“When a man’s knowledge is sufficient to attain, and his virtue is not sufficient to enable him to hold, whatever he may have gained, he will lose again.”

-          Confucius

Most marketers would be surprised to learn that an important objective they have was so concisely summarized by Confucius many centuries ago. Companies, just like individuals, must strive to attain and hold on their objects of desire. The only difference is that whereas individuals usually have a diverse set of objectives (for consumers’ pursuits to attain and maintain whatever is desirable for them, see my previous posts here, here, and here), companies frequently have only one: CUSTOMERS!

Customer loyalty has been an important focus for both managerial and academic research. Hundreds of reports have been published, dealing both with general loyalty-related issues (e.g., by McKinsey) as well as with loyalty in specific business sectors (e.g., by Bain, on retail banking). This “research frenzy” on loyalty is well justified, as there is little doubt that increased customer loyalty leads to increased profitability. A seminal paper (Reichheld & Sasser 1990; Harvard Business Review) identifies the sources for this increase in profitability. Specifically, loyal customers are usually less costly to have (compared to acquiring new ones), are more likely to buy other products and services from the company, are less price sensitive (allowing the company to charge price premiums), and finally are the best ambassadors for the brand, generating thus additional sales via referrals.    

Despite the great amount of work investigating customer loyalty over the last decades, the topic is still “hot”. Why? Well, first, because it is super-important. And, second, because we still need to understand it better.







IE Business School has partnered with Travel-Club (the biggest multi-sponsor loyalty program in Spain, handling loyalty programs of companies such as Repsol and Eroski) to respond to this need for further investigation. They have created a “Loyalty Research Chair”, the purpose of which would be to combine the resources and expertise of Travel-Club with the research capabilities of IE Business School in order to answer questions like:

  • What are the benefits of a customer loyalty program for a company?
  • What are the benefits of a customer loyalty program for loyal customer?
  • How can these benefits be reliably measured?
  • What variations of a loyalty program maximize these benefits? Do they differ by business sector?

IE marketing department has compiled a team of excellent researchers (marketing professors Dilney Gonçalves, Shameek Sinha, and myself), leaded by the head of the marketing department, professor Teresa Serra, to carry this task

If customer loyalty is an interesting topic for you, stay tuned for the exciting outputs of this initiative!

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

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


- Are Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines sold directly to a consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional?
– Are OTC drugs selected by a regulatory agency to ensure that their ingredients are safe and effective?
– Is “Self-medication” similar to OTC medicine?
– Do the “OTC medicines” include also: healthy food, diagnostic tests, and so on?
If you have answered YES to all the questions, you know perfectly what an OTC product is.
The pharmaceutical business model has been in transition for several years. Previously, unique positioning was achieved through medical evidence and differentiation protected by a patent. Manufacturers were allowed to charge a sufficient price premium to provide a positive return on investment by the time the patent expired, usually between eight and ten years after launching.
After low-price generics flooded the markets, drastic revenue erosion occurred quickly. Having reached this point, players typically stopped investment. Pfizer, for example, recently reported that it had cut back on marketing support for its multi-billion-dollar cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor® (atorvastatin), which reached loss of exclusivity at the end of 2011.
To answer this question we look at Oxytrol which will be the first drug in its category to be sold over the counter. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/25/us-merck-bladder-idUSBRE90O0SW20130125
Health regulators approved Merck & Co’s nonprescription version of Oxytrol to treat overactive bladder in women ages 18 and older, the FDA agency said recently.
The FDA decided to approve the OTC version of the Merck drug, after reviewing the results of nine studies. These studies, performed in women, demonstrated that consumers can easily understand the information on the label, properly determine whether the product is right for them, and use the drug appropriately..
Patient/consumer loyalty is of paramount importance for OTC drugs. In the same way a BMW owner is an owner for life, a properly managed an OTC drug can ensure a long lasting consumer support. The example of Brufen® (ibuprofen) is very demonstrative. Brufen® is a pain killer with anti-inflammatory activity. The patent expired years ago and the company switched the drug from delivered under prescription to OTC segment. Additionally there are many formulations offering patients a broad range of treatment options. The added value given by the Brufen Brand Equity is so good that global sales are still progressing, 40 years after launch.
The pharmacist role is changing as supermarkets are now beginning to operate “para pharmacies”. This enables them to enter this lucrative market by selling a wide range of OTC brands along with diapers, Colgate, dermo-cosmetics, etc…
As recently stated by Michel-Edouard Leclerc, owner of the supermarket chain Leclerc: “Today there is no real competition between pharmacies. The difference in products pricing is never more than the double, consequently (by creating para-pharmacy departments in our stores) we are trying to stimulate this sector, pro-actively”


Desde el Retail

Recojo en este blog un concepto nuevo de distribución detallista que nació en el año 2012 de la mano de Rachel Shechtman. Se trata de Story, una tienda de doscientos metros cuadrados ubicada en New York que a través de la combinación de elementos adicionales al propio comercio define una nueva forma de hacer Retailing. Y si no es totalmente nueva, al menos integra, elabora  y sobre todo profesionaliza conceptos comerciales emergentes http://thisisstory.com/

logo multiple

Los tres elementos principales que incluye este concepto de distribución los resume su fundadora en la idea de RETAIL MEDIA, al definir su tienda como que incluye “el enfoque de una revista, que se renueva como una  galería de arte, y que adicionalmente vende productos como una tienda”.

Se trata de un punto de venta organizado a través de temáticas que se cambian continuamente (casi cada semana) y que buscan conectar con los consumidores a través de historias con las que se sientan implicados, en las que puedan participar en su desarrollo, y con las que puedan conectar con gente afín. Historias que incluyen, a su vez, distintas minitemáticas que se organizan por días. E Historias que se recogen en la marca de forma espectacularmente sencilla y creativa, para dar continuidad a la propuesta de contar historias.

dos juntas

Un punto de encuentro (y de venta) que conecta a las marcas comercializadas con las distintas temáticas y a través de ellas con los consumidores, al patrocinar los eventos y temas con los que tienen más afinidad para generar una publicidad no intrusiva, próxima, emocional e implicante.

Un punto de encuentro que primando el acceso directo al producto integra el retaling físico con el mundo online, al permitir la participación de los consumidores en el desarrollo de las distintas temáticas y productos, su concepción y realización. Y que  abre una vía de crecimiento al comercio de proximidad, independiente y local, para competir con internet.

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¿Cuáles son las claves de este concepto? Adicionalment a las mencionadas de contenidos y comercio, la fundadora destaca las siguientes. La primera serían las propias historias, como marcas que hablan (story telling), se relacionan, conversan y conviven con su entorno y consumidores.

En segundo lugar estaría el fuerte sentido de comunidad creado, como conjunto de consumidores que se ven integrantes de una forma de pensar, sentir y actuar, que conversan entre sí y se identifican con un punto de venta y los valores que representa para hacerles una vida mejor.


 La tercera clave sería la propia experiencia de compra. Totalmente emocional, sensorial,  relacional… y cambiante. Que sorprende. Con continuas renovaciones del espacio tienda en función de la temática elegida.

Y  por último la integración de tecnología. Como ayuda para desarrollar los elementos de contenido y comunidad a través de internet, combinando el mundo offline y online. Y adicionalmente como forma de profesionalizar la gestión de un negocio a partir de la información obtenida.

“I think that physical retail spaces will become more about community and entertainment, and less solely focused on consumption.” Rachel Shechtman.

Saludos muy cordiales



Hace unos meses escribí en este blog el post “Sirven los medios sociales para vender” donde se analizaban algunos datos sobre comportamientos de compra de los usuarios.

Esta vez, el post está enfocado en las empresas y en sus ventas, por ello comparto con vosotros una guía que acaba de publicar la empresa Hootsuite (popular sistema de gestión de marcas en redes sociales) llamada “La venta social en las ventas B2B”.

guia del social selling Hootsuite

En el documento utilizan la definición de Brian Solis de venta social como el “uso de los medios sociales por las organizaciones de ventas para escuchar, interactuar con los clientes y colaborar internamente”. Siendo una consecuencia inevitable de las compras sociales.

La venta social es una evolución de las ventas tradicionales y no supone romper con los canales tradicionales, pero sí usar los medios sociales para encontrar clientes, escucharlos, entenderlos y actuar e interactuar con ellos.

Tampoco supone dejar de enviar emails promocionales o de seguimiento, de ni dejar de realizar visitas comerciales o presentaciones, pero sí conocer mejor al cliente, entender su empresa, saber sus necesidades, etc apoyándonos en la información que podemos obtener en los medios sociales y que pueden servirnos para enfocar nuestros contenidos incluso mucho antes de realizar una visita comercial.

En definitiva, los medios sociales tanto “abiertos” (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) como inter-empresa (redes sociales corporativas) pueden ayudarnos en los procesos de venta: escuchar, obtener información de colegas de nuestra empresa o de los propios clientes son claves para descubrir nuevas oportunidades de negocio o ventas cruzadas o complementarias.

El éxito vendrá dado si conseguimos que nuestra fuerza de ventas y nuestros procesos de ventas se doten de una “inteligencia” que encaje y utilice los datos tradicionales que ya tenemos con la información captada a través de los medios sociales.

¿Dejamos a un lado esta oportunidad o nos atrevemos a dar el paso?

Podéis descargaros la guía completa en: http://socialbusiness.hootsuite.com/whitepaper-social-selling-in-b2b-sales.html


Selling in a 2.0 environment

Written on October 1, 2013 by Claire Bastien in B2B Marketing, Sales Management

In 2011, the SEC published a study on buyer behavior, which found that B2B buyers completed 57% of their ‘buying journey’ – researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on – before their first contact with a sales rep.
In 2013, the same study showed that 65%. of customers completed their purchase before even having a conversation with a supplier. In this new buying environment, the new skill is “selling when a rep isn’t present”.
Traditional selling is based on how to influence the buying journey of the customer. Today key buyer characteristics have changed the way in which they buy. Consequently the first challenge is how to sell to a more informed buyer.
The key for marketers is to map the buying process of their key stakeholders in order to influence the buyer early in their buying journey. Conventionally sales reps are experts at discovering customers’ needs and selling them “solutions”, the sales people align a solution with an acknowledged customer need and demonstrate why it is better than the competition’s
This worked because customers were aware of what their problems were but needed help for solving their own problems. Many companies have a deep understanding of their problem and can today readily define solutions for themselves and are often way ahead of the salespeople who are “helping” them.
The new sales professionals don’t just sell more effectively—they sell differently
In an article published in HBR in 2012, “The End of Solution Sales”, Brent Adamson et al, emphasize that the current high-performers reps not only utilize social and mobile tools but are generating demand in a different way:
 Evaluating prospects according to criteria different from those used by other reps, targeting agile organizations in a state of flux rather than ones with a clear understanding of their needs;
 Seeking out a very different set of stakeholders;
 Coaching those customers on how to buy, instead of quizzing them about their company’s purchasing process.
The “Star” reps are still selling solutions but before the face-to face meeting they are looking for what unrecognized needs the customers have?
They engage very early with the customer, coach the customer how to buy and support throughout the buying process. They often propose solutions which seem unconventional or innovative things which the customer may not have considered to stay ahead of the competition through lateral thinking.


I am not worried about the buzz that says Apple is not as innovative as it used  to be in the past. This company has disrupted three different markets in just ten years. Most companies are not able to do it even once in their history.

I am also not worried  about the fact that Apple stock value has decreased so heavily. They have more cash than they’ve ever dream of.

I am worried about one problem that is reflected in two anecdotes:

  1. The most popular comment about iOS7 is …..how similar it is to Samsung’s interface.
  2. As heavy Apple consumer, I have never carried out more different plugs in my entire life

Haven’t you experienced these issues?

These two anecdotes are strong symptoms of a deeper problem from my point of view : Apple is losing its DNA.

Some Apple’s DNA genomes:



-       Simplicity, Taste

  • I like this quote from Pascal 1656  “ I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter” . Simplicity as Apple understood it requires a strong focus and leadership.
  •  Apple devoted a huge effort in the past to avoid superficial product features and to deliver true value to its consumers. This has been a key component of Apple’s culture reflected in their product and ecosystem design.
  • I am not sure Simplicity  is in Apple DNA anymore…
  • Gold I phone is great for China, however I am not sure if it is related to what Jobs called “taste”..

–       Outstanding consumer experience

  • Investor’s or consumer experiences?
  • Who is deciding the pace of Apple innovation, the consumer’s needs or the investor’s needs?
  • Who should be driving the agenda? Apple should announce news when they are ready to hit the market, not just because September is coming. The pace of innovation is not predictable, and sometimes is not even sustainable. Innovative companies know it.
  • Put first the value to the consumer,  the stock value will come short after.

–       Strong personality , Out of the norm

  • What is Apple’s image on young people? It is comparable to that of Apple’s early adopters?
  • Is Apple spirit started to be confounded with fashion?

Look at how Surface is pointing out this sensitive area in their recent communication

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I believe Apple is one of the most beloved and strong brands in the world. But this is precisely why they need a Time Out.

Breath, Take some air, Re cap, Recover the passion, Commit to the vision …and then…. Beat the market again.


Your point of view?


Have a nice weekend




Consecuencias no intencionadas de M-Pesa

Written on September 30, 2013 by María López Escorial in Bottom of the Pyramid, Marketing Strategy

Pocas iniciativas en la base de la pirámide, además de microfinanzas, han tenido tanto éxito como M- Pesa, el servicio de dinero móvil de Safaricom (subsidiaria de Vodafone) en Kenya. En 3 años y medio después del lanzamiento 70% de los hogares usaban el servicio y lo que es más importante un 50% de la base de la pirámide.
M-Pesa terminó 2012 con más de 15 millones de clientes y gestionaba más transacciones a nivel nacional que Western Union internacionalmente.

En mis post anteriores hemos hablado de las dificultades de “marketear” productos en la base de la pirámide. Hoy me gustaría hablar de qué cosas hicieron bien.

Se ha escrito mucha literatura sobre M-Pesa, yo creo que llegando a un consenso sobre los factores de éxito:

1. M-Pesa lanzó un producto mucho mejor que la alternativa existente para una necesidad probada. Las remesas internas a zonas rurales se estaban realizando en su gran mayoría o en persona, con el coste de tiempo y dinero que supone o a través de los conductores de las líneas de autobús asumiendo un riesgo enorme de pérdida de la remesa. El servicio de M-Pesa es mucho más barato, inmediato fácil de usar y totalmente seguro.


2. Saraficom tenía un 70% de cuota del mercado de móviles con lo que las barreras de aceptación del producto (por la necesidad de cambio de móvil) era inexistentes para una gran parte de los clientes, así como el envío inmediato, lo que facilitó la adquisición de escala, tan importante en negocios en la BOP.
Además esta alta cuota tenía otras ventajas clave:
i. Acceso a una red de agentes muy desarrollada, con mucha capilaridad y que llevaba a los lugares más remotos
ii. Marca conocida y con buena reputación que transmite confianza, especialmente importante cuando estamos hablando de dinero

3. Excelente gestión, training, incentivos y control de la red de agentes que al final son la cara del servicio ante el cliente y la clave de la adopción

M-pesa agent
4. Alta presencia de tarjetas de identidad en Kenya, lo que permite que los procesos sean mucho más cortos y seguros.
5. Entorno regulatorio favorable que permitió no ser considerada como institución financiera con los que eso conlleva en cuanto a requisitos legales para Safaricom.

Los factores de éxito nos vuelven a hablar de elementos claves en la estrategia de marketing: necesidad del producto, bajas barreras de entrada, un modelo de distribución con alto alcance e incentivos correctos, y una marca reconocida y solvente.

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¿Cuanto de esto se puede replicar? Lo comentaré en mi siguiente post.

Pero me gustaría terminar con un artículo que me sorprendió sobre las “consecuencias no intencionadas de M-Pesa”. En el que se menciona como hay clientes que han dejado el servicio porque todo el mundo te pide dinero y “no tienes dónde esconderte”, regalar minutos de teléfono se ha convertido en una manera de ligar y las tensiones que conlleva el mandar dinero sin visitar a tus parientes tienen un coste muy alto para determinados segmentos de la población.

Incluso los mejores productos tienen consecuencias difíciles de identificar y reacciones de los consumidores a tener en cuenta. En algunas culturas o segmentos de clientes, puede ser lo suficientemente relevante como para condicionar el éxito del producto. De ahí la necesidad de hacer investigaciones de mercado de calidad. ¿Puede esto penalizar a M-Pesa?

usando el movil

¿Qué pensais?

Espero vuestros comentarios en el blog y en @marialescorial


Health2Market: From health research to healthy business

Written on September 28, 2013 by Antonios Stamatogiannakis in B2B Marketing, Biopharma, Innovation

Great amounts of resources are spent every year on health research. These resources serve one greater purpose: to improve individuals’ well-being. Unfortunately, however, much of the output of this research just gets stockpiled into scientific journals, without exploiting its full practical potential. A question then is, how could health researchers be motivated to actually push their inventions into real healthcare products, that will eventually enhance the welfare of individuals?

Health2Market, for which I am the scientific coordinator for IE, is an initiative trying to provide a solution to this problem. Health2Market is a 3-year long project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. It aims at providing Health researchers with the necessary business knowledge and skills for more viable Intellectual Property Rights management as well as market exploitation of their results through setting up of new business ventures in health/life science sectors .

It gives great flexibility to the interested health researches by offering (free of charge) services ranging from e-learning, to face to face training, even to personalized coaching for the most promising cases.  The goal is to motivate them in order to transform the great research that they are already conducting to healthy businesses.

To conclude, just like it is not enough to have a great product to succeed in the marketplace, it is not enough to do great health research to improve individuals’ well-being. This research must find its way to the individuals who will benefit from it. This is, fundamentally, a question of doing business, a lot more than doing research.  In this vein, initiatives such as Health2Market hit the sweet spot: They try to equip health researchers with the tools they need to bring their inventions to life, and (why not?) bring life with their inventions.

By the way, if you are (or know someone who is) considering to start a health-research based business, stay tuned:



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

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


A recent study by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, revealed that 75 percent of venture funded startups failed to return invested capital. The demands of unrealistically high-growth rates and quick returns have caused lots of sound businesses to boom-burst-and-sink quickly.

Turning a scientific breakthrough into a commercial success requires business capabilities.

The first problem is that bioentrepreneurs face different types of interlocutors and are not used to dealing with them. The interlocutors (stakeholders: investors, business angels, customers, etc…) need to be convinced, and the first challenge for a scientist is to forget traditional scientific doubt while not going too far the other way and claiming unrealistic expectations for their product.


Read more…


This post is extracted from a recent presentation which I made to scientists at CNIO (Spanish National Center for Investigation in Cancer), during a forum dedicated to entrepreneurship. I want to address the misconception that the creation of a new and innovative  drug is not, in and of itself, a guarantee that it will sell. As said by Peter Drucker “Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth”.

Read more…

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