Posted tagged ‘RealAge’

Lesson 10: Re-examine and re-define the business

April 24, 2009

Exhibit B in our discussion…

Daily Candy – at least according to their web site – is “a free daily e-mail from the front lines of fashion, food, and fun. Sign up to get the scoop on hot new restaurants, designers, secret nooks, and charming diversions in your city and beyond.”

Visit the site. You’ll find it a bit overwhelming. There are editions according to where you live. There are also sections organized by what you are looking for – beauty, travel, house, food and culture.

Daily Candy is selling its women readers a way of life and hopefully, a better life.  And it’s doing it by communicating with them every day.

From a business perspective, they have taken a vertical, fashion, and delved very deeply into it. Like the RealAge site, Daily Candy is building a deep relationship which will afford them the opportunities to sell a wide range of products and services.

And like RealAge, there is really more going on here. By becoming the source for all things fashion related, these sites, with their readers’ permissions, have a license to communicate – and promote – and sell.

By building loyalty, these sites are creating a captive audience. This audience returns again and again, and more often than not, someone is buying an item or complimentary item to something that the person already owns.

The important takeaway is that while the models that we are very familiar with may not work for the housewares industry, there are many others and others being created daily that will work.

The lesson of and RealAge (and Yelp, a site that reviews locations, clubs, stores, etc) is that in certain circumstances a traditional web store model will not work. However, other models like the ones that build deep relationships about specific focused areas of interest can.

Bottom lining this…we need to expand our view as what business we are in, who our customer is and what we are truly selling. Doing so will allow us to identify new vistas of opportunities.

Lesson 9: Understand Your Constraints and Leverage Them

April 21, 2009

When it comes to pragmatic marketing, Mitch Rothschild is the smartest person I know. He runs a marketing and sales company called Raspberry Red. His company has built a site,, where consumers can check up on their doctors. This site provides consumers with the tools to investigate the backgrounds of physicians and make intelligent, informed decisions about which doctor to choose.

But here’s the cool thing.

According to, an independent site that measures the characteristics of websites, “ is a top 5,000 site that reaches over 1.4 million people monthly, of which 1.3 million (94%) are in the U.S. The site attracts a more educated, middle aged, fairly wealthy, slightly female slanted group.”

No bad for a site that’s slightly over a year old.

Mitch’s gift is that he’s sensible, focused and devotes himself to first understanding the constraints of the marketplace, before applying his know-how to a solution.

He cut right to the heart of the matter when I posed our challenge to him.

The biggest problem, Mitch explained, was that these houseware items are low cost. In completing any purchasing transaction, one should expect a cost of $40 per transaction. Housewares tend to be inexpensive so these transactional related costs cannot be built in and absorbed. Besides, it is very difficult to build a brand on the web.

Mitch then pointed me in a different direction.

You may have heard of a company called RealAge. They provide an online test. This “test” asks 150 or so questions about your personal habits, lifestyle and family history. Based on your responses, the company provides to you – via your e-mail address which you enter — your “biological age” and then makes recommendations on how you can get “younger.” Some of the suggestions are simple – eat a better breakfast, take a multivitamin – stuff like that.

Most important, the test is interesting and people like to take it. After all isn’t everybody intrigued by the analysis and the possibilities. Well, maybe not everybody. However…

More than 27 million people have taken the test. That’s a lot of people…and a lot of data.

How does RealAge make money? While its suggestions are non-medical, it really is selling better living through medications. It is acquiring priceless data that most drug companies could never be successful in getting from prospective patients. If a RealAge visitor becomes a member, his or her data goes placed into a marketing database.

To promote their site, RealAge employs a “hub,” Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah fame, as a spokesperson. His message complements RealAge’s – you too can change.

According to the New York Times who did a detailed story on RealAge, companies like Pfizer, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline parse this data and target their products with a laser like focus to prospective consumers. (RealAge provides only the e-mail address and its site policy acknowledges that it shares data with third parties who can help fulfill its mission of “better living.”)  Because of this wealth of data, these pharma companies can target a specific demographic pretty easily, such as overweight smokers who are male between 45 and 50 and get depressed. The companies then send out e-mail advertisements that present the possibility of a treatment that can make a life-changing difference. Tthe e-mail recipient can then choose whether to investigate further.

So what does this have to do with our challenge…visit the RealAge site and stay tuned…

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