Soles don’t just happen

I am currently still on “vacation” in Hong Kong.  Vacation being in quotation marks because I’m actually interning at a company—which requires me to jump around between our Hong Kong office and our office in China.

The place where I work is a manufacturer of gloves for many companies. Some brands include Wal-mart, Nike, Volcom, Lululemon, Target, J. Crew, The North Face—just to name a few. I was very surprised because I didn’t know that they had such a huge portfolio, but I’ve been told that many other glove manufacturers have folded, causing more and more business to be brought to the place where I work.

Anyway, the other day, I got to visit a place in Dongguan that makes molds for shoe companies. I can’t say it was life changing, but it did put things in perspective.

Sure, I knew someone had to have made the soles for the sneakers we wear, but I never went as far as to think about the people who make the molds for the rubber to be poured in. It seemed silly that all this time, I thought soles just magically happened.

Inside the factory, they had designers who were all in an office space, designing 3D molds for shoes. Then in the production area, we observed molds being made in simple ways (by hand or closely watched by a technician as a machine did its work), as well as really high tech ways (where a metal plate was set in a huge sealed machine, and the design was carved into the plate automatically).  A lot of water was used to cool down the metal, as well as clean the area of the metal that they were working on. There were also people in an area of the factory that inspected the molds, and people making small changes to molds by hand.

When we walked outside to get back on our car to leave, we caught a glimpse of the river that ran through that part of the city. It was jet black. We suspect that it probably had to do with the mold making company—but curiously, there was still a lot of plant growth everywhere. I’m still not sure what that black stuff in the water was.

So no, soles don’t just magically happen.

Marketing Post #5: Perfecting Your Dreams– Now Fit For The 21st Century

A while back, I made a post on the Disney Princesses’ new look. I want to revisit that topic and delve into why Disney is recreating the figures that have always been a timeless part of many of our childhood.

Disney Princess Wallpapers 01

For a period of time, it seemed that Disney took a break from its franchise of princesses. The world was stuck associating six princesses with the whole line of Disney products; namely: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine. And then it seemed that Disney decided to reawaken every little girl’s dreams of being a princess by adding sequels to the original movies, as well as introducing new ones such as Tianna, Rapunzel, and our latest princess, Merida. They also opened up the criteria for who they considered a princess, allowing Mulan and Pocahontas to join their ranks.


With the latest change, it was not only an introduction of new characters, but also a rework of their old princesses. They seemed to have opted to shower the new princesses with tons of sparkles. So why the rework? Why did they go through all this effort to change the classic images of the princesses dedicated fans have come to love? Marketing.

Disney Princesses sell. That is a known fact. The target market has always been little girls, but sadly, these girls grow up. A lot of us still retain our fondness towards the iconic characters, but of course, Disney recognizes that who is currently in their market is constantly changing. The late 20th to 21st Century also brought with it the attractiveness of teen pop sensations and celebrities. The old princesses’ hair styles and comparatively dull dresses seemed lacklustre compared to Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez plastered on magazines. Disney needed to change.


By improving aspects of the princesses, what Disney did was re-brand their franchise. Their marketing mix remains essentially the same, still producing the same range of merchandise, at the regular price, promoting them as they always did. However, stamping the new princesses onto their items help appeal to the modern little girl’s interest in fantasy and fairytales, and helps them to remain relevant in the market. They also integrated their princesses into new shows, such as Sophia the First, in order to reintroduce these princesses to the current rotation of girls in their market.

Although I was uncomfortable at first with the changes, I still stand by what I said in my last post in that I like the way the new princesses look (maybe because Cinderella’s original hairstyle has always bothered me), and I am interested to see where Disney will take their princesses in the future!

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Marketing Post #4: Let Me Tweet, Instagram, Share, Pin and Reblog This.

The rise of social media is upon us, and it seems that every company– both big and small– are scrambling to establish themselves these platforms (if not all of them). But the question is, do they really need to force themselves onto these social media sites?

I have seen some businesses that are on every social media site they can get their hands on. But how effective is Blackberry and their twitter account, where they throw info on where their demos are, as well as constantly reminding the world that they simply need a Blackberry (urging you to go to their closest carrier)? Or a pet food company’s Pinterest where not know what they should pin resort to posting pictures of dogs and cats?

While connecting with customers through social media sites have proven to be effective, I agree with what blogger Amy Wray says: “It’s not about self promotion”. Going back to the Blackberry example, they simply decide to tweet in hopes of promoting their latest products to customers. On the other hand, it is evident that Samsung Canada’s twitter does a lot of interaction with their customers, replying to tweets and fostering a relationship. This is a clear example of not simply signing up for social media, for the sake of simply having social media.

Before deciding to jump into the world of social media, a company should identify their goals for having an account on a site. Maintaining these accounts take time, and if you do not understand why you are investing the effort, it will all go to waste. Different sites also may be best depending on who your target market is. Pinterest is known for being popular among women audiences, and Google+ has more males as its users. I agree that social media is important, but I would urge a company to carefully evaluate their options, and make decisions accordingly– or else they will simply be wasting their time, or worst– make huge fools of themselves.

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