Posted by Dale Buss on August 2, 2013 01:56 PM
Among the Canadian concepts that haven't translated easily to the US are native Ryan Reynolds (with two box-office flops this summer) and peameal (Americans insist on calling it Canadian bacon). Could Tim Hortons be threatening to add another unfortunate border crossing to that list?
After spending $664 million and a decade building more than 800 stores in Flyover Country in the US, Tim Hortons' esteemed coffee and tasty pastries haven't made a dent in the business of its targeted rival, Starbucks. The Oakville, Ont.-based brand had hoped to score heavily with a formula that makes it a national treasure in Canada, and was familiar to many Americans who traveled north, but Horton's has notched only a 2.7 percent share of the US quick-service business, according to restaurant-consulting firm Technomic.
And more shareholders are getting restive. "The company's consistent and long-standing underperformance should long ago have been a wake-up to Tim Hortons' board and management," New York-based shareholder Scout Capital Management said in a letter to the company last month, according to Bloomberg. "We urge you to curtail the use of the company's cash flow to fund real estate or new-store capex in the US."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 1, 2013 05:17 PM
Things have been quiet on the JCPenney front for a few weeks as CEO Myron Ullman worked largely behind the scenes to gather some momentum for the brand heading into the crucial back-to-school season—and after the disastrous Ron Johnson era.
That changed this week, when investors reacted to a report of a financial squeeze on JCPenney suppliers and final arguments were made in the company's defense, along with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, against Macy's.
JCPenney stock was recovering on Thursday after it denied a report from a day earlier that a leading financier of key JCPenney vendors had stopped supporting deliveries from smaller manufacturers to JCPenney stores. CIT, the lender, is a "factor," meaning it advances funds to suppliers for a cut of the eventual proceeds from the retailer. If vendors believed that JCPenney's finances and ability to pay were getting shakier, they could halt some shipments.Continue reading...
Posted by Ben Berkon on July 24, 2013 12:43 PM
Apple’s comparatively diminutive third quarter earnings might have exceeded market expectations, but the announcement also solidified Samsung’s place as the worldwide smartphone king. Apple reported sales of $35.3 billion and a profit of $6.9 billion, down 35 percent and 46 percent, respectively, since the first quarter. In fact, Samsung earned $1.43 billion more in profit last quarter than Apple.
The mounting issue in Apple-land is that the company has failed to truly release a new, innovative product since the iPad. While iPhone sales jumped 20 percent to 31.2 million, the company's most popular product continues to be one of the most expensive smartphones on the market—posing a great opportunity for competitors like Samsung, BlackBerry and Nokia to tout their similar products and more cost-efficient models.
To Apple’s credit, the company has attempted to expand its brand into new realms. The debut of iTunes Radio, for instance, could give cornerstones Spotify and Pandora a run for their money. But perhaps the most interesting addition was hiring fashion guru Paul Deneve as a chief-level “special projects” officer. The assumption is that Deneve will lead Apple’s charge into wearable technology, most notably with the rumored iWatch
But radio and a watch might not be enough to save the once indestructible brand.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 23, 2013 12:15 PM
Lonely Planet, the world’s largest publisher of travel guides recently laid off several dozen top editors and publishing staff from its Australian headquarters in a move that has caused further speculation about the brand's future—and the very future of travel and guide books altogether.
“It’s like a plane hitting the building,” said a long-term Lonely Planet author, Forbes reports. With the departures goes a large bank of institutional knowlege—a benchmark of the brand.
Since the the BBC sold the brand to NC2 Media in March, morale has been low. The company, which got its start in the 1970s, is a sitting duck at the crossroads of print and digital. “With this acquisition comes a global footprint, not only in the travel guide business, but also in magazine publishing and the digital space,” said a hopeful Daniel Houghton, NC2's executive director and Lonely Planet's COO at the time of the sale.
“The challenge and promise before us is to marry the world’s greatest travel information and guidebook company with the limitless potential of 21st century digital technology. If we can do this, and I believe we can, we can build a business that, while remaining true to the things that made Lonely Planet great in the past, promises to make it even greater in the future.”Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 19, 2013 03:17 PM
The brand-consumer landscape is strewn with broken promises—a bumpy road that leads to customer dissatisfaction and ultimately brand defection, according to a recent Broken Promises Survey by Accenture.
A substantial and growing number of consumers have experienced multiple broken promises from companies, 40 percent at least once and 62 percent multiple times.
“Our research found that the broken promises most commonly cited by consumers are: no hidden fees or costs; on-time delivery; and ensuring that there are no service interruptions or problems,” Dawn Palmer, managing director in Accenture’s Sales & Customer Services practice told brandchannel. “Also, when we asked consumers why they felt the promises were broken, the biggest reasons they cited are that they had to repeat their issue multiple times to different customer service representatives and that they dealt with a customer service representative who was lacking in knowledge. These frustrations ranked high across most industries.”Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 11, 2013 06:33 PM
Procter & Gamble's financial realities aren't very encouraging these days, so the Cincinnati-based CPG giant is doing what it can in another important arena: branding and marketing.
The company is expanding its new corporate campaign called "The Everyday Effect" that highlights the practical yet spirit-lifting values of its products and brands. It launched in January and has been taking in every exercise and outlet from online video ads to TV spots; a big sampling day in New York City last month; and even an online, three-minute documentary called "Swiffer Effect" (watch below) about how the brand's products make life easier for the elderly.
"We're featuring how each of our individual brands has a positive effect on people every day, whether that be a great night of overnight sleep for Pampers or helping their kids brush their teeth so they have a great day at school," Marc Pritchard, global brand building officer, told Ad Age. One major goal of the effort is to promote cross-brand trial.Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on July 10, 2013 05:42 PM
On the heels of its Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is likely to announce a major restructuring on July 11 "around services—or software—and devices, both in the consumer and business sectors," according to AllThingsD. However, it is "not clear how the new organization will enable Microsoft to move faster at innovation, especially against more nimble rivals such as Google." An "insider" warned, "If this is all about an org chart and not how to build great products, it does not matter what org chart Ballmer presents. Consumers buy products, not a management structure."
This raises a disturbing question: Is Steve Ballmer simply moving the proverbial deck chairs around on the Titanic? When one looks at Microsoft's history of lukewarm if not downright disappointing products, it does at times appear that the software giant is about to sink rather than swim.
It may in fact be a systemic problem. Microsoft has long been a company known as much by the company it keeps, relying on mostly hardware partners to, in effect, resell its software. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, "Microsoft keeps hitching its fortunes to lame horses." The company has long dominatd the PC market with its software, however the resurgence of Mac and other operating systems has moved the market in a different direction. "For its long-term health, Microsoft needs to find success selling software for the most popular types of computers. That means smartphones and, increasingly, tablets. It's difficulty doing that, or attracting partners that aren't in desperate need of their own help, bodes ill for its future."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 10, 2013 10:41 AM
Often a bellwether, California is playing a key role again in a brewing food-safety controversy involving PepsiCo and the alleged carcinogen that helps give colas their caramel color.
PepsiCo recently reformulated its colas sold in California to comply with provisions of the 27-year-old Proposition 65, which requires food and beverage companies to warn consumers about potential toxins in their products. It did so after an Oakland-based group called Center for Environmental Health (CEH) last year helped prod both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola to pledge to remove the chemical in question, known as 4-MEI for short.
Testing this year by CEH revealed that Coca-Cola, as promised, had reformulated its drinks across the United States in order to eliminate or minimize MEI. But Pepsi had only taken care of California, where it was in apparent violation of Proposition 65.Continue reading...