Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What is relevance?

What is relevance?
What is relevant and what is irrelevant?
How do we anticipate future information needs?

Relevancy: is the search for information which makes useful contribution to the decisions which need to be made as our text relates. However we must avoid certain contextual traps in the collection of useful information. For example, several kinds of information bias either source related, in or out group related or influence of leadership related, self-censorship related and over-critical analysis measures often taint and colour the data with skewed results and poorly influence the wrong decisions. Certainly information overload is to be avoided, but so is over-confidence, values attribution, devaluation and simple under-loaded information.

Plenty of market entry fiascos exist in several texts such as, "International Marketing Blunders
Marketing Mistakes Made by Companies that Should Have Known Better." by Michael D. White.

Or those listed here:

1. When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you." Instead, the company thought that the word "embarazar" (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."

2. In Spain, when Coors Brewing Company put its slogan, “Turn it loose” into Spanish; it was read as “Suffer from diarrhea”.

3. When Braniff International Airways translated a slogan touting its upholstery, “Fly in leather”, it came out in Spanish as “Fly naked”.

4. When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave."

5. Chicken magnate Frank Perdue's line, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," sounds much more interesting in Spanish: "It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate."

6. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”.

7. A hair products company, Clairol, introduced the "Mist Stick", a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the manure stick.

8. The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem-Feeling Free", was translated into the Japanese market as "When smoking Salem, you will feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty."

9. PepsiCola lost it dominant market share to Coke in South East Asia when Pepsi changed the color of its vending machines and coolers from deep "Regal" blue to light "Ice" blue as Light blue is associated with death and mourning in SE Asia.

10. We can't forget Chevrolet's attempt to launch the Nova -- Spanish translation, "Doesn't Go" -- in Mexico (turns out this one appears to be an urban legend and cannot be verified). Many sources on the internet allege this is untrue.

Judgement of relevance should include: as many managers, workers, target customers, experts, advisors as is effective, in general a diversity and range of opinions to ensure that the decisions made are based on the best information available in addition a full MIS should be in place to monitor our decisions and various group decision techniques, such as the Delphi Method included to ensure judgements do not lead to serious costly errors.

Future orientation to decisions: should be taken in the Deming Management Method's Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle as applied to knowledge management and as described in our text relating to maintenance of an effective MIS system (relevant, timely, flexible, accurate, thorough and convenient). There are many instances where globaly active companies have reacted too slowly to market conditions from supply chain all the way to customer satisfaction from Chiquita Banana to Nike. Daniel Litvin in, "Empires of Profit: Commerce, Conquest and Corporate Responsibility" makes a strong argument that the larger a company becomes as a result of its effective decisions to increase economies of scale the more isolated and distanced its decision-makers become from relevancy and judgmental competency which easily explains why companies themselves have life-cycles.

We may return to GM to illustrate a failure to monitor an effective MIS system in relation to product and market demands.

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