Wednesday, October 18, 2017

'Truffle Oil' Without the Truffle

In Italy, during truffle season, the slightly garlicky, musky aroma wafts through the air and thin slivers of the pungent fungus grace plates of pasta or risotto at every street side trattoria. To me, its heavenly.  Back home, the only way to get anything close to this flavor is drizzling truffle oil on dishes after cooking.  But it isn’t the same, and I am not the only one who has noticed.

This May, four class action suits were filed against Trader Joe’s, Urbani Truffles, Sabatino and Monini for “false, misleading and deceptive misbranding of its truffle oil products.” While the label says, “Truffle Oil,” the ingredients claim aroma, flavor, or essence is added.  Apparently, “aroma” is a chemical—2,4 dithiapentane—more affectionately referred to as “big methane.”  Truffle fries anyone?

To date, none of the companies have commented, except through their lawyers. In August, the case against Monini was dismissed as the court decided that “a product describes itself as substance-flavored despite not containing the actual substance, and the ingredient list accurately reflects that fact, as a matter of law the product would not confuse a reasonable consumer.”  I understand a chartreuse colored, apple flavored Jolly Rancher does not have any apple in it, but I think that a product labeled as something specific—like truffle oil—should contain the substance.  Perhaps I am not a reasonable consumer.

What does this have to do with international marketing?  It doesn't matter if its an Italian fashion house, like Fendi, dealing with counterfeit goods or a french farmer with a truffle dog facing sinking prices. When companies participate in fraudulent activities, it hurts the producers, (or in this case, the truffle hunters) of the real items and it hurts consumers.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Beef Is Back for Dinner as Marketers Woo Nostalgic Millennials
Alexandra Bruell

Oct. 5, 2017 7:03 a.m. ET

The beef industry is changing the way it conducts advertisement to be more attractive for millennials. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has created a new campaign demonstrating how the cattle industry has been transformed with the introduction of new technology; the use of drones and mobiles applications allows for ranchers to track their cattle more easily and increased knowledge on genetics, breeding, and nourishment has lead to a decrease in the number of cows necessary to produce a large amount of beef.
The ad that is streamed Internet-wide only, (no television or radio ads) and widespread across social media, aims to provide information to millennials, a generation that is more interested in knowing what is in their food and how it is produced. The campaign also seeks to take advantage of the new gained popularity of beef; it is expected that lower beef prices paired with a trend to consume red meat will lead to increased sales. This is a change in the market; during the decade leading to 2015 beef consumption lowered 15% due to health concerns about red meat, increased prices, and the proliferation of substitutes. Now, the cattle association is hoping to gain market share by utilizing an old tag line (“Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner”) from commercials aired in the 90s and adapt it to attract a new and younger segment.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Credit Where Credit is Due, or More of the Same?

Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images

Trump’s New Outreach to Democrats: Health Care

Senate Minority Leader Schumer says president ‘wanted to make another run at repeal and replace’; minority leader wants to improve existing system

Friday, October 6th, President Trump reached out to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to discuss health care reform. While he is being praised for "reaching across the aisle", his rhetoric has stayed in alignment with GOP talking points--"repeal and replace". Senator Schumer reiterated his party's stance that repealing our current health care system is unacceptable, but that Democrats welcome suggestions from the GOP.

Universal health care has been widely adopted by many first world counties, but never on a scale needed to service a country with the size and population of the United States. The matter is incredibly complicated, from funding, to application, to time and speed, to how this would affect current US attempts at country-wide health care. Critics of the Affordable Health Care Act, colloquially known as "Obamacare", complain that the shift to the new system has resulted in lack of doctors willing to cover HMOs and has resulted in fewer options for those seeking medical treatments. They also criticize the self-reported tax penalty for those without health care, and higher premiums for users. 

It bears note that the US does have two forms of socialized health care, but both are available only to service members and their family. The first, VA health care, is tax subsidized, but mostly ineffectual, due to red tape, outdated systems of communication, major backlog, and a surplus of Vietnam veterans with mental illness and addiction problems whom have for the most part been forgotten in light of Gulf War and Afgan/Iraq vets. Both parties agree that VA health care system is broken and ineffective. The other is Tricare, which is also tax subsidized, and benefits active duty service members and their families, who, while on active orders, pay nothing for their health care unless they choose to go "out of network" or choose to have elective surgeries. National Guard and Reservists can opt into a form of Tricare, wherein the government subsidizes some of their health care, but they still pay copays and are subject to typical health care charges, albeit at much lower rates. 

This leaves many questions in its wake. If the US was to shift to a socialized, tax subsidized health care system, what would happen to current US based international health care providers? Would they be rendered obsolete? Would possible red tape and wait times make them attractive options for those who can afford private health care? If so, would that shift their entire marketing structure? (I would think so.) Or, would they simply shift their business to other counties, taking the jobs with it? What do you think? 

Another Thing Amazon Is Disrupting: Business-School Recruiting

Posted on Oct. 4, 2017 6:51 p.m. ET
Written by: Kelsey Gee

Available Online at

It comes as no surprise that Amazon is again disrupting yet another area of business, this time MBA recruiting.
The giant Seattle based company Amazon, known for disruptions of the book and more recently the grocery industries, has been lately announcing strategic partnerships and continues.

Just this past year Amazon hired around 1,000 MBA students from the top elite schools such as Duke, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, University of California at Berkeley, an took an additional number of interns surpassing the amount of top employers such as McKinsey& Co.

Amazon is showing that wants to continue growing and is putting up a battle for talent and is continuously sponsoring hiring events. This past June, it sponsored an event to hire 650 soon-to-be first year and returning woman MBA students, and the thing is that Amazon is even hiring before they start they business degrees.

Wall street firms and consulting firms have always been the top recruiters but Amazon is coming strong to fight for talent. MBA's are also saying that the workload with this giant is more manageable than the one in consulting firms.

The way Amazon is marketing itself to attract talent seems to be working, we will see in a few months of years the consequences of this "new disruption": Amazon prime job for MBA's.

Getting a job as a dog walker, it is harder than one thinks!

It felt a bit ridiculous for the 23-year-old Starbucks barista Alec Garcia when he received a rejection for his application for a part time job as a dog walker. As many people think, such a job doesn't require that experience to get, it is a job to supplement income, or simply a job for fun! Apparently, the chance to grant an acceptance to Harvard could be higher than getting a job as a dog walker. The pet app, Ravor, accepts only %15 of applicants, the other app, Wag!, chance is only %5. As per what a spokeswoman from Wag! said, applicants must pass all questions to make the cut and get accepted.

The U.S. has a percentage of %65 homes across the country that has residing pets, the ownership is at all-time high, in California alone, there are 160 million cats and dogs. This dog-walking industry is making a quite good profit, over the last five years, the business grew by 3.7%, reaching $1 billion.

For an app operating somehow similar to Uber, it is tough to navigate on-demand app. Dog owners could request a specific walkers, but they end up with random matches. It is tough for the walkers as well, for one walker, who is also a student, has to drive to arrive within 30 minutes because clients are 3 to 4 miles away. That is not a significant saving for a $15-$25 pay for 30 minutes walk. Despite the fact that many dog lover applicants ended up with rejected applications, many of those would reapply clearly because they want the money.

International WSJ Insights
"Want a Job as a Dog Walker? It’s Just Like Getting into Harvard"
Published By Laine Higgins
Updated Oct. 5, 2017 10:42 a.m. ET

European Retail Sales Fallen

It's no surprise that Europeans have a great affinity for fashion, shopping, and retail. Some examples are the Italian's philosophy of Bella Figura and fashion week held in Paris, France. Recent news has actually shown that retail sales have slowed down in the second consecutive month of August. Even though the EU has been experiencing a crisis for some time now, it's been a shock to the government that spending has actually decreased. Unemployment and inflation are always hot topics when discussing the politics and economics of Europe but to seeing declining sales in something like retail has the European government worried. The European Central Bank forecasts the amount of spending consumers will do in order to figure out which policies to put in place but it seems like the decrease in spending in the EU has thrown the ECB a curve ball. Policy makers are discussing slowly reducing stimulus, but is this really the answer to attain their goals which is to keep inflation below 2%? Only time will tell on how the ECB incorporates their policy towards consumerism and customer spending.

Friday, October 6, 2017



A train with all luxuries and the architect work, interiors, the mechanism have beaten the country to mark. The coaches and the utilities, the entertainment and the world around on wheels as the interiors in bathroom plated with gold, its ceilings of stained glass for German. Having violinist plays in the sycamore wood-paneled lounge. The speed of 30 miles an hour.
Japan’s one of the largest companies in railways, helps people to commute and carries in a day millions into rush-hour trains, have introduced luxury rail tours that cost as much as $22,000 per couple. The tours, which sell out months in advance, are one way the firms are trying to grow as a retiring population saps their core business.
“This is a new business model for us,” said Mikiko Sakamoto, an East Japan Railway marketing executive. “We’ve always focused on getting people to their destinations, but with this one, we had to focus on the journey and what’s on board.”
West Japan Railway Co.’s  green-and-gold Twilight Express Mizukaze, which opened in June with a top price of $22,000 per couple for a 375-square-foot suite for two nights, travels hundreds of miles through small towns on the Sea of Japan coast.

There is just one problem: Competition for seats on the Seven Stars is so fierce, said Mr. Aoyagi, that he hasn’t been able to secure a reservation. The concept wheels on Palace is also found in India and travels around some parts India. Organization improves upon the technology by providing higher value to luxury and target the niche crowd.

Believe that the marketing approach the pull and push technique of marketing with promotional mix of using advertising by the use of lottery based ticket issued for booking the travel is playing the most import role in the sales. The target market for the company is the service industry and have the same luxuries of the airplanes on the ground. The global marketing helps as after initially promoting the line in South Korea and China, and it expanded advertising to Cannes, France; and New York. Non-Japanese now account for 17% of the customers. The train’s crew speak Chinese, French, and English.

Apple struggles to get in TV boost

Lately the tech company known as Apple is trying to take part in the TV business. The company dominated the late 90s and 2000s with inventions such as the Ipod, laptop, smartphones and tablets because it had the cool and awe factors in its favor, although consider pricey by most consumers. Eventually other tech companies took notice and as of late Apple is struggling while trying to compete with their TV and streaming services. With a variety of established companies with more affordable products and easy-to-use gadgets to watch TV-such as Roku, Chromecast and Amazon’s fire TV-has made Apple endeavor to enter this market very difficult. Notorious for its extensive products, Apple has forgotten about the consumers that dominates the TV world: Millennials and Gen Z. Two decades ago, the high price for an unprecedented technology worked for decent-income individuals but now college students and middle school kids (not even old enough to get a job) are tech savvy and look for free streaming TV shows or programs with the greatest of ease.

Netflix more?

By: Amal Abdallah

So this is interesting: America's new favorite pastime, Netflix will be increasing prices for subscribers in the very near future. Premium users can expect to see their rates increase from $11.99 a month to $14.99 a month. Basic subscribers need not fear - the $7.99 a month cost to be basic will not change.

This decision comes from the anti-cable giant's goal to keep 'original content' available for users. As expected, the news of this change skyrocketed the share price to 'a record intraday high.' Of course, this also means that it can expect increasing competition from 'the others.'

Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, Apple...they also invest big bucks in original content for their customers.

Although its plethora of original content has recently attracted many users looking to ditch cable, another price increase may lead to a loss of subscribers - which is not something new. In the past, when prices increased, people left. Yet, Netflix believes that this price increase is rightly justifiable.

“From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we add more exclusive TV shows and movies, introduce new product features and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster,” Netflix said.

Even as its prices increase and users exit stage left, Netflix prefers to be judged by "membership growth and engagement, rather than the raw volume of content available on its service." We don't even know if the Netflix library has shrunk or not.

Is it possible that membership growth and engagement can take precedence over the volume of available content? Throwing the pricing deal into the mix, along with a potentially smaller library may make some users jump ship.

Netflix plans to spend $6B this year on original shows and movies, and $7B next year.
Let's hope that Netflixers don't downgrade and get back to basics. As for me, I like my Prime.

"The Unreachables." A segment of opportunities for marketers.

Hearts & Science CEO Scott Hagedorn
Hearts & Science CEO Scott Hagedorn

     There is a current shift in media consumption behavior. One in three “young households” (under 35 years of age), does not subscribe to a traditional TV (cable or satellite). TV and video consumption of 47% of Gen Xers and Millennials, a segment called MGXes (integrated by people from ages between 22 to 45), are not successfully captured by the TV measurement currency. The marketers call this audience segment “The Unreachables”: they represent trillions of dollars in spending power and growth segments for businesses worldwide.

     In order to reach them, marketers must look beyond the current incumbent TV planning and measurement tools. Traditional measurement firms like Nielsen, comScore and Kantar do an acceptable job estimating the content and advertising audiences on traditional TV screens, but big gaps exist in the data when it comes to measuring content and ad exposure in-app on mobile and tablet devices. The reasons behind these gaps are partly technical and partly philosophical. On the technical side, major media corporations have been slow to adopt Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings Software Development Kit (SDK). The philosophical reason is traditional, TV measurements are old-school technology designed for old-school media.

     Ultimately, we predict a future wherein traditional rating will stop to matter. Google and Facebook, along with telecoms like AT&T and Verizon, and retailers like Amazon, have massive install bases that are logged in across screens, making identity-based marketing not only feasible, but the most accurate solution to capture these new consumer behaviors. It is only a matter of time until these identity-based currencies and identity-based experiences become a competitive advantage in “marketer’s art” to reach future audiences.

International Wall Street Journal Insights
"Outside Voices: How Marketers Are Missing a Generation of ‘Unreachables"