Posts Tagged ‘branding’

A Moral to the Story on Timeline

March 2, 2012

There has been a story circulating around in Facebook. An old story (on Internet time scale), but a good story. Seeing it on so many Timelines, it made me think of it in a new way – and thus made me write this post.

The story is about a particular Joshua Bell, a former child prodigy now a world-famous violinist, and how he plays the violin incognito at a metro station in Washington D.C. See the video below for the show.

So, Joshua played for 45 minutes and only 6 people stopped to listen to him. A man who plays a 3.5M dollar violin and usually to a crowd who pays 100 dollars per ticket only earned 32 bucks during that morning. The moral (in the story that is passed along on Facebook) is: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

And I do agree with this. Very much to be honest. Well, at least at first.

After having thought about it, I saw this from another angle. One, that suggests the moral of the story would rather be: we all are subject to our subconscious. Our experiences are made up of not only what we feel but also what we believe. If I hear a violinist on a subway I think its just some background noise to me reading the newspaper and it wont much move me, but if I hear that same violinist at a 18th century theater for a price that makes me know it’s a night to remember, it will most likely move me – a lot.

It’s not only about the content, but also about the context. Image matters.

[Read the full story on The Washington Post]


The 24g Swedish marketing success

October 11, 2009

As much as I love how IKEA makes me feel about marketing and how Absolut makes me feel about myself, there’s one Swedish success story that’s probably even more amazing. The story of snus.

A little bit of background: The oral use of tobacco is an age old tradition. It was widely done in America, long before Europeans sailed to its shores. It then spread to all corners of the known world thanks to European imperialism. We all know snus (or more precisely, chewing tobacco) from American popular culture with its cowboys, rednecks and baseball players.

Sweden wasn’t introduced to tobacco until the 17th century. But in the last 150 years they have fell in love with their snus. Today some 20 % of Swedish adults use snus. 90 % of them men, 10 % women.

Here’s a question: how did the Swedes, who are known for their classy looks and high level of sophistication , adopt a habit that was formerly associated with all things vulgar?

To illustrate the change: how did they manage to go from this…

Chewing tobacco

To this:


I see that from a marketing point-of-view the success of snus is based on three things:

  1. Product development. Of all the constant developments of the product, probably the biggest innovation that helped the wide adoption was the portion packaging, introduced in 1973. The teabag-resembling 1g portions made it far less messy than the regular kind of loose snus. Other great innovations include the fermentation process (which makes snus far less unhealthy than its American counterpart) and the white, dry portion (which makes it even less messy).
  2. Segmentation. Snus is available for many different target groups, be it beginners, active users, heavy users, girls, those who seek good value for money, those who seek luxury or those who want to quit the habit.
  3. Branding. There is a wide, ever-expanding array of different brands, each with their own qualities, personalities and fans. The vast amount of big brands is even more amazing when you consider the fact that one company (Swedish Match) has a monopoly-like market share (about 97 %).

The only downside of the marketing success is that it doesn’t scale. Snus is banned in many countries, so it isn’t likely to become the next remarkable global story to follow IKEA and the like. One can only wonder the role of cigarette companies’ lobbyists, since researches show snus to be “dramatically less dangerous than smoking”…

So, the Catch of all of this? (pun intended.)

Looking 10 or 20 years from now, what product could be transformed inside-out and upside-down to reach an unimaginable market?

What could be your snus?

[Sources: , , , ; Pictures: 1) 2) 3) 4) ]