Un ogre, Google? Oui, mais très gentil (Google God, d’Ariel Kyrou)


Les bureaux de Google à Mountain View sont un lieu de pélérinage pour les technophiles

Le tweet de Julien Hervouët, entrepreneur et enseignant en gestion de projet web à l’ESSCA, illustre très bien l’idée du livre: Google est un dieu de l’information qui a non seulement une influence énorme auprès des décideurs, mais aussi un capital sympathie inouï pour ce type de multinationale. C’est de quoi traite le livre Google God (Big Brother n’existe pas, il est partout) dont je viens de terminer la lecture, et qui permet de véritablement prendre du recul vis-à-vis de ce géant tout-puissant du web. Continue reading →

SAP, avec “Business by Design”, veut retrouver une nouvelle dynamique


C’est un article paru dans Les Echos d’hier qui a attiré mon attention. Dans SAP, le temps de la reconquête, le correspondant du journal à Francfort se penche sur la stratégie sur laquelle SAP parie pour trouver des nouveaux relais de croissance. Après divers problèmes, comme la tentative – rapidement avortée – d’augmenter le prix des licences des logiciels, SAP doit aujourd’hui prouver qu’elle est capable de s’adapter aux besoins de ses clients… et de réveiller le cours de bourse. Continue reading →

No hands: The rise and fall of the Schwinn Bicycles Company: an American institution, Judith Crown & Glenn Coleman, Henry Holt&Co.

When I arrived in Florida in early January I noticed all these Schwinn-bikes on campus, in the gym and in the supermarkets. This aroused my curiosity about this brand I already heard of, but who still was misterious to me ; that’s why I lended No Hands: The rise and fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company: an American institution in the UWF Library. And here’s what I learned in the book, that was published in 1996 (and therefore does not cover Schwinn’s most recent history).

Judith Crown, who is a senior correspondent for BusinessWeek in Chicago and worked for Crain’s Chicago Business, started the book in 1992 after she heard that Schwinn was in serious financial trouble. With Glenn Coleman from Crain’s New York Business, they started investigating the reasons for the turmoil of America’s most notorious cycling brand.


Ignaz Schwinn, co-founder of Arnold, Schwinn & Company (retrieved from http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org)

Ignaz Schwinn emigrated to the United States in 1891 and make profit from the late XIXth century’s bicycle boom to create a successful bicycle manufacturing company with an American partner, the Arnold, Schwinn & Co. The turn of the century and the start of the automotive era (Ernest Pfennig bought the first Ford T in 1903) saw a wave of consolidations in the bicycle business, out of which Schwinn emerged weakened – but even more ambitious. Various takeover made Schwinn one on the big players, and retailing through mass merchants allowed the Chicago-based company to achieve big sales. In 1928, the in-house brand for motorcycles that had been acquired in 1912 and 1917, Excelsior-Henderson, even ranked 3rd in the national motorcycle industry.


This advertisement for Schwinn's Sting-Ray is from 1963 (retrieved from http://www.raleighronsclassics.com)

During the following decades, Schwinn built up a (very) strong brand. The best example certainly is the success of the Sting-Ray that originated from the Californian kids’ street culture (at that time, Schwinn listened to its customers…). Sociologist Arthur Asa Berger saw it in a bit more, let’s say, austere way : “[the Sting-Ray] symbolizes a perversion of values, a somewhat monstruous application of merchandising and salesmanship that… has led to grave distortions in American society“. His vision may be exagerated, but what he said about Schwinn’s marketing efforts gets to the heart of the company’s success : they mastered selective distribution and franchising better than any other consumer product company at the time. Furthermore, Schwinn’s “customers around the country were true believers“, as the book states on page 75, and owning a Schwinn was considered a status symbol in the 60’s.


The mountain-bike pioneers started on converted Schwinns, recognize the frame ? (retrieved from sanfrancisco.about.com)

In the 70’s, Soutern California kids started following new trends (the BMX), just like the kids created the Sting-Ray culture during the sixties. This time, however, Schwinn decided not to engage into the movement, maily because the company saw the sport as too dangerous and unsuitable with Schwinn’s quality image. The same happened with the mountain-bike culture of the 80’s pioneered by Northern California riders like Michael Sinyard (founder of Specialized), Tom Ritchey and Gary Fisher. What Schwinn didn’t recognize is that trends are often set by minority thinkers, and not by the Number One.

Giant Store Amsterdam

In 1988, Giant Manufacturing produced 82% of Schwinn's bicycles, nowadays it is the world's leading bicycle manufacturer (retrieved from http://www.bike-eu.com)

But what eventually drove Schwinn into the turmoil that led the company to file for Chapter 11 in 1992 was it’s inability to cope with management and quality problems, as well as some unsuccessful investments. Basically, the company had to choose in where to produce bicycles at a more competitive prices. The Schwinns decided to turn to Taiwan and China, but even though suppliers like Tony Lo’s Giant Manufacturing (photo) made high quality products, unlucky sourcing desisions led to supply shortage, angry retailers and receding customers. Edward Schwinn, CEO, just wasn’t as passionate about bicycles as his ancestors were. Yoshi Shimano, who was Edward Schwinn’s personal translator during his business trips to Asia, described him as “a nice fellow“, who “had a lower degree of interest for the business“.


If only Microsoft had helped Schwinn taking better strategic decisions... (advertisement from 1982, retrieved from aroundme.fr)

In 1992, Schwinn filed for bankruptcy. Ed Schwinn looked for an investor during the difficult years that preceded this sad ending, but this reveals a part of the problem : instead of an investor that would provide funds to keep the business running, Ed Schwinn should have found a buyer, which implies that this buyer would have taken control of the company – what the Schwinns wouldn’t accept. When the company was too damaged to be saved, the company and name were sold to the Zell/Chilmark Fund, an investment group, in 1993.

To conclude, let me just quote very hard words that Judith Crown writes about Ed Schwinn, in the introduction of the book : “Most of all, it is a tale of a young CEO who alienated just about everyone he needed – from relatives, employees, and longtime dealers to lenders, lawyers, suppliers and bidders – with a mix of arrogance and ignorance that only can be described as hubris

He now runs a cheese shop in Wisconsin, so he certainly won’t destroy another American institution !

The Freestyle fountain: the largest equipment investment in Coca-Cola’s history

Rankings and articles show how high the Coca-Cola Company ranks among the world’s largest firms : on the top ! For the marketing student that I am, the company undoubtfully is one of the best examples to observe this enormous system, particularly its brand identity. One of the recent projects is a new distribution concept which is currently tested on USA’s West Coast : the Freestyle™ fountain.

Code-named “Project Jet” in Atlanta, the project was one of the top priorities of Coca-Cola Company in the last four years. The challenge was to find a way to surprise and satisfy customers by offering the maximum of company products, while reducing the carbon footprint of the distribution and, last but not least, ideally get feed-back on customer choices. Good luck. To tackle this challenge, David Butler, Vice-P of Global Design and Todd Brooks, Design Director for Global Brands formulated four core principles for the design process of a Coke product : simplicity, authenticity, powerful red colour and being “familiar yet suprising“. The particularity of a beverage-firm like Coca-Cola is that design and marketing have more visibilty than product innovation. Actually Coke doesn’t change at all, the growth potential is external : the recent acquisition of Vitamine Water is one of many examples.

Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain dispenser - design

Industrial designer Raymond Loewy designed fountain dispenser for the 13 billion-dollar-company decades ago, and the Freestyle’s design emerged from the offices of the Pininfarina studios, one of the 300 design agencies worldwide Coca-Cola works with, also renown for numerous italian automotive designs. But it’s Butler, who mastered the whole development process, partly with Vince Voron, who came from Apple a couple of years ago to manage Cokes machines design. The resulting Freestyle machine aims to conciliate the global brand ID with a specific focus on local expectations. As another of the company’s executives states : “we have created a concept […] a representation of the way people will experience our beverages years from now“. “Experience” beverages !


© digitalsignageuniverse.com

The machine enables the customer to chose within more than 100 different low-calorie beverages (and hybrids of various Coca-Cola sodas, juices and waters : Fanta, Sprite, Minute Maid etc.), from the authentic Coke beverage to more exotic ones like Minute Maid Raspberry, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke with Lime or Fanta Peach ! But it’s the touchscreen that is remarkable : intuitive browsing through the company’s brands, variants and tastes. And the machine gives feedback : not only about customer-preferences (tastes, peak times, locations etc.), but also allows quick product recall if necessary. Finally, the use of highly concentrate syrup reduces the impact of transport and packaging to a minimum. It’s already used in the McDonald’s dispensers, never watched at it when the Coke pours into your cup?


Select your mix ! (recognize the Apple-like design ?)

Fast Company wrote a very good post about David Butler and his work on the Coke fountain. According to them, he doesn’t use the expression “design thinking” but prefers to “create more value“, and design is one of numerous tools that allow it (“improve the experience to make more money“). It’s as simple as that, and reminds us that design isn’t only about products, but also processes. As Butler repeats at the end of the Fast-Company-journalist’s visit : “This is not a design story […] we’re leveraging design to drive innovation and to win at the point of sale“.

I’ll tag this post with the D-word anyway !

Global Innovation 1000 : Companies are working hard to spend smarter

Taken from www.booz.com

This week, the consulting firm Booz&Company issued a preprint of its Global Innovation 1000 report (download here), which analyses the R&D-spending structure and behaviour of 1000 public companies across the world. These companies represent USD 532 billion (532,000,000,000 !) of research and development spending, “just over half the money invested worldwide in 2008“. Analysing R&D data of 1000 companies indeed takes a lot of time, even if they must more than two (the authors of the report : Barry Jaruzelski and Kevin Dehoff) in their team.

So these thousand companies, on top of which the Toyota Motor Corporation, represent half of the R&D spendings in the world, which basically can be splitted into company and government spendings. Within companies, the stated companies represent roughly 81% of the money. See the first twenty :

Booz&Co. Ranking

The report is called “Profits Down, Spending Steady”, and it appears that R&D indeed is “a competitive necessity“. In times of recession, companies keep investing, even though the global increase of 5,7% is less important than last year’s 10,7% R&D expansion. What appears clearly is that these companies are (still) headquartered in the three main regions : USA, Europe and Japan. In the whole ranking, companies coming from these countries represent stunning 94% of total spending !

The economic downturn doesn’t discourage companies to invest, a lot of them even see the crisis as “an opportunity to build their advantage over their competitors“. Some corporations also say that “the recession has catalysed innovation, by forcing them to think more carefully about their new product portofolios […] and costs“. Efficiency is the word ! Another reason is that development cycles are longer than the recession. while the current crisis lasts since december ’07 (23 months), most industry’s product development cycles are longer : about 35 months to launch a new car, and up to 90 months in the pharmaceutical industry. As IBM’s general manager of the Server X server business, M. Adalio Sanchez, says : “if you miss a cycle, you’re out of the market“.

An example : Innovation at Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes logo

The 90-year-old mail and document management company wanted to coordinate innovation across its research labs and development shops. Having the financial capacity to invest quite heavilly (USD 900 million of free cash-flow in 2008), they aggregated  various products into a new business division called Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI). The management also launched a program called New Business Opportunity (NBO) intended to fund idea development within the business units of the company. A last example the launch of “an electronic meeting place for PB’s 35 000 employees“, called IdeaNet, which enables employees to suggest “any idea that they think will help create new sources of revenue“.

By the way : the #1000 is Laird Group PLC, a London based maker of electronics equipment, which spent USD 58 million on R&D in 2008. Their slogan : Value through Innovation. Page 8 of the report states that “the amount of money companies spend on R&D bears no relationship to overall corporate performance“. I guess this is a quite extensive debate…

Sind das die globalen Leader von Morgen ?


Das Ranking der Consulting-Firma Interbrand wurde heute veröffentlicht, und die Presse hat die Ergebnisse schnell verbreitet. Wie erwartet angelt sich Coca-Cola den ersten Platz, und in den Top-Ten sind nur zwei Unternehmen in einem anderen Land ansässig : Nokia aus Finnland (5.) und Toyota aus Japan (8.). Doch wenn mann den Best Global Brands 2009 Bericht ganz lieβt, findet sich ein Haufen anderer Informationen. Keines der 100 aufgelisteten Firmen stammt aus einem Entwicklungsland, dies könnte sich aber sehr bald ändern : Interbrand beugt sich auf einige Giganten, die Morgen vielleicht ganz oben stehen…

Im Teil “Tomorrow’s Brand Leaders, Up-and-coming global brands” zählt Jonathan Chajet einige Firmen auf, die heute auf ihren Märkten schon führend sind, es aber in einigen Jahren weltweit sein könnten. Diese Märkte (ich habe sie gerade “Entwicklungländer” gennant) sind die heiβ umkämpften Märkte China, Indien, Russland, Südafrika und Brasilien. Der Autor, Manager bei Interbrand China, nennt jeweils drei Unternehmen, die  sind :


  • Lenovo : einer der führenden PC-Hersteller, der heute vorallem für die Übername der PC-Sparte von IBM, im Dezember 2004, bekannt ist. Der Chinesische Staat ist mit 15% Hauptaktionnär, und möchte aus dem Unternehmen einen gmlobalen Leader machen. Der Sport ist einer der Werbeträger : Olympische Fackel der Spiele 2008, Formel 1 oder NBA (und WNBA) steigern die Bekanntheit von Lenovo.
  • Haier : weltweit dritter Hersteller von weiβen Haushaltsgeräten. Nach dem chinesischen Markt hat sich Haier auf dem amerikanischen Markt behaupten können, vorallem in Nischenmärkten mit Fokus auf Studenten und Hausfrauen, u.a. durch tiefe Preise. Heute ist Haier ein breit aufgestelltes Unternehmen, und wartet darauf durch groβe Acquisitionen noch weiter zu wachsen.
  • Tsingtao Beer : die Top-of-Mind-Marke bei chinesischem Bier. Weltweit hat das von deutschen Siedlern erfundene Bier einen sehr hohen Bekanntheitsgrad. Durch einen agressiven Vertrieb, globalem Marketing und strategischen Partnerschaften (wie Anheuser-Busch) möchte Tsingtao bei “Food & Beverage” mal ganz oben mitspielen.



  • Tata Group : vom Kommunikations- und Informationsgeschäft bis zum Baugewerbe, über Energieversorgung und Chimie. Ein Drittel der Einnahmen kommt von Ausserhalb Indiens. Das bekannteste Projekt stammt aus den Büros von Tata Motors : der Tata Nano, billigstes Serienfahrzeug der Welt.
  • Reliance Industries : Indiens gröβtes Privatunternehmen ist im Energie- und Materialbusiness tätig. Heute ist die Firma weltweit führend in der Herstellung von Polyestergarn und Textilfasern, sie steht auch in den Top-Ten bei Chimieprodukten.
  • ArcellorMittal : durch die Übername des Franzosen Arcelor im Jahre 2006 ist der einzige globale Stahlhersteller. In 60 Ländern tätig, ist das Unternehmen, von Lakshmi Mittal angeführt, sehr auf die Wachstumsmärkte China und Indien focusiert.



  • Kaspersky Lab : bekannt ist das Unternehmen durch sein Gratis-Antivirusprogramm, doch die Ambitionen von Eugene Kaspersky’s Firma reichen noch weiter. Er bietet IT-Solutions für Unternehmen und Privatpersonen an, und hat Niederlassungen in Europa (Deutschland, Frankreich, GB, Schweden usw.), Asien (China, Südkorea) und der Vereinigten Staaten.
  • Aeroflot : auch wenn sie nicht mehr die gröβte der Welt ist, ist Aeroflot immernoch eine führende Fluggesellschaft. Jonathan Chajet von Interband sagt, dass der russische Marktführer durch geziehlte Investitionen auch ein seriöser Konkurrent für Air France oder die Lufthansa wird. Seit April 2006 ist Aeroflot Mitglied der Flugallianz SkyTeam.
  • Gazprom : das wahrscheinlich beste Beispiel Russlands wirtschaftlischer aber auch politischer Ambitionen. Ganze 17% des weltweit verfügbaren Gases wird von dem von Alexei Miller geführten Unternehmen gewonnen. Verschiedene Tochtergesellschaften stellen für Gazprom weitere Einnahmequellen dar : Gazprom Bank, Gazprom Media, Gazprom Export usw.



  • MTN Group : ein in Südafrika beheimatetes Kommunikationsunternehmen, welches nicht nur in Afrika aktiv ist. Auch im Nahen Osten hat Mobile Technology Networks hohe Kundenzuwächse registriert. Bei der Fuβball-WM 2010 wird MTN neben Continental, Budweiser, Castrol, Mc Donalds und Satyam (indisches IT-Unternehmen) Hauptsponsor des Turniers sein.
  • Anglo American : im Bergbau und der Rohstoffgewwinnung ist AA in 45 Ländern engagiert. Auch die Papier- und Verpackungsverarbeitung, sowie Metallveredlung sind Aktivitäten des in Johannesburger (und Londoner) Unternehmens. Der Name stammt aus der Zeit als Ernest Oppenheimer mit englischem und amerikanischem Kapital seine Firma gründete, um in Südafrika Rohstoff abzubauen.
  • SABMiller : South African Breweries schloss sich 2002 der Miller Brewing Company zusammen, und ist seitdem der weltweit zweitgröβte Brauereikonzern. Über 200 Marken betreibt das Unternehmen in Asien, Amerika, Afrika und Europa. Dazu füllt SABMiller weltweit Coca-Cola-Produkte ab.



  • Banco Itau : aus der Fusion der zwei ältesten Banken des Landes entstant das gröβte private Finanzunternehmen Brasiliens. Die Bank strebt auf ihrem Heimatmarkt sowie international nach Marktanteilen im Privatbanking und Finanzservice für Unternehmen und Privatpersonen.
  • Vale : das Bergbauunternehmen sitzt in Rio de Janeiro, und leistet in Brasilien auch verschiedene Dienstleistungen : Zugverkehr, Seefahrt, Logistik usw. Ende 2007 wurde entschlossen, den Markennahmen Vale bei allen Aktivitäten der Gruppe durchzusetzen, um die internationale Entwicklungsstrategie zu unterstützen.
  • Natura Cosmeticos : die brasilianische Marktführer betreibt verschiedene Marken, die im Direktvertrieb durch mehr als 700,000 Verkäufer in ganz Brasilien angeboten werden. Besonders stolz ist Natura auf sein soziales und umweltfreundliches Engagement, dass ihnen vielleicht ermöglicht hat, die Krise bis jetzt gut zu überstehen.


Einige dieser Marken sind schon sehr bekannt (Lenovo, Tata, Gazprom), doch ein Groβteil dieser 15 sind noch keine “Global Brands”, denn sie haben bei weitem nicht den Bekanntheitsgrad der 100 von Interbrand aufgelisteten Marken. Zum Beispiel kennen nur sehr wenige die Logos dieser Unternehmen, was einen wesentlichen Teil der Brand Value ausmacht. Die einzige die mir unbekannt war ist Avon (67. Platz), Kosmetikmarke aus New York, und die 5 letzten Marken des Rankings sind trotz allem sehr bekannte und geschätzte Unternehmen : LexusPumaBurberryRalph Lauren und Campbell’s.

Eines der besten Wege Brand Awareness effektiv zu steigern ist, aktives Sponsoring zu betreiben. Meiner Meinung nach sindGazprom (Fuβball mit, u.A., Schalke, Radsport mit dem Team Katiusha usw.), MTN (Fuβball-WM) und Itau (Fuβball, Sponsor der CBF) die Marken die Ihren Bekanntheitsgrad in der Zukunft am effektivsten steigern werden. Doch nicht nur Sportsponsoring ermöglicht es, als Marke wieder erkannt zu werden…

Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2009 : Analysis


It’s one of the most expected rankings in the media. Today, the consultancy firm Interbrand released its Best Global Brandsranking, which values the “earningsdue to the superior demand created for its products and services through the strength of it’s brand“(p.23). In the introduction, Jez Frampton, Global Chief Executive of the firm, states that “brands provide a degree of security in times of economic instability“(p.3). The report doesn’t take a narrower look to the possible decrease of branded products’ sales (due to their higher price), but the emphasis seems to be put on trust, and on the “exponential shift in social and consumer networking“(p.3). It’s one of the trends approached, in the document…

The experts who contributed to the report insist on several points, like the competitive advantages that a strong brandrepresents for a company. And the current crisis can be beneficial for some of them, who can create “competitive distance” to their competitors. For these weak ones, the crisis is an opportunity to “cast off the ineffeciencies, and cultures that kept them down“(p.4), that’s what the authors call The Cleansing Fire. One example is given by the clothing-industry : when Zara is now famous for supply chain innovation, constantly changing assortment and a clear brand focus, its competitor GAP by failing to evolve with the customer and issuing assortments which consistently missed the mark. Innovation and renewal is also what led Nike to be a global leader today, and Toyota to exceed GM on the world scale.

Another very important trend is the evolution of the customers’ expectations toward brands. “Your customer wants in” says the text, stressing the role of the internet in this social evolution. in a “seamless world“, physical barriers are vanishing and consumers want to play an active role in product conception and promotion. By the way, it’s the first time I hear about the 5P’s(Product, Price, Place, Promotion and Package)! We always implemented the packaging aspect into the product definition. Anyway… So social networking is getting more and more important, there’s even a ranking for this : the Engagementdb 2009 report ranks brands by engagement with their communities through social media. This year’s winner is Starbucks. The aim is to acquire a “passionate group of evangelists, who will genuinely spread the good word about what you do“(p.7).


Other trends are mentionned : sustainability, the return to luxury’s core values, and experiential marketing. In an age in which we are overwhelmed by messages (not only advertising, also mails, text messages etc.), real human interaction has been underemphasized by brands. That’s why Leslie Butterfield, author of one of the report’s articles, called “The Experience Revolution“, advocates to get back to the basics : “Consumers needs this memorable, multisensory experiences to fully engage with a brand“(p.12). This can be applied by designing attractive stores (H&M, IKEA, Apple etc.) or by organising realevents, like the Nike+ Human Race that gathered 80,000 people in 142 countries last year !

Nike is quoted in another article of the report, this time concerning global brand design. The “visual and verbal expression (of Nike) varies more than most brands“, while the universal message is consistent : “If you have a body, you are an athlete“. That’s how Paola Norambuena, head of Verbal Identity, sees successful cultural adaptation. Powerful brand expressions “are universally understood“. The requested experts give some good examples : Apple, Veuve Clicquot, BMW, Nintendo and Disney.

2009 Rank 2008 Rank Brand Country of Origin Sector 2009 Brand Value ($m) Change in Brand Value
1 1 Coca-Cola United States Beverages 68,734 3%
2 2 IBM United States Computer Services 60,211 2%
3 3 Microsoft United States Computer Software 56,647 -4%
4 4 GE United States Diversified 47,777 -10%
5 5 Nokia Finland Consumer Electronics 34,864 -3%
6 8 McDonald's United States Restaurants 32,275 4%
7 10 Google United States Internet Services 31,980 25%
8 6 Toyota Japan Automotive 31,330 -8%
9 7 Intel United States Computer Hardware 30,636 -2%
10 9 Disney United States Media 28,447 -3%

The whole ranking (with report) can be downloaded on Interbrand’s website, as well as those issued in the last decade by the global consultancy firm. For those who like these marketing subjects, it’s sixty-five pages of highly interesting stuff !