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!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Is Best Buy cracking?

Best Buy (BBY), in general, puzzles me. I haven't had a decent shopping experience at Best Buy in several years now. I guess it's just because they have a decent array of items that people default to this chain. Stores often look in disarray: empty shelves, displays half-done, and a most frustrating shortage of staff. Sales people are nowhere to be seen -well, sometimes: in clusters, having a conversation-, and when you happen to bump into one of them, their apathy and lack of will to help is astounding. Best Buy has lost a small fortune from the times I've been to the store willing to buy something and simply left because nobody was really interested in earning my business.

I am not suggesting to invest against the grain and rush to sell Best Buy at this point. The company enjoys an inertia that will play in its favor for the years to come. But they are becoming vulnerable. All that is needed is for a new entrant -or a current competitior- to step in and do what is necessary to provide a truly satisfying shopping experience for Best Buy to follow in the steps of the now gone Circuit City. Remain on the lookout: the next winner will look more or less like this:

a) Profuse use of digital stations to allow customers to get as much information as they need about the products they are seeing in the shelves. Today, Best Buy's -and other retailers'- model is flawed: they over-rely on the sales people to answer questions consumers might have, and yet, they don't have nearly enough of them to do that. This is critical when you are -as Best Buy is- in the business of selling highly priced, technically sophisticated items. The result is frustrated consumers. These retailers should leverage both the type of technology and the shopping behavior the Internet has trained consumers on. Call it a hybrid shopping experience.
b) On-demand sales asssociates: once a consumer does want to talk to a sales associate. he should be able to ask for one through the digital display he's been using. Don't make the consumer walk half the store looking for a sales person. Likewise, don't waste sales people time roaming areas with no consumers in sight.
c) Intensive use of interactive displays. While this is a relatively common practice today, interactivity is still an afterthought, haphazardly squeezed between spaces primarily devoted to static-display shelves. Reverse the thinking: sales space should be primarily devoted to interactivity. It's all about the experience.

d) Another learning from the Internet: allow your customers to see what their fellow shoppers have done. Have real time statistics about the products: how many have been purchased, how many have been returned, product reviews made by customers, etc. These companies need to remember that they are in the business of reassurance. Customer want to make the best decision: allow them to feel good about what they are buying.

If and when you see a retailer that is applying this model, that will be your cue: sell Best Buy and buy this hypothetical (for now) newcomer.

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