Consumer Products Blog Has Moved!

It’s taken a while, but we’ve finally launched our new website and are now hosting our blogs at

It’s a timely occurrence as we celebrate our 25th anniversary throughout 2011. If your hunger for marketing and public relations knowledge persists (as ours does) we encourage you to go directly to our blogs… and offer your comments and criticisms at will:

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Email Blooper

Sometimes the best way to learn from others is learning what not to do. I received the following email below in my inbox today.

This is exactly the type of emails you don’t want to receive as a consumer or send as a marketer. Here’s why:

1. I intentionally removed the sender’s name from the email because I didn’t want to call him out personally. However, the email said it was from “Gevalia Stainless Steel Bundle Pkg” and then it listed a person’s email address. The “FROM” line of a consumer email should always be the company, in this case “Gevalia Coffee” and should not list an individual’s name (unless your the Geico Gecko).

2. The subject line is not enticing at all. Plus, I’m not a coffee drinker. The only reason I opened this email is because I was curious as a consumer marketer.

3. The copy does not encourage me to click the link. It simply falls flat. Plus there is no visual in this email at all. Why not create an HTML email with the offer right there for me to see.

4. What is with that URL? The URL should be a link to the company “Gevalia Coffee”. Not a link that looks suspicious and I have no idea where it will lead me.

5. Who is “Gevalia Coffee”? There is no information in this email to tell me about the company and why I would want to buy their coffee.

6. “Write to us”? Huh… why would I want to write to you? Plus, how do I even know who I’m sending a letter to if you only provide a PO Box?

As you can clearly see, there are many issues with this email and it is highly likely it didn’t produce any positive results. You better believe I don’t want to be receiving email again from this company.  Did I mention I’m not a coffee drinker?!

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Filed under Food & Beverages, Uncategorized

Do We Really Need All These Consumer Products?

I consider myself a practical person. I try to be realistic purchasing things my family needs and doesn’t need. Although, my husband is completely the opposite and is always trying to get me to buy products/services I don’t think we need. It’s a constant struggle between us and one that I usually get the “cheapo” nickname for.

One recent example is the iPad, which I received from my husband for Christmas. I waited about 2 weeks before opening the box. I was struggling with the fact that we already both have iPhones, a desktop and a laptop computer at home. Why would we need a bigger glorified iPhone?

I finally threw caution to the wind and set up the iPad last night. I only had a chance to download a few apps, but I was completely and utterly sold within minutes. I had made the right choice. The apps on the iPad were so much cooler than on the iPhone and I immediately started thinking of ways we can make good use of the iPad.

My experience with the iPad really got me thinking about how amazing Apple’s products and marketing truly are to get us to purchase things we don’t really need. And look at Starbucks… do we really need a $5 coffee when we can get it for $1 at MacDonald’s?

The list of examples never ends. We basically live in a world of products and services that we don’t really need. But after all, I guess that is why they call us “consumers”.

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Filed under Apple iPad

When to Buy & Sell an Apple Product

Apple has a very strategic product development/launch schedule. Take the iPhone for example. Every year around June a new and more exciting version is launched. This is not by accident of course. Apple wants its customers to continue to come back each year to purchase the upgraded version.

Not only that, but Apple does not intend to support its older generation iPhones. I have the iPhone 3 and every time there is an upgrade in software it seems my phone is running slower and slower. However, I don’t think I would get to the point that I toss my iPhone because it is running too slowly. I would be more likely to toss the perfectly fine (but maybe a tad slow) iPhone 3 for the latest and greatest version. For this reason, I’m probably considered Apple’s ideal customer.

My husband wants to upgrade our iPhones, but I have been considering the best time to do so. It doesn’t make sense to purchase the iPhone 4 now, but rather wait until the 5th generation is available this summer. If there is something super cool that is part of the iPhone 5, I don’t want to be stuck with the iPhone 4 .

Apparently I’m not alone in my thinking. There was a story on NPR this week about tablet computers being the next “big” thing. The expert they interviewed for the story just sold his Apple iPad last week.

The reason the tech expert sold his iPad is because this is the maximum resale time.  The iPad is still in demand and the next generation will not be available for another few months. What a great way to still get the latest and greatest Apple products, not get stuck with the older generation and still have some of your original dollars to invest in the next generation.

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Are Green Products Backfiring?

I feel strongly that manufacturers and consumer should be doing their part to protect the environment. It shouldn’t even be a consideration for a manufacturer to say “we need a green product.” Rather all products should be as green as possible, basically ending the green marketing movement.

However, it will take time for us to successfully get there. And after reading the Wall Street Journal article “The Hidden Cost of Going Green”, I’m beginning to think we are only at the starting line.

The Wall Street Journal article provided a few examples of how going green has backfired. For example, one woman purchased a hybrid car to save money on gas and reduce her carbon footprint. Something went wrong with the battery and her car was in the shop for three months. Her final bill was $1,300; so much for saving money.

I saw another article about water saving washing machines and how stains are not being removed, which requires consumers to wash their clothes multiple times. This completely defeats the purpose of a water saving washing machine. However, the washing machine manufacturer said this shouldn’t be an issue and blamed the consumer for improper use.

Consider highly concentrated laundry detergents, which are designed to reduce the amount of plastic going into our landfills. But how often do we use more detergent than necessary because we feel that small capful isn’t going to clean our clothes? I’m certainly guilty of this. The result is we end up buying more detergent than necessary, still putting more plastic into our landfills.

Certainly we need to start somewhere and in the case of the laundry detergent, it is going to take consumers changing their behavior. It is also going to require manufacturers to educate the marketplace about the correct way to achieve the desired “green” results.

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Filed under Green, green marketing

‘Tis the Season for Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Every November in Northeast Ohio people go nuts for Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Ask any Clevelander and they will tell you I’m not exaggerating.

In fact, I headed to Cleveland in early November for a short visit right when Great Lakes began selling its Christmas Ale at the retail level. On the plane to Cleveland, I sat next to a guy from Massachusetts who I proceeded to tell about the Great Lakes Christmas Ale and people around us started chiming in telling him it was a must do while in Cleveland.

And every year it seems that Great Lakes has shortages of Christmas Ale. Even in early November, I had to wait a few days for retailers to get in another shipment because they had sold out. My cousin couldn’t find it anywhere around Thanksgiving and was threatening to steal my stash at my Mom’s house. The local news was even reporting on the shortage this year.

Closer to the end of December, when the company is getting very short on supply, you will see Great Lakes Brewery’s Facebook page light up with what bars and retailers you can buy Christmas Ale. You can literally hear the chatter on the streets about where to get it at your local watering hole.

How did Great Lakes Christmas Ale get so popular considering Thirsty Dog’s 12 Dogs of Christmas (another Northeast Ohio brewery) is very close in taste, and some even claim it is better? The Great Lakes Christmas Ale phenomenon was not created by a genius marketing or advertising campaign, rather it is the simple law of supply and demand coupled with word-of-mouth marketing.

Whatever the reason Clevelanders don’t care and just want their Christmas Ale. ‘Tis the season for Christmas Ale. Cheers!

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Filed under Beverage Products

What Do Internet Tracking Companies Know About You?

The FTC is recommending a universal “Do Not Track” option online that would give consumers the ability to opt-out of third-party online tracking for advertising purposes. As marketers we certainly understand the value of customer and prospect behavior, but when do we draw that line on privacy as consumers?

After I heard the news about the FTC’s “Do Not Track” recommendation, I wanted to find out just how much information these third-party companies are tracking about me. I found a good article on NPR, “Tracking the Companies that Track You Online”.

NPR selected a 26-year-old female, and with the help of the Wall Street Journal and third-party tracking companies determined that third-party tracking companies knew about her favorite movies, age, hometown, that she liked quizzes and entertainment news.

Another article I found on Wall Street Journal stated over time, these third-party companies will start to predict other information about you based on your interests, including your marital status and creditworthiness.

Certainly I realize that Google knows my hometown because I can tell that when I conduct Google searches. Or on Facebook, I’m not surprised when I see boating ads because I listed boating as a hobby in my profile. But for these third-party companies to know my likes and dislikes and start making predictions about me is a bit invasive and I do think some industry regulation is necessary to protect consumers.

To take this a step further, these third-party tracking companies are also tracking our youngsters, who are heavily influenced by advertising.

So what do you think? Where should online tracking stop? Is the industry doing a good job of self-regulating? Or does the government need to step in?

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Filed under Advertising

Black Friday Shopping Survival Guide

On Black Friday weekend more than 138 million people plan to shop according to a preliminary survey by the National Retail Federation. That is a lot of people and I plan to be one of them.

But Black Friday isn’t like any other shopping day; you need a strategy. After working at retailers during my college holiday breaks (Macy’s and Express) and many Black Friday shopping sprees, I have a few dos and don’ts to share.

• Do plan ahead. Check out Black Friday websites or your Thanksgiving Day newspapers to make a list and plot your course. This will help you spend less time driving and more time shopping.

• Do make a list. Making a list will help keep you on track and on budget.

• Do bring snacks. If you are like me, you’ll need to refuel every few hours. Pack water and food like peanut butter crackers, almonds and granola bars that are good for sustaining energy.

• Do wear comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Just in case you find the perfect pair of shoes, you can take a minute or two to try them on!

• Do wear layers and leave your bulky coat in the car or at home. One less thing you have to carry the better.

• Do wear a tank top under your layers. Should you find a sweater, shirt or coat you want to try on, you will not have to wait in line for a dressing room.

• Do check pricing prior to going to the register and ensure your merchandise rings up correctly. You will save time by stopping the sales associate if something doesn’t look right while he or she is ringing you up. Otherwise, you’ll be standing in the customer service line for a price adjustment.

• Don’t be afraid to ask the sales associate for a coupon at retailers that are known for them like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Belk, etc. The worst they can say is no or I’m not allowed to do that.

• Don’t head to Target, Walmart or Best Buy unless you are fighting for a limited number of electronics. Rather wait until later in the day to get the same sales without all the lines. Most retailers have plenty of stock on Black Friday and will continue to stock their shelves throughout the day.

• Don’t leave your purse on a dressing room hook unless you keep a good eye on it. There is an increase in theft during the holiday season. And this is an easy way for thieves to get your pocketbook while you are distracted looking in the bigger dressing room mirror. Also, be sure to lock your car doors.

• Don’t want to fight the traffic or the crowds? Stay home. It is highly likely (almost guaranteed) retailers will continue to offer special sales throughout the entire holiday season.

Do you plan on being one of the millions of Americans that will be shopping on Black Friday? If so, share your personal survival tips in the comments section.

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Black Friday Sales “Leaked”

Black Friday, the day that most retailers begin operating in the “black”, is      almost a week away. We all know that on Black Friday retailers are known for slashing prices on popular gift giving items (electronics, toys, etc.) to get shoppers up at the crack of dawn and into their stores.

But what is killing me this year is media is claiming that major retailers like Walmart, Sears, Target and Sams Club Black Friday sales have been “leaked” on popular Black Friday websites. Come on… first of all is this really “news”? And secondly, how are the sales being “leaked” if on my way out of Costco last weekend, the sales associated handed me the Black Friday circular.

On a more positive note, you don’t have to wait for the newspaper to arrive on Thanksgiving morning to start planning your Black Friday shopping marathon. Head to the Internet to sites like or or or or

Happy Black Friday shopping!

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Filed under Advertising

A Holiday Hallmark Hasn’t Commercialized

As most of you know today is Veterans Day. As I began thinking about the day and all the veterans who have served our country and those who have lost their lives, I realized it is one of the only holidays that the greeting card manufacturers and retailers haven’t commercialized.

I have seen some Veterans Day cards at retailers like CVS and Walgreen’s, but every year the cards continue to look the same and their little space on the rack never seems to grow. That is certainly not the case with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Sweetest Day, Grandparents Day and on and on. Apparently the greeting card manufacturers and retailers haven’t determined a way to capitalize, and by that I mean dollars, on this special day and I certainly hope it stays that way.

Commercializing this day would only take away from its true meaning and the raw reality of war. Our veterans face things we civilians cannot even begin to comprehend and the sacrifice veterans and their families make is truly amazing. As a Marine Corps wife, I understand that first hand.

So I ask greeting card manufacturers, florists, candy companies, retailers, etc. to continue to leave Veterans Day alone and let us honor our veterans with raw emotion and gratitude they deserve.

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Filed under military