Category Archives: Consumer Behavior

Peter Drucker Forum 2013: “Managing complexity by understanding multiplex networks” by Stefan Thurner

thurner

“To manage a system means that you are able to predict the possible outcomes of actions you take. If you cannot predict the outcomes of management actions, you neither manage nor control the system: you are subject to luck, fate, external events and developments.”

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Filed under Behavior, Business, Communication, Conference, Consumer Behavior, Corporate strategy, Education, Information Technology, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Strategy, Technology

Jean Jacques Lebel speaking on the Universalization of L’Oréal.

L'Oreal and Universalization

L’Oreal and Universalization

Speaking as a guest of Professor Rajiv Lal at the Harvard Business School, Monsieur Jean Jacques Lebel, outlined the logic behind the universalization strategy that L’Oréal has been implementing throughout the French cosmetics firm. This policy aims to leverage the advantages of having a global brand and adapt them to emerging markets in order to give new consumers a product that they feel in relevant and adapted to their needs.  Continue reading

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Filed under Advanced Management Program, AMP, AMP Harvard, Business Schools, Communication, Consumer Behavior, Consumption, Corporate strategy, Harvard Business School, India, Innovation, Marketing, Strategy, USA

BOOK REVIEW: “The Triumph of Emptiness: Consumption, Higher Education, and Work Organization” by Mats Alvesson (2013)

The Triumph of Emptiness: Consumption, Higher Education, and Work OrganizationReview by Philip Warwick

Mats Alvesson’s latest work centres on the depiction of three contemporary conditions of modern western society:  grandiosity, illusion tricks and zero sum games; principle among these being grandiosity.  Alvesson argues that behind the seemingly impressive façades, there is little to show for consumption, economic growth, prosperity or mass higher education.  He ends the book with the rather downbeat conclusion… underlying the grandiose society’s illusion tricks is the triumph of emptiness.

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Filed under Book Review, Business Schools, Consumer Behavior, Consumption, Guest Authors, Higher Education, Leadership, Psychology, Sociology, Strategy

BOOK REVIEW: “Value Merchants: Demonstrating and Documenting Superior Value in Business Markets” by James Anderson, Nirmalya Kumar & James Narus (2007)

Value Merchants: Demonstrating and Documenting Superior Value in Business MarketsSalesmen require more gravitas than the power of persuasion and price cuts to make consistent sales to their customers.  In order to sell a product or a service, a company has to take a multidimensional role as a value merchant, rather than a salesman.  In fact, it is this very shift of the role of sellers that outlines what customers are looking for in terms of product or service offerings of the highest value (their perception).

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Filed under AMP Harvard, Book Review, Business, Consumer Behavior, Corporate strategy, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Management, Marketing, Strategy, USA

A friend in change is a friend indeed

During the holiday I had a very pleasant surprise. Over the last 2 years I have looked at other blogs when writing my own to get ideas and inspiration. One of the best blogs I have seen in higher education is written by Martha Graham at James Madison University. We had both left several messages on each other’s blog (which included me stupidly calling Martha “Graham” for the first couple of months!) Even though we have never had the chance to meet we have had many exchanges over the past year or so.

Martha had written an excellent article on Bob Reid, former Dean at JMU and who is now Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer AACSB. Bob and I met up at the EFMD Annual Conference 2013 in Brussels and I send Martha the photo never expecting her to publish an article on it! I am very flattered indeed by what she has said.

An article in “The Economist” this week discusses research that shows the more time people spend on Facebook the less happy they are. Like Martha, I totally agree with this. However, technology today means that we can communicate with people without ever meeting up and I have been delighted to have many exchanges with Martha. As she says, we have become friends without ever seeing each other. 

There is another positive side. In her article, Martha refers to a friendly bet that we had concerning Greenland. Because of that, I did some quick research and was lucky enough to stumble upon a wonderful blog called The Fourth Continent. This is written by a lady who has emigrated to Greenland and gives some amazing insights into life there. I have become an avid reader of her blog which is quite a unique blog and well worth a read. So even a friendly challenge with someone you have never met can have a positive effect. 

The start of the coming academic year will be a little different for me this September, so I have asked a member of my team to begin writing another blog to take up some of the themes I have explored over the past two years. “Mainly International” will begin publishing in just over a week. When my colleagues and I started talking about the layout and the themes, I first asked them to look at the one Martha writes. My basic message was that I wanted the blog to be as good as “Be the Change.” That is just how highly I regard the blog. Not only does Martha write quite beautifully, the warmth and the attachment she feels towards students, staff and other members of the JMU community is quite evident. It makes it great reading. 

So, many thanks to Martha, not only for this post but also the the inspiration you have provided me in writing over the past year or so. I am sure that you provide the same inspiration to many other as well.

James Madison University's Be the Change

Go to any discussion board about social media or modern communication and you’re bound to find comments about the dismal state of interpersonal communication. Parents decry watching their children and friends sit side-by-side texting each other instead of talking face-to-face. And who among us has not doubted that one person can have 986 friends?

While the discussion is valid, it’s also worth noting that adaptation is a significant component of change. And what we are experiencing in the fast-changing realm of communication requires — demands, actually — an adaptation.

As a devotee of handwritten letters, I love getting real letters in my real 3-D mail box. Much history has been recorded by such letters. I’m reading a book by Dava Sorbel (Galileo’s Daughter) based on letters written to Galileo by his daughter. I’ve also written here about Dorie McCullough Lawson’s book (Posterity) a compilation of letters from…

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BOOK REVIEW: “The Art of Choosing” by Sheena Iyengar (2010)

The Art of ChoosingIn a magazine interview, Catherine Zeta-Jones, the Welsh actress and wife of Michael Douglas, describes one of her daily chores, which involve making choices. 

It is,” she said, “deciding whether to buy that beautiful little dress she had found while shopping in California, knowing full well that the shoes you need to go with it were in one of your homes in the Caribbean or Europe.”  

Pity the rich and famous!

We have more choices today than we have ever had in history and yet making countless decisions each day may be a burden rather than a pleasure.  In this excellent book, which brings in scientific research and personal examples, Dr. Sheena Iyengar, Professor at Columbia University, describes just why some of these choices are so difficult. 

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BOOK REVIEW: “Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods–and How Companies Create Them” by Michael Silverstein & Neil Fiske (2008)

Cover PicIt’s been about 15 years now, since sociologists and marketers were amazed to discover a new phenomenon.  BMW is parked in front of our discount stores.  Why would somebody who pays fifty or sixty thousand pounds for a car want to save 50 cents on a liter of milk? The answer was, of course, that they were ‘trading up.’  An explanation of this can be found in this excellent book.  Trading up is what consumers are prepared to pay a premium price for certain products that they think bring more luxury.  It can be in many different areas, from Belvedere vodka or Boston Beer which costs 50% more than standard beers.  It can be in things like pub food or in the doll industry, with American Girl. 

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Filed under Book Review, Business, Consumer Behavior, Consumption, Entrepreneurship, Luxury, Society, USA