Is it true that consumers nowadays need less stuff? Statistics show that in the West at least, the long shopping spree is ending—people are spending more of their disposable income on recreational activities like travel and dining in good restaurants, but less on buying things. Even in China, a country that many thought to have just entered a material era, people have shown less interest in buying new things. What on earth is “minimalism”? What are the reasons behind this trend? For business, minimalism undoubtedly presents a challenge. What can you sell to people who’ve decided they don’t want more?
Imagine when you walk in a shopping mall, a mobile advertisement pops up on your phone, giving you a coupon on exactly what you planned to buy. Or speaking to your friend about an interesting ad you saw on Facebook then discovering, to your surprise, that your friend is also interested in buying that exact product—that’s the beauty of well-designed marketing, thanks to big data. Professor Ghose at Stern Business School analyzes what consumers do with their smartphones and how businesses can tailor effective offers that occur at the optimal time, while also ensuring that information exchange is a healthy two-way street.
As a seller, you may often encounter a situation like this: your customers gather and discuss the product they want to buy and one day they come to you and form a group, bargaining. As a result, you have to offer them discounts and other benefits. Harvard economist Michael Porter formalized this idea, called “buyer power,” in 1979. “Buyer power” is separate from the competition that you face and you should be careful to distinguish the two. Even if you face little competition, if your buyers are powerful then you are in trouble. Read our article to find out a solution.
Just how much time and energy would you spend pondering over which dustbin to buy next? Chances are, not a lot. But for some consumers in China, even seemingly mundane things like trashcans have started to become significant from a social status point of view. More and more Chinese consumers are shifting their consumption of even routine everyday things to more premium categories. They are often influenced by their own experiences or those of their peers, travels abroad, foreign movies or social media. But increasingly now there are a whole host of services that are geared towards exposing Chinese people to newer things—and making them buy.
For nearly 25 years now, IDEO has stood at the cutting edge of the possibilities of design. Founded in Silicon Valley in 1991 by David Kelley, an early popularizer of the design thinking methodology, IDEO has grown into a diverse global organization, with experts on tap in disciplines ranging from behavioral service to software engineering. Thirteen years ago, IDEO opened an office in Shanghai. Charles Hayes, a partner at IDEO and Managing Director of IDEO China, talks about the evolution of IDEO China, IDEO’s approach to design thinking in a Chinese context and evolving Chinese business and consumer cultures.
If there’s one activity that unites China’s subway commuters, it’s huddling over their smartphone screens to watch the latest local, South Korean or Western TV shows downloaded or streamed from one of China’s many video websites. They’re part of a wider trend where more and more consumers are heading online to find their entertainment, and government statistics show music and video are the fourth and fifth most popular uses for the internet, respectively. But for all the prodigious growth, monetizing the interest has been a different matter. That is largely due to a pervasive culture of free, on-demand content, but that may be set to change.
Yum Brands, owner of brands like KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has been on a scary roller coaster ride in China. The highs were really high—the Chinese loved KFC so much that China became Yum’s largest market in terms of profits globally. Things were so good that Yum even ventured into uncharted territory: a western brand offering Chinese food to Chinese customers. But 2012 onwards Yum China has been running into trouble. The troubles have grown so big that the parent company finally succumbed to investor pressure and split the China operations into a separate company. Post the split, can Yum China get its mojo back?
Michael Zakkour, co-author of China’s Super Consumers, on what makes the Chinese consumer tick, brand loyalty, targeting and lessons from local brands.
The success of businesses in the new subscription economy needs more sophistication, nuance and responsiveness.
Brands have lifecycles and as they lose their relevance, they fall by the wayside. What really goes into reviving a brand and keeping it fresh?