The Vivaldi office has been abuzz with lots of interesting reads this week. Keep scrolling for the best articles, blogs and presentations to come across our inboxes over the past few days.

An intimate understanding of human behavior powers all the innovation and growth strategy work we do. So given our obsession with creating value in the context of people’s daily lives, a few blogs hit it home for us this week including: a quick refresher on the jobs-to-be-done approach; an argument for why segmenting moments creates more actionable outcomes than segmenting consumers; and a fascinating take on how closed-loop growth systems unlock and capture value for their customers.

Speaking of radical industry reinvention, we were captivated by the story behind the original video game cartridge – “a small, durable plastic box that imparts the most immediately user-friendly software experience” – which paved the way for a billion dollar business and the birth of a new creative medium. Seems like it pays to link your products to a category name that sticks: have you ever heard of the Snurfer, the Charga-plate or Utility Computing? Neither had we and yet we use these all the time! At the end of the day, it’s all about understanding your customers’ context to ensure relevancy, whether you’re naming, branding or innovating. Perhaps surprisingly, even the future of the luxury shopping experience is at play.

To gain fresh insight into consumers, review Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report and then check out one smart teenager’s insightful views on social media. Or read up on the inevitability of mobile-only customer experiences to get up to speed on how mobile is becoming the “first screen”.

All in all, this week has given us some great food for thought as we prepare to host the Digital Darwinism Summit in Frankfurt on February 4th. We’ll be sure to share what top executives from Tesla, Google, BMW, Philips and other innovative companies have to say about how to adapt quickly to changing consumer behaviors.

Follow Vivaldi Partners Group on LinkedIn to stay on top of the latest marketing news and all our weekly round-ups.

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4 lessons for all retailers in Target’s failure in Canada

Thursday’s announcement that Target will withdraw from Canada puts an end to its failed foray in the Great White North. The expansion has been an expensive one for Target, which will record $5.4 billion in pre-tax losses, and a net loss of more than $2 billion.

This begs the question: How could this happen to one of the smartest retailers of our times?

The answer is simple: Failing to follow the basic principles of retailing in our world today.

1. Understand consumers and location

Location, location, location. While geographically and culturally very close, there are huge differences between Canada and the U.S.

Target entered Canada by taking over the leases of 220 stores from Zellers, a Canadian discount retailer, which were mostly located in strip malls. Unfortunately, many of these stores were not in the locations where Target’s typical customers tend to shop. Additionally, the stores did not fit the well-proven format of Target in the U.S.

Context or location trumps everything!

2. Follow your brand promise and deliver

High expectations are a great starting point, but not if you can’t deliver.

Canadians had positive perceptions about Target — from visits in the U.S., to its American products (like Cherry Coke and peanut butter M&Ms), and to its cheap-chic offerings. But Target’s Canadian operations were neither cheap (Walmart undercut Target systematically on price) nor chic (Target lacked the exciting merchandise that Canadians expected). Plus, Target launched an exciting advertising campaign that only raised expectations further.

The lesson is simple: There is nothing more wasteful than to communicate an empty promise!

3. Retail is detail

It’s the old adage of retailing, and yet still retailers miss it. Geographically, Canada is huge relative to its population size. Stores are more dispersed and so are consumers. This requires different operational processes.

Target’s formula did not adapt well. Inventory problems and out-of-stock products followed and harmed its image and drove financial losses.

4. The customer is king

Repeat after me: The customer is king. Always was, always will be.

But today, the king also holds a gigantic megaphone. It is the always-on, always-connected consumer that amplifies frustrations through social media while still in the store. When the store does not deliver, the consumer uses her social currency and tells her network to think twice. The demise is relatively quick and sharp, as it happened with Target in Canada.

Retail is a hyper-competitive sector where mistakes and empty promises surface immediately and gets shared instantly. There are many successful retailers that globalize. Zara, Starbucks, Uniqlo, Aldi, and Lidl have built their brands across borders. All the same, there is no money that can correct perceptions fast enough.

As far as Target goes, this is a good time to reinvent itself and focus energies on home turf.

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2015: A new era in how brands improve the lives of their customers

Here we are, 15 years into the new millennium.  We’ve seen quite a few changes in the past decade and a half.  Internet, mobile and social (media) revolutions have changed how people interact with each other, as well as, the world around them.

And so it clearly makes sense that people want to interact differently with the brands they choose to do business with.  Some brands already understand this – they understand that their customers don’t just want to purchase a product or service.  They understand that what their customers actually want is a way to make their lives easier, simpler and most importantly, better.  They understand that they need to make the purchase process seamless, purchase decisions too. And they understand that if their customers aren’t happy for whatever reason, they had better figure out a way to make them happy, or risk losing them.

Brands like Amazon and Nespresso understand this.  Amazon continues to find new ways to make the shopping experience seamlessly instantaneous – look at Amazon Now. Likewise Nespresso make the in-store, at home, or at work coffee tasting experience one that makes the customer feel refined and elegant.  Over the last couple of years, many brands have begun to follow the path blazed by these customer favorites.  But most still have not figured out how to really improve the lives of their customers.  2015 is going to be the year that all brands (start to really figure it out and) embrace a new way of doing business. Here are two big things that brands will focus on in the coming year:

Brand Partnerships across the Mecosystem

Brands are now realizing what their customers have known all along; no single brand can solve all of a customer’s needs.  And customers have a lot of them.  So customers choose a number of brands as part of their personal “mecosystem,” each one solving a specific need.  The savviest brands now realize that, even if they can identify their customers’ needs, they can’t solve every single one of them.  So, instead of hoping that they are part of that mecosystem, leading brands are partnering with other brands to combine and solve the holistic needs of their mutual customers.   For example, Evernote have been able to build an incredible product that makes it really easy to keep track of notes across a variety of platforms.  But they’ve also realized that people aren’t quite ready to get rid of paper and pen just yet and so they’ve partnered with Moleskine and Post-It. Another brand leading the way on this is Apple; Apple Pay is a partnership with merchants, banks and credit card companies that may be the best chance for the long promised mobile wallet revolution.  Meanwhile, Apple’s Health app is set up, not as a replacement for existing ‘wearables’ but as a complement to them.   Look for more and more brands that partner with each other in 2015 as a way to solve the holistic needs of their shared customers.

Pop Up Brands and a new look at Brand Strategy and Architecture

There’s a clear trend towards a culture of entrepreneurialism; increases in the number of start-ups, side-preneur ventures, crowd-funding and in-house cross-functional innovation teams.  As costs of entry decrease and rapid-prototyping capabilities increase, Individuals, brands and industries are getting better at launching new products into the market.   We’re seeing an explosion of new brands as well as sub-brands and brand extensions.  For example Uber, in 2014, launched UberRush (a courier service), UberFamily (cars with car seats), UberPool (ridesharing) and U4B (Uber For Business). Traditional brands are getting into the game as well (e.g. Coca-Cola Life and Pepsi True).   But, as companies found it easier to launch new products in 2014, in 2015 they will realize that they need to rethink their approach to brand strategy and brand architecture.   New questions will emerge for every product launch:  Should this be a new brand, sub-brand or brand extension?  Should we have a separate ‘test & learn’ brand?  How do we allocate our resources?  How many brands should we maintain?  How do we make our brand house easily understood by consumers? One of the most interesting strategies could be to develop a “Pop Up Brand” strategy, whereby companies plan for rapid brand launches, aggressive support and controlled retirement, all in a 3-5 year horizon.  Akin to the Zara approach to fashion or the Japanese soda market, brand teams could plan a quick ‘get in and get out’ strategy.   However brands choose to answer these questions in 2015, look for them all to develop a new set of brand strategy and architecture guidelines and decision trees in 2015.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that brands and their customers are empowered like never before. The old rules have changed and brands are realizing that their marketing strategies should reflect the new reality.  As brands focus on improving the quality of their customers’ lives they need to rewrite the rules for how to do so.  Don’t get left behind as other brands evolve! - Philip Ryan

Stay tuned for more thinking about what brands and businesses have in store in 2015. More to come after the New Year….

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It’s been a big year for businesses and brands, and as 2014 draws to a close, we take stock of the impressive thought leadership that has influenced our industry.

If you missed these articles the first time round, here they are for your reading pleasure. We’ve narrowed it down to the seven must-reads before the ball drops:

1. Last January, IBM researchers and advisors wrote about innovation, new patterns and data– an insider view on how their clients took advantage of opportunities generated by the explosion in digital information and tools.

2. James Surowiecki raised the dialogue in the New Yorker about the value of brands in today’s age, – and concluded that brands are ever more powerful and valuable.

3. McKinsey Quarterly explored the power of digital and how it influences strategy – and discussed six critical decisions to be made by CEOs.

4. Brian Solis hit the mark in this report on Digital Darwinism and Digital Transformation. It is NOT about technology but about consumers, a point of view we strongly believe in at Vivaldi Partners.

5. Another HBR piece made the interesting distinction between value-creating and value-capturing innovations – asking ‘what opportunities to capture value are you missing?

6. This landmark study by WOMMA offers the definite proof that the concept of social currency is a powerful driver of sales. (Disclaimer: Vivaldi Partners invented the concept of social currency in 2009 and has studied its impact on brand equity for the last five years.)

7. And Michael Porter rounds off the list with his discussion about a new group of technologies – smart, connected products and how they transform business.

Take it slow and steady – one a day and you’ll be caught up for New Year’s Day.

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Here’s to Listening Louder in 2015

Antonio Vivaldi believed in listening. His baroque compositions connected listeners through the poetic power of their beautifully evocative harmonies.

Over the years, our namesake has inspired us in many ways. So it’s only fitting that in our office we work to the beat of music (and that our New York team’s holiday party ended in karaoke duets!). Notes drifting across our desks connect us to one another and keep our afternoons moving, fueled by debates over our eclectic musical tastes.

On a recent afternoon, we reflected on the many ways in which music has been shared and enjoyed since Antonio Vivaldi gathered his fans around a harpsichord. Are cassette tapes going to be retro-cool anytime soon? Maybe, maybe not – but we’re reminded that the only breakthroughs that truly matter are the ones that bring us closer together. How aligned with our thinking and our work! Truly, innovations are only worth the value that they create in our busy daily lives.

To celebrate the power of music, we put together a collection of share-worthy office tunes representing what matters most to us: connections, new beginnings, community and fresh perspectives.

Join the fun on Spotify for some holiday cheer and year-round inspiration. You’ll find a bunch of beautiful voices, some groovy lite rock tunes and several new pop anthems—so listen up. Add your favorite tunes directly on Spotify or send us a request (tweet us @VivaldiPartners).

Share the soundtrack. And together, we’ll #listenlouder.

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Are we already getting sentimental about 2014?

This week’s press seems nostalgic, with an overview of the amazing tech innovations of the year, including invisibility cloaks, smart lenses, mind readers and how wearables are already changing the workplace. And reporting on breakthroughs coming to fruition after a year of hard work, like the roll-out of IBM and Apple’s collaboration.

Read More »

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Marketing news this week was overshadowed by Target’s escape from its woes in the Great White North. Vivaldi CEO Erich Joachmisthaler weighs in on the 4 reasons things went wrong for the cheap-chic retailer. Here’s a preview: there is no money that can correct perceptions, so always follow through on your brand promise or expect a great fall. There is nothing more wasteful than to communicate an empty promise.

Everything isn’t dire for retailers, however, and Target may want to hear Ikea’s strategy for becoming the world’s most successful retailer. Maybe refresh their basics with Marc Andreesen’s enduring advice about product/market fit for start-ups. Or pick up a great new book called Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are then times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it).

In other news worth reading this week, find out if your company’s digital transformation is perception or reality, get skilled at spotting a successful marketing leader, and finally, get places faster. Not to forget, Nielson indicates that the televised college football playoffs might be the next big opportunity for brands.

Vivaldi is also happy to announce the winner of the #ListenLouder giveaway – big congratulations to Kenny Friedman on his win!

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Today marks 8 years since Steve Jobs’ introduced the groundbreaking iPhone, and in tribute, we paused to think about what game changers the next 8 years—or even next year—will bring. If innovations announced this week are an indication of what is to come, 2015 should impress even Back to the Future’s Doc Brown (power laces, anyone?).

CES is at the top of every marketer’s mind and the tip of every digital guru’s tongue as tech moguls and pioneers gathered for the annual ode to all that is awe-inspiring in tech and electronics. You know digital disruption is gaining speed when even broadcasters accept 2015 as the year of cord cutting. Dish Network and ESPN are making headlines and CBS announces they don’t care where you watch their shows.

As the media industry grapples with changes in consumer behavior today, we salute Samsung’s bold business gamble on what they believe will be the new consumer habits of tomorrow. We strongly believe that doing what’s best for the consumer is what’s best for business, even when talking about the Internet of Things – and two great examples in this week’s news include Lego as the “Apple of Toys” and Mercedes pulling ahead of Google.

New opportunities abound for savvy brand managers to create compelling and new customer experiences this year. GM announces exciting Wifi integrations for brands to engage consumers in this year’s vehicle lineup – could be useful to big box retailers as they fight for the attention and purchase power of millennials. Take your cues from these 5 CMOs and inspiration from this pie-chart that landed in our Inbox.

We’re dabbling with our own attempts at connecting with you… so check out our LinkedIn page and start out the New Year with a win!

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The Year Ahead for Brands & Businesses: Top 15 Trend Reports for 2015

Happy New Year to all!

’Tis the season for setting goals. So what resolutions did you make last night? If staying ahead of the curve made the list, we’re here to help you with a round-up of 15 lists covering the 2015 trends to be aware of:

Consumer Insights

Trendwatching serves up “actionable opportunity” with these 15 consumer trends

PSFK tells us how we will live, work and play in 2015

Ford shares 10 trends and zooms in on the new Generation Z

Jack Morton tell us what people will want from brands in 2015

Marketing Predictions

Avi Dan shares the 11 trends smart marketers need to know

Robert Passikoff engages us with 15 trends for brand engagement

Forbes presents 5 trends your marketing team should budget for in 2015

Technology Trends

Tech Republic reflects on Gartner’s top 10 technology trends and their greater focus on the cloud

The Guardian does some future-gazing with 10 digital media trends

MarketingProfs focuses in on the top 3 mobile marketing trends


Business Shifts

Business Insider shares the 3 trends that will drive innovation in 2015

Forbes lists the 10 trends that will drive business success

And from our very own Philip Ryan, Vivaldi looks at what businesses will be doing in 2015


Entertaining Selection

21 of the world’s top marketers share their digital thoughts and very own selfies

And after so much reading, it’s always soothing to check out some Pinterest eye-candy

Send us any note-worthy trends and predictions we should read up on via the comment section or Twitter and LinkedIn. Help us out with our own New Year’s resolutions as we kick-off 2015 with a bang!



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