The power of sponsor love

Staying with a problem athlete is not an easy decision for businesses and many times it proves to be a very costly one. For example, in 2009, when the Tiger Woods cheating on his wife scandal broke out, in just a couple of months, major sponsor companies such as Nike experienced a decline on the stock market in the order of billions, attributable to the scandal, according to the Wall Street Journal. Time has passed and Nike stuck with him, and even helped Tiger create the famous “apology” commercial. Nike didn’t stay beside Oscar Pistorius after he was arrested or with Marion Jones after the steroid scandal. The brand is still alongside tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, despite the 2-year ban from competition for using meldonium.

Speedo also supported their star athlete Michael Phelps through his marijuana and DUI adventures, only for him to ditch them in 2016 for a new company. What Speedo would have loved to know beforehand is probably Ryan Lochte’s storytelling skills, for the whole robbery saga that was created at the Rio Olympics. The company did drop him, together with his other sponsors, before any official legal charges were made. So where is the difference? What are the criteria used for making the decision whether to continue supporting an athlete?

First, you can easily add the word “star” before the name of every athlete sponsors continued to support even in a moment of crisis. Woods, Sharapova and Phelps are all superstars and champions in their sports and overall.

Second, it is usually about the nature of the offense, how consumers perceive it and the degree of negative attitude it receives. The Jones and Pistorius scandals were unforgivable and unforgettable, something not good for a brand. The Lochte scandal appears to easily go away (he is on Dancing with the stars); however, Speedo wanted to be able to fully take advantage of the positive aspects of the Olympics and not have consumers distracted.

Third, it is also about the length of the relationship, the sentimental connection. Athletes like Tiger Woods and Sharapova have worked since their debut with Nike, making the company a lot of money and also establishing rapport with the organization. It is not easy to let a lifetime of happy and profitable relationship go away, even in business. Unless consumers signal that time has come.

Image source:, 2017

Maria Petrescu, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

Stay Positive! A Case of Place Marketing

What is required to successfully change the existing negative image and promote a location? MiMo District as a destination that people want to visit and is located on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami between 54th and 77th street. MiMo is an architectural style that started in South Florida after the Second World War in 1945. The area was known for its prominent style, Art Deco. Indeed, most of the buildings in that area emphasized geometrical shapes (MiMo Boulevard 2016). However, after being a celebrity destination, MiMo became an area deserted by locals and tourists. Indeed, the area had a negative reputation and was known as an area with high crime rate. In addition, there was a high volume of traffic on US 1 which was the main artery on the Boulevard. Some restrictions were also imposed by the city where buildings could not be taller than 35 feet. Therefore, revitalizing the boulevard has been a priority by the MiMo association so that the area who used to be one of the top destinations of celebrities such as Franck Sinatra can once again become the destination of locals and tourists and attract more real estate investments.

Therefore, first and foremost, as researchers we studied and analyzed MiMo’s current situation. We also assessed and evaluated several other competing destinations to find out what they have done to promote their areas, and how they stayed successful. We suggested changes ranging from streets to buildings, prices to accommodations, businesses to people, funding to community service, and promotions to entertainment. All aimed at enhancing the image of MiMo and attracting more people, and eventually putting it at par with destinations such as Clematis Street, Brickell Avenue, Coconut Grove, and maybe one day, South Beach.

One of the strengths in MiMo’s marketing efforts is the support and connections it has within the local media, one of the local stakeholders. Local newspapers and blogs (such as Sun Sentinel, Biscayne Times, Miami Herald, and Miami New Times) have shown support for MiMo’s events and are promoting the area’s projects, restaurants, and events. More recently, publications such as the Miami Herald have realized the efforts being put forward to revitalize the district and have been placing a more positive spin on the area in terms of being a dining and cultural destination. However, one of the weaknesses is related to the inconsistent media image of the area and a lack of coordination of stakeholders when dealing with the media. In the past, the media’s attention towards the destination has always been negative in terms of the location’s crime and neglected facilities. The new attempts of publicity continue to conflict with the negative image that MiMo still receives from other media outlets. Establishing a stronger movement to create a positive image of the area and communicating it to the media in Miami, through a strong public relations campaign, is necessary to eliminate this weakness. 

In addition, a weakness in the marketing and communications tools is the lack of consistency in the promotional efforts. Efforts such as events and banners do not seem to be related with the image that MiMo wants to project as a historic district. MiMo has great opportunities being re-branded as a prosperous and vivacious 1950’s historic district. However, the efforts have to be consistent with that concept, otherwise the public will find it difficult to understand the historical value the area truly has, and will not be able to identify how MiMo is different from the competition.

Also, there are no signs indicating arrival to the MiMo district and there is nothing being done to promote the brand in this manner. Thus, the logo, tagline, web page, banners, advertisements, and events have to be related to each other and to the 1950’s theme in order to bring the whole historic concept together; there must be a strategic direction and coordination. The prices of restaurants and retailers can be considered a strength since it is relatively similar in comparison to other areas. High-end places like the fashion designer Julian Chang or the restaurants Soyka, Michy’s and Casa Toscana are considered strengths because they bring variety to the area, where locals and tourists can find all kinds of prices and qualities.

MiMo BIC and MiMo Association’s website has a lot of interesting content about past events, restaurant, and motel listings. However, it could be used much more efficiently by collaborating with all affected stakeholders in the process of brand promotion. MiMo is finding difficulties in getting the public to assist at these events, a result of no community cooperation, no competitive advantage, lack of positioning, the area’s public perception, and lack of stakeholder involvement.

Analyzing MiMo’s current situation gave us insights on what paths we ought to take. We were able to develop a survey that was administered to locals in order to find out the main priorities within the area.  Promoting the name and image is of the utmost priority, since most people do not know what MiMo is, or where it is located. Changing the name to MiMo Avenue on the stretch between 50th and 79th street, and installing signs that tell drivers they are in MiMo. Launching new events, along with public relations campaigns can prove to be very effective when trying to promote a brand name and image. Keeping close ties with the media is very important, especially during the re-branding phase of MiMo. Being an up-and-coming area will help feed the positive image to that curious segment of the population who’s looking for new things to try and adventures to experience. As the MiMo District looks to build stronger and positive brand awareness, it is essential that local associations are included in its target market; associations of arts and history along with educational organizations. Consumer motivation to visit the area could become high as the MiMo District presents a new territory for these associations to voice their culture, art, and history at reasonable expenditures. By pushing the MiMo District’s historic value, organizations looking for a destination with strong benefits in this sense will provide a good target market. Their need to market their culture, art, and history in a location that exemplifies these elements is essential. In addition to local arts and history associations, MiMo should also target travel agencies to voice the new messaging associated with the district.

Based on the survey, the marketing objectives for the MiMo District should be directed towards building a new, positive brand image for the area with the goal of maximizing safety and cleanliness, while increasing awareness of the historical location. By positioning the MiMo District as the “up and coming”, businesses can become attracted to the potential traffic and revenue associated with it.

In the process of all this, some of the important steps are: capitalizing on the positive aspects, scheduling mega-events, launching familiarization tours, and using selective promotions. But ultimately the most important advice for those working on repairing a negative image is to always remain positive.

Image Source:, April 3, 2017.

Selima Ben Mrad, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

Kathleen O’Leary, Ph.D., is Chair and Associate Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

Maria Petrescu, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

“You are what you eat”

Suppose a consumer who is allergic to dairy products is shopping for a non-dairy yogurt.  After browsing through a variety of brands, she sees the product “O’Soy," with a product label claim identifying the product as “organic soy yogurt.” Is it safe for the food allergic consumer to rely on this information, purchase and then consume this product?

            This is a serious question faced by many food allergic consumers today and the answer is not as simple as one would presume.  The “O’Soy” brand name appears to indicate this is a soy based yogurt.  In addition to the brand name itself, a prominent product label claim in large bold font on the front label, identifies the product as "Organic Soy Yogurt." A recent research study has suggested that food consumers are influenced by and base their purchase decisions  on the name of the food product (Irmak, Vallen, & Rosen Robinson, 2011).  Additionally, prior research has substantiated the notion that food allergic consumers utilize package information and product claims to evaluate if a product contains an allergenic substance (Voordouw et al., 2012). 

            If the above food allergic consumer assesses allergen risk in a similar fashion, this is but one example of how a food allergic consumer may unknowingly consume an allergenic substance, since an inspection of the back label of the “O’Soy” yogurt states that the product does in fact "contains milk."  This potential mistake, relying on the package information found on the front of the yogurt container's label, could be life threatening to a food allergic consumer allergic to dairy products.   Further investigation revealed an online disclosure, found on the "O'Soy" website that states  "O’Soy is lactose free and that those who are only lactose intolerant, and not allergic to milk, can safely enjoy O’Soy" (Stony Field Farm, 2011).   In 2014, Stonyfield Farms modified the ingredients and cultures used in O'Soy yogurt in order to eliminate dairy in the yogurt.

            As the previous example illustrates, more understanding and research is needed on this issue, since confusing and often conflicting product ingredient information appears on food product labeling. Domestically and internationally, food allergies have become exceedingly prevalent in children, adolescents and adults (American Academy of Allergy, 2011). Both the United States and various European governments recognize the importance of clear and complete ingredient communications of known allergens to allergic consumers and have instituted various labeling and allergen disclosure laws such as the United States’ Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) and legislation improvements like those found in the EU's Food Information for Consumers Regulation (Agency, 2014; Services, 2006). 

            Regardless of legislative mandates, manufacturers should institute clear labeling if the product(s) place consumers at risk for harm. Yet, despite the ethical benefits and legislative mandates designed to assist the food allergic consumer, food allergy labeling still remains unclear and there is no clear consensus on the best manner to convey allergen information to the food allergic stakeholder, and as noted in the prior example, there have been examples of conflicting (incongruent) allergen information communicated to the allergic consumer via the product information and packaging material. 

            This domain of food allergic consumers, current labeling issues and their decision making processes is an under-researched and newly emerging issue that needs to be addressed so as to provide a safer and more consumer friendly food shopping experience for allergic consumers and stakeholders of food allergic individuals.
Do you agree?  Have you had any experiences similar to the example shared above?  What are your thoughts to improve the labeling on food?

*This blog is based on a doctoral dissertation by Roger Wortman entitled ‘Impact of Product Label Claims.' His committee consists of Dr. Suri Weisfeld-Spolter (chair), Dr. John Stanton (reader), Dr. Cindy Ruppel (methodologist) and Dr. Herb Brotspies (4th member).

Image Source: Speech Buddies, Inc., 2017

Sara Weisfeld-Spolter, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Weisfeld-Spolter can be reached at

How to drive your business with marketing instrument panels*

The late Ed Koch, a recent New York City mayor, always asked, “How am I doing?” Marketers — as well as government leaders — need to know if their “customers” are happy.

Perhaps you head the marketing operations for your company and want to get a better handle on customer metrics. You heard about the idea of a marketing dashboard at a recent trade association meeting and think that may solve your problem. How should you proceed? What should be on your dashboard? 

Progressing beyond a single item to monitor the effectiveness of business performance, leading organizations often use a set of key metrics called marketing dashboards to understand their key performance indicators.

Just as an automobile dashboard captures critical driving information such as speed, distance, fuel levels, vehicle and engine temperature, navigation and so on, a marketing dashboard summarizes pertinent information on branding, channels, customer contact, promotion, sales performance, service profitability, the Web, and customer value. 

Consider the benefits

Some specific benefits of using dashboards include the following: business intelligence, trend tracking, measuring efficiencies or inefficiencies, real-time updates, visuals (charts, graphs, maps and tables), customized reporting of performance and aligning goals and strategies with results. Major downside considerations include the cost, time and the talent needed to administer marketing dashboards.

The main value of the dashboard framework is that it consists of a multitude of practical information that is current, accessible and easy-to-understand. Dashboards can be designed for top C-level executives as well as the managers working in the trenches.

The accompanying figure illustrates an example of an executive marketing dashboard. This dashboard features the following metrics: sales levels and growth targets, the decision-makers, exceptions, key accounts (including revenues), the marketing pipeline (status of marketing activities throughout the buying cycle), and tracks leads and dollars generated over an annual period. 

Decide what to measure

What should you measure? The spectrum of opinion varies widely from a single metric such as the Net Promoter Score to 50 or more performance indicators. Just as we don’t want to be overwhelmed with our automotive dashboard, keeping the marketing dashboard simple helps measure what matters and aligns with business objectives. That said, here’s a good starting point to consider in choosing five to ten key performance indicators that may include the following:

  • Financial measures: revenues, contribution margins, turnover ratios, profitability
  • Competitive measures: market share, advertising/promotional budget, image map
  • Consumer behavior: market penetration, customer loyalty, new customers
  • Consumer intermediate measures: brand recognition, customer satisfaction, purchase intention
  • Direct customer measures: distribution level, intermediary profits, service quality
  • Innovativeness measures: new products launched and the percentage of annual revenue from these new products
  • Customer value measures: process metrics, customer retention rates, customer lifetime value, RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) 

Realize that doing business today requires a new level of accountability for performance. Superior customer value means knowing customers’ behaviors and buying patterns.

Metrics are an important part of the strategic marketing process to understand: (1) How successful the organization is now; (2) What it needs to accomplish to become even more successful in the years ahead.

Smart marketing managers will embrace this challenge and use metrics as a planning tool to improve business strategies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Image Source:

                                                                                                                                                                                                         *Reprinted from Smart Business, September 3, 2013.

Art Weinstein, Ph.D., is a Professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University and author of “Superior Customer Value: Strategies for Winning and Retaining Customers.” He may be reached at or (954) 262-5097. For more information, visit his website at

Positioning is Best Viewed as a Request, Not a Verb

Positioning has long been described as an action that a company does, but this is a flawed premise as it presumes that an organization can fully control the position it holds.

Before elaborating on this inherent defect, I’ll offer a basic definition of a position from a marketer’s perspective. A position held by a company or brand is the place it holds in the minds of its target customers. Essentially, a position is whatever adjectives are used by customers or potential customers to describe the product, company or brand.

The mistake in stating that we, as marketers, position our brands lies in failing to appreciate that customers ultimately come to their own conclusions. If a position is a mental association held by the customer, a degree of success or failure will always be outside of our control – especially when the concept is considered on an individual basis. John Smith has one opinion or association with a product but Janet Jones has another. The seller is not able to guarantee reconciliation between their opinions or even guarantee that either person’s views are exactly what is desired by the company.

A better way to approach positioning is to pay heed to the proposition part of the term “value proposition.” Note that this simple phrase acknowledges that companies are proposing a way of offering something of worth. They are not dictating that value will be realized. It’s a suggestion or, better yet, a request for acknowledgment from the marketplace. The company would not make this proposition if it did not believe it to be true, but that does not mean others will feel that the value exists.

Companies do not position themselves, their products or their brands. They merely ask for a position. This request will either be granted or denied by their customers.

This is not to suggest that companies are weak in this process. Their influence in creating an effective and desired position is tremendous as the likelihood of success in requesting a position is amplified by consistency in communications and actions.

Looking at one of the most cited examples of successful brand positions, we know that Wal-Mart might tout its everyday low pricing strategy in its advertisements, but the discount retailer would not be successful in its request for this position if it did not follow through with consistently lower prices. The fact that it might not be the lowest price on every item in the store is inconsequential when it is true often enough for its loyal customers to believe that they’re saving money. Other potentially less obvious ways by which the retailer reinforces its positioning request are through layouts, store design, color schemes, etc. All visible cues tell its customers that this is a no-frills experience, thereby enabling them to save money.

Another common example of a successful brand is Apple, a company which is most commonly associated with innovation.  Nonetheless, simply saying that the company is innovative or telling customers to “think different” is not enough to guarantee the loyal following of Apple enthusiasts. Instead, the company seeks to make its request through regular product launches and seemingly customer friendly advances in technology. If we reflect on the introduction of Apple stores and their layouts, there is little room for suggesting the company was anything less than innovative when it came to its retail format. Like with the previous example, there are clearly limits to this company’s success in truly being innovative. Even its most loyal customers will acknowledge that one phone or another lacks in being much of a breakthrough compared to its predecessor model. Nonetheless, this suggests that a tipping point exists for customers to be willing to accept a request for a position if the request is made consistently.

Both of these examples are brands with strong contingencies of loyalists as well as their many critics. The existence of critics only reinforces the concept of positioning is a request and not a verb. The question becomes whether those critics would ever consider becoming customers. If not, the success of these and others companies’ requests is best measured by the acceptance of their target markets and not by the marketplace at large.  

While it might sound like grammatical semantics, appreciating that positioning is not a verb, and therefore not an action that a company controls, underscores an appreciation for your customers. In the world of positioning, there are two verbs at play: the company requests and the customer grants – at least if all goes according to plan.

Lewis Greenberg, M.B.A., P.C.M., is an Adjunct Professor in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University, and a Marketing Manager at Marcum LLP. He can be reached at

Business to Business Marketing: A Different Way to Look at Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is a fundamental concept in identifying profitable business opportunities.  Market segmentation divides markets into subsets of consumers or businesses who share a similar set of needs and wants, evaluating the subset segments, and then implementing strategies to target high value segments. 

Segmentation is widely used in consumer marketing. This becomes very obvious walking down the aisles of your local supermarket seeing product form segmentation such as liquid laundry detergent or powder, special shaving products for African American men, or easy to prepare food products targeted to the working parent.

In sharp contrast is business to business (B2B) where recent research shows limited use of market segmentation and where it is used, little value is received. It may be that segmenting business markets is more complex than consumer markets because business to business marketing is much more than a simplistic approach of finding customers who may be interested in your product.

Historically, B2B was viewed as the segmentation between the seller and buyer using a variety of segmentation bases including demographics, sometimes called firmographics, operating variables, purchasing approaches, situational factors, and buyers’ personal characteristics.  Simply, whoever bought from you was the focus of the segmentation analysis.

Today, B2B marketers recognize there are situations where the company buying your product is not the ultimate user or consumer. So, segmentation is more than just B2B. At times it is B2B2B or even B2B2C (consumer), thus segmentation requires a different approach.


B2B in its simplest form is when a business sells its products to another business who uses the product themselves.  For example, B2B is selling commercial dishwashers directly to restaurants.  The restaurant market may be segmented by large restaurants or hotels depending on segmentation criteria.  Based on analysis, the commercial dishwasher company decides to focus sales on restaurants with seating capacity of at least 150 people. 

This is not to be confused where a business sells products to business intermediaries who resell the product. When Coca Cola sells soft drinks to Wal-Mart, Coca Cola segments the market on the basis of consumer use of soft drinks and uses the B2B intermediary as a channel of distribution. However, Coca Cola may also segment the carbonated drink market by outlet type, food stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, small grocery stores, convenience stores, and other outlet types.

B2B2B and B2B2C

But what happens when a business sells its product to a business customer and that customer incorporates the product into its own product for resale to either another business or to consumers? Does the segmentation method change? Do they look at segmentation differently?  Do they attempt to segment the market on the basis of their customer or do they also look at the business segments of their customers?


Several examples can help clarify this. XYZ Company manufactures electric motors. Electric motors have widespread application for use in other companies’ products. They are used as components in elevators, escalators, water pumps, oil industry pumps, even electric motors for aircraft.  XYZ segments the market not on the customer purchasing their product as a component first, but rather on the application of XYZ’s capabilities. They develop segmentation criteria for different industries using pumps taking into consideration their own capabilities and strategy.  Once they determine that the market for elevator motors and aircraft electric motors are growing but oil industry pumps and water pumps are not, they then focus on segmenting the suppliers to these industries.  In essence, the demand for their products is derived from the demand of their customers’ products.


This is also evident in the high technology industry. Chip makers sell to Apple, Lenovo, Compaq, HP, Samsung, and Dell, for use in consumer products such as cell phones, computers, and tablets and now smart televisions. Consumer behavior drives demand for these products.  So, a chip maker must understand their customer’s customer. A chip maker will also sell chips to companies for application for cloud computing such as Dropbox, Amazon, and HP Enterprises.  The sales for the cloud businesses of Dropbox, Amazon, and HP Enterprises are driven in part by consumer demand for cloud storage or cloud applications. Companies in the B2B2C business must develop segmentation skills in the consumer market such as psychographic and behavioral bases for segmentation. Thus, additional segmentation skills are required beyond the B2B segmentation skills for B2B2C companies.

In a recent report to analysts, Intel revealed they are reducing investment spending in software, personal computers, and phones and tablets while investing more in data centers with cloud computing, retail solutions, transportation and automotive, smart homes and buildings, and industrial and energy. These are consumer driven segments. They will then focus on companies who are strong in the growth segments they identified. 

Qualcomm similarly looks at the end user of their customers in deciding product developments, sales, and marketing priorities. They have identified segments where consumers drive demand including technology for the automotive market, smart homes, mobile computing, and wearables.  

Segmenting business markets is no longer is just looking at your company’s customers or potential customers. With the recognition of B2B2B and B2B2C, segmentation is now focusing on the market segments served by the customers to drive investments in product development, sales, and marketing effort.  

Herbert Brotspies, D.B.A., is a Part-Time Participating Faculty in Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at

Experiential Retailing: Can it Help Offline Stores?

The growth of online shopping has led many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to create and emphasize unique in-store shopping activities and experiences as a way to compete with online retailers. This is known as experiential retailing, and the idea behind this trend is that the one thing online retailers can’t offer is the in-store experience. Therefore, if offline stores can develop truly interesting, entertaining, and/or one-of-a-kind shopping activities/experiences, that would be one way to effectively compete.

There are a number of examples of companies engaging in experiential retailing. For instance, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World superstores feature a number of attractions that make each store a unique destination, such as indoor waterfalls, gigantic aquariums, archery ranges, and ponds with fish native to the store’s area. In addition, the stores hold a number of demonstrations and workshops that teach customers a variety of skills related to outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, and water safety. Another outdoor recreation company, REI offers climbing walls at some of its stores, for patrons to try out and practice their rock climbing skills. In addition, Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a golf simulator for shoppers to try out any of their golf clubs on a number of virtual holes before purchasing them. On the simulator, the customer hits an actual golf ball and then a large projection screen shows the flight of the ball through the air, as well as where it lands. In addition to displaying this, the simulator also provides a number of useful metrics, such as ball distance, speed, launch angle, and spin, to further help customers decide if the club they’re using is the right one for them. 

Sporting goods and outdoor oriented stores aren’t the only ones engaging in experiential retailing. Many other brick-and-mortar retailers are starting to use technology to create a personalized shopping experience for customers. For example, many companies such as Target offer mobile apps that allow shoppers to see if an item is available at a particular store, and if so tell them the exact location of that item within that store. In addition, other retailers including Timberland, are beginning to employ the use of augmented reality systems in their offline stores, to allow customers to virtually try on clothing and accessories, as well as instantly mix and match various combinations of shirts, pants, shoes, etc.  Neiman Marcus has also developed the “Memory Mirror” shopping assistant, which allows shoppers trying on various items to view them on a large video screen from any angle, as well as instantly change an items color, or see the way different outfits look in side-by-side comparisons:

Since many of these retailers’ items can be purchased online, companies are hoping that by offering these extra experiences, it will encourage consumers to go and shop at their physical stores. Obviously online shopping is here to stay and will most likely continue to keep growing well into the future. However, experiential retailing does show promise in helping offline retailers to still have a relevant place in consumers’ shopping habits.

What do you think of experiential retailing? Do you think it’s a viable technique for allowing offline stores to better compete with online shopping? Are there any other examples of experiential retailing that you’ve recently seen in action? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image source: Tim Nichols (2014) – “Experiential Marketing on The High Street” (ExactDrive™).

John Gironda, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University. His teaching and research interests include digital and social media marketing, consumer behavior, marketing strategy, advertising, personal selling, and sales management. He can be reached at:

Embrace Marketing Innovation and Value-Creation for 2017 New Year!

Welcome back to the Huizenga College and New Year 2017!

Let us be thankful that we made it as we get ready for another swift-moving year.

What’s ahead of us, financial events, more uncertainties, or will it be a year of plenty and joy? 2017 is the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac, and it seems related to any of these. In fact, while our New Year began on January 1, 2017, the Chinese New Year will begin on January 28, 2017 as the 4147th Chinese year. Whatever the case, it is a New Year and we have already won a great fortune by being present despite going through what has been regarded as a very tough year, 2016. The year 2016 saw several grand changes that both individuals and organizations must remain mindful of as they plan their 2017 New Year Resolution to make personal changes and changes for their customers. In 2016 we lost several celebrities and more closer to us, loved ones. We also witnessed a shocking presidential campaign, and the consequential election with one of America’s most recognized businessman being elected to the Office of President of the United States – and this one is still probably holding people’s minds and hearts back in 2016!

Let us rebrand and reposition ourselves, our products, services, and organizations to move forward!

Strategic marketing embraces focusing on challenges and opportunities to align a product, service, or attributes thereof with mission and vision in a changing, dynamic, and complex environment. In order to respond appropriately to the changing demands of today’s markets, organizations must often reposition, rebrand, and augment services and products (McFarlane, 2016). So must individuals, as life, like the ever changing and ever evolving marketing environment, is an experiment in failures and successes! We must learn from our failures and re-strategize to go forward!

There will be even more significant changes ahead of us as individuals and organizations in 2017, especially with the “eccentricities” and ego of the President-elect and his Cabinet of millionaires and billionaires. Position yourself to weather these changes that will have political, social, and most importantly for individuals and businesses – certain economic consequences! Perhaps this is a good time to count your pennies and your dollars, check your client-customer base, rethink your marketing efforts, your product, your service, and the actual value you are creating and offering to customers, your competitive frame of reference, your competitive position, and how you are going to sustain throughout 2017!

If you are a business struggling with declining customer base, sales, and/or revenues, it is no doubt a marketing problem more than any other issue! There could be several reasons for this:

·         Customers are probably not convinced that you are offering better value, product, or service than your competitors.

·         Customers probably feel that the benefits your brand, product, or service confers do not equal costs, or are less than costs – check your prices, your value-packages, service-and-marketing mix, and brand equity!

·         You are probably lacking innovation and it is wearing at your brand’s value and your image needs a facelift – invest more in public relations (PR), social media marketing, and co-create value with customers and business partners.

·         Seek to better understand the current and emerging industry and broader market and business environments and gauge your marketing communications strategically and appropriately.

·         Conduct a brand strength test using surveys or other means – check to see what your customers are thinking, figure out your net promoter score (NPS), and marketing measures that really matter.

·         Stop fooling yourself and destroying your business model to be something you are not, but rather focus on your core competences and know your resources, and most importantly, your capabilities. These are important in building and sustaining competitive advantage.

·         Finally, value your people asset – see your employees and customers as your most valuable assets (Kotler & Keller, 2016), and do what it takes to meet and exceed their expectations, and most importantly, realize that political play has its limits, and will not do for your business what great marketing and innovation can! Striving to be like your competitor is not innovation, it is imitation and may not work for you! Therefore, seek new marketing, value-creating, and value-adding opportunities – and practice niche marketing!

As McFarlane (2016) advises, be an Early Progressive rather than a Late Progressive, and most importantly, stop remaining a Clueless about your personal, and marketing and business realities.

 “Early Progressives” had already thought about 2017’s New Year Resolution from about the middle of 2016, and probably evaluated and reevaluated self and environment, and a host of other key success factors (KSFs) many times over. If you are a “Late Progressive” you are still probably dealing with the traumas of 2016 – personal and business losses, decline in customer base, revenues, income, opportunities – but guess what? You still have time to evaluate and develop a resolution for success in 2017! Whatever the case, avoid being a “Clueless” and realize that it is now 2017, and you and your business have entered a tougher market and business environment. It is therefore time to drop the uncertainties and suppress those Type C tendencies (“C” for “Clueless”) – procrastination, fair of planning and facing change, passive leadership, political play, and wishful marketing, and start to engage real action and efforts to make 2017 a great year to remember!

The Huizenga College and the Marketing Faculty wish you a healthy and prosperous 2017!


Kotler, P., & Keller, L. (2016). A Framework for Marketing Management, 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

McFarlane, D.A. (2016). A New Year’s Resolution: Rebrand and Reposition Yourself! HCBE Marketing Blog: Real-World Marketing Ideas and Strategies, January 1, 2016. Retrieved from

Donovan A. McFarlane, M.B.A., M.I.B, Ed.D., is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at

Are Hotels Pushing Responsibility Towards Consumers?

The question that arises is: How many of us go to hotels and think about taking less showers or reusing their towels? I guess very few. We as consumers enjoy free services and tend to overuse them.

Nowadays, many hotels are promoting themselves as being green or “environmentally conscious hotels.” When visiting hotels, guests see signs such as “save the planet” or “reuse your towel”, advices for taking “shorter showers”, and “we refill shampoo bottles” and assume that the hotel is eco-friendly. The question that arises is “Are these signs perceived as credible by customers?”

Indeed, these practices are “Greenwashing practices” and may be perceived by consumers as self-serving.

Hotels have been trying to make consumers responsible for their cost savings. We often see signs indicating that the consumer has to worry about the environment and make all the effort to save energy while the hotel does not even provide customers with a recycling bin. These practices have made customers skeptical towards the eco-friendly strategies. Even the environmentally-friendly conscious guest is not willing to pay premium prices if he/she feels that the hotel is not making any effort to be environmentally responsible. It is the hotel’s responsibility to implement environmental practices and then get consumers involved in the process.

Becoming Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified can be one of the best ways to be perceived as a credible entity. Hotels can revisit their lightings and invest in Led bulbs or showerheads that can control the flow of water, and use solar panels mainly in places such as Florida and California. These methods will help hotels lower their costs, their taxes, as well as their maintenance costs. By implementing these practices, hotels will be perceived as credible and socially responsible.

Selima Ben Mrad, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

Black Friday – Shopping Tips to Keep You Sane and Save Money!

Companies and customers have long been up in arms about Black Friday! With a tough economy where companies are looking to increase sales and revenues, and where financially strapped customers are looking for the best deals, this Black Friday is full of expectations and hope on both sides. Furthermore, the recent election has not made customers any more relaxed about the economy than they did in the immediate post-recessionary period of 2008, and deal hunting and bargains can certainly go a long way to saving for an uncertain economic and financial future under a soon-to-be new government administration.

Just type in “Black Friday” in Google or another search engine and you will get an idea of the advertising frenzy, deals, and promotions. In fact, from mid-to-early October, Yahoo’s Associated Press and other online news companies and forums had topics similar to the following: “… Black Friday Deals Leaked!” and dozens of others giving customers and prospects a sneak peek at leaked Black Friday deals. We all know by now that many of these so-called “leaked” ads and deals represent just another marketing and advertising tactic to get the buzz going! This is certainly needed to make this Black Friday a knockout one. Hopefully the number crunching will tell the bottom line story after this one-day-a-year frenzy has passed!

Black Friday is not just a super-shopping day that millions of Americans look forward to, but something that many save and plan for. As early as the end of October companies started building their marketing themes and ads around Black Friday, and dozens of articles across websites started offering Black Friday shopping tips on what to buy, where to go for bargains, including Black Friday do’s and don’ts. For example, Courtney Jespersen, a staff writer from, in her article “What to Buy, and Skip, on Black Friday 2016” written on October 21, 2016, advises customers to buy previous models of products in order to experience real savings, especially on Apple products, since “Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart discount Apple products each year on Black Friday, and previous-generation models usually see the most dramatic deals” (Jespersen, 2016, p. 1). Additionally, she also advises shoppers to skip toys on Black Friday, perhaps waiting for the Christmas deals on toys from Kmart, Wal-Mart and Big Lots, and other companies – and in this same light, to also skip Christmas decorations, waiting till December 26 (Jespersen, 2016). Some consumers might find her advice on Christmas decoration a bit purposeless, but after all, you can save them for next Christmas. Jespersen (2016) also advises customers to skip winter clothing, bedding, and mail-in rebates, and instead, buy the major staple of Black Friday – electronics such as TV, tablets, smartphones, and other similar items including home appliances, video gaming bundles including CDs and DVDs. This is good advice!

Before you start getting too excited about Black Friday shopping, here are a few tips that will be useful in helping you remain a responsible, conscious, and rational, wise shopper:

·         Check your finances! It is important to check whether or not you have disposable income to spend this Black Friday. If you simply don’t have it, don’t spend it. You still do not have to feel left out either. Spend the day or weekend doing something great – watch a movie, spend time with a loved one or loved ones, cook yourself a great meal, or something that makes you happy. Hopefully, it is not an expensive and regretful spending spree that gets your ticker going!

·         Take it easy on your plastic and cash as we currently don’t know where interest rates and the economy will go! You will have to pay back every dime you spend on your credit cards plus interests and the interests upon interests! Ellen Cannon, another staff writer from, in her November 1, 2016 article “Best Credit Cards for Black Friday and the Holidays, 2016” reminds us to shop smart with our credit cards and to consider the savings in using store cards, whole-sale club card brands, or regular credit cards as you shop.

·         Think and make a list of things you need rather than things you simply want. Many consumers shop on impulse, totally forgetting about their real needs. Impulse buying can cause post-purchase regret (Kotler & Keller, 2016) to become the highlight of your Black Friday shopping. Therefore, check your inventory of possessions before you decide to shop.

·         Consider the days and weeks after Black Friday, and the upcoming Christmas opportunities for getting bargains. After all, this is not your last chance of the year to get some deals, and good shoppers after all, know how to deal hunt even when it is not a special day of the year. So, if you do not have the currency to get that new appliance or whatever it is this Black Friday, just thank God to be alive!

·         Remember, you work very hard for your money, and deserve the best in customer value – highest level of service, top quality, and good prices – and businesses that treat you as their key asset and believe that the customer is king or honored guest (Weinstein, 2012). Therefore, expect great service as you exercise your buying decisions.

·         Finally, be safe and watch your environment when you go shopping at the malls and plazas. Scan your environment as you enter parking lots and malls, lock your vehicle, do not leave your purchase visible for opportunistic predators, and keep your purses, wallets, and credit cards safe!


Cannon, E. (2016). Best Credit Cards for Black Friday and the Holidays, 2016., November 1, 2016. Retrieved from

Jespersen, C. (2016). What to Buy, and Skip, on Black Friday 2016., October 21, 2016. Retrieved from

Kotler, P., & Keller, K.L. (2016). A Framework for Marketing Management, 6th Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Weinstein, A. (2012). Superior Customer Value: Strategies for winning and Retaining Customers, Third Edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Donovan A. McFarlane, M.B.A., M.I.B., Ed.D., is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at

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