Tag Archives: disruption

Aperol Spritz Effect: 5 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Negroni

I am more Negroni than Aperol Spritz guy, so here I am enjoying the poison of my choice in the birthplace of the drink: Florence.

Besides the unprecedented heatwave across the world, there is method to current Aperol Spritz* madness. Recent New York Times article highlights on how Campari (owner of Aperol –brand) has been smartly devising a marketing plan and actions that have made Aperol Spritz the go-to drink of the Summer. Below are five tips on how you can make your brand stand out the same way as Aperol Spritz:

  1. Ride the trends (both big & small)

Bigger trend in US is that people are gravitating towards low-alcoholic (or even non-alcoholic) drinks. Aperol Spritz has alcohol content slightly under 10% (of course depending on your mix) that makes it less that your glass of wine but still gives you nice summer buzz.

That trend towards low-alcohol drinks is already mainstream.

For other important trend, you need to dig deeper to current cocktail culture. Americans are starting to appreciate more bitter tastes in their alcohol. That change is driven by Cocktail bars. Progressive bartenders have been using more Amaros (herbal liqueurs mostly from Italy, but recently more and more also from States) in their cocktails and shots of Fernet-Branca have almost become the secret handshake for bartenders. Elevated taste towards bitters has also increased interest to Negroni (my go-to-cocktail of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) that Campari has been capitalizing as well on smaller scale with strategic partnerships with bars.

  1. Have distinctive look and feel

The strongest asset of Aperol is the distinctive color (only rivaled by Campari from the same parent company). When person is drinking Aperol Spritz, you immediately recognize the drink. It is characteristically Aperol and it serves as cue that simplifies your selection. It also helps that you have the brand name in the drink: beer or wine can be anything but there is only one Aperol Spritz.

You cannot deny Aperol old Italian tradition. Aperol was invented already in 1919, although it became popular only after World War II. That history brings credibility to the product.

  1. Own the occasion

Campari has made deliberate push to make Aperol Spritz the drink of summer. They have partnered with popular summer hangouts and events concentrating their media push and visibility to those occasions as well. It is easier to own one season than all the seasons; one day instead of every day or create your own small moment instead of trying to carve a part of bigger moment. Campari has been successfully doing it this also with Negroni Week,  event in June, where various bars are doing their Negroni variations and part of the sales go to charity.

  1. Get the product to the people

In the previously mentioned events and hangouts Aperol spritz has also been handed for free. The biggest hurdle with any product is to get it to the hands of the consumers and sometimes it might be worthwhile investment to give the first pop for free. When your product is distinctive and instantly recognizable, the social validation of people using the product starts to spread like wildfire. You can recognize that someone is drinking Aperol Spritz compared to standard glass of wine.

  1. Make it Instagram-worthy

Not only you need to have drink that tastes nice, it also needs to look nice in your Instagram-stores. Campari has been creating different Aperol-branded swag (wine glasses, straws, umbrellas, sunglasses, orange fans) that serve as good props for social media posts and encourage you to share. Photo with you and Aperol Spritz portrays classy but care-free attitude; perfect for Instagram.

Although there is a speculation that Aperol Spritz might be the gateway to Campari Spritz, I don´t see the current popularity of Aperol Spritz as a fad. It is build on solid product with rich history, understanding of the trends affecting category and smart focused marketing campaign.

*And for those who don´t know, Aperol Spritz is a drink with aperol, sparkling wine and dash of soda.

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Marginal Gains vs. Changing The Game

“The difference between stupid and genius is that genius has its limits”
– Albert Einstein

We have limits as humans.

Luckily we have not yet reached them in majority of things. But for example, baseball pitcher cannot throw faster than 100 MPH. Although pitcher could get stronger, his tendons and ligaments would just snap throwing it faster.

Throwing the baseball is one aspect of baseball, so that is why there will be plenty of evolution in the baseball. Scientists have calculated that even in other sports the pace of development has slowed down and we are approaching the limits. Actually in some sports like long jump we are getting worse.

Being an optimist, I take there is a still lot to improve for us in humans: whether in sports or in life in general (I don´t know why anyone would make a separation between those two). These developments will happen by either tweaking the small details or reshaping the big picture:

 1. Aggregation of marginal gains

aggregationofmarginalgains
“The marginal gains philosophy requires you to look at every single aspect of what you do so you can try and improve it. It looks at every aspect of performance, and tries to improve each a little bit— even just a tenth of a percent . If you find a training technique that makes an athlete that tiny bit stronger , it alone might not have a huge effect on a race. But if you can stack those very small improvements on one another, finding a bit in tires and a bit in the wheels and a bit on the track surface and a bit in nutrition supplements— well, soon those marginal gains begin to add up to big gaps between you and your competition.”
Dave Brailsford on aggregation of marginal gains

Dave Brailsford started as the general manager for Team Sky (Great Britain´s professional cycling team) in 2010. He had the concept laid down in the quote above: if you improve every area related to cycling by just a little bit (most commonly is used 1 percent), then those small gains would eventually add up to bigger improvement. These improvements ranged from the obvious (training, nutrition) to more surprising (every cyclist had their own pillows when they are travelling). The results were outstanding. Brailsford was wrong in believing that Team Sky could win Tour De France in five years. They did it in three.

This works when the competitive field is already mature. Cycling itself is quite established sports, so there is not necessary that much innovation (doping excluded) to be done.

The difference nowadays between agencies is not in the actual ideas, but in the craft. Similar ideas have gotten totally different reception in marketplace and also in award shows. When we essentially are doing the same things, the difference comes in small details.

Has our industry then just become minor improvements and tweaking in quite predictable playing field?
Not necessarily.

2. Disruptive leaps

Disruptive thinking has radically altered the sports. Quite often the change is driven by technology, but sometimes it is also about the different way to approach the challenge in sports.

a) Technology disruption
golfevolution
“I think the players, I put in the book for example that we should go back to wood rackets, probably they laughed at me, I’m a dinosaur, but I think that you see these great players, have even more variety and you see more strategy, there’d be more subtlety.”
John McEnroe (last player to win major tournament with wooden racket)

Technology has played huge role in certain sports, especially in golf driving distance. We are not talking about marginal gains in here; these technologies have truly revolutionized the sports.

Internet has changed the whole ball game in our industry. Either you have digital capabilities, or you are like a guy trying to play with wooden racquet in tennis court. Not only you look stupid, you will also certainly lose.

b) Approach disruption
vstyle
I adapted an antiquated style and modernized it to something that was efficient. I didn’t know anyone else in the world would be able to use it and I never imagined it would revolutionize the event.
Dick Fosbury (inventor of Fosbury Flop)

Not always you need a technological breakthrough to change the game. V-style jump in ski-jump or Fosbury flop in high jump are examples when smart individuals outsmarted the competition. They looked the problem from a different angle and found a totally new and more effective way to solve it.

Currently every agency is jumping with the old style, where the room for innovation is limited. When the playing field is the same for everyone, the only way you can win is to search for marginal gains. I truly believe that we could approach our business truly differently and take the whole agency business model to the new heights. It is time to rethink the whole jump.

(Full disclosure: These sports anecdotes were mostly lifted from the great book I just read. The book is done by Mark Mucclusky and is called “Faster, Higher, Stronger. Highly recommended reading)

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Asia is Driving Innovation

Unfortunately there is still almost colonial attitude towards emerging markets in the western countries (especially US and Europe). When dealing with people who are not living and working this region, the knowledge of the development and innovation happening in here is still quite modest. Everyone recognizes the business potential, but they think that it is just some void, which can be filled with western products.

They could not be more wrong.

Micromax is biggest phone manufacturer in India.

Xiaomi is the world´s third biggest phone manufacturer and China´s biggest.

Alibaba is worth more than Amazon and Ebay combined.

There are two prevalent myths, which are just wrong. Other is that all the Asian brands are just copying western brands and doing it cheaper. Other is that their whole success is based on the big local markets. These myths are not the whole picture:

1. Asian brands are not just cheap copycats.

Micromax has cheap phones that is true. They also have a solar powered phone. I think that is quite cool. Xiaomi admittedly copies Apple with pride, but it has also totally disrupted the way to sell the phones. Innovation takes different forms in the Asia that is certain, but identifying all the brands as either copycats or cost cutters is dangerous simplification. Price is a big issue in all the markets and many Asian tech innovations have been able to do things more cheaply which is appreciated also by western consumers.

2. They are not popular because they are local, but because they understand local consumer.

One of the main push for Line & WeChat for their popularity, was the addition of stickers. As the script language is slower to type with your mobile, the emojis on steroids enable you to communicate faster and convey more emotion. Facebook messenger has definitely taken some cues from WeChat and Line in its position. Flipkart & Alibaba have understood the delivery dynamics on their respective countries better than Amazon and therefore are now kicking Amazon´s ass.

No matter where you are, you should have eye on Asia. Not only because the region is growing, but also because the next big innovation is coming from (around) here.

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Skiplagged Sends Airlines to Hell

This week seems to be all about airlines and flight industry.

From Skiplagged website:

Update: Dec 30, Skiplagged is facing significantly higher than normal traffic. Please try again later if you encounter any issues–you will be amazed. Thanks.

The odds that you had heard about Skiplagged before Orbitz & United Airlines sued them last November are quite slim. After that, their visitor count has skyrocketed through the roof. Sometimes all publicity is good publicity.

Lesson #1: Getting sued is a great way for free promotion

Skiplagged effectively helps you to find cheap flights by using “hidden city ticketing”. The direct flight from Singapore to Helsinki can be more expensive than the flight from Singapore to Paris with stopover in Helsinki. Then you just hop over in Helsinki and just don´t use the last flight. This is only recommend to one-way flights because usually your ticket is cancelled afterwards. I have not (yet) tried out hidden-city ticketing, but I have done throwaway ticketing once. It just feels completely odd that if you want to travel one-way you have to pay double the price of return ticket. Actually when I did it, I did not even know that it was not approved. Aktarer Zaman, the founder of Skiplagged explains:

When you are searching for tickets, your market is just to go from this city to this city to this city. And you are shown a price. You are buying this flight when you are buying a ticket. So this is a service you are buying in. Consumers should have the right to partially use the services they buy.

I agree to most extend with the sentiment in here: when you buy something you should also decide not to use it. Not to mention that sometimes you are forced to not use the flights. There are certain arguments that using these loopholes in large scale might increase the costs of airline travel. It might also hurt smaller airline destinations as well. Eventually I feel it is quite fair game though. Airlines try to maximize the money out of us; meanwhile we are doing the opposite. In the bigger picture I think they are in better position to screw us over.

Lesson #2: Digital makes your business model eventually more transparent

Doing different airline booking ploys has been around longer than Skiplagged, but it naturally has done it faster and more effective. Exploiting these loopholes is definitely not illegal, but in can result in losing your loyalty program points. Based on the increased interest to Skiplagged and rising popularity of budget airlines this does not seem to be the a big concern for the majority of users. Consumers are not essentially stupid and millions of loyalty programs and cards have just led to more disloyalty. Also it has lead to increased focus on price especially with airlines.

I was just talking with one friend who mentioned that even with their corporate discounts with major commercial airline, it is still cheaper for the company to fly short-haul with budget airlines. And so they are doing. Consumers are doing the same. Flying has become so commoditized that you do not really care what airline you are flying if is deemed relatively safe.

Lesson #3: Price trumps the loyalty for the majority of consumers

After the lawsuit, Aktarer Zaman put up a crowdfunding-site up to cover up the upcoming legal bills. He has already raised over 60k. The response has been overwhelmingly positive for Skiplagged and quite vicious towards the airlines. One person donated $666 dollars and commented: “send them to hell”.

Lesson #4: People hate airlines

It is interesting to see how this will pan out, but again this a manifestation that no business is “safe” from digitalization. If there is a market fault, it is just easier and faster to point it out and also solve it digitally. That might create a totally new business as well. In the case of Skiplagged, it will be a zero-sum game. Either one will win. Time will tell will the Skiplagged send airlines to hell or will they sue Skiplagged to death.

Lesson #5: Always keep evolving

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How to Disrupt the Marketplace like Beyonce

“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it. I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
-Beyonce Knowles

Sometimes the best marketing is just let the product speak for itself. Just as the speculation for the albums of the year seemed to slow down, Beyonce dropped a bombshell. In this era of leaking albums way ahead their release dates, Beyonce actually was able to release her record “in a secret”. Last Friday morning without  advance single, marketing campaign, radio airplay or TV performances. That naturally was not a secret for long as every media jumped to cover that. What is also notable that the album is currently sold only as an album exclusively in iTunes. What can we learn from this approach?

1.    Reward your fans first
As the average life cycle of hit song is only weeks at best, who actually buys albums anymore? Who remembers that Harlem Shake happened this year? Beyonce is one of the few artists who still have a fan base big enough to move considerable amount . Why you should not treat your most loyal customers well and give them something they hold in high value? The approach has been successful: the album sold 430k units on one day. The rest can cherry-pick their songs later (see point 3)

2.    Good content is the best marketing
When you are superstar and you really believe in your music, it is only natural to believe that every song in that album is a potential single. The most-sold and most solid pop album ever Thriller was quite close to it: having seven of the nine songs as singles. Beyonce has done video out of every song of her new album (17). Actually some radio stations are currently having all the songs in rotation. Don´t be misunderstood though, this is not cheap way to do it. Although you save a little in media spend, having Hype Williams to produce your video is still costing you quite a much.

3.    You do not really need to disrupt everything, just one thing
What is really brilliant with Beyonce-approach is that it is rare instance when you can have the cake and actually eat it too. Beyonce just skipped the pre-launch PR & advertising bits. The download is album-exclusive only for a week. Then it is back to the usual: streaming services start, there will be singles from the album and I bet that Beyonce will not decline interview requests.

4.    Finding the right partner is crucial
Beyonce partnered with iTunes to make this happen, her husband Jay-Z partnered with Samsung to make other hyped album launch of the year. From the bigger artist perspective, the music business is increasingly more B2B than B2C:

5.    Understand what business you are in
So what is music business nowadays? It is not about selling albums or even singles. It is about creating experiences. This is obvious when analyzing how much the biggest artists get from touring. Experiences are not limited to real-life, but are happening more in digital. Before you made music video to promote the song. Now you do song to be able to do the YouTube-video.

To pull something like this out and with this effect, you need to be an artist of Beyonce-calibre (there is not that many) and also you have to be first to do it. Free publicity of the stunt is something you cannot duplicate. So this approach per se is not the future of music business. What is the future, that the money does not come from only music, it comes from the whole package.

Although for this week, we can try to believe that music album still matters like in 1980´s. The album is actually quite good, but naturally not the Thriller.

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