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Susan Fournier Interview re DeflateGate and brand relationships on WBUR

‘Deflate-Gate’ Report: Good For Ticket Sales, But Key Moment For Patriots Brand

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gestures during an event at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., Thursday, May 7, 2015. An NFL investigation has found that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and that quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware" of the rules violations. The 243-page report released Wednesday, May 6, 2015, said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gestures during an event at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., Thursday, May 7, 2015. An NFL investigation has found that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and that quarterback Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of the rules violations. The 243-page report released Wednesday, May 6, 2015, said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool)

Here we are in May, in the middle of the NBA playoffs and the NHL playoffs. And what is everyone on sports radio and TV talking about? An NFL team that’s not even playing right now.

“I mean, the Patriots are the team that people love to love and the team that people love to hate,” said Susan Fournier, a branding professor at Boston University Questrom School of Business. One of those fans is her father, and she says “he’s so upset by this.”

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Filene’s Basement

Filene’s Basement: Inside a Fired Customer’s Relationship (2014) Harvard Business School Case (Jill Avery and Susan Fournier)

How, in a business climate in which building relationships with customers has dominated both managerial thought and marketing budgets, could Filene’s Basement have fired a loyal customer, one who was formally and informally recognized as a best customer? This case allows students to reverse-engineer a fired customer’s relationship with discount retailer Filene’s Basement, from her perspective, to uncover the critical incidents and behaviors of each party that shaped their relationship trajectory. The company’s customer relationship management (CRM) programs are analyzed to show how they influenced and encouraged unprofitable customer behavior.

Relating to Peapod

Relating to Peapod (2014) Harvard Business School Case (Susan Fournier and Jill Avery)

Explores the relationships formed between consumers and the Peapod consumer-direct grocery delivery service, as revealed through an ethnographic study of Boston-area Peapod shoppers. Three representative case histories are brought to life using extensive quotes from these selected longitudinal interviews. Closes with short vignettes describing the experiences of additional service users so that students can offer relationship predictions using process insights derived from the detailed case studies. Together, the data-driven exercises are designed to deepen students’ understanding of the development processes characterizing consumer-firm/brand interactions over time, toward the goal of more informed relationship marketing strategies and sharper brand relationship executions.

EMC2: Delivering Customer Centricity

EMC2: Delivering Customer Centricity (2011) Harvard Business School Case (Thomas Steenburgh and Jill Avery)

This case discusses the concept of customer centricity, aligning the resources of your organization to effectively respond to the ever-changing needs of the customer, while building mutually profitable relationships, in the context of EMC, the world’s leading information infrastructure company. EMC has built a corporate culture which puts customers squarely in the center of their business mission and has created structures and processes to enable customer centricity to infuse the organization. However, the firm has grown organically and through acquisitions and is now managing a diverse product line and a diverse customer base which includes large firms and small firms, as well as individual consumers. Moving to a VAR sales model has also distanced EMC from its customers. Customer centricity, as historically practiced by EMC, is becoming more difficult to execute and may not be feasible or cost effective, given the large variance in customer lifetime value across the customer portfolio. The case introduces students to fundamental Web 2.0 concepts and allows them to grapple with whether EMC can use “high-tech” customer service to replace or supplement “high-touch” customer service.

HubSpot: Lower Churn through Greater CHI

HubSpot: Lower Churn through Greater CHI (2010) Harvard Business School Case (F. Asis Martinez-Jerez, Thomas Steenburgh, Jill Avery and Lisa Brem)

In this case, students wrestle with the trade-offs inherent in rapidly growing a customer base and retaining customers over time. HubSpot, an entrepreneurial start-up selling Web 2.0 software-as-a-service to B2B and B2C customers, is under pressure from its venture capital backers to acquire new customers at a rapid rate and to maintain a low level of customer churn. In the case, students explore the drivers of customer churn and uncover opportunities to increase customer retention across the customer selection, selling, and training processes. Students assess a company model used to predict which customers will churn and suggest alternatives to improve the model’s prediction. Students develop programs to reduce churn post-hoc and then reengineer the company’s marketing and customer relationship management processes to manage churn proactively through market segmentation and targeting, product design, and customer interactions.

HubSpot: Inbound Marketing and Web 2.0

HubSpot: Inbound Marketing and Web 2.0 (2009) Harvard Business School Case (Thomas Steenburgh, Jill Avery and Naseem Dahod)

This case introduces the concept of inbound marketing, pulling customer prospects toward a business through the use of Web 2.0 tools and applications like blogging, search engine optimization, and social media. Students follow the growth of HubSpot, an entrepreneurial venture which sells inbound marketing software as a service to business-to-business customers. HubSpot has built its own fledgling business entirely through inbound marketing strategies and tactics. However, the business is currently at a crossroads with management looking for rapid acceleration of sales and profits. HubSpot, in its quest for growth, faces significant challenges which are associated with the inbound marketing model. These include: 1.) developing market segmentation and targeting strategies after customers have initiated contact with the company to decide which customers to serve and which to turn away, 2.) configuring pricing strategies to align with the value delivery stream customers experience, and determining the scope and role of freeware in the product strategy, and 3.) determining whether inbound marketing communications programs can generate enough scale or whether traditional outbound marketing methods need to be employed to rapidly accelerate growth. The case introduces inbound marketing and juxtaposes it against traditional outbound models of marketing, encouraging students to explore the opportunities and challenges this new model presents for firms. The case allows students to grapple with the strategic and tactical decisions that accompany marketing strategy and to understand how marketing decisions pertaining to product, price, and promotion are interrelated and affect higher level strategic decisions on market segmentation, targeting, and positioning.

Engineering the Experience for Best Buy’s Magnolia Brand

Engineering the Experience for Best Buy’s Magnolia Brand (2008) Boston University School of Management (Fournier and Kampel)

In December 2000, Best Buy acquired a 13–store west coast retailer of high end audio and video products, Magnolia Hi-Fi Inc., for $87M. This purchase set Best Buy on a growth through acquisition path (see Exhibit 1) and began to build the portfolio of brands that the $27.3 billion Minnesota-based company would use to reach and service various segments of the market. Per Best Buy’s highly publicized Customer Centricity Program, the brand allowed the company access to the “Barry’s” and “Jill’s” of the world, two highly promising target segments. Best Buy’s Magnolia acquisition was part of a broader strategy for success in an increasingly polarized and competitive retailing market. A trend in home improvement and office supplies retailing involved the elimination of specialized Mom and Pop stores by large big box retailers that could offer better prices and a wider selection. This same trend had hit the consumer electronics (CE) category where products were becoming commoditized and margins were shrinking. The trend posed both an opportunity and a threat to Best Buy.

Starbucks: Delivering Customer Service

Starbucks: Delivering Customer Service (2006) Harvard Business School Case (Moon and Quelch)

Starbucks, the dominant specialty-coffee brand in North America, must respond to recent market research indicating that the company i s not meeting customer expectations in terms of service. To increase customer satisfaction, the company is debating a plan that would increase the amount of labor in the stores and theoretically increase speed-of-service. However, the impact of the plan (which would cost $40 million annually) on the company’s bottom line is unclear.

Exploring Brand-Person Relationships

Exploring Brand-Person Relationships: Three Life Histories (1998) Harvard Business School Case (Fournier)

The idea that “relationships” exist between consumers and products has implicitly occupied a central place in brand marketing thought and practice. Now as relational (one-on-one) marketing is said to be replacing transactional (mass) marketing as the dominant paradigm of the field, explicit theoretical development of these ideas becomes critical. This case presents detailed qualitative data on three women and their relationships with brands.

Marketing Analysis Toolkit

Marketing Analysis Toolkit: Customer Lifetime Value Analysis (2010) Harvard Business School Note and Quantitative Analysis Toolkit (Thomas Steenburgh and Jill Avery)

Customers are increasingly being viewed as assets that bring value to the firm. Customer lifetime value is a metric which allows managers to understand the overall value of their customer base and relate it to three customer strategies firms employ: asset acquisition – attracting new customers to the firm, asset maximization – maximizing the value the firm extracts from each customer, and asset retention – retaining existing customers for the long term. The note gives students a foundation for analyzing marketing cases, as well as providing an analytical structure and process for completing a marketing plan. The note is accompanied by a free Excel worksheet which contains sample problems, prebuilt Excel models to calculate customer lifetime value, and charts and graphs which help visualize the results.

Portfolio Items