Thursday, 28 January 2016

What exactly is the ‘Internet of Things’?

For the last few years there has been a new phrase buzzing around the offices of many marketing departments. This phrase ‘Internet of Things’ is perhaps bigger than anyone yet dreams or realises. Last year it was reported that 51 per cent of marketing executives anticipate that the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) will revolutionise marketing practices by the year 2020. So what exactly is the IoT?

Dr John Barrett describes the ‘Internet of Things’ as a place where the web and the physical world meet. This is where the planet and everything on it will become part of the ‘Internet of Things’. Everything will one day become part of the IoT from objects, machines, appliances, buildings, vehicles, animals, people and even plants. This is much more than simply just a webpage about those things, but those ‘things’ having an actual presence on the web.

There really is no limit to what could one day become part of the IoT. Anything that can be given a unique identity, sensors to read its environment and the ability to communicate could one day become part of this evolution of the Internet. The only limits we have are our own imagination in how these ‘things’ can be integrated and used to enhance our daily lives.

The IoT will allow us to connect and interact with ‘things’ in new ways and will allow us to monitor them in unprecedented new levels of detail. This will allow us to manage and plan better in all aspects of life. The IoT will also allow us to better control the environment we live and how we relate to everything that surrounds us. Gone are the days where you may loose your car keys, as you will soon be able to ask Google to just locate them for you.

The IoT is going to have a tremendous impact on both our lives and society. We have seen data play an ever-increasing importance in marketing practices over the last ten years. This trend is inevitably set to continue with the rich data that the IoT will soon provide. Individual marketing has the possibility to become even more targeted as people interact with these new ‘things’. It is estimated that by 2032 people will be in daily contact with between 3,000-5,000 new ‘things’ on the IoT.

I believe we are already living in the ‘Internet of Things’, however we are only at the very beginning of its evolution. The one thing we can be certain of is that the ‘Internet of Things’ is inevitably going to change life and the world as we know it forever.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Cadbury Creme Egg Catastrophe

The Cadbury Creme Egg has long since been a staple of Easter. The product itself has enjoyed somewhat of a cult following amassing more than 2.5 million people into its fan club. It therefore came as somewhat of a surprise that earlier this week the confectioner Cadbury announced that last year sales of its famous chocolate Creme Egg had fallen by over $12 million.

Cadbury was purchased by the US food giant Kraft in 2010 which later changed to Mondelez International. At the time of its purchases many feared that the longstanding Cadbury recipes from the 192-year-old company would be cheapened inline with the American manufactured Hershey products.


In hindsight, the drop in sales should really come as no surprise. On the 12th January 2015 Cadbury made the announcement that the Creme Egg recipe would be changed forever. Instead of being made from the usual glass and a half of Cadbury Dairy Milk product it would instead be made from a cheaper standard cocoa chocolate mix. The traditional half a dozen eggs were also reduced to just five with the price remaining unchanged leaving customers shell-shocked.

Cadbury marketing manager Claire Low defended the company saying, "The fundamentals of Cadbury Creme Egg remain exactly the same. It's simply not the case that the Creme Egg has always been made with Cadbury Dairy Milk." However, the damage to the bottom line cannot be underestimated as a result of making changes to the product. Cadbury has been left with egg on their faces as their market share has dropped from 42 to 40 per cent in the last year.

The negative backlash to the recent changes has caused uproar on social media with many consumers expressing their anger at the new recipe. Of course, this would not be the first time a larger food manufacturer has made changes to its product angering consumers. When Coke changed its famous recipe to New Coke in the spring of 1985, it caused a similar backlash. As a marketer, it is important to listen to the voice of the consumer. In changing a winning recipe, Cadbury have alienated their core customers who were quick to notice the difference, calling the product a “Frankenstein egg”.


Much like Classic Coke, many customers have formed strong attachments to products that have been a fundamental part of their childhood. Attempts to change fundamental attributes while marketing a product the same is always likely to cause outrage. In their defense, a spokesperson for Cadbury added, “The Creme Egg had never been called Cadbury Dairy Milk Creme Egg. We have never played on the fact that Dairy Milk was used.”

One can only wonder if Cadbury would have made a different decision given a second chance.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

David Bowie: A Tribute to an icon of music and marketing

As the world mourns the loss of another music legend this week, most will be thinking about his mesmerising music. For six decades David Bowie amazed, shocked and delighted his fans with songs about spacemen and life on mars. Many people may not appreciate what a true genius he was when it came to marketing his own personal brand and his music. Bowie’s career is one of constant evolution and reinvention throughout the decades.

His career really began to take flight with the release of the song “Space Oddity”, which was about the fictional astronaut Major Tom on his journey into space. The song was written and released just five days before the Apollo 11 rocket set off on mans first flight to the moon. The song was perfectly timed to capitalise on the mood of the nation and fascination surrounding the historic event.

Bowie himself changed physically throughout the years, from the bright red hair of Ziggie Stardust to the “White Duke” persona. He was able to redefine musical genres and even make successful transitions into both art and film. One of the reasons why I believe David Bowie was so successful is he was able to keep his finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture. He was also able to reinvent both his image and his music multiple times, pushing boundaries and set new trends in popular culture. These are all attributes that the most successful brands in the world would all dearly love to have.

In 2013, Bowie released his then new album (The Next Day) after many years away from the music industry. Most artists would accompany such a come back with a huge PR campaign, but not Bowie. In fact, very few people initially even knew about it at all!

The launch took the world by surprise, as there had been no leaks about the new album, which he had been secretly recording for two years. On the 8th of January the album was released with no hype or fanfare. The news of the surprise launch found its way into the media where it quickly became a major news story. Such a laid-back approach really shows the confidence and self-belief Bowie had in his own brand. In an industry where everybody is shouting to have their voice heard, a different approach along with a well-recognised brand name was able to capture the attention of both the media and fans.

David Bowie was a man who was known for doing things differently. His creativity shines through his work in the entertainment industry. He leaves behind a legacy as a trailblazer of musical and artistic trends but also many valuable lessons in marketing.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Star Wars Effect in full force

Star Wars, as we know it is a culture phenomenon in itself. Since the release of their newest addition by Disney, “The Force Awakens”, Star Wars memorabilia saw a 200% increase amongst Australian consumers over Christmas since the same period last year.

The marketing campaigns of big box office movies always seems to spark my interest. Star Wars, The Force Awakens, had huge shoes to fill and boy did Disney do their job! There is no doubt that The Force Awakens is, in some sense, the reintroduction to that universe we left a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

The 10 of December marked the biggest day for Star Wars merchandise purchases. After a steady increase throughout the start of November, in the lead into Christmas, data from cloud-based retail management software company, Vend, showed, “you don’t have to be the brightest lightsabre in the galaxy to know that Star Wars is pretty hot right now, but it’s great to see that its popularity is paying off for Australian retailers,” says Vaughan Rowsell, CEO of Vend.

The ‘Star Wars effect’ has also seen a 192% retail spending increase in stores selling Star Wars products, and a 210% increase of Star Wars merchandise actually stocked in stores.

Furniture and home wares was the retail category which saw the biggest increase in sales last year between 1 November and 31 December, with a 116% increase on the monthly average. This was followed by books (93%), toys and games (61%), jewellery (53%) and sporting goods (52%).

Last year, 23 December was the biggest shopping day in Australia, with sales 61% higher than the monthly average. This data from Vend busts the myth that Christmas Eve is the biggest shopping day of the year.

“Last year Australia saw record levels of Christmas spending across the country, and the industry’s coming off a pretty strong 2015, so it’s likely we’ll see another great season for retailers – and the Star Wars effect is certainly helping,” Rowsell said.

The film has already broken a box office record in Australia, as the highest grossing midnight screening in Village cinema’s history. It’s also doubled the previous record for pre-sales, held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Village screened the film 733 times Australia-wide in the first 24 hours of its release.

The Force Awakens distances itself from those movies, and does its best to provide fan service and nostalgia. But it’s more than that, we get to see these old, beloved characters once more. Even while it seems to go through so many of the old motions, even as it wows us with its big action and sparkly energy, it treats its characters with more dignity and complexity than ever before.

There’s a new hope for the Star Wars franchise.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 4 January 2016

McDonalds but not as we know it

This week the fast food giant McDonalds opened a new concept store in the trendy shopping district of Admiralty in Hong Kong. The interesting glimpse into the future of fast food has seen the introduction of a ‘food bar’ style restaurant with a heavy emphasis on customisation. This is far from the traditional McDonalds model that has made the franchise so successful.

Source: Instagram @vjeffz

The traditional look of a typical McDonalds has also been replaced with ultra modern brush stainless steel and glass food cabinets. This new restaurant known as ‘McDonalds Next’ has an unrecognisable industrial design, with its only identifying features being the golden arches adoring the windows.

Self-service is a big part feature of the restaurant, which gives customers the opportunity to pick and choose the features of the food they eat. This is a long way from the one-size fits ethos that has been synonymous with standardised McDonalds of the past.

As a University of Sydney student I have already been able to experience the new McDonalds style restaurants. Last January, McDonalds launched another concept store called ‘The Corner’ in the leafy suburb of Camperdown. Other than the small McCafe logo, you would be forgiven for not even knowing that McDonalds even operates this establishment.


The main difference is you won't find any Big Macs, fries and strawberry shakes at this café. Instead you might find Lebanese lentils, tomato and basil soup, cesar salad wraps and craft soda.


Earlier this year in Australia, McDonalds rolled out the ‘Create Your Taste’ platform across many of the restaurant chains. This offered customers the opportunity to custom build their own McDonalds menu options with a range of buns, toppings, sides and drinks. This new tool has more the traditional McDonalds look and feel, although it does feel slightly strange having waiting staff serve food to your table.

McDonalds are able to charge a price premium for this product and service, delivering your items on an artisan wooden board with even a small basket for the fries.


These concepts and new ideas show that McDonalds are willing to change and adapt its model to fit the varying requirements of its customers. In 20 years time I believe McDonalds will still be serving its legendary Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and other iconic items, as these are a central part of its history and identity. Whether or not it is predominantly known only as a fast food chain is however another matter.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School