Monthly Archives: October 2014

Brand Preferences by State


No one likes to be pressured, but all of us are impacted by forces that we can’t control. Every day, consumers are exposed to hundreds of ads and promotions, ranging from radio ads to the signs on the side of the bus stop. Our family, friends, social groups, and perhaps even the state in which we live all contribute to our brand preferences. Think about it – do you prefer Nike or Adidas? Taco Bell or Chipotle? Ford or Toyota? What about the rest of the state? How does where we live impact our preferences?

Curious about the answer, Direct Capital, a small business finance company, analyzed Google trends for more than 200 top brands in the U.S. Based on the results, the company created maps that show the branded landscape of the 50 states. Before looking at the charts, take a guess. What do you think is the most popular brand in your state?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the impact of outside influences on consumer purchases and brand preferences.
  2. Divide students into pairs. Have each pair of students list the top three brands that might be Googled in various states. List the guesses on the board.
  3. Next, show the Web site and results:
  4. Discuss why these preferences exist. What can companies do to create a strong preference for their brand within a specific state?

Source: Ad Week, Direct Capital

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Strike a Power Pose


In marketing, we know that perception is reality, and that appearance does matter. Marketers pay a great deal of attention to this in regards to product packaging and advertising. But, how many of us pay attention to our personal marketing? Our body language conveys an impression of us – our strengths, weaknesses, confidence, and power. Body language not only affects how others see us, but perhaps more importantly, it affects how we present ourselves to others.

Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, has researched how “power posing” such as standing confidently (even when we don’t feel confident) can affect our brains, and can impact our chances for success in the workplace. In one of the most popular TED talks (more than 20 million views), Cuddy explains the science behind positive body language and how it impacts how we are perceived, and more importantly, how we perceive ourselves. Our bodies can change our minds.

In Cuddy’s words, “fake it ’til you become it.”

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of personal marketing as students begin to look for jobs.
  2. What are some of their concerns in the job search and interview process?
  3. Show the TED talk: (Note: this is a 20 minute video, but well worth the time investment.)
  4. Pair students. Have one person in each pair take a “power pose.” What happens?
  5. Now, one person take a “lower power pose.” What happens?
  6. How can these poses be used in work and interviews?

Source: New York Times,

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Frankenstein Returns (as a pumpkin)!


It’s the time of year when the ghouls and ghosts come out to play – and this year they are joined by a new pal, “Pumpkinstein!” It’s October and Frankenstein is back, but this time he is in the shape of a pumpkin. Scared?

Taking a page from the square-shaped watermelons produced in Japan, an organic farm in California is growing pumpkins in patented plastic molds that give the pumpkins the recognizable face of Frankenstein. The unusual shape has become a Halloween success for the grower; he sold out the 5,500 head crop months ago to wholesalers at $75 per pumpkin head.

It was not an easy or quick path to a successful product; it took 27 varieties of pumpkin and roughly $400,000 before finding the right approach to making the monster shape. Also produced by the farm is cube-shaped and heart-shaped watermelons, sold for $40 each, and branded melons with letters perfectly pressed into the rind. The pumpkinsteins will retail for $100 and more as the Halloween holiday has become a $7 billion annual business with candy, decorations, and costumes.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss spending and products sold for Halloween. What do students spend money on?
  2. Next, discuss innovative products and show the pumpkinstein photos and videos:

Link to photos:

Web site:

CNBC video:

  1. Discuss the challenges of creating a new product: pricing, promotion, distribution, etc.
  2. Why has this product become a success, despite the high price tag?
  3. As a bonus, also show the video of the Japanese square watermelons:

Source: New York Times

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