Posts Tagged ‘ie business school#8217;


A few weeks ago I was teaching at a seminar of the European Commission program Health-2-Market (organized by Qplan, hosted by the Hellenic Pasteur Institute, and delivered by IE). This was one of the many training activities I have participated in this program, the purpose of which is to imbue health researchers and aspiring entrepreneurs with a business mindset.


What always strikes me in these trainings, is the difficulty of researchers to fully understand the key concept of value. This difficulty becomes most apparent in the discussion of pricing issues. When I say that a health service (e.g., some type of diagnosis) should be priced according to the value it offers to the consumer, I always get pushed back by participants arguing that even when the value of the service is big, it is unethical to charge, e.g., 600 for something that costs only 150. To some extent, this counter-arguing is expected as high moral standards are prevalent among health scientists. However, here are three reasons why value-based pricing is necessary, to some extent, even for health-businesses.

First, like every business, those in the health sector need to maintain some level of profitability in order to remain in business and improve their services. That is, the extra profits can be used for further investments and improvements in the service (which in this case can be translated to saving lives).

Second, keeping aside everything else, value-based pricing may make perfect (logical and ethical) sense from a financial perspective. For instance, a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s, children obesity, diabetes, etc., may cost only 200 euros. However, for some cases, this diagnosis may help some families avoid financial losses of thousands of euros in medication and other treatments, not considering psychological costs. It only looks fair, then, that the company who helped prevent these losses gets its share.

Third, most people have no idea if a therapy, a diagnosis, etc. is “good” or not. In this case, they often have to rely on heuristic “cues” to assess if it is trustworthy or not. In such cases, a prescribed treatment that costed 600 euros may be seen as more reliable than one that did cost only 150, and may thus be followed more closely and be more effective. (See here and here for related research).

Clearly, everyone involved in the health sector should have high moral standards, and those standards should extend to a “fair” price. However, common conceptions of fairness may be myopic along all the dimensions outlined above. At the end of the day, if a health-business feels it is over-charging, it can always donate the extra profits to charity, health research organizations, etc.

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Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


In previous posts,I have given examples on the complexity of deciding about Customers and Collaborators in the Health Industry. Now, I turn into discussing another important “C”, namely Competitors.

In the final academy of the European Commission program Health-2-Market (that took place at IE on May11-15), a common confusion as to who can be considered as a competitor occurred. Specifically, two prospective start-ups, were dealing largely with the same problem. They were developing solutions to the Pharma industry regarding how to make more more efficient the drug development process. A quick note here, this is a huge market; The development of a single drug can cost more than 2 billion euros!! Although both projects had the same objective, they used markedly different technologies. One project was based purely on novel chemical analysis, while the other was based on improving the already widely adopted HCS (high content screening).

As is the case for many entrepreneurs, these projects did not see each other as competitors, at least at the beginning. In their eyes, a competitor was someone who uses (or can use) the same technology as they. As both solutions were pretty novel, they both thought that at least for now, there was no competition. The problem became visible only when they had to present their marketing plan one next to the other (for a related post look here). Then, it was obvious that they will be fighting for the same needs, and thus the same budget (for efficient drug development) of Pharma companies, so they had to consider each other as competitor. They were going towards the same target, but via different routes!

In general, many companies (especially smaller ones), fail to see that a competitor is not someone who does same things as they do, but someone who covers the same customer need as they do. In the example above, a competitor is not someone using the same technology, but someone aspiring to improve the drug development process, regardless of technology. In the same vein, a competitor for a canteen at Retiro, is not only other canteens at Retiro, but also canteens at Casa de Campo, as well as vido game manufacturers, and subscription TV channels. All of those, compete for the leisure time and money budgets of Madrid consumers. Realizing how complicated competition can be (even for a canteen), drastically changes how one sees a business model.


More about Health2market e-training:
More about Health2market:

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


In every marketing endeavor, the first step is the market analysis, what is known as the 5 Cs; Consumer, Company, Competitors, Context, and Collaborators. While all the Cs are important, depending on the case, their importance may vary. For instance, in the case of start-ups, typically the available resources are limited. As such, start-ups are often forced to collaborate with other companies/ organizations in order to operate. The choice of collaborators, then, becomes crucial.

In a recent seminar of the European Commission program Health-2-Market (organized by Qplan, hosted by the Hellenic Pasteur Institute, and delivered by IE) the tradeoffs that many start-ups have to consider when choosing collaborators, especially in the health-sector, came up.


Specifically, start-ups in the Health Sector typically have some knowledge and/or innovation-based competitive edge. However, they also typically lack the resources to reach a critical mass of consumers, that could get a profitable business going. At the same time, there is a multitude of potential collaborators in the field, that can give easy access to these consumers. For instance, a start-up possessing an innovative technology of gene-diagnostics and the expertise to efficiently operate it, does not necessarily have easy access to target groups that would be potentially interested for this service – let’s say women who are or want to soon get pregnant. To reach those women, this start-up can collaborate with either self-employed doctors, or with small independent maternity clinics, or with very large hospitals that own maternity clinics.

Here is the tradeoff. A strong collaborator will probably bring a large customer base for the start-up, but will also have a lot more power in relation to the start-up. To continue with the example above, a start-up collaborating with a large hospital will probably get fast many customers. However, if the hospital sees that there is high demand for the service of the start-up, it will soon develop it for its own, and will not need the start-up any more. The big fish will prevail. This problem becomes even larger as typically diagnostic tools and processes are hard to get legal protection.

On the other hand, if the start-up cooperates with smaller collaborators, the risk of getting driven out of market will be smaller. At the same time, however, it will be a lot harder to get a critical mass of customers soon enough.

Clearly, there is not a single answer regarding which collaborators should a start-up choose. While deciding though, any start-up must balance the benefits of getting early revenues, with the long-term risk of becoming too exposed to collaborators who may end up being competitors. In any case, while in business, the start-up should try to develop and maintain close relations with its customers, and build a strong and unique brand name for itself, independently of its potential collaborators.

More about Health2market e-training:
More about Health2market:

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


Passing above a low bar or below a high one?

Written on April 18, 2015 by Antonios Stamatogiannakis in Research in practice

Many companies (e.g., Google, Yahoo, etc.) evaluate their employees based on their relative ranking. That is, an employee is not getting extra rewards (bonuses, etc.) based on his/her performance, but based on how good this performance is in comparison to other employees. At the same time, other companies (e.g., Microsoft), are abandoning such relative evaluation systems.

What can be hidden behind these inconsistent practices? One thing seems to be certain – relative evaluation systems – that is, rewarding people (employees, students, consumers, etc.) based on how well they do relative to their peers – seem to work better in some cases than in others.

In recent research* (forthcoming at Human Resource Management) that we conducted at IE with the doctoral candidate Jonathan Luffarelli and the marketing professor Dilney Goncalves, we provide such an example.

In this research, we examine the satisfaction with performance of the people being evaluated (e.g., employees) relatively to their peers. We found that when the people being evaluated focus on their own performance, as expected, they are more satisfied as this performance gets better. However, when they focus on how their performance compares to that of others, an interesting effect occurs. If everyone’s performance gets higher by a certain amount, the relative evaluation remains unchanged. However, at the same time, the performance “bar” is raised – as everyone is doing now exceptionally well. As a result, comparing one’s performance with this new-very high bar- makes one feel less satisfied with his/her performance.

These mechanics would suggest that when the employees of an organization are evaluated generously, a relative evaluation system would make them relatively dis-satisfied. When they are evaluated strictly, though, a relative evaluation system would increase their satisfaction.

Clearly, other things may also vary when a relative evaluation system is implemented. One of them, for example, could be the very tendency of people to compare themselves with others (versus only examine their own performance). It is good to see that both academics and managers are trying to figure out the exact forces that come into play.

Stay tuned for more research based insights!

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

*The Research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions ) of the European Union´s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement No. 298420.


Bad evaluations – happy people… Can it happen?

Written on March 28, 2015 by Antonios Stamatogiannakis in Research in practice

All professors are pushed by the students to give higher grades. In order to relax this pressure, many educational institutions (IE being one of them), started using the curve grading system. In curve grading, the performance of all the students in the class is ranked from the highest to the lowest. The real grade, is then a function of this ranking. E.g., the top 5% get an A, the following 10% gets an A-, and so on.

Alas, though, students still want higher grades! And, many professors give in by employing more relaxed evaluation criteria. For instance, if the “real” grade is based on the ranking only, a professor could make every student happier by adopting a generous evaluation scheme, giving to every student a few points more. The ranking would be the same, and so would the real grade, but everyone would have a higher “evaluation”, and thus everyone would be happier. Well, they would….NOT.

Recent research* (forthcoming at Human Resource Management) we conducted at IE with the doctoral candidate Jonathan Luffarelli and the marketing professor Dilney Goncalves reveals the opposite. In a competitive setting (such as IE), students care relatively more about how others are doing, rather on how well they, themselves are doing. So, if everyone else gets a high grade, any given student would (by comparison) feel less satisfied with his/her grade, even if that is higher too!

Interestingly, neither students themselves, nor professors predict that this would happen, as they overwhelmingly believe that a higher evaluation would result to higher satisfaction. And even more interestingly, when we experimentally made people pay attention to their own performance, they did exactly as they predicted: They were more satisfied when they received a higher evaluation.

So, if you are a professor, or – more generally- an evaluator, do not be overly generous. It can backfire! And if you are a student, or an employee being evaluated, be careful what you are asking for!

Stay tuned for more research based insights!

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

*The Research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions ) of the European Union´s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement No. 298420.


Assume that you are booking a room at a fancy hotel. This is an important stay for you, so you are willing to pay a lot for a good room. Would it make a big difference if you had to pay 213 or 223 euros per night? Probably not. Ten euros for such stay sound like no big deal.

Now assume that you are arriving at the hotel. It is great- as you expected it. You try to access your Social Media account to let everyone know how great this is…but there is a problem. You have to pay 10 euros/ day to have Internet access. Would it make a big difference to you, compared to if the Internet connection was free? Probably yes. Paying extra when you are already paying a lot (being it 213 or 223), does not sound quite right.

This example illustrates how smart pricing can really affect consumer satisfaction, and was first introduced by the Behavioral Economist Richard Thaler, some 30 years ago. Thaler argued, among other things, that a small loss (or payment) integrated into a bigger one, would be a lot less painful than two separate losses. Paying 223 and having Internet for free, is a lot better than paying 213 and having to pay extra 10 for Internet.

So why do not all companies (hotels etc.) follow this principle? I think the basic reason is that many companies still, implicitly, price based on costs. If Internet (or whatever else) is a separate cost for the company, it should be priced separately. This approach, however, ignores a fundamental fact. Customers, typically, do not care about a company’s cost. They care about their own satisfaction. And pricing, like all other marketing activities, should be done with that in mind.

Similar questionable practices are found in the airlines industry in the US. There are “low cost” flights with a duration of about 5 hours. They cost about 250, or more. What do you think most people would prefer? Pay 250 and then have to figure out if they want to pay some more for a sandwich? Or pay 255 and have a sandwich for free? Given that this is a long flight, the first option looks rather cheap – on behalf of the airline. The second one, looks a lot more generous. It basically buys (for the company) consumer satisfaction at no extra cost.

Stay tuned for more research based insights!

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


En mi artículo hablando de innovación social y sobre la generación de electricidad a partir de cáscaras de arroz por Husk Power Systems, reté a la empresa española a embarcarse en este apasionante desafío y ¡unirse a la conversación!.
La respuesta no se ha hecho esperar, y hoy me gustaría hablar sobre Bioarroz, un proyecto hispano-colombiano patentado que ha conseguido transformar la cascara de arroz en fertilizante orgánico sólido y líquido, capaz de duplicar la producción normal de arroz, además de extraer silicio orgánico con varios usos como el cosmético y farmacológico, a la vez que regenera y acondiciona orgánicamente el suelo cultivable.

diferencia de rendimiento Diferencia de tamaño entre una espinaca cultivada con y sin fertilizante orgánico.

Según la FAO, el arroz es el alimento más consumido a nivel mundial, con más de la mitad de la población consumiendo este cereal diariamente. Su producción es clave para alimentar a una población creciente, y especialmente relevante en países en desarrollo. En 20 años se prevé que la demanda supere la oferta disponible. En África solamente, se consumen 27kgr de arroz per cápita al año, con un 5% de incremento anual.

A pesar de que en África se producen 26mll de Tm de arroz al año, el continente africano es un importador neto de arroz, siendo el continente que más importa un 30% del comercio mundial. Lo que supone un gasto de 4.000 millones de US$, ¡10 millones de US$ al día!. Cualquier reducción en la cantidad importada o bajada de precio del producto, son dólares ganados a la pobreza y a la desnutrición.

mercado de arroz

Una de las principales razones del alto volumen de importación es precisamente el bajo rendimiento de la producción Africana. Mientras que la media mundial es de 4.5 toneladas/hectárea, la producción de arroz en África Subsahariana es menos de la mitad, 2 toneladas/hectárea. En gran parte por falta de fertilización, ya que no pueden permitírselo por el altísimo coste del fertilizante en el continente.
En África se importan anualmente 12 millones de toneladas de fertilizante sintético, que con el coste de transporte le lleva a alcanzar un precio desorbitado por lo que solo pueden usar 9 Kg por hectárea cuando en el mundo industrializado se usan 206 kg de media por hectárea.

Mejorando la fertilización, conseguiremos dos efectos, incrementar la producción por hectárea, y abaratar el coste de fertilizante. Los dos redundan en un menor precio del arroz. Usando además un fertilizante orgánico que permite regenerar el suelo.

Por otro lado, desde hace décadas, la cascarilla de arroz es uno de los grandes problemas que tienen los productores de este cereal. En el mundo existen 165 millones de hectáreas cultivadas de las que se obtienen aproximadamente 700 millones de toneladas de arroz al año, de las cuales 250 millones son de cascarilla y paja. La prohibición de quemar este desecho vegetal debido a la polución ambiental que producen los componentes químicos que son utilizados en la producción del arroz, y los pocos usos rentables que tiene (se emplea en la producción de ladrillos, camas para aves, biocombustible o bioenergía sin haber logrado grandes rentabilidades económicas ni medioambientales. En este momento, la cascarilla de arroz, no tiene valor comercial en África), hace que en algunos países la cascarilla se acumule indefinidamente sin control, desprendiendo gases nocivos para el medio ambiente.

monton cascarilla

Bioarroz o BioRiceHusk, ha conseguido patentar un proceso a través del cual, mediante el uso de anélidos (la lombriz roja californiana) recicla la cascarilla de arroz, transformándola en humus sólido y liquido además de extraer silicio y calcio orgánicos. Duplicando, con el uso de este fertilizante, la producción de arroz por hectárea sin productos químicos que contaminan el suelo y con ahorro de agua ya que necesita menos agua de riego. Un proceso innovador y ecológico.

El humus nos sólo sirve para el arroz sino para la mayoría de los cultivos. En este video se puede ver la diferencia de tamaño de la hierbabuena cultivada con humus de Bioarroz.

El proyecto de Bioarroz soluciona al mismo tiempo tres problemas esenciales en este momento:
– Producción eficiente de alimentos esenciales (arroz)
– Reciclaje de un residuo altamente contaminante (cascarilla de arroz)
– Regeneración de suelos intensamente erosionados

Una planta de Bioarroz necesita 5 hectáreas y, recicla 1500 toneladas de cascarilla y es capaz de producir 3700 toneladas de humus líquido y 750 toneladas de humus sólido. Su proceso es aplicable en cualquier país productor de arroz.

BioRiceHusk ha sido seleccionado para participar en la feria global de la innovación en la agricultura en Marzo del 2015 en Abu Dhabi. La feria más importante a nivel internacional dedicada a la innovación agrícola y con especial foco en el continente africano. Su misión es conocer proyectos que ayuden a producir mayor cantidad de alimentos en el futuro utilizando mejor nuestros recursos naturales.

En este momento, el principal reto Bioarroz se encuentra en la búsqueda de aliados estratégicos para implementar y explotar su patente, empresas de fertilizantes o arroceras que quieran mejorar su producción usando la patente tanto en África como en el resto del mundo. A la vez que conseguir apoyo estatal para promocionar y dar a conocer una patente con capacidad de solucionar graves problemas para la humanidad y que hasta este momento ha sido financiada con capital propio.

Ahora sí podemos decir que en España también se hace innovación social. Seguro que existen muchos otros ejemplos que me encantaría compartir. Espero vuestros comentarios @marialescorial

foto arroz

Este artículo ha sido publicado originalmente en @elpais


When elections are coming, most political parties do more or less the same. They highlight their core ideology (e.g., liberals, socialists, etc.), they emphasize what they will do well, and what their opponents will do badly. This process has of course a lot to do with marketing principles. For instance, a party whose voters (customers) are known to be religious will typically emphasize how close it is to the respective religion, what it will do to protect religious rights, and will try to differentiate from other parties which are not so religious.

But sometimes, there are opportunities for really disruptive positioning. So how about an advertisement for a political party showing a kid in a toy store unsuccessfully trying to operate a train-toy, and the leader of the party coming to help the kid understand when to speed up and when to slow down. Something like this spot, from the recent Greek elections.

YouTube Preview Image

What does positioning have to do with this? Well, in EVERY poll preceding the recent Greek elections, there were two findings. First, the left-wing party who eventually won the elections (SYRIZA) was always in the lead. Second, its leader (and current prime minister – Alexis Tsipras) was judged as “inappropriate” to rule (either because he was too young or too extreme).

So, to bring this to the advertisement context, most Greeks wanted this kid (called Alexis in the spot) to drive the “Greek Train” (notice the Greek flag at the beginning). They are skeptical however that the Alexis will not make it on his own. These voters – exactly as if they were customers – want someone to guarantee that Alexis will drive the train, but at the same time keep them safe. And – exactly as any good business would do – the leader of the political party “Independent Greeks” – Panos Kammenos – comes to save the day. He helps little Alexis rule. Teach him when to speed up, and when to slow down.

Of paramount importance, reading the market research right (in this case, the pre-election polls) is necessary for any good differentiation and positioning. Had “Independent Greeks” (a party of the right wing, with deep traditional and religious roots) not identified the appeal of the “help Alexis” positioning, they would have probably followed a traditional political campaign highlighting their right-wing beliefs and values. In these polarized elections, that would most likely have resulted to a disaster for them, as they would have been squeezed by the leading “right-wing” party – leader the former government – “New Democracy”.

And now? What about results? What about “market share”? Before this advertisement, the polls were predicting that “Independent Greeks” (a right-wing party) would get a percentage of about 2.5%, leaving them outside of the parliament. They finally got almost double – 4.75%. And as they promised, they are now in the government with SYRIZA (a left-wing party).

So, whether right or left, smart positioning wins in the end.

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


In a previous post, I introduced to you a joint effort by the IE marketing department and Travel-Club, the purpose of which was to study consumer loyalty (for more details, see here).

In this post, I am excited to present to you the first results!

The IE research team(marketing professors Dilney Gonçalves, Shameek Sinha, myself, and our research collaborator David Santos), leaded by the head of the marketing department, professor Teresa Serra, started investigating a key question: Do loyalty programs really work?

To respond to this question we have analyzed a database of near 4 million of real customers’ transactions, which took place in the multi-sponsor loylaty program Travel Club (, the greatest experts in loyalty programs in Spain, recently collaborating with one of the leading international loyalty agencies – Aimia.


Some of the key results so far are:

  • Use the channels efficiently: Communication with customers is the key of the program (optimizing the number and the timing of offers and communications does increase memberspending)
  • Use the rewards strategically: Give a final push to members who are close to getting a reward.
  • Use the presence of other partners in the program wisely: Having more partners in the program can increase the members’ spending through cross-selling.

In summary, loyalty programs really work only when they are used strategically, taking into consideration the needs and behavior of the program mebers, and being with them as much as possible, not only at the time of a transaction.

For further information, and for a full report of the results, you can visit directly: (only in Spanish – sorry :) )

No doubt, that with such great infornation on such an interesting and important topic, you will be hearing from us more in the future!

Let me wish Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to everyone!


Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Marketing IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu

*This post is co-authored with David Santos


Brand Soul Content

Written on December 14, 2014 by Carmen Abril in ADVERTISING, Branding, Innovation, Marketing Strategy, Nuevas Tendencias

No doubt that in current market environment brand content strategy is a must for brands.

I like this idea that brand content is like body language or a kind of a brand body language because it may reveal clues as to some unspoken intention or feeling.

Net net, brand content can reveal the brand soul.

Brand content is important as it helps brands to reveal the brand purpose in depth, to show the brand beliefs and ultimately to act as inbound marketing trigger, building audience, creating interest and brand advocates. In this sense, an appropriate brand content strategy could actually be more powerful than a classical advertising campaign.

I have received recently a brand content campaign from Seagrams gin that reflects these thoughts. It has been developed by Arena Media and by my ex IMBA alumni and now good friend Iñigo de Luis.

For your background, Seagrams positioning strategy of American Originality has generally been communicated through the american vintage aesthetic.



The brand content idea that I am going to describe is just a part of the Seagrams gin media plan. However, in my opinion, it has succeeded in further explore the real soul of what American Originality might be.

The idea is called American Portraits. The creative idea is based on showing the true and admired american spirit by selecting some characters that show the free, modern, innovative, maverick and entrepreneurial spirit of the America of the 50’s . Certainly, in our days they could be a source of inspiration.

These are the selected characters
• Diana Vreeland. Harpeer´s Bazaar and Vogue editor that created the fashion magazines as we know them.
• Raymond Loewy. Industrial designer . A genius that designed Shell, Lucky Strike, Nabisco, TWA, BP, logos, the Coke bottle, General Motors and Jaguar cars, the Concorde and the first NASA spatial station.
• Ray & Charles Eames. A couple that pre empted the Ikea and Google earth idea through their work for Herman Miller and “Powers of Ten” for IBM.
• Frank lloyd Wright. Architect. No introduction required.

This a video summarizing the campaign

YouTube Preview Image

their web site

and the individuals 90 minutes films of each character. (I actually love the videos….take your time…)

Diana Vreeland

Raimond Loewy

Ray &Charles Eames

Frank LLoyd

The program has been activated through different activities, releasing the documentary films at Matadero Cultural space in Madrid, including them in Filmin and several coloquiums and magazines.

And here is my point. I believe that the brand content campaign has actually been able to explore the true brand soul of Seagrams.

I believe this idea is bigger and goes beyond the traditional advertising of Seagrams.

But now I am confused, this has been created by a media planning agency… but this is a subject for another post

Have a great week



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