Wednesday, September 30, 2009

iPhone wars ahead?

Interesting to see that Apple are ending their exclusive distribution deal with O2 for the iPhone in the UK. This week Apple have announced that the iPhone will be available on both the Orange and Vodafone networks.

For the last two years the exclusive deal has meant that pricing of the handset could be controlled and maintained at a premium level. It will be interesting to see if that continues once there is competition in the market - customers will have more choice of network offers with more variety of the bundles of minutes and texts available to them. Will the outcome be that prices will go down?

In terms of distribution strategy this is a significant change for the iPhone. O2 are saying that they always knew the deal was not necessarily exclusive long term, but there is no doubt that they have benefited through the sale of 1.5 million handsets and the associated income from the contracts which accompany them. Some commentators have made the point that the O2 network has struggled to cope with the amount of data which iPhone users have consumed - more than predicted apparently - so the move to more operators will spread this.

So far, I haven't seen any information about the situation regarding retailers of the handset - to date it has only been available directly from Apple, through O2 stores or Carphone Warehouse. If that changes it will certainly put further pressure on price - witness the heavy price promotion tactics of some retailers.

An interesting one to watch over the coming months.

Monday, September 21, 2009

No such thing as bad publicity?

As an avid fan of motorsport I have been following the recent investigation into alleged cheating by the Renault F1 team. Whilst there are many issues at stake in this, not all of which are as logical as the FIA as governing body of Formula One would like us to believe, one thing which is definitely at stake is the reputation of Renault.

I have read many people question why an organisation such as Renault should be involved in F1 - does a manufacturer of family cars benefit from association with F1? The link for Ferrari is reasonably obvious - supercars are perceived to have a lot more in common with race cars than a small hatchback. Renault, having been involved in F1 for many years on and off presumably understand the benefits they receive and weigh these up against the costs.

However, the allegations of cheating have potentially given the impression that Renault are not to be trusted, hence the title of this post - has the very large investment Renault have made to gain a reputation for technical exellence with a wide potential customer base could actually mean they are gaining bad publicity, at a high cost both in terms of the team ownership and loss of reputation.

Time will tell if Renault think this makes the sport less attractive to them, certainly the CEO of Renault - Carlos Ghosn - is known to not be a fan of motorsport, but has recognised the benefits to the organisation. Maybe the publicity and ruling from the FIA giving a suspended ban will change his mind over the benefits. There are lessons all organsiations can learn from this in terms of Managing Corporate Reputation - co-incidentally the title of one of the CIM Chartered Post-Graduate Diploma units - and how the actions of employees at all levels can make a difference to the organisation.

There are many links to this story, one of which is from BBC Sport and another from the FT

Monday, September 7, 2009

CIM Postgraduate Diploma - Emerging Themes

I have just returned from a trip to Kiev to teach the Emerging Themes Postgraduate unit at the International Institute of Business. This was my first delivery of any of the new syllabus CIM qualifications, I will be starting the CIM Professional Diploma in addition to the Chartered Post Graduate Diploma shortly in the UK at our usual centre in Leeds.

In addition to the usual cultural differences between Ukraine and the UK it was fascinating to get into discussions with the students about what constitutes an emerging theme, and which are "emerged". In some instances issues are emerging in the Ukrainian market which have already emerged elsewhere - one student who is involved in tobacco was talking about increases in tax levels and a removal of the ability to promote tobacco products (well past being an emerged theme for tobacco companies UK operations) which are rapidly changing the way she can operate.

A major issue, however, is whether the current financial situation is an emerging theme. My own view is that it is not "emerging" - it is here and we know about it. Within the situation, however, themes which specifically impact on specific sectors are emerging and changing the way organisations need to operate in the future. These themes include exchange rates, the current very low interest rates and, as a side effect of other issues, a degree of national protectionism.

For those taking the CIM qualification I will be clarifying the definition the Senior Examiner is placing on "Emerging Themes", however, for marketers it is as essential to consider what may happen in the future with issues which are emerging now, and may be important later as it is to respond to the now. I am reminded of the quote from James Goldsmith - "If you see a bandwagon, it's too late"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

International Emerging Themes

I am off to Kiev tomorrow to teach the Emerging Themes unit from the new CIM Chartered Postgraduate Diploma syllabus at the International Institute of Business. I am hoping for a really interesting weekend with lots of discussions with students about the emerging issues which are affecting them - it will be interesting to compare them with those which come out in discussions with SPA Professional Academy students in a couple of weeks when we start our own CIM Postgraduate course with this unit.

This is my fifth year of teaching in Kiev - it is certainly noticeable how the promotional activity has changed there even in that time, and the way my students have changed along with that. I may not see things in the same way as the locals who are on the course but it will be interesting to see what the main areas they consider are. That will depend upon the sectors they work in and I haven't got information on this yet.

I'll report back on my return.

Race for Success

I've been at the CIM Race for Success events over the last three days, Manchester on Tuesday, Durham on Wednesday and Sheffield today. I had some interesting conversations with prospective students and it is really encouraging to see how many people see the value of the CIM qualifications.

There were recruitment consultants at the events and it was good to hear that they are seeing an increase in the numbers of marketing jobs available, hopefully a sign that the economy is turning the corner and organisations are recognising the value of employing marketers to help them with the upturn.

For anyone that visited the events and would like more information about our courses have a look at our website - - for full details.