Monthly Archives: March 2023

Membership Programs: Barnes & Noble

Most of us have a number of memberships and subscriptions. We have Amazon Prime, Walmart+, Netflix, Disney+, ESPN+, Apple, Spotify, and more. We might also have subscription food services plans as well. It just seems like every business is working on a subscription or membership, trying to capture that elusive recurring revenue stream – and of course lock us in to its services to the exclusion of other services.

When will it end? Well, it certainly won’t be ending soon. In fact, more and more services, memberships, and subscriptions are offered every day.

Barnes & Noble has entered the fray as it continues to compete with Amazon and its very popular Amazon Prime program. Of course Barnes & Noble’s membership is focused around book sales only (mostly). The company is now offering a $40-per-year membership program that offers customers 10% discounts, free shipping, a yearly tote bag, and size upgrades on drinks.

If the $39.99 program is too pricey, the company has also launched a lower-tier membership program – for free. That program rewards customers with virtual stamps for every $10 spent; 10 stamps equals a $5 credit towards purchase.

The big benefit to Barnes & Noble is to learn more about its customers so that it can provide more products and services to them. If companies learn what we are buying, marketing programs can be tailored to each the consumers more effectively. Barnes & Noble can incent specific purchases using new information gained from the memberships.

What memberships do you have?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss membership programs. Include subscriptions in the discussion.
  2. Poll students – how many memberships or subscriptions do they have? What is the monthly/yearly cost in total?
  3. Show Barnes & Noble website for membership program:
  4. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for launching a new service or product.
  5. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  6. Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
  7. For Barnes & Noble Premium Membership, have each team select three different tactics to use for promotion. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.
  8. Debrief by putting together the entire suggested lists on the white board. As a final step, have the entire class vote on the top three tactics to use.

Source:  Trachtenberg, J. (17 February 2023). Barnes & Noble takes page from Amazon with $40-a-year membership program. New York Times.

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Who Smells?

Most of your students are probably in their late teens or early twenties. They can surely remember how it felt to go through puberty and all the physical changes it wrought in them. Using ‘adult’ products may have felt too old and stodgy, but the ‘youth’ products may not have fit all the needs too.

Deodorant is one of those tricky products to choose as youths turn into adults. Deodorant is used daily by 90% of Americans aged 18 – 29. That’s a lot of product and it comes at a time when the younger consumer is trying on different products and personalities to fit their needs.

Entering the tween/teen market with a fresh approach is Miles, a deodorant designed specifically for teens. The products were designed to help ease the stress of being a teen and uses inclusive branding for all teens, regardless of gender, expectations, or activities. While legacy deodorant brands represent a more traditional view of manhood, Gen Z views themselves with more focus on individuality. Key words for the product are clean, rugged, and fresh – quickly conveying the scents and brand focus.

Only sold online currently, Miles is sold at $8.99/unit. It will also be available this spring at Target stores.

What does your deodorant smell like?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show Miles’ website:
  2. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  3. In the case of Miles, is the buyer the same as the product user? What are the differences between the two groups?
  4. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for Miles. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  5. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  6. Next, have each team select three different tactics to use for Miles. Explain why each tactic was selected and how it will be used.
  7. Debrief by putting together the entire suggested lists on the white board. As a final step, have the entire class vote on the top three tactics to use.

Source:  Norfleet, N. (24 February 2023) Sweet smell of success? Deodorant line hopes so. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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Tik Tok Interns

Do you use TikTok? If so, you are a part of a community of 1.5 billion monthly users around the world!

TikTok was launched in 2016 by Chinese tech company Bytedance.  In 2017 TikTok went global and has since grown to become one of the most popular social media apps in the world. Downloaded more than 3.5 billion times since launch, the app regularly garners 500 million additional downloads each quarter, and was the most downloaded app of 2022!

TikTok may have started with a young audience of teens, but it is far from being just a teen app.  In the U.S., the age range of 25-34 year-olds accounts for nearly 25% of its users, an important demographic for brands and advertisers. And, 18% of all Internet users use TikTok. TikTok is available in 154 countries and 90% of its users access the app daily.

TikTok is so valuable to brands that many companies are now hiring TikTok ‘interns’ to help them reach users. Job sites have listings for “TikTok content creators.” These creators are being asked to both make and appear in videos promoting various products and retailers. Companies hiring this expertise include Claire’s, Whole Foods, Travel Pro, and even Rosedale Mall located in Roseville, Minn. Brands are hiring college students and other young people to help them successfully navigate TikTok, and create an impactful campaign.

What will you create?  

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show TikTok in class:
  2. You could also show a specific company/brand. (Ex: Fenty Beauty: )
  3. Poll students: How do they use it? When? How long? How influential is it on their behavior?
  4. Have students uploaded their own videos? If so, show several of their videos in class.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a brand/company and analyze the company’s TikTok campaigns.
  6. Make sure students first identify the target market including demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, etc.
  7. [Additional assignment: Have each team create an original TikTok video for a product or company they would like to work at.]
  8. Show TikTok’s career site:

Source:  Maheshwari, S. (14 February 2023). Wanted: Interns who can make TikTok hits. New York Times.

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