Posts tagged ‘brands’

How Amazon drove $2.7 billion in incremental sales through clever user interface design

Jared Spool has written a fascinating story on about the importance of a single question that Amazon incorporated into its user interface design: “Was this review helpful to you?” At a stroke this meant the reviews users saw weren’t simply arranged in chronological order, but in order of helpfulness. It’s also rather stunning to see what a small percentage of people bother to write or vote on the helpfulness of reviews. For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which sold over 4 million copies on Amazon, fewer than 3,300 people wrote reviews, which works out to about one out of every 1,300 people who purchased the book. The numbers get even smaller when you look at the number of people who vote on the helpfulness of reviews. In fact, the most helpful review got only 566 votes. 

Small though the numbers seem, according to Spool, “one out of every five customers decides to complete the purchase because of the strength of the reviews.” If you do the math, that works out to an extra $2.7 billion to Amazon’s bottom line.  

Agencies and clients alike should note the importance of customer reviews (both positive and negative) not only in the world of e-commerce, but in the world of branding. If you try to hide negative comments about your brand, you’re destined to wind up with the credibility of a Cuban election. When Castro gets 99.7% of the vote, we know something isn’t right. The same is true for your brand.


April 1, 2009 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

The Brand Companions Hypothesis: All media will be free for high-value consumers.

Now and again, I like to try to imagine how media are likely to change in the future. Today I was thinking about what I’ll call high-value consumers–people with a lot of disposable income who tend to purchase products with high margins. Is it possible that a group of brands (i.e., the consumer’s constant “brand companions”) will come together to “sponsor” the media consumption of such consumers so that they no longer have to pay for cable TV, internet access, satellite radio, etc?  What if, for example, BMW, Heineken, Whole Foods, British Airways, Exxon,  Apple and Costco pooled their consumer intelligence data and together ascertained that consumers of a certain profile were extremely likely to use all of their products? Would it not logically follow, then, that these brands would want to do whatever is necessary to ensure that they get a hammer lock on said consumers’ wallets? The best and most effective way to do this would be to block other advertisers out of their lives as much as possible. They could do it by picking up the tab for whatever media these consumers use, and for high-value consumers, the math could make sense. 

Of course, different groups of brands would emerge and align themselves with consumers of various profiles; that goes without saying. What bears some more thought, however, is how this kind of arrangement would change the advertising the consumers would see. If brands “own” consumers, will there less hard sell and more of a partnership between the brand and the consumer?  Will less advertising suffice? Perhaps only PBS-style announcements that “the following program is brought to you by your friends at BMW, Apple and Whole Foods” will be more than enough. Perhaps even more to the point, will your free cable TV get yanked away from you if you buy a Lexus instead of a BMW? It probably should.

Also, what will be the effect on consumers who aren’t part of these groups of high-value consumers that are rewarded with free media? Will they do whatever is necessary–including buying brands they can’t really afford–to reap the benefits enjoyed by others, or will some other system evolve to serve them?

I think this is a fascinating idea. Please let me know if I am alone.

March 23, 2009 at 1:20 am 2 comments

Brands strive for street cred and fall flat on their faces. Repeatedly.

Some of the most regrettable moments in advertising occur when brands attempt to demonstrate their street cred. This almost always ends badly because very few brands have any. has assembled nine of the most egregious offenders for your review and amusement. The link is worthwhile if only for the headline “Fruity Pebbles Goes ‘Urban’.” 

Allow me to summarize the lesson all advertisers must get through their skulls by borrowing a line from Martin Mull’s classic song, “Bernie Don’t Disco” (from the 1979 album Near Perfect/Perfect):

“Just be who you are, don’t try to be where it’s at.”

Amen, brother.

March 20, 2009 at 12:11 am Leave a comment


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