Ithaca, NY Gives Up On Winter Weather

Growing up in upstate New York, I’ve dealt with harsh winters all of my life. We all know that sometimes mother nature can get a little out of hand.This year, the northeast is getting hit a little more than usual forcing us habitants to give up on the light at the end of the tunnel. When temperatures are hitting -20s with wind chill, Western New York isn’t at the top of anyone’s list to visit. The town of Ithaca, NY and my lovely college town where I currently live, has decided to give up on the cold weather.

Yesterday, they changed their tourism homepage,, to a page that redirected people to consider visiting Florida instead. Of course Ithaca is gorgeous, but it’s prime is during the summer months.

“Due to this ridiculously stupid winter, Ithaca invites you to visit The Keys this week,” the welcoming message says. “Please come back when things thaw out. Really, it’s for the birds here now. … P.S. Send us a postcard.”



The site quickly gained a lot of attention. Attracting over 80,000 hits, this caused the website to crash. The story reached national news outlets such as USA Today and ABC News. In addition, our lovely alum David Muir ’95 reported the story on ABC’s World News Tonight.

“Summer does come…eventually. Don’t blink. You’ll miss it.”- David Muir 95′


Viral Marketing: Ford’s “Speed Dating”

With advertisements increasingly cluttering the consumers mind, companies have to come up with new ways to reach consumers’ attention, especially among the digital landscape.

Recently, Ford did just that. Car commercials and advertisements are so similar it almost seems impossible to tell them apart sometimes. So, the automaker hired a professional female stunt driver for a prank video from Team Detroit and production house The Work. The viral marketing stunt is called “Speed Dating,” and highlights the Ford Mustang GT.

At first, the girl acts novice and even admits that she doesn’t know how to drive stick. After some confident remarks from the guys, she drives to an empty parking lot where she performs high-speed action stunts. Although the guy’s reactions are predictable, Ford took an unusual approach to promoting the Mustang GT. Viral Internet videos are all of the rage right now and this video is entertaining, amusing, and still shows how well the car can drive. Not only is the video comical, it doesn’t hurt that Ford used a female stunt driver to appeal to a larger demographic. Being up for a little over a week, the video has gained over 9 million views.

Companies and media agencies have to think innovatively and produce new and creative ways to utilize different media to its fullest potential.


Did Someone Say, “FREE”?

No one can resist the power of free. Why do you think brands plaster the word FREE in a large bold font at the top of advertisements? In fine print it most likely will say something along the lines of, “ with purchase of $20 or more,” but the instant consumers’ minds digest the word “free’, an impulse sparks.

As digital technology expands, prices drop. As seen with Moore’s Law, every generation of computer memory chips will pack the same technology into half the space while doubling the performance. As an example, a unit of memory that cost $1,000 twenty years ago costs roughly 12 cents today. How can that be!? The rise of “freeconomics” dictates that the cost of doing business online is rapidly dwindling to zero.


To discuss this topic further, let’s look at a company that provides it’s content at no charge to consumers. Currently one of the most-visited and popular websites that uses this free pricing model is YouTube. Just to reaffirm, YouTube is a video-sharing website founded in 2005. Free of cost, users can make a profile, upload video content on the site as well as vie and share content of other users. A lot of different type of content is shared through YouTube. Over the years many “YouTubers” have gained a lot of recognition and even made careers out of the content they post on YouTube.

Source: Jenna Marbles, YouTube

Source: Jenna Marbles, YouTube

According to YouTube’s statistics, the site receives more than 1 billion unique users each month and over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. That’s a LOT of content and a LOT of people using the site.

Something to consider is what Josh Kopelman calls the “penny gap.” There is a very big difference between what is cheap and what is free. To access and view content on YouTube is completely free. If YouTube were to charge it’s users as little as $1 a month it would be $1 too much. In reality $12/year is pocket change to most people, but that tiny increase would make people go crazy. The psychology of “free” is powerful. There is a good reason why companies like Google, YouTube, and Facebook don’t show up on your credit card.


If all of these digital companies are offering their software and content for free to consumers, how do they stay in business? Well, there are many ways that companies using free pricing models still make money and can be explained by Chris Anderson’s taxonomy of free. YouTube happens to utilize a handful of these strategies.


Ever stuck watching a non-skip advertisement while waiting for a YouTube video? You’re not the only one. A point brought up by Chris Anderson in “Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business,” is that traditionally a company provides “a product free (or nearly free) to consumers, and advertisers pay to ride along.” Advertisers don’t want the YouTube videos they want the viewers. They pay to be a part of this website to be seen by consumers. YouTube builds audiences with distinct interests that advertisers are willing to pay to reach. I think it’s pretty obvious how effective this strategy is. According to YouTube statistics, they have more than a million advertisers using their Google ad platforms.


Without the users uploading their videos, there wouldn’t be any content at all. Therefore when users upload their video content, it improves the website as a whole and creates something of value. This strategy is immensely effective. Not only do consumers feel important when they see their content hit the web, this type of exchange also creates and fosters sub-communities within the site where users can interact with one another.


 Besides what YouTube purchased to initially begin the company, having an additional viewer isn’t going to change YouTube’s costs. Therefore, they have the ability to distribute digital content at virtually no cost to a vast number of audiences. This is seen the most with online music. Artists put their music on these free sites for consumers to listen to and enjoy without purchasing the album. Although they aren’t gaining any revenue, they are gaining recognition. Seeing as YouTube receives about 1 billion unique visitors a month, I’d say this strategy is also quite effective.

Source: Tatiana Manaois, YouTube

Source: Tatiana Manaois, YouTube


In a way YouTube also uses cross-subsidies, which is simply free products or services that entice you to pay for something else. Therefore, YouTube viewers may listen to a music album or watch a movie trailer that will entice them to buy that album or go to that movie. Although there is no measurement or algorithm pertaining to the ratio of people who watch a movie trailer and then purchase a movie ticket, I think it’s safe to say that it does have an influence on some users. Traditionally, consumers didn’t have YouTube to watch a trailer. Therefore, they would have to sit by the television and wait for it to come on again.


YouTube is not the only site to take advantage of a free pricing model. Some others include Google, Facebook, Pandora, LinkedIn, and that’s just to name a few. Free is becoming the norm in the digital world because that’s exactly what consumers want to see. The power of free changes everything. As the price of digital technology decreases while the value continuously increases, who knows what the digital world will become in the future. But the one thing I can assure you is that it will be free.


Top SuperBowl Ads of 2015

In case you missed some of these from last weekend, I wanted to post some of what I thought were the best SuperBowl ads from this year. What I loved the most is that marketing messages are shifting from “Buy, Buy, Buy” to evoke an emotional connection and promote positive messages. Some of these included McDonald’s Pay with Lovin’, the No More Campaign, and Coca Cola’s bold move to address the impact of cyberbullying.

Which one was your favorite commercial this year?

​Smart Products and the Next Wave of Technology

We’ve entered an era of hyper-connectivity or “the state of being constantly connected.” We see this in everyday interactions with instant messaging, social media, and mobile phones. More specifically, hyper-connectivity exists between computing devices to networks with cloud storage, location awareness, and artificial intelligence. Through the development of artificial intelligence emerge new and innovative smart products that are changing our world.

The advancement of new technological capabilities are entirely reshaping and creating new industries. Instead of basic phones or watches, we now we have smart phones, smart watches, smart TVs, and the list goes on. So what makes these seemingly ordinary products so smart? Let’s take a look at a new product called the ‘Smart Body Analyzer’ created by Withings. Take a quick look at the video below to learn a little more about the product.

As you can see, The ‘Smart Body Analyzer’ may look like a normal weight scale, but its capabilities and functionality goes above and beyond displaying a number on a screen. It measures your weight, body composition, heart rate, and even the air quality and temperature in that room. Once stepping on the scale it will automatically recognize who are and access your profile. Next, it will analyze your body in which that information will transfer directly to your smartphone.

Tapping the center of the scale will access air quality function. Air pollution can cause health problems such as headaches, sore throats, respiratory problems as well as disrupt sleep. This information is also tracked and stored as a graph in your smartphone.

Within the HealthMate application on your IOS or Android smartphone, not only does it track the information from the scale, but you can also use it as your own personal fitness tracker. On your profile you can create weight goals, record your fitness activity, and track your overall health with tips and reminders.

Smart, Connected Product Components

According to an article, “How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Competition” by Michael E. Porter and James E. Heppelmann, there are three components contained within ‘smart’ products. These are the physical, smart, and connectivity components.

To look at Porter and Heppelmen’s first component, the scale is physically made up of mechanical and electrical parts. Simply, that includes the materials used to put the product together such as metal, glass, LED screens, and more.

Next, comes the smart component. Within the scale’s physical parts, there is an enhanced interface that is operated through sensors, microprocessors, and smart software. These smart components allow the scale to be able to automatically detect users identification and then determine their weight, body mass index, and heart rate. Additionally, the embedded operating system can determine the air quality of the room through different sensors within the product. Pretty smart, right?

Finally, we have the connectivity component, or the wireless protocols for communicating. This component is seen with the ‘Smart Body Analyzer’ in the way it communicates, transfers, and stores data wirelessly to your smartphone. This component is further described as being “one-to-many” It not only connects to one smartphone, it can connect to up to eight different profiles simultaneously.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.04.02 PM

Impact on Industry Structure

As mentioned earlier, these smart products have a huge impact on the industry structure. According to the article by Porter and Heppelmann, “competition is driven by five competitive forces: the bargaining power of buyers, the nature and the nature and intensity of the rivalry among existing competitors, the threat of new entrants, the threat of substitute products or services, and the bargaining power of suppliers.”

Competition Industry Model

1. The first force is the bargaining power of buyers. Not only do smart, connected products expand product differentiation and customization; they also allow companies to form close relationships with their customers. Buyers’ costs of switching to a new supplier also increase, thereby reducing buyers’ bargaining power. However, that buying power can increase by providing them with a better understanding of product performance and more specifically segmenting their market.

2.The second force is the rivalry among competitors. These new products are changing the competitive landscape and by opening up new services, they offer unique value propositions and more specific market segments. As an example, the ‘Smart Body Analyzer’ is able to provide not only the user’s weight, but also their heart rate, BMI, and air quality, eliminating the need of an individual product for each feature. An air quality system has never had to compete with a weight scale…until now.

3. Next, we have the threat of new entrants. With high levels of technology comes complex product design and IT infrastructure. The components of the ‘Smart Body Analyzer’ go beyond basic functionality of a scale and the connectivity of it requires extensive wireless communication of data. Besides the barrier of price and product complexity, first movers in the industry reap the benefits of first introducing the new smart product as well as collecting data and improving the product.

4. Not only do we have the threat of new entrants, but also the threat of substitutes. Although it’s very unlikely to have an easy substitute with the new technology of a product such as the ‘Smart Body Analyzer,’ the product itself will substitute for conventional devices such as a heart rate monitor, weight scale, and air quality products.

5. Lastly, we have the bargaining power of suppliers. Although the smart components are adding value to products now, they will soon be able to be made cheaper or even replaced overtime, affecting the total cost and ultimately the power of suppliers. If the supplier has talent and capabilities that are essential to differentiation, then the bargaining power of those suppliers can be high.

Individual Observations

After researching the ‘Smart Body Analyzer’ thoroughly, I believe it is an amazing and truly innovative idea. I have never used this product but I would be interested to use it in the future. The reviews of the product are excellent, receiving a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Personally, I don’t necessarily need all of that information at this time in my life because I happen to be young and lead an active lifestyle. However, I think it provides very useful combination of health monitoring technology that makes it quick and easy for people to stay on top of their health. It’s quite expensive for someone my age to invest in but I think if multiple people were using it, such as a family, it would be rather inexpensive way to keep track of their health.

Looking to the Future

Although the ‘Smart Body Analyzer’ seems like a great innovation to healthcare, I think it can go even further. I strongly believe that this product, as well as every other smart health-monitoring product in the market right now, that there is another step for them to take. For individuals who need constant monitoring, such as the elderly or sick, these smart devices have the potential to be a constant link and communication with their doctor. If doctors can have access to this information, they can more efficiently monitor patients and determine any problems immediately. Monitoring your weight to lose some pounds after the holidays is one thing, but I think that expanding these hyper-connective capabilities could be the future of the healthcare industry.

 “Withings’ next gen scale does everything but the ironing. These guys are part of a move that is set to revolutionalise and democratise healthcare, putting our health in their hands.”

– Guardian Online