FEBRUARY 2013 // LOCAL EDITION // ISSUE 60

STATE OF AMERICA

Resurgence Of ‘Made in America’ – Domestic goods are all the rage. In a survey conducted by The Boston Consulting Group more than 80% of people said they preferred U.S.-made goods and that they would pay more for said goods. Despite the economy, consumers are switching their priorities when it comes to quality vs. lower prices and are becoming more open to paying a slight premium for quality. With the cost advantage of manufacturing in China on a decline, it’s making more business sense to manufacture in the U.S. The idea of “Made in America” will succeed for the same reason organic has succeeded. “Just like people didn’t want to eat food that was poisoning them, they want to live in a better economic climate,” says Dave Schiff, co-founder of the Made Movement – a marketing agency dedicated to supporting a resurgence in American manufacturing. Last September Jay-Z and Budweiser participated in the two-day Made In America Festival which featured 30 artists who embodied the American spirit. Additionally, Apple recently announced it would bring some Mac production back to the U.S., and Wal-Mart has promised to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made merchandise over the next decade.

 

Via AdAge

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Local Internet – As consumers continue to expand their obsession with all things local (food, tourism, designers, etc.), they are starting to flock to smaller communities in their online lives as well. Having a smaller pool of people with shared interests around a brand, activity or show helps to create a community that feels more authentic. College students are one of the clearest pioneers of Local Internet. Universities like USC and UCLA have local meme pages that put together joke images and GIFs that only people in the the community would find funny. It’s no longer enough for a site like College Humor to make jokes about college as a whole; they too have to make university-specific pages to attract this new Local Internet Viewer.

Via LAWeekly.com

SMART BRANDS

McDonald Celebrates Local & Renames To Macca’s – It is hard to imagine a more American brand than fast-food chain McDonald’s. However, as it has expanded internationally, the company has come to reflect regional tastes and preferences, so much so that consumers in many countries think of McDonald’s as belonging to them. Fortunately, McDonald’s is completely on board with this idea. In Australia McDonald’s is often called Macca’s, and a recent survey revealed that over half of the nation regularly refer to the fast food business by its informal name. In order to celebrate its 40 years down under and this year’s Australia Day, McDonalds decided to embrace the local vernacular by changing the name of 13 of its restaurants to Macca’s. For a month, the signage on the restaurants will officially read “Maccas,” while an accompanying integrated campaign will honor Australia. Watch this Macca’s commercial which fully embraces the local culture of Australia.

Via Australiantimes

BRIGHT IDEAS

Digital Amplifies Local Brands – With Love, From Brooklyn is a website that positions itself as a one-stop shop for all the favorite local edibles found only in Brooklyn but curated in an way that makes it easily accessible to food-obsessed non-New Yorkers. “I realized that there was an emerging movement of artisan producers who really care about what they’re making and are totally pushing the envelope with unique flavors,” explains founder Dara Furlow. Since many of these treats are of course only available in New York, Furlow decided to start a company to ship local favorites like Bacon Marmalade and Spicy Bacon Caramel Popcorn nation-wide. The goal was to create a viable online marketplace the highlights the artisan stories and local foods Brooklyn has become known for. Furlow says she is open to the idea of visiting other vibrant artisan communities like Seattle and Portland. 

Via Withlovefrombrooklyn.com

ON THE RADAR

Try This Network: New social platform yerdle plans to address storage issues for people living in small apartments. Aiming to reduce the number of things people have to buy by 20%, yerdle encourages its members to share instead of buy items that they need. People who log on can easily see which items are available to borrow from nearby friends as well as friends of friends. Co-founder Adam Werbach explains that the social network is specifically made for NYC since the city is fertile ground for a sharing economy.

Follow This: @WorkaholicsCC – Shows like Comedy Central’s Workaholics are embracing Local Internet by creating hashtags that are highly specific to a particular moment and will only be appreciated by other members of the show’s community. The show changes hashtags displayed on the bottom of the screen based on the storyline on the show, so instead of a generic #workaholics there could be specific references to insider moments fans can appreciate like #TakeItSleazy or #blonders.

Watch This: The Converse Wall To Wall series has traveled all over Europe and North America and invites local street artists to graffiti city walls and transform them into original artwork. The video gallery concentrates on the process of creating the different graffiti and takes the viewer through the artists’ journey of creating their piece. Watch this video of Josh Row, an Austin-based street artist and art director of No-Comply skate shop, paint a mural on Sixth Street, in the heart of downtown Austin.

FEBRUARY 2013 // ISSUE 59

STATE OF AMERICA

15 Ways Technology Makes People Look Weird – After spending five years studying gesture interfaces at Near Future Laboratory, researcher Nicolas Nova noticed consistent trends in the ways people positioned themselves when interacting with technology. His findings highlight awkward, unnatural ways people bend their bodies in order to accommodate technology. A partnership with the Art Center College of Design illustrates the results of Nova’s study in a free ebook titled Curious Rituals. The catalog of social gestures is spot-on and includes “The Periscope” which can be seen at any concert venue where people hold their smartphones in the air, as well as the “Halfway Courtesy” which refers to headphone users who remove only one of the two earbuds when a brief encounter occurs. In addition to describing new physical gestures, Nova also takes a look at the social pressures driving such behaviors and offers insights into how designers can benefit from these social dynamics. If you want to read more about Curious Rituals, download the free ebook here.

 

Via Fast Company

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Majority Of Young People Sleep With Their Phones, Even Though They Shouldn’t – If your phone wakes you up in the morning, it may also be keeping you up at night. A 2008 study funded by major mobile phone makers, and conducted through a joint venture by Wayne State University in the U.S. and Karolinska Institute in Sweden, showed that people exposed to mobile radiation took longer to fall asleep and spent less time in deep sleep. The need to check in at all hours of the night or wake up to the sound of a text message is extremely disruptive to people’s sleep. There’s even an increase in the amount of teenagers who respond to text messages in gibberish because they are physically responding while still asleep. Even though studies show that heavy cell phone use is linked to sleeping problems, stress and depression, a quarter of young people feel they must be available by phone around the clock. According to a 2012 Time/Qualcomm poll nearly 3/4 of young people people from the age of 18 to 44 sleep with their phones within reach. The number falls off slightly in middle age, but only in people 65+ is leaving the phone in another room as common as sleeping right next to it.

Via Huffington Post

SMART BRANDS

Starbucks Newjacks “Nemo” – Newsjacking is quickly becoming a necessary marketing tool. Real-time monitoring and engagement means that brands are now reacting to breaking news as quickly as traditional news. Starbucks took the timely news event of the “Nemo” snowstorm and successfully combined it with specific, targeted locations in the Northeast in order to increase relevancy. Hours before the Feb. 8th blizzard took hold, Starbucks rolled out geo-targeted Twitter and Facebook ads with a “Snow Day Motif.”  Later, consumers in markets where the weather had forced their local Starbucks to close down received geo-targeted free coffee offers on their social media networks. “We huddled with our corporate leadership over the weekend to pull the free-coffee offer together,” said Alexandra Wheeler, Starbucks’ vp of global digital marketing. “We worked quickly on the creative and targeting, while putting paid amplification behind it.” Newsjacking is an attempt to stay relevant, and perhaps the next evolution of social media relevancy includes a combination of timeliness and geo-targeting.

Via Adweek

BRIGHT IDEAS

WAT-AAH! Brand Lets Kids Market To Other Kids – WAT-AAH! positions itself as the first premium water brand by kids for kids. Rose Cameron, a former advertising executive, could not figure out a way to get her kids to cut back on sugary soda and drink more water. The WAT-AAH! brand was born when Cameron’s two sons told her that water was boring, and she realized that kids needed water to be “cool.” Cameron tapped into her children as an informal focus group to begin her brand of fun water. Both the name and the logo design came from her sons, and WAT-AAH! was born out of her kids screaming “water” to help inspire her. All aspects of the brand, ranging from the style of the bottle to the black and neon colors, were chosen by her kids. The brand started in 2008 and was originally sold door-to-door to delis in Cameron’s neighborhood in TriBeCa. Now, WAT-AAH! is giving Pepsi and Coke a surprising source of competition and is available nationwide in schools and at grocery stores like Whole Foods.

 

Via Drinkwataah.com

ON THE RADAR

Follow This: @projectglass – In addition to releasing a new demonstration video for Google Glass, Google also announced that they are looking for bold, creative individuals who want to give feedback and be part of shaping the future of the product. To apply, follow @projectglass and tweet an application of 50 words or less along with #ifihadglass. Those selected will have to pre-order a Glass Explorer Edition for $1500 and attend a special pick-up experience in New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. Learn more here.

Try This App: Pheed is a mash-up of every popular social network including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.  It launched three months ago and its current base of a million users – which according to Forbes is mostly teenagers – are allowed to curate their own channels with everything from text, photos, videos, live chats, and audio clips. Pheed also gives notable users the option to charge for content. Keep an eye on this social network to see if it develops into the next platform of choice for celebrities and brands with exclusive, must-have content.

Try This Site: If you need help fi lling out your Oscar ballot, check out this site which Google set up to help enhance your Oscars viewing experience. Visitors can use insights from Google Trends and see if the most searched-for nominees of 2012 line up with the actual Oscar winners. The site also includes movie and celebrity knowledge graphs, an interactive map that shows where your favorite nominated movies were filmed, and even a helpful Year In Review video of 2012’s top movies.

FEBRUARY 2013 // ISSUE 58

STATE OF AMERICA

Looking For A Date? Try These Cities – If you’re wondering where your best chances are for finding someone single and of the opposite sex, Jed Kolko – chief economist at residential real estate website Trulia – has some helpful advice for you. Kolko sifted through data sets from the most recent 2010 census and hopes the following insights will help you on your search for love. When it comes to living alone men outnumber women in cites like Las Vegas; Honolulu; Palm Bay, FL; and San Jose, CA. Meanwhile, women most outnumber men in Bethesda, MD; Boston; New York; and Raleigh, NC. The determining factor seems to be the labor market. Men tend to settle near downtown areas or in recently redeveloped neighborhoods in areas that have a higher proportion of technology, manufacturing and construction jobs. Meanwhile, women outnumber men in places with more jobs in professional services and cluster in bigger cities. Nine out of 10 metros with the highest ratio of women to men are in the east, with the big three being Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. Click here to read more about the findings.

Via Truliablog.com

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Uncertainty, Fear And Other Bragging Rights – Extreme obstacle challenges like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Spartan Race have recently grown into a $150 million-plus industry. People pay between $95 to $200 to participate in challenges that can be up to 12-miles of obstacles that that everything from mud, ice baths, electrical shocks and barbed wires. If you’re wondering what has gotten into people, the answer could be linked to the economy. There’s an increasing sense of uncertainty as people battle debts and look for jobs, and Tough Mudder CEO WIll Dean explains that a lot of people tell him they signed up because “training for Tough Mudder is the one thing in their lives they feel they have control over.” In addition to a sense of a control, there is also a shift in priorities where consumers are now viewing experiences as the new luxury good. In post-financial crisis America, people get a bigger status boost by bragging about overcoming challenges than they would by bragging about overly materialistic things like a fancy new watch or outfit. Social currency is definitely another driving factor, since Tough Mudder has over 3 million Facebook Likes and social media is peppered with pictures of gloating participants. These obstacle courses feel dangerous and exciting like Fight Club. “But this is Tough Club, ” says official Tough Mudder announcer Sean Corvelle. “And our first rule of Tough Club is we do talk about it.”

Via TIME

SMART BRANDS

Social Ads Join The Blackout Bandwagon – When the electricity went out during this month’s Super Bowl, Oreo was quick to put out a power outage-related Twitter ad. The image was of an Oreo sitting in the shadows and the tagline read, “You can still dunk in the dark.” Oreo wasn’t the only company to jump on board the blackout bandwagon on social media. Calvin Klein and Walgreens joined the conversation, and Tide tweeted an image with copy that read, “We can’t get your blackout but we can get your stains out.” According to Twitter Advertising (@TwitterAds) it took four minutes after the lights went out for the first Twitter advertiser to bid on “power outage” as a search term. Although there can be no doubting the power, impact, and revolutionary empowerment of social media, – the only true difference between “social” and traditional media is the immediacy and potential to react to the audience. These brands succeeded in having a social media presence agile enough to quickly respond and benefited from inserting themselves into real-time cultural conversations.

Via Fast Company

BRIGHT IDEAS

Six-Second Stories – Twitter has become mainstream enough for people to no longer balk at the idea of communicating in short bursts of 140 characters or less. It makes sense that the next communication game changer also comes from Twitter in the form of their recently launched Vine app that allows people to record and share short 6-second videos. According to SimplyMeasured, a social media analytics company, Vine users shared 113,897 videos on Twitter on Saturday and Sunday, or 2,324 videos every hour. Much of that was due to a combination of three big events: the Grammys, New York Fashion Week and the snowstorm that hit the Northeast. That’s not quite as jaw-dropping as the 1.3 million photos that Instagram users shared during Hurricane Sandy, but it’s pretty impressive considering that Vine has been around for less than three weeks. It’s also worth noting that these stats don’t take into account the number of pictures that were posted within Vine, but not shared out to Twitter.

 

Via Mashable

ON THE RADAR

Read This Book: Jonah Berger, the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, is an assistant professor of marketing at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. His upcoming book is a study of social epidemics and how products, ideas and behaviors become popular. According to Berger the STEPPS for going viral include social currency, triggers, emotions, public, practical value and, stories.

Watch This: If you don’t want to be caught off guard when your friends chat about the latest internet meme, keep these key words in mind: gyrating, bizarre costumes, and props. The Harlem Shake involves 30-second videos that begin with a sole person, typically masked, casually dancing to music producer Baauer’s “Harlem Shake.” After 15 seconds the beat drops, the camera shot changes, and the people who were seemingly unaffected by the original dancer are now going wild. Watch the latest compilation video here or an adorable father-son version here.

Interesting App: How would you feel about an app that encourages women to rate men like restaurants? The Lulu app has seen an increase in downloads thanks to Valentine’s Day. It connects with Facebook and allows women to rate the men in their lives as well as access a database for reviews on other men. Reviews are anonymous, but users must specify whether the person they’re rating is an ex, a crush, a current partner, or a friend. Users are invited to rate best and worst qualities, looks, sense of humor, willingness to commit.

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FEBRUARY 2013 // ISSUE 57

STATE OF AMERICA

America’s 20 Most Innovative Cities – Despite recent difficulties and a slowing economy, the United States is still considered a leader in ingenuity especially when it comes to inventions, products and new technologies. The U.S. is home to Silicon Valley, most of the world’s health care inventions, and the largest share of the world’s patents. According to a new report from The Brookings Institution, patenting is at its highest level since the Industrial Revolution. Insight gleaned from the study shows that 63% percent of patents come from just 20 areas. Leading the pack at #1 is the area surrounding San Jose, CA which is home to Google and elite research universities like Stanford. Also in the top 5 is Rochester, Minnesota which has the Mayo Clinic and a large presence from IBM. View a slideshow of all 20 cities here.

Via Brookings.edu

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

 

Using Creativity To Boost Your Resume – The job market has definitely become more competitive. Economic growth remains slow and the unemployment rate crept up to 7.9% in January. Being qualified is no longer enough and prospective employees are increasingly looking ways to stand out from the crowd. Creativity is becoming a valuable asset even for managerial roles that aren’t traditionally considered “creative.” Philippe Dubost, a Paris-based Web product manager, put together a detailed C.V. that is a near-perfect ringer for an Amazon.com product page, with himself as the product. His past customer reviews average five stars, but there are a surprising number of one-star ratings, which Dubost explained via Twitter were “were due to “lots of ex-girlfriends.” This unique, eye-catching resume has gone viral and Dubosts has received many work related opportunities.

Via Phildub.com

SMART BRANDS

Lego Gains Lifetime Customer With Touching Customer Service – Seven-year-old Luka Apps used all his Christmas money to buy the LEGO Ninjago Ultra Sonic Raider set. Against the warnings of his father, Luka took one of his figurines on a shopping trip and accidentally lost it. Shortly after emailing the folks at LEGO asking for a replacement, Luka received a reply from a customer service representative who wrote that he had spoken to Sensei Wu, an important character from the Ninjago line. Sensei Wu wanted Luka to have a replacement for his lost toy, and he also acknowledged that Luka must be a big fan of Ninjago to have spent all his Christmas money – so he also sent along an additional bad guy for Luka’s new toy to fight. At the end of the reply Sensei Wu reminds Luka to “keep your mini figures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your Dad.” The touching correspondence made its way into social media and generated tons of publicity for LEGO, scoring tons of brand evangelists and at least one lifelong customer.

Via Forbes.com 

BRIGHT IDEAS

Lady Gaga Reimagines The Tailgate Pre-Game – Lady Gaga loves her Little Monsters, the name her fans have taken to calling themselves. Wanting to help support the fans that have been there for her, Lady Gaga is offering a Born Brave pre-show before every concert on her Born This Way Ball tour. At the Born Brave Bus concertgoers will have access to professional private or group chats about mental health, depression, bullying, school, and friends. There will also be food, games, and DJs to keep the experience fun. It’s designed as an inclusive tailgating experience for fans to unite and seek help. Lady Gaga founded the anti-bullying Born This Way Foundation in 2011, and this year’s Born Brave Bus falls in line with the foundation’s mission of fostering a more accepting society by attempting to lessen the stigma of seeking mental health treatment.

 

Via Kansas City Star

ON THE RADAR

Try This Site:

One internet year, one illustration, 20 things: can you spot them all? Now in its third year, 20things recounts a whole year of online culture within one epic image. This year’s image was illustrated by Sebastien Feraut. The goal is to identify all 20 memes. The Syzygy Group has been releasing clues via Twitter at @syzygyuk. Tweet the picture with the hashtag #20things and you could win a signed limited edition print.

Watch This: Google recently took their Street View technology to the Grand Canyon and the resulting panoramic imagery means that people can now use Google Maps to tour one of the world’s most spectacular national monuments. The gallery of interactive images 360-degree views of more than 75 miles of the Grand Canyon’s trails and scenic overlooks.

Try This App: Currently the most downloaded app in over 40 countries, LINE is a messaging service that allows users to make free voice calls or messages to anyone, anywhere. The service is completely free, but a Sticker Shop offers items for sale such as stamps and graphics that allow users to decorate photos or animate their messages. Celebrities such as Kreayshawn, Snoop Lion, and T-Pain are active on LINE and are using it as a new way to reach fans.

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JANUARY 2013 // SUPER BOWL EDITION // ISSUE 56

STATE OF AMERICA

Ads People Choose – Billions of times during 2012 Americans did something voluntarily that they dislike doing when they don’t have the choice: watch a commercial. The YouTube division of Google has released its annual list of the Top 20 commercials watched on YouTube, aptly titled Ads People Choose. According to YouTube, the list was compiled using a combination of factors that signaled viewer choice such as number of views, viewer rating, and how much of the spot the viewers decided to watch. The list is an eclectic mix of spots. Whatever the origin of the commercials – whether from event TV programs like the Super Bowl or online video clips – people demonstrated they will gladly watch a commercial if it is their choice to do so.

Via Google

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Super Bowl Spurs TV Sales – When it comes to the Super Bowl, consumers are thinking one thing: is my TV big enough to host a Super Bowl party? The big game, according to annual TV sales, is a big incentive to buy. Those who are thinking about hosting a Super Bowl party are especially keen on upgrading to a bigger and better set.Given that it has become cheaper for manufacturers to make TV’s and because they introduce new models at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, stores can easily put current models for sale. As a result, prices have steadily declined, making it easier for consumers to justify indulging in a Big-Game-size set. Price-tracking site Decide.com reports many sales rivaling those found during the holiday shopping season. “This is one of the best times of the year to buy big, flat-screen TVs,” says Decide.com CEO Mike Fridgen.

Via Marketwatch.com

SMART BRANDS

Pepsi Puts The Public In A Super Bowl Ad – In a cool initiative that puts fans in the spotlight, Pepsi is using half of the 60 seconds it bought in the Super Bowl to introduce the halftime show, headlined by Beyonce. The brand has crowdsourced the introduction to Beyonce from the public. People are asked to send photos of themselves doing specific movements, such as shouting, head bopping and feet tapping. Up to 400 of the photos will be compiled to make the spot. “It really begins with the insight that Pepsi consumers want to be active participants, not observers of life,” Adam Harter, VP-consumer engagement of PepsiCo said. Last year Pepsi launched Live For Now, a global campaign meant to position the brand on the pop culture forefront around the world. “The halftime show, just ‘Brought to you by Pepsi,’ may register some awareness. With this spot we’re hoping for a bigger takeaway than just Pepsi is the sponsor,” said Angelique Krembs, VP-marketing for trademark Pepsi.

Via Pepsi.com 

BRIGHT IDEAS

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER Super Bowl Spurs TV Sales – When it comes to the Super Bowl, consumers are thinking one thing: is my TV big enough to host a Super Bowl party? The big game, according to annual TV sales, is a big incentive to buy. Those who are thinking about hosting a Super Bowl party are especially keen on upgrading to a bigger and better set.Given that it has become cheaper for manufacturers to make TV’s and because they introduce new models at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, stores can easily put current models for sale. As a result, prices have steadily declined, making it easier for consumers to justify indulging in a Big-Game-size set. Price-tracking site Decide.com reports many sales rivaling those found during the holiday shopping season. “This is one of the best times of the year to buy big, flat-screen TVs,” says Decide.com CEO Mike Fridgen.

Via Marketwatch.com

SMART BRANDSPepsi Puts The Public In A Super Bowl Ad – In a cool initiative that puts fans in the spotlight, Pepsi is using half of the 60 seconds it bought in the Super Bowl to introduce the halftime show, headlined by Beyonce. The brand has crowdsourced the introduction to Beyonce from the public. People are asked to send photos of themselves doing specific movements, such as shouting, head bopping and feet tapping. Up to 400 of the photos will be compiled to make the spot. “It really begins with the insight that Pepsi consumers want to be active participants, not observers of life,” Adam Harter, VP-consumer engagement of PepsiCo said. Last year Pepsi launched Live For Now, a global campaign meant to position the brand on the pop culture forefront around the world. “The halftime show, just ‘Brought to you by Pepsi,’ may register some awareness. With this spot we’re hoping for a bigger takeaway than just Pepsi is the sponsor,” said Angelique Krembs, VP-marketing for trademark Pepsi.

Via Pepsi.com

BRIGHT IDEASSuper Bowl Ads Kickoff Early  – The content of Super Bowl ads were once a closely guarded secret. This year, instead of waiting to air commercials during the big game, many companies are teasing what is in their ads and hoping to stoke early interest on social media. Not so long ago it was thought that releasing a Super Bowl commercial early would dilute the impact the ad could make. But today many advertisers believe that releasing their commercials early to the public will help them get ahead of the pack. The game changer is of course social media. Social media has provided advertisers with many opportunities to build buzz and anticipation for what advertisers are going to be doing for the game. Sponsors say they believe the additional publicity stimulates not only word of mouth, but also increases interest in viewing the commercials when they finally run in the game. A recent poll by advertising agency Venables Bell found that a third of Americans will seek out Super Bowl ads before kick-off this year, and after the game one-half will re-watch their favorite ads.

 

 Via NYTimes.com

ON THE RADAR

Follow Me: @Budweiser  Budweiser recently joined Twitter and sent out its first-ever tweet asking fans to name their newborn baby Clydesdale using the hashtag #Clydesdales. The foal will star in the brand’s traditional 60-second Super Bowl ad.

Try This Site: For cord-cutters looking to catch the big game on Sunday, CBSSports.com will stream the Super Bowl for free beginning with pregame activity at 11AM ET and kickoff at 6:30PM ET. Online viewers can choose from different camera angles, and all commercials shown during the television broadcast will be available for online viewing on the sites’s video player immediately after airing.

Watch This: The Super Bowl is a few more days away, but the Web is already buzzing about many of the teaser content and full ads that have already been released. FastCompany compiled a list of the ads worth watching. If you can’t wait until Sunday, you can view them here.

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JANUARY 2013 // THE NEW NORMAL ECONOMY EDITION // ISSUE 55

STATE OF AMERICA

The New Normal Economy – The economy may be coming back, but the question for many businesses is what the “New Normal” looks like.  The extraordinary rise of solitary living marks a seismic departure from the quintessential suburban household that brands are used to creating for. Who needs Costco when people are living in single apartments. Or a massive food processor when 9 times out of 10 they order in or cook for one. With these single folks as well as others migrating to urban-centric neighborhoods, lawn mowers, minivans and sectional sofas will soon become a thing of the past. For the first time in nine decades, walkable cities are growing faster than suburbs. With people living in areas where mostly everything is accessible by walking it’s no surprise that Americans are driving less. This behavior, tied to the collapse of new-car sales, means one of the biggest industries in the United States will not soon regain the explosive growth of the early 2000s. This economic recovery has a clear narrative and these big changes are just the beginning.

Via New York Times

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

A Renter’s Market – The nation’s apartment vacancy rate, which has declined since hitting 8% in the aftermath of the financial crisis, fell to 4.5% recently. The rate is the lowest since 2001’s third quarter.  Vacancy rates fell in some of the markets hit hardest by the housing bust, including Phoenix and in Orlando. It’s no surprise than that rent prices are rising across the nation while mortgage rates remain near record lows. Scraping together a down payment to buy a home remains tough for many consumers and tight mortgage standards are forcing many who might like to buy a home to continue renting. Furthermore, many people like being able to easily pick up and move for a new job. “We are heading to being more of a renter nation,” said Jeff Donnelly, a real-estate analyst with Wells Fargo Securities LLC. “Young people today, they put much higher value on flexibility.” It doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon.

Via Wall Street Journal

SMART BRANDS

Dodge Allows People To Crowdfund Cars- In the spirit of this “New Normal” economy, Dodge is allowing engaged couples to register for a car and ask family and friends to pitch in. The site allows customers to configure and customize the car, then set a goal for how much money they need in order to make it theirs. Family or friends can sponsor specific parts of the new car, such as an engine or a steering wheel. This campaign aims to give people a new way of purchasing a car. With Kickstarter alone seeing over two million contributors give more than $319 million in pledges in 2012, crowdfunding has officially become a viable funding alternative.

Via AdAge

BRIGHT IDEAS

MacBook Rental Vending Machine – 

In a move towards dis-ownership, people can forgo buying laptops for college by just renting them. Philadelphia’s Drexel University gives students, staff and faculty the ability to rent a MacBook for up to five hours at a time for free. The MacBooks are being dispensed via a vending machine built by Laptops Anytime that automatically charges the batteries and wipes clean the hard drive for the next person to use. Reluctant to commit to big-ticket purchases and with technology continuously being updated, people are increasingly opting for choices that require a less than permanent commitment.

Via PSFK.com

ON THE RADAR

Read This: In Going Solo sociologist and author Eric Klinenberg takes a look at the biggest demographic shift since the Baby Boom: the increasing number of people who choose to live alone. Today roughly one out of every seven adults lives alone. Klinenberg looks at the appeal of living alone and the new ways of living that single people are crafting in the process.

Try This Site: RelayRides is a peer-to- peer car-sharing service that taps into the pre- existing community of underutilized vehicles and  connects local car owners with people looking to rent a vehicle. A recent partnership with General Motors enables renters to unlock OnStar-enabled cars via their smartphone so owners don’t even have to find time to hand off their keys in person. Membership is free, all drivers are screened, and the service provides $1 million insurance on every rental.

Know This: Ikea is building a new neighborhood in East London and its design will be devoted to walkability. The new community, called Strand East, is being developed on 26 acres of land in Stratford. Its focus on walkability means that Strand East will join a growing list of car-free urban communities in Europe. In addition to many car-free zones, cars that do enter the area will be parked out of sight in underground parking lots.

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JANUARY 2013 // ISSUE 54

STATE OF AMERICA

The End of Dating- Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” Millennials – who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down – are subverting the rules of courtship. Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.  Relationship experts point to technology as a factor in the upending of dating culture. Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. “The new date is ‘hanging out,’ ” said Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan. As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing – going to an event, a concert.” Turns out many young people today have never and may never go on a traditional date.

Via New York Times

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Grocery Stores Build “Man Aisles” – Hey guys, the grocery stores are starting to focus on you. It used to be that men did the “fill-in” shopping, after being dispatched to the store to get a few last-minute items. In an indication of New Normal behavior they are now doing the menu-planning, making lists and filling up the cart. Some grocery store chains have begun creating “man aisles,” stocked with things like barbecue, beer and batteries, to lure the male shopper. Manufacturers are now packaging items in more gender-neutral ways – or, in some cases, packaging gender-neutral items for men. “It’s a trend we’re watching. The family dynamic has changed over the years,” said Marlene Gebhard, president of Kirkwood-based Shop ‘n Save. “It’s become one of those tasks on the household to-do list that doesn’t fall to the female.It falls to whomever has the time.”

Via St. Louis Post

SMART BRANDS

Google Gives Neighborhoods Wifi  – Google, in an expansion of its role as an internet service provider, introduced New York City’s biggest contiguous free public Wi-Fi network in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Google’s choice of location for the giant network is no surprise: Chelsea is home to Google’s New York headquarters, meaning employees out at lunch breaks or area meetings will be able to remain productive even while out of the office. The secured network can also be accessed by businesses, residents and students in the area, and it will cover the outdoor areas of the Fulton Houses, a housing project owned by the New York City Housing Authority. Jordan Newman, a Google spokesman, told Mashable that the new Wi-Fi network is Google’s way of “giving back to the community that we’ve been in for the past six years or so.”

Via Mashable

BRIGHT IDEAS

Rewarding Fans Through Fame- In today’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube obsessed culture, brands don’t just want to interact with consumers on social media, they want to create meaningful relationships with them. One way of doing this, which is quickly becoming the norm, is by leveraging fans to fame. Consumers are rewarded for their interactions and relationships with a brand by being placed on billboards, buses, in TV spots, and even by appearing in campaigns alongside celebrities. Ben & Jerry’s for example recently took this approach in its “Capture Euphoria” campaign, the winning pictures of an Instagram challenge were featured in Ben & Jerry’s ads in each person’s hometown in print and on outdoor venues. For Justin Bieber’s perfume “Girlfriend,” Bieber asked fans to create a video of them singing his hit song “Boyfriend,” but with new lyrics about being his “Girlfriend.” One fan, Laina Morris became known as Overly Attached Girlfriend and went on to become a viral video star and even landed a commercial for Samsung inspired by the clip she made in Bieber’s contest. Not only could fans express their creativity (and their love for the Biebs), but they could also achieve fame.

Via Ypulse.com

ON THE RADAR

Know This: In an attempt to increase the relevancy of the messages users receive, or maybe just to increase revenue, Facebook Messages has begun an experiment to test the usefulness of a pay-to-message system. The test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the “Inbox” rather than the “Other” folder of any recipient who is not in their network of friends. The test focuses on a $1 pay-to-message option, but Facebook may experiment with other price points in the future. For example, users who aren’t connected to Mark Zuckerberg have the option of sending messages to his inbox for $100. Read more here.

Try This: Eco furniture store COCO-MAT puts a new twist on the idea of “try before you buy.” Visitors to the SoHo-based store are encouraged to test out the quality of COCO-MAT beds by literally climbing into a mock hotel suite and taking a nap for a few hours. Features include a Californian king-sized bed, fresh linens, soothing music, and a complimentary glass of juice. Read more here.

Watch This: As part of its global “Open Happiness” campaign Coca-Cola installed a dance vending machine in South Korea. The dance machine integrates Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect technology and grabs the attention of passerbys with callouts from members of the popular South Korean boy band 2PM. People can see themselves on-screen with the band members and are encouraged to dance along with the boys. Free coke is dispensed to people who mimic the right moves. Coca-Cola posted a video of the campaign which quickly went viral. Watch it here.

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JANUARY 2013 // ISSUE 53

STATE OF AMERICA

Capturing America, Fact by Fact  –

College graduates have less leisure time than high school dropouts. More people are injured on toilets than by skiing or snowboarding. More households have dogs as pets than cats, but cat lovers are more likely to have multiple pets. And more foreigners visited New York (9.3 million) than any other American city (Los Angeles was a distant second with 3.7 million). Americans are also eating more peanuts and drinking less coffee. Liquor stores outnumber bookstores by three to one. More Americans belong to a fantasy sports league (10.6 million) than to book clubs (5.7 million). Those facts are among the thousands gleaned from the 2013 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, a compendium of figures that itself may go into the record books after being published by the government since 1878. The annual portrait by numbers reveals sharp contrasts within any given year as well as a moving picture of how the nation has been changing.

 

Via New York Times

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Dis-ownership – We are living at a time when a major shift in attitudes is bringing on a new era–one in which people get more value by owning less property. While it’s not the traditional American dream, it makes sense if you think about what’s defining America today. New ways of sharing, driven by online social tools, have taken collaboration to new levels. Thanks to the social web, we can share and trade to use a whole universe of things we once had to buy ourselves. From cars to solar panels, people are realizing they can reap the benefits of ownership without the expense and hassle of buying. After living through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, Americans have learned that relationships and experiences are more important than stuff, stuff, and more stuff. While one may believe this trend of dis-ownership is limited to the young and urban, data proves otherwise. While started in San Francisco, it now spans into cities and small towns across the globe. The fact that the economic recession has hit middle-aged, Middle Americans the hardest is another reason to believe dis-ownership is headed into the mainstream.

Via Fast Company

SMART BRANDS

HBO Girls’ Useful Campaign – HBO is taking an aggressive and creative approach to promote the second season of its hit show “Girls.” HBO is tapping into the interests of its core audience and generating massive buzz by offering up activities its audience would find absolutely useful.  Fans can take part in fun, free, city-centric activities such as “Free Girls” spinning classes at Soul Cycle  and spinning the series’ theme music during class. They can sign up for “Happy Hours” at Drybar where they get a free blowout while drinking champagne. HBO has also partnered with Urban Outfitters to offer nail appliques inspired by the show’s characters and codes to download episodes from the first season. If that wasn’t enough HBO is running a social-media campaign over Instagram and Twitter with the probably the most coveted and beneficial prize of all, free rent for a year!

 

Via AdAge

 

BRIGHT IDEAS

Newsjacking- The rules have changed. The traditional marketing model – sticking closely to a preset script and campaign timeline – no longer works the way it used to. Public discourse now moves so fast and so dynamically that all it takes is a single afternoon to blast the wheels off someone’s laboriously crafted narrative. Enter newsjacking: the process by which a brand injects ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for itself. This type of marketing favors brands who are observant, quick to react and skilled at communicating. With more people constantly connected, a well-timed newsjacking can spread like wildfire.

 

 

 Via Marketing Magazine

ON THE RADAR

Know This: Business News Daily interviewed small business owners, PR people and entrepreneurs and compiled a list of 12 Buzzwords You’ll Hear in 2013. If last year was all about “gamification” and “convergence,” 2013 will be the year of “advertainment”   (advertising that advertises what people are interested in) and “alphanistas” (successful women in powerful positions having it all).

Try This App:

Flu season is in full swing, and if you’re looking for someone to blame for getting you sick, there’s an app for that. “Help I Have The Flu” is a Facebook app that helps  determine which friends are sick and who may have gotten you sick by checking status updates for words such as “flu,” “sneezing” and “coughing” and looking at places those people might have checked in. The timing of the posts are relevant since several late night posts may indicate a person hasn’t been sleeping enough and may be more susceptible to catching – and passing along – the flu.

Try This: The iTwin Connect is a USB device that allows for private web browsing on public networks. You plug one half of the device into your home PC and carry the other half around for completely private browsing on the go. When you’re ready to browse, plugging in the remaining half of the iTwin Connect into another computer creates a secure connection to your home computer and allows you to access the internet through that computer at home. The iTwin Connect is useful for: 1) When you want to check Facebook at work but your work has blocked the site 2) If you’re traveling abroad but still want to access U.S. versions of sites that require a U.S.-based IP such as Hulu 3) You want to access files on your computer at home.

 

JANUARY 2013 // ISSUE 52

STATE OF AMERICA

A Plurality (Not Minority) Nation –

The term “minority,” at least as used to describe racial and ethnic groups in the United States, may need to be retired or rethought soon: by the end of this decade, according to Census Bureau projections no single racial or ethnic group will constitute a majority of children under 18. In about three decades, no single group will constitute a majority of the country as a whole. The next half century marks key points in continuing trends – the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority. As the United States grows more diverse it is becoming a plurality nation.

 

Via New York Times

 

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Sellers Compete For Consumers – As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers. It has never been easier to rally a group of consumers around an interest, especially one that scores them a deal. Henry Zilberman thought the idea of consumers having to compete with other consumers online for the items they want (à la eBay), was backwards. That’s why he created Yumani, an online marketplace where sellers compete for a consumer’s business. The real kicker, the more consumers join together and request a product, the bigger the discount they receive. In a letter to users, Henry Zilberman explains his reasoning behind the creation of Yumani: “I’ve navigated the jungles of Amazon, and swam in the waters of eBay, but they seem counter to the way the web should work. With online auctions, am I supposed to compete with other buyers to drive up the price of an item? Why shouldn’t sellers compete for my business? With Yumani, sellers win and buyers win.”

Via Mashable

SMART BRANDS

MINI’s Psychic Campaign  – MINI’s new Roadster wanted to show potential car buyers that their most exciting adventures were ahead of them. So it took a sneak peek at their data to tell their future.  The MINI Roadster “Psychic” campaign offered web users personalized readings about adventures to come by using viewers IP addresses to provide accurate information. Through aspects such as a weather API and the etymology around their name, the campaign delivered a humorous and engaging experience that culminated in having their future predicted.

 

Via Digital Buzz Blog

 

BRIGHT IDEAS

Your Social Media Handle Can Now Be Your Physical Address – SoPost lets users sign a physical address to their social handles; this means attaching anything from an email address or Twitter Handle to a physical location. Given the mobility of people these days, the idea for this start up is to create a world where mail is re-routed to wherever users happen to be. SoPost is particularly helpful for those who move around and relocate regularly. An address, SoPost believes, should be where someone is, or where they want things to be sent, rather than the last postcode somebody has for them. The way it works is that when users sign in, they are assigned a physical address to the social ID. Instead of having to change addresses through the postal service and then alert contacts, the address is saved and changed behind the social handle. All anyone needs to know is the social handle and they’ll never know your address has really changed.

 

Via Sopost.com

ON THE RADAR

 

Follow Me:  @gretchenrubin – Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times BestsellerThe Happiness Project. If you’re looking for inspiration for the new year, check out Rubin’s Twitter feed which offers a stream of optimism and tips for becoming a happier version of yourself.

Try This App: Snapchat is a photosharing app currently enjoying an explosive rise in popularity, especially among high school and college students. The idea is to snap a photo or silly video and send it to your friends with the knowledge that the content will l self-destruct 10-seconds after being viewed. While a number of teens have taken up Snapchat as their sexting app of choice, CEO Evan Spiegel says the app was intended to send goofy, lighthearted messages.

Try This App: SupperKing is an app that taps into the growing marketplace for peer-to-peer services by facilitating meet-ups between amateur chefs who want to host a dinner and people looking for a home-cooked meal. Hosts can customize their events (including attire and price) and guests can RSVP and pay via the SupperKing app.

DECEMBER 2012 // 2013 PREVIEW EDITION // ISSUE 51

STATE OF AMERICA

An Outsourced Life- More stressed and time crunched than ever, people will increasingly become accustomed to outsourcing things they previously did or were responsible for themselves.  People will outsource parts of their life they don’t want in order to maximize parts they do. They are going to embrace “connected” objects and services to help with every day tasks and responsibilities. Current connected objects available that make life a little easier range from a sensor that monitors and transmits updates of the health of your plants via wifi to a milk jug that sends a text when milk supplies are low. This “internet of things” will make life more convenient, save time and ensure people will have a few less things to worry about.

Via Quirky.com

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Real-Time Relevance – Busy consumers crave for personal, timely and useful information that is easy to understand. Expect people to want mobile, real-time information services that pay attention to their needs and respond accordingly.  That means hyper-personal, super-synched, almost eerily accurate lifestyle assistance that arrives just as – or even better, just before – they realize they need it. For example, providing them with general, location-based traffic information?  That’s OK. Information about the traffic jam that’s three minutes ahead of them? That’s Real-Time Relevance.

Via IBM.com

SMART BRANDS

Servile Brands – The top-down days when consumers revered brands are long gone.  Brands that want to regain relevance will have to go far beyond the usual great customer service clichés and turn servile. Brands will convert into lifestyle servants focused on catering to the needs, desires and whims of their customers, whatever, wherever and whenever they are. Brands already becoming servile range from American Airlines that introduced a service delivering passengers’ luggage direct to their home, business or hotel to ticketing etailer AXS Invite that allows customers, who’ve purchased a sporting, cultural or music ticket, to reserve the adjacent seats for 48 hours to allow enough time for the ticket buyer to rally up a few friends to attend with them.

Via Trendwatching.com

BRIGHT IDEAS

Virtual Consumption – Consumption has always been a form of self actualization, driven by the never-ending display of status and style. As absolute abundance clashes with ever-present eco-concerns and limited budgets, consuming virtually is becoming the perfect way for status-hungry consumers to “shop”. Virtual consumers are already busy accruing status via online sharing, reducing the emotional gap between traditional offline ownership and online, virtual “ownership”. Travel site Airbnb introduced its Wish List feature this year enabling users to not just virtually save properties but curate collections of desirable or interesting spaces (they may or may not visit) to share with friends. In the span of five months, two million wish lists were created. In 2013 shopping will be more virtual than ever, as social curation sites such as Pinterest and others continue to blur the boundaries between real and virtual consumption; and more consumers flaunt their good taste without having to physically buy.

Via Airbnb.com

ON THE RADAR

Twitter Year In Review: Twitter has released their annual collection of 2012’s hottest trends, topics and people across five categories. Check it out here and enter your Twitter information to see highlights from your own account’s year on Twitter.

Google Zeitgeist:

Search giant Google has released its top search terms of the year, analyzing over 1.2 trillion queries in over 146 languages to reveal what its users have spent the last 12 months searching for. New additions to this year’s Google Zeitgeist include an interactive map that shows where and when some of the hottest terms spiked around the world as well as a downloadable Zeitgeist Android App. Check out the site or watch the video.

Facebook year In Review: Facebook took the pulse of the its global online community and assembled a series of trend lists chronicling the top events, the most popular public figures, the most listened to songs on Facebook. View the lists or click here to see your own year in review based on your account’s activity.

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