Monthly Archives: July 2012

JULY 2012 // ISSUE 33

STATE OF AMERICA

The $1 Trillion Black Audience – While advertisers have poured money into Hispanic targeted products and media in an effort to reach the rapidly growing Hispanic population, African-American audiences have been largely overlooked despite their projected buying power of $1.1 trillion by 2015. According to The State of the African-American Consumer Report, released by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, there is an increase of Blacks attending college – with 44% of men and 53% of women. The number of households (HH’s) earning $75K+ have grown by almost 64%. African-Americans watch more television than any other group. Not only does the avg. HH have 4+ televisions but spends about 40% more time watching them than the rest of the population. Thirty-three percent of all Blacks own a smart phone which is used primarily for talking and texting. Additionally online, they are 30% more likely to visit Twitter and download movies via the Internet than other ethnic communities. As this audience’s pockets deepen, it won’t be surprising to see a few brands re-evaluating their budget strategies.

Via Nielsen

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Who’s The Boss – You will read this article. You will like this article. And you will put this article into action. Got it? In case you haven’t guessed, bossiness is on the rise. With too many choices to make, people are looking for someone to tell them what to do. Almost every waking moment, people are making decisions. While each decision may sound simple, the seemingly endless stream of decisions and the pressure to make the right choice for each one can really deplete a person’s time, energy, motivation and happiness. So people are looking to products and services for direction in their lives. There has been an up-tick in life coaches (the bossier form of therapists) and people seeking out help from them. There is also an emergence of wantologists – a new breed of professionals that tell patients what they want and how to get what they want. Increasingly, people literally need to be told what to want.


Via Forbes

SMART BRANDS

Lexus Ups Customer Service With FaceTime Consultations – 

As part of its new customer service initiative to support the advanced technical features of its newest vehicles, Lexus has begun training customer service specialists who are responsible for educating new car owners. In addition to having these experts on hand at dealerships, select locations will offer remote video consultations via Apple’s FaceTime, enabling owners to ask questions and troubleshoot issues while seated inside their vehicles. This behavior called shopper coaching – an effort from brands and retailers to enhance product shopping and ownership by offering advice and coaching to customers – is on the rise because it is transforming customer’s traditional purchase experiences into an opportunity for education. These real-time consultations over video are a new dimension to the Lexus experience providing their customers with new skills and expertise.


Via PSFK

BRIGHT IDEAS

Chipotle: The Fast Food Ethicist –  Chipotle does not believe they are selling burritos. They believe they are saving the world. They are saving it from food without taste; from obesity; from chemicals; from ecological disaster; from torture of animals; from blandness and from unhappiness. As it turns out, these are things people are willing to pay for. Chipotle has nearly doubled its number of U.S. restaurants since 2006 and tripled its revenue to $2.3 billion last year. Steve Ells, the founder and co-CEO, has created a new category of restaurants designed to bring elevated food to the masses. Ells’ goal is to destroy fast food: no more frozen patties, no more microwaves, no more factory farms. Its “Food with Integrity” philosophy calls for free-range meat, hormone-free dairy, and locally sourced produce when practical. While Chipotle may not be the fastest-growing fast food chain in America, it may be the most notable because of the fuss it makes over food issues.

Via Good.is

ON THE RADAR

Culture Observation: Drunk Phone  – We at CultureFlash often observe a change in behavior that points the way to something new and different. In this new section, we’d like to share some of those fun finds.

“In studying beer, we started to discover that young adults cherish their smartphones and iPhones so much that they don’t want to lose them if they have an epic night out. Now they take what they call their ‘drunk phone,’ a cheap low-end phone, so now they are carrying two phones because they don’t want to lose their smartphone.”

Laura Krajecki, Chief Consumer Officer at Starcom MediaVest Group, AdAge.com | July 11, 2012

Read This: UCLA researchers recently published a book titled, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors.” The book is the result of a years-in-the-making research project from UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families. Countless tours of homes, over 20,000 photographs and 1,500 hours of footage led to some very interesting insights. One finding in particular highlights the fact that consumers are paying good money to clutter their homes, and this in turn is raising stress levels and increasing frustration.

Try This App: Car-pooling is making a surge thanks to the advancement of apps and social media. Avego Driver is an app that enables drivers and riders to form carpools in real-time by matching the driver’s commute route with where riders are looking to travel. Download the app, set up a few routes and  start receiving notifications about when riders and drivers are available. You can save money, travel faster in the HOV lane, and possibly make a new friend.

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JULY 2012 // The Post-Cash Economy Edition // Issue 32

STATE OF AMERICA

Living In A Cash-Less Society –  

Forgot quarters for the parking meter? No worries, a growing number of cities allow people to pay with their smartphones.  Don’t have cash to pay the babysitter? There’s an app for that. Even street vendors now have credit card readers. A cashless future is more real than many suspect. As adoption of smartphones explodes, people have grown increasingly comfortable using their phones to purchase products, transfer money and engage in other types of financial transactions. Convenience is arguably the biggest benefit to consumers when it comes to going cashless. No longer do they need to seek out a bank branch or ATM before going shopping. There’s also the fact that people are becoming accustomed to seamless experiences in all aspects of their lives so they expect it at the checkout counter as well. And as anyone who has ever received money as a gift will tell you, there’s nothing more impersonal than cash.

Via NYTimes

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Co-Sharing: The Social Transaction – Today, a growing number of people are trading items and favors between each other. Digital technology allows anyone to find an object or service they need – when they want it, where they want it. Rather than finding these products and services at retailers or from large corporations, these items are often found in the hands of neighbors or like minds a great distance away. While some folks do receive financial compensation for these exchanges, there is a growing number of people that have a desire to exchange social capital more so than money. This social capital comes in the form of feeling good about helping out someone in their extended social circle with the added bonus of increasing the likelihood of that person paying it forward in the future.

Via PSFK

SMART BRANDS

Square’s Shaking Up The Payments Industry – When Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter, set out to build Square, he hoped to help small businesses accept credit cards. He didn’t realize he’d turn the industry upside down. Square started off as a credit card reader that pops into the headphone jack of any iPhone, Android and tablet. Together with an app, it allows anyone to swipe a credit card. With this device and app, Dorsey wasn’t interested in simply providing a direct replacement for existing point-of-sale systems. He wanted to revamp the entire payments experience – making it simpler and more delightful. In the latest evolution of Square, payments have become even easier: customers don’t have to pull out credit cards (or cash) anymore and vendors don’t have to swipe anything. But now both sides are also getting insights and experiences they never had before. Square is providing an analytics system to vendors so they can track buying patterns and use the information to make adjustments that benefit their businesses. As for customers, the Square digital “card cases” they carry on their phones allow them to track their entire history with the businesses they frequent. Having a list of everything that a person has ever bought from that particular vendor forges a stronger emotional connection between consumers and their favorite stores. Square has re-imagined what a payments system would look like in a mobile, connected, iPhone/iPad world. Because of all this Square just might upend the entire payments industry whether it meant to or not.


Via FastCompany

BRIGHT IDEAS

Be Your Own Bank With Blockchain- With the new Blockchain wallet for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, anyone can emulate the functionality of a bank. Simply download the the free app and have a fully-functioning online wallet that allows value transfer without the need for a bank or other financial intermediary. The reason users can completely bypass financial institutions is the use of bitcoins. Bitcoins is a new currency for the online universe. They aren’t tied to any government or country and only exist on computers in a peer-to-peer system run by the people who use it. And because of this, Apple with mountains of existing iTunes customer accounts could find itself in the best position to capitalize on a robust cash-like ecosystem that completely bypasses the banks via apps.

Via Forbes

ON THE RADAR

Follow This: The U.S. Treasury Department recently launched the MyMoneyAppUp Challenge which is a contest intended to motivate American entrepreneurs, software developers and the public to propose ideas and designs for next-generation mobile financial tools. This contest was inspired by people in developing countries who use mobile phones to make monetary transactions in areas that lack even a single bank presence. Do you have an app idea that can help build a more secure financial future? You can follow the challenge here and see some of the creative ideas that have already been pitched.

Try This: FavorTree puts a twist on the idea of paying it forward and instead encourages people to “play it forward.” The startup is positioning itself as a mobile favor-trading game. Its mission is to encourage and reward people for borrowing and lending goods that they already own or for offering to help when someone needs a favor. For example, users can borrow a book, lend a video game or help a neighbor plant a garden. By helping their community with small favors, players earn rewards that can be traded in for when they need help with a future task.

Know This: Bartering is on the rise. Due to the economy, the hospitality industry is looking to tap into alternatives to monetary transactions so crash-strapped consumers can enjoy time away from home without breaking the bank. The Italian Bed and Breakfast Association already holds an annual Barter Week where customers can provide services in exchange for accommodations. In Sweden, Clarion Hotel recently announced Room For Art – a simple idea that allows visiting artists to pay for their room by giving a signed piece of their artwork to the hotel.

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AUGUST 2012 // ISSUE 35

STATE OF AMERICA

Aging: A Move Beyond Youth CultureAs youthfulness becomes increasingly less tied to one’s chronological age, people of a “certain age” are no longer willing to be put out to pasture. Rather than shying away from growing old, more people are embracing their later years and the unique satisfactions they’ll bring. Euro RSCG’s Prosumer Report on Aging found concerns related to aging no longer center on physical beauty. People are more confident that they have the tools they need to keep wrinkles, paunches, and other signs of aging at bay. What worries them now is loss of autonomy. The potential for physical and cognitive deterioration is of widespread concern, as are worries over long-term financial security. The report also found consumption gaps are shrinking as people in older age segments continue to enjoy and employ new technologies, products and entertainment options. The traditional notion of older people withdrawing from consumer markets no longer applies.

Via Euro RSCG

 

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Tablets Are Ushering In A New Era Of Online Impulse Buying – Many consumers are sold on using their iPad for online catalog browsing and buying. They are spending more time and money curled up with the touchscreen device than they have with their bulkier laptop, desktop computer, or smartphone. According to Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research in Cambridge, consumers are likely to spend more time shopping from a tablet because people tend to use their tablets during idle hours, such as when they are watching television or relaxing in bed. “This not only increases the overall amount of time online, but the state of mind is more leisurely, when people are more inclined to browse, add more things to their shopping cart, wait for pages to download, discover items,” Mulpuru said. With more than 60 million Americans forecast to own a tablet computer by the end of this year, retailers say the devices are driving an increasingly larger share of online revenue. Merchants reported their average order value from tablets now exceeds Web sales from laptop and desktop computers and smartphones. Mobile phones – once viewed as the best growth vehicle for online shopping – have proved a dud with many consumers because of their small screens and keypads.  While people may still flip through paper catalogs they often end up on the coffee table with no action taken. But with tablet browsing it’s much easier to buy immediately.

 

Via Boston.com

 

SMART BRANDS

Foursquare’s Promoted Updates – Foursquare recently started pilot testing paid ads called “Promoted Updates”. Foursquare Chief Revenue Officer Steven Rosenblatt said, “Promoted Updates are a natural progression for Foursquare. The ads are designed to be organic and relevant to each user.” The Promoted Updates appear in a section of Foursquare known as the Explore tab. They use the same algorithm that Explore uses to display non-paid updates to decide which ads will appear. The criteria includes a user’s location and whether users or their friends have previously expressed interest in the business. To keep it all feeling spam-free, Promoted Updates will only show up on a users screen if they’re nearby and they’re relevant businesses, based on previous check-ins, unlocked specials and even the time of day. For example, people won’t get a two-for-one Margarita special promo from Margaritaville on the way to work at 9 a.m., nor will they get that promo if they’re a well established fan of Irish bars. Promoted Updates work on a cost-per-action model, in which merchants pay each time a user checks into their business, unlocks a special, or otherwise actively engages with the update.

Via FastCompany

 

 

BRIGHT IDEAS

YouTube’s Creator Space – YouTube is inviting creators to leave their bedroom studios and come work in state-of-the-art production studios.  They are launching a collection of creator spaces, starting in the coming weeks in Google London’s Soho office, where YouTube creators will be able to book time to work with the latest equipment, collaborate with other YouTubers and more. The London space is just the first of several YouTube creator spaces. Launching soon will be spaces in Los Angeles and Tokyo as well. People from all over the world will be able to book time in the space to create and collaborate, learn new techniques, as well as gain access to audio visual equipment, to help them generate great new content for their channels. The creator space is complete with DSLRs, cinema cameras and two studios including a green screen and editing suites. The space will be overseen by the YouTube Next Lab, a team focused on accelerating the growth and development of channels and creators on YouTube.

 

Via YouTube

 

ON THE RADAR

Read This: The Art of Choosing is a book about choice and how less can be more. Written by psycho-economist and Columbia University professor Sheena Iyengar, this is a must read for those who want to know why consumers make the choices that they make. In a world full of choices, what drives people to sometimes make decisions that go against their best interests? Having options is good, but how much is too much? Iyengar answers these questions and offers profound insights drawn from her award-winning research.

Watch This: Gotye’s popular song “Somebody That I Used To Know” has inspired countless YouTube covers. As a sign of appreciation to his fans, Gotye rounded up his favorites and edited them together into an orchestral love letter. He credits everyone appearing in the video on his official blog, includes links to their “Somebody That I Used To Know” covers on YouTube, and provides timestamps specifying when in the video they appear. There’s no better way to make fans feel involved than by actually including them in a video.

Try This App: Keeping up with thousands of tweets, not to mention figuring out which ones are actually valuable, can feel like a life-consuming task. Twheel, a new app aimed at reducing Twitter’s information clutter, solves the problem by turning your tweets into a beautifully designed map. With Twheel, your Tweets are laid out in a circle and the intuitive navigation means you just have to move your thumb a little bit to Retweet or Favorite any of the Tweets.

 

 

JULY 2012 // Issue 31

STATE OF AMERICA

Americans Losing Confidence In Nation But Still Believe in Themselves – America’s values are in upheaval according to a poll of more than 2,000 Americans commissioned by The Atlantic and Aspen Institute. The poll on values shows that there’s less faith in Washington, Wall Street and even God. Two-thirds think the country is heading in the wrong direction, half believe the economic system is unfair to middle- and working-class Americans, and religion is trending down in importance. On an up trend, America has become far more socially tolerant of different lifestyles and open-minded than their parents. Among the issues that rate more morally acceptable today than a decade ago: homosexuality, human cloning, pre-marital sex and having a child out of wedlock. Although their values may be rearranging, one thing has remained consistent: Americans still believe they can get anything they want through sheer hard work.

Via The Atlantic

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Fan Fiction’s Evolution – Thanks to social media, fans have unprecedented access to actors, artists and musicians. They feel a closeness to their favorite stars and believe that their support early on helps make their careers. That level of engagement has driven a rise in fan fiction’s form and creativity. What once was a nerdy pastime is now the norm that has evolved beyond creative writing. Fans are now creating videos of themselves acting out scenes from books and movies, crafting animations of their favorite stars in stories they devise, and recording covers of songs with their own twists to the music and lyrics. Stars and brands are embracing this form of co-creation. For example, Justin Bieber’s ad for his new fragrance “Girlfriend” is a compilation of fan-submitted videos where fans rewrote the lyrics to his song “Boyfriend” and instead made the song about being Justin’s girlfriend. In this way, fan fiction’s creativity is the sincerest form of devotion.

 Via Ypulse.com

SMART BRANDS

Honda’s New Electric Car Comes with a Nifty Perk: Free Insurance – The Honda Fit EV is available to drivers for the first time this summer, and it is one of the most anticipated little cars to hit the marketplace. While its stats are impressive, drivers may be most intrigued with one particular number associated with the car: $0 — the cost of collision insurance for anyone leasing the Fit EV. Honda officials said they see the offer of free insurance as a way to remove a barrier to the introduction of their first electric car in the U.S. They were concerned that insurers would have trouble rating the financial risk of covering the repairs of such a low-volume vehicle. Free insurance would simultaneously help move electric cars off showrooms and narrow the cost gap in comparison to less expensive gasoline-powered vehicles. This is definitely a free perk most people find worth paying for.


Via TIME

BRIGHT IDEAS

MNDR’s Hyper Personalized Interactive Music Video

– MNDR takes their fans on tour in a new music video for the track C.L.U.B., which puts the viewer right in the action. The interactive video looks like an exchange on the iPhone and uses a viewer’s Facebook data to create personalized posts and texts between them and their friends. The video also uses information about their hometown and job to create a truly tailored experience. Be in the video here.

Via MNDR 

ON THE RADAR

Follow This: @springwise – Springwise is a blog, newsletter and Twitter feed that posts about entrepreneurial ideas from around the world, such as customizable liqueurs in the U.K. and smartphone grocery shopping in South Korea. Be sure to follow @Springwise and get inspired by a daily dose of creative business ideas.

Learn This: YOLO, or “You only live once,” is an acronym that has been bouncing around Twitter for a while as #YOLO. It cemented its place in the cultural conversation when it was written into the Drake song “The Motto” as well as Willow Smith’s latest single “I Am Me.” YOLO is a call to live in the moment and can be used as an excuse for bad or risky behavior.

Watch This: As part of its “Fast vs. Fast” campaign, Volkswagen has selected a few YouTube stars that are known for their speed. There’s the world’s fastest guitarist; the guy who can solve the Rubik’s Cube in 8 seconds; the world’s fastest female speed talker; and the quick-on-his-feet beatboxer. Instead of getting them to test drive its vehicles, Volkswagen puts them up against its cars in terms of speed.

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JULY 2012 // ISSUE 30

STATE OF AMERICA

Libraries Reinvent Their Future – Feeling squeezed by shrinking budgets and greater demand for their services, feisty librarians are coming up with clever solutions. The changes represent an evolving definition of what a library should be in the age of broadband and e-readers. Library presidents said they now see their institutions more as public community spaces and less as storage for bound volumes of information. One new strategy is to be where people are. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has opened what it calls a “library without walls” in the Pittsburgh Public Market in an effort to deliver library services on the weekends in a place where a lot of people do their food-shopping. Another strategy being put in place is going beyond lending books to lending offbeat items like cake pans, musical instruments and toys to promote learning. Library Farm has turned a half-acre of land owned by the Northern Onondaga Public Library into a community garden, where anyone can “check out” a plot of land for free. Lastly, some libraries are carving out maker spaces – public-access laboratories that allow people to try out technology and create new things with it. The Fab Lab in the Free Library has 3-D printers for people to design physical objects while the YOUMedia lab in Chicago’s Public Library has an in-house recording studio to encourage teens to make podcasts, blogs or compose audio tracks.

Via TIME

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Hand-Me-Ups – We have all heard of hand-me-downs, but have you heard of hand-me-ups? In today’s tech-driven world, it is no surprise that tech-driven Millennials are intent on getting their hands on the most up-to-date pieces of technology. Despite their need to buy the newest gadget, Gen Y is not interested in throwing away or stowing away their older laptops, phones and other devices. What happens to their old pair of headphones or laptop? Apparently, these gadgets are being handed up to Mom and Dad hence these devices become hand-me-ups. They seem to be quite content to make use of the hand-me-ups. While technology is constantly changing shapes and sizes, now it’s changing hands as well.

Via Huffington Post

SMART BRANDS

Scotch Brite, Literally, Washes Restaurant Bills Away –

It’s an old joke: if you can’t pay your dinner bill, you’ll end up in the kitchen washing dishes. But no one really does that, right? Wrong. In an effort to reach the ever elusive younger demographic they couldn’t reach with traditional advertising or in-store demonstrations, Scotch-Brite decided to go where young people go. The brand decided to take the demonstrations where Gen Y hung out and could possibly use a sponge: popular local restaurants.

Scotch-Brite created the Wash Your Bill campaign, offering young dining patrons the opportunity to wash their dishes instead of paying their dinner bill. During the week long campaign, when diners were handed their check, they also received a Scotch-Brite sponge that read, “Don’t want to pay the bill? Go wash the dishes.” Diners who accepted the invitation were escorted to the restaurant’s kitchen where they donned hairnets and washed their dishes in a branded Scotch-Brite station. By creating an experience that focused on a shared value proposition and went to where their target audience was, Scotch-Brite was able to give young diners an enjoyable, fun and story-worthy experience.


Via YouTube 

BRIGHT IDEAS

Wrapp: A Social Gifting App – 

Wrapp is betting on social gifting as a new way for users to collaborate over giving gift cards to friends. Once a gift card is purchased through the mobile app, a Facebook post announces to a person’s network the gift card they’ve just gotten for a mutual friend. The friends are then given the option of adding more money onto the card further increasing the amount the receiver gets for their gift. The group aspect clearly makes sense for gifts that already would have been group-ified, like the card to a baby store for expectant parents that a person and their far-flung friends were already planning on chipping in on. Wrapp has the makings of a successful app by offering an even easier solution to behavior people are already participating in.

Via FastCompany

ON THE RADAR

Follow This: @natgeo – Forget puppies and artistic takes on breakfast foods, @natgeo has taken Instagram photos to breathtaking new heights. National Geographic collaborated with The North Face global athlete team to document their latest Mount Everest ascent via Instragram. The collaboration allowed millions of Instagram users to follow the team from base camp to summit by checking out the hashtag #oneverest and by following the official @natgeo Instagram account.

Read This: Hyper Island ran a workshop as part of the Cannes Festival of Creativity, and their goal was to write a book titled, “The Future Of Advertising: The Cannes Attendees Literally Wrote The Book On It.” Over the course of two hours, 120 International Cannes attendees came together and combined their future-forward thinking to produce a snapshot of what the ad industry might need to deal with over the next 10 years. Download the book here.

Try This: Consumers like free stuff, and brands know consumers trust peer reviews more than ads. A new start up called Swaggable aims to bridge these two needs by tapping into the power of social networks and offering free samples to consumers who have expressed interest in those products. Samples are free as long as recipients share their reviews and experiences with their Facebook friends.