Singapore Airlines - Exceeding, not managing expectations

When your brand is built on service in an industry known for the utter lack of it, you have a powerful asset. However, you also have carved for yourself a sizable challenge - the imperative to constantly exceed the expectations of customers who come to you expecting so much. The competitive advantage of being the “high service” option is lessened by the lower standards your customers have for your competitors’ customer service. A customer who is pleasantly surprised to be treated decently well in business class on British Airways, may be disappointed in a less than extraordinary SIA experience.

Fortunately, SIA has a jump on the competition in implementing and sustaining this high-service model. The company culture and operations are unified in this focus on serving the customer. SIA crew staff are trained and retrained more than competitors. SIA’s fleet is newer and requires less maintenance; they spend more hours earning fares in the sky. SIA’s tertiary operations are frequently outsourced. These factors contribute to SIA’s ability to be a cost-control leader while defining themselves as the luxury service airline.

(BY THE WAY) In addition to measurable high performance in on-time departures, bag delivery and high customer satisfaction, SIA’s brand is built on the offering of the mystique and exoticism of Asian femininity and perceived servility. The “Singapore Girl” attends to the every need of important businessmen on their long-haul flights to foreign places. This is the implicit message of their ads (see here). Let’s just be clear and acknowledge that.

Wine: The Ultimate Plebe Product

Wine, like beer, is all marketing. However, unlike beer, wine marketing isn’t all about the commercials (promotion); it’s about the product and price. Country of origin and price point are 90% of the consumer’s decision factor when purchasing (and enjoying!) wine, as so many examples in the case describe. Consumers enjoy wine they perceive to be of high quality based on origin and price. Rarely do their stated preferences when the brand is known coincide with preferences during blind taste tests.

My friend used to host a wine tasting party where all guests had to bring two bottles of their favorite red wine. One went into the tasting rotation, and one was reserved as prize bounty. On the tasting table each bottle was disguised with a blank sheet of paper so they couldn’t be identified. Each guest sampled and scored the wines they tasted. The wine with the best overall score was deemed the winner and the person who brought it won the extra bottles. Not only did one of the cheapest wines win, but most people did not rate the wine they brought consistently highest. The average person’s palate is unsophisticated indeed. Without the label reminding us what we are drinking and how to feel about it, we barely know what we are doing.

With this in mind, I believe Concha y Toro must go top-down, not bottom-up when expanding in the market. Ditching a lower price brand to move into premium is much tougher than expanding a premium brand’s offering into the lower priced category. Wine “knowledge” is a collection of perceptions and vaguely informed opinions about names, labels, area of origin, and the quality implied by a bottle’s price. Taste-based perception of quality is a distant secondary concern. The course for the brand is clear: focus on premium brands rather than attempting to move a low-price brand into a premium bucket.

Predicting Product Diffusion: Choose amongst plastic peanut butter, smelly television, an expensive radio, or pre-modern medicine

The factors I would use to evaluate the relative success of the four products presented in this case include trialability, relative improvement over comparable products, and cost and complexity of uptake. Satellite radio is a significant improvement over terrestrial radio, however at the time of the case’s writing, acquiring the technology to use the service was expensive and complicated. The diffusion of that product was an inevitable but lengthy process. Peanut butter slices have a novelty and price point that would allow for easy access and trial, however who wants waxy peanut flavored solids instead of creamy, crunchy, wonderful as-is peanut butter? It is no improvement. iSmell or DigiScent technology also has novelty but a high level of complexity and cost to trial and uptake, plus the relative improvement in entertainment value of smelling one’s television programming is highly suspect - three big negatives. Silver-infused Band-Aids is both on-trend with the market described in the article (people like and will pay for new versions of adhesive bandages), and potentially an improvement over regular bandages. The product’s diffusion could go either way and would depend on the price and marketing strategy, but seems the safest bet of the four. With these factors in mind, I rank the likelihood of success and speed of product diffusion as follows:

1. Silver Band-Aids

2. Satellite radio

3. Peanut butter slices

4. Scent TV



Sexism in advertisements.

During class we discussed advertisements in the beer industry, and it was pointed out that women in beer ads are typically objectified.  While most of us were not surprised and have come to expect this, I was shocked at this ad from Samsung (which, in addition to being sexist, is just utterly horrible.  In fact, I wasn’t sure it wasn’t a video from the Onion and I’m still not positive).

As this piece explains, “She says that her notebook computer overheats while she does ‘chores,’ and is literally filmed sitting in her kitchen.”  In addition to the stereotypical female character, the white guy is a professional in an office, and the Asian guy loves video games.  C’mon, Samsung.  I’m surprised an ad like this gets made and specifically from a tech company whose products are used by such a wide-ranging group of people.

Phil is correct; this is the worst ad ever. Really terrible acting, even, and clunky and unsophisticated. Thanks for hating on sexism in advertising, simkoinc.


In all seriousness, the Corona brand story is impressive. Coming back from a period of declining sales thanks to urine rumors, anti-yuppy sentiment and fear of calories (good god!), Corona today is firmly established as the vacation-in-a-bottle beer. Corona to me is a lady’s beer, light and (presumable?) low-calorie compared to heavier, hoppier microbrew options. It has some of the cachet of an import, with most of the drinkability of a Bud Light. The simplicity of its advertising has all the attributes of concise, consistent, appealing story-telling. Good job, branders!



This is the first time I’ve ever used Tumblr, and I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m hopeful we can get a bit more guidance on the intent of this exercise in tomorrow’s class. In regard to the case, I can see how companies can face the challenge of trying to be everything to everyone. Are you a…

"black and decker/black and decker:" yea, that was the right joke.