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Where Is Disney Vulnerable? Essay

The Walt Disney Company, a $27 billion-a-year global entertainment giant, recognizes what its customer’s value in the Disney brand: a fun experience and homespun entertainment based on old-fashioned family values. Disney responds to these consumer markets. Say a family goes to see a Disney movie together. They have a great time. They want to continue the experience. Disney Consumer Products, a division of the Walt Disney Company, lets them do just that through product lines aimed at specific age groups.

Take the 2004 Home on the Range movie. In addition to the movie, Disney created an accompanying soundtrack album, a line of toys and kid’s clothing featuring the heroine, a theme park attraction, and a series of books. Similarly, Disney’s 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean had a theme park ride, merchandising program, video game, TV series, and comic books. Disney’s strategy is to build consumer segment around each of its characters, from classics like Mickey Mouse and Snow White to new hits like Kim Possible. Each brand is created for a special age group and distribution channel. Baby Mickey & Co. and Disney Babies both target infants, but the former is sold through department stores and specialty gift stores whereas the latter is a lower-priced option sold through mass-market channels. Disney’s Mickey’s Stuff for Kids targets boys and girls, while Mickey Unlimited targets teens and adults.

On TV, the Disney Channel is the top primetime destination for kids age 6 to 14, and Playhouse Disney is Disney’s preschool programming targeting kids age 2 to 6. Other products, like Disney’s co-branded Visa card, target adults. Cardholders earn one Disney “dollar’’ for every $ 100 charged to the card, up to the card, up to $75,000 annually, then redeem the earnings for Disney merchandise or services, including Disney’s theme parks and resorts, Disney Stores, Walt Disney Studios, and Disney stage productions. Disney is even in Home Depot, with a line of licensed kid’s room paint colors with paint swatches in the signature mouse-and-ears shape.

Disney also has licensed food products with character brand tie-ins. For example, Disney Yo-Pals Yogurt features Winnie the Pooh and Friends. The four-ounce yogurt cups are aimed at preschoolers and have an illustrated short story under each lid that encourages reading and discovery. Keebler Disney Holiday Magic Middles are vanilla sandwich cookies that have an individual image of Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy imprinted in each cookie.

The integration of all the consumer product lines can be seen with Disney’s “Kim Possible’’ TV program. The series follows the action-adventures of a typical high school girl who, in her spare time, saves the world from evil villains. The number-one-rated cable program in its time slot has spawned a variety of merchandise offered by the seven Disney Consumer Product divisions. The merchandise includes: ▪ Disney Hardlines – stationery, lunchboxes, food products, room décor. ▪ Disney Softlines – sportswear, sleepwear, daywear, accessories. ▪ Disney Toys – action figures, wigglers, beanbags, plush, fashion dolls, poseables. ▪ Disney Publishing – diaries, junior novels, comic books. ▪ Walt Disney Records – Kim Possible soundtrack. ▪ Buena Vista Home Entertainment – DVD/video. ▪ Buena Vista Games – Game Boy Advance.

“The success of Kim Possible is driven by action – packed storylines which translate well into merchandise in many categories,’’ said Andy Mooney, chairman, Disney Consumer Products Worldwide. Rich Ross, president of entertainment, Disney Channel, added: “Today’s kids want a deeper experience with their favorite television characters, like Kim Possible. This line of products extends our viewer’s experience with Kim, Rufus, Ron and other show characters, allowing (kids) to touch, see and live the Kim Possible experience.

Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928 (Walt wanted to call his creation Mortimer until his wife convinced him Mickey Mouse was better). Disney’s first feature-length musical animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, debuted in 1973. Today, the pervasiveness of Disney product offerings is staggering – all in all, there are over 3 billion entertainment-based impressions of Mickey Mouse received by children every year. But as Walt Disney said. “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.’’

Discussion Questions

1.What have been the key success factors for Disney? 2.Where is Disney vulnerable? What should it watch out for? 3.What recommendations would you make to their senior marketing executives going forward? What should it be sure to do with its marketing?


HSBC is known as the “world’s local bank.’’ Originally called the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, HSBC was established in 1865 to finance the growing trade between China and the United Kingdom. HSBC is now the second-largest bank in the world, serving 100 million customers through 9,500 branches in 79 countries. The company is organized by business line (personal financial services; consumer finance; commercial banking; corporate investment banking and markets; private banking), as well as by geographic segment (Asia-Pacific, U.K./Eurozone, North America/NAFTA, South America, Middle East).

Despite operating in 79 different countries, the bank works hard to maintain a local feel and local knowledge in each area. HSBC’s fundamental operating strategy is to remain close to its customers. As HSBC chairman Sir John Bond said in November 2003, ‘’Our position as the world’s local bank enables us to approach each country uniquely, blending local knowledge with a world-wise operating platform.’’

For example, consider HSBC’s local marketing efforts in New York City. To prove to jaded New Yorkers that the London-based financial behemoth was ‘’the world’s local bank, “HSBC held a ‘’New York City’s Most Knowledgeable Cabbie’’ contest. The winning cabbie gets paid to drive full-time for HSBC for the year and HSBC customers win, too. Any customer showing an HSBC bankcard, checkbook, or bank statement can get a free ride in the HSBC-branded Bankcab. The campaign demonstrates HSBC’s local knowledge. ‘’In order to make New Yorkers believe you’re local, you have to act local,’’ said Renegade Marketing Group’s CEO Drew Neisser.

Across the world in Hong Kong, HSBC undertook a different campaign. In the region hit hard by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, (SARS) outbreak, HSBC launched a program to revitalize the local economy. HSBC’’ plowed back interest payments’’ to customers who worked in industries most affected SARS (cinemas, hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies). The program eased its customer’s financial burden. The bank also promoted Hong Kong’s commercial sector by offering discounts and rebates for customers who use an HSBC credit card when shopping and dining out, to help businesses affected by the downturn. More than 1, 5000 local merchants participated in the promotion.

In addition to local marketing, HSBC does niche marketing. For example, it found a little-known product area that was growing at 125 percent a year: pet insurance. In December 2003 it announced that it will distribute nationwide pet insurance through its HSBC Insurance agency, making the insurance available to its depositors.

HSBC also segments demographically. In the United States, the bank will target the immigrant population, particularly Hispanics, now that it has acquired Bital in Mexico, where many migrants to the United States deposit money.

Overall, the bank has been consciously pulling together its worldwide businesses under a single global brand with the ‘’world’s local bank’’ slogan. The aim is to link its international size with close relationships in each of the countries in which it operates. The company spends $600 million annually on global marketing and will likely consolidate and use fewer ad agencies. HSBC will decide who gets the account by giving each agency a ‘’brand-strategy exercise.’’ Agencies will by vying for the account by improving on HSBC’s number 37 global brand ranking.

Discussion Questions

1.What have been the key success factors for HSBC?
2.Where is HSBC vulnerable? What should it watch out for?
3.What recommendations would you make to senior marketing executives going forward? What should they be sure to do with its marketing?

Case NO .4

Krispy Kreme makes 2.7 billion donuts a year. But it took more than fresh, hot donuts to earn Krispy Kreme the title of ‘’hottest brand in America’’ in 2003. Krispy Kreme’s stock price quadrupled in the three years following its IPO in 2000, and the entire chain now generates a billion dollars in annual revenues across more than 300 outlets.

How did Krispy Kreme turn donuts into dollars? Careful brand positioning and local marketing tell the story. ‘’We have a humble brand and product,’’ says Krispy Kreme CEO Scott Livengood. ‘’It’s not flashy.’’ The company is not new – it was founded in 1937- and part of its brand image is an old-fashioned feel. The plain red, green, and white colors and retro graphics evoke the squeaky-clean Happy Days of the 1950s, as do the Formica-filled, kid-friendly shops. ‘’We want every customer experience to be associated with good times and warm memories,’’ Livengood says.

That company’s brand image also rests on its fresh, hot donuts – a freshness that’s measured in hours. In a world of processed, prepackaged food, nothing beats a fresh, hot donut. The company’s marketing is grassroots local. Krispy Kreme has no traditional media advertising budget. Rather, local ‘’community marketing managers’’ enlist the aid of local groups and charities. For example, the company helps charities raise money by selling them donuts at half price which they can re-sell at full price. Local bake sales become a promotional tool for Krispy Kreme.

Another tactic is giving away free donuts to TV, newspapers, and radio stations before entering a market. Krsipy Kreme scored a publicity coup in 1996 when it opened its first store in New York City. The company delivered boxes of donuts to the Today Show, garnering millions of dollars worth of national exposure for the price of a few donuts. Even the day of the IPO relied on the buzz from free Krispy Kreme donuts on the floor of the stock exchange.

Each local outlet is an emissary for the brand, and Krispy Kreme’s signature Doughnut Theater defines the brand image. A multisensory experience, Doughnut Theater occurs several times a day at each shop. When the store flicks on its ‘’Hot Doughnuts Now’’ sign, the performance is about to begin. A large plate glass wall lets customers watch the whole process.

The Doughnut Theater experience works on three levels. On a direct level, the performance entertains customers and draws them into the donut-making experience. On an indirect level, it shows that the products are freshly made in a clean environment. On a subliminal level, as CEO Livengood describes it, ‘’The movement of the products on the conveyor through our proofbox has this relaxing, almost mesmerizing effect. The only other thing like it is standing on the oceanfront and watching the tide come in. it has that same consistent, relaxing motion that is really positive to people.’’ People flock to the store to see wave after wave of donuts emerge hot and deliciously fresh. They happily stand in long lines around newly opened outlets to get the aroma of the donuts being made, the sight of the vanilla glaze waterfall, and the warmth of the hot donut that ‘’just melts in your mouth and tastes so good,’’ Livengood says.

Doughnut Theater is a bit of show business that draws customers into the baking experience and makes them feel like they are a part of the process. Another aspect of show business is product placements on hit shows like. The Sopranos and Will & Grace and movies like Bruce Almighty. Finally, international expansion is fueled by celebrities like Dick Clark, Hank Aaron, and Jimmy Buffet, who clamored for Krispy Kreme franchises of their own. Krispy Kreme doesn’t just grant franchise rights to anyone.

Krispy Kreme makes 65 percent of its revenue selling donuts directly to the public through its 106 company-owned stores. Another 31 percent comes from selling flour mix, donut-making machines, and donut supplies to its 186 franchised stores. The final 4 percent of revenue comes from franchisee licenses and fees.

Krispy Kreme is now expanding and selling donuts through convenience stores. Will this hurt the brand? Stan Parker, Krispy Kreme’s senior vice president of marketing, says it won’t because the company continues to emphasize freshness. It replenishes the packaged donuts daily from the local Krispy kreme store and removes any unsold packages. The donuts’ presence in convenience stores will help remind people of the taste of a fresh, hot Krispy Kreme donut, and that brings them back into a Krispy Kreme shop.

The success of Krispy Kreme has been a wake-up call for competitor Dunkin’ Donuts, which had become complacent. The one-two punch of Krispy Kreme in donuts and Starbucks in coffee led Dunkin’ Donuts to revamp its menu and its stores, neither of which had changed in years. Rather than innovate, Dunkin’ Donuts looked at what customers were already eating elsewhere. It brought in basic products like bagels, low-fat muffins, and breakfast sandwiches. Dunkin Donuts still dwarfs Krispy Kreme in size, with 2003 revenues of $3 billion, but it must work to find new ways of creating excitement that builds customer pride, because one thing is sure: Krispy Kreme refuses to be dull.

Discussion Questions

1.What have been the key success factors for Krispy Kreme? 2.Where is Krispy Kreme vulnerable? What should it watch out for? 3.What recommendations would you make to senior marketing executives going forward? What should they be sure to do with its marketing? Case NO. 5


Southwest Airlines entered the airline industry in 1971 with little money, but lots of personality. Marketing itself as the LUV airline, the company featured a bright red heart as its first logo. In the 1970s, flight attendants in red-orange hot pants served Love Bites (peanuts) and Love Potions (drinks). With little money for advertising in the early days, Southwest relied on its outrageous antics to generate word-of-mouth advertising.

Later ads showcased Southwest’s low fares, frequent flights, on-time arrivals, and top safety record. Throughout all the advertising, the spirit of fun pervades. For example, one TV spot showed a small bag of peanuts with the words, ‘’This is what our meals look like a Southwest Airlines…. It’s also what our fares look like.’’ Southwest used ads with humor to poke fun at itself and to convey its personality.

Southwest’s fun spirit attracts customers and employees alike. Although Southwest doesn’t take itself seriously, it does take its work seriously. Southwest’s strategy is to be the low-cost carrier. Indeed, the strategy takes on epic proportions. An internal slogan, ‘’It’s not just a job, it’s a crusade,’’ embodies the company mission to open up the skies, to give ordinary people a chance to fly by keeping costs so low that it competes with ground transportation like cars and buses. Employees see themselves as protecting ‘’small businesses and senior citizens who count on us for low fares.’’

Southwest can offer low fares because it streamlines operations. For example, it only flies one type of aircraft, Boeing 737s, which have all been fitted with identical flight instruments. This saves time and money by simplifying training pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics only need to know procedures for a single model of Boeing 737. Management can substitute aircraft, reschedule flight crews, or transfer mechanics quickly. The tactic also saves money through lower spare-parts inventories and better deals when acquiring new planes.

Southwest also bucks the traditional hub-and-spoke system and offers only point-to-point service; it chooses to fly to smaller airports that have lower gate fees and less congestion, which speeds aircraft turnaround. Southwest’s 15- to 20- minute turnaround time (from flight landing to departure) is half the industry average, giving it better asset utilization (flying more flights and more passengers per plane per day.) The point is, if the plane and crew aren’t in the air, they aren’t making money.

Southwest grows by entering new markets that are overpriced and underserved by current airlines. The company believes it can bring fares down by one-third to one-half whenever it enters a new market, and it grows the market a every city it serves by making flying affordable to people who previously could not afford to fly.

Even though Southwest is a low-cost airline, it has pioneered many additional services and programs like same-day freight service, senior discounts, Fun Fares, and Fun Packs. Despite Southwest’s reputation for low fares and no-frills service, the company wins the hearts of customers. It has been ranked number one in terms of customer service, per the Department of Transportation’s rankings, for 12 years in a row, yet the average price of a flight is $87. Southwest has been ranked by Fortune magazine as America’s most admired airline since 1997, as America’s third-most-admired corporation in 2004, and as one of the top five best places to work in America. Southwest’s financial results also shine: The Company has been profitable for 31 straight years. Following 911, it has been the only airline to report profits every quarter, and one of the few airlines that has had no layoffs amid a travel slump created by slow economy and the threat of terrorism.

Although the hot pants are long gone, the LUVing spirit remains at the heart of Southwest. The company’s stock symbol on the NYSE is LUV and red hearts can be found everywhere across the company. These symbols embody the Southwest spirit of employees ‘’caring about themselves, each other and Southwest’s customers’’, states an employee booklet. ‘’Our fares can be matched; our airplanes and routes can be copied. But we pride ourselves on our customer service,’’ said Sherry Phelps, director of corporate employment. That’s why Southwest looks for and hires people who generate enthusiasm. In fact, having a sense of humor is a selection criteria it uses for hiring. As one employee explained, ‘’we can train you to do any job, but we can’t give you the right spirit.’’

Southwest is so confident of its culture and its employees that in 2004 it allowed itself to be the subject of a reality TV show called Airline. It’s not worried about competitors copying the company. ‘’What we do is very simply, but it’s not simplistic,’’ said president and COO Colleen Barrett. ‘’We really do everything with passion.’’

Discussion Questions

1.What are the key success factors for Southwest Airlines? 2.Where is Southwest Airlines vulnerable? What should it watch out for? 3.What recommendations would you make to senior marketing executives moving forward? What should they be sure to do with its marketing?

Case NO. 6


Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is the largest retailer in the world, with sales of $259 billion in 2003, 1.5 million employees, and 4,300 facilities. Each week, over 100 million customers visit a Wal-Mart store. Sam Walton founded the company in 1962 with a simple goal: Offer low prices to everyone. His notions of hard work and thrift continue to permeate Wal-Mart today, although he died in 1992. Employees see their jobs as a mission ‘’to lower the world’s cost of living.’’ Wall –Mart’s philosophy is to enable people of average means to buy more of the same products that were previously available only to rich folks. The company works hard at being efficient and using its buying clout to extract lower prices from suppliers, and then passes those savings on to customers.

Wal-Mart succeeds in the competitive American retail market for several reasons. First, its low prices, vast selection, and superior service keep the customers coming in the door. But one of Wal-Mart’s biggest strengths is not even inside the store. Its unrivaled logistics ensure that it can keep prices low while keeping the right goods on the shelves. As the biggest retailer in the United States. Wal-Mart’s logistics demands are considerable. The company must coordinate with more than 85,000 suppliers, manage billions in inventory in its warehouses, and bring that inventory to its retail shelves.

To streamline these tasks, Wal-Mart set up a ‘’hub-and-spoke’’ network of 103 massive distribution centers (DC). Strategically spaced across the country, no store location is more than a day’s drive away from a DC. Wal-Mart is known as ‘’the king of store logistics’’ for its ability to effectively manage such a vast network.

Sam Walton was something of a visionary when it came to logistics. He had the foresight to realize, as early as the 1960s, that his goals for company growth required advanced information systems to manage high volumes of merchandise. The key to low-cost retail is knowing what goods would sell and in what quantities – ensuring that store shelves never have too much or too little of any item. In 1966, Walton hired the top graduate of an IBM school and assigned him the task of computerizing Wal-Mart’s operations. As a result of this forward-looking move, Wal-Mart grew to be the icon of just-in-time inventory control and sophisticated logistics. By 1998, Wal-Mart’s computer database was second only to the Pentagon’s in terms of capacity.

Wal-Mart’s logistics success is astounding considering its size: Over 100 million items per day must get to the right store at the right time. To accomplish this goal, Wal-Mart developed several IT systems that work together. It all begins at the cash register or point-of-sale (POS) terminal. Every time an item is scanned, the information is relayed to headquarters via satellite data links. Using up-to-the-minute sales information, Wal-Mart’s Inventory Management System calculates the rate of sales, factors in seasonal and promotional elements, and automatically places replenishment orders to distribution centers and vendor partners.

Wal-Mart uses its information systems for more than just logistics. Suppliers can use its voluminous POS database to analyze customers’ regional buying habits. For example, Proctor & Gamble learned that liquid Tide sells better in the North and Northeast while Tide powder sells better in the South and Southwest. P & G uses information such as this to tailor its product availability to specific local regions. This means that it delivers different Tide products to different Wal-Mart locations based on local customer preferences. Wal-Mart’s may look the same on the outside, but the company uses its information systems and logistics to customize the offerings inside each store to suit regional demand.

Wal-Mart continues to grow. Despite already having 3,200 stores in the united States, Wal-Mart plans to add another 220-230 Super centers, 50-55 discount stores, 35-40 Sam’s Clubs, and 25-30 Neighborhood Markets in the United States alone, and an additional 130 units internationally. If Wal-Mart maintains the average growth rate of the past 10 years, it could become the world’s first trillion-dollar company.

Discussion Questions

1.What have been the key success factors for Wal-Mart?
2.Where is Wal-Mart vulnerable? What should it watch out for?
3.What recommendations would you make to senior marketing executives going forward? What should the company be sure to do with its marketing?

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