Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Rubbermaid lesson

Back in 2003, Fortune magazine published an historical look across nearly two decades of the publication's famous "Most Admired Companies" lists. Since 1983, the survey has tackled a difficult task -- ranking the 10 companies that have those qualities that other companies would practically kill to possess.

We here at Inside Market Research took a few moments to count up those few companies that appeared on the list at least seven times -- the very cream of the cream of the crop. Those companies and their number of appearances in 20 years are listed here for you:

Procter & Gamble..10
Johnson & Johnson..8
General Electric...7

Seeing the #3 company on this list -- Rubbermaid -- reminded me of an excellent speech that Dr. Anil Menon (then Associate Professor of Marketing at Emory University, and now IBM's VP of Marketing Strategy & Management) gave at the American Marketing Association's meeting in Atlanta in September 2001.

Menon had an uncanny way of boiling down corporate stories into memorable anecdotes. He asked us all, "What happened to Rubbermaid?" This company that was so respected through the mid-1990's eventually lost much of its traction in 1999 and 2000. (And since 2000, the stock has traded in a range that leaves it no better than 5 years ago.) Menon summarized the reason: Wal-Mart and similar stores came to Rubbermaid, pushing the company to update its inventory delivery and tracking system, so that sales could be managed more efficiently in the retailers' modern systems. Rubbermaid's response was basically, "We're Rubbermaid; don't tell us how to run our business." The retailers duly began to find other providers of similar housewares, to the substantial loss of Rubbermaid -- perhaps $4 billion in market capitalization.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I've created a radio station

Like dozens (hundreds, maybe?) of other music lovers each day, I have discovered and its partner service,

It's a revolutionary concept, in my opinion. Up until now, the music industry has "pushed" music at me, the listener, hoping to match their library to my tastes. And I've had to pay for it, either at the record store, or through legal streaming and downloading services like Rhapsody or the new Napster.

On the other hand, the software that powers Audioscrobbler and learns its users' musical tastes and can then play a personalized radio program to each listener. Better yet, you can tap into other users' actual playlists or their relationship-modeled "radio" program. It's free for the user, and the service is paying for the royalties, so it's all legal.

If you want to hear a radio feed of my "profiled" musical tastes, click the button in my "Music" sidebar over there. Go ahead, try it. (The model that generates a playlist isn't absolutely perfect, so don't send me comments asking, "Greg, do you really like MC Hammer?" Just because a song shows up on my radio station, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's a favorite of mine. It just means there's a probability that it's something I might like.)

August 10, 2005 and Audioscrobbler have re-released their software and sites. It looks like they're even more stylish and functional now, but on the other hand, our radio link is no longer working. Eventually, I'll be looking into this and trying to correct the problem. I don't think anybody was listening to my radio profile, anyway.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Back in business

I am sure that the dozens (if not hundreds) of you who read this blog have been wondering, "Where the heck are you?" Well, vacation in Virginia Beach was really special -- my first week-long vacation with exclusively my nuclear family (no parents or in-laws allowed on this one). And, of course, when one goes on vacation for a week, there is the inevitable backlog of items to be tended to at the office. Not much time for blogging when there's "real" work to be done.

Today, I am taking this 10-minute break from the CTAM conference in Philadelphia. I am using the Tribune Media Services business center at the conference to post this report. (How cool is that?)

Anyway, I should have some interesting things to say later about some of the speakers and roundtable discussions here at the cable industry's big trade show. For starters, this morning's keynote speaker, Shelly Lazarus, of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide was ... how should I say ... phenomenal. She talked about how companies that want to survive today need to fall in love with their customers, and the love will flow back (in dollars). One amazing but true point she made (and I'll paraphrase):

Back in the early days of television, on a given night, the three major networks were able to capture 80% of the households viewing television. Today, you need to tally the top 57 broadcast and cable channels to capture that same 80% share! It's a diverse world in today's media arena.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Two-Four Tuesday (v.6)

Last week's list of the "Top Five" American beers generated only 1 comment. Please take the time to comment, visitors! According to a 1997 beer market survey, the #2 beer was Bud Light (12% market share) and the #4 brew was Coors Light (7%).

Speaking of beer, it's summertime, and that also means golf. For the very best website on the fusion of beer and golf, you have to check out the Guzzler.

And now, on to today's game. We hope you'll play along!

I will post the "Top Five" items in a list, except that I'm leaving out the 2nd and the 4th items. Your mission -- comment with your guesses (or "answers", if you're that confident) as to what the missing items are. Don't cheat by looking up the info on the web -- just have fun and take your own guess. I'll give the correct answers the following Tuesday.

Top Five safety upgrades in automobiles that have saved the most American lives since 1960, according to a recent finding of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

1. Seat belts (168,524 lives)
2. ??
3. Better door locks (28,902 lives)
4. ????
5. Side-door beams (14,703 lives)

(Your hints are that #2 and #4 are close to the driver, but neither answer is the air bag -- introduced only in the 1990's, air bags haven't had enough time since 1960 to save more than 12,100 lives.)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Vacation is all I ever wanted!

I will be on vacation for the week of July 4th through 8th. So, "Inside Market Research" will also be taking a break.

I have plenty to talk about when I return, though -- still need to give you an update on the Media Survey symposium that was held in New York on June 20th, and I have some comments to make about "the Power of Us" concept, as well as continuing installments of your Two-Four Tuesdays!