St. Valentine’s Day – More than dates and roses

St.Valentine’s Day – more than dates and roses

Michael R. Czinkota

For centuries St. Valentine has been the patron of love and lovers, providing individuals with the nudge to move a relationship forward. International shipments of red roses have enriched the economies of Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya by hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the time to revisit Valentine’s Day as to its meaning and make plans to restructure its impact.

Valentine’s Day has already undergone significant expansion. Its celebration has grown from a small parish to half of the globe. It has become, in some of the wealthier countries, an important gift giving occasion. Gifts have become differentiated by gender. Men consistently give more than women, perhaps because they wish for a foundation, while many women see decoration. The typical gifts are jewelry, roses or dinner. As reported by the National Retail Federation of America, more than $ 810 million worth of Valentine’s Day gifts are given to pets.

The timing of Valentine’s Day has expanded as well. In Korea and Japan, romantic gifts are given on March 14, one month later than in the USA. The product pallet has become more diverse: for example in Denmark, instead of roses, one exchanges pressed white flowers. In the Philippines, on February 14 small events are increasingly supplanted by large ceremonies and mass weddings. Italians, instead of smelling the roses, listen to the reading of poetry and eat chocolate hazelnut kisses also known as baci. In South Africa the name of a beloved one is written on one’s shirt sleeves.

Some governments consider the Day as unreligious and ban its celebration. By contrast, increasingly, on Valentine’s Day one does not just recognize the one you love, but also family and friends. The Pope in Rome has been known to carry flowers with him on that special day.

In sum, Valentine’s Day has taken on a wider mission, diversified its outreach, introduced more flexibility in terms of timing, product, message, and interaction with more people. Most importantly, it has propagated quite successfully the message of interaction, proximity, hugs and love.

As next step should encourage this expansion and integrate it more with our lives as business people, policy makers or consumers. Here are some suggestions how Valentine’s Day as a widening construct can serve to incorporate present day realities and future days outlook. To nudge things along, recommendations are included  for appropriate commemorative gifts.  

For President Trump: A cake with many candles but little sugar for providing many occasions of hope, change and new perspectives.

For Kim Jong-un of North Korea : a candle signifying the love of your people and in appreciation  for not blowing up  nuclear devices;

For the U.S. Congress: A “like” card for constituents to send to their own representative; to be accompanied by a ‘’you can do better’’ card for the rest of the institution;

For the global trade community: A “tough love” card which allocates specific responsibilities for rules and tasks to be changed, accompanied by jovial if not hearty messages indicating that “we understand”;

For Prime Minister May: some non-tear tissues – to dry the eyes – we won’t  break away;

For people both domestic and foreign who were struck by natural disasters or poverty: a red envelope with a check inside;

For tax payers:  no plastic but a paper bag; their reductions are more than just crumbs;

For corporations:  a colorful map showing new investment opportunities with large benefits;

To the Twitter company: some tightly packed characters showing concern;

For media: some loosely sourced but highly emotional news stories showing respect;

To the world at large: the form of messages and hugs represent how different cultures take different approaches to love; to get there, a relationship has to come first; joint efforts will help.

To my own small world: humongous love to wife Ilona and daughter Margaret; your gift; anything you want.

TO ALL:   Happy St.Valentine’s Day!

*Michael R. Czinkota teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent , U.K. His key book (with Ilkka Ronkainen) is “International Marketing” (10th edition, CENGAGE)

Can We Really Delete The Past? A British Campaign Aims To Do Just That

What started as a simple idea over two years ago, has grown into a law that very well may be passed through the new Conservative leadership of Britain’s, Theresa May. The new Prime Minister of the UK has been insistent on passing “safeguards” that would allow children, once they turn 18 to delete any derogatory or incriminating former social media posts, photos, and even comments.

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The Future is Small Data CLICK TO READ

Just yesterday, Facebook acquired a small Israeli startup called “Onavo” for a cool $150 million. Onavo specializes not in big data analysis – which seems to be today’s hot commodity – but rather data compression and optimization (“small data”). Onavo is of significant value-add to Facebook because its optimization algorithms effectively make the product lighter on data consumption – a major boon to consumers in developing countries that pay a relatively large amount for cellular data – and effective analysis methodologies. In order for Facebook to keep growing, they need to keep growing their network while simultaneously making big data “smaller.”

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are some of the most useful, updated, and heavily utilized consumer preference databases available – and marketers are constantly looking for ways to monetize on the action. For instance, Facebook has recently been wooing network broadcasters with consumer data reports to help broadcasters understand consumer opinion on their content.

For companies trying to understand foreign consumer preferences, especially in countries in which official data may be fudged or incomplete, it can be quite difficult to ascertain consumer preferences from a hands-off approach. Traditional information agencies such as the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) may not have the same reach that social networks do. Social networks, unfiltered by bureaucratic corruption, can bridge the knowledge gap for foreign companies without the risk of government book-cooking. That’s why Facebook needs to grow its presence in developing markets, to make it easier for people to online: to bolster its ad revenues and to deepen its potential as a treasure trove of consumer information.

Acquiring small data pioneer Onavo will certainly make it easier for citizens of developing countries to get online. The more people that are online, the more valuable Facebook becomes. I believe that Facebook, Twitter, et al certainly have the potential to surpass information-collection resources like the EIU, McGraw-Hill, and others at the consumer level – provided that they focus not only on getting more people online, but also making big data smaller. The Onavo acquisition is a step in the right direction.

This text was written and presented by Mr. Ryan Cunningham, Student at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University in the course on International Business (STRT-261-01) on October 17th, 2013.

In addition to the written work, the author also offered a very interesting presentation on the issue: Business Intelligence, Facebook, and Small Data.  You can contact Ryan here.

Social Media Success Strategies in International Marketing

Creating a substantial social media presence is not simply about making a Facebook page and hoping customers will drop by. In business, successful communities are developed through the use of skillful marketing research, planning, and strategy making. Social media–based marketing succeeds best when the firm offers products and services relevant to the customer, incorporating substantial value, and provided by an organization deemed trustworthy and reliable. Below are important strategies firms should follow to maximize the effectiveness of social media in international marketing.

Monitor Your Firm’s Online Reputation

Trust plays a critical role in the success of social media marketing. In a world of 24-hour news cycles via practically unlimited news and information outlets, firms can fall victim to gossip and the rants of disgruntled consumers, activists, and others. Thus, marketers need to invest efforts every day scanning the Internet to monitor news about the firm and its brands.

Communicate Your Expertise

Sophisticated companies publicize their expertise in various ways online, such as via websites, podcasts, blogs, and social media, all emphasizing buyers’ needs. Fundamentally, more than caring about products themselves, consumers seek solutions to their specific problems.

Understand Your Markets

Marketers need to devise marketing communications only after acquiring substantive knowledge of the characteristics of intended buyers. By knowing who is using which social sites, marketers can promote their products to their targeted audience at the appropriate sites. For example, the social network site aSmallWorld targets affluent members and others who are part of the international social jet set. Care2 is a social network site that appeals to environmentalists and other interest in green living from around the world.

Manage Information about Your Company and Brands

Many firms today use Facebook and other sites to disseminate continuous news releases that provide value to consumers. Buyers respond favorably to information that appeals to their needs and concerns about products and brands they enjoy. News releases online link to the corporate website, where explanations are offered regarding emergent trends and events that interest buyers. The most successful social media sites incorporate numerous useful links to other sites and provide easy means for customers to contact company representatives. For example, Chinese computer giant Lenovo launched a site called “Voices of the Olympic Games” to collect posts from the athletes competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The site allowed Lenovo to link its brand to exciting Olympics events as they developed.

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The Global Rise of Social Media

As the Internet gains momentum worldwide, firms are using social media to undertake international marketing campaigns. Because social media are cost-effective, even small firms can market offerings to market niches around the world.

Leveraging social networks can be especially effective in emerging markets and developing economies, where consumers may be less receptive to traditional Western forms of marketing communications, such as TV and print advertising.

Some cultures appear to lend themselves especially well to social media marketing approaches. For example, collectivist cultures characterized by a high need for social affiliation and respect for peers are likely to value the brand-oriented interaction available through social media. China is one of the top users of e-mail and social media worldwide, and the Chinese tend to exhibit a strong preference for online media that enhance social relationships. The market for credit cards in Russia is still emerging, and finding information on the credit worthiness of cardholders is challenging. Banks leverage social sites, such as Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, to identify potential users with strong potential credit ratings.

Marketing communications using social media represent the new frontier in international marketing. Social networks are considered increasingly critical to any interactive marketing communications program. Marketers aim for brand engagement; that is, they want customers to develop a personal relationship with the brand. Social media represent perhaps the best means for achieving this closeness.

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