groups might better see eye to eye. Read More

Brand Power from Wedgwood to Dell: Part One

What can we learn from the lives of six masterful entrepreneurs from 1759 through the present day? Lots, according to HBS professor Nancy F. Koehn, as she explains in a conversation about her latest book. Read More

Marketing a Country: Promotion as a Tool for Attracting Foreign Investment.

Using marketing tools and techniques to attract foreign investors is a common practice for many countries. But finding the right mix of techniques and organizations to do the promotion is key to successful marketing programs. Read More

The Manager’s Guide to Communicating with Customers Collection

The battle cry of business, "know thy customer," is heralded in The Manager's Guide to Communicating with Customers Collection. This excerpt by Richard Bierck examines research by HBS professor Gerald Zaltman and consultant Paco Underhill on the downfalls of focus groups. 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

Cyber-Marketing: Scouting the Digital Communications Frontier

Marketers have a whole new game to learn in the digital revolution, and the greatest benefit, says HBS Professor John A. Deighton, will go to those who comprehend and embrace the new medium most quickly. But, adds Deighton, that's unlikely to be a simple task. Read More

Rocket Science Retailing

Retailers and e-tailers have enormous amounts of data available to them today. But to take advantage of that data they need to move toward a new kind of retailing, one that blends the instinct and intuition of traditional systems with the prowess of information technology. Read More

Getting the Message: How the Internet is Changing Advertising

In the six years since the first banner ad appeared on the World Wide Web, advertising has been transformed. With powerful technologies that can track responses and target customers, the Internet offers marketers a new world of opportunities. HBS Professors Alvin J. Silk and John A. Deighton and others offer perspectives, in this article from the HBS Bulletin, on advertising in the age of the Web. Read More

The Mind of the Market: Extending the Frontiers of Marketing Thought

HBS Professor Gerald Zaltman makes metaphors come alive with his patented Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique or ZMET, a process that draws on psychology, anthropology, neuroscience and other disciplines to delve deep into the mind of the consumer. In this interview, Zaltman talks about the imagery and inspirations behind this unusual market research tool. Read More

Calling All Managers: How to Build a Better Call Center

Once viewed simply as low-cost channels for resolving customer concerns, call centers are increasingly seen as powerful service delivery mechanisms and even as generators of revenue. Research by HBS Professor Frances X. Frei and her colleagues Ann Evenson and Patrick T. Harker of the Wharton School points toward new ways of making them work. Read More

Henry Heinz and Brand Creation in the Late Nineteenth Century

H.J. Heinz founder Henry Heinz developed sophisticated brand-building strategies without the advantages of modern economic analytic technique, data and theory. HBS Professor Nancy F. Koehn shows how in this excerpt from her Business History Review article "Henry Heinz and Brand Creation in the Late Nineteenth Century." Read More