Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The crowded shelf

You get inspired when you do not expect it to happen.
In the movie "In her shoes" there is this vignette:

Old man facing a crowded shelf in a market.
An old lady look at him and say:"You look confused, what's on?"
" I have to buy a soap but look here: all this choice. At the end of the day it's a soap!"
And the lady:" Buy the basic one"

Have you ever thought that too much offer may affect a market?
You spend tons of money to develop new products for the 35/37 y.o. male, slightly bald, no taller than 5,9, because this is where you feel you can make some more margin and because competitors do, and left behind other customers.

When we follow a hype, a trend or whatever you want to call it, we should keep in mind not to harm our source of business.
Don't do it for the sake of do it!

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Luxe, calme et voluptè (part 1)

Two centuries ago, French poet Baudelaire was inviting people to mix luxe, calme et voluptè.
And so it was for many years: the ateliers of Chanel, Dior, Balmain, Valentino and others were sacred places : timeless and spaceless.
Every couturier owned his/her atelier and money was a mean to access this world yet it was not the main engine.
The rest of the world, normal people just dreamed about the masterpieces weared by charming (and affluent) ladies.

Black and white pictures of famous ladies taken by famous photographers (Marella Agnelli by Richard Avedon) were icons to be admired and works of art.

Fast forward forty years and there's a new King in town: the Stock Exchange.
Huge multibrand groups entered the fashion arena -- after winning victories over the main brands they bought -- and climbed the steps of the stock exchange.

Meet the new chariot drivers: the powerhouses of LVMH, PPR, Richemont.

LVMH owns Dior, Givenchy, Christian Lacroix, Pucci, Kenzo, Donna Karan, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Fendi, Ebel, Tag Heuer, Sephora, etc
PPR owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Boucheron, Roger and Gallet, Bedat, even the auction house Christie's, etc.
Richemont means Cartier, Piaget, Baume and Mercier, IWC, Jaeger Lecoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Dunhill, Lancel Montblanc, Chloè, etc.

Get the idea? Three groups make up the biggest slice of the fashion market.

What this means is that stock fluctuation now drives the fortune of designers and buyers for these brands: high revenues keep the job of the couturier safe while rising prices secure money to buy for the new affluent ladies.
The need to sustain the stock price and deliver revenues has generated a Starbucks effect, as defined by Stephane Marchand in his book Les Guerres du Luxe.

"It's what these marketing geniuses call the Starbucks effect, referring to the positive impact generated by the coffee giant to the entire coffee shops market. It's a vertical contamination that works with an halo effect: when some companies raise the perception of a market through innovation, new brands and advertising, the entire market gets the benefit."
And to complete the picture, mono brand stores open everywhere: dozens and dozens of stores in each city around the globe.
To make the wheel running the old couturier world is just not enough.
You need to get as large a slice of the market as possible and the highest margin on each product.

The adopted strategy is the strategy of the flagship product.

A special thanks to Valeria Maltoni

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Web, the freedom to speech, the need for a rule

Since its very beginning the Web has been a land of freedom with very few basic rules. That's was great since it was a playground for few grown up guys.
Lately along with its growth, the playground get crowded with surfers of any age, gender, religion, etc. and still the very few basic rules.
Now, other than fake marketers and floggers, you can easily find paedophiles, nazis, terrorists and a variety of weird people while on the other side of the screen may sit your kids.
There are a lot of debates about the issue: is freedom of speech a treasure to be defended against everything? is there a need for some basic rules?

The question arise because yesterday, the Italian government published a new law about racism and hate for religious and political reasons and this will affect the Web, too.

What's your opinion about? Do you agree on this action?

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

User friendly technology and the dumb user

You know that
  1. i'm addicted to Mac
  2. i'm a complete failure when it comes to tech issues
  3. that's why i feel blessed to be addicted to Mac
When Santa delivered my new Pro, I plugged the good old G4 to the new beast and the two of them performed the transfer of each single file, application, preference, etc.
They moved 40 giga of music files, the usual bunch of application, a load of pictures for a total of 54 giga in 30 minutes: ready, set, go.

And then, this morning, I stumbled in this New York Times Tech Q&A about Vista:


Windows Vista, scheduled for its debut to the general public next week, includes a free tool called Windows Easy Transfer. Like the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard that came with Windows XP, it is designed to move most of your personal stuff by means of a cable connection between old and new machines. Moving files over a network or with recordable discs and drives are other methods for transferring your files to the Vista PC as well.

According to Microsoft’s own description of Windows Easy Transfer (found at support.microsoft.com/kb/928635), the tool can move your user accounts and settings, personal files and folders, e-mail settings, messages and contacts, Internet settings and bookmarks and all your digital music, picture and video files.

It won’t move system files like fonts and drivers, however, so you will need to reinstall any custom fonts and Vista-compatible drivers on the new machine yourself.

While Windows Easy Transfer will move program settings and preferences if you have the same programs installed on the new computer, it won’t move the programs themselves. (Some types of software, like security programs designed for older versions of Windows, will probably not work on Vista anyway.)

Unfortunately for those with older computers, Windows Easy Transfer is designed to transfer files and settings from older machines running Windows 2000 or later. For Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me and Windows NT users who don’t want to move data and reconfigure all their program settings manually, separate software can be a much easier solution.

Several data-migration programs can be found around the Web or in computer stores. For example, Laplink PCmover (www.laplink.com) works with most older versions of Windows, costs less than $60 and is designed to move your files and settings between machines. Laplink PCmover even promises to move your programs as well.

Now, if I understand what is written above, the data transfer is not a plug and play affair: if I'm lucky enough, I'll have only to setup several system files. If I'm an old school guy, better call a tech support.
Am I so dumb? It's me?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

back to the desk

i took one week off from blogging. posted some comments on other blogs, went to the rome barcamp, but need some time off from this.
there's a lot of news around waiting to be commented. stay tuned.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

unplug yourself

lately, there have been some conversation about being always online, get connected anytime anywhere. more discussion have been generated by the iphone presentation and the 24/7 connection features and more from a discussion about focus groups and empiric on field research.

i do believe that we should be able to unplug ourself, switch off all our device and get into the real life.
the digital world and the blogosphere are great environment to meet people, i'm delighted to have met great people around, they provide me with friendship, knowledge, culture ans support.
just to mention some of them: ann hadley and all the contributors at dailyfix, masiguy, ck, lewis green, valeria maltoni, gavin heaton, luc of mindblob, simone morgagni, pierfrancesco scotti.
and more i hope to meet at the bar camp.
but in the meantime, get unplugged, have a walk, get lost in you city, discover places where you have never been before, rediscover places where you have been since long time.
back to your job, to your desk, you may see things with a fresh perspective and a wider approach.

give a look to this great ad from bmw. it's one year old or more. it about the pleasure of driving, of getting lost, of seeing things.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

the nba online store and the customer uncaring

one month ago, i posted a comment about the poor performance of the online nba store.
i purchased a lakers jersey for my nephew and some days later having placed the order, the customer uncaring office politely informed me that i should have find another xmas gift.
after a rather complaining mail of mine, on dec. 16th i got a lady writing to me:

I truly apologize for the frustration this has caused you. You should
have been notified immediately when we realized the item was no longer
available. I have requested a $25.00 gift card to be emailed to you. We
hope to hear from you again in the near future.

Please let us know if we can assist you further. Thank you for visiting
the NBA and WNBA Store.

Customer Service

today, i haven't got any mail with the gift card.
nor that i have any will to purchase anything from them, but still they did not perform this task, too.

all i got is this mail, dated jan 12!!!

Greetings from NBA and WNBA Store.
We are writing to confirm that we have processed your refund in the
amount of $76.98 for your Order # xxxxxxxxxxxx

This refund is for the following item(s):
Item: Lakers NBA Men's Replica Home Jersey ( sz. S, Gold : Bryant, Kobe : Lakers )
Reason for refund: Account adjustment
Your refund is being credited as follows:

Credit Card : $76.98

Total refund for this order: $76.98
Thank you for shopping at NBA and WNBA Store.

Customer Service

this means:
  1. you did not send the jersey and put me in trouble
  2. you did not send the gift card
  3. you debited my credit card immediately
  4. you retain my money for one month
you suck!

parla come mangi

the sentence above, typical italian sentence, calls for a way to speak plain, unpretentious, accessible to everyone.

we do hear, from time to time, people pretending to speak cute italian, as well as english and any other language, and fail miserably in using the correct word.

a brilliant article from tod bishop highlights the completely different approach to the keynote in the late speach given from steve jobs, bill gates and michael dell.

jobs' approach: short sentence, few well choosen words, accessible to everyone. this is the coo approach, that has a vision and implement it in person

gates and dell: wider word selection, tech language, more marketing oriented gates. this is the language of the big boss no longer on the field but great to sell the concept

more confused dell, reflecting the current situation of his company. this is the language of the skipper looking around to get the wind

what can we learn:
  1. the way you speak is the way you are
  2. do not pretend to be someone else cause your words will betray you
  3. keep it simple
  4. make people understand you
  5. world is complicated enough to give confused keynote
  6. parla come mangi

Monday, January 15, 2007

rome barcamp is here

the rome barcamp is here.
next saturday, at the linux club, via libetta 15, 00154, rome.
starting time: 10 am

what i do expect from the barcamp?
to meet the blogger italian community, to know simone morgagni who has a great blog, to better understand the future of the web 2.0 in our market.
there are 109 participants, so it's going to a great event.

i'll report from my blog. so stay tuned.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

iphone: is that a phone? or is that far more than a phone?

reading david pogue article about iphone i got to a rather unexpected point.
are we talking about a phone or have we all been shortsighted?
yesterday the debate was about the price, the cool factor, steve jobs' dressed in brown and not in black, apple no longer a computer company, etc.
but today, out of the noise, looking at all the tech specification this is not a phone. it far more than this: it's a mobile information, connectivity and entertainment center.
you can browse internet looking at the real web page appearance, it concentrate all the apple tech in one single portable device.
there are some grey area as stated by david but they will be probably fixed before the launch: at least we hope so.
so what?
apple demonstrate another time that it's a different company.
like or not, they are 10 years in advance to any other company and make the microsoft zune a prehistoric device: nice, but we did it three years ago!

for more:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

apple, a ..... company

as darren herman correctly report apple is no longer a computer company.

but where i do not agree with him is about the timing of the event.
he reports the event which took place yesterday, during steve jobs' presentation, when the word computer disappeared from the screen. apple computer became apple inc.
yes but this is the facade only.
i believe that since the ipod launch apple stopped to be a computer company to become an entertainment and communication company.
  1. a mac is an entertainment center with built-in webcam
  2. the ipod is apparently isolating people but it’s about music and concepts ( through podcast) sharing
  3. i-tunes allows sharing users’ compilation
  4. .mac allows you to enter in a community
  5. iweb allows you to create websites and blogs in minutes and share them
  6. it was the first company with successfully sold music and let's about tv programs and movies
  7. and let alone pixar as for the entertainment
  8. iphone will allow to complete the entire process with a wider screen than ipod
and it all started three years ago.
by the way, santa brought to me a brand new macbook pro 15": as you can see from my face, it's a dream machine.

disclosure: i do not work for apple, i'm not a stockholder even if i should be entitled to have some of them for having financed largely the company buying its products since 1995 ;-)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

the fine strategy: how to fool an entire community

we should admit that time mag fooled us. we claim to be fine strategic people, smart consultant, etc. but they fooled us.
few weeks ago, time mag claimed that the person of the year is you, with a reflecting cover to mirror ourself in all our vanity.
thousands of comments flocked around the blogosphere, some full of selfishness, some angry, but no one got the point: time was promoting itself, it was doing its job in a smart way.

why this post?
because Time magazine today is again reinventing itself online, this time by revamping its site to emphasize breaking news and blogs.

chapeau to time editors.

for more:

Monday, January 08, 2007

a reason to get a bike, a reason to get an alfa romeo?

lately we all have been following masiguy (aka tim jackson) odissey with his car.
to summerize his saturn decided to stop its service and apparently the customer care and the dealer were not able to fix it but get some money anyway.
tim, who is known for being a very nice person, got rather upset, to say the least.
and he is right.
few time ago i posted this comment about car dealers and the poor follow up to sales

while i give all my support to tim and cross my fingers not to face such a nigthmare, i got this article from financial times talking about this issue.
sergio marchionne, the very successful ceo of fiat, the man who brought back fiat from hell and gave a boost to the whole company, gave the new brief about the relaunch of alfa romeo and the key issue of the dealers after sales support.
the process started in uk, where apparently the situation is more challenging and then will be extended to other european countries and to us.
alfa romeo is one of the most renowned brand in automotive market across the world. in the past they produced cars such as the duetto, the stylish spider. its brand is linked to fast sport cars, to the race. see the brera coupè.

why this is so crucial from an italian point of view?

  1. fiat is the real last big industrial company in our country
  2. it has a long history of being technically a failure
  3. it appeared to be oriented to cash as soon as possible than to invest in r&d
  4. did not market some great tech innnovation born there ( the common rail diesel was a fiat patent)
  5. this approach marks a real turnaround in the italian mentality
if this process is successful and is extended to the other brands, fiat may become the new toyota.

am i too optimistic?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

youtube and the lost of innocence

No, it is not only our fate but our business to lose innocence, and once we have lost that, it is futile to attempt a picnic in Eden” Elizabeth Bowen

this quote from Elizabeth Bowen does recall what's going on with youtube or, better, gootube.

do you remember the good ol' days when creative people was posting videos, generating buzz, expressing themselves?
do you remind when we all look at this small but fast growing company and asking what will be its future?
well, now we know: youtube has gone corporate.
frankly speaking no one can imagine that google would have spent so much money for philanthropic purpose but it took only few weeks to turn the site into a moneymaker machine.
is it still a social network? how long will it take before the youtube we used to know no longer exists?
the average quality level of the video is embarassing, apparently there is no censorship but the legal disclaimer said the opposite.
and in the meantime, lot of people (the young by the way) are leaving youtube for more free and less adv polluted area such as stickam, dailymotion.

is gootube* still a great place to be?

*copyright by blog maverick, see: http://www.blogmaverick.com/2006/12/27/ripping-on-gootube-again2/

are we looking from the correct angle?

this morning i was reading an inspiring post from darren herman.
he tells the story of how a friday evening with his girlfriend's nieces make him thinking on some topics: where ugc is created? and how important is the world off line? youtube and myspace creativity is mostly coming from offline?
the article is amazing because we often forget to look at simple things and forget that there is a whole world outside the screen of our computers.
and it's amazing because it does remind me of a lesson that my nephew (at that time 6 y.o.) teached to me. he was playing tetris at his own computer and i try to explain him the rules and that hiw way was the wrong one. his answer was : look at what a beautiful figures we can draw!


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

saddam and the marketing trap

no one, who's not really dumb, could really believe that saddam murder video would have remain secret or censored.
and thousands of people flocked to see the last minutes of life of one of the most brutal dictator in history.
but not me. i'm not going to see the video. i'm not falling in the trap of generating traffic and advertising revenue on google or you tube to see the video.
and please do not bother me telling that this is journalism. speculating on a man's death is not journalism.
it's probably because i'm european and do not believe in the death penalty. it's probably because i feel very annoyed when looking at pinochet funeral with military parade and the church blessing.

how many times we are trapped by ethically poor brands who sell their products through sex or violence? how many times advertising agencies with poor creative approach choose tricky execution to get some publicity for low quality products?

the new year challenge: #1

#1: set up a definition of the freedom of speech and contents which fit with an agreed and shared vision of ethic.

in the last months there were several issues of videos, uploaded on you tube and others, reporting violence, pornography, etc.
the discussion was raised about the limit or the limitlessness of internet as far is concerning the above topics.
there are people ready to fight to keep internet a land of absolute freedom without boundaries and people who believe it's time to fix some basic rules to keep it a safe place.

old style remedies just don't work, censorship is not the answer.
there are too much money around, too much hungry people and the net is far too complex to think to control it.
let's give a look to this new york times article:


in my personal opinion internet is a media and this means that it's not good or bad in itself.
it something upon us and it's probably something more offline than online.
what do you think?
have you any remedy ready, yet?