Category Archives: Opinion

Brands and Web 2.0: Brand Communities

Because of the discussion during the last class about how can you promote a brand via Web 2.0 and what kind of platform would you choose: Facebook or Twitter. But because the result of the discussion in class was that a mix between YouTube and Facebook could be the best solution to market a brand via social media.

Therefore I would like to have your opinion on brand communities. Which are communities in which “brand-fans” can get in touch with other fans of a certain brand. In this community they can share stories, idea’s and news about their brand but they can also give their thoughts about the mistakes and failures of their “favorite brand”. So a brand community has its pros and cons.

For example the Danish brand of LEGO saw that a huge chunk of their revenues (34 million Euro’s) didn’t came from the children of their parents but from creative adults that didn’t see LEGO as a toy but as creative building materials.

In 2005 LEGO created a very unusual and expensive LEGO product (at that time): the Imperial Star Destroyer:  It costed over 200 euro’s and existed out of 3104 pieces. So it hadn’t a good fit with their core target market: young children or their parents.

But it was sold-out worldwide within hours and it is among the most popular LEGO products of all time.


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How to make choosing easier

Consumers in recent days are always overloaded with too many products. Producers think this is the best option to keep customers satisfied. Despite the good intentions of producers, it only put more stress on costumers choices. Think about when you go to a shop overloaded with a wall of technically the same products, by only looking at it already makes you dizzy.

Ok, lets not only talk about buying or choosing products. Think for a second about how many choices you have to make within a day or a week. This is already keeping you occupied, let alone having to make choices to what pasta sauce to buy for dinner.

Over the past decades research shows that choice overload reduces:

1. Engagement

2. Decisions Quality

3. Satisfaction

A video by Sheena Iyengar: How to make choosing easier on the TED talks show gives some ideas how to help consumers in the choosing process. Also gives a indication how producers can present their products on the shelf.

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The Next Big Thing ?

It’s finally here. Mass customization, or the practice of offering consumers the ability to customize products to their liking before purchasing them, is poised to turn manufacturing on its head and revolutionize business. Hallelujah!

But haven’t we heard this before? Indeed, mass customization’s revolutionary impact was touted as the next big thing in 2000. And in 1993. And also in 1970. That’s right, as early as forty years ago, business thinkers were predicting the dawn of mass customization and extolling its paradigm-shifting impact on industry.

But according to a new report by Forrester, in 2011 we truly are on the verge of seeing mass customization arise and provide a viable alternative to the process of homogenized mass production that has been so prevalent since the days of Henry Ford. And we largely have the Web and related technologies to thank.

Previously, mass customization faced several obstacles to really becoming a viable option for businesses. Incomplete implementations, cost overruns and primitive digital interfaces all made it difficult for mass customization to work.

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Mass customization, is it an effective production method?

Since the period of Henry Ford’s car industry until late 90’s, product efficiency requires mass production. Companies were using labor divisions, standarisation and automated processes to create products in large quantities. Economies of scale insists emphasising on mass production since it reduces cost massively. Industries rely on mass production to minimise costs. One example of mass production in car industry is Ford model T.

Ford model T – The first car that was mass produced.

However, new technologies such as CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) are damaging the economy of mass production. Since both allow mass customisation towards the needs of customer. Mass customisation includes flexible production process to create goods and services that are intertwined with each customer. The future of manufacturing was actually started with mass customisation.

Mass customisation offers advantages for both customers and factories. Customers can get the product they want, based with their tastes and needs. For the factory, they create more customer satisfaction, at the same time, improve production efficiency. In some industries, mass customisation method may result in little or no inventory of finished goods or semi-finished, no expired products are full of dust on a shelf or showroom; and require less working capital.

However, there are several weaknesses of mass customisation that I found:

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Most innovative company 2011

As you can see at the link below, four out of the top 5 of the most innovative companies are internet companies or a company who has to deal with the internet and computers:

1. Apple
2. Twitter
3.  Facebook
4. Nissan
5. Groupon

For me it was obvious that Apple was placed on #1 and Facebook was in the top 5 as well. The most surprising company is Nissan. But after some research I found out that they focus on the new way of dealing with the environment: be as sustainable as possible. They still work with closed innovation, with their own knowledge. The other firms are more open innovators.

My post about the open innovation pitfalls stated that companies move towards open innovation. Obviously not all companies move towards open innovation, even though they want to meet the expectations of the customers.On one hand you can say Nissan is doing very good with their innovation, because they are placed number 4. On the other hand if you look at the sales within the Netherlands in 2011, they can not be found within the top 10 ( So this might rise the question: when you innovate as a firm, is it necessary to listen to your customers? Thus use a way of open innovation?

Online Safety & Co-Creation

Just a small paranthesis: if there is someone else out there that is a freak like me when it comes to purchasing things online 🙂 ..  you can never be too safe 🙂 …

Yes, I am a relatively late adopter of everything there is on the Internet, nor am I an enthusiast of creating my own things on-line even though I am starting to be more comfortable with the idea. And while we talk in class about designing your own shoes, and make your own T-shirt and Greeting Card etc. and  customization of all sorts  I’m thinking why do people need to do that? when there are designer and real creative people that will do it a million times better than us. For me the challenge is to find those people  🙂 ..(just a little thought)

Dark Side of Personalization

We have extensively talked about the advantages of offering personalized product recommendations to consumers. These recommendations increase consumers’ decision quality and save them a lot of effort. There are various approaches in personalized recommendation systems either based on past behavior or based on collaborative filtering techniques (see this article on different approaches of recommendation engines).

However, we have to take into account that sometimes personalized recommendations (especially when we passively receive them) feel quite invasive and consumers at some point ignore or even react. Think about the following situation: you visit a website X and look at a specific red t-shirt. You don’t buy it, yet you move continue your browsing. You send a couple of e-mails, you read the news and finally you log in to facebook. On the right banner, you see an ad with this red t-shirt you inspected 1 hour ago. Next morning, you open your computer, you search information about something you saw n TV last night. Google gives you 1million results in less than a second…plus, a red t-shirt on the right banner of Google ads. 

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