Monthly Archives: January 2017

What does it take for a new platform to become the norm?

Some fine lessons here on why 3D TV – after an exciting start 7 years ago- has expired without ever becoming ‘the new normal’.

To make that critical shift, a new platform must have a ‘certain magical mix’ of:

  • improved performance or experience over current/new breaking formats;
  • a sufficient, unique supplier content feed;
  • premium but affordable pricing (delicate balancing act!);
  • doesn’t hurt if it gets positive ‘buzz’ eg celeb support; and
  • relatively free from inhibiting negative news/reviews.

3D didn’t cut it, but 4K just might. Consider why betamax, LaserDiscs, Digital tape etc failed to become the norm, but CD’s did. Why Clean Diesel seems doomed to lose out to hydrogen /hybrid engines. Streetcars seem posed to lose out to ‘clean buses’. Why Natural Gas replaced Oil home heating furnaces. Why Netflix replaced Blockbuster-type video stores. Why Blackberry smartphones lost out to those by Apple & Google. Why AltaVista, WebCrawler & Yahoo search lost out to Google. And why Bing hasn’t got Google shaking in its boots.


To buy well, apply classic considerations, not passing fashions

News that Kate Spade is potentially up for sale should trigger some interest;  

Brick & Mortar enterprises remain relevant, especially in fashion, and Kate Spade may be better off -and more successful- if not a solo act eg as a part of Coach, Michael Kors, PVH, VF Corp, or another firm. Who might be interested in buying, and why? Those are 2 separate questions, as different suitors (given each of their own unique situations) may find different aspects of KS to be appealing and different aspects of KS’s shortcomings to be of concern.

One might think of a Buying Analysis as a score-sheet: after a suitor reviews one’s own strategy, cash situation & ‘organic’ growth potential vs their expected grossed-up potential with KS added in, then they should also consider:

  • what is  the Buyer-Target synergy & skill-set fit? (in this case eg Buying savvy; global expansion savvy; the contacts & expertise for strategic, low risk Licensing in other categories, etc);
  • the incremental customer potential;
  • the global sales growth potential;
  • circumstances (media, markets- malls, cities, regions, nations), demographic or psychographic targets…) where the combined assets give a firm ‘next step up’ critical mass in eg operations, manufacturing, negotiating, talent acquisition/management, etc.

Of course, this simple list conceals a ton of ‘due diligence’ complexity- eg some Suitors may be better able than others to get supplier leverage or licensing leverage for KS; some may be better able to house KS as a co-brand within existing real estate; etc, etc, etc.

Still, though each Suitor’s score-sheet will value the same acquisition differently, imo an EXTRA step a suitor should consider is: What happens if I don’t buy it, but a direct or indirect competitor does? That may sound dog-in-the-manger immature, but it’s a worthy exercise, and especially worth objectively looking at ‘What If’ scenarios. For example: LinkedIn allowed Microsoft buy Skype – imo a major miss –> LinkedIn lost a chance to facilitate Business connections & MS immediately won an appealing instant following & credibility. Apple let former Apple staffers create the Nest thermostat, then let Google buy Nest, effectively leaving the usually visionary Cupertino firm in last-in status in Home Nerve Center category. On the other hand, when Nokia was seeking a Suitor, Microsoft’s competitors rightfully snickered when MS bought them, since Nokia had no proprietary/property edge and since its brand equity & following were consumer focused, not business focused —> just buying hardware will not instantly evolve a B2B marketer into an end consumer marketing expert….

Which leaves me asking: if you can assess a scenario in which a potential competitor buys an asset, can you also create a sense of inflated value, or hype, etc to get a competitor to waste attention & resources on a lame duck? Or can you convince them that your ‘Star’ or ticket to growth, is in fact a lame duck? [ I’m going to put this thought on ‘pause’ and re-watch 2014’s underappreciated and seemingly unrealistic sports film, ‘Draft Day’]