National / International News
Whether it's a coupon arriving in your inbox, a time-limited Groupon offer or a tweet alerting you to a right-in-the-moment quickie deal, we've entered an era of instant retail. In other words, flash sales.
Valerie Folkes, marketing professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, says although it may seem counter-intuitive, flash sales can make sense for merchants. Advertising is changing as retailers adapt to new media and younger consumers migrate away from more traditional outlets like TV, commercial radio and newspapers.
A flash sale can entice consumers, make a brand or a restaurant seem exclusive and crowded, or force a potential buyer to stop procrastinating and spend. Take the Groupon example: as the clock ticks down on a deal, the number of buyers climbs. With limited time and limited number of offers, a deal might seem more exclusive. A restaurant might begin to look more popular, and the influx of customers can do a business good.
Folkes notes this short-term satisfaction might not lead to a lasting relationship, but done well, a flash deal can help with brand loyalty. She cites JetBlue, which posts deals that may seem like obvious losses: $32 tickets out of New York City (a deal that only lasted 32 minutes, while it was 32 degrees out) and 90 percent-off sales (on 90 degree days). These sales force customers to act fast, and even though JetBlue might be losing money on some tickets, overall, the sale works as an ad.
"It's kind of a fun idea. It gets people thinking about JetBlue because it reminds people: JetBlue offers all these great deals, I really need to pay attention to Jet Blue, because who knows what they'll next," Folkes says. "What they're really doing here is buying great publicity. They're getting people talking about their airline, and about travel, and if you miss out on this, if you don't actually get on their airplane, you are now thinking about going someplace, and you're thinking about going someplace that JetBlue flies."
But businesses have to be careful not to foster the idea that you should never pay full price. Timing is important, and people buying during a sale should feel that they got lucky. And many people do, especially when they score a great deal that seems like a secret.
George Hobica, head of AirFareWatchdog.com, specializes in secret deals. His company mines flight searchers for the lowest possible fares: the advertised on-sale tickets, the unadvertised super-sale tickets and the blooper fares — mistakes that make flights way, way cheaper than they ever should be.
Getting in on the sweetest deals requires a lot of focus, patience and luck. There are frequently very few seats available and very little time to book. And if you do find out about a deal in time to make a big purchase?
"You really have to jump on it very, very quickly," Hobica says. "What I tell people is put it on a 24 hour hold ... and then talk to your spouses and your friends and get the hotels and get all your ducks in line."
Hobica recommends keeping a vigilant eye on social media and signing up for alerts from sites like AirFareWatchdog, Hopper and Kayak. Even then, it's a little bit like playing musical chairs — except when the music stops, a million people want to sit down.
After moving to Los Angeles in 2006, he helped found Low End Theory, a weekly experimental hip hop and electronic music club night.
Speed is particularly important to Bensussen. If attend one of his gigs, you might notice that the beats of his music are frequently in sync with the beat of your heart. A healthy human heart beats between 60 and 120 beats per minute, he says.
"I come in so quiet and so weird you don't even know it's starting yet," he says. "I build up from 60 BPM to 100 BPM, to 120 if I'm feeling really frisky. ... I sort my experience using the BPMs. I like to stop whatever party was happening before I showed up and I like to start my own."
His new album, "The Gaslamp Killer Experience," comes out April 28th.
The money you hide away: Do you bury it in the back yard? Stuff it in a mattress, or maybe stash it in a 401k?
Tell us where you keep your money! Does it work? We promise, we won't give away any super specific secret hiding places.
The pace of fast food service has been getting slower as menus grow more complex.
"You even see something like Taco Bell has some menu items that have 10, 11, 12 ingredients, whereas it didn't used to be the case. So in order to be able to put together these menu items, it takes a little bit more time," he says.
A survey by the magazine found that as a result, drive-through service is now about 20 seconds slower on average. But the industry wants to work to both simplify, and kick into a higher gear.
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Sábado Gigante has been a ratings and cultural phenomenon, captivating viewers with a three-hour blend that included amateur talent shows, interviews and music performances.
At least five people have been killed, immigrant-owned businesses have been attacked and thousands have sought refuge at temporary shelters. The government has condemned the violence.
Prom season is in full swing. And if you're thinking to yourself, "That's not a business story," keep reading.
An amazing statistic from Visa: the average prom-going teen will shell out $919 in preparation this year. With that much at stake, formal wear boutiques are courting as much business as possible away from department stores and online retailers, who have the advantage of endless selection and cheaper prices.
One strategy they've hit upon: prom dress registries, so that no two girls from the same high school show up to prom in the same gown.
"I worried about a lot of things as a teenage girl. This was not one of them," said Elizabeth Holmes, senior style reporter for the Wall Street Journal, who recently wrote about prom registries.
The "OMG, Mom!" sense of embarrassment over a twin-effect at prom is nothing new. Beverly Hills, 90210 had a dramatic spring dance moment back in 1993.
To avoid Kelly and Brenda's embarrassment, stores are keeping registries so that each girl has her shining moment on prom night.
Holmes spoke with one Silicon Valley formal wear boutique that tracks 600 high school proms.
"They have this massive computerized dress registry where they're tracking who is wearing what, to which prom," she said.
For store owners, it may be uncomfortable to tell an excited teen, "No, you can't have that dress." But particularly in smaller markets, formal boutiques rely on repeat business and hope that customers will see the value.
Holmes said, it's a "play to the parents," who more often than not are footing the bill for $400 and up gowns.
"They're dealing with a dramatic teenager and they don't want to have — come prom night — tears if someone else had my dress."
Because prom has always been about the pictures as much as the dance, teens now document everything from the dress-buying experience to their "promposals" through social media. And while boys don't have to worry about suit or tuxedo registries (yet, anyway), Holmes said, they tend to foot the bill for increasingly popular promposals,be they elaborate or goofy.