Motivation to compete: Understanding and overcoming the demotivating effect of competing with more people
Competitions are widely used by businesses and nonprofit organizations to enhance customer engagement and foster interactions among consumers. But how can consumers be effectively motivated to participate in competitions that are large (vs. small) in size? Five studies involving a variety of competitive contexts show that, holding the objective likelihood of winning and competition prize constant, consumers tend to perceive a lower likelihood of winning and a smaller prize magnitude when the competition is larger in size. These differences in perceived likelihood of winning and perceived magnitude of competition prize can jointly impact consumers’ participation in competitive situations (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2). Moreover, presenting information that enhances perceptions of winning likelihoods (Study 3) or prize magnitudes (Study 4) can remedy the negative impact of a larger competition size on participation levels. The studies also show that the underlying roles of perceived likelihood of winning and perceived prize magnitude are distinct from the role of social comparison. Overall, these findings add to consumer psychology theories and offer actionable managerial insights.
Artificial Intelligence for Customer Engagement: Building a Permission-based Ecommerce Ecosystem at CXsphere
CXsphere, a startup in the permission-based ecommerce ecosystem space, had gained initial success with the launch of its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven customer engagement product. It had several clients and was generating recurring revenues. AI driven data analytics was a new industry and CXsphere had a unique business model: It leveraged AI on the demand side, providing customer insights to major consumer product firms. It leveraged big data systems on the supply side, offering permission-based opportunity to individual consumers to monetize their social media, e-commerce and other digital footprint. CXsphere had raised a bridge round of funding and hoped to be cash positive and to have raised Series A funding in the coming years. To successfully raise funding at the desired price, CXspere needed to take on several major challenges. These included (1) rapidly growing its business, (2) setting CXsphere on the path to becoming a global brand, (3) continuing with its strategy of frugal innovation, (4) staying ahead of its key competitors by more effectively (4a) getting consent from consumers to use their data and how to do this at scale, (4b) providing better AI-based customer engagement / personalization services in a cheaper and faster way, and (4c) growing its ecosystem and connecting more individual consumers to more brands and firms.
AZULIK Universe: A Magical Mix of Art, Sustainability and Community Engagement for a Luxury Brand
The case describes the hospitality brand Azulik which offers a unique luxury experience based on a set of contemporary values that resonate with the most demanding international consumers: connecting to art, nature and local communities. In the process of building the resort, a series of brands were created to fill the various needs of the guests staying at Azulik—restaurants, bar, spa, shops, museum… Vadim Grigoryan, the marketing consultant to Azulik, has been tasked to bring order to the portfolio of independent brands created, as managing the portfolio is expensive and inefficient, while at the same time failing to exploit the potential synergies that can be realized through a thoughtful brand architecture to create a clear, differentiated, and powerful offering to customers. The case puts students/participants in Vadim’s shoes and requires them to decode the Azulik brand and articulate the key values underpinning the brand’s identity, decide what role each of the independent brands should play, and whether and how these independent brands need to be connected to the Azulik master brand. The case thus offers the opportunity to understand all the decisions necessary in creating a powerful brand architecture as well as the frameworks to do so.
English Tea Shop Organic: Competitive Advantage through Sustainable Solutions
The case describes how the English Tea Shop Organic (ETS) brand has created a sustainable ecosystem ensuring the growth of supplier livelihood and the company’s competitiveness in the branded tea space. In 2021, they embarked on their second ten-year plan, which included their transformation into a sustainable, employee-owned business that promoted its brand as purpose – by 2022, 30% of the company was employee owned. The case addresses the challenges ETS faces in building and scaling its brand by attracting the mindful consumer to its organic tea offerings while helping farmers become organic, grow tea more productively, and earn a sustainable living. The case looks at the different options open to them: geographic options; developing its gifting offering that represents 71% of its revenues or focusing on regular in-home consumption; enter adjacent categories; or explore B2B options, possibly in the HoReCA segment. ETS wanted to build its brand further around purpose but discovered that ‘doing good’ wasn’t enough to make people pay a premium price – how could they achieve this? They had developed a blockchain system that could be used to connect with their customers better. But how could they use this to spur growth?
Janani: The Rocky Road from Charity to Social Enterprise
Janani – an affiliate of the U.S.-based NGO, DKT International – offered reproductive health products and services to mostly low-income consumers from its base in Patna, Bihar. It had grown tremendously in the recent past, expanding its coverage from 8 to 25 states — almost the whole of India. Donor funding had been critical to Janani’s success, but donors were scaling back their funding in India as the economy improved and incomes increased. Janani still had three donors but funding from two of the bigger donors was expiring in 2020 and ongoing support was not assured. While Janani had made efforts to become a sustainable social enterprise, in 2019, 40 percent of Janani’s annual budget continued to be dependent on donor funding. Janani needed to figure out how to become a self-sustained organization by embracing market opportunities and achieving its mission of improving the reproductive health of lower- and lower-middle-income consumers in India.
Social Issue Based Brand Transformation: Strategies of the Luxury Beauty Brand SK-II
SK-II, a leading luxury beauty brand in Japan, was experiencing a decline. Its customers were aggressively courted by rivals, and changes in society made it difficult for the brand to stay compelling to its customers. SK-II must formulate a new strategy to fundamentally transform itself, bolster relevance and transcend the competition. The case describes the market landscape, economic, societal and technological changes, as well as SK-II’s prior strategies and their implementation. In developing the new strategy, the brand needs to decide:
- whether and how it should speak to social issues such as gender equality and incorporate those issues into its brand purpose;
- how digital technologies should be effectively integrated into every aspect of the brand experience;
- how it should synergistically leverage social media, metaverse and other media platforms; and
- how it should work with established celebrities as well as emerging influencers to create a prestigious and yet engaging brand image.
The brand needs to thoroughly assess the pros and cons associated with the potential options, craft its strategy and develop a detailed implementation plan.
Dilmah Ceylon Tea: Committed to Taste, Goodness and Purpose
The case describes the story of Sri Lanka based Dilmah Ceylon Tea, a company founded in 1988 by Merrill J. Fernando. The company had pioneered the concept of ‘single-origin tea’ to its latest innovative Elixir range. The premium positioned tea was ‘picked, perfected and packed’ at origin with a brand based on three pillars: taste, goodness, and purpose. Present in over 105 countries, it had become one of the most well-known Sri Lankan brands worldwide. The group invested a minimum 15% of its pre-tax profits in humanitarian and environmental initiatives through the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation and Sustainability Unit (DCSU). However, the tea business was becoming increasingly competitive with the largest player, Unilever, about to sell its tea portfolio. The current CEO, Dilhan Fernando, needed to address several key questions, in this context: How could the Dilmah Ceylon Tea brand ensure the margins necessary to thrive and grow? Which customer segments and geographies should it focus on? Could it potentially leverage its investments in humanitarian and environmental initiatives to achieve better margins and
How Xiaomi Became an Internet of Things Powerhouse
When Xiaomi entered the fiercely competitive smartphone market in 2010, it did so without even offering a real phone. The company only offered a free Android-based operating system (OS). Yet, within seven years, Xiaomi became one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, reaching $15 billion in revenue. Accelerating its growth rate, Xiaomi transformed into the world’s largest consumer IoT (Internet of Things) firm by 2020, with its revenue surpassing $37 billion and more than 210 million IoT devices (excluding smartphones and laptops) sold across more than 90 countries.
How was Xiaomi able to grow so explosively and what lessons can other companies learn from Xiaomi’s rise?
Marketing Mania Talks: Episode 2–Talk with Amitava Chattopadhyay
Marketing Mania series talking to business leaders, marketing gurus, trend setters, experts in different areas of practice and knowledge.
Kolo Nafaso from a researcher’s perspective – highlights from Amitava Chattopadhyay
It’s been a long-standing interest of mine to understand how businesses can be a force for good. That desire stemmed from a conversation with a former classmate, a pioneer in social innovation, who cogently argued that there simply wasn’t enough money in the form of charitable giving to alleviate poverty on a global scale. Thus, the best way forward was for business to invest behind social innovation, also referred to as sustainability.
Kolo Nafaso – a new way of doing business in shea.
I was invited to give a talk at the executive committee meeting of AAK held in Singapore, in early 2018. In my conversations with senior sourcing representatives of AAK, I learned about the Kolo Nafaso programme and wanted to understand more deeply what AAK was doing in terms of creating a sustainable supply chain, working directly with the women from small-holder families in rural West Africa, who collected the shea kernels, the first link in the shea supply chain. My goal for learning more was threefold. First, there was my personal curiosity, the Kolo Nafaso programme seemed to be an interesting and meaningful initiative, that could impact poverty alleviation at scale. Second, I teach a class on strategies for social impact and profit, and this seemed to be an interesting example of just that, and I wanted to write a case study that I could use in my course. The third was that innovations like Kolo Nafaso pose challenges, since they require the balancing of two motivations: profit and social impact. They also require managing the differences in perspective across functions, within the organization. This hasn’t been studied in the management literature, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to the discussion of how to manage the balance by learning from the experience of AAK.