My advice to wannabe planners (who want to work with FMCG clients)? Get a part time job in a supermarket! We've just had a work experience in (your moment of fame Charlie) who had a great intuitive knowledge of brands, competitor sets and audience profile from stacking shelves in Morrisons. Not to mention which products shifted quicker and a good understanding of the dark arts of supermarkets. Just saying is all.
Went to the Canvas8 event 'Sizing up the retail consumer: the new rules of engagement' on Monday. It was a bit of letdown in terms of content, with a lot of stuff that you would hope that the audience (mainly advertising and marketing people) should know already, but Dr. Alex Gordon gave a bit of respite talking about how physical retail experiences needed to appropriate more of the 'carnivalesque' (a term coined by Bakhtin). He articulated and put context around a couple of things that I've been thinking about. A couple of points:
I liked the quote that 'Westfield was outdated the minute it was created'
When it comes to malls, the choice of stores narrows because of rent, etc creating a homogenous shopping landscape. At the same time the online retail space embraces diversity
One of the ways he suggested that retail spaces could be improved was the introduction of ludic/cryptic messages. I liked the idea that online and offline retail environments could be linked with puzzles that could be solved in either world
Was obviously supportive of the idea that 'childish play' needs to be incorporated into the retail environment
Also intrigued by the idea of 'active physical involvement' with the retail space. I think the examples were of instore gyms and stuff (which might not be the way forward if Dave Trott's HMV/Virgin example rings true)
Anyway, some interesting bits and pieces. I think the presentations are going up on SlideShare at some point, so watch out for that.
"Sameness is an inevitable consequence of capitalism. You might start
life running a ultra hip underground Korean Taco truck in West
Hollywood that plays accoustic K-pop remixes of the Beach Boys - but
fifty trucks later, you will quickly swap unique and cool, for mass and
market. But as I discovered, whether by accident or design, certain
franchise brands seem to have evolved a secret language of signs and
symbols known only to the select consumerati."
Examples are unofficial ordering phrases at In-N-Out Burger (Animal Style, Flying Dutchman), secret smoothies at Jamba Juice (Hello Jesus, Dirty Orgasm) and 'red eyes' at Starbucks. He missed out the McGangBang though!
He puts the rationale much better than I could:
"From one side - consumers will see the mass market product - which you
need in order to present a simple and consistent message to the world.
But look slightly askew, and your true evangelists will have access to
their own private world of special products, ordering styles,
personalisation and brand mythology. And having been initiated into
your secret society, you can be sure that they will be more likely to
spread the word and do your marketing for you."
Was at the Future Foundation's Changing Lives conference last week. A couple of things struck me as particularly interesting, so I thought I'd share.
Firstly, the idea that for brands that have been discounting heavily in these dark times (just wanted to say that) consumers will continue to expect these discounts once the recession is over. How do Pizza Express et al justify a premium post-recession? Will they have to be voucher restaurants forever?
Secondly, Nik Shah said something about one of the possible outcomes from widespread take up of GPS enabled phones: retailers cluster their stores together so that people know where to go. If your phone can tell you all the businesses in the local area (with ratings, vouchers, images of stock), then does it remove the disadvantage of being on a winding backstreet? Been thinking about this sort of stuff a lot recently.
Last week I went to the opening of the Social Suicide store with Jamie. I liked this little promotion they're running, but could be dangerous if the prediction of an Indian summer comes good. They've got a link up with the Met Office that updates hourly instore and daily online. Basically, you get a percentage discount based on the temperature. Very clever. Check out their pop-up shop on Ganton Street over the next couple of months, especially on those days when you bring out the factor 30 (although that is everyday for me).
At least they've done it in centigrade and not fahrenheit ;)
While I was in Kolkata I visited the Dakshinapan shopping centre every day to get my tea fix (Dolly's Tea Shop on the ground floor, the most sublime iced tea in the world), and came across the Revive water kids every day. They were handing out free samples, but you had to hand over your name and email address to get one of their goody bags. They wouldn't give me one because they could tell from my terrible Hindi that I am a fradulent Indian.
I was obviously a bit peeved because I expect free things to be free-for-alls, but from the brand POV it's quite good cause you get a bit of data capture, innit. Plus being in a shopping centre with a massive student population and guards to keep the riff raff out means your product goes into the right hands.
I realise that not all handouts in India have clipboard police, but it's the first time I've ever seen it, and I just thought it was interesting. That's all.
Ouch, catching up with a overflowing RSS. Spotted over on Stylebubble - a gift for select style people from the e-tailer ASOS. But as Susie Bubble points out the box is really well thought out (magnetic closure, ribbon) with a polaroid on the end so you can see which shoe is in the box. A simple enough thought to make it onto all shoe boxes, no? Pic from Stylebubble, original post here
I was thinking about buying a Mawi bracelet from Net-a-porter but noticed that it was 20cm laid flat, and it didn't look like you could remove links. My wrist at its widest point is 16cm and I wasn't sure how it would site and was a bit loathe to pay a £10 delivery charge for something that looks rubbish because it falls too far down my hand. So I thought I'd send an email to the Net-a-porter fashion advisors. I expected them to be like the best shop assistants, who feel more like friends giving advice than salespeople. Instead I got this reply:
Um, cheers. I don't really know any more than I did to begin with. Will it sit right on my wrist or will it be too big? - that was the question. Plus, minus points for spelling my name wrong.
You may have noticed that the prices of clothes in Primark have gone up since its appearance in prime locations. It got me thinking about price conditioning and what I am prepared to pay in certain shops. In my head a dress in Primark should cost no more than £10, on ASOS between £18 and £25 and about £30 in Topshop. However I would happily pay £300+ (not anymore mind, I'm broke) for Phillip Lim, but try to get See by Chloé in the sale and pay around £140 for a dress. All items are made in China, but my perceived value of items is wildly different. I find my difference in reactions to the high street prices quite amazing, given the difference in quality and marketing (I really do baulk at £60 pricetags in Topshop). What are people prepared to pay for the brands I work on, and how can you change that amount? Or do you even want to?
Note: I understand that clothes in Primark are made by slave children and therefore make every effort not to shop there. However, I doubt that the conditions of the workers who make clothes for other, more expensive, high street brands are much better.
Wouldn't it be helpful if bike shops had racks outside so you could chain your bike up if you needed to pop in and get a replacement light or something? Some might do already, but the Evans Cycles in Waterloo doesn't. I was thinking it would be a useful thing.
One part truth, two parts mixer is a digital notebook for Priyanka/@pristyles. Yes, you've reached another planner's blog - but it's mainly full of random thoughts and pretty pictures.
If you're reading, hello - it's nice to meet you.