I readily admit I am getting older and grumpier. Mea Culpa. But sometimes you just have to get some opinions off your chest, if only for your own mental well-being. The recent announcement by American Express of its support for the Surcharge Free movement is one such moment. How a company that is one of the most blatant gougers of interchange fees at point of sale can seriously believe that retailers don’t see this for what it is staggers me.
How many retailers – especially listed retailers – do you hear talking about “the great lengths we are going to in order to lift our customer experience”. It seems every second day another business leader, who looks entirely disconnected from the customers the business serves, delivers a very slick piece of theatre in the hope the media will spread their message for them.
I recently watched one of the many fantastic car reviews on You Tube. This one was on the latest editions of two competing luxury cars where the two reviewers looked in depth at the DNA of the cars, who they were aimed at and what the latest updates represented. In a nutshell, their summary came down to a conclusion based around the notion that one of the cars had actually focussed on being a better car, while the other had focussed on a dizzying array of gimmicks. None of which actually contributed to a better driving experience.
The short answer to that question is “Yes and No.” And it all depends on your definition of marketing. If you see marketing as purely advertising (a mere fraction of what marketing really is), then it can often be the equivalent of shouting about the naked guy standing on the hill. It will bring a lot of attention to him but pretty much everyone will be pointing at him and laughing (or worse calling the cops).
For all the hot air around the downward movement of the cash rate by the Reserve Bank of Australia they are creating almost zero impact and are becoming less and less relevant for two reasons. Firstly they do not – in the current economic context – provide real stimulus. Business is not investing because we are in an extended period of low GDP and inflation growth. It doesn’t matter what the cost of borrowing is, most business leaders are in cost reduction mode not business expansion mode and the markets – seeing little capital growth – are exaggerating the pressures on cost cutting as they force dividend growth for returns.
There is a holy trinity between the ‘the political class’, the media and pollsters that has for too long shaped issues and the way power is exercised at all levels of political life. Effectively this trinity talk to themselves, determine the theoretical way they believe people should lead their lives and contrive to affect the outcome. The recent ‘Brexit’ decision and the rise of Donald Trump are two examples of the push back from the stakeholders who believe the system is supposed to represent and support them.