Several weeks ago, I spent the entire day at Macy’s. Not shopping – department stores scare me a little – but attending a conference on Interactive Retailing. The keynote speaker was Mindy Grossman, the CEO of HSN. I say, “HSN” rather than “Home Shopping Network” because one of the modernizing changes she has made is updating the name – kind of like KFC, but with less to hide.
I found this change in name particularly interesting because in 2002, I did quite a bit of work with HSN. I was one of two marketing leads in Hearst Magazines’ Brand Development Group, i.e., licensed products. Products ranging from Marie Claire fashion to Good Housekeeping cookery to Cosmo hair accessories and Country Living quilts were frequently featured on HSN and QVC. Seeking to find a fit between the HSN brand and the Marie Claire flair was tricky, so I coined the phrase “Hot Styles Now!”
Well, it seems that Mindy Grossman has updated the HSN brand to a point where we don’t need either Home Shopping Network or Hot Styles Now. These are some of the things she has done:
Coined the catch phrase: “There's No Place Like HSN."
- Check out the video.
Eliminated $100 billion in product.
- I’d like to know how she selected which product to eliminate. Rationalizing a product line is a valuable and tricky endeavor. You want to upgrade your brand, but you don’t want to alienate your core audience.
- Did she use the BCG matrix – identifying stars, cash cows, problem children and dogs based on market share and growth? Was there qualitative and quantitative research involved? Did she, like Showtime, define the unique look, feel and personality of HSN and then pick products that supported it and simply felt right? Did she segment her target market? I certainly hope and imagine she did. I think that market segmentation is perhaps the most important element of marketing strategy.
- I’d also like to know what led to the transformation. How, as I alluded above, did she evaluate where she was and where she wanted to go? Was it an upfront strategy or more of an incremental evolution?
The end goal and end result was a transition to a lifestyle network.
- That is big. I sounds like she identified the core of her brand and her audience and expanded from a retail channel to an entertainment/transaction vehicle. Very interesting.
HSN added culinary programming noting that the appetite for this kind of programming has not been sated.
Cute choice of words: appetite for culinary things has not been sated… Also quite a statement. Even with a 24/7 Food Network and Food Network spinoff (Scripps re-purposing of “Fine Living).
- In fact, even with food content on Bravo, TLC, the Travel Network, A&E, ABC Family Channel, BBC America, Discovery, Fox Reality, MTV, Style Network, AMC, FX Network, MSNBC, TV Land, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie, Oxygen, SoapNet, WEtv, Comedy Central and Spike TV (phew!), there is still an unsated appetite. (This , by the way, is why I would like to invite Brooke Johnson, President of Food Network, to speak at the Harvard Club, but that is a story for another day.)
In any case, HSN feels that this appetite has not been sated – perhaps, like chocolate, having food content just makes us all want even more – so, "she is going after that."
Mindy started her talk with some key Internet data points:
- Oh, how I love data…
Here they are:
Peer reviews are the #2 source of content/activity after search
30 billion videos viewed each month, ___% on YouTube [darn, missed the # and will have to look it up]
When a person has a DVR, 40-60% of viewing is time shifted
- By the way, I spoke with a physicist working on the Hadron Collider, and he broke the news to me that time shifting is not the fourth dimension. It has to do with the Speed x Time = Distance equation. Oh well.
The web is becoming more sociable than searchable
- Nice alliteration
Facebook had 400 MM users in February of 2010
- Yup, it’s more than that now.
4 of 5 Internet users visited social networking site
11% of time online is on social networks
eBay is experimenting with outlets
- I didn’t know that. I’ll need to search on it when I get a sec.
Online gaming is growing in popularity – 65% of households game! More than 40% of those who game are women. A lot [missed the number] are over the age of 50. 57% are earning or spending virtual currency daily.
- Wow and whoah. 57%! On virtual currency! Take in for a moment that companies like Zynga have figured out a way to turn online value into money! This is worth taking a pause to digest. I’m glad that I’m working on a social gaming speaking event. It’s hot, hot, hot!
The leaders in social mobile networking activity are 35-46 years old.
- Kids, by the way, are pretty much satisfied with Facebook when it comes to social networking.
- Oops – speaking of food content, it’s time for lunch. Gotta run.
- Good news is that Mindy’s people have invited me to do an audio interview, so if you have any questions you’d like me to ask, send ‘em on over!