Category Archives: Channel Management

Get Ready for Google Air Force. Strategy Makes Sense Even if Planes Don’t Fly.

Self-driving cars. Computer glasses. And now, solar-powered, jet-sized drones.

Photo: Titan Aerospace.

Photo: Titan Aerospace.

Last week, Google acquired two-year-old start-up Titan Aerospace, apparently outbidding Facebook for the company.  What the heck is Google doing?

For starters, Google’s management team hasn’t lost its marbles or fallen down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole.  The Titan purchase is part of a smart, sophisticated business and marketing strategy that has technology as a key enabler. Continue reading

Razor Battle is On! 800Razors.com Challenges Dollar Shave Club and Gillette.

Photo:  800Razors Facebook.

Photo: 800Razors.com Facebook.

At first glance, it would be easy to conclude that 800Razors.com is just a Dollar Shave Club copycat in the nearly $2 billion razor cartridge category.

But that would be wrong.

Let’s quickly set the stage for this discussion.

Category leader Gillette built a strong business via a decades-long, continuing series of product innovations that support a premium-price strategy.  They kept some of the older models as part of a tiered product/pricing assortment for consumers.

An opening existed for a competitor to deliver a high-quality blade at much lower cost, and it came via a new business model.  Dollar Shave Club (DSC) emerged as a disruptive player in 2011/2012, getting wide notice with a wacky video featuring its founder.  Its online, recurring monthly sales model (“club”) took dead aim at the category giants selling through traditional retail channels.

Photo:  Dollar Shave Club website.

Photo: Dollar Shave Club website.

Then, in 2013, 800Razors.com joined the fray, building off the DSC approach while incorporating significant go-to-market differences:

Photo:  800Razors.com Facebook.

Photo: 800Razors.com Facebook.

  1. Buy Only When You Want.  800Razors allows single purchase. Dollar Shave Club does not.  It’s an important difference because it removes a potential obstacle to trial.  For example, I’ve thought about trying DSC but didn’t want to sign-up for regular monthly deliveries. Continue reading

Creative Product Distribution Brings Hope of Clean Water: Inventor Dean Kamen Connects with Coca-Cola

First I tried the international medical companies and even the U.N., but they weren’t the right fit for the product. Then it occurred to me that there’s only one organization that can get a product to any village in the world: Coca-Cola.  Dean Kamen in Fortune interview.

Dean Kamen & Slingshot water purification machine. Photo: www.coca-colacompany.com

Dean Kamen & Slingshot water purification machine. Photo: http://www.coca-colacompany.com

Where do good ideas come from?

Inventor Dean Kamen wanted to bring his water purification system to the people who need it the most in the developing world.

He found that a traditional analysis of product distribution partners did not generate the solution he desired.  Only when he turned the challenge on its head and looked at it differently, did the right outcome emerge.

Kamen needed an entity that already operated in the remote geographies he wanted to reach, and he wasn’t deterred that such a company didn’t neatly fit the definition of a small machine distributor.

By broadening the process by which he assessed his options – to think about capabilities instead of company description – Kamen and his team came up with an unlikely answer: soft drinks giant Coca-Cola!

“In a partnership with Coca-Cola, Kamen’s firm DEKA Research and Development will bring Slingshot to communities in need of clean water in rural parts of Latin America and Africa.”

Headline

There are no easy answers to difficult business problems.  But sometimes, if you start with the end-game in mind, you might discover a clever, if not crazy, solution.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success. Contact him at hchimoff at gmail dot com.

The Brand Management-Retail Management Battle at Sears

Photo: Craftsman.

Did you ever think you’d buy Craftsman tools at Costco?

Sears has been the exclusive home for Craftsman since 1927, with the highly regarded brand and Sears distribution channel forming a self-contained sales and marketing system.  No more. Continue reading