Worlds Apart

24 04 2008

I came across two interesting articles on digg today.  I’m going to share them with you and put my 2 cents in on them, but I would love to hear your interpretation of how the companies in these articles are heading down different paths.

Here’s what I found:

Starbucks has recently cut its profits forecast for FY 09, blaming the economic housing crunch in the US.  Read More

Apple on the other hand as announced, among other things, a 51 percent unit growth and has had their best March ever.

Read More (Note – in the article, you’ll see they made no direct reference to the MacBook Air… interesting, but besides the point)

How is this happening?  A year or two ago, these companies seemed to be on the same path, but as Apple has flourished, Starbucks is struggling to maintain in these times.  Many of you out there might be thinking “Aaron, I barely have enough money to deal with $4 gas! How am I supposed to handle $4 coffee!?!”  You could then go on to point out how McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts are simply stealing Starbuck’s customers with cheap, quality coffee.

But explain to me how Apple can sell $200 iPods and $400 iPhones and $2000 MacBook Pros consistently when you can buy any other MP3 player, cell phone and a laptop for a quarter of these prices?

…seriously, explain to me…

The way I see it is that Apple has been able to develop a “perceived need” among all consumers.  Because of their “everyman” marketing, they’ve made their brand into a unique image that crosses all boundaries – economic intellectual and cultural.  The focus for customers isn’t on the price but on the Mac movement.  And when your computer has that little piece of fruit on the front, you’re a member.  This is what causes a college student to take out a loan to buy a 2.16 GHz, Intel 2 Core Duo MacBook Pro (I NEEDED IT!)

Meanwhile, Starbucks focused their brand towards the on the go businessman or the overbooked sorority girl with her hair in a pony tail and father’s cash in pocket.  Many paying customers are left out of this picture, which let them find other coffee.  Their competitors capitalized and proved themselves worthy adversaries.

So, what do you think?


Bridging the Gap

28 02 2008

technology_v1.jpgSince I’ve started working part time at Radio Shack, I’ve noticed a few trends. For instance, customers want to feel like I know what I am talking about. It’s actually more important for me to sound like I know what’s going on than for me to actually know and not be able to explain. There’s a lot I could say about that, but that’s not what this post is about. Another thing I’ve noticed is this – It’s not that older customers don’t want to understand how to work new-fangled technology, it’s they’re embarrased they don’t already get it.

The moment I use words like “internet” or “wireless” or “digital” I get the

“HAHA, slow down there. I can’t keep up with that. You might as well be speaking espagnole” (that last part is more appalachia than age)

But there’s more to this situation than Mr. Rodgers not being able to understand that you can actually get to the “land of make-believe” via URL rather than the trolley. Who can blame them for using they’re AARP card as a way out an awkward conversation that they might not be able to keep up with? Honestly, how many times have you given the old head nod and laughed at the appropriate time when someone’s talking over your head? Not to say they have anything to be ashamed of, but it’s a little awkward when someone assumes you’re on their level, and your not.

In a New York Times article, we see this gap between the technologically savvy and those who aren’t is widening. According to them the highest fifth of streaming-media users watch 140 times more video than the lower half. In order for the new media idea to work, these numbers have to change. True, in this situation, time will heel the wound as the older generation passes on, but today we have an opportunity.

Instead of having them come to our web site, or buy our iPhone, or read my blog, why don’t we put these things in their hands? The way we have been presenting these new toys has not been senior-friendly. I suggest instead of teaching old dogs new tricks, we have them do the same tricks but with better rewards. Why not?

Hello world

20 10 2007

Hello world… this is the default title that wordpress assigns for your first post, but I think it is fitting. I’m stepping out of my usual “comfort zone”, which is something I try to do from time to time, and am joining the vast world of bloggers. I read somewhere about the ridiculous amount of blogs that get started each day and figured I would catch the wave. I wonder what the stat is about how many actually get maintained. That’s the group I’m interested in being in.

Well before I get into the important matters at hand that I will shed some of my light on (which for all I know may be similar to a 5 watt light bulb) I’ll let you know a little about myself. I am a junior Public Relations student at THE Ohio University. Not to be confused with THE Ohio State University. In my opinion, if we’re in the business of emphasizing articles in state schools, why should OSU be so special and have the market on that in Ohio?

Anywho, I am currently the Public Relations intern at Bob Evans Farms Inc. I can actually attribute the start of this blog to my position there because of my amazing supervisor, Jamie Chabra, who has “enlighten” me to the ways and glories of new media outlets (by putting her name in my blog, she will undoubtably find this post, and it’s never to late to score some brownie points with the boss.)

As for what I plan to write about, my spectrum is pretty broad at this point. The focus of it all will be communications and trying to put all aspects of that vast world into prospective. I realize though that I’m only on the fringes at this point… More on this to come though

Now that we’ve gotten the appetizer out of the way, here’s the real meat of the blog…

One of the pages that Jamie suggested for me to check out was Steve Crescenzo’s “Corporate Hallucinations.” Funny, interesting guy. I came in right in the middle of a 2 part post he was writing about how you can tell when an employee is “engaged” at a company. He first cited a Southwest Airlines employee who defended their company when Crescenzo made a comment about not flying if you don’t have to. I would agree that this employee was definitely engaged, or maybe invested is a good word, in their company.

However, he next brought up another employee who I believe is the prototype for how I think a lot of good employees are in their company. He mention a young man who worked at a bagel shop that was getting slammed with business and was ridiculously understaffed. Under all this pressure the guy kept his cool, even though he was put in a bad situation. He said this employee was also engaged or invested in their company. This is where I would disagree. I’ve been in that guys shoes before, or rather I find myself there quite often still at the privately owned Athens, Ohio restaurant I work at (I qualify it so much so people who know the area can instantly get a picture of the shadiness we’re dealing with here) and can say I want nothing more than to tell my boss a big “screw you” and walk out the door.

In my eyes though, the fact of the matter isn’t that we’re engaged in the company, it’s that we’re engaged in ourselves. I know this sounds terribly selfish, but it’s not. We’re self motivated people. When put in situations like the ones the bagel employee and I find ourselves in, we’re not caring for the company itself, because odds are the company doesn’t care much about us. But we recognize that one, we’d be reflecting bad upon ourselves if we were to be rude to customers, and two, everyone deserves to be respected, and to being pissy towards others isn’t going to make anyone’s day better.

Is the corporate world like this? I don’t know, maybe someone can shed some light on that for me, I’d imagine there’s shades of it though… besides, these are just the fringes…