XBox Live

The marketing that goes behind the products that we consume today is beyond our every day knowledge. The time lines in which certain products are released, sequels to existing items, and the information that is leaked prior are all examples of the incredibly thought out process that leads to the success of the latest creations. The item that brought all of this to my attention was the latest release of the extra download to xbox 360’s game, Modern Warfare 2. This add on was titled the Stimulus Package. With this purchase you received 4 new levels to play on xbox live, in which you compete against other players from all around the world. Modern Warfare 2 is currently the highest selling of all xbox 360 games released to date. The Stimulus Package is a genius motive to grab new users, as well as entertain the current users and keep them coming back for more.

We see this type of strategy used quite frequently with consumer products. Often it is in the movies with sequels, or even with existing products such as the iPhone coming out with newer editions. In theory, its absolutely genius. When a company takes one of their already existing products, and simply ads on to it, they achieve three things. The first is that they save money by not having to put in research and development to a new product. The second and third reasons are what was stated previously, it grabs new users into the new and addicting trends, and it keeps the current users hooked on the line. With the example of the iPhone, the creators almost too perfectly “left out” traditional cell phone items such as video recording and picture messaging. What this did is it brought the original addicted iPhone users back to the store so that they could have these much desired features. Xbox did this with the Stimulus Package.

If you have ever played Modern Warfare 2, you likely know the level of addiction that the game is capable of achieving with its users. After hours-on-end of play, the game never loses its attraction. Appropriately named the Stimulus Package, the recent ad on does just that. It stimulates the users so that they don’t get bored with the game that is nearly impossible to get bored with. Priced at around $15 dollars for the download, Microsoft opened up a flood gate that is going to nothing but make them profits. Two of the four “new” levels, are from the previous Modern Warfare, so those two were at literally no cost to them. The time and development put into the creations of the two new levels is surely to be compensated by the profits the download will bring in. Microsoft has set themselves in the perfect direction for this product. They bought themselves more time to create a third Modern Warfare, and are doing nothing but rolling around and giggling like little children in their pile of money that the creators raked up.

Bravo, to Microsoft. They have succeeded in becoming a true example of what consumer behavior really is, and they have forecasted it, controlled it, and used it and abused it to their unbelievable benefit.

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Five Guys

I’ve never been so intrigued by a burger place than I was when I walked into Five Guys earlier today. The place is like a bee hive of employee’s, all scurrying around with their individual tasks that all seem so important. The atmosphere is one of a kind, and the whole establishment screams of its success. Nearly every other inch of each wall is proclaiming one of the accomplishments that “Five Guys” has obtained, and every side of the “que’s” are lined with their trusty Idaho Potato’s. Every table was occupied, and everyone seemed content. What can go into a burger place that really makes a difference, I mean, what makes this place better than McDonald’s? Can you really ever turn down the dollar menu? Five Guys has it figured out, and by observations, they have it pinned to a T.

Time, and time again, it has been proven that you CANNOT go wrong by focusing on your customer and giving them what THEY want. Five Guys has a step in the right direction in that department by giving their customers the choices in a list of what they can have on their burgers. I just looked it up on their webpage, in fact, and there is over 250,000 combinations that you could create from the never ending list of burger add-ons. Want a hand full of peanuts while you’re waiting in line? Go for it! And while you’re at it, no need to worry about the clean up, just throw your empty shells on the floor, there will be someone to buzz around and clean up after you! Pure genius! No one actually TRULY enjoys cleaning up after themselves, when there is someone that is willing to do it for you. There is even a subconscious fun factor to being able to be deviant and throw your empty shells on the ground, you feel a bit “naughty” for doing it. Anything to make the customer happy.

The atmosphere is created by an assortment of variables. The extremely well lit establishment drew my attention to the white and red color scheme, almost reminding me of the old diner’s you saw in the 50’s, or for us young folk, Johnny Rockets. Another thing that makes their customers SO happy is the abundance of food. You’ll never get shorted at Five Guys. When you order some of their famous Idaho Potato French Fries, its delivered to you in a styrofoam cup filled to the top, then placed in a paper bag with a few more fistfuls thrown in on top, just to ensure you have enough! Another clever thing about this is, you don’t feel bombarded by marketing when you leave the place. If you notice, there isn’t one “Five Guys” label on any of their stuff. They give you your food in a modest paper bag, and your burger in tin foil, and your fries in a cup. They don’t need to remind you of their name, their food speaks for itself, they know you’ll return. This is not to mention that all of that comes from a kitchen that you get to watch while your food is being made. Literally, you order, you pay, you watch your food be made until it is delivered into your hands. Perfection.

After reading up on it more, I have come to realize Five Guys secret behind all of this customer satisfaction. They utilize the business concept of a secret shopper. Their employee’s get rewarded for good service to their customers. This is made known to them very well, so they actually work hard to please customers and give them what they want, so that they can be rewarded. There are no losers! A happy employee makes a customer happy. Another act of ingeniousness on their part.

I believe Five Guys has it all figured out. They have defined their product, and focus on perfecting it. They know their customers, and they know what it takes to make their customers happy. What do you get from that equation? A restaurant that is sure to succeed.

Subliminal Miss Vickie’s

After a lot of discussion and examples, I have become very familiar with the advertising technique of subliminal advertising. My attention was drawn to this method by my Consumer Behavior professor Dr. Richard Feinberg recently. Since then I have found myself periodically examining packaging, and different forms of media for these acts of advertising genius. With this new realization, I stumbled upon a now obvious case of subliminal advertising.

When I was eating lunch the other day, I went to grab a bag of chips. Among the choices presented to me I chose the popular Miss Vickie’s Sea Salt & Vinegar chips shortly after glancing at the box of opportunities. While sitting down to enjoy my meal, a part of me began to wonder if there was a subconscious reason that I chose this product over the others. So I began to examine the packaging, when then it seemed so obvious. Across the upper portion of the bag is a depiction of something that closely resembles a woman’s blouse, even including a subtle bow cleverly placed at the center to draw attention. To drive the message home more clearly, the brand name is sized and oriented almost too perfectly so that the “V” of Miss Vickie’s is interestingly placed, to my best assumption, to illustrate the cleavage of a woman’s breast. An additional aspect to this work of subliminal persuasion, is the clever slogan more towards the lower portion of the bag, stating “All Natural”. This seems all too obvious for it to be a coincidence on Miss Vickie’s part.

Is it possible that I chose this bag of seemingly innocent chips over the others, not because of the great taste and quality of the product, but rather because I was subconsciously appealed to its sexual implications?

Brand’s and companies that utilize subliminal promotion have an upper hand on their competitors that forgo it. The human intellect is programmed from birth to be attracted to the notion of sex and everything that it entails. I can reasonably believe that if a survey were to be taken of consumers, that the majority of Miss Vickie’s customers tend to be of the male gender. This is not only due to the manifest of the woman’s anatomy, but also on account of the brand name being a woman’s name.

Subliminal advertising and marketing is near ingenious, and most definitely affects the decisions of its targets. If used properly, this method of persuasion can prove to be undeniably effective.

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Jimmy John’s

Jimmy John’s is a novelty to the food industry that has changed the typical college students expectations of a delivery service forever. Their slogan for “Freaky Fast Delivery” is followed through nearly every time, and has created a brand name for the company that is very trustworthy and ┬ábelievable by nearly all of their customers. It is reasonable for a customer to be disappointed in Jimmy John’s service if a delivery takes longer than 15 minutes. I once had them tell me they’d be there in 4 minutes; just long enough for me to gather my money, and walk down to the door only to see them waiting there, sandwich in hand.

I recently viewed a commercial for Jimmy John’s where a man was in an accident and was turned over and trapped in his car. Having ordered Jimmy John’s, their trustworthy delivery man showed up to the car window, man still trapped in side, and the employee delivers the clever line of, “Sorry I took so long, I got caught up behind an ambulance”. This tag line creates humor for the viewer by playing on the notion that emergency services are always quick to respond and be at your service, but Jimmy John’s is faster. For the consumer, this instills the expectation of having quick service no matter the situation. This ad is very effective because it reinforces the company’s value’s, and also uses classical conditioning to attract their customers. With their reliable delivery, you can expect to order and have the food there within a few minutes; just as the well known example of ringing a bell every time you’re about to feed a dog dinner does. The dog becomes so conditioned to the sound of the bell that whenever it rings their mouths begin to salivate because of the expectation of being fed.

Jimmy John’s is also associated with good customer service because of their broad menu choices and cheap prices. Their brand is very well trusted and it actually sets the bar for all of the other sandwich companies and delivery services. You’ll notice that many of Jimmy John’s locations are small, and this because they focus on delivery due to the fact that it takes you longer, and is more costly (because of time and expenses) for the customers to actually take the time to drive there and purchase something themselves, when they can just have it brought to them at their convenience. Even when you call their location, you are often quickly prompted with your name, address, and your typical order before you even have the chance to speak. More often than not, one can call, and have their order placed and on its way in less than a minute. Now thats customer service!

Jimmy John’s has this consumer sold, and I believe if they continue operating the way they have they will continue to strengthen their customer base, and thrive in the food delivery industry.

Apple iPad

I am no market analyst, a consumer behavior expert, or a huge technology buff, but I do have an opinion on Apple’s new product named the iPad. After watching the video’s on the Apple website, I have become very skeptical of this new introduction to Apple’s fine line of consumer products. The iPad simply seams unnecessary, and an impractical addition to the products that Apple already has to offer.

The reason I find it unnecessary is due to what the iPad does. Apple set out with a goal to create something that bridged the gap between their superior iPhone, and their variety of laptop and desktop computers. The iPad is set up to be useful in web browsing, as well as an increased picture and video experience, and can be for a wide range of eBooks that can be purchased in the iTunes store. And yes, of course you can purchase and listen to music, and even read your emails; would Apple really create something in which you couldn’t do those things? What I believe Apple has failed to realize is how few in their target market will find a need for this technological innovation that they have created. From an image standpoint, the iPad looks exactly like the iPhone, just bigger! It even appears to have the same user interface, just in a more spread out appearance. And just like the iPhone and iTouch you can still change the orientation from landscape to portrait simply by rotating it. It is said to start its pricing at around $499 dollars. It will be available for sale beginning in late March, followed by the 3G capable models some time in April. Mind you that if you decide to go with the 3G model you will find yourself paying a pricey monthly payment to AT&T for the service. Now who is it that will likely be purchasing this long awaited iPad? I find it hard to believe that the avid PC users will be purchasing this because they will find themselves being frustrated with an interface which they are not familiar with, so this leaves us with Apple’s large customer base to purchase the new product. I believe that this market will agree with me in finding it impractical for many reasons.

Strikingly Similar..

If the customer is someone that already owns a MacBook, or an iMac (Apple’s response to the desktop PC), they are likely very satisfied with the consumer friendly masterpieces. They do nearly everything that one could think of, and they do it with ease and perfection. Apple prides themselves on that, especially with their Pro line-up. I find it hard to believe that someone would turn in the use of their full keyboard, the ability to run and use programs, and the endless list of tasks that their computers accomplish, for the new clunkier version of the iPhone. For those who already have an iPhone, why would they buy a bigger version of it? Sure, it has a few more bells and whistles, but it still uses the same app store, you can still read eBooks, and you can still view photo’s and search the web and send emails right at your finger tips. Forget that you have that all in your mobile phone. Also with the iPad 3G, they can expect to tack on another ridiculous monthly fee to their already costly AT&T bill that they receive 12 times a year. In short, I believe Apple is trying to bridge a crater for their consumers that is likely easy for them to jump over.

With the iPad and Apple’s marketing scheme, one could also argue that Apple is knocking themselves in the process. They say that this new product is superior in its web browsing capabilities and with its video viewing. These are things that Apple has worked so long with to make perfect with their computers and their iPhone and iTouch! And if it is in fact superior on the iPad, why are they holding out on putting it on their computers so as to better satisfy their consumers in that market? Apple is stepping on their own feet in this area! Like I said, even though I am no market expert or consumer behavior analyst, I believe they will find this product to be one of their first major failures.