Lost connections: how the "Sharper" brand lost its market connection

Written by : Tim Vasko | Published on July 24, 2008
Category: TechnEnomics TM

I'm in a cab at 58th & 7th in NYC - broke my Bluetooth Jawbone headset. No worries - it's hanging by wires, still working - sort of, if I hold it just right. Anyway, I bought the extra protection plan from the retailer who sold it to me - Sharper Image.

"Drop me off on 51st". - I figure I'll stop in at the Rockefeller Center Sharper Image and get a replacement. I walk to the Bank of America Building - I find the Sharper Image sign - and the image in the blacked out windows tells the story - the one time leader, high end brand, is closed for good. What happened?

About two years ago, before we narrowed our focus on the Connected Market Space technologies to the for the Luxury Real Estate Sector. we were approached to use our platform by the Sharper Image. The entire CMAEON Team and I were excited. We were one of the "lucky" recipients of the final RFP process. We presented our 1to1Connect - MRM3 Product (the predecessor to our newly released 1to1REAL) to the internet marketing Team at the Sharper Image. When we discussed how to make connections, drive these through to the entire organization and "start the conversation marketing online". we were surprised to see blank stares. "all we want to do is sent out big e mail blasts". was the response. Our advice that "spamming your customers with generic information is a bad idea... fell on deaf ears. We were practically begging the people charged with bringing the brand to customers on the web to listen to what they were saying themselves. "you're the Sharper Image. You have the edge, you need the edge, you need to be a leader, not a follower using old generic distribution of information - you need to have conversations with your customers on the web" Nothing.

For the retailer, who was once viewed as the innovator of gadgets for "the people who have everything - but this . Crowd", we were stunned that they could have so much foresight in the past and fail to see the future. This was all happening while the Facebook Kid was still in his dorm room conjuring up social networking - before Rupert Murdoch had myspace. Granted it was early advice - or was it an early warning. I should have shorted the stock then and there!

"Hey pull over". I said to the cabbie - I was rushing to JFK to catch my flight, but we passed another Sharper Image with the lights still on. "Final Close Out Sale - only 12 days left ", written in big yellow letters in the window. "Hey Buddy, I can't stop here - what ya wan me ta do ??##**" HONK! Yep, I'm in NY - "Just go to JFK"

I looked at my dangling wires and snapped the Jawbone back together once again to make a call. Hey there's Brookstone - they seem fine, I thought.

I wondered how many more of these big brands we will see falter - I'll focus on - our Connected Market Space for the high end global real estate market - where we can make sure our clients and the customers are connecting on fronts "wires in tactâ" in the Connected Market Space.

So much for my extended warranty - I think I'll buy my replacement Bluetooth Jawbone on line - I hear they have a newer model that's smaller and less ugly anyway. Any suggestions of where to shop?

Tim Vasko

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