How brand ambassadors can change the game
I wanted to write about a topic that’s been a dilemma for me, as I’m sure it has been for many of you. I’m referring to margin pressure, as it pits brick-and-mortar retailers against online resellers. While minimum advertised price (MAP) and other, similar types of price maintenance programs exist in the U.S. and Canada, those programs are unique to their respective countries.
Whenever I have the opportunity to write for this column, I reflect on my 30 years in the accessory business to try to come up with a topic that is interesting, relevant and insightful enough to add value to your business. In this case, I settled on sharing a strategy I’ve used many times in my business life to add revenue to the startups I’ve worked with: repurposing. While repurposing isn’t necessarily a novel concept, I’ve found that many businesses don’t consider it as a sales strategy or as an innovative product management tool. But that’s where I march to a different beat.
Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about accessories as anything more than simple add-ons that play supporting roles to increase the benefits of their favorite products. But those of us in the accessory manufacturing business see the show differently: our inventions are the stars. Yet, in the consumer technology industry, where innovation is busting at the seams, simply being a star doesn’t always translate into success. And for new brands, especially, becoming a household name may seem an impossible goal. I’ve learned that success is attainable through a recipe of one part creativity, one part dedication and a dash of optimism.
Most consumers view accessories as enhancement products, add-on items that maximize the user experience. With the advent of the health and fitness category for CE products—and its own Consumer Electronics Association working group—CE accessories can now add to that list quality of life activities, such as weight loss, blood pressure and glucose monitoring, calorie burning data and more.
The accessories market is incredibly resilient. Driven by emerging technologies, it adapts and evolves to meet consumer demand. Despite the trying economic times, the accessories market continues to grow. The Consumer Electronics Association predicts 8% revenue growth for accessories. The market is forecast to reach more than $8.7 billion and is expected to produce double-digit revenue growth through 2014.
“It’s Getting Better All the Time” is one of my favorite Beatles tunes. I happened to hear it the other day and it provided inspiration to me as I prepared to write this article. It’s uplifting and, as the lyrics say, "it can’t get no worse." So with that as a theme, I wanted to take a look back and optimistically gaze ahead.
As we started the New Year, the economy made for uncertainties in all of our businesses. There was lots of gloom and doom. But, as the saying goes, “when the going gets tough the tough get going” and that’s exactly what we saw as we moved into the year. Innovation is what drives our business, not just in products and technology but also in operations, marketing, merchandising, and more. Rather than wait for the market to come back, we came to the market.
We examined all facets of our businesses and gave ourselves the opportunity to be better. Better executives, better merchants, better salespeople, better promoters. We developed a better eye for the calls to action needed to transform niceties into necessities. We looked hard at the value propositions given to our customers and better articulated solution selling. While we all were making our businesses better, we also continued to make our products better. New and improved products like 3D TV, tablets, Smartphone’s, Blu-ray and more helped to keep CE top of mind on consumer shopping lists.
As chair of CEA’s Accessories Division, I know firsthand that these technologies have in turn driven more innovation in the form of accessories that further enhance the enjoyment of these new products. They have also created need for further development and refinement of existing accessories to take products that consumers had bought and make them “new” again. Perhaps a new stand to show off that older TV or new piece of software to bring fresh enjoyment to that PC you bought a few years ago.
There's an epidemic sweeping across America and it's called identity theft. Most of us know someone who is a victim of the crime. It may have happened to you. Identity theft is scary, confusing, time consuming and expensive. It's also something that is becoming more common as the thieves become more aggressive and sophisticated.
The FBI reports that Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Ten million Americans fell victim to it in 2008, a 22 percent increase over 2007. According to Javelin Research, the crime strikes at least one in four households each year. A national poll indicates 80 percent of Americans are concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft. Children under 18 are the fastest growing target, mainly because they do not apply for credit until years later, when they finally find out that their credit is damaged.