Monthly Archives: December 2012

Merry Christmas. Enjoy Ruined!

xmas card


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Filed under China, Music, Not There

Subway & Yield

Ever wonder why they always ask if you’d like double meat at Subway? What they’re doing is trying to increase their yield buy increasing the amount of money you spend in a given transaction. Simply put, double meat means more money in Subway’s pockets.

In China, Subway uses the average Chinese consumer’s relative lack of knowledge about sandwiches to increase the amount of money they make. Where an American consumer would balk at the idea of combining tuna & salami, Chinese consumers are more open to persuasion because their ideas about what makes a sandwich are less clearly defined.

Sales push techniques like “double meat” are more effective if they’re couched in the sharing of expertise or knowledge. For a Westerner who understands “how to eat a sandwich” double meat is simply gluttony.


Filed under China, Marketing

What Bugs Can Teach You About Marketing

There are millions of different kinds of bugs.

How do they survive?

They differentiate.

Most bugs are very good at one thing and they don’t face stiff competition from other bugs. In business jargon, their core competencies don’t over-lap.

Think like a bug and figure out how you’re different.


Filed under Marketing

The Economic and Politcal Function of Nostalgia in China


China is busy consuming it’s past. Need a little proof? Take a walk through Nanluoguxiang and you’ll notice school uniforms for sale straight out of the 1970s, recently revived vintage orange soda Beibingyang (pictured above) and a grab-bag of vintage kitsch too varied to describe here.

Nostalgia is more than just a longing for the past, it serves “harmonious” economic & political functions.

Economic: Doing new things, especially in the cultural space, is risky. If you’re doing something that was successful before, you’re chances of succeeding are raised.

Political: The past isn’t always pleasant and collective memories of past events can cast a negative light on the present. If you turn the icons of the past into commodities, you banalize them, blunting their effect and influence. A few examples: Che the revolutionary became Che the fast-fashion T-shirt and the disjunctive cultural clash of the 1960s became care (etc.) advertising for baby boomers.

In China the commodification of the past into bottles of mediocre orange soda is an attempt to strip the past of its discontents. Nostalgia and the vintage fetish for a reified past exists to monetize and rectify the politically uncomfortable.


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Filed under China, Digital, Ideas

What Tech Can Learn From Zara

There are only 2 kinds of tech brands: leaders & followers. Leaders leverage breakthrough tech through R & D and rely on changing the rules of the game to stay ahead. Followers react to changes and try to keep up, using price and other measures to compete. For a follower to be effective 2 things are incredibly important: time to market & channels. If you’re following, everything is built on speed, and getting there first determines success.

Samsung is a classic follower brand. The Galaxy’s success is primarily built on how quickly it established itself in the android ecosystem and Samsung’s existing sales channels.

“Fast Fashion” brand Zara is also a classic follower but instead of focusing on technical advances, they quickly follow fashion trends and bring them to the market at a more affordable price.

The difference between Zara and the vast majority of follower tech brands is that Zara has a distinctive brand image and positioning: Zara has a look and feel and an image that makes the affordable glamorous. The tech followers (with the possible exception of Samsung) are all the same, searching for differentiation in a bloody sea of similar features.

The Zara lesson is: if you’re going to follow, you better do it with a sense of style.

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Filed under Ideas, Marketing

5 Things

1. If there was no Great Firewall, Weixin would be a global phenomenon. The wall keeps things in as much as at blocks them out.

2. Momo has legs. Why? Because young Chinese people are incredibly repressed and they crave a way to hook-up that’s relatively discreet.

3. Weibo is essentially a client APP at this point, most people never go to the website.

4. Windows 8 will do better in China than other markets because people will use bootleg versions & apps.

5. Long-term, cheap Chinese smartphones will rip the guts out of the market and erase margins. An android phone is an android phone because the OS dilutes the quality of the tech. People in Minneapolis will not pay for Samsung when they know what Xiaomi is.

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Filed under China, Ideas