7 Lessons on Marketing Strategy from My Day with the Cake Boss

Photo of front of Carlo's Bake ShopTwo weekends ago, we celebrated my wife’s birthday. For the last few years, one of the things she most wanted for her birthday was a birthday cake. Not just any cake, mind you, but a cake made by Buddy Valastro – TLC’s Cake Boss. This is not as simple of a request as it sounds and for the last couple of years, I couldn’t fit it into my schedule to make it happen.

This year, I made it happen – and learned something about marketing strategy from the Cake Boss… Continue reading

Yamaha Launches New PRO Headphone Line with High Performance & High Design

Photo of new Yamaha PRO500 HeadphonesYamaha Corporation of America’s AV Division announced today a new line of on- & over-ear headphones that they call their PRO series. Straddling the markets for pro audio, musician, and consumer – the new PRO series is clearly targeted at a more serious listener who appreciates higher fidelity…but with a contemporary, high styling. Featuring what the company calls a “racing inspired” look – the PRO series has a design style more similar to BEATS, SOUL by Ludacris, or SOL Republic, as opposed to previous more utilitarian designs.

But, there is a twist…

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Japan, Inc.: The Cuts Keep Coming

Photo of busy intersection in JapanIn a rash of news coming out of Japan, it is clear that manufacturers are still struggling with the global economic slowdown…as well as an electronics industry retrenchment. As painful as it’s been for Japanese manufacturers (often called Japan, Inc.) over the last 12-24 months or so – adding insult to injury, the China market has slowed down dramatically recently. Considering that China was everyone’s favorite “emerging” growth market – this amounts to a swift kick in the pants and is forcing many to revisit their estimates for this fiscal year. Below is a sample of the latest painful announcements to come out of Japan over the last few days.

See the latest roster of who’s hurting below… Continue reading

Is Best Buy Now Worst Buy?

Photo of Best Buy Store SignIt’s been a rough week for Best Buy. And if something doesn’t happen soon…it’s only going to get worse as the company is on a slippery slope and quickly losing the support of Wall Street. Already the company was embroiled in turmoil having recently dismissed CEO Brian Dunn for an inappropriate relationship with a young, female employee…scolding and then losing founder and chairman Richard “Dick” Schulze who knew about the relationship and didn’t tell anyone…and then enduring a reasonably PR-savvy public campaign as Schulze announced intentions to buy the company and take it private. Finally – as if to emphasize how bad things had become – this past Monday the company announced their fiscal Q2 results with a shocking 91% drop in profits. But wait! There’s more…

How bad is it at Best Buy? They had to pay someone $32 MILLION to come run it!… Continue reading

Forget 4K! Japanese Engineers Create New Global Standard – UHDTV

Image of large UHDTV ScreenAs the industry is on the verge of rolling out the latest HDTV upgrade – 4K resolution – news comes out of Japan that a coalition of Japanese broadcasters and television equipment manufacturers have collaborated to create the next great standard they call Ultra High Definition Television or UHDTV. Another incremental improvement? Oh no…UHDTV leapfrogs 4K…

Have you heard about UHDTV? You’re going to want to know about this… Continue reading

J.D. Power & Assocs. Survey Proves What We’ve Said All Along: 3D is Dead as a Sales Motivator

J.D. Power and Associates LogoI know not everyone who reads this post agrees with us, and we’ve taken a fair share of criticism for our viewpoint, but we’ve been consistently skeptical of the power of 3D to drive HDTV sales. And now, after the industry spent millions (billions?) of dollars in promotion and advertising , as well as several years of intense sales effort, and probably billions of dollars in research & development – a new survey of HDTV-purchasing consumers from reputable researcher J.D. Power and Associates shows that 3D was ranked a distant last as the reason they purchased their set.

The survey held some other surprises as well… Continue reading

Best Buy Board to Schulze: You Show Us Yours Before We Show You Ours

Best Buy Founder Dick SchulzeReuters is reporting that the Best Buy board of directors has asked founder and former chairman Richard Schulze to name the private equity (PE) firms that he can line up to help him buy out Best Buy stock and take the company private. But reportedly Schulze is playing coy, saying only that there’s a “number of leading private equity firms” prepared to make a significant commitment.

In an email to Reuters, the board said, in effect, it will take its time to study the proposal… Continue reading

After Climbing for 4 Months, Single-Family Housing Starts Drop in July

Housing Starts GraphicNew residential construction data from the Commerce Department released today showed that single-family housing starts dropped in July to 502,000 units or 6.5% below June’s revised rate of 537,000 units. And while this figure is still a solid 17% over July 2011’s rate of 429,000 units – it was a bit of a disappointment as single-family starts have increased for the last four months in a row, leading some to conclude that the housing market was on a rebound.

But other housing data suggests the  bumpy road for housing continues… Continue reading

Nortek Financial Results Show That, Despite Best Efforts, TECH Remains Troubled

Nortek's HeadquartersAt the end of last week, Nortek, Inc. reported their financial results for the fiscal second quarter and first half. While at first blush the overall numbers look good – sales up 9% in Q2 and 8% in 1st Half and returning to profitability for both periods – digging deeper shows that their technology business unit (TECH) and residential ventilation business unit (RESV) are not yet participating in the company’s turnaround. Given the significant amount of restructuring of their TECH segment, this result is troubling. Continue reading