What makes a company successful?...

... delivering products and services that are relevant and create impact among consumers.

I combine my expertise as a Marketing executive in a Fortune 500 company and my passion as an investor to find the Companies that I think have "cracked the code" with consumers. Advertising does work. When I see a new product that fits relevant consumer trends, and that is supported with a campaign that I find particularly shrewd and innovative, I know that Company is potentially a great investment.

One of the great investors of all times, Peter Lynch, recommends to "buy what you know". You watch TV, go to the supermarket and walk around everyday. Observe... look around: what you see can make you money in the stock market. Now, let's be clear: a Company is not good just because it advertises. What we have to look for is great products supported with -and enhanced by- great advertising. The principle is simple: if something is good enough to draw your interest, it will be of interest to millions of persons just like you.

It is my goal to share with the reader my findings in the world of marketing which I think will turn into great returns for investors. Profit from it!

Friday, March 21, 2008

General Motors: Like nothing else...

To close this series of postings on General Motors (GM) and its potential as a long-term investment, I want to briefly cover the last great example of sharp marketing in GM’s portfolio: the Hummer.
When Hummer was finally made available to the mass consumer market with the introduction of the H2 model, GM was capitalizing on two key equities the brand had already developed. The first one was the mythical, larger-than-life personality the humvee had built through its successful performance in the armed forces. The second: the mystique created by its rare appearances in civil society as a coveted symbol of power and exclusivity for a handful of players able to foot the $100K+ tab for the privilege of flaunting an original Hummer (later dubbed the H1). Marketed as a luxurious, yet rugged and masculine vehicle, the success of the H2 was immediately obvious, and very quickly the Hummer made its presence being felt in the national highways. The H2 made many drool and a few others mad: the huge, powerful vehicle launch came to be at a very inconvenient time, exactly when the price of oil started to climb. Many would-be Hummer owners hesitated to commit to this gas-guzzler’s unquenchable thirst, and the fewer that embarked on it, were stung by guilt. It didn’t help that he Hummer became the preferred target of the green crowd, who heavily criticized the wasteful fuel consumption of the Hummer and the frivolity of those who would buy this all-terrain behemoth just to take it from their driveways to the office and back. GM’s reaction was quick and brilliant: the H3 was born. What made H3 such a masterful move was GM’s ability to position it as a smarter, more nimble Hummer, without undermining at all its powerful and virile image. The H3 preserved the rock-climbing, trail-blazing, river-crossing, neighbor-impressing capabilities of the Hummer proposition, at a far more acceptable price and fuel-consumption levels. GM’s message: indulge! GM got it right, and they’ve continued supporting the Hummer on an ongoing basis with enticing communications that pay off the emotional driver behind the desire for such an unstoppable all-terrain: facing a fairly routinary, structured and all-too-convenient life, sub-urban consumers dream with the freedom and the challenge of overcoming every obstacle in a boundless discovery of new, remote places… of course, in the comfort of leather seats and a top-notch audio system. It’s all about personal power. The amazing array of exciting TV commercials and print ads developed to support Hummer is mind-boggling. Every single one conveys exactly the same message: an extraordinary vehicle that will negotiate any obstacle to take you anywhere you want to go. But it is brilliantly done by molding the message to address –and feed from- vastly diverse lifestyle and value contexts, so as to be relevant to different consumer segments. From the promise of transferring your strong and daring video game self into the real world, to nurturing your subconscious desire to transcend through heroic deeds: it all is possible with a Hummer. The relevance and quality of Hummer’s positioning and support is evidence of GM’s ability of not only obtain in depth consumer insights, but most importantly, leverage them and translate them into relevant product propositions. And that exactly is the key to build long-term leadership and growth… like nothing else.

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