Sunday, April 16, 2006

Filenes RIP

About this time every year along with the new baseball season, the end of skiing, and the sighting of the first mosquito comes the annual hit parade of brands. The usual suspects (Coke, BMW, Microsoft, ...) appear. Top brands have great value.

More remarkable is the brand, which falls into a black hole - not because of an disastrous event such as a tainted product, which harms customers (Bausch & Lomb will likely survive despite the response of its clueless management), or slow erosion from years of mis-marketing (any number of the brands of yesteryear, say Westinghouse).

Such an implosion of brand equity seems to have happened to long time Boston retailer Filene's. After its acquisition by Federated, its tangible assets are being sold or redeployed into other brands such as Macy's. Thus Filenes and what it stood for is valued at bubkas.

As marketers one of the reasons for care and feeding of our brands is the value they add to the whole enterprise. Filene's and it's indistinct value proposition seems to forgotten this.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Massachuestts to require medical insurance

This requirement is supposed to address the problem of there being a population of uninsured by assuming that “affordable” policies will forthcoming. Without debating the merits of the new law, what perspective can we as marketers add?

Consider a content analysis of direct mail, telesales attempts (including those which flaunt the do not call registry) and email (that which bypasses your spam filters and is noticed before being deleted), let’s say over the past year.

This should vary depending on life status and demographics. The relative frequencies of promotions for insurance and insurance like services which came to our collective inboxes are listed below.

  • Retirement vehicles such as IRAs
  • Auto
  • Life
  • College Savings (essentially a kind of insurance)
  • Extended product warranty
  • Disability
  • Mortgage
  • Trip and Travel
  • Long Term Care
  • Pet Care
  • Funeral

Notably absent were any promotions for health insurance. What’s wrong with this picture? Are the insured not interested in coverage at prevailing market rates, or are providers not interested in marketing policies to individuals?

The law does is not in effect until July 2007. By then your inbox should have some new occupants.