From Grass to Ice: STX is Here to Stay


Matt Moulson, STX Athlete

The world of sports has seen many brands come and go. Nike, Adidas, and Reebok are all names I am sure you all have heard of. Some other extremely popular brands that you may not of heard of are Sherwood, CCM, and Warrior. The reason you may of not heard of these is because they are big brands for sports that are not as popular in the the U.S.  The brands that were mentioned above make gear for hockey and lacrosse, both of which are not as popular than sports like football, basketball, or baseball. Making a name for yourself in such competitive markets like these is not easy. One up and coming brand, STX, is trying to do just that.

STX is a company that makes everything Lacrosse. From protective gear, to high end lacrosse sticks, to apparel, STX makes it all. They are one of the leaders in this industry and recently have started to expand their brand into other sports such as hockey. Hockey and lacrosse have their obvious differences such as hockey is played on ice with a puck, and lacrosse is played on  field with a ball. Looking past that, the sports are fairly similar in regards to gameplay and players’ gear. Even though the similarities are prevalent, not many brands exist that carry both lacrosse and hockey gear. STX might be the next big name in hockey.

STX is not the first brand to make this transition. Warrior is one of the leaders in hockey protective gear and actually got their start in lacrosse before transferring over. Warrior is still at the top of both branches and STX wants to do the same. STX has just released their first set of player sticks and gloves for hockey this past month. This small introduction into the hockey world could be the start of something big. The sticks and gloves are already being sold in hockey stores across the country and they have even picked up some NHL players to showcase their gear on the professional level. Another way how the brand is attempting to make a quick entry into the market is through discounted team sales. As part of the club hockey team at DePaul, I have seen this first hand. An STX representative came out to a team practice and let the entire team demo their new line of sticks. After practice we were given the option to buy one or more sticks at an extremely discounted price. These sticks are pro quality and are comparable to many of the sticks on the racks today. This marketing ploy is one way that STX is going to grow as a hockey brand. The best way to get noticed is by getting exposure. STX has made a strong entry and I am excited to see what they roll out next.

My question for you is what do you think the next decision for STX should be to compete with other hockey brands.

Also, what are other brands that have expanded into different sport and how/why were they successful.



Marketing and Project Management Combined? You Bet!

project management

When I first signed up for this Management Operations course I thought to myself,  “When will I ever need to use this in my marketing career?” I didn’t understand how management operations and marketing could go together or benefit one another. After reading this article on what marketers can learn from project managers I learned the many ways it can improve their work habits, create successful results, and not to mention increase pay.

The top six behaviors that marketers should adopt from project managers are

1. Project cost tracking

2. Independent and collective task management

3. Project Planning

4. Return on investment analysis

5. Document and task management

6. Organized document storage

The responsibilities of a project manager and someone in marketing have similarities when it comes to customers, communication, allocating resources, cost efficiency, time management and many others. Using these techniques of a project manager would help to create stronger campaigns to drive more customers. It would also help to organize the time certain projects are due for clients. As we learn about crashing projects to shorten their duration it helps me to understand how I could utilize this behavior in the work place.

As a marketing major I can clearly see how these elements would help fix any and all the typical issues that occur in the marketing department. Most people believe that marketers don’t worry about reducing costs or fixing slack they say that’s for the finance or operations department to handle. But these types of issues could easily be solved by someone who is educated in marketing and project management rather than sending it to another department of a business to figure out.

Just by taking into account what I’ve learned already about calculating crash costs, slack, and project duration I can understand how useful these skills would be in the workplace. For example if I’m working on a project for a customer or a client, I’m going to be worried about how much time it will take, how much it will cost, and delegating responsibilities evenly and to the right people. I can already tell that operations management will help me go a long way in my marketing career and I’m looking forward to everything else I will learn.

How do you feel about integrating operations/project management to your marketing degree? Do you think it would be beneficial?

What elements of this course, that we have learned so far, do you see helping you in marketing?

Even if you aren’t a marketing major, how do you fit the course material into your major?

Why do you think it’s important to learn the different aspects of each business to benefit not only yourself, but the company as a whole?


Reflection: A Look at Strategy

            Before starting this class, I was already aware that forecasting was important. However, I didn’t realize the extent to which it was important. Forecasts drive so many decisions that are made within a company. It is hard to know if you are being too conservative or too ambitious because you never can predict the market. Once you get the forecast, all of the other departments work together to make sure that the numbers are realistic and can make a profit in the end.

           I also saw that you can start with one strategy in mind and then you can just end up going in a different direction later on. I was assuming that companies had to stick to the strategy that they intended to start with but that isn’t true. Change is inevitable and you just have to learn to grow with the changing markets.

          Amazon is a company that has maintained its strategy for many years. They aim to make their customers as happy as possible and they have done a good job with that. They didn’t follow the Silicon Valley theory where you focus less on revenue and try to establish a product or service. Amazon doesn’t focus on profits, their profit margins aren’t that great but they still have people willing to invest in them. Amazon isn’t worrying about revenues, they are trying to gain more memberships without changing the price to match inflation. Money just doesn’t seem to be a problem for Amazon. They created Amazon Fresh and it just needs to make enough to finance its self. There strategy is proving to work very well for them because they keep adding more services to their business that they really don’t need to finance very heavy. They are able to charge fairly cheap prices for their Kindles because customers will purchase games and applications from the Amazon Kindle store. Their goal is to have their products widely spread across a large number of the population. So far, they have done an amazing job with that.


       My team’s strategy was to be a differentiator and lead in the high end and low end. As the simulation progressed, we saw that some of our products in those segments just did not do well. They were positioned in the worst spots in some rounds, some stocked out multiple times, and our awareness of the products fluctuated constantly. It was a true learning experience nonetheless. One thing I learned from this course is that you really have to analyze your competitors very closely and constantly do SWOT analysis to keep your company up to date. I also learned that ethics isn’t always a issue of what is good and bad, it can be about what’s in the best interest of the company. Doing nothing is also an option that can be chosen but it will also have implications in some way.




Youtube Vs. Cable TV

A recent report suggests that YouTube will begin charging viewers for subscriptions to certain channels. It is rumor that has been circulating in the past week that YouTube will allow certain channels the opportunity to charge subscribers or viewers of their channels a small monthly fee. If YouTube indeed enters this market, they will be joining Netflix, Hulu, and as companies that provide content that would otherwise be found on cable television.

YouTube already has partnerships with certain companies such as Disney, Viacom and Paramount and offers a rental service but the content is not as vast as other similar services. With this deal, YouTube is expected to announce anywhere from 25 to 50 premium channels that will charge viewers for their content. Some of the expected channels include content aimed at children such as a Sesame Street channel to channels for sports such as one featuring the UFC.

This seems to be a process management utilizing incremental changes since YouTube will reportedly test out the paid subscription service with only a few partners at first. YouTube is stated to be exploring this approach to see if there is other methods to generate revenue other than the heavy reliability they have from advertisements. It will be interesting to see the reaction of people that use YouTube. It will be interesting to see if people who utilize the site for its free content will subscribe to the premium channels to view content they would have generally only been able to see on TV package they already pay for.

Do you think YouTube, with over a billion monthly viewers, could potentially have an impact on the way cable providers offer their services to their customers? When it comes to a service, quality is very important because every customer wants to be satisfied. With only a few major cable companies, do you think customer loyalty is only due to the fact that there only a limited number of providers from customers to choose from?

It is interesting to note that in class it was mentioned that in regards to service quality “giving customers some extra value will delight them by exceeding their expectations and insure their return.” I believe this could ring true for YouTube is they offer premium channels that offer popular content that could otherwise only be viewed if your a cable subscriber. By charging a small fee to view these premium channels, YouTube could challenge the cable market and force the large cable companies to reconsider their business models and offer packages that customers truly want instead of forcing them to sign up to bundle packages like many companies do. With the YouTube service, you would be able to pick and choose what content you would like to subscribe and pay for.

Would you consider testing out a premium content channel from YouTube if it offered content you already watch on cable television?

HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Marketing Campaigns


As everyone might or might not know, the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 launched in April and will be available for purchase by cell phone carriers soon. That being said, they are competing with one another head to head. Both phones are highly anticipated by the general public, and both HTC and Samsung had been doing a lot of marketing for their upcoming phones. HTC is known to have great products, but poorly executed advertising for their phones. On the other hand, Samsung is known for dumping large amounts of money to market their phones thus creating hype among people for their products. HTC recognizes their weakness and is making drastic changes to promote the HTC One.

For the launch of the HTC One, they will not only be focusing on traditional marketing. They will also be doing new media and viral marketing, and from that they will be relying on people’s positive word-of-mouth to help promote the phone. HTC is taking on the concept that Apple has in marketing their products, which is to allow customers to have a hands on experience with their products before buying it. To do so, HTC had set up 11 temporary retail stores in the malls of the United States to allow customers to go and test the phone out. In addition to that, HTC has set up “HTC Live Experience Tours” in populated tourist locations with boom box looking stands to emphasize that the HTC One speakers are Beats by Dre audio. Furthermore, HTC One will be advertising the phone in sites and apps for tech savvy people who are constantly on their phones and on the internet. But is this enough to compete with Samsung’s marketing campaign? I myself tried to get my hands on a HTC One by preordering it with T-Mobile, but it is already sold out. Does this show that HTC’s marketing campaign was a success?

Meanwhile, Samsung has set the standards high with the launching of the Galaxy S4 last month (March 2013). They have built up much hype for the S4 and people were eagerly waiting for its launch because its predecessor the Galaxy S3 was so successful. When it came time for the unboxing of the Samsung Galaxy S4, they put on a theatrical show for the public that can be streamed live on YouTube. There were more than 423,000 viewers that were watching the event as Samsung showcased the long awaited phone at the New York’s Radio City Music Hall. However, after the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S4, people thought that the phone did not live up to the hype. People thought there wasn’t a major product differentiation between the S3 and S4. That being said, do you think that consumers make their purchasing decision based on how the companies have promoted their product?


Bond With Your Brands!

Branding should be huge part of every company’s marketing plan.  If it isn’t you are missing a very important connection that many consumers look for.  In today’s marketplace there is always a substitute product, and if you disagree, I would argue that you do not know your market well enough.  With the overwhelming amount of options consumers are faced with every day it is sometimes difficult to distinguish yourself from your competition.  This has resulted in businesses trying to connect with their customer on a more personal level to help solidify their brand.

One way several businesses have built long lasting brand recognition is by taking on a “Do Good” corporate philosophy.  My favorite example of this is Toms Shoes.  What started as Blake Mycoskie’s personal project turned into a world-renowned humanitarian movement.  I do not personally own a pair of Toms Shoes; however, I know dozens of people who do, and most of them will vow to never buy another brand of shoes ever again.  This brand dedication comes from a sense of good will customers feel when purchasing the shoes along with the high quality of the product itself.  Since the overwhelming success of Toms several other companies have adopted the “buy one give one” philosophy in hopes of coat tailing on its reputation.  Warby Parker is one of those companies.  Warby Parker is an eyeglass manufacture/retailer that makes high quality eye wear for affordable prices, and donates a pair for every pair sold.  Warby Parker “sales have jumped by several hundred percent each year since its 2010 launch.”  Do you own a pair of Warby Parker glasses or Toms shoes?  If so what inspired you to make the purchase?

Another way businesses have inspired customers to make purchases is through selling more than just a product.  Some businesses are now marketing themselves in such a way that customers are buying a sense of community when they purchase products.  This type of business plan can be traced back to Live Strong.  No one bought a plastic yellow bracelet because it was a quality bracelet.  You bought one because it stood for cancer research, and it made you an active member of that community.  Lululemon Athletica has found its niche in the high-end athletic clothing world by developing a feel good, inspirational, goal oriented community.  “In addition to yoga and health, we’re also passionate about helping our guests create a life they love through the power of goal-setting.” “People care about our brand because they feel connected to it and what we stand for,” said Laura Klauberg, senior vice president of community and brand.  Using the community driven philosophy has allowed Lululemon to open 60 new stores over the past two years.

We have developed a need for connectivity, and we are now looking beyond social media to fill that void.  We want to feel a deeper connection with the shoes we wear, the gym we go to, and the music we listen to.

Entrepreneur Magazine, April 2013, Andruss. Paula, “7 Bewitching Brands” (pg 48)

A Simple Communication Fail

I have always been curious about how ideas become reality.  Perhaps that is how I ended up working in marketing and advertising, but I am always intriqued by the process in which ideas are executed.  For example, as a child, I would watch television commercials and wonder how they were created, how the idea was pitched and how it was ultimately executed.  Did a group of people sit around a room and just toss out ideas?  Did some top executive come up with the idea and required the execution and development of that idea?  How did it all happen logistically?

As my career progressed in the field of property management, I quickly realized that not all projects have a defined beginning and end.  Sometimes a project is on-going and the “execution” takes consistent communication with key stakeholders. In my current role, as the marketing director for a residential property mangement company, I oversee the marketing of 43 properties in my region, it is very easy to consider each property as a separate, ongoing project.  We manage for institutional investors and report back regularly on our operation of the property. 

Recently, it became very clear to me that our team had failed in the eyes of one of our institutional investors because of a lack of communication.  Typically, we send monthly reports to our investors and provide financial and operational information.  If they specify the need for additional information, we can provide it, but we typically have a standard format that we send.  It became very clear that this particular investor was most interested in maintaining the “high-end” brand of the property more than anything else, but he was not happy with our level of communication regarding the brand.  Unbeknownst to my team, he wanted daily and weekly updates regarding this topic. 

We recently discussed in class that some people prefer email over phone communication, others prefer phone over email.  Some want to be informed of all details, while others prefer only high-level information.  While sitting in class, I had a realization that it’s OK for people to have different communication preferences, but it just needs to be defined. 

So, where did my team fail?   We failed to ask our investor what he preferred.  It is as simple as that.   Had we prepared a communication plan from the beginning, we would have defined this relationship better and set the proper expectations for our success to deliver.  I had this realization two class sessions ago and have since implemented a proper communication plan.   This plan now clearly defines a few key factors and our invester couldn’t be happier:

  • who will receive the information
  • when we will provide information
  • what format the information will be delivered
  • how frequent the information will be delivered

Does your company define this for internal or external projects, even  if they are on-going?  If not, why do you think this simple step is often overlooked?


Marketing Driving Quality Control

While it’s true that upper and lower boundaries for SPC charts can be set by using some measure of central tendency and typical variation, there are sometimes other factors that will be used to determine process control limits. At Dremel, a power tool company owned by Bosch Power Tools, we heavily monitor and control our manufacturing processes. Dremel makes a line of light-duty power tools aimed at the DIY homeowner and craft/hobbyists markets. Many of their applications necessitate some degree of tool precision (of cut width, straightness, depth, smoothness, etc.) and so our processes are designed to achieve that end. Specifically, our manufacturing process controls for the presence of runout (misalignment between the tool axis and the cutting surface) and tests to look for excessive misalignment.

The interesting thing about our particular operation, though, is that the upper boundary for acceptable misalignment is not a function of the standard deviation of our process. Sure, it can be defined that way, but the number itself wasn’t selected using a statistical model. Rather, it was a marketing driven decision. Our product marketing group did extensive consumer insight research to determine what level of precision mattered for the types of projects our customers undertake. After determining that they were happy so long as the tools were at least some level of precise, the team reworked the manufacturing operation around achieving those numbers.

Of course Dremel uses some of the SPC tools we discussed in class to control its operations. For example, we track the number of defects and percent defective. It’s just that SPC isn’t the only framework in controlling our manufacturing process. Marketing, logistics, and other business functions also get involved and have a stake in making sure the products get made a certain way and according to a certain procedure. The manufacturing unit has to be responsive on all those fronts.

The point of bringing all of this up is two-fold. First, I wanted to highlight that in industry, while many of the operations management tools discussed in class are used, they are not applied in a vacuum and might be modified for a firm’s unique needs. Second, I wanted to encourage thinking about areas where  business functions begin to overlap. Where disciplines begin to intermingle, we need to have some way of making decisions about which framework (or frameworks) ought to take precedent. We need to really understand the goal being pursued and select the most appropriate bits from marketing, finance, accounting, operations, etc., to maximize success.

Are there any instances from your experience where one discipline seemed to be calling the shots in another’s area of expertise? (Exs. Did marketing ever drive finance? Did operations ever affect accounting?)

After midnight.. Mannequins become alive!

“Where Shopping meets Entertainment” is the slogan of the mall I work at. To keep up with our statement, the management works hard to ensure visitors overall satisfaction, present a new shopping and entertaining experience and to operate at full capacity during trading hours. To do so, extensive amount of work must be done after hours, after the last customer leaves the mall.


So what happens at midnight when the mall is closed? The answers would be: the mall becomes alive! Over 340 stores open their doors one more time to be cleaned, new inventory moved in, showcase items are replaced and mannequins are re-dressed. The mall’s Operation Team has to provide enough security members to ensure nothing is stolen from stores, they also issue work permits for external suppliers and cleaning companies as well as create a daily working schedule covering all the activities that will happen between midnight to 8am.


The real challenge..

Besides coordinating stores related activities, the Operation Team plays a huge role prior to launching new promotional campaigns along with other departments. This includes Marketing, Finance and Maintenance, as they have to plan and schedule setting-up and dismantling large promotional displays in less than 8 hours, also including the following tasks:

–  Shipping the display items into the mall through loading bays, and providing proper transportation

–  Replacing signage and banners around the mall, including banners hanging from the mall’s sealing 40 meters high.

–  Monitor the storing of old display items and banners.

–  Ensure all extra waste is removed and the mall is ready to open its door for visitors.


We learned in our last class about project scheduling and performing Critical Path analysis. I realized that our mall management uses the same analysis while planning campaign launches. As we will be working against the clock, the management creates a Backward Pass plan, beginning with the last event that is due at 8 am and working backwards. Time is always a priority in such projects, and if extra costs are needed to meet the 8 am deadline the management can only agree to pay.


3am Surprises..

Although the team spends over a month planning an 8 hour project with the suppliers and assembling company, there is always a chance for unexpected errors that might affect the project’s working path. It happened in several occasions that a supplier would discover in the middle of the working progress that there is a missing piece from the display, or banners need to be re-printed as they are in the wrong size. Solving such problems is not easy, as printing and production companies are closed, arranging extra staff is challenging and some decision makers will be in deep sleep at the time of these tragedies.


Fortunately, the mall management was able to solve such problems, bearing extra costs of course. The question is what can be done to prevent such problems and can this be done without additional costs?