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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.