Duane Reade: Not The Neighborhood Drug Store Anymore

For those who remember the traditional drug stores from the 1960’s, the new Duane Reade Drug Store, located at 40 Wall Street in New York City, has to be quite a shock to your traditional concept of a place where you can get your  prescription  filled or purchase some favorite toiletries and tooth paste. It has been a long time since the soda fountain was a staple in neighborhood drug stores.  For decades now it has been common to find pharmaceuticals sharing the spot light and shelf space with everything from personal care items to candy, cards and carry home snacks and beverages. The new Duane Reade in New York City stretches the concept beyond what any of us could have expected from the practiced, tired and well established drug retailers of the last four decades.

The new Manhattan Reade’s, which replaces the World Trade Center store destroyed on September 11, 2001, encompasses 22,000 square feet of space and is the 254th store under the Duane Reade flag. Duane Reade president Joe Magnacca said, “This is our learning store,” and in anticipation of its reopening “it was the right time to come home”.

The new store features innovations like; “Find Your Look,” a computer that takes your photo, lets you scan in makeup items, then retouches your photo to show how you would look in those products; an in-store salon offering blowouts for $35 to $45 dollars (an unthinkably low price for pricey Manhattan); a juice bar where employees whip up made-to-order $4.99 smoothies; a Coca-Cola machine that dispenses 130 drinks at the touch of a computer screen and refrigerated cases filled with New York-centric foods like pastrami from the Carnegie Deli, Zabar sandwiches and glass-bottled Ronnybrook milk.

If that is not enough to challenge your apothecary shopping expectations, how about Justin and Steven Song, Duane Reade’s resident Sushi Chiefs who will whip up fresh offerings  while you wait for the professional pharmacy staff to  fill your prescription or give you a Flu shot. The new sushi bar will be staffed by two sushi chefs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. They’ll hand-make sushi to order, including spicy tuna rolls or salmon avocado rolls for $6.99.

Walgreens completed its deal to acquire 257 Duane Reade stores in the metro New York area and the acquisition is credited with adding 3% to the rise in Walgreens revenues in the first month, and helped boost overall sales, which cashed in at $5.7 billion. The Duane Reade New York City stores are anything BUT your average neighborhood Walgreen’s, but Joe Magnacca still  looks forward to the opportunity to share some of the more successful concepts of his new store with other Walgreen’s and Duane Reade locations.

The message the new store at 40 Wall Street is sending to the marketing world is “Up Market”, and while this location is unique, even to the extreme, the company is forging a strategy that will allow the chain to become more geared toward specific neighborhoods and focused on connecting more effectively with its customers. If you are in NYC, it’s worth a visit!

BYOD – Power to the People

In recent years, companies have been effectively mobilizing clients and colleagues to participate in the marketing conversation. Through this kind of ambassadorship, businesses are more effectively spreading B2B brand messages via various peer-to-peer (P2P) techniques.

Because of this trend, as mobile continues to explode, it has been reinvigorating B2B efforts, with more of these brand-carrying employees working off of their own laptops, smartphones, and tablets thanks to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement. With BYOD practices, employees are allowed or even encouraged to bring personally-owned mobile devices to the workplace and use them to access privileged company information. Aside from some risks related to data security, BYOD has been lauded for making workers comfortable with the devices they are spending the most time with, translating to happier and more productive employees.

As devices continue to become more capable and more readily available, members of the workforce are better connected than ever before. Now, B2B marketers are finding ways to make this new level of mobility even smarter.

BYOD is one of many results of the consumerization of IT, in which consumer preferences are driving the adoption of new technologies instead of corporate interests. International advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather reported that executives perform more mobile searches from personal devices today than they did from company computers a year ago. The same report suggested that the BYOD movement has enabled B2B mobile in-app advertising to engage its audience as well as the highest profile B2C advertising categories, like retail or automotive. These preferences and user behaviors are precisely the activity that B2B marketers have been after in the years since employees emerged as more powerful brand assets; getting through to a brand’s people is vital, and it is becoming easier to build those connections.

BYOD has become prominent enough that entire mobile strategies have been redesigned to fit the requirements of having more personalized technology in the hands of workers. Messages and applications must be tailored appropriately.  By delivering dynamic, interactive content to prospects, the experience shifts from ‘presenting the information’ to having a real conversation. The individuals, not the enterprise, have become the final decision makers.

Junction Creative Solutions Unveils Brand Refresh

Atlanta-based strategic agency Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) unveils a refreshed brand, reflecting its new creative direction. Junction was motivated to enhance its brand look to showcase the breadth of capabilities and experience of the agency.

“The Junction brand has certainly matured since we started in 2009,” says Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction. “We recognize the importance of using creative to tell our story. As a hybrid agency truly focused on business strategy and creative execution, it’s difficult to articulate both sides effectively.”

The enhancements and new features included in the new website include easier site navigation with a clean, user-friendly design aesthetic, a more robust portfolio containing creative examples and detailed client case studies, expanded biographical profiles of company leadership and key account team members, and a redesigned multimedia newsroom featuring current and past company news, publications, and video highlights.

Junction’s company blog, Strategy. Impact. Results. also received an facelift in order to carry the updated brand experience across multiple platforms. As always, readers will find frequently updated insights and commentary on topics related to business, brand, marketing, advertising, strategy, and technology.

“In this vastly competitive industry, we stay true to our own philosophies – we ‘drink our own Kool-Aid,’ so to speak. We want our brand to reflect the very best that it can so that our clients can trust in our abilities to deliver amazing solutions for them,” comments Gareleck.

The new website is live and viewable at www.junction-creative.com.

Drawing the Lines on Graph

After a few short months of anticipation since its initial announcement, the live rollout of Facebook’s new Graph Search is now just on the horizon. Billed as the latest in a long line of ‘next big things’ that rarely make too big a splash, Graph Search is actually generating quite a bit of actual buzz. The reason is simple: it is the first concept to have a real chance at disrupting the deep-seated user behaviors engrained from using traditional search engines for the past 15+ years.

The idea is basic enough; presenting search results about people and activity in a visual style, and personalizing findings to a user’s own network to bring up more relevant information. Although Google, Yahoo!, and Bing certainly aren’t too difficult to operate, this style of search also comes off as a bit more intuitive, accepting criteria based on speech and the way a social citizen, not a programmer might think (you don’t need an advanced degree in Boolean logic to get more precise, localized results).

There are the requisite concerns over issues of privacy – some worry that companies are trying to explicitly monetize Facebook users and collect their personal data. But Graph results are restricted by user sharing preferences, allowing social networkers to control this information to some degree. When it goes live, many users will play around with Graph, but the platform will likely only be utilized by a certain segment of the overall FB population; one that includes a plethora of brands.

Because of this, far more important to note is the way that Graph may flip current SEO and SEM practices on their respective heads. A study by IT firm Mainstay Salire found that on average, local Facebook pages receive five times more marketing reach and as much as eight times more ‘engagement’ per fan than corporate brand pages. Graph is positioned to potentially make these numbers even greater. What brands wouldn’t want to build a more localized, more focused fan base?

Although comparable in practice, Graph must be viewed as an entirely different channel for businesses than typical search engines, requiring its own strategy if it is to be implemented effectively. Even the key metrics are different – ‘likes’ actually become more important, and goals should move away from linkbuilding and traffic in favor of building the kind social capital that has been revealed as the real driver in social media marketing.

Search can be a way of discovering customers’ intentions, but the assumption that users will adopt Graph as their search engine of choice, if at all, remains untested. Although the network is large, even immense, the quality of content found is really the most important factor for search engines, and the big 3 have that market fairly well covered. What if the launch of Graph simply puts more users off than it turns on? Facebook’s business could be taking another step in the wrong direction.

Facebook has had both great successes and more than its share of missteps in the past. Graph is emerging as the next big gamble – whether it lifts the social network to new heights of personal and brand engagement or acts as the straw that breaks the camel’s back for users is up in the air.

Can You See Me Now?

Anyone who is experienced in traveling by air is well aware of the importance of following the status of their airline flight to keeping their schedule and travel plans on track. At best, traveling by air today has become an adventure fraught with delays, cancellations, upgrades, standbys, and just general status changes. Airlines are now utilizing a vast array of new-era communication devices to keep us all informed as to the status of our flights. It is almost as if they think we will be more understanding and patient with all the uncertainty if we have more information we could ever possibly need.

Most major carriers offer tracking websites, mobile apps and 800 numbers for travelers to stay in touch as to the basic schedules and status of flights, some offer online check-in, advanced boarding passes and automatic passenger notifications of changes and delays.

But United Airlines has taken the practice to new heights with their online flight tracking system. Not only can you get schedule information and ticket services, but the UA Flight Status System offers information so comprehensive that it borders on “more than we need to know.”

It is not necessary to have a ticket or be a booked passenger to gain access to all kinds of interesting stuff. Just a flight number, date of departure and an airport and an abundance of details will be laid out before you including; the usual flight time schedule, airport concourse, gate number, model of plane, in-flight amenities, seat map, seat assignments and the, not so usual, upgrade and standby lists, with the first initials and last names of the passengers. And as the flight becomes airborne, you can follow the airplanes in-flight progress in real time via satellite, all the way to its destination. So much for jetting around the country unnoticed.

This pervasive use of the new communication technologies may have a measurable marketing advantage for United over its competitors, but many are beginning to wonder what is an appropriate threshold for offering such detailed real-time information, unprotected and seemingly without user restriction.

How much is too much?

Atlanta Starts Up Bigger and Better

These days, big things are happening in the tech industry, and not just in the usual places; not in Seattle, not in San Francisco… not even Palo Alto.

Billed as the ‘Largest Gathering  of Startups in Georgia since 1895,” Startup Rally 2013 took over the Georgian Ballroom at midtown Atlanta’s historic Biltmore Hotel on Monday, February 18th. The event marked the official launch of Startup Georgia, as it joined Startup America Partnership, a national network of similar growing startup communities.

Thousands of business leaders, investors, students, and media attended the exposition to see the latest pioneering ideas coming out of the Southeast and share ideas and opportunities. One of Junction’s clients, Guardian Watch™ founder Dr. Gordon Jones was on hand not only to showcase his company’s revolutionary new multi-platform application supporting public safety, but also to talk about startup culture in his hometown of Augusta, GA, a growing satellite market to the hub of Atlanta.  Joining other influential Georgia startup founders and executives on stage, Jones highlighted the greater Atlanta area’s immense potential for cultivating successful new companies, and how the ‘Capital of the South’ is becoming a hotbed for innovative technology companies with its wealth of industry talent and diverse marketplace.

The presentations were headlined by a conversation with Grammy winning hip hop mogul and serial entrepreneur Jermaine Dupri, who is himself an engaged member of the Atlanta business community as CEO of So So Def Recordings and Global14.com.

The turnout and obvious enthusiasm for the day’s events was a clear indicator of the excitement surrounding the launch of Startup Georgia and the growth of industry in the region. The exhibitors, panelists, and presenters represent the men and women building the next great wave of ground-breaking companies, proving that Atlanta and the South are on the rise.

Crunch the Numbers

It is a phrase that has been seen in headlines of articles across industry publications, frequently heard in board rooms, and endlessly repeated on internet forums. Yes, ‘Big Data’ has been a hot-button topic and a dominant trend for some time now, but all evidence points to an army of executives, marketers, and other leaders that still don’t really have a clue what to do with all that juicy information.

In 2013, performance measurement data for business comes in two basic sizes – the ever popular “Big” and the far-less-often discussed “Small.”  Of course, not all businesses have access to glamorous Big Data – most companies don’t have tens of millions of visitors to their websites, or hundreds of thousands of impressions for online ads, nor do they have the resources to hire a full team of analysts to derive meaning out of the numbers. Of course, this isn’t an excuse to forego leveraging the data that is available to them to create better business processes. Small, meaningful data is itself highly useful in determining success factors, metrics, and benchmarks. In fact, having limited resources dedicated to this effort can help prioritize which information is the most important to understand.

On the other hand, companies choosing to engage in the business of Big Data need to undergo a basic shift in philosophy. Many marketers are just looking for the data to tell them things are improving, especially in more number-centric verticals, like financial marketing. There is a clear need to identify means of applying the data in a way that is not self-serving by nature. Available data can be parsed any way you like (‘It doesn’t matter that our revenue dipped by 10% this month, we got 40,000 more hits to the site!’), but it needs to be the driver in making smarter strategic decisions. It’s about applicability.

Another common mistake is the assumption that data only supports marketing-related initiatives. The truth is, sales teams, customer service departments, and other lines of business might be surprised to see what cold, hard numbers have to say about their process and efficiency. In reality, every piece of data collected should have an application somewhere across the business – the challenge lies in recognizing where it belongs and what fresh perspective it brings within that framework.

This immense body of data is only growing. As more and more information becomes available and the science of its analysis becomes more complicated, companies need responsible voices who can tell them what the data means, not just in general terms, but in the context of a specific business. What’s big is getting bigger – take smaller steps with a trusted partner to avoid getting lost in its shadow.

Go Fish

The latest phenomenon to hit reality TV is, thankfully, something a bit more substantial than Jersey Shore. MTV’s Catfish follows people who have dated on the internet, but never met in real life. The term ‘catfish’ refers to one or both of the parties creating a false persona online, pretending to be someone they are not.

The idea of documenting these individuals originated with the 2010 documentary of the same name, which followed several couples who had been together for years before meeting face-to-face. The practice is becoming increasingly commonplace on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, with motivations ranging from the need to feel wanted or appreciated to harassing others for fun. To some degree, everyone puts up a façade online, but we are learning that the problem runs far deeper than white lies and playful misdirection.

In our modern world, technology has made us more connected, but ‘catfishing’ is an example of how many members of society have responded by actively distancing themselves from one another.  It turns out creating a fake identity online is incredibly commonplace; some sources estimate that there may be as many as 83 million fake Facebook accounts. With the large majority of the world’s personal and professional communications now occurring online, one has to wonder how many catfish we interact with every day.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Just last month, the story of Notre Dame standout linebacker Manti Te’o and his involvement in a catfish-style ‘hoax’ brought the scenario into the spotlight. Even the Heisman Trophy candidate, with the full attention of the media, was unable to avoid the perils of this bizarre trend, exposing some serious implications of placing trust in an online persona.

Thanks to the TV show and the Te’o saga, Americans are gaining a far better understanding of the risks involved with shifting our everyday interactions into the online space. For businesses, evaluating this new lay of the land in social media has become an important part of the agenda, as marketers spend valuable budget distributing messages to millions of social citizens who may not be who they say they are. Discovering who the audience really is, behind the mask, will help businesses avoid falling victim to the same mistakes as those who were baited and hooked before.

Joining the Worlds’ Biggest Financial Brands to Address Trends for 2013

Junction is pleased to announce its presence at the JFAM:FORUM-NYC, the first major conference of 2013 hosted by The Gramercy Institute’s Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing, on Wednesday, January 16th in New York, NY. CEO & Managing Partner Julie Gareleck will join senior leaders from top financial brands including JPMorgan Chase, Prudential, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and more as they discuss what financial marketers want to gain from their marketing efforts in the new year.

The half –day forum features five panel discussions covering specific topics ranging from branding and reputation management to mobile and tablet marketing, social media, and the role of big data in marketing financial services. The lone representative in the conference from an agency’s perspective, Gareleck will participate in the fifth and final panel, informally titled ‘Getting It Done,’ addressing financial marketing team management.

Gareleck views the topic of how to effectively organize a team and execute on marketing tactics as one of Junction’s core strengths. “Junction has proven that our own process makes a significant impact on streamlining operations, improving internal and external communications, and maximizing the value of the solutions we design for our clients,” says Gareleck. “Marketers in 2013 must focus on this high level of organization, because even the biggest ideas lack power without proper coordination and flawless execution.”

A Year in Review

A Snapshot of our Blog in 2012

2012 was truly a year worthy of conversation. Facebook’s IPO opened the world’s eyes to a new understanding of social media, mobile technology continued to grow and captured more of our attention and our dollars, the Summer Olympic Games unfolded in London, Hurricane Sandy became the most digitally captured event in history, and the nation caught the fever of a Presidential election that set new standards for advertising spending while highlighting the state of business and the economy in America.

We try our best to write about the topics that matter most to doing business in the context of an economy unlike any other experienced before. Here is a look at the influential topics we discussed in 2012, and some that we believe will be on the forefront of conversation in 2013:

We are also extremely proud to share our Annual Report: Sustainability in a Fragmented Marketing Economy, which presents a short timeline and history of marketing to shed light on a fundamental truth about successful business communication that we think will spark a trend next year. Read the report, share with your network, and join the conversation in the comments section below or tweet us @junctioncreativ.

Thank you so much for reading Strategy. Impact. Results. We look forward to offering our insights and perspectives, and seeing what unfolds in 2013!