Eight years of cheng and chi

Congratulations to Amazon, again: For the 8th straight year, they’ve led the Holiday E-retail Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by Forsee. Amid all the usual blather about the range of products they sell and how well their website works, the fundamental point got overlooked. Amazon’s competitors have had eight years (let that sink in for a second) to expand their range of products and fix any problems with their web sites, and still Amazon rules. And eight years for a scrappy new competitor to emerge. Continue reading

Awaiting my new Kindle

The first non-Apple device I’ve bought in more than 5 years.

With the Kindle Fire HD (7″), though, I’m going to diversify my ecosystem. Partly this is because I’m getting tired of reading about Apple filing yet one more lawsuit in an effort to limit consumer choice or trying yet again to fix prices. And partly it’s because for what I need, the Fire looks like a better device.

We already have 2 iPhones and an iPad, but I also have a lot of existing Kindle content (from a gift of an original Kindle years ago) and an Amazon Prime account. The Fire’s form factor seems ideal: If I need more computing power, I can carry my MacBook (yes, I’ll be replacing our two Macs next year with two more Macs). Otherwise the Kindle should be more portable than a laptop but better for Web surfing and movie watching than the iPhones.

I’ll let you know.

Cheng and chi on the Web

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a piece by Hiroshi Mikitani on why customers buy. The simple answer: Because it’s fun. Another way to say this is that because it engages them emotionally, and a good way to do that is by exploiting the cheng / chi pattern.

Today, Shauna Mei tackles the same theme in a post on Quartz (an Atlantic magazine site):

How we sold out of an $840 reindeer leather apron this holiday season: Lessons for luxury retail in an e-commerce boom

Luxury retailers have made a science out of engaging customers’ emotions, particularly vanity, in their brick-and-mortars, but have been slow to capture the effect online. Mei notes:

Websites for luxury brands function mostly as digital catalogs, imparting very little context and even less of the emotion that is traditionally a major part of a luxury brand’s appeal. … The approach thus far has been misguided. The answer may actually lie in using the Internet as more than just another platform to display merchandise. In order to be successful, we must think of e-commerce as an outlet for strategic brand creativity, with the ultimate goal of engaging customers emotionally.

Not easy, certainly, but as Mei shows, possible. If you make achieving cheng / chi your Schwerpunkt, then you can initiate your observe-orient-hypothesis-test loops to create ways to do it.


Is outsourcing dead?

Of course not. There are still reasons to buy from overseas suppliers but as Boeing and now GE are learning, there are many reasons for bringing manufacturing back together with sales and R&D. This does not mean they they have to be co-located, by the way.

In case you haven’t read it, Charles Fishman lays out the argument, using GE as an example, in the December issue of The Atlantic. One caveat: To get maximum benefit, your company needs to be deep into lean.

Indeed, for many companies, it would make more sense to outsource the design function and keep manufacturing in-house (and in-country), sort of a reverse Apple. Speaking of which, is Apple’s domestic assembly of part of its Mac production a sign that they recognize the benefits of insourcing or a PR stunt?


Mikitani reveals the obvious!

Amazing why so few businesses understand it.

Check out his post on LinkedIn: Why Do People Buy?

He went through a classic deep understanding exercise — and again it’s astounding how few people, even those in sales and marketing have done this — and came up with:

I came to this conclusion: People buy for a variety of reasons – some reasons are unique to a single individual. But a common reason – an answer to the question “why” that stretches across global markets, across demographics, across product categories, is this: people buy things is because it is fun.

You can now explain Apple: Insanely great is fun. Showing off insanely great to your friends is fun. Hope they don’t forget that — by the way, it includes the shopping experience, not just the product.

As Boyd insisted, actions flow from orientation, so if your orientation isn’t a good model of unfolding reality (i.e., better than your competitions’ and for that matter, your customers’), don’t bother with the rest of your business strategy.

Or as Mikitani summarized it:

See things the way they really are.  Ask “why” over and over again.

Indy, part 2

Keynote at the AHIMTA conference in Indianapolis, 4 December 2012

Keynote at the AHIMTA conference in Indianapolis, 4 December 2012

Here I am giving the keynote yesterday morning at the All-Hazards Incident Management Teams Association conference in Indianapolis. These are the folks who, when a disaster strikes that overwhelms the capacity of an individual town or county, rush in to provide incident management services so that relief arrives as expeditiously and with as little friction as possible. Bet you didn’t even know they existed.

Downtown Indianapolis at sunrise, December 5, 2012

Downtown Indianapolis at sunrise, December 5, 2012

I was impressed with Indianapolis, what little I managed to see of it. Wonderful museum, the Eiteljorg, right across the street from the JW Marriott (which hosted the conference) specializing in art by Native Americans and of the American West, two of my favorite subjects. There’s also an extensive gallery on the history of the tribes in the Indianapolis area.


My first time here. Gave a class this afternoon and will do a keynote tomorrow morning at the AHIMTA (All-Hazards Incident Management Teams Association) 2012 Conference.

Canal district in Indianapolis, with the JW Marriott in background

Canal district in Indianapolis, with the JW Marriott in background.

I admit to being impressed. For one thing, the weather has been great — went running this morning in shorts and a T-shirt — and the canal district, where I ran, is really nice. That’s my hotel through the trees.

When you think about all that’s happened over the last year or so, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene plus the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and Joplin, it’s hard to think of a more important subject. I’m honored to have been invited.