Tag Archives: stock

How To NOT Treat Your Customers & Community: The Downfall of Coca-Cola’s MyCokeRewards

As I have shared with you, I like to take advantage of a variety of programs and memberships which allow me to get freebies for doing things I would have already done anyway. Doing so is how you can really stretch your budget and make the most of what you have. One of the very first such programs I was a member of was Coca-Cola’s MyCokeRewards. For a decade or so I was a member. It was similar to the Pepsi Stuff/Pepsi Points program from many years back, for some of you who may remember. On Coke products there were codes, you entered the codes online for points, and you could then cash in the points for various rewards.

Over the years I used MyCokeRewards and redeemed them for theme park tickets, Amazon gift cards, and a variety of other various, worthwhile prizes. It gave you a reason to look forward to drinking Coke, saving your caps and packaging, and even asking your friends and family to save them for you. It really helped to build brand loyalty.

I don’t drink a lot of soda, but I am very loyal to Coke when I do. I am a simple, original Coke type of guy. I actually have a hard time drinking a full-size 12-ounce Coke, and prefer only having an 8-oz can every so often. It’s the perfect size for someone like me! Coca-Cola is an iconic brand. Everything from their Christmas/Santa packaging and advertising, to their other artwork and classic advertising. Being a reseller I have grown to love Coke advertising and have sold many vintage signs, crates, bottles, you name it. My passion for Coke and their brand has also led me to holding a small investment in Coke, for many of the same reasons that Warren Buffett has held the stock for so many years. It’s just a small gesture, but I was so very proud when Stockpile, the company I use to hold Coke stock, sent me a stock certificate that I could display in my office last year. Simply put, I’m very loyal to Coke.

All of these reasons is why it truly hurt so much when Coke decided to “improve” their MyCokeRewards program, as they decided to call it. Make it “better.” Yeah, right. We’ve been down this road before. Over the years, they have changed the program many times. They have made it harder in different ways, made you earn status levels, changed it back, and I don’t fault them for any of that really. During all these changes over the years they still kept the basic truth of the program which was that you could use your points towards actual prizes and rewards. Things that made it worthwhile.

With this last and seemingly final update, all that changed. First off, they set a certain deadline in which you would no longer be able to enter the codes you had already collected. This deadline has passed. The program had a weekly 75-point limit in which you could not pass, which was understandable. What wasn’t is that they didn’t allow their loyal community to have an unlimited period in which they could catch up their stockpile of codes. Many people had to just simply throw away the rest of their codes. If you look at the community they built on their Facebook page, this is one huge complaint stemming from these changes. The people responding truly don’t even seem to care that they have angered everyone.

They are claiming that the program will be “better” now, and “easier.” It sort of reminds me of Donald Trump’s campaign for President. False promises and statements throughout. The new program which they are transitioning to seems to be nothing but entering your codes for sweepstakes entries. Who really wants to be loyal to a brand, save their codes, and enter them for a small chance at winning something? Saving them for something you would actually want like a theme park ticket, gift card, movie ticket, Coke t-shirt, etc.. is much more worthwhile. On top of destroying the program they built, they gave everyone a time period in which they have to use all their earned points by, or lose the rest. Even though the new program looks to be a joke, why wouldn’t they allow points to carry over?

The basic truth is as follows: I understand that business changes, society changes. Soda sales have slowed dramatically over the years, as more people now drink bottled water and other healthy alternatives. I’m no different. Myself and the rest of the Coke community probably would have understood more if Coke was just honest and stated that they had to change the program or get rid of it all together due to declining sales, profits, whatever the case. But claiming that they are making it “better” and “easier” and whatever other blanket statements they feel like using is a great way to lose the loyal community that you spent years building. Turning your own community against you really makes no sense.

Were you a member of the MyCokeRewards community? What are your personal thoughts on these changes? I’ve heard of some other programs that have recently done similar moves, including a local gas station/convenience store which has implemented similar changes. Have you experienced any similar situations? It’s a shame when you get used to something and it gets taken from you, but that is life I suppose. Is honesty too much to ask for in this day and age? That is really all I am asking here.

I usually always try to be positive, and I’m sure my next post will follow that path, but this is something that has been on my mind for a while that I just felt the need to share. It’s not the end of the World, my life is filled with many bigger problems. To wrap it up and be as honest as I can, I’m just really let down by the iconic, classic brand that is Coca-Cola. Drinking my 8-oz can just may never be the same again….

Thank you for reading, and leave your comments below! I promise that I will respond!

Brent Ott

Two Stocks I Recommend You Buy and Never (At Least Short Term) Sell: Facebook & Amazon! Here’s why…

 

When it comes to wise long-term investments, in my eyes it’s hard to top two of the most well-known tech names out there, Facebook (FB) & Amazon (AMZN). Before I get into this post, let me just start by saying that yes, I do own both of these stocks, and they are currently my two top holdings. They will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

When I look into purchasing stock in a company, one of the first things I look to learn about is the CEO. Both Amazon and Facebook have very smart, forward-thinking CEO’s with Mark Zuckerberg running things at Facebook and Jeff Bezos holding the spot at Amazon. Both are more than willing to bet money now on long-term hopes, dreams, and visions which is something I fully believe in. In this field their track records speak for themselves.

Both of these companies will be reporting earnings at the end of this month. When it comes to quarterly earnings, anything can happen. There is no way for me to guarantee, obviously, that either of these companies are going to beat their earnings estimates this quarter, which a lot of the time means the stock price will rise. However, I can say with strong belief that over time these companies will each have many successful quarters, and the stock WILL rise.

First off let’s look at Facebook. As of this writing and it being a Sunday when the Stock Market is closed, FB sits at $128.34 per share. This is up significantly from when it first went public in May of 2012 at $38.23 per share. Imagine if you would have invested then?

Here are a few of the reasons that I personally believe that Facebook will continue to grow:

  1. Instagram Stories: Facebook, which owns Instagram, just launched Instagram Stories within the past few months, to compete with Snapchat. The product is EXTREMELY similar. Advertising on that platform is just beginning to roll out, and the daily users continue to grow. I’ve even read reports that Instagram Story-like features will eventually be coming to Facebook Messenger and other parts of Facebook. I personally cannot wait to see the Instagram Story product itself as it continues to add features and expand, I really enjoy using it!
  2. VR (Virtual Reality): Facebook owns Oculus VR which produces virtual reality headsets, etc.. I don’t personally believe in AS MUCH of a future for VR as others do, but I do believe it’s going to be an aspect of their business that continues to grow.
  3. Advertising In General: As more and more brands begin understanding the huge shift in where eyeballs are going, away from television sets/cable and more towards the Internet/streaming, Facebook will keep growing advertising revenues through their platforms.
  4. The Next Big Thing: Remember when Facebook bought Instagram? Remember when Facebook TRIED to buy Snapchat? Well, keep an eye out because I guarantee you that Facebook will try to buy “the next big thing” that grows out of nowhere.

These are just a few of my personal visions for Facebook’s future. I see no reason why within a year or two, Facebook stock won’t be sitting somewhere between $200 or $300 per share, or greater. Keep in mind however, that Facebook last year announced a pending stock split and a new class of shares that won’t contain voting power, so the price target will need to be adjusted for this once it happens.

Now let’s look at Amazon. As of right now AMZN sits at $817.14 per share. This is up from $1.50 per share when the company first went public in May of 1997. No, you didn’t read that wrong… it was only $1.50 per share!!!!!!! Imagine making THAT investment and holding on to it!

Here are a few of the reasons that I see Amazon continuing to rise…..

  1. Amazon Prime: Prime is a beast. Amazon generates a huge amount of revenue just off of memberships to this alone, and subscriptions continue to grow. They keep adding new perks to Prime, and are always working on new ones, which in turn will keep the amount of subscribers growing.
  2. Drones: It may seem crazy, but Amazon is actually working on launching Amazon Prime Air drone deliveries. Imagine it. You order something, and a half hour later you get your order delivered to your front yard via a drone. It is this type of forward thinking that will keep Amazon stock growing alone.
  3. Streaming Sports: Amazon is working on adding LIVE streaming sports to its Prime service, which will again keep subscriptions rising.
  4. Physical Retail Locations: Amazon has been working on and testing a variety of formats for physical stores. Everything from corner store type locations, to grocery store and book store locations, which actually have a few locations already in existence.
  5. Echo/Alexa: Although it still may seem strange to many, this market is going to be huge. Having a “personal assistant” who orders household items for you when it realizes you are low, before even YOU do? How cool is that? Another way Amazon is into this space is through their Dash Buttons, which continue to grow and expand. Besides this cool feature, being able to simply find out pretty much anything you need, just by asking? An absolute game changer. It’s also been announced that Alexa will be built into Ford vehicles in the future, which is YET another stream of revenue!

These are just a few of the MANY forward-thinking ideas that Amazon is working on, and it’s only a FEW of what have been announced. Imagine what they are working on behind the scenes! You hear estimate targets of $1,000 for Amazon stock quite often, but I’m even more bullish on Amazon. I say that within two or three years Amazon stock WILL hit $1,200 easily. $1,500? Quite possible!

It will be fun to look back to this blog as time goes on to see what ideas and thoughts I was right on, what I was wrong on, and what I didn’t even think was possible! Bottom line, despite typical ups and downs of the Stock Market, possible future economic downturns, and whatever else gets thrown at us, Facebook & Amazon stock will grow and will grow BIG TIME.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below and I WILL RESPOND!

Thank you so much for reading!

Brent Ott