This Week in Business and Brands: The Lies of Likes, The Fall of Malls, and More

shopping mall

Leadership Lessons: Opening Windows with Microsoft’s Culture

Building, Cologne, Facade, Architecture, House Facade

What’s the secret to Microsoft CEO’s Satya Nadella’s success? It’s easy: “don’t freak people out.” With heartfelt encouragement to his teams even (or especially) in times of setbacks, the company is able to achieve innovation wins like Zo, the brand’s latest entrant in the artificial intelligence game. Nadella is careful to remove negativity from the environment: “If people are doing things out of fear, it’s hard or impossible to actually drive any innovation.” In other words: more carrots, fewer sticks. Sure, buying new companies and investing in tech trends are ways to grow the business, but Nadella’s main strategy is “reinvigorating Microsoft’s in-house mojo.” In his own words: “Any decision about a new product or a new hire, I’m always thinking about that sense of purpose and culture.” That’s the only way to make sure every endeavor aligns to the company as a whole, making for best practices – and success – in the long run.

Digital vs. Analog: One Shop to Rule The Mall?

We’ve asked it before, and we’ll ask it again: are brick-and-mortar storefronts really about to crumble, or will the big bad wolf of e-commerce never blow that house down?  “Long live the store,” say some – despite all the mobile apps, voice-activating shopping, and Amazon Dash buttons, the majority of shoppers still prefer the hands-on touch and feel of the in-store experience. That said, the try-before-you-buy mentality isn’t enough to save some malls from dying out, as big department stores keep shuttering doors across the country in response to increased online sales. One strategy is to transform the retail hubs into entertainment centers, buying up the properties for cheap and renovating for aesthetics. For the men’s tailor shop Indochino, the big bet is to ignore the mass exodus and move back in, with a goal of 150 mall locations by 2020. Smart play or a fool’s errand? Only time will tell if the stitching holds strong or belts will have to tighten even further…

Talking Tactics, Tête–à–Tête: Getting in the GAME

Speaking of online migrations – how do you compete in the real world when the bulk of your wares are enjoyed in cyberspace? That’s the level gaming retailer GAME is trying to beat every day, with the help of its Group Insight Director, Fred Prego. Here are some highlights from the above Q&A:

  • On embracing new technology: “We upgraded our app to add augmented reality…offering people in the street a new experience that would bring them to our stores.”
  • On creating communities: “We realized that we needed to be a part of people coming together to play games, not just a place where they buy them.”
  • On keeping their edge: “We’re not stuck in a rut of competing on price…we’re offering an experience gamers simply can’t get anywhere else.”

The Science of Social: Thumbs Up, Sales Up?

Be it on Twitter or Tumblr, it seems every brand out there has some kind of social media presence – heck, even the U.S. State Department’s got a Facebook page. The theory behind this quickly-adopted strategy has always been that more online fans = more sales – but according to the Harvard Business Review, it turns out the likes simply don’t add up to love. At least not monetarily: studies show that social media following has no real influence over a customer’s likelihood of purchasing from a particular brand – and while word-of-mouth still plays strong in the real world, the social networks show the dilution of personal choice having an influence on friends’ shopping behavior. So where do the likes truly light up? In combination with advertising, by specifically targeting those online fans over the rest of the non-following masses. When 87% of CMOs acknowledge they can’t document that social media truly creates new customers, perhaps it’s time to take this fresh look at the limitations of the like.

Video Victory: Truth in Advertising 

That’s all for this week! We’ll leave you with this honestly heartwarming ad from the Honest Company, celebrating the moment a mother never forgets…